Alexander: Oil Spill Regulators Should Learn from Nuclear Regulators

Cites History of Zero Fatalities from U.S. Commercial and Navy Reactors

Posted on May 5, 2010

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today in a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety about the Oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that America’s nuclear energy industry has an outstanding record of safety. 

“This hearing is taking place in the shadow of an oil spill that may turn out to be our worst, and there have been other recent tragedies: a coal mine explosion in West Virginia, a natural gas plant explosion in Connecticut, a billion gallons of coal ash in Tennessee,” Alexander said.  “So when we talk about the risks of nuclear energy, I think it’s important that we compare them to the risks of other forms of energy, and I believe nuclear has something to teach other forms of energy.  There has never been a fatality as a result of a nuclear accident at any of the United States’ nuclear power plants.” 

Alexander pointed out that “the latest figures from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration show that working in the nuclear industry is safer than working in finance, insurance and real estate.  You’re safer doing maintenance or engineering work on a nuclear reactor than you are sitting in front of a computer terminal trying to figure out how derivatives work.  Patrick Moore, the co-founder of Greenpeace, says he wouldn’t mind living in a nuclear power plant, which should be no surprise to sailors who have been doing that since the 1950s.” 

Alexander continued, “As we examine this today and in other hearings, I want to make sure we weigh any dangers of nuclear power against the much greater dangers of what might replace it.” 

Last year, Alexander introduced the Clean Energy Act with Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.) to promote investment and development in clean energy technologies, especially nuclear power. 

“The rest of the world has moved ahead of us—there are 56 reactors being built around the world in many countries while we haven’t started a new reactor in this country for 30 years.  If we were going to war, we wouldn’t put our nuclear navy in mothballs, and if we’re serious about clean energy, we shouldn’t put our nuclear power plants in mothballs either.” 

Alexander, one of the Senate’s leading advocates for nuclear power, recently released a book – Going to War in Sailboats: Why Nuclear Power Beats Windmills for America’s Green Energy Future – which can be downloaded for free here.


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