NRC Votes on Southern Companys New Nuke; NRC Chairman Dissents

by Jim Riccio

February 10, 2012

Yesterday the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted to give Southern Company a combined operating license for two new nuclear reactors at the Vogtle plant site in Georgia. This is the first of a new generation of nuclear reactors to be licensed by the NRC. The NRC vote on the new nukes at Vogtle was 4 to 1 with the NRCs Chairman dissenting.

Its not often that Greenpeace agrees with the NRC Chairman. But Chairman Jaczko was right to dissent. Neither the NRC nor the nuclear industry has yet addressed the lessons learned from Fukushima. Without a “binding commitment” to do so from Southern Co. they should not have been granted a license.

The Chairman’s vote reflects the post Fukushima reality. US reactors are not designed to deal with a meltdown and need years work to make them less dangerous. As former NRC Commissioner Victor Gilinsky wrote in the NY Times, government regulators thought a meltdown was impossible. They were wrong.

Rather than expand the use of this dangerous and stupidly expensive technology, our government should stop subsidizing nuclear corporations’ bad investments and instead develop plans to phase out nuclear power and better secure the deadly radioactive wastes. As former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, “We should aim for a society that can function without nuclear energy.”

Sadly, the federal government is putting the American taxpayer on the hook for billions of dollars to build new nuclear reactors that corporations would never risk building themselves. They have ignored the warnings of default from the non partisan Congressional Budget Office and the warnings from Wall Street that nuclear power is a “bet the farm” risk.

Once again the federal government is providing bailouts for corporations while sticking taxpayers with the tab. New nuclear power is an economic meltdown waiting to happen and the American taxpayer is on the hook for the financial fallout.

You can read more of Greenpeaces views on the expansion of nuclear power in U.S. News & World Reports Debate Room


Jim Riccio

By Jim Riccio

Jim Riccio served as Greenpeace’s Nuclear Policy Analyst from 2001 to 2017 and has over two decades of nuclear activist experience. He has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe, and has appeared on ABC News, NBC News, Al Jazeera, CNN, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.

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