PRESS STATEMENT: Senate Nuclear Fetishists Take Lid Off of Pandora’s Box |

4 weeks ago 220

CHICAGO — In a lopsided 88-2 vote (with 10 not voting, including Sen. Richard Durbin), the Senate passed S.870 – the so-called ADVANCED Act, a bill which quite literally takes the lid off of the nuclear safety box, both domestically and internationally.

So proud and confident were the Senators in nuclear power’s promises, rather than being introduced as stand-alone legislation, the 93-page bill had to be snuck into the 3-page Fire Grants and Safety Act – a bill reasonably assured to pass at a time when huge parts of the nation are again in the process of burning to the ground.

Using the logic similar to that of an adolescent purchasing a first car (“If it’s red, fast, and a convertible – that’s it! What could go wrong?”), bill advocates trotted out the usual litany of at best contestable at worst discredited arguments for its passage:  nuclear is clean and green, is needed to fight the climate crisis, creates jobs, and is over-regulated.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the bill’s lead sponsor, (quite erroneously) stated, “Today, nuclear power provides about 20% (18.2% in 2022; 18.6% in 2023) of our nation’s electricity. Importantly, it’s emissions-free electricity (allowed to release radionuclides into the air and water, below regulatory limits) that is 24/7, 365 days a year. (except for outages and maintenance)”

While critics of the legislation warned of significant weakening of regulatory oversight built into the bill, John Starkey, director of public policy at the pro-nuclear American Nuclear Society, stated the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), “is a 21st century regulator now.”

That statement alone should send shivers up the spine, since that list would include: the FAA allowing Boeing to self-regulate in designing the 737-MAX, resulting in two crashes and hundreds of deaths, and the revelation that sub-standard parts have been manufactured into new planes; Norfolk Southern preventing desperately needed rail safety measures from passing in Congress, resulting in the East Palestine train disaster; and the federal pipeline regulatory agency PIMSA being asleep at the wheel, resulting in the Sartortia, Mississippi CO2 pipeline explosion.

Of course, the posterchild for abdication of regulatory obligation is the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  The 2012 National Diet of Japan report, “The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission” states clearly what happens when regulators become lapdogs:

“The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between government, the regulators, and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties.  They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents….We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual.” [p.16.]

If any of this sounds familiar – it should.  As the late great Yogi Berra would have remarked – deja vu, all over again.

Residents of Illinois – the most nuclear state in the U.S., which recently repealed its nuclear construction moratorium, opening the door to new reactors – might begin to feel some elevated distress, but – relax.  There’s nothing you can do about it, since homeowners are unable to obtain private insurance coverage against nuclear disasters...

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