Federal regulators on Monday gave the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant a 20-year license renewal. Sen. Bernie Sanders said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission action "defies comprehension." He had urged the NRC to reconsider in the aftermath of the disaster at a tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant in Japan. Sanders on Friday sent a letter to President Obama calling for a moratorium on nuclear licenses renewals in the United States. He also proposed a presidential commission to study plant safety and other measures. To read more about the letter, click here.
Sanders' letter to Obama called for:
- An independent review by a special presidential commission with broad authority and a mandate to independently review the safety of every existing nuclear reactor and waste site in the United States, in light of the lessons that may be learned from the situation in Japan.
- A moratorium on all licensing and re-licensing decisions by the NRC. China already is conducting a full review of safety at its nuclear plants and halted new construction. Germany closed seven reactors to review safety. In this country, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to shut down the Indian Point nuclear plant, which is operated by Entergy, the same company that runs Vermont Yankee.
- Repealing a federal law that indemnifies the nuclear industry. "In the event of a nuclear tragedy in the United States, should the taxpayers of this country be asked to provide billions of dollars in compensation to the victims of such a tragedy or, in a free-enterprise society such as ours, should the nuclear industry itself take full responsibility to secure insurance in the private market for all consequences of such an unthinkable tragedy?" he asked.
- Withdrawal of an Obama administration request for $36 billion in new lending authority to build more nuclear power plants. Instead, Sanders said existing nuclear loan guarantee funds should be redirected to enhance energy efficiency and to develop safer, more cost-effective energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal.
- Giving states a say on the safety of nuclear plants. "It will be people who live in the vicinity of nuclear power plants who will have to bear the burden of any tragedy that might occur, and for this reason alone they should play a meaningful role in deciding whether or not the safety risk is acceptable," Sanders wrote.