Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher today announced that President Obama has ordered a comprehensive safety review of all 104 active nuclear plants in the United States.
“In Prague, the President was very clear. He did not call for a nuclear-free world; but a nuclear-weapons-free world. The President strongly supports promoting safe nuclear energy. He also feels strongly that it cannot be done by denying rights to other states.” -Ms. Tauscher
She discussed also how the United States government is working to ensure that nuclear energy is done safely without increasing global proliferation threats.
“We all know that safety must be integral at every step in the design, construction, and operation of nuclear facilities. Three Mile Island and Chornobyl taught us this difficult lesson. Nuclear accidents know no borders, and no one is immune.” -Ms. Tauscher
She highlighted that the March 11 triple disaster in Japan – where an earthquake led to a massive tsunami that in turn created a nuclear crisis – serves as a tragic reminder of the challenges we all face. She added that as the Government of Japan engages in large-scale decontamination measures to eliminate the radioactive materials present in the environment, residents of the area around the power station in Fukushima continue to face an unclear future and struggle with worries about radiation they cannot see, smell, or taste.
“Lessons learned from Fukushima are still incomplete, and the situation there continues to evolve and improve as Japanese authorities continue working to bring the Fukushima power reactors to a cold shutdown.” -Ms. Tauscher
According to Ms. Tauscher, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has already completed its near-term inspections and made recommendations for improving our regulatory framework and safety procedures. At the international level, the Administration is urging all nuclear countries to update their nuclear power plant safety assessments, to be prepared for scenarios that include multiple severe hazards, and to give particular attention to the IAEA safety standards.
“These standards are invaluable to the success of every country’s nuclear energy program.” -Ms. Tauscher
She stressed that the United States supported the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety that was approved by the IAEA Board of Governors and endorsed by the IAEA General Conference.