The latest: Mixed messages about nuclear power safety

  • the San Onofre nucler power plant.

    CC via Flickr user Exquisitur

In January 2012, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Orange County, Calif., started leaking radioactive water and was shut down. When Southern California Edison announced that the plant could be back online within six months, then-chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Gregory Jaczko publicly chastised the company. Jaczko, who helped kill plans to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain  and stood alone in opposing some U.S. nuclear plant license renewals, resigned two weeks later (HCN, 6/11/12, "Going nuclear on nuclear").

Jaczko further antagonized the nuclear industry in early April, while speaking at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. He remarked that all 104 nuclear reactors operating in the U.S. have safety problems that cannot be fixed. When asked why he didn't make the pronouncement as a regulator, he told The New York Times, "I didn't really come to it until recently." Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission determined on April 11 that it's safe to restart one of the San Onofre reactors.

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