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House Republicans Criticize NRC for trying to regulate nuclear power

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  • Romi Elnagar
    US House Energy & Commerce Commission Opposes NRC s Requirement of Filtered Vents in BWRs in the US, Says #Fukushima Accident Cannot Happen in the US
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 18, 2013
      US House Energy & Commerce Commission Opposes NRC's Requirement of
      Filtered Vents in BWRs in the US, Says #Fukushima Accident Cannot Happen in the US

      Republican members of the US House Energy and Commerce Committee has [sic!] sent an open letter dated January 15, 2013 and addressed to Chairwoman Allison MacFarlane
      of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, demanding that NRC answer their
      concern that NRC's attempt to further regulate the nuclear industry
      after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident may be stifling and
      unnecessary for the health of the industry.

      They seem to be saying, correctly I suppose, the US is not Japan.

      From their letter (PDF; emphasis is mine):

      (Page 2)

      "In particular, concerns were raised about the agency's departure from rigorous technical and cost-benefit analysis. Yet as the Commission readies itself to take additional actions
      concerning "Tier One" recommendations (post-Fukushima items of highest
      priority), it appears that the NRC may be discarding the disciplined
      processes that for years have ensured that reactor safety is rooted in
      performance-based regulation, appropriately recognizing each nuclear plant is different. It also appears that the Commission is considering
      some issues on an independent basis without considering how those issues impact other matters currently pending before the Commission and
      previous NRC actions that are already being implemented by the industry. This suggests the Commission views the cumulative impact[s] of its
      actions as merely a cursory scheduling challenge, and ignores the
      serious risk that piecemeal consideration of related issues may yield
      unintended consequences."

      Right below this passage, the letter quotes NRC Commissioner William
      Magwood and the official report of the Fukushima accident investigation
      commission set up by the Japanese National Diet (out of context, in my
      opinion) that say the accident was "made uniquely in Japan".

      And what exactly is their beef that isn't justifiable with the traditional "cost-benefit analysis"?

      Filtered vents.

      (Page 4)

      "With respect to these [safety] enhancements, we
      have particular concern about the potential requirement to install
      "filtered vents" for certain boiling water reactors which we understand
      to be significant, capital-intensive structures. As instructed by the Commission, the NRC staff has proposed four potential options but urged the Commission to choose "Option 3." Under this option, the
      Commission would issue an order requiring the installation of fintered
      vents rather than pursuing a performance-based process."

      It is apparently of no concern to these Representatives (or should I
      say representatives of the US nuclear industry) that it was the dry
      vents from the reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, not so much
      the explosions, that contaminated much of Tohoku and Kanto.

      Instead, their concern is over cost, and adequacy of protection, as the
      letter quote yet another NRC Commissioner insisting on a "fully
      developed justification", and says:

      We strongly agree and observe that the "fully developed justification" Commissioner Ostendorff referenced remains absent. To move forward on a poorly justified, precedent-setting proposal like
      Option 3 would be a disturbing erosion of the NRC's historically
      disciplined standard of adequate protection.

      Their "performance-based process" seems to mean that as long as there is no accident there is no need for "costly" filtered vents. Their cost calculation doesn't seem to include the public and social cost in case
      of an accident, because an accident is not supposed to happen.

      How's that thinking different from Japan's before the Fukushima accident?

      Later in the letter, the argument is made that the closure of a nuclear
      power plant would result in power shortages and a huge loss of local

      It is the same old argument that has been made everywhere in Japan. So, what's different in the US?


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