Nothing to see here, move along
Nuclear power is a textbook example of the problem of “regulatory capture” — in which an industry gains control of an agency meant to regulate it. [...]

Even before Three Mile Island, a group of nuclear engineers had proposed that filtered vents be attached to buildings around reactors, which are intended to contain the gases released from overheated fuel. If the pressure inside these containment buildings increased dangerously — as has happened repeatedly at Fukushima — the vents would release these gases after the filters greatly reduced their radioactivity.

France and Germany installed such filters in their plants, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission declined to require them. Given the influence of America’s example, had the commission demanded the addition of filtered vents, they would likely have been required worldwide, including in Japan. [...]

The commission’s defenders often argue that it must be cautious because increased costs from safety requirements could kill the nuclear power industry. But the cost of generating electricity from existing plants is actually low: the construction expenses have been paid off and running them is relatively cheap. Requiring the operators of plants to install new safety systems would not result in them being shut down.

Therefore, perhaps the most important thing to do in light of the Fukushima disaster is to change the industry-regulator relationship. It has become customary for administrations not to nominate, and the Senate not to confirm, commissioners whom the industry regards as “anti-nuclear” — which includes anyone who has expressed any criticism whatsoever of industry practices. The commission has an excellent staff; what it needs is more aggressive political leadership.
Once again, as so often in so many industries "anti-[fill-in-the-blank]" means those people who enthusiastically support the industry, but want to make sure things get done right.

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