Providing one out of five American households and businesses with clean energy, nuclear power should take center stage in the nation’s energy plans if the country wants to address the changing climate seriously. This is according to the chair of Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, John Barrasso (R-Wyo) at a committee hearing held on November 13 named Preserving and Expanding Clean, Reliable Nuclear Power: U.S. Commercial Nuclear Reactor Performance Trends and Safety Initiatives.
The country traces its nuclear power usage history to the first commercial nuclear power station in the country, the Shipping port Atomic Power Station, which first produced power commercially in 1958. The station, based in Pennsylvania, developed a model used by the 96 currently operational power plants and established the foundation for regulation of nuclear resources.
The country’s nuclear power stations peaked in 1990 at 112 stations, a figure which has been reducing since then. Nine nuclear reactors were shut down over the past seven years, with an additional eight set to be phased out within five years, a pattern that Barrasso says should stop. The government pioneers safety standards in the industry of nuclear energy must be maintained and extended, he commented, adding that the American public needs to build more trust in nuclear power as a source of safe, reliable energy.
Over the last 20 years, the personnel at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission report increasing safety, adding that current nuclear power plants exceptionally high performance and safety standards in comparison to other reactors in the past. The government through the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations pioneers safety standards in the industry. High safety standards lead to better reactor operations, and consequently, unplanned shutdowns are minimized.
In his statement, Barrasso said that disposal of used nuclear fuel has to be addressed and that the country is falling behind in its legal duty to get rid of nuclear waste permanently. The policy involves furthering a nuclear waste strategy based on the Yucca Mountain Site, whose review is underway. Barrasso has drafted a law to implement the policy. Additionally, he indicated that nuclear power should be taken seriously, taking measures such as introducing safe, performance-based nuclear technologies, maintaining uranium production in the country and adequately disposing of nuclear waste.
The committee was at the forefront in the development and signing of the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, which calls for predictable, effective standards in nuclear technology development. President Donald Trump acknowledged that maintenance of uranium production in the country is a national security issue currently under attack from cheaper imports. The Nuclear Fuel Working Group was thus formed to suggest ways of preserving the country’s nuclear fuel cycle.
This post was originally published on Weekly News Times