Former NRC chair: Nuclear power is a “failed technology”

rogue regulator
Gregory Jazcko. Simon & Schuster photo.
rogue regulator
Gregory Jazcko. Simon & Schuster photo.

“Nevada is not anti-nuclear and does not oppose nuclear power,” wrote Gov. Kenny Guinn in a 2002 letter disapproving Yucca Mountain’s designation as a nuclear waste dump.

It has always seemed a bit perplexing that throughout Nevada’s long, long fight against the dump, state politicians and officials have shied away from confronting the source of the problem — nuclear power itself.

So a new book by Gregory Jazcko, a former staffer for Harry Reid and a former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, offers what to Nevada may be a refreshing, and even overdue, view.

Nuclear power is “a failed technology” that “is more hazardous than it is worth,” writes Jazcko in “Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator.”

“Because the industry relies too much on controlling its own regulation, the continued use of nuclear power will lead to catastrophe in this country or somewhere else in the world,” Jazcko writes. “This is a truth we all must confront.”

Discussing the book in a recent television interview, Jazcko describes how the NRC responded to the 2011 Fukushima catastrophe in Japan with several recommendations to improve safety at U.S. reactors. Many of those recommendations have yet to be adopted, he said.

“I think the industry, right after the accident, came forward and offered a number of alternative solutions to dealing with the kind of accident that you had at Fukushima … cheaper solutions, easier solutions.”

Jazcko resigned from the NRC in 2012, under sharp criticism from fellow commissioners and pro-nuclear members of Congress. One of the complaints against him was that he was instrumental in thwarting the progress of the Yucca Mountain dump.

In an excerpt of the book published on Simon & Schuster’s website, Jazcko describes the NRC as “an agency overwhelmed by the industry it is supposed to regulate and a political system determined to keep it that way.”

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.

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