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Zach Shahan just published a great piece on Planetsave.com about a recent AP investigation on federal oversight and the nuclear power industry. The report reveals how, instead of providing oversight, federal regulators act more like close business partners with nuclear power operators to keep aging reactors online and within federal standards. How? By repeatedly easing those standards.
The investigation shows that officials from the U.S. Regulatory Commission have consistently judged earlier standards as “too strict,” advocating that reduced safety margins can be achieved “without peril”.
The result is valves allowed to leak at a rate up to 200 times more than the original standard, cracked tubing through which radioactive steam flows, worn parts left in operation, and many other age-related patterns of deterioration.
According to NRC records obtained by AP, it goes something like this:
But as most nuclear plants in the US near the end of their expected lifespan, the inevitable symptoms of age will continue to eat away at the safety margin.
Even if we are to put our faith in the NRC’s ability to effectively regulate the nuclear industry, some questions seem prudent:
To that last question, the answer must be you and me.
Tom is an online publisher, editor, and freelance writer. He is the founder of GlobalWarmingisReal.com and the History Blog Project, as well as publisher and site director for the HippieMagazine.com here on the Important Media network. Tom also contributes to numerous environmental blogs including TriplePundit, Ecopolitology, Sustainablog, Planetsave, and Revmodo. Tom's work has led him to Europe, Africa, Latin America, Canada, the South Pacific, and across the United States. His home base is San Francisco, California.