May 31, 2013

APS Disappointed in NRC Rejection of Petition Urging Barriers to Proliferation of Nuclear Fuel Technologies

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Physical Society (APS) regrets that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rejected the Society’s petition, which requested a change in NRC licensing rules to include a review of proliferation risks associated with new nuclear fuel technologies.

“The NRC’s decision is unfortunate,” said Francis Slakey, associate director of public affairs for APS. “The rule change would have had an immediate benefit by raising the barrier against nuclear proliferation.”

That view was shared by nearly 2,400 people, who wrote to the NRC in favor of the APS petition. Those supporters included the nation’s leading experts in the fields of nuclear weapons, nuclear power and nuclear proliferation, as well as members of Congress, including then chair and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Only one letter — from the Nuclear Energy Institute — argued against the change.

Despite the outcome, APS hopes its petition alerted the nuclear industry to the importance of issues associated with nuclear proliferation and how to effectively address them. APS urges companies developing nuclear fuel technologies to conduct independent assessments to evaluate the proliferation risks of smaller nuclear technologies that could threaten our global security.

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The American Physical Society is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents over 55,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world. Society offices are located in College Park, Maryland (Headquarters), Ridge, New York, and Washington, D.C.