Environmental Issues: Nuclear Energy, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament

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All Documents in Nuclear Energy, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament

Preventing Hydrogen Explosions In Severe Nuclear Accidents
Unresolved Safety Issues Involving Hydrogen Generation And Mitigation

After Fukushima Daiichi's three devastating hydrogen explosions, the NRC decided to relegate investigating severe accident hydrogen safety issues to the lowest-priority and least proactive stage of its post-Fukushima Daiichi accident response.
Testimony of Geoffrey H. Fettus for Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on S. 1240, Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013
Written Testimony of Geoffrey H. Fettus, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council, for Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on S. 1240, Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013 Get document in pdf.
From Mutual Assured Destruction to Mutual Assured Stability
Exploring a New Comprehensive Framework for U.S. and Russian Nuclear Arms Reductions

NRDC conducted two workshops, in Washington, D.C. in 2011 and in Moscow in 2012, with members of The Institute for USA and Canadian Studies (ISKRAN), Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, to examine questions surrounding the future of U.S.-Russian arms control. Our goals were to describe a set of further arms control options and to facilitate a greater understanding of Russia's perspectives on its national security and how nuclear weapons fit into Russian security planning.
Preventing Hydrogen Explosions at Indian Point Nuclear Plant
Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Continue to Make Inaccurate and Misleading Statements Regarding the Indian Point Energy Center

Issue Brief
The two pressurized water reactors at Entergy's Indian Point Energy Center remain poorly equipped to minimize the risks of explosive hydrogen that would be produced in a severe nuclear accident involving one or both of these units. In light of this nuclear safety deficiency, NRDC opposes continued operation of the reactors beyond their current license terms.
The Big Moat: How NRC Rules Suppress Meaningful Public Participation in NRC Regulatory Decision-making
On January 31, 2013, Chris Paine, the Nuclear Program Director at Natural Resources Defense Council, presented a statement to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on their role in reducing meaningful public participation in the commission’s efforts to ensure nuclear safety. Get document in pdf.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Halts Nuclear Reactor Licensing Decisions in Response to NRDC Lawsuit
On June 8, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals decided in favor of NRDC and other petitioners who challenged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) over their "Waste Confidence Decision" and Temporary Storage Rule. The Court ruled that the NRC violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to address the impacts of the reality that the United States does not have a permanent storage facility for toxic radioactive nuclear waste.
Nuclear Fuel's Dirty Beginnings
Environmental Damage and Public Health Risks from Uranium Mining in the American West

Uranium mining anywhere poses significant environmental, economic, and social risks. In the high plains, Rocky Mountains, and intermountain West, however, where water resources are already scarce, it is inevitable that water-intensive uranium extraction poses significant risks to the region's environmental and public health.
NRDC's Response to Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
Lessons of the disaster can be used to strengthen the regulation of nuclear power generation in the U.S. and worldwide

While the long-term and full extent of the damage from the Fukushima nuclear disaster remains unknown, it is already clear that clinging to the status quo offers inadequate insurance against the occurrence of such a catastrophic nuclear event in the U.S.
What if the Fukushima nuclear fallout crisis had happened here?
There are 104 nuclear reactors in the United States. If one of them lost both primary and backup power for even a matter of hours, it could lead to a meltdown and an airborne radioactive plume. See what could have happened if a reactor in your area had a severe nuclear accident on March 11, 2011.
Indian Point Nuclear Plant Study
Nuclear Plant Not Needed to Keep New York State Powered


NRDC and the environmental group Riverkeeper commissioned a report from Synapse Energy Economics on energy alternatives to the Indian Point Energy Center, a 2,000 megawatt nuclear power plant in Westchester County, New York. Our analysis shows that a wide range of options are available to make the transition to a safe, sustainable energy future for New York without Indian Point.

