Trade group urges Congress not to place additional restrictions on nuclear exports

Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) President and CEO Marvin Fertel has urged leaders of the House Committee on Armed Services not to seek greater restrictions on the export of nuclear energy technology.

In a May 15 letter. Fertel asked Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) the ranking Democrat on the panel not to seek greater restrictions on nuclear exports.

The nuclear trade group leader said such exports are already thoroughly regulated and that adding on additional restrictions could actually make the international nuclear power sector more dangerous.

“The commercial nuclear energy industry is deeply concern about the profoundly negative impacts of Section 3119 of the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Bill,” Fertel said in the letter.

“The export of U.S. commercial nuclear technology is strictly regulated,” Fertel said. Under 10 CFR 810, such exports must first be approved through an inter-agency review process that includes the Departments of Energy, Defense, State, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and others before the Secretary of Energy certifies that any transaction is not “inimical to the interests of the United States.” In the case of China, the U.S. government, inclusive of intelligence agencies, has just produced a Nuclear Proliferation Assessment Statement (NPAS) to support the successor Section 123 agreement,” Fertel added.

“Conducting a fresh assessment with each Part 810 license is redundant to the NPAS and would impose additional, unnecessary reviews and add additional time delays to the already thorough and lengthy review process,” Fertel said.

Additional restrictions would also limit the ability of U.S. companies to win business in China, the world’s fastest-growing nuclear energy market.

“With first-of-a-kind reactors under construction in China, Section 3119 could also prevent or significantly delay information exchange between U.S. and Chinese partners,” Fertel said. “This exchange is an important input to startup testing, plant commissioning and training of plant personnel for reactors in the U.S.,” he added.

The additional restrictions could also hurt international nuclear safety, the NEI official said.

“As we learned from the accident at Fukushima, the ability of the U.S. industry to provide nuclear safety assistance to countries like Russia and China is vitally important, and the U.S. can have an important positive impact on nuclear safety through export of safety-advanced technology, an excellent safety culture, and operational experience,” Fertel said.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.