The safety of our nation’s nuclear plants has been on many people’s minds in the months following the devastating earthquake in Japan and the resulting disaster at the Fukashima Daiichi nuclear reactor. Here in New England, we have four active nuclear power plants in Seabrook, NH; Vernon, VT; Plymouth, MA; and Waterford, CT as well as three decommissioned plants in Rowe, MA; Wiscasset, ME; and Haddam Neck, CT. In fact, New England draws more than a quarter of our power from nuclear energy – above the national average
Nuclear energy has many benefits. It is reliable, affordable, and emission-free. However, as the tragedy in Japan shows us, it is not without risks. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is responsible for assessing those risks, and on July 12, the NRC published a report detailing safety measures in response to the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor in Japan. This report was based upon the findings of a combination of short and long-term studies of domestic nuclear power plant safety. The report included a recommendation to require the installation of back-up mechanisms which would ensure sufficient cooling of reactor cores and spent fuel pools for at least 72 hours following an incident. Additionally, operators would need to demonstrate the ability to withstand a complete loss of power for at least 8 hours.
The New England Council has had a long history of involvement in nuclear energy policy. In particular, the Council has long advocated for the development of a central waste depository in Yucca Mountain, so that potentially dangerous nuclear waste can be secured in one safe location. Please visit our Energy and Environment page for more information regarding the Council’s work on this and other energy issues.