Ed Lyman: With the world facing overwhelming and immediate threats from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the risks of nuclear power are probably far from the thoughts of most people. But there is no escaping the fact that nuclear plants, which provide about 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply, require highly-trained staff to operate them safely and to protect them from terrorist attacks. They also need periodic maintenance to ensure that critical safety systems remain in good working order. And, they must be closely supervised by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to ensure that plant owners are effectively implementing nuclear safety and security requirements. However, the NRC does not generally oversee the health and safety of plant workers unless it is related to radiation exposure, so it is largely up to the plant owners themselves to implement protective measures against COVID-19 to ensure they have a functioning workforce. Reports about potential coronavirus cases among the workforce at Plant Vogtle in Georgia and allegations of a lack of enforcement of social distancing protocols there raise concerns about the adequacy of the industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Union of Concerned Scientists 26th March 2020 read more »
Nuclear power has responded to the call to action in the public health crisis that each and every one of us is facing, writes World Nuclear Association Director General Agneta Rising.
World Nuclear News 27th March 2020 read more »
Amid the devastation caused by the virus, the shutdown has been credited with giving hope of how a low-carbon economy may be achieved. As leaders plan stimulus packages to bail out their economies, experts have warned against a rapid return to “business as usual” replete with the huge inequalities, and environmental degradation which have characterised larger economies, particularly as the world is currently on track to miss emissions targets with the impacts being “too catastrophic to comprehend”. Speaking at an online panel discussion hosted by climate litigation charity Plan B, professor of epidemiology and public health at UCL and chair of the WHO’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health, Sir Michael Marmot, said: “What the Covid crisis exposes is that we can do things differently. We must not go back to the status quo, we cannot do that.” “What I would like to see, and we are seeing it at some regional levels within the UK, as well as some other countries, is putting the likely impact on health equity at the heart of all policymaking. That would lead to better environmental policy, it would lead to better social policy, it would lead to better healthcare policy and better political policies.” His sentiment was echoed by co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, Dr Gail Bradbrook, who said there will be “a reckoning to come” about the inadequacy of responses to the coronavirus outbreak for both national governments and for the lack of international cooperation, and said this has also been a problem within the climate and ecological crisis. She said: “Things that needed to have been done but weren’t to prevent the pandemic, are similar to the things needed to address the climate and ecological crisis.
Independent 27th March 2020 read more »