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Nuclear reactor safety consultant defends nuclear power in California

By From page A16 | March 23, 2011

Editor’s note —Roseville resident Cheryl Bly-Chester is an MIT-certified nuclear reactor safety consultant. She also served as a consultant to President Reagan’s Chernobyl Response Delegation in 1986.

ROSEVILLE — Cheryl Bly-Chester issued the following statement regarding the implications of Japan’s nuclear power disaster on California’s future.

“Putting the Japanese nuclear accident in context with radioactive releases from Chernobyl, it is important to recognize some salient distinctions between the two incidents. Chernobyl was the result of human error and shortcuts combined with a reactor design that did not include a concrete containment.

“Japan, by contrast, is the result of a catastrophic disaster pushing the envelope of credible design criteria. What is being tested in Japan is not the underlying soundness of the design or operation of nuclear power plants. A 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a 1,000-year event tsunami proves the robustness of nuclear power design over fossil fuel or renewable energy sources.

“What is being tested is the response to a nuclear incident amidst cataclysmic interconnected critical infrastructure failure. The nuclear failure is not isolated, but rather a component in a system-wide failure involving all infrastructures such as power, transportation, fire suppression, and communications.

“The Japanese management of the response and the integration of global support efforts will provide lessons on how to improve resilience and sustainability for the world’s continued reliance on nuclear power. California’s global energy and environmental leadership will also be tested to see whether we react to sound-byte sensationalism or engage in sophisticated public discourse on improving emergency preparedness and response to include safe nuclear power as part of our clean energy future.”

Cheryl Bly-Chester, P.E. is the owner of Rosewood Environmental Engineering, earned a certificate in Nuclear Reactor Safety from MIT, and supported the primary physicists on President Reagan’s response delegation to the IEAE covering the Chernobyl Accident. She is also a member of the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at UC Berkeley.

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