In 2011, the NRC issued a statement outlining its expectation that the nuclear industry would take steps to "promote a positive safety culture." However, as a 2012 survey of NRC staff shows, the safety culture within the agency itself is deeply flawed, with nearly half of its employees expressing skepticism that the NRC is serious about addressing the issue.
A frightening comment from the report is that managers tend to downplay safety problems and react negatively when workers point them out.
Analysis of the near-miss data for the three years covered by UCS reports shows that 40 of the nation's 104 operating commercial reactors experienced a near miss between 2010 and 2012, with 12 reactors experiencing at least two near-miss events, and three experiencing three or more.
The photo in this story is of San Onofre Generating Station in San Clemente, California. The plant has been plagued by numerous problems. There are over 100, 000 people living within a 10 mile radius of the plant.
Nuclear Russian Roulette
The good news is that none of the near misses UCS has studied have resulted in harm to nuclear plant workers or the public. But one can only wonder are we playing "Russian Roulette" with our nuclear power safety?
For those not familiar with the game Russian Roulette, it is a potentially lethal game of chance in which a player places a single bullet in a six chamber revolver, spins the cylinder, places the muzzle against his head, and pulls the trigger. The violent game was dramatized in the 1970s Vietnam war movie The Deer Hunter.
In the game Russian roulette you are playing against the odds with the potential of killing yourself. Doesn't that describe the Nuclear Regulatory Commission?
The number of nuclear "near-miss" accidents over the last three years is pretty frightening. Every near miss is the equivalent of putting a bullet in the chamber. When you have multiple incidents at the same facility, it is like adding more bullets to the same gun. Sometimes you will get lucky and spin the revolver and not get hurt. But if your keep adding bullets to the gun and spinning the chamber, your luck will eventually run out.
Preppers and survivalists often list nuclear fallout and contamination as a potential hazard to our world. This often brings thoughts of nuclear war. But is the real threat of a nuclear event more likely to come from a self inflicted disaster?
How safe are America's nuclear power plants?