Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve International Nuclear Safety

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Thomas R. Carper (D-Delaware), and George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) introduced the bipartisan Furthering International Nuclear Safety Act of 2010 (S. 3922).  The bill would require a United States strategic plan for international cooperation on nuclear power safety, and would further efforts under the Convention on Nuclear Safety, which the U.S. joined in 1999. 


Under the legislation, recognizing that participation by countries is voluntary, the U.S. representative to the convention would:

·         encourage the use of performance metric tools for countries to assess their own nuclear safety progress.

·         work towards increased public availability of information about nuclear safety efforts.

·         urge the International Atomic Energy Agency to provide additional support for safety, upon request by a country.

·         encourage countries that have or are considering a civilian nuclear power program to join the convention.


Senator Akaka said: "Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, a terrible reminder of the widespread, devastating human and environmental effects nuclear accidents can have.  We must continue to focus on improving nuclear safety around the world.  This bill will build on the progress made by the Convention on Nuclear Safety and jump-start additional efforts to prevent nuclear accidents.”


“Over the past few decades, the United States has made enormous strides in building a culture of safety at our nuclear power plants,” said Sen. Carper, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety.  “This has been an important accomplishment and one that we should be proud of, but there’s a saying in the nuclear power community that ‘an accident anywhere is an accident everywhere’ and that is certainly true when it comes to ensuring nuclear power safety internationally.  The United States needs to be a leader in promoting nuclear power safety both at home and abroad, and this legislation provides a road made for doing just that.”


Senator Voinovich said: “In today’s global information society, an event involving nuclear safety anywhere in the world could affect perceptions globally. That is why it is so vital that all countries part of the nuclear energy community participate in the Convention on Nuclear Safety. This international forum continues to work to enhance the strong safety performance of the world’s nuclear power plants.”


Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report entitled "Nuclear Safety: Convention on Nuclear Safety is Viewed by Most Member Countries as Strengthening Safety Worldwide," requested by Senator Akaka.  The Convention on Nuclear Safety, negotiated in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster, is a multilateral treaty that seeks to improve civilian nuclear power reactor safety worldwide.  Participating countries are required to submit reports on the steps taken to implement the convention and meet periodically to review the reports.  This bill supports the efforts of the convention and responds to a number of the key findings, recommendations, and survey responses found in the GAO report.

Senators Akaka and Voinovich lead the HSGAC Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia.  Senators Carper and Voinovich lead the EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety.