Preface. This is nuts. Sea level rise threatens many nuclear power plants and drought has shut plants down since they need cooling to operate.
As nuclear reactor age, they require more intensive monitoring and preventive maintenance to operate safely. But reactor owners have not always taken this obligation seriously enough. Given that older reactors require more attention from the regulator, not less, it is perplexing that the NRC wants to scale back its inspections of the aging reactor fleet and its responses to safety violations. Six years ago, the US Government Accountability Office pointed out that “NRC’s oversight will soon likely take on even greater importance as many commercial reactors … are reaching or have reached the end of their initial 40-year operating period.” (Lyman 2019).
Natter, A. 2020. The U.S. May Soon Have the World’s Oldest Nuclear Power Plants. Bloomberg.
In December federal regulators approved Florida Power & Light Co.’s request to let the facility’s twin nuclear reactors remain in operation for another 20 years beyond the end of their current licenses. By that point they’ll be 80, making them the oldest reactors in operation anywhere in the world.
“That’s too old,” said Rippingille, a lawyer and retired Miami-Dade County judge who was wearing a blue print shirt with white sea turtles on it. “They weren’t designed for this purpose
With backing from the Trump administration, utilities across the nation are preparing to follow suit, seeking permission to extend the life of reactors built in the 1970s to the 2050s as they run up against the end of their 60-year licenses.
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