Thursday, January 1, 2009

The NRC Bombs

By Charles Barton

Rod Adams covered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's December 15  press release on small reactors yesterday, but the story requires more comment.  First the press release used childish, highly unprofessional language.  For example stating,
"(t)hat is the first step in a process that will take years and years  (emphasis added)."
The press release does not in any respect suggest that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is willing to cooperate with potential reactor manufacturers in developing safety standards for new technology, and indeed the entire press release seems to express a fairly open hostility to the emergence of innovative American Owned reactor manufacturing businesses.  Thus potential reactor manufacturers would be face the possibility of spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing a product only to have the NRC deny it licensing for reasons that would be impossible  for the manufacturer to know.   

It should be pointed out that the current NRC appears intent on blocking the development of reactors with superior safety potential as well as the potential to produce nuclear power without the creation of nuclear waste.  The NRC short sightly dismisses the potential of small reactors to produce power that will serve millions of Americans.  The NRC leadership is so incompetent that it does not understand that a large number of innovative reactors rapidly built in factories at low cost can produce more power over time than a small number of hugely expensive large reactors that take years and years to build.  The NRC seems intent on crippling the potential for the emergence of new manufacturing models in the nuclear power business, and clearly has stated that it intends to impede the emergence of technological innovations from American own reactor start ups businesses.  The NRC is throwing its weight on the side of Japanese and French owned reactor manufacturers against the possibility of American owned reactor businesses.

The December press release reveals the NRC to be incompetent, unprofessional, narrow minded, opposed to technological innovation, and intending to impede the development of innovative  American owned reactor manufacturing businesses, while serving the interest of foreign owned reactor manufacturers.  Congressional reform of the NRC is clearly called for.  This incompetent agency needs a house cleaning beginning with a wholesale firing of its anti-innovation, foot dragging, anti- American  reactor business leadership. 


DV8 2XL said...

I know most of the American supporters of nuclear energy have as little use for the NRC as Canadian ones have for the CNSC up here, but on this occasion you should thank your lucky stars that they have dashed a bucket of cold water over this mini-reactor hype as it was about time.

It also serves as an illustration of the need to mount a campaign that takes all the players into consideration right from the beginning, something that is absent from most of the pro-nuclear ideas that have been batted about here and in the rest of the circle.

You have actually been handed a great opportunity here, if you have the will to take it. Hyperion has gotten a lot of press and probably has generated more awareness in the minds of the general public than any other advanced design. This statement by the NRC should get the same coverage, and in getting it will serve to show that same public why this organizational needs to be reformed.

CNSC has been going through changes up here that were long over due because, if you remember, exactly twelve months ago, they were stupid enough to cut off supplies of critical medical isotopes over a bureaucratic error. This gave the government all the excuse they needed to clean house, and now it's being run by a physicist, not an elementary school teacher, with no scientific qualifications.

If you start to scream loud enough in the right ears, this high-handed dismissal of mini-reactors can be made to do the same thing for you and force some of the reforms you are talking about, but only if it is kept front and center. This is an opportunity people, don't let it pass.

Anonymous said...

Early in senator Obama’s congressional career, he had a run-in with the NRC involving disclosure of tritium radiation leaks in his home state of Illinois. The Exelon corp. and the NRC resisted the legislation to the intense aggravation of Obama. The bill never managed to pass after repeated attempts.

This experience put the NRC on Obama’s hit list. I remember hearing him adamantly specifying a complete reorganization of the NRC during a news organizations editorial review board that I heard during the campaign. It is plain that Obama is not happy with the Light Water Reactor technology that the NRC favors and will require his new reworked NRC to explore other nuclear alternatives.

The lack of nuclear professional expertise outside of the light water reactor field in the US will be a big handy cap to the Obama reorganization effort. But Obama was sufficiently aggravated and stubborn to push through all the problems and obstructions in the US nuclear industry to get to where he wants to go; a non LWR technology base staffed with new recruits out-sourced from academia and many of these new recruits might require green cards and need english language training after work.



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