Morally Bankrupt Regulators

(Originally published September 8, 2015 on


For immediate release                                    Contact: David Kraft, Nuclear Energy Information Service

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2015                                                  (773)342-7650 (w);



Cite “prohibitively high” Costs, but Provide No Figures

CHICAGO—The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) today terminated a study being conducted by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) which was to update information about radiation hazards around U.S. nuclear power plants.  The NRC feels that conclusively determining whether the public is being harmed by radiation from commercial nuclear reactors “was impractical, given the significant amount of time and resources needed and the agency’s current budget constraints,” according to the NRC Press Release.

            “It is mind-boggling actions like this, and many others like it recently, that force us to conclude that this Agency is not only consistently in violation of its Congressional mandate to protect the public health, but morally bankrupt as well,” concluded David Kraft, director of the Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service, a nuclear power watchdog and safe-energy advocacy organization.  “In short – the NRC has NO credibility with the public any longer,” Kraft continued.

            The NAS was contracted by the NRC in 2010 to study sample populations around U.S. nuclear reactors to determine if radiation from the plants was responsible for any adverse public health effects.  Communities around Exelon’s Dresden nuclear reactor 55 miles southwest of Chicago were among the candidates for study. 

            “We guess if you don’t complete a reputable study, then you won’t have to be bothered with any embarrassing and unpredictable findings,” Kraft suggests.  “This has become an NRC study to NOT know.  And the NRC certainly does NOT want anyone to know or to find out that U.S. nuclear reactors pose safety risks to the public,” asserts Kraft.

            While the NAS study was contracted to be the most comprehensive and current examination of radiation effects from U.S. reactors to date, other studies have indicated the possibility of increased risks:

·         A study by the Massachusetts Department of Health in 1990 found a fourfold increase in adult leukemia the closer someone lived or worked to the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

·         A 2012 study by the French health research body INSERM around French nuclear reactors found the incidence of leukemia is twice as high in children living close to French nuclear power plants as in those living elsewhere in the country.

·         The 2009 German KiKK study showed, “showed a strongly increasing risk for all cancers, and especially for leukemia, the closer the children had lived to nuclear plants…”

As a result of the NRC cancellation, the ambiguity and uncertainty in studies like these will continue.  In its press statement, the NRC stated,

The NRC continues to find U.S. nuclear power plants comply with strict requirements that limit radiation releases from routine operations. The NRC and state agencies regularly analyze environmental samples from near the plants. These analyses show the releases, when they occur, are too small to cause observable increases in cancer risk near the facilities.


            “The ‘conclusion’ the NRC states – that the radiation releases are too small to cause any harm — is precisely what the NAS was supposed to research and make conclusion on,” Kraft points out.  “Like modern-day King Canutes, the NRC is ‘commanding’ the results they want the public to believe, rather than proving it through peer-reviewed, scientific investigation,” Kraft says.

            The cancellation also comes at a time when some in the nuclear industry and regulatory agencies, and many Right-wing spokespeople like Anne Coulter are trying to assert the “hormesis” theory – “a little radiation is actually ‘good’ for you” — is proven fact.  It is not.  The NAS study might have settle that contentious assertion for good, thus undercutting the industry’s desire to remove public skepticism that the low doses of radiation they are permitted to release by law (or worse, by accident) cause no harm.

            The cancellation of the NAS study might also have another unintended negative effect for nuclear advocates.  It leaves standing the peer-reviewed conclusions of the NAS BEIR-VII study from 2005, which stated:


“The scientific research base shows that there is no threshold of exposure below which low levels of ionizing radiation can be demonstrated to be harmless or beneficial….The health risks – particularly the development of solid cancers in organs – rise proportionally with exposure. At low doses of radiation, the risk of inducing solid cancers is very small. As the overall lifetime exposure increases, so does the risk.”


            “This scientifically-based finding is very troublesome for the nuclear industry,” Kraft points out.  “It costs real money to safeguard the public from radiation hazards, even relatively small ones.  Easing up on radiation protection is one way for a money-losing industry to save lots of money – although the radiation victims would not think it’s such a great idea.”

            Aside from the direct consequences of not doing definitive scientific study on radiation effects from U.S. nuclear reactors, the NRC has recently engaged in other ways to not perform its regulatory obligations:

·         The NRC Commissioners recently rejected a recommendation from its own technical staff to order installation of filtered vents on Fukushima-type reactors in the U.S.  [NOTE: Illinois has 4 such reactors; among them are the financially troubled Quad Cities 1 & 2 reactors]

·         According to Sen. Ed Markey, “The NRC has yet to require the nuclear industry complete implementation of a single Fukushima Task Force recommendation. It’s irresponsible, inexplicable and an abdication of NRC’s duty to protect public safety.”

“The NRC’s track record speaks louder than any press release,” Kraft concludes.  “NRC stands for ‘not really concerned.’  Perhaps it’s time to ‘remove the regulatory burden’ on the industry, and the financial burden on the public and the utilities, and eliminate the NRC completely.  If you’re only going to get the illusion of competent regulation without any of the substance, what’s the use in spending over $1 billion a year?” Kraft asks.


NEIS was founded in 1981 to provide the public with credible information on nuclear power, waste, and radiation hazards; and information about the viable energy alternatives to nuclear power.  For more information visit the NEIS website at:

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