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When Open Door Policies at Nuclear Plants Go Awry

Fission Stories #184

Nuclear industry and NRC representatives often talk and write about their Open Door policies. For example, Doug Coe and June Cai, leaders of a task force formed to examine the NRC’s internal safety culture, briefed their Chairman and Commissioners on the agency’s Open Door policy for concerns raised by NRC staffers. Read More

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TEPCO’s Fukushima Folly

Fission Stories #180

In early August 2014, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced that its latest analysis revealed the meltdown of the Unit 3 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi was worse than previously estimated. Read More

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NRC’s Transparency: Glasnost or Half-Glasnost?

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #46

The NRC’s words about openness:

Nuclear regulation is the public’s business, and it must be transacted publicly and candidly. The public must be informed about and have the opportunity to participate in the regulatory processes as required by law. Read More

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Obama’s Nuclear Legacy #2: Ending Prompt Launch

As I outlined in an earlier piece, President Obama has the opportunity to make significant changes in nuclear policy in the remaining two years of his presidency—changes that would make every American more secure, while also saving money and enhancing his legacy. Read More

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Red Guards and Nuclear Missiles

China’s nuclear weapons are a source of unending controversy in the United States, in part because the debate is littered with misinformation. The problem is so pervasive that even seasoned researchers have trouble distinguishing fact from fiction. Read More

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Turkey Point Nuclear Plant in Hot Water

Fission Stories #179

Earlier this summer, the owner of the Turkey Point nuclear plant in Florida requested and the NRC approved a change in the maximum limit on cooling water used by plant. For years, the plant had operated with the limit at 100°F. Read More

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Obama’s Nuclear Legacy #1: 1,000 Deployed Warheads

As I outlined in a previous piece, President Obama has the opportunity to make significant changes in nuclear policy in the remaining two years of his presidency—changes that would make every American more secure, while also saving money and enhancing his legacy. Read More

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UCS’s Standard for Nuclear Power Safety

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #45

Past as Prologue

Bob Pollard joined the Union of Concerned Scientists in early 1976 and served as the organization’s primary voice on nuclear power plant safety for nearly 20 years before retiring in January 1996. I joined UCS in the fall of 1996 to take over Bob’s role. Read More

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The Vienna Conference on Nuclear Weapons

I recently returned from the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons (HINW14), the third such conference since March 2013 spearheaded by a number of international civil society organizations and non-nuclear weapons states. These states are growing increasingly impatient with the nuclear weapons states in their lack of progress toward global disarmament—as they pledged to do in Article VI of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Read More

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An Electrical Cable Fire at the Quad Cities Nuclear Plant

Fission Stories #178

On March 22, 1975, a worker using a lit candle to check for air leaks in the room directly below the control room for the Unit 1 and Unit 2 reactors at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant near Athens, Alabama accidentally ignited highly flammable material that had been used to seal openings in the wall where metal trays filled with electrical cables passed through. Read More

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Obama’s Nuclear Legacy

With two years left in office, President Obama still has time to shape his legacy. Given the challenges presented by a Republican-controlled Congress, further legislative success is unlikely. But that still leaves lots of opportunities to act without Congress, as we are witnessing with climate change and immigration. Read More

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The NRC and the Value of Life—Revisited

In February 2011, my colleague Ed Lyman wrote a blog post and a letter to the New York Times pointing out that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) assigns a MUCH lower value to human life when assessing the costs of accidents than other government agencies. Read More

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Nuclear Power Safety: Numbers and Context

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #44

73.

So what? Even if it is the best number as Dr. Sheldon Cooper claims on “The Big Bang Theory,” it’s just a number unless it is placed in context. Read More

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FOIAed Missile Defense Documents: Syring’s Huntsville Presentation

In mid-August, Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Director Vice Admiral Syring gave a keynote speech at the annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, AL. By most accounts it was a frank and interesting talk. However, conference security personnel limited journalists’ ability to photograph the slides or record the talk, which led to controversy and an eventually an apology by the conference organizers. Read More

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Nuclear inSecurity

Fission Stories #177

 The NRC has long required an array of security features intended to lessen the likelihood of radiological sabotage at nuclear power plants. Gates, guns, and guards are among the methods used to protect against acts of malice. Read More

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Russia’s Small Maneuvering Satellites: Inspectors or ASATs?

In May, Russia announced it had launched three Russian communications satellites, Kosmos-2496, -2497, -2498. An additional object was along for the ride, orbiting a few kilometers away from the declared payloads. Without a declared name, this satellite was subsequently classified as debris by the U.S. Read More

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Simplified Drawings: Electrical Distribution Drawings

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #43

The primary objective of nuclear power plants is to generate electricity for use (i.e., purchase) by industrial and residential customers. Nuclear power plants consume large amounts of electricity themselves in pursuing this objective. Read More

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The 2014 USCC Report: Still Sloppy After All These Years

Last week The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) released yet another in a long line of annual reports with sensational claims about China’s military capabilities. Unfortunately, the USCC also continued to improperly source the information on which some of its claims are based.  Read More

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Independent Review of DOD’s Nuclear Enterprise: Money, Maintenance, and Morale

A newly released independent review of the Department of Defense (DOD) nuclear enterprise by two retired military leaders, Air Force General Larry D. Welch and Navy Admiral John C. Harvey, Jr., concludes—to no one’s surprise—that there are many problems. The review, which was completed in June but released just last week, was prompted by a series of embarrassing incidents over the past year or so including ICBM launch officers caught cheating on exams, a general relieved of command after drunkenness and inappropriate behavior on a trip to Russia, and the deputy chief of the U.S. Read More

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Lifetime Achievement Award to Michael Mariotte

Individuals and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the country and Europe gathered at the Carnegie Institute in Washington, DC on November 10, 2014, to present a Lifetime Achievement Award Lifetime Achievement Award to Michael Mariotte of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS). Read More

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