ANS urges support for continued nuclear operation

Nuclear power plants are key national assets and are vital to the USA’s security and economic prosperity, according to a newly issued position statement from the American Nuclear Society (ANS). The organisation has called for policies, laws, market reforms and governmental support to ensure the continued operation of the country’s existing nuclear fleet.

The ANS’s Position Statement 26, US Commercial Nuclear Power Plants: A Vital National Asset, was created in recognition of the considerable economic challenges faced by the country’s operating nuclear power plants, particularly those in deregulated electricity markets.

“Protecting the US fleet is in our national interest – it is essential that the plants continue to operate and provide clean, reliable base load electrical power,” the organisation said as it launched the statement on 16 May.

The position statement notes: nuclear capacity generates about 20% of the USA’s electricity while avoiding the emission of nearly 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year; it helps to diversify energy supply, with its high reliability and availability supporting the stability of the country’s domestic electricity grid; and sustained operation of the current fleet is therefore vital to the nation’s security and economic prosperity.

At the same time, the strength of the USA’s domestic nuclear industry, including its regulatory regime, underpins US influence over global nuclear safety and non-proliferation standards, the statement says, with US experts engaged in a wide range of nuclear projects worldwide.

“Maintaining this level of involvement and leadership requires a strong domestic nuclear fleet: we cannot develop and maintain the necessary professional talent without it,” the ANS says.

The failure of many US electricity markets to recognise and compensate nuclear operators for such attributes has, however, led to distortions resulting in the premature shutdown of several plants and made the construction of new…

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