Five Kinds of Things the UCS Satellite Database Can Tell You

We’ve been getting a good number of questions about the UCS Satellite Database and have been happy to see it be useful as context in recent discussions about satellite imaging and the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370. Read More

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Latest Posts

NRC May I?

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #25

“Mother May I?” is a children’s game . “NRC May I?” is the grown-up version of this game played by owners in determining whether they can modify their nuclear plants or revise its procedures without first obtaining NRC’s permission. Read More

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Space Debris, Satellites, and a Reality Check

One strange effect of the seven Oscar wins yesterday for Alfonso Cuarón’s film Gravity is that many more people will be conversant about something that was mostly the kind of thing specialists talked about—just how damaging space debris from anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons can be. Read More

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The FY 2014 Budget—the Final Tally for NNSA Nonproliferation Programs

With the FY14 Omnibus Appropriations bill finally passed in January, and a new budget proposal for FY15 coming up next week, now is a good time to take a look at where the FY14 chips have fallen, and what the approaching budget cycle may hold for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).  Read More

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The FY 2014 Budget—the Final Tally for NNSA Weapons Programs

On January 16th, two weeks after the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2014 began, Congress passed the FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act that will fund government operations through September 30, 2014. That action finally freed the government from a series of short-term funding measures and, it is hoped, will pave the way for a more normal budget process for FY 2015. Read More

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Nuclear Plants and Nuclear Excuses: This is Getting Old

Fission Stories #157

The NRC originally licenses a nuclear power reactor to operate for 40 years. The NRC renews an operating license for an additional 20 years. An operating license gives the owner the right to operate the reactor, provided a plethora of regulatory requirements are met. Read More

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China in Focus #15: A View from the Chinese Street

For the past twelve years I’ve had the good fortune to live in an unassuming neighborhood in northwest Beijing.  My landlady is reclaiming my one-bedroom, 45 square-meter apartment for her family. Moving from an old home inevitably stirs up assessments of the time passed. Read More

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National Missile Defense—More Isn’t Always Better

Recently, the Pentagon announced that four of five sites that had been identified as candidates for a possible new missile defense site would be moving on to the next step and getting Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)– Camp Ravenna, Ohio; Fort Custer, Michigan;  Fort Drum, New York; and  Portsmouth SERE Training Area, near Rangeley, Maine.  Read More

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A Brief History of the New ICBM

In January of 2013, the Air Force announced that it was conducting a “ground-based strategic deterrent analysis of alternatives,” which is military-speak for looking at options to replace the current silo-based, long-range Minuteman III missiles, which are armed with one to three nuclear warheads and deployed across the central plains of the United States. Read More

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Nuclear Power Safety Report Cards

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #24

Since spring of 2000, the NRC uses its Reactor Oversight Process (ROP) to assess safety levels at the nation’s operating nuclear power reactors. For about two decades prior to the ROP, the NRC used its Systematic Assessment of Licensee Performance (SALP) process. Read More

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“Fukushima: The Story of Nuclear Disaster” Book Released

Yesterday we officially released our book Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, published by New Press and co-authored by Dave Lochbaum and Ed Lyman, and journalist Susan Q. Stranahan. Susan for many years was a journalist with the Philadelphia Inquirer, and was the lead reporter of the Inquirer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident. Read More

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TVA’s Bad Nuclear Report Cards

Fission Stories #156

In spring 2010, the NRC introduced its Reactor Oversight Process (ROP) as its primary means of monitoring safety at the nation’s nuclear power reactors. The ROP uses information submitted by plant owners supplemented by findings from its inspectors to assess performance levels. Read More

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Invaluable Reactor Safety Reference

UCS Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit  #23

Bob Pollard directed UCS’s nuclear safety efforts from 1976 until 1996. I took over his work and office in fall 1996. I noticed a tall stack of papers sitting atop a bookcase in his old office. Read More

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Defense Science Board Off Point on Open Source Intelligence Reform

condorLast week the Defense Science Board (DSB) released a report calling for reforms in the way the U.S. government monitors the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons programs around the world. The Board found there are “gaps” in the U.S. intelligence community’s “global nuclear monitoring” capabilities.   Read More

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Nuclear Licensing: Two-step, One-step, Tap-dance

Fission Stories #155

The nuclear power reactors currently operating in the United States were licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (or its predecessor, the Atomic Energy Commission) via a two-step process. In the first step, companies applied to the NRC for a construction permit. Read More

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Robert Gates on China

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates wrote a new book on his tenure under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Most of the reporting focuses on his opinions of the two presidents. But one of the more interesting revelations in the book is how this long-serving leader in the U.S. Read More

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Preventing Fuel Damage in Nuclear Reactors

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #22

Lots of people have lots of reasons for preventing damage to nuclear fuel inside the core of nuclear power reactors. But what is done to help meet this goal? Read More

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A Tale of Two Chinas

Earlier this week two leading congressional voices on U.S. China policy were kind enough to take time to talk with me about it. One spent the bulk of our conversation describing China as a brutal dictatorship he believes could fall within a decade if there is strong U.S. Read More

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Nine Mile Point’s Pyramid Scheme

Fission Stories #154

The operators shut down the Unit 1 reactor at the Nine Mile Point nuclear plant near Oswego, New York on April 15, 2013, to enter a refueling outage. Nine Mile Point Unit 1 has a boiling water reactor (BWR) with a Mark I containment design. Read More

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Fire Safety–or Not?

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit  #21

By NRC’s regulations, safety systems for the nation’s nuclear plants are designed to perform their intended functions despite the worst-case postulated single failure. Read More

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