Time to End Taxpayer Funding of NRC
How much is your life worth? Not much, according to the NRC.
Why? Because NRC reduces the incalculable worth of a human life to a low-balled monetary amount on paper that compares human lives to the costs of installing the most effective, protective safety systems and equipment available at Limerick Nuclear Plant.
From all the evidence we’ve seen, it’s apparent that NRC’s aim is not to protect the public, but to protect nuclear industry profits. NRC provides nothing more than an illusion of safety. NRC’s assurances that Limerick Nuclear Plant is safe are as stale as old cigarette ads.
NRC’s budget for 2016, which has been submitted to Congress, shows that $122 million (about 10%) comes from the taxpaying public. The bulk of NRC’s budget (about 90%) comes from the nuclear industry that NRC is supposed to regulate. This creates an undeniable conflict of interest.
The problem is that NRC continually weakens its regulations to benefit Exelon, despite Limerick’s obvious increasing risks to public health and safety. Exelon requests that regulations be changed or eliminated and NRC always complies. Regulations at Limerick have been drastically weakened through exemptions, exclusions, amendments, deferments, delays, relief from inspections, and experiments.
In essence, NRC’s weakening of Limerick’s regulations is a service NRC provides which allows Exelon to cut corners and avoid costs. NRC should never have allowed Exelon to substitute a list of plans and commitments instead of the testing of Limerick’s aging equipment and systems to prove that they work, as required for Limerick relicensing.
When citizens want to express objections to NRC’s reckless decisions and actions, NRC offers the public NRC’s dead-end petition process, a total farce. NRC has never ruled in favor of any petition filed against Limerick. Just over the past four years, for example, NRC dismissed the following petitions, in spite of the valid issues they raised:
- A petition from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) requesting an updated Severe Accident Mitigations Alternatives (SAMA) for Limerick
- Petitions from several nuclear engineers warning that Limerick’s reactors may fail.
On May 21, 2015, NRC held its annual open house stating that NRC would respond to public questions about Limerick’s 2014 performance. NRC discouraged public participation by:
- Giving short notice in the local paper (the same day that the meeting was scheduled)
- Holding the meeting the day before a long holiday weekend
- Holding the meeting from 5:00 p.m – 6:30 p.m., inconveniently dinner time for most families
Despite the fact that NRC’s open house was about NRC’s assessment of Limerick’s 2014 operations, No NRC resident inspector who worked at Limerick in 2014 was in attendance. Instead, new 2015 resident inspectors were there, but they said they knew nothing about Limerick’s 2014 inspections and appeared to be woefully ignorant of Limerick’s inherent defects. This repeated tactic allows NRC to avoid accountability to the public.
Of utmost concern is NRC’s irresponsible refusal to test the surveillance capsules from Limerick’s defective reactors for embrittlement. At the open house, NRC officials absurdly defended NRC’s previously stated decision to test another nuclear plant’s reactor surveillance capsules to determine Limerick’s reactor embrittlement status and associated risk to the public. Limerick’s reactors have been operating for 30 years. Would you have confidence that your 30 year-old car is safe to drive based on the inspection of someone else’s car?
NRC’s conflict of interest results in unprotective decisions about Limerick that can lead to meltdowns and widespread devastation in which the public would lose everything. NRC should value public safety over Exelon’s profits, but its actions show that NRC doesn’t care about public safety.
Maybe it’s time to end public taxpayer funding of NRC and ask Congress to reject NRC’s budget proposal of $122 million of taxpayer money.
Betty and Charlie Shank
2461 E. High Street, Unit F-28
Pottstown, PA 19464