Nuclear Power Reports

  • Regulatory Malpractice (2003)

    Regulatory Malpractice (2003)
    The Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 created the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
  • Research Reactors Fueled by Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) (2004)

    Research Reactors Fueled by Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) (2004)
    HEU is attractive to terrorist groups because it can be used directly to make a simple nuclear weapon. Many countries possess small nuclear "research" reactors that are used for professional training, scientific research, and medical radioisotope production. More than 100 operating research reactors worldwide are fueled with HEU.
  • Impacts of a Terrorist Attack at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant (2004)

    Impacts of a Terrorist Attack at Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant (2004)
    Although the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ordered modest security upgrades at Indian Point and other nuclear power plants in response to the 9/11 attacks, the plants remain vulnerable, both to air attacks and to ground assaults by large terrorist teams with paramilitary training and advanced weaponry.
  • Nuclear Power in a Warming World (2007)

    Nuclear Power in a Warming World (2007)
    The life cycle of nuclear power results in relatively little global warming pollution, but building a new fleet of plants could increase threats to public safety and national security. Nuclear power is riskier than it should—and could—be. The United States has strong safety regulations on the books, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not enforce them consistently.
  • Futility at the Utility: Two Decades of Missed Opportunities at Fermi Unit 2 (2007)

    Futility at the Utility: Two Decades of Missed Opportunities at Fermi Unit 2 (2007)
    For over two decades, workers at Detroit Edison's Fermi Unit 2 nuclear power reactor dutifully tested a key safety system—the one that reacts to interruptions in electricity and signals the onsite emergency diesel generators to start and power components that protect the reactor core from damage.
  • Walking a Nuclear Tightrope (2006)

    Walking a Nuclear Tightrope (2006)
    In Walking a Nuclear Tightrope: Unlearned Lessons of Year-plus Reactor Outages, the Union of Concerned Scientists identifies common themes among extended outages and steps the NRC must take to end these costly and avoidable threats to public health and the U.S. economy.
  • Fire When Not Ready (2009)

    Fire When Not Ready (2009)
    A report on fire—a primary threat to reactor cores.The NRC knows the fire hazard is very real, estimating that the reactor meltdown risk from fire hazards is about 50%, or roughly equal to the meltdown risk from ALL other hazards, combined. And that risk assessment assumes the plants are in complete compliance with fire protection regulations.
  • Nuclear Loan Guarantees (2009)

    Nuclear Loan Guarantees (2009)
    Congress should be cautious about committing taxpayer dollars to promote plants that both industry and Wall Street consider too risky to finance on their own.
  • Nuclear Power: A Resurgence We Can't Afford (2009)

    Nuclear Power: A Resurgence We Can't Afford (2009)
    The nuclear industry must resolve major economic, safety, security, and waste disposal challenges before new nuclear reactors could make a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions.
  • Nuclear Power Subsidies Will Shift Financial Risks to Taxpayers (2010)

    Nuclear Power Subsidies Will Shift Financial Risks to Taxpayers (2010)
    Massive new subsidies will further mask nuclear power’s considerable costs and risks, putting more cost-effective measures such as renewable energy technologies at a disadvantage.
  • Control rods at Peach Bottom (2010)

    Control rods at Peach Bottom (2010)
    In January 2010, workers reduced the power level of the Unit 2 reactor at the Peach Bottom nuclear plant in Pennsylvania to time how long it took control rods to fully insert into the reactor core. Safety studies assume the control rods will insert within a short time period to stop the nuclear chain reaction to mitigate the consequences of an accident. The tests revealed that three of the 19 control rods tested took longer than assumed.
  • Regulatory Roulette: The NRC's Inconsistent Oversight of Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants (2010)

    Regulatory Roulette: The NRC's Inconsistent Oversight of Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants (2010)
    Protecting People and the Environment is the tagline used by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). This report shows that the NRC is not living up to its self-stated mission when it comes to accidental releases of radioactive liquids and gases from nuclear power plants.
  • The NRC's Reactor Oversight Process: An Assessment of the First Decade (2011)

