How Safe Are America's Aging Nuclear Power Plants?

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The ongoing disaster at Fukushima has focused attention on the safety of nuclear power plants in the United States. Could a similar accident happen here? The nuclear industry says there's only been one "safety-significant" incident since 2001, and that was nine years ago. But the nuclear plants are aging. The anticipated lifetime originally was about 40 years, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is allowing them to be re-licensed for 20 more. Now a year-long investigation by the Associated Press reports that the NRC works with the industry to weaken safety standards, or fail to enforce them, in order to keep the plants running.  The probability of a nuclear accident is very low, but the consequences can be catastrophic. Have the industry and its regulators become complacent?




Warren Olney