The Christian Science Monitor noted recently:
Just as the BP oil spill one year ago heaped scrutiny on the United State's Minerals Management Service, harshly criticized for lax drilling oversight and cozy ties with the oil industry, the nuclear crisis in Japan is shining a light on that nation's safety practices.
[Russian nuclear accident specialist Iouli Andreev, who as director of the Soviet Spetsatom clean-up agency helped in the efforts 25 years ago to clean up Chernobyl ] has also accused the IAEA of being too close with corporations. "This is only a fake organization because every organization which depends on the nuclear industry – and the IAEA depends on the nuclear industry – cannot perform properly."
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is no better.
As nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, Duane Peterson (president of VPIRG & coordinator for the campaign to retire Vermont Yankee nuclear plant), investigative reporter Harvey Wasserman and Paul Gallay (executive director of Riverkeeper) point out in a roundtable discussion:
- The NRC won't even begin conducting its earthquake study for Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York until after relicensing is complete in 2013, because the NRC doesn't consider a big earthquake "a serious risk"
- Congressman Markey has said there is a cover up. Specifically, Markey alleges that the head of the NRC told everyone not to write down risks they find from an earthquake greater than 6.0 (the plant was only built to survive a 6.0 earthquake)
- The budget for the NRC comes from the nuclear power companies [just like banks fund the Federal Reserve]
- The NRC is wholly captive to industry
- The NRC has never turned down the request of a nuclear power plant to be relicensed in the United States. Relicensing is solely a paper process; there is no safety review.
- The NRC's assumptions regarding a worst-case accident are ridiculous. For example, the NRC assumes only 1% of the fuel could meltdown, while 70% melted down at Fukushima. The NRC assumes no loss of containment, while there has been a major loss of containment in reactors 1-3 (especially 2) at Fukushima.
- "If there was a free market in energy, nuclear power would be over ... immediately". Nuclear plant owners can't get insurance; they can only operate because the U.S. government provides insurance on the taxpayer dime. The government also granted a ridiculously low cap on liability
- If we had no subsidies for nuclear, coal or oil, we'd have a clean energy economy right now
- We have 4 reactors in California - 2 at San Onofre 2 at San Luis Obisbo - which are vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis.
- No state or federal agency knows who would be in charge in case of an accident at Indian Point. It's like the Keystone Cops
Note: The videos appear to rotate, so if the nuclear roundtable is not playing at first, keep on watching, and it will eventually loop back.