Richard Brodsky, Op-Ed Contributor, New York Times Source →
The Fukushima meltdowns, which began a year ago this week, were a disaster — but also, at least in the United States, an opportunity. Everyone was awake and interested. Thoughtful questions, wild speculation and genuine, heartfelt public concern about nuclear safety were everywhere.
Predictably, the nuclear industry hunkered down, filling the airwaves with its own spin. The real failure, however, was at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which, some hoped, might seize the moment to push for real discussion and change. It didn’t.
A year has passed, though, with almost no progress. One thing has become clear: It’s not enough to push for change at the industry level. We must also reform the regulators themselves.
The commission’s failures are legion. For one thing, it has repeatedly fallen short on the issue of fire safety. In 1975, a reactor in Alabama almost melted down because the electric cables that control reactor shutdown in an emergency burned through. The commission required upgraded insulation of the cables in all nuclear plants, but when it tested the insulation, it failed.