Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New AP1000 Nuclear Reactor Design Sparks Ire

From In These Times:

In their rush to approve a newly designed nuclear reactor slated for proposed power plants throughout the southeastern United States, federal regulators are ignoring safety issues raised by a pattern of containment failures in reactors. That’s the urgent message at the center of two recent reports examining the design of the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor, which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is in the process of certifying.

Both reports were written by Arnold Gundersen, a former senior nuclear industry official and chief engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc., an independent research firm. The initial report was released in April 2010, and the follow-up report released in late December. They were commissioned by the AP1000 Oversight Group, a coalition of environmental organizations centered in the Southeast, where construction of 14 new nuclear power plants has been proposed. Because of the safety issues documented by Gundersen, the coalition is contesting certification of the AP1000.

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