Climate & Energy Blog

Obama’s Refusal to Put Brakes on Dangerous Reactors Called Irresponsible

Posted Mar. 17, 2011 / Posted by: Kelly Trout

For Immediate Release
March 17, 2011

Contact:
Kelly Trout, 202-222-0722, ktrout@foe.org
Nick Berning, 202-222-0748, nberning@foe.org

Obama’s Refusal to Put Brakes on Dangerous Reactors Called ‘Irresponsible’

President calls nuclear an ‘important part of our own energy future’ as crisis in Japan becomes dire

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As the reactor crisis in Japan escalated toward worst-case scenarios, President Obama was rebuked today for reiterating his support for dangerous reactors in the U.S.

At a news conference this afternoon, President Obama asserted, “nuclear power is an important part of our own energy future,” while also calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the safety of U.S. nuclear plants.

“We welcome President Obama’s call for a comprehensive safety review, but he seems to be pre-judging the outcome by insisting reactors should be part of our country’s future,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth U.S.

Friends of the Earth yesterday released a fact sheet detailing how existing reactors in the U.S. are vulnerable to a Japan-like disaster.

“President Obama has talked a lot in the past about humility, but his continued support for dangerous new reactors looks more like hubris. It’s irresponsible and puts the public at risk,” said Pica.

“The reactor crisis in Japan is a tragic reminder that nuclear reactors have the potential to lead to catastrophe. Leaders from China to Germany are responding by putting immediate brakes on reactor plans. That’s what we should be doing here,” continued Pica.

“As a first step, President Obama should immediately halt his push for expansion of this dangerous industry. Reactors cannot be built without billions in taxpayer-funded bailouts because even Wall Street sees the risks as too high,” added Pica.

Friends of the Earth called on the President to stop the construction and licensing of dangerous reactors, to reverse his support for nuclear industry bailouts, and to shift his focus to phasing out aging reactors like those on the brink of meltdown in Japan as quickly and safety as possible.

In its fact sheet, the group cited 23 reactors at 16 U.S. plants as the same GE Mark 1 design involved in the crisis in Fukushima and noted that two nuclear plants on the California coast sit near the volatile San Andreas Fault, making them vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis. U.S. spent fuel storage pools are also under-protected in the same way as the pools that appear to be causing problems at Fukushima.

The fact sheet on risks U.S. reactors pose is available at: http://www.foe.org/us-reactors-pose-risks

A fact sheet on the Title XVII loan guarantee program, which is the mechanism President Obama is using to preemptively bailout new reactor construction, is available here: http://www.foe.org/sites/default/files/NuclearLoanGuarantees.pdf

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