New Safety Regulations for Nuclear Reactors

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted June 29, 2011

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is cracking down on nuclear safety.

Though rather than phasing out or rejecting nuclear power like Germany or Italy, respectively, the U.S. is simply putting more focus on the safety of the reactors.

In fact, the NRC is putting in applications for 12 new reactors, as well as proposing 5 new designs, according to Fast Company.

That sounds a bit like nuclear expansion.

This is amid the flooding that occurred at the site of the Fort Calhoun reactor in Nebraska due to the Missouri River flood, and alongside the Los Alamos wildfire that is threatening deposits of nuclear waste.

Fortunately, the Fort Calhoun reactor was built to handle even more water than what threatened it.

But even so, why build more?

According to the Nuclear Power 2021 Act, the U.S. will “amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005” and “develop and demonstrate two small modular nuclear reactor designs”.

They’re looking to make new reactors.

New is the key word.

The U.S. houses 104 nuclear reactors, the oldest of which were built in 1969.

If we’re going to keep nuclear power, it’s time to update and make safer the existing reactors, or else get some new ones.

The U.S. reactors are all under safety review, and the NRC is creating a task force to administer that review.

It will require examining safety measures – this includes getting rid of safety “assumptions” and making sure that the reactors will survive any dangerous situation.

The task force will review plans for operating and cooling the reactors in the event of power outages.

Stricter regulations will need to be met in order for the reactors to be considered safe after the Fukushima disaster in Japan demonstrated the true risks of nuclear power.

In the first quarter of 2011, the Nuclear Energy Institute spent $545,000 lobbying for governmental financial support in safety regulation and building new reactors, according to Bloomberg.

The money would go to developing smaller and newer reactors, which would be safer because of the new design, and even more simply because they are newer.

During Bush’s administration, the President reserved $18.5 billion in construction loans for nuclear projects, and Obama took this one step further by suggesting a triple in this number, according to Bloomberg.

Not much of this has gone past the proposal stage, however, as only one loan guarantee has been awarded so far.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is aiming to put all of the world’s reactors under review. Some countries, like the U.S., are taking the initiative to see to this themselves.

The new safety regulations expected by the NRC will hopefully give a whole new security to the U.S. reactors.

While we must rely on nuclear energy, it is better to be sure we are doing so safely.

That’s all for now,


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