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Thu May 1, 2014, 07:00 AM

Our Nuclear Infrastructure Is a Radioactive Time Bomb [View all]

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has had a busy few weeks. Last month, thanks to Freedom of Information Act queries filed by numerous organizations, the Commission was forced to disclose a dossier of emails showing the lengths it had gone to in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima disaster to downplay the risk of a similar catastrophe happening in the US. The correspondence showed a startling lack of preparedness.

In one example, NRC public affairs officer David McIntyre offered his opinion on what Energy Secretary Steven Chu should have done when asked by CNN whether American nuclear plants could withstand a force 9.0 earthquake: “He should just say, ‘Yes, it can.’ Worry about being wrong when it doesn't. Sorry if I sound cynical."

The documents also show a background briefing for then NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko and other commissioners that split intelligence into “public answer" and "additional technical, non-public information." In some cases the NRC withheld crucial details and misdirected the media.

It's been 35 years since an American nuclear plant has malfunctioned. At 4 AM on March 28, 1979, a relief valve failed to close at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania,  severely damaging the reactor's core. Two days later gas was released from the facility, but only exposed local residents to background doses of radiation. Some are concerned the next accident could be disastrous.



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n2doc May 2014 OP
chervilant May 2014 #1
MisterP May 2014 #2
jwirr May 2014 #3