April 25, 2011: Markey On Chernobyl 25th Anniv: Transparency Key to Ensuring Safety of Nuclear Fleet

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who in 1986 held the first-ever briefing in Congress on the Chernobyl disaster and chaired subsequent hearings on the causes and consequences of the Chernobyl accident, today released the following statement commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident on April 26, 1986.

“After the meltdown caused by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant spewed highly radioactive materials all over Europe, the world was appalled, and promised increased safety. Today, in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown in Japan, we are just as helpless when faced with nuclear disaster as we were 25 years ago, as we see brave Japanese men attempting to cool the melting fuel rods with giant water guns, and plug radioactive leaks using materials found in diapers and bath-salts.

“Twenty five years and not quite one radioactive cesium half-life later, how many more anniversaries do we need to recognize that disasters like these can happen here in America? Twenty-five years is supposed to involve gifts made of sterling silver, not strontium, a radioactive element that still lingers in the environment around the Chernobyl site and has also been detected in the area around the Fukushima reactor. We must vicariously learn the lessons from such deadly and lingering nuclear catastrophes and engage in the rigorous assessment necessary to ensure that our nuclear fleet is safe and our oversight of this industry is transparent and sound.

“I am very concerned that in the wake of this most recent disaster, the NRC’s efforts to keep secret the most serious vulnerabilities of the U.S. fleet of nuclear reactors to the sort of events that occurred in Japan is a modern-day echo of the limits on information sharing, public accountability and assessment of future risks that we saw during the Chernobyl disaster.

“I have introduced legislation, the Nuclear Power Plant Safety Act of 2011, to impose a moratorium on all pending NRC licenses and re-licenses in light of the need to fully understand the safety risks and include remedies into our own regulations. We should not be giving the green light to new reactors, new designs, or relicense applications for operating reactors until we have incorporated the lessons of the Fukushima catastrophe into our regulations and plans.”

For more information on Congressman Markey’s nuclear reactor safety efforts, click HERE.