U.S. Nuclear Safety Practices: A Renewed Focus
With the eyes of the world focused on Japan in the wake of the recent earthquake and tsunami, the United States has begun to weigh the damage of Japan’s crisis and review the strength of current U.S. nuclear safety standards. Over the past 40 years, nuclear reactors have established themselves within the U.S. energy mix as one of the leading sources of renewable energy. With the spotlight on nuclear energy, operators and regulators in the market must be increasingly cognizant of the potential consequences of operational oversight. President Obama has recently ordered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to conduct a “comprehensive review” of U.S. nuclear reactors.
There are 104 U.S. nuclear reactors in place; the last nuclear plant was completed in 1996. Reevaluating these reactors is a critical step to addressing the current nuclear safety practices the U.S. has in place and in determining if additional standards and regulations need to be implemented. Additionally, the NRC is proposing a 90-day review of the nuclear crisis at Japan’s Fukushima power plant to increase awareness and understanding of the current nuclear crises. Increased awareness of the series of events leading to Japan’s nuclear emergency should help strengthen the NRC’s evaluation methods and provide a helpful outline for auditing U.S. nuclear reactors.
Further research is needed to identify solid preventative measures that can promote increased nuclear security and operational control. The lessons learned from Japan’s catastrophe cannot be disregarded, and inspection of U.S. and worldwide nuclear infrastructure should be continually pursued. The destructive impact and looming consequences of Japan’s nuclear disaster serve as a reminder of the need for diligent, effective nuclear safety practices and the importance of evaluating safety standards.