New NRC head says agency is standing up for public health and safety

Sounds to me like the NRC is not telling its new chief everything. For example, what about Vogtle unit 1 shutting down right after it passed an NRC review? What about cancer in Shell Bluff, Georgia, near the reactors?

Mike M. Ahlers wrote for CNN 14 August 2012, New NRC chair vouches for agency’s independence, states goals

Allison Macfarlane said Tuesday she has confidence in the agency and its independence from the nation’s 104 commercial nuclear power plants.

“I have some strong initial impressions of the agency, and one is that I’ve been very impressed with the staff and their dedication to safety, and their willingness to stand up to industry when they believe a situation is not safe,” Macfarlane said in a wide-ranging discussion with reporters.

“So I’m actually quite assured that the agency is completing its mission of protecting public health and safety,” she said. “They take safety issues very seriously. They take their role as regulators very seriously and the public should be assure that they have the public’s best interests in mind.”

Macfarlane said she hopes to build public confidence in the agency by improving communication, increasing transparency and making NRC documents understandable. “Some of them are rather opaque,” she allowed.

She has said some slightly more impressive things back before she was appointed. Tara Laskowski wrote for Georga Mason University News 15 February 2010, Nuclear Energy Expert Seeks Disposal Solutions,

“We want to stop the spread of nuclear weapons throughout the world,” says Macfarlane. She also is chair of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which runs the cheery Doomsday Clock monitoring the threat of “midnight,” or the end of the world should nuclear weapons, global warming, biotechnology or any other human development get out of hand.

Finding a solution to the threat — and potential — of nuclear power is just one of the many issues that make up an even larger problem of global warming. Although Macfarlane sees much innovation ahead in terms of alternative energy, she is concerned about the future.

“The best way to meet goals is to diversify energy supply. Nuclear energy must be considered, and renewable energy resources must be developed. We are still very far from finding a clean, efficient energy source. And with the damage we are doing to our planet, it may already be too late.”

That part about “renewable energy resources must be developed” certainly isn’t aligned with Southern Company or Georgia Power. Unfortunately, the NRC doesn’t deal with solar or wind energy.