Jaczko — who, since finishing college in 1999, had worked as an anti-nuclear political operative, first for Rep. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) and then for Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.), was forced upon the Bush administration by Reid as a condition for approving any other NRC appointments.
In 2009, President Obama (who, as senator from Illinois, had attended the 2005 hearing and voted for Jaczko’s confirmation) promoted Jaczko to NRC chairman.
In that capacity, Jaczko has violated his promises to the Senate (made in 2005) on every point. Far from being “fair and objective” in dealing with Yucca Mountain, in 2010 he issued a directive stopping an NRC staff evaluation of the project, precisely because the study would have shown that the project was sound. He then used the resulting lack of safety data as an excuse to order work on the Yucca Mountain project to be stopped altogether. Breaking his promise to consult other members of the commission on Yucca Mountain matters, according to a report made public by NRC inspector general Hubert Bell last week, Jaczko “strategically withheld” information from the other commissioners and “was not forthcoming” about his intention to use his arbitrary directive to stop the project.
The issue of Jaczko’s wrecking operation against the Yucca Mountain repository goes well beyond his dishonesty before the Senate confirmation hearing. The larger matter is the fate of the repository itself, a project upon which the nation has already spent several billion dollars. Currently, in the absence of such a repository, nuclear waste is stored in cooling pools on reactor sites, which are generally located fairly close to major metropolitan areas. Clearly, it is strongly in the interest of public safety that these materials be moved from their current suburban locations to a remote desert facility, such as Yucca Mountain.
The purpose of the NRC is to make the nuclear industry as safe as possible. In preventing the removal of the waste, Jaczko is trying to make the industry as unsafe as possible.
On March 17, 2011, as Japan was reeling from the double impact of a massive earthquake followed by a tsunami, Jaczko gave testimony to Congress in which he wildly exaggerated the danger of radiation releases from the stricken Fukushima nuclear-power complex. Going farther, he issued an advisory to all Americans to stay 50 miles away from the disaster zone. Acting on this advisory, the U.S. military ordered forces to stay away from the area, leaving thousands of Japanese trapped in the rubble or shipwrecked at sea to die. (For the record, at this writing, 28,000 Japanese are known to have been killed by falling buildings, fire, disease, starvation, suffocation, drowning, or exposure. None have been killed, and not one member of the general public residing outside the plant gate has been injured, by radiation.)
The US Nuclear Regulatory commission was established in 1974. Adding in pre-application time with licensing certification period for the NRC review of a new reactor certification is 7-20+ years and of the more than one dozen different reactors that have been up to pre-application only 4 reactors are certified and three of those are variations of the same reactor. So 7-20 years and the odds of successfully getting through certification are about 20% or less. The odds seem even worse if your reactor is not submitted by Westinghouse (which three of the four certified reactors, but did not get the IRIS reactor certified yet) or the reactor is not a light water reactor or a pressure water reactor.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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