Washington (February 24, 2023) – Today, on the anniversary of Russia’s illegal, immoral invasion of Ukraine, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) announced that he will introduce new legislation to direct the Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration to develop a plan to prevent, prepare for, and mitigate the risk posed by nuclear reactors in war zones. The Nuclear Meltdown and Fallout Prevention and Preparedness Act follows the irresponsible actions of Putin’s forces at numerous Ukrainian nuclear power plants, including the plant in Zaporizhzhia, which have endangered countless civilians and stoked fears of nuclear catastrophe.
“The brazen and reckless actions of Russian soldiers at nuclear power plants on the frontlines of this war must not set a precedent,” said Senator Markey. “The shelling and occupation of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants has endangered the lives of countless innocent people and risked nuclear catastrophe. We need to anticipate and prevent such a catastrophe so that no plant serves as a combat target, bargaining chip, or military shield.”
The Nuclear Meltdown and Fallout Prevention and Preparedness Act requires a report from the Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration within 60 days of implementation on details of the dangers posed by nuclear reactors in recent and potential warzones.
Senator Markey is a longtime champion of nuclear safety efforts. In 1982, Markey, then a member of the House of Representatives, addressed one million people before a rally in New York’s Central Park on the need to secure a nuclear weapons freeze – the largest such peace demonstration in U.S. history. In the decades since, he has worked to hold nations across the globe accountable to their nuclear commitments and to deter the nuclear ambitions of governments, including North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In October 2022, Senator Markey filed eight amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prevent ‘nuclear Armageddon,’ including an amendment requiring the Department of Defense to report on the dangers of nuclear reactors and power plants in areas that have recently experienced armed conflict or are likely to in the future. In May 2021, Senator Markey led his colleagues in reintroducing the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act, which would cancel or reduce nuclear weapons programs over the next decade and generate at least $73 billion in cost savings, and in June of that year reintroduced alongside his colleagues the Hastening Arms Limitation Talks (HALT) Act, legislation outlining a vision for a 21st century nuclear freeze movement.
In April 2022, two months after the onset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Senator Markey traveled to Poland to meet with Ukrainian families seeking refuge from the war – as well as with U.S. military leaders and troops stationed along the Ukrainian border and senior U.S. and Polish diplomats – to express strong support for the Ukrainian people and for the security of neighboring Poland.