The Fukushima Nuclear Accident and Its Implications for Nuclear Power in the U.S. and Globally
This memorandum from Christopher Paine, Nuclear Program Director at NRDC briefly summarizes: the course of the Fukushima accident and subsequent releases of radiation; key questions for Japan posed by the accident; the U.S. response to date; the implications of the accident for a fresh safety assessment US reactors; and NRDC’s general approach to nuclear power generation. Get document in pdf.
Testimony of Thomas B. Cochran, Ph.D. Senior Scientist, Nuclear Program, on the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and Implications for U.S. Nuclear Power Reactors, April 11, 2011
Tom Cochran testifies on the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and its Implications for U.S. Nuclear Power Reactors at the Joint Hearings of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety and the Committee on Environment and Public Works on April 12, 2011 Get document in pdf.
Nuclear Islands: International Leasing of Sensitive Nuclear Fuel Cycle Sites
This journal article and slide presentation from NRDC's Nuclear Program describes the establishment of a new freestanding voluntary "International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Association" (INFCA) alongside the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to remedy known gaps in the prevailing nonproliferation regime.
Testimony on Nuclear Energy Developments
Statement of Thomas B. Cochran, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, and Christopher E. Paine, Director of NRDC's nuclear program, on Nuclear Energy Developments before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, United States Senate, March 18, 2009. Get document in pdf.
Bibliography of Works by Thomas B. Cochran
Dr. Thomas B. Cochran is a senior scientist in the nuclear program and holds the Wade Greene Chair for Nuclear Policy at NRDC. His publications, presentations and testimony are collected here.
Bibliography of Works by Robert S. Norris
Dr. Robert S. Norris is senior research associate with NRDC in Washington, DC. His principal areas of expertise include all aspects of the nuclear weapons programs of the United States, Soviet Union/Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. His publications, presentations and testimony are collected here.
Estimates of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Stockpile, 2007 and 2012
This fact sheet, which challenges the U.S. government’s secrecy over the size of its nuclear weapons stockpile and the number of dismantled nuclear weapons, estimates that the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile currently includes approximately 9,930 nuclear warheads, and that the stockpile will decline to about 5,040 by the end of 2012.
New Nuclear Power Plants Are Not a Solution for America’s Energy Needs
New nuclear power plants are unlikely to provide a significant fraction of future U.S. needs for low-carbon energy. NRDC favors more practical, economical and environmentally sustainable approaches to reducing both U.S. and global carbon emissions, focusing on the widest possible implementation of end-use energy-efficiency improvements, and on policies to accelerate commercialization of clean, flexible, renewable energy technologies.
Peddling Plutonium
An Analysis of the President’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership

This March 2006 analysis from NRDC's nuclear program finds the Bush administration’s "vision" of a taxpayer-funded global enterprise to extract and recycle plutonium to be unaffordable, uneconomic, unrealistic, unreliable and unsafe.
Position Paper: Commercial Nuclear Power
Issue Paper
This October 2005 paper examines the issues that prevent nuclear power from becoming a leading means to combat global warming pollution. In its present state, the nuclear power industry suffers from too many security, safety and environmental exposure problems, not to mention excessive costs, to be a viable alternate energy source.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons in Europe
A review of post-Cold War policy, force levels, and war planning.

Issue Paper
A review of post-Cold War policy, force levels, and war planning.
Nuclear Insecurity
A Critique of the Bush Administration's Nuclear Weapons Policies

This September 2004 report assesses the Bush administration's nuclear weapons policies and concludes that they have made the United States more vulnerable, not more secure. It offers recommendations for a more responsible nuclear policy, including honoring the U.S. commitment to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, scrapping plans for nuclear bunker busters, and ending the deployment of the unproven missile defense system.
Comments on DOE's Draft SW/SPEIS for Continued Operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
May 26, 2004

Submitted in writing to the U.S. Department of Energy/NNSA by Christopher E. Paine, NRDC senior nuclear program analyst, May 26, 2004.
The Bush Administration's Stockpile Reduction Plan
Too Many, Too Slow

The recent announcement by the Bush administration to significantly reduce the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile is a welcome and positive step, but there are several caveats that warrant further discussion. An NRDC analysis of the proposal found it lacking for two main reasons: It will still leave approximately 6,000 nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile, and it will take eight years to accomplish.
The Bush Administration's Nuclear Weapons Policies
This index collects NRDC policy papers and analyses relating to the Bush administration's policies regarding nuclear-weapons issues.
Weaponeers of Waste
A Critical Look at the Bush Administration Energy Department's Nuclear Weapons Complex and the First Decade of Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship

This April 2004 report finds that the U.S. nuclear "stockpile stewardship" program is spending billions on nuclear weapons research and production projects that are over budget and years behind in meeting their goals. Despite the end of the Cold War, the Bush administration spent 12 times more on nuclear weapons research and production than on nonproliferation efforts to retrieve, secure and dispose of nuclear weapons materials.
The Bush Administration's Nuclear Energy Research and Development Program
This index collects NRDC policy papers and analyses relating to the Bush administration's policies regarding nuclear-energy issues.
Iran Develops Nuclear Technologies in Secret for 18 Years
A report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency describes technological advances and a policy of concealment.

