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Equity within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

, director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/ Safety by Intent #58

Safety by Intent

As articulated in a recent posting by UCS’s Center for Science and Democracy, UCS believes science can and should be applied to reduce racial and economic inequity. Inequity can result when biases can, intentionally or not, put a segment of the population at a disadvantage. The staff of UCS has received training sessions and briefings over the past year on institutional and individual biases that result in racial and economic inequities.

With the information from these sessions and briefings in mind, I reflected on my dealings with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) over the years. I have discussed many concerns and problems with NRC managers and staffers, but could not recall one where race or gender was named as a contributing factor. But this process wasn’t very sciency. It was more gossipy than sciency. So, I undertook a less-gossip, more-science approach to the matter. (Gossip has it that the more science we use, the more points we get.) Read more >

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Public Safety Improvements

, director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/ Safety by Intent #57

Safety by Intent

Continuing the series initiated with Disaster by Design #47, this commentary describes efforts that yielded public safety improvements. But this commentary approaches the subject from a perspective differing from prior commentaries. While still discussing improvements in public safety, this commentary focuses on safety improvements achieved by the public. Read more >

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An Upcoming Missile Launch by North Korea?

, co-director and senior scientist

Press reports are saying that North Korea is likely to try another test launch in the next few days of a new missile it is developing. But there is some controversy about which missile that may be.

Based on reports from two recent failed tests, most people assume the upcoming test will be of the intermediate-range Musudan missile, which North Korea has tested either six or eight times this year. But others see evidence that suggests it could be the mysterious long-range KN-08 missile. Read more >

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Nuclear Worker Training

, director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/ Safety by Intent #56

Safety by Intent

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) of 1982, as later amended in 1987, is best known for tasking the Department of Energy (DOE) with siting, constructing, and operating a geological repository for the long-term disposal of spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants. It is less well-known that Section 306 of the NWPA tasked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) with enacting regulations for the training and qualification of nuclear power plant workers.

The DOE has thus far failed its assigned mission and the federal government has paid out several billion dollars to parties across the country for damages incurred as a result of the failure. Fortunately, the NRC succeeded—albeit with some prodding from a public interest group and the courts—in its assigned mission, and not just by comparison to DOE’s ineptitude. Read more >

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On the Same (Nuclear) Pages

, director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #55

Safety by Intent

Merriam-Webster defines regulation as “an official rule or law that says how something should be done” and as “the act of regulating something.”

The Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 created the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and tasked the agency with both saying how things should be done and regulating to ensure that those things get done right. How does the NRC discharge its statutory responsibilities? Read more >

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