Of Aging Nuclear Plants and “Fail-Safe” Protections

Tom Irwin | @TomIrwinNH

In his op-ed published yesterday in the Keene Sentinel, Bob King of Keene (and of CLF’s New Hampshire State Board) reminds readers of comments by British Petroleum’s CEO describing the Deepwater Horizon’s blow-out preventer as having been engineered to be “fail-safe.”  

With the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history continuing to unravel before our eyes, it’s more clear than ever that blithe acceptance of “fail-safe” engineering promises is not an option.

It’s not an option in offshore drilling operations, and it’s not an option in the regulation and operation of nuclear power plants like Vermont Yankee. 

The Keene Sentinel got it right in its June 2 editorial: when it comes to the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, we should all be concerned with the sort of regulatory coziness exposed not only by the Gulf Oil crisis, but also by the April coal mining accident in West Virginia. 

It’s time to move away from the false promise of “fail-safe” engineering and to recognize the human and environmental risks associated with aging nuclear plants like Vermont Yankee. It’s time to move toward a new, clean-energy economy, and it’s time for New England to lead.

Want to talk about Vermont Yankee?

Join me and other CLF staff at the River Garden in Brattleboro, VT on Thursday, June 10 from 6-8 PM for a community gathering and Q&A on Vermont Yankee.   See event details.

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