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The NRC Puts Safety Second

The first anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in April refocused world attention on the safety of nuclear power. The Union of Concerned Scientists recently released Safety Second (Indiana University Press, 1987), a critical study of the US. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's first decade. In this excerpt from the book, the union outlines its recommendations for improving the NRC so that safety comes first. The goal of Congress in establishing the Nuclear Regulatory Com

The Scientist Staff
The first anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in April refocused world attention on the safety of nuclear power. The Union of Concerned Scientists recently released Safety Second (Indiana University Press, 1987), a critical study of the US. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's first decade. In this excerpt from the book, the union outlines its recommendations for improving the NRC so that safety comes first.


The goal of Congress in establishing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was to alter the institutional dynamics of the regulation of civilian nuclear power by freeing the regulators from the inherent conflict posed by being both regulators and promoters of the technology. The NRC's performance during its first decade indicates that the approach has not succeeded. The act of dividing the Atomic Energy Commission in two has not had the results hoped for. This outcome was foreshadowed in the new agency's first official act,...

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