Fukushima Lessons Not Learned – Sen. Boxer’s NRC Hearing 12-3-2014

Sen. Boxer’s chart showing NRC has failed to act on any of its own Task Force’s post-Fukushima safety recommendations.

[ From Friends of the Earth:
Emails suggest NRC and PG&E colluded to downplay Diablo Canyon earthquake danger
Posted Dec. 16, 2014 / Posted by: Kate Colwell
Despite denials, heavily redacted communiqués demonstrate collusion

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Internal emails show that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. may have worked together to counteract widespread news coverage. Numerous outlets reported that the former chief inspector of the Diablo Canyon power plant had warned superiors of new seismic data suggesting that the aging nuclear plant on the California coast is operating with an invalid license and may not be safe from previously unknown earthquake faults.

Friends of the Earth obtained more than 100 pages of NRC emails through a Freedom of Information Act request. Many emails were heavily redacted, but nonetheless show that the NRC knew the exact date and time PG&E would release a long-awaited report on the plant’s Diablo Canyon’s seismic safety, and the NRC responded by simultaneously releasing its verdict rejecting the former inspector’s dissent. The documents also show that while the NRC denied collaborating on release of the reports, they had worked for weeks on a media strategy based on prior knowledge of the PG&E report. Read more

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace has joined with Friends of the Earth, the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), to file an appeal to the NRC to obtain unredacted emails between Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ]

The NRC’s Bi-Polar Mission
The schizogenic effects of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s contradictory mandate – to protect public safety while simultaneously protecting America’s failing nuclear energy industry from its own bad karma – have never been more apparent than in this recent Dec. 3, 2014 hearing of NRC Commissioners before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, under the gavel of the Committee’s out-going Chair, Sen. Barbara Boxer [ D-CA].

The hearing’s inelegant – and as it turned out, ironic title – was “NRC’s Implementation of the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force Recommendations and Other Actions to Enhance and Maintain Nuclear Safety.”

As the following video excerpts show, the two main issues raised in the NRC’s segment of the hearing were (1.) Sen. Boxer’s graphic chart demonstrating that none of the 12 recommendations made months ago by the NRC’s own Safety Task Force for retrofitting U.S. nuclear plants in keeping with post-Fukushima lessons have yet to be implemented by the NRC, and (2.) Sen. Ed Markey’s expressed outrage that document requests to the NRC in line with the Committee’s Congressionally mandated oversight authority have been persistently refused by out-going NRC Chair Allison M. Macfarlane .

As the year ends, Sen. Boxer will hand the Committee gavel over to leading GOP climate change denialist James Inhofe. At the same time, in a sure recipe for policy-setting and enforcement gridlock, departing NRC Chair Dr. Macfarlane will leave the Commission with an apparent 2/2 split until her replacement is appointed, which is likely to be a lengthy and contentious process.

So this Dec. 3 hearing is significant and worth paying attention to, as it is probably the last one for a while in which public safety is advocated for, rather than nuclear industry and wing-nut interests.

In a preview of coming distractions, in the first excerpt, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI] urges the Commission to be more vigorous in its promotion of such discredited and unproven nuclear technologies as thorium and small modular reactors as a solution to carbon-induced climate change.

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