Still Taking Too Many Risks – dangers of nuclear plants dismissed, despite statistics

Still Taking Too Many Risks – dangers of nuclear plants dismissed, despite statistics – Brief Article

According too report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is increasing the likelihood of a serious nuclear plant accident by falsifying risk assessments which allow dangerous plants to continue operating.

The UCS report argues that risk assessments of nuclear plant accidents depend on the probability of occurrence and consequences if such would occur. Standard NRC risk assessments only look at the probability of an event. The UCS argues that when consequences are severe — as would be from such accidents — prudent risk management dictates that probabilities are kept very low.

The UCS’s report is based on observations of how nuclear plant risk assessments are performed and how their results are used. For example, the NRC presumes that nuclear plants always conform with safety requirements, despite the fact that over a thousand violations are reported each year. Nuclear plants are assumed to have no design problems, even though hundreds are reported each year. Ageing is assumed to result in no damage. Reactor pressure is assumed to be foolproof despite the fact that this very factor led to the closure of the Yankee Rowe nuclear plant. Plant workers are assumed to be less likely to make mistakes than actual operating experience demonstrates… and so it goes on.

The report concludes that nuclear risk assessments in the US are ‘seriously flawed and results are being used inappropriately to increase — not reduce — the threat to the American public’.

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