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Atomic Speedometers

Fission Stories #196

Local, state and federal officials post limits on how fast people can drive their vehicles along roads under normal conditions. The posted speed limits are risk-informed because vary from road to road depending on risk factors such as congestion and access options. Read More

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Latest Posts

NNSA’s Roller Coaster Ride on Costs of the 3+2 Plan

Written with Stephen Young

The FY16 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan (SSMP), released in March, is the latest in a series of these reports published annually by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the semi-independent agency that oversees production and maintenance of U.S. Read More

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Workshop on the Future of the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

Last September UCS, in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), organized a one-day workshop on the future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. We are pleased to release the summary report of the conference, which recaps the day and provides key findings. Read More

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Shh! Secrets of the Cooling Towers

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #62

Go up to almost anyone on Main Street, Anytown, USA and ask them what this picture shows and the most common answer you will hear is “a nuclear plant cooling tower.” Read More

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Browns Ferry Barbeque

Fission Stories #195

Workers restarted the Unit 1 boiling water reactor (BWR) at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant near Athens, Alabama in early November 2014 following a routine refueling outage. Read More

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Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Lessons from the NTSB

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #61

Planes, Trains & Automobiles is a 1987 comedy film starring Steve Martin and the late John Candy. The title also describes several of the travel modes that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates when things go wrong. Read More

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Chillin’ at the NRC: Surprising Survey Results

Fission Stories #194

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has two formal programs for its workers to use when they disagree with the agency’s decisions and positions. (These programs complement informal processes where workers can discuss issues with supervisors and colleagues.) One is called the Non-Concurrence process and the other is the Differing Professional Opinion program. Read More

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Nuclear Safety Chapeaux

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #60

Hard hats are ubiquitous within nuclear power plants and construction sites. They protect the heads of the wears from failing objects and from bumps against low overhead piping and such. Read More

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China in Focus #18: Ground Truth

Thirty years ago this month my first year in China came to an end. What I remember most is that I returned to the United States assured I knew less about China than when I first arrived. It was a year of unlearning. Read More

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New, Renewed, and Subsequent Nuclear Reactor Risks

Fission Stories #193

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) initially licenses nuclear power reactors for operation up to 40 years. The NRC can renew the operating licenses for up to 20 additional years, as it has already done for about three quarters of the reactors in the United States. Read More

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Nuclear Autopsies

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #59

Medical professionals diagnose the health of their patients using non-destructive techniques (keeping with the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm) like taking temperatures and pulses and, when necessary, peering inside bodies using X-rays and Cat-scans.

Medical coroners, on the other hand, can use destructive techniques on persons when determining the causes of their deaths. Read More

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Preventing Space War

“Of all the places where conflict could erupt, space might seem the least likely, except in movies.”

So says a very good New York Times editorial “Preventing a Space War” this week. Sounds right, if X-Wing fighters come to mind when you think space conflict. Read More

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Palisades 50

Fission Stories #192

Much has been said and written about the Fukushima 50—the workers who remained onsite during the height of the crisis at the Japanese Fukushima nuclear plant after senior managers ordered their co-workers to evacuate because of worsening conditions. Read More

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Enhancing NRC Public Meetings

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #58

By memo dated January 29, 2015, a task group of twenty individuals within the NRC submitted its report to the agency’s Executive Director for Operations on enhancing public meetings. The task group was created in response to written direction dated March 5, 2014, (ADAMS ML14070A070, but not publicly available in ADAMS) from the NRC Chairman. Read More

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Nuclear Stock Market

Fission Stories #191

News such as last year’s closure of four nuclear power reactors, this year’s closure of another reactor, and Exelon’s claim that many of its reactors cannot break even absent even greater subsidies suggests that now might not be the best time to invest in nuclear technology. Read More

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Nuclear Columbine

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #57

From Charles Whitman killing 16 people with shots fired from a tower on the University of Texas at Austin campus on August 1, 1966, to two students killing 13 people by gunfire at Columbine High School in Colorado on April 20, 1999, to a gunmen killing 32 people at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, to a young man fatally shooting 20 children and 6 staffers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, and many other incidents, school shootings have tragically claimed too many innocent lives and given too many families irreplaceable, unforgettable losses. Read More

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The No-Muss, No-Fuss Solution to Preventing Accidental Nuclear War

Here’s something I bet you say to yourself pretty often: “Boy, I sure hope I don’t die in an accidental nuclear war today.” Okay, you may never have said that, but if you thought about it, you would.

More importantly, while it is not highly likely that you will die in an accidental or mistaken nuclear war today, the chances of that happening are likely greater than of dying in an intentional nuclear war—probably much greater. Read More

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Near Miss at Nuclear Fuel Services

Fission Stories #190

UCS initiated a series of annual reports on the NRC and nuclear plant safety in March 2011. As in this year’s report, these annual reports contain a chapter summarizing the near misses that the NRC investigated during the prior year. Read More

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What is the Administration’s Rationale for Keeping Missiles on Hair-Trigger Alert?

One of the sensible ideas the non-nuclear weapon states promoted at both the 2010 and 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conferences is the idea that the nuclear weapon states should take their missiles off high alert and eliminate the option to launch nuclear weapons on warning of an attack. Read More

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More Problems with U.S. Missile Defense Interceptors

A recent government report revealed two problems with the U.S. Ground Based Midcourse (GMD) missile defense system. These flaws, like several problems revealed previously, affect the operation of the “kill vehicle”—the business end of the anti-missile interceptors. The kill vehicle is the part of the system designed to guide itself to collide with and destroy an enemy warhead in space, and is therefore one of the key parts of the whole system. Read More

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