On November 10, 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency issued a 30-page confidential report on Iran's nuclear activities. The report revealed that for the past 18 years Iran has secretly developed technologies for producing weapon-usable highly enriched uranium and plutonium. Read the report on NRDC's website.
The ABC News Nuclear Smuggling Experiment
The Sequel

Fact Sheet
This briefing paper provides information about NRDC's role in an ABC News investigative report on U.S. Customs' inability to detect smuggled nuclear weapons material. NRDC loaned ABC News the depleted uranium it used in its report. The briefing paper covers the properties of uranium, radioactive shielding, and how closely ABC's "experiment" reflects the potential for terrorists to smuggle weapon-grade uranium into the country.
The Consequences of Nuclear Conflict between India and Pakistan
NRDC's nuclear experts think about the unthinkable, using state-of-the-art nuclear war simulation software to assess the crisis in South Asia.
The Bush-Putin Treaty
An Orwellian Approach to Nuclear Arms Control

This May 2002 analysis by NRDC's nuclear program finds that the treaty proposed by President Bush to cut U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals is so riddled with loopholes that it actually would prolong the U.S.-Russian nuclear standoff for years to come, and encourage nuclear proliferation.
Snapshots from the U.S. Nuclear War Plan
Photo Album
These graphics, produced by NRDC's nuclear war plans project, offer a snapshot of what a nuclear attack on Russia would look like under the top-secret U.S. nuclear war plan, with target locations, fallout clouds, and fatalities. They drive home the grotesque results if nuclear weapons were used; common sense demands the abolition of the current plan in favor of a "saner" plan that rests on different assumptions, with far fewer warheads.
The U.S. Nuclear War Plan: A Time for Change
A June 2001 report assesses the U.S. nuclear war planning process and the assumptions and logic of the Single Integrated Operational Plan, a Cold War relic that continues to guide U.S. nuclear war plans. Using customized computer software and a vast aggregation of declassified and open-source data to closely approximate the tools that SIOP planners use, NRDC has simulated a U.S. attacks against Russian nuclear forces Russian cities.
Scientists' and Engineers' Pledge To Renounce Weapons of Mass Destruction
If you're a scientist or an engineer (or studying to be one), sign the Scientists' and Engineers' Pledge to Renounce Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Highlights of the NRDC Nuclear Program's Work
NRDC's nuclear program staff is currently working on five related and mutually reinforcing nuclear policy research and advocacy projects
Tall Tales of the Test Ban Opposition
A reply to the September 1999 letter to Senator Lott from Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty opponents. By Christopher E. Paine, senior researcher in NRDC's nuclear program.
Settlement of the Contempt Action Against the Department of Energy
This landmark settlement ends a ten-year lawsuit involving the Department of Energy's program to manage radioactive waste and the cleanup of environmental contamination caused by nuclear weapons production in the United States. As part of the settlement, the DoE agreed to provide a $6.25 million technical assistance fund for communities affected by the cleanup program and an Internet database for information on its progress.
Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998
A report providing, for the first time, authoritative estimates of the sizes and locations of the nuclear arsenals of the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China. The report contains detailed descriptions, including maps and tables, of today's arsenals, and describes the events that have led to the consolidation of weapons storage sites. The authors also project likely trends for the future.
Does the U.S. Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship Program Pose a Proliferation Threat?
An article that first appeared, in shorter form, in the journal Science and Global Security. By Christopher E. Paine, senior researcher and co-director, and Matthew G. McKinzie, project scientist, with NRDC's nuclear program.
The Rise and Fall of the Third ICF Review
A Case Study of Bias and Conflicts of Interest in a National Academy of Sciences Review of the National Ignition Facility

A case study of bias and conflicts of interest in a National Academy of Sciences review of the Department Of Energy's National Ignition Facility.
End Run: The U.S. Government’s Plan for Designing Nuclear Weapons and Simulating Nuclear Explosions under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
A report on the U.S. Government's plan for designing nuclear weapons and simulating nuclear explosions under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

For additional policy documents, see the NRDC Document Bank.
For older publications available only in print, click here.

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