“Nuclear Oversight Lacking Worldwide” – the problem of “coziness” / video & transcript from Fairewinds Associates, Inc.

http://fairewinds.com/content/nuclear-oversight-lacking-worldwide

This update from Fairewinds features a concise ( ~ 10 minute) video with some reports and stories over the years showing that although the US has repeatedly admitted and resolved to deal with it, it still hasn’t solved the problem of “coziness” between those who own and operate plants, and those who are supposed to be regulating them.  Various pundits have been implying or saying that the “coziness” problem between industry and regulators is specific to Japan.  Arnie Gunderson says it’s not.

I agree.  In one of my early posts on Fukushima, I remarked:

“One comment:  some op-eds are blaming Japanese culture for the situation, especially for some of the regulatory lapses.  I don’t agree with that at all.  We are looking in the mirror here.   The U.S. has had similar problems being hesitant to admit problems.  Here, too, reluctance to be too harsh morphed into actual refusal to enforce regulations.

There are examples of failures of monitoring and enforcement across cultures, countries, and plant designs.

(March 26th post, this site: https://mattersofproportion.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/update-on-fukushima-japan-nuclear-reactor-in-an-information-vacuum/)

There is also a point in the video relevant to the regulation of new nuclear power plants:  the GAO‘s investigation into Jeffrey Merrifield showed he had a conflict of interest when he was involved in the granting of “Limited Work Authorizations” that allow construction to begin before the plant design has even been certified. (Gunderson’s site includes a link to the GAO report on it.)  This is highly relevant to the precarious situation I think we’re in with respect to how constrained people are in responding to design issues being raised about the AP1000:  in several recent posts, I’ve said I think the fact that construction on the first US AP1000, which is ongoing in Georgia, at the Vogtle site, cannot help but put political pressure on the regulators charged with providing an impartial review of the AP1000 design.

Gunderson’s video is a response to a suggestion that the “coziness” problem indicates a need for “cooperation” between countries, as if somehow the US and a global cooperative effort could help Japan with this problem.  The suggestion is no solution at all; he makes some subtle points by putting together some interesting historical facts.  I won’t recount them here; I will just encourage you to visit his site.

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