Why you might want to take NRC approvals with a grain of salt

Why you might want to take NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) approvals with a grain of salt 

I’m posting a link here to a news article reporting how the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) removed an NRC reviewer from his review responsibilities
when the NRC reviewer found problems.

Here’s the link:

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/safety-reviewers-raise-questions-about-construction-new-nuclear-fuel-plant

The facility whose design was under review was a MOX (mixed oxide) plant for fabricating fuel for commercial reactors using weapons-grade plutonium, rather than a commercial nuclear power plant.  I think the general issue is the same for other areas of review that the NRC conducts, though:  it shows how an organization such as the NRC might be able to meet schedules they have set for approving license applications even in the face of valid objections being raised by qualified professionals.   So you may to need to dig a little deeper than an NRC approval if you want to find out the safety implications of a nuclear facility.

quote from article:

——- beginning of excerpt from article —–
“Alex Murray, the lead chemical process engineer on the NRC review
team, has said in public documents that he was removed from the
project in 2007, after he repeatedly warned that safety plans to
prevent a chemical explosion risk specific to this type of plant were
inadequate and could lead to a significant release of radioactive
material.

“After Murray was reassigned, the NRC hired Dan Tedder, a chemical
engineering professor from the Georgia Institute of Technology who had
participated in technical reviews for the Department of Energy since
1979. Tedder said he resigned less than a year later because he
believed that the plant’s chemical engineering plans were incomplete
and felt that his concerns were brushed aside.

‘I really don’t feel that the NRC is doing the thorough type of
analyses that I believe are appropriate,’ he said. ‘Their primary
focus is staying on schedule and not doing anything to delay the
applicant, rather than identifying dominant risks and safety issues.’ ”

——–end or excerpt from article ———————

So, when the NRC spokesman says (as quoted in the article above): ““We wouldn’t allow or license a facility or a fuel if we didn’t think it was safe,”  what you need to ask is:  Who is included in that “we”?  Does that “we” consist of a group of people assigned to review a design, who then came to the conclusion that it was safe, or is that “we” a group of people formed by selecting only those people who came to the conclusion that it was safe?

Just a word to the wise.

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