In reaction to the NRC denying a nuclear permit for Calvert Cliffs, some nuclear backers suggest changing the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to permit majority foreign ownership of nuclear reactors. What will they suggest next? Asking Iran to invest in U.S. nukes?
Steve Skutnik wrote for http://theenergycollective.com 5 September 2012, A cost-free way to open up nuclear investment,
If this seems entirely backward in a world of global production and investment, that’s because it is. The current regulation is an artifact of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, which first authorized private ownership of nuclear facilities. (Prior to this—per the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, all nuclear technology was considered a state secret, during the short time in which the U.S. enjoyed a monopoly on the technology.)
Is there any real compelling reason for restrictions on foreign ownership and investment in nuclear facilities to exist at a time when the U.S. holding a monopoly on the technology has long since passed? Issues of safety here of course are irrelevant—the facilities would be licensed and regulated by the NRC, just as any other nuclear facility is now. About the only salient objection is the political one—i.e., the implications of a foreign entity maintaining controlling ownership in key infrastructure. (Although it’s hard to see anyone getting particularly upset about the reverse—U.S. entities owning a controlling stake in infrastructure in other nations.)
Yeah, sure, strict regulation will deal with that, just like it prevents fracking from setting drinking water on fire, or BP from poisoning the Gulf. The new NRC head is maybe well-meaning, but it’s the same NRC that gave Vogtle 1 a clean bill just before it had to shut down and the same NRC that’s ignoring cancer in Shell Bluff.
Oh, by the way, the article gets to the main point eventually:Continue reading