The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is responsible for assuring that our nuclear power plants follow safety procedures. But the NRC is not doing its job. The U.S. currently produces nearly one-third of global nuclear power from nuclear plants all across our land. The NRC states that fire poses the greatest threat of a nuclear meltdown because it can melt insulation and wires, resulting in a loss of control of the reactor. Yet, right now, 46 reactors (almost half of all U.S. plants) are in violation of fire safety regulations. The NRC has opted to grant extensions for these plants to continue operation despite being in violation.
Fires happen. A 1980 fire at the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant in Alabama was the reason stricter regulations were adopted for all nuclear power plants. But the Browns Ferry plant still operates in violation of these fire safety regulations. In 2010 and 2012, fires in Virginia and Nebraska nuclear plants threatened their safety. The Nebraska fire disabled more than half of the power it supplied for emergency equipment—a scary reminder of the Fukushima disaster. Fully enforcing fire safety regulations at all nuclear power plants will reduce the chances of such fires.
Members of Congress have oversight authority of the NRC. They must demand that the NRC fully enforces its fire safety regulations at all plants.
Radioactive plutonium, produced from generating nuclear power, is the deadliest chemical on earth if ingested or inhaled, and remains deadly for over 200,000 years. Disasters at Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three-mile Island, reinforce the reality that safety in nuclear power plants should be a #1 priority.
Ask your U.S. Representative and Senators to demand that the NRC fully enforce its fire safety regulations for all nuclear power plants. Each nuclear reactor owner must set and implement a clear, short-term NRC-approved time table for complete compliance with all NRC fire regulations, with an NRC order to shut down the reactor in cases of continued non-compliance.
Thanks to the Union of Concerned Scientists for Information used in this card.
Photo credit: Brown Pelican, Ron Wolf