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Here’s the “nuclear deregulation” Democrats are worried about. No, this is not The Onion.

by Resurgent Insider Read Profile arrow_right_alt

Need a break from impeachment-mania? We’ve got you covered with some very old school, very pre-Trump era “Democrats freaking out about totally reasonable policy” news.

We noted awhile back that Jeff Baran, a former Henry Waxman staffer and Democratic commissioner at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was flipping out about some proposed deregulatory measures. For several months now, Baran has been telling anyone who will listen that this deregulation, proposed by NRC staff (not political appointees), would massively compromise nuclear plant safety. It all sounded horrible and terrifying – yet a lot of the reporting on this has been very non-specific, failing to reference what deregulation was being proposed. It smelled fishy.

Now, courtesy of a recent US News & World Report piece, we know why: The NRC isn’t proposing gutting essential safety measures. It’s proposing gutting role-playing and laser-tag by Blackwater-style companies at nuclear power stations.

IT RANKS AMONG THE worst-case scenarios for a nuclear power plant: an all-out assault or stealth infiltration by well-trained, heavily armed attackers bent on triggering a nuclear blast, sparking a nuclear meltdown or stealing radioactive material. 

For nearly two decades, the nation’s nuclear power plants have been required by federal law to prepare for such a nightmare: At every commercial nuclear plant, every three years, security guards take on a simulated attack by hired commandos in so-called “force-on-force” drills.

[…]

Force-on-force exercises, a mix of live-action role playing and military-grade laser tag, are not unique to the nuclear sector – they’re used to test military bases, and police departments engage in a version of them in active-shooter drills. For obvious reasons, they remain cloaked in secrecy. 

No wonder Baran hasn’t been very specific in talking about the specific deregulation he opposes: This is a Bush Chimpy McHilter-era Democratic House staffer getting upset that private security contractors might get paid less as a result of government mandates. How “progressive” is that?

It’s worth noting that as scary as terrorist attacks on nuclear facilities sound, they are exceedingly rare in the first place; most have been perpetrated by anti-nuclear activists.

As for the drills themselves, they have only a 5 percent failure rate. That’s about the same as any individual applicant getting into Harvard

Which probably explains why the NRC staff want to curtail them.

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