Safety problem in all U.S. nuclear plants, says ex-regulator

by David Safier

Consider the source. Gregory B. Jaczko is the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, not someone from an anti-nuke group. Jaczko says every nuclear power plant in the U.S. — 104 in all — has an unfixable safety problem, and they need to be replaced.

Dr. Jaczko cited a well-known characteristic of nuclear reactor fuel to continue to generate copious amounts of heat after a chain reaction is shut down. That “decay heat” is what led to the Fukushima meltdowns. The solution, he said, was probably smaller reactors in which the heat could not push the temperature to the fuel’s melting point.

As NRC chair, Jaczko often voted for greater safety measures for nuclear plants, contrary to the other commission members. He stepped down last summer.

The nuclear industry, eerily echoing George Wallace's famous "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" speech, said the plants were safe before Jaczko was NRC chair, were safe during the Fukushima tsunami disaster and are safe today.

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