Representative Ed Markey, a man who is quicker with antinuclear press releases than almost anyone, is once again trying to ratchet up the cost of licensing, owning and operating nuclear power plants. This time, he is using the recent Mineral, VA earthquake as his reason for reacting.
Here is a quote from a recent story by Hank Silverberg of WTOP in Washington, DC.
But Congressman Ed Markey (D – Mass.), a nuclear power watchdog, says the quake in Virginia “was a wake-up call to stop delaying the implementation of stricter safety standards.”
I used to listen to Hank regularly when I commuted back and forth from Annapolis to Washington. I thought he might be receptive, so I wrote him a quick note.
I saw an article on WTOP.com that you wrote about Representative Ed Markey’s effort to impose stricter standards on North Anna Unit 3 and the rest of the nuclear fleet.
Even though the earthquake was far larger and more energetic than anyone expected, there was little to no damage to the plant. Engineers that design nuclear power stations, unlike politicians, make careful and extensive calculations and then add margins of safety. They (we) do not cut corners; it would be a costly decision to put the output of a large nuclear plant at risk by doing so.
The new unit at North Anna will include design features and materials that incorporate knowledge and lessons learned during the more than 30 years since the first two units were designed. It will be at least as resilient as the existing units, even without any altered regulations imposed in a knee jerk reaction to imaginary damage that did not happen.
The major effect of the changes that Markey proposes would be to increase regulatory uncertainty. Implementing the changes would delay projects by several years, adding a very significant cost burden that might encourage more nuclear project cancellations. The main beneficiaries of such action would be the established energy suppliers who sell the coal and natural gas that would be burned during the time that North Anna Unit 3 and all other delayed nuclear power stations are not running.
Publisher, Atomic Insights