Nuclear powerFormer NRC chairman: all 104 U.S. nuclear reactors suffer from “irreparable” safety issues

Published 16 April 2013

According to former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chairman Gregory Jaczko, all 104 nuclear reactors in the United States currently have irreparable safety issues and should be shut down and replaced. Jaczko was the NRC chairman from 2009 through 2012.

According to former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chairman Gregory Jaczko, all 104 nuclear reactors in the United States currently have irreparable safety issues and should be shut down and replaced.

Jaczko was the NRC chairman from 2009 through 2012, when he resigned following conflicts with colleagues. During his  tenure, Jaczko pushed for stricter safety improvements.

According to a New York Times report, Jaczko’s  comments were made at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference. When asked why he chose to make the commentsnow, Jaczko said he only recently came to the conclusion, following the fallout of the Fukushima nuclear disaster two years ago.

“I was just thinking about the issues more, and watching as the industry and the regulators and the whole nuclear safety community continues to try to figure out how to address these very, very difficult problems,” which were made more evident by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, Jaczko told reporters. “Continuing to put Band-Aid on Band-Aid is not going to fix the problem.”

RT reports that according to Jaczko, U.S. reactors which have been granted permission from the NRC to operated for another twenty years past their original 40-year licenses, are not likely to last much longer. Jaczko  opposed the commission’s proposal for a second twenty year extension, which means that some reactors could be in operation for a total of eighty years.

Jaczko’s comments could be significant because the government is considering a mass retirement of old reactors, and current nuclear policy is mostly focused on maintaining existing reactors rather than  going through the demanding political and bureaucratic process of securing licenses and financing to  start construction on new plants.

The president of the chief executive of the Nuclear Energy Institute, Marvin Fertel, told the New York Times that safety has always been important when it comes to the nation’s nuclear power grid.

US nuclear energy facilities are operating safely,” Fertel said. “That was the case prior to Greg Jaczko’s tenure as Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman. It was the case during his tenure as NRC chairman, as acknowledged by the NRC’s special Fukushima response task force and evidenced by a multitude of safety and performance indicators. It is still the case today.”

All the U.S. civilian reactors have been built before 1974, and the economic recession, combined with the Three Mile Island incident in 1979, have brought new reactor building to a halt.

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