Federal officials want to gut safety measures to pave the way for untested new facilities—maybe in your neighborhood.

by Karl Grossman, The Progressive

“Guinea Pig Nation: How the NRC’s new licensing rules could turn communities into test beds for risky, experimental nuclear plants,” is what physicist Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety with the Union of Concerned Scientists, titled his presentation on November 17.

The “Night with the Experts” online session, organized by the Nuclear Energy Information Service, focused on how the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is involved in a major change of its rules and guidance to gut government regulations to pave the way for what the nuclear industry calls “advanced” nuclear power plants.

Nuclear power plant after sunset. Dusk landscape with big chimneys.

Already, Lyman said, the NRC has moved to allow the construction of nuclear power plants in thickly populated areas. This “change in policy” was approved in a vote by NRC commissioners in late July.

For more than a half-century, the NRC and its predecessor agency, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, sought to have nuclear power plants built in “low population zones”—because of the threat of a major nuclear plant accident. But this year the NRC substantially altered this policy.

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