The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) unveiled a plan this week that seems to be designed to head off any serious regulation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in the wake of last March’s Fukushima disaster. NEI officials are meeting with the NRC tomorrow to discuss the plan.
Billed as “Flexible Mitigation Capability,” the plan is designed to present a variety of upgrades that can be tailored to unique conditions at the nation’s nuclear power plants. Depending on local conditions, plant owners could choose improvements to increase their facility’s ability to withstand floods, earthquakes or even dust storms.
Some of the upgrades include providing portable pumps to keep reactors cool and fuel pools cool during an emergency. NEI also suggests providing two sets of emergency power generators, located at opposite ends of nuclear plants.
What makes me suspect “greenwashing” is the fact that all the proposals are voluntary, and many of them are so expensive that, in practical fact, no utility will adopt them. It seems clear that the intent is to make it appear that the nuclear industry is responding to the meltdowns at Fukushima, while doing nothing.
Clear evidence of the real intentions of the NEI’s plan was in a paragraph in Matthew Wald’s blog on the New York Times website this morning:
While some will point out that no amount of preparation can guarantee safety, (NEI spokesman Adrian) Heymer is looking for a different kind of guarantee, that the industry will “get credit” with the regulators for meeting recommendations presented in a task force report last summer.
Here’s a link to the Wald story: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/getting-ready-to-react-to-fukushima/