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The situation in Japan has focused a lot of attention on our own nuclear power industry.
Joining us now is Spencer Abraham former energy secretary under George W.
And now non executive chairman at a read that which is in the nuclear power business and green energy business mr.
secretary thanks for coming in tonight we appreciate it.
Thanks very good to be with you -- so first off I want your assessment of what's going on today at this nuclear power plant are things getting better are they getting worse.
Well I -- to the extent.
I've seen reports today they do seem to be getting more of a stable situation in place they seem to be.
They is some progress regarding the -- connection of power to the various pumps and other's you know systems there and hopefully that can be completed its gonna take time but it does seem like a better story than yesterday and that's you know the -- we wanted to ahead.
Absolutely right look at -- your reaction to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
They report and this is a critical report of the nuclear Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the federal agency that has responsible for these -- brought some responsibility for these plants in this country.
Reported fourteen near misses at US nuclear plants last year and among the things they highlighted.
At the Indian point nuclear power station in New York inspectors allowed a containment system water -- to go on -- on on for fifteen years.
And it Vermont Yankee the NRC ignored regulation regulations on releasing radioactivity into contaminated air.
What do you make of this it's only natural that we now we would start to focus on our own nuclear power plants these are serious accusations what do you make of them.
Well you know you have to look at sources of criticism -- this organization has been a frequent critic of nuclear power.
I I think then you know the nuclear regulatory commission's leadership switches back and forth between parties it's not a partisan organization it's an organization of technical experts.
And I'm should I believe the kind of people that do the inspections for them in the assessments they make are are accurate and -- need to be.
You know treated seriously and and -- accurate and has unbiased I think that they do a very good job but I think these experts know what they're looking at.
And I think the critics tend to seize on any irregularity.
And treat that as something you know whatever terms they might use in.
In ways that tend to be sensationalizing.
The situation if there were any kind of serious.
Problem or leak or anything at these facilities they would be shut down and fixed and well -- -- trust the agencies' assessments.
Added to the point of that Indian point.
The current governor of New York is even critical of it would like see it shut down it's not just the right concerned scientists there's a lot of people out there very worried about that facility.
Well look you know a very good point to be made here is that we have a lot of very old nuclear power plants in the United States would have had to be.
-- commission because America has no willing to build the new were safer versions of nuclear power plants that have become available in recent years.
I think that's a big mistake I think we should be.
Slowly but surely phasing out the old reactors and putting the safer newest -- possible in place.
But these same groups that are raising these concerns also have.
You don't vigorously oppose new power plants that the new safe models as well and can't have it both ways in my opinion.
Well it's interesting you say that because I don't think we build new nuclear power plant forty years in this country so the technology is old.
Even so I want to respond to one other criticism because you're one of those people who's in the position of knowing.
What was going on inside Washington -- you were in the administration.
You saw how the stuff for today Robert Alvarez.
An advisor to the Department of Energy was quoted as saying the co dependent relationship between the industry in the NRC.
Is stronger he said then the SEC and their relationship with Wall Street.
Again a heavy accusation.
What do you make of it.
Well I just think it's you know again the views of somebody is very opinionated.
In in one direction or another I don't I don't know mr.
Alvarez and so I I can't.
You know judge beyond that what I would just say though is -- you know the current chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
I was strongly -- for this position for his initial position on the commission by senator Reid of Nevada whose.
You know worked against nuclear power in the senate hardly a close friend drove the industry -- even of nuclear power in general.
So it's now like this agency is being run by some captive of industry he's an appointee who was selected.
By the senator who's seen by many as the most vigorous opponent of nuclear energy so I don't think it really flies.
-- I -- have to ask you this you weren't there -- 9/11.
A lot of people are saying that what happened in Japan.
Should give people -- we think about terrorism.
This is it obvious target could be targeted in our country.
Safety of that of these nuclear power plants Paramount.
What what would you say to people who are worried about that tonight.
That you're not the only ones who worry about it that the American government from the you know the point long before 9/11.
I consider the possibilities of attacks on nuclear plants that's why there are so heavily armed that's why they're so heavily protected.
Again security breaches.
And and you know I think people do have to keep in mind what took place in Japan and -- credible.
Unique combination of one of the most devastating earthquakes in the history of the planet.
And a devastating -- -- And the point is still.
In -- standing I mean it's a wonder to me that after all of that happened.
You didn't have even more destruction of the facility but it getting your health disaster I mean it's it's it's it's threatening -- -- people you know I.
-- -- -- of course it's a challenge but after the incidents that took place there the fact that it's been contained.
To this point hopefully will be continue to be contained.
Has to be you know you have to take into account what transpired and you know the notion you know we -- -- protect.
Against any possible eventuality is that that in fact couldn't even be a mansion I mean these plans were set up to withstand eight point two.
Which were considered to be the most damaging their -- could be this was nine point -- which is exponentially worse.
-- -- saying that you know we shouldn't relook at things and we shouldn't try to even build more safeguards in place.
But I would say that in the United States if we built the newer safer generation reactors that would be a Smart move.
secretary thanks for coming in tonight Saturday and we conversation appreciate your time thanks.
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