Latest Posts

Indian Point and a Victory for Sound Science at the NRC

, senior scientist

UCS devotes a lot of ink to criticizing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for making bad decisions that reduce nuclear safety. So it is a refreshing change of pace to be able to praise the agency.  On May 4, the NRC commissioners did the right thing and voted to overturn a ruling by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board in the Indian Point license renewal proceeding that, had it stood, would have set a terrible precedent for scientific integrity in regulatory decision-making. Read more >

Bookmark and Share

Photo: Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Will Congress Reject the Administration’s New Plan to Dispose of Excess Plutonium?

, Washington representative and senior analyst

After several years and multiple studies, the Obama administration—led by the Department of Energy (DOE)—finally has a new plan to get rid of the excess plutonium generated by the U.S. nuclear weapons program: dilute the fissile material with non-radioactive materials and dispose of it in a geological repository. Read more >

Bookmark and Share

Kendall’s Telling Mistake on the LRSO

, Washington representative and senior analyst

In March, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, submitted a flawed report to Congress on the proposed new nuclear-armed cruise missile known as the Long Range Stand-Off Weapon, or LRSO. The report includes a telling error, claiming that the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review calls for maintaining a nuclear-armed cruise missile, when it does no such thing. Read more >

Bookmark and Share

Nuclear Plant Containment Failure: Overpressure

, director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #30

Disaster by Design

Defense-in-depth is a primary element of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approach to the safety of U.S. nuclear power plants. Many of the NRC’s regulatory requirements seek to reduce the chances of reactor core meltdowns to as low as achievable levels. But recognizing that the consequences of low probability events like meltdowns, sometimes called “black swans,” can be disastrous, the NRC also has regulatory requirements seeking to reduce the chances that radioactivity gets released in harmful amounts during an accident. This commentary describes the primary containments used in pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and boiling water reactors (BWRs) and how too much pressure can cause containment to fail. Read more >

Bookmark and Share

Spent Fuel Damage: Pool Criticality Accident

, director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #29

Disaster by Design

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #26 described a progression leading to overheating and damage to a reactor core, often labeled a meltdown. Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #27 described the damage to a reactor core that can result from reactivity excursions. Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #28 and #29 mirror those commentaries by describing how irradiated fuel stored in spent fuel pools can experience damage from overheating and reactivity excursions. Read more >

Bookmark and Share