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Natural Resources Defense Council Recommendations on Nuclear Energy

NRDC Analysis: Nuclear Energy and a Safer Climate Future Natural Resources Defense Council · NRDC Recommendations on Nuclear Energy

Our report puts forward three nuclear-related recommendations that logically follow from NRDC’s climate and energy policy analysis and projections:

Regulators should explore approaches for replacing retiring nuclear units with zero-carbon resources and protecting the livelihoods of workers and host communities. As U.S. nuclear plants reach the end of their operating licenses or becomes uneconomical to run, growing numbers of reactors are likely to be retired. Regulators and other stakeholders will need to avoid abrupt closures, which could result in carbon emission increases from replacement generation. They should instead plan for shutdowns with sufficient time to ensure the lost power is reliably replaced with clean energy, and the livelihoods of workers and nearby communities are protected. The Joint Proposal to replace California’s only remaining nuclear power plant, the two Diablo Canyon reactors in San Luis Obispo, provides a model of an appropriate transition plan.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NRC, and states should address existing nuclear safety and fuel issues. The EPA and NRC should adopt stronger regulations to address the environmental impacts of uranium mining as well as the safety and security risks associated with nuclear plant operations. The federal regulations governing the decommissioning of nuclear power reactors need to be fundamentally overhauled. Rather than relitigate unworkable ideas like the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada, the federal government should develop a scientifically defensible and publicly accepted consent-based siting process for geologic disposal of spent nuclear fuel. Accordingly, Congress should amend the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to remove its express exemptions of radioactive material from environmental laws, thus creating a regulatory role for the EPA and the states in nuclear waste disposal.

The federal government should continue to fund research into nuclear energy. Long-term federal investment in energy technologies is a key aspect of federal energy policy, including DOE programs that support R&D for nuclear fuel cycle and reactor designs. Government spending on advanced nuclear R&D must prioritize the analysis of severe accident scenarios and security vulnerabilities. While cost estimates for advanced nuclear designs should be rigorously examined early in their R&D cycle, the cost and reliability assessments can only be realistically understood based on the performance of an advanced nuclear prototype and a first-of-a-kind commercial reactor. Highly expensive projects should be evaluated as public-private partnerships to judge market viability for a given advanced nuclear design. Nuclear weapons proliferation impacts should also be addressed early in the R&D cycle; advanced nuclear designs that require a closed nuclear fuel cycle to reprocess spent nuclear fuel should be rejected outright given the associated proliferation risk, high cost and production of secondary nuclear wastes…………

September 30, 2017 - Posted by | politics, USA

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