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Making Nuclear Power Safer

While all technologies carry risks as well as benefits, nuclear power is unique among our current energy options because of the potential for a significant release of deadly radioactive materials, which can kill, sicken or displace very large numbers of people, as well as poisoning the environment.

For this reason, it is vitally important that we make nuclear power as safe as possible while we continue to rely on it as part of our energy mix. UCS experts work to educate citizens and policymakers about nuclear power risks and the best ways to minimize them.

Who's Responsible for Nuclear Power Safety?

The NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) is charged with regulating commercial nuclear power in the United States. UCS has been advocating for better NRC enforcement of safety regulations for decades. 

But responsibility for nuclear power safety doesn't end with the NRC: state and local governments also have important roles to play in protecting the public, as do local watchdog groups, concerned citizens and the media, who play a key role in making sure that nuclear safety concerns are properly addressed and that the public has a voice in decisions that affect our lives, livelihood, health and safety. 

Preventing Nuclear Accidents

Combine powerful natural forces such as floods, earthquakes and severe weather, error-prone humans, and aging facilities and equipment, and you have a situation in which nuclear accidents can and do happen—with potentially devastating human, environmental and economic consequences.

For decades, UCS analysts have analyzed  the many ways in which nuclear power safety systems can fail, provided recommendations on how to address those shortcomings, and held the NRC accountable when it does not do enough to protect the public from these hazards.

Handling Nuclear Waste

When we're done using nuclear fuel to generate electric power, it's not done emitting hazardous radiation. Safe handling of nuclear waste presents daunting problems, both technical and political. But there are smart solutions that can reduce nuclear waste risks, and UCS is helping persuade policy makers to adopt them.

Keeping Nuclear Power Secure

Nuclear power plants and waste storage facilities make inviting targets for terrorists, and a successful attack on a nuclear plant could lead to a catastrophic radiological release with deadly consequences.  It's impossible to eliminate this threat entirely, but it could be greatly reduced by adopting appropriate security measures. Unfortunately, the NRC's approach to nuclear security issues has often fallen short, leaving us more vulnerable than we ought to be.

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