    The NRC's Reactor Oversight Process: An Assessment of the First Decade (2011)
    The Reactor Oversight Process (ROP), which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) instituted to evaluate the safety and security performance of the nation’s 104 nuclear power reactors, recently passed the ten year mark. This issue brief documents UCS’s review of the ROP’s first decade.
  • Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable without Subsidies (2011)

    Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable without Subsidies (2011)
    The report, Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable without Subsidies, looks at the economic impacts and policy implications of subsidies to the nuclear power industry—past, present, and proposed.The nuclear power industry requires government help to stay afloat.
  • The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in (2010)

    The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in (2010)
    The NRC can be an effective regulator, but safety lapses at U.S. nuclear power plants means there's much to be done.
  • Florida and Georgia Nuclear Power Projects Too Risky, Costly (2011)

    Florida and Georgia Nuclear Power Projects Too Risky, Costly (2011)
    All this uncertainty about cost and scheduling amounts to considerable financial risk—risk that will be borne primarily by the public, not the utility companies. In both Georgia and Florida, state law allows the utility companies to pass on construction and pre-construction costs for nuclear power plants to ratepayers, thus effectively providing the utility with an interest-free loan from its customers—a loan that need never be repaid, even if the project is never completed.
  • U.S. Nuclear Power After Fukushima (2011)

    U.S. Nuclear Power After Fukushima (2011)
    The recent events in Japan remind us that while the likelihood of a nuclear power plant accident is low, its potential consequences are grave. And an accident like Fukushima could happen here. An equipment malfunction, fire, human error, natural disaster or terrorist attack could—separately or in combination—lead to a nuclear crisis.
  • Emergency Planning for Nuclear Disasters (2011)

    Emergency Planning for Nuclear Disasters (2011)
    In the event of a nuclear power plant accident, plant personnel are required to immediately notify state and local authorities and the NRC. State and local emergency management agencies then decide what measures are needed to protect the public. They may order an evacuation of the area surrounding the plant, or advise residents to shelter in place to minimize radiation exposure. They may also distribute potassium iodide (KI) tablets to help reduce long-term cancer risk.
  • The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety (2011)

    The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety (2011)
    The report examines 15 “near-misses” at U.S. nuclear plants during 2011 and evaluates the NRC response in each case. Since NRC inspections cannot reveal more than a fraction of the problems that exist, it is crucial for the agency to respond effectively to the problems it does find.
  • U.S. Nuclear Power Safety One Year After Fukushima (2012)

    U.S. Nuclear Power Safety One Year After Fukushima (2012)
    On March 11, 2011, disaster struck Japan in the form of a monster earthquake and tsunami. In their wake came news of a third calamity: a "station blackout" at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant had disabled the plant's emergency cooling systems.Over the ensuing weeks, plant workers fought heroically to bring the situation under control, but they were unable to prevent core meltdowns and hydrogen explosions that released radiation into a wide area around the plant, contaminating air, wa
  • The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety (2012)

    The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety (2012)
    Inconsistent enforcement and a lax safety culture prevents the NRC from being an effective regulator.
  • Diablo Canyon and Earthquake Risk (2013)

    Diablo Canyon and Earthquake Risk (2013)
    The NRC isn't enforcing seismic regulations at the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. California's Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant sits near several earthquake fault lines. One of these discovered in late 2008 is a mere 2,000 feet from Diablo Canyon's two reactors, and could cause more ground motion during an earthquake than the reactors were designed to withstand.
  • Small Modular Reactors: Safety, Security and Cost Concerns (2013)

    Small Modular Reactors: Safety, Security and Cost Concerns (2013)
    Small modular reactors are unlikely to solve the economic and safety problems faced by nuclear power.
  • The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2013

    The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2013
    The NRC can effectively enforce nuclear safety regulations—but it’s doing so inconsistently.
  • Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster (2014)

    Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster (2014)
    Written by nuclear experts in compulsively readable detail, this book takes a moment-by-moment look at what went wrong at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant.The book draws on firsthand accounts, as well as detailed technical records and media coverage, to recreate the events preceding, during, and after the meltdowns of three of Fukushima’s nuclear reactors.The authors also address whether or not a Fukushima-scale nuclear disaster could happen in the United States—with sobering (but actio