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Institute for Policy Studies
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  • November 17, 2011

    The Faster Times

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    It’s true, as IPS’s Robert Alvarez informs us, that “since 1990, Energy has remained prominent on the GAO’s list of high-risk federal agencies vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse.”

  • November 15, 2011

    The New York Times

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    Robert Alvarez, who served as a special assistant to the energy secretary in the Clinton administration, said there were strong reasons for elected officials to oppose closing big Energy Department laboratories or operations centers.

    “In Western states and some Southern states, it dominates the wage and benefit structure in large areas,” Mr. Alvarez said. Still, he said, “the Department of Energy has always been a loose confederation of programs that have been vaguely tied together,” so restructuring their operations could help.

  • October 14, 2011

    The New York Times

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    Robert Alvarez, a nuclear expert and a former special assistant to the United States secretary of energy, echoed those calls, saying the citizens’ groups’ measurements “raise major and unprecedented concerns about the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.”

  • September 17, 2011

    Richmond Times-Dispatch features article “Quake Should be a Wake-up Call”

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  • September 9, 2011

    All Things Nuclear

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    This heightened interest stemmed from the January 31, 2003, paper by Robert Alvarez, of which I was a co-author.

  • September 1, 2011

    The Washington Post

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    “This indicates that reactors that have these dry casks in these earthquake prone areas, they’re going to have to do more to protect them from ground motion,” said Robert Alvarez from the Institute for Policy Studies, who has extensively studied nuclear waste storage. “One thing is to bolt them to the pads. And that’s not a Home Depot-type job. The pads themselves also need to be examined to see if they’re durable enough.”

  • August 26, 2011

    USA Today

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    Yet not all that money was spent on safety, and the regulatory process is "based on industry self-assessment," says Robert Alvarez, scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and former senior adviser at the Department of Energy. "You can imagine the conflicts of interest that arise."

    So how prepared each nuclear plant is for an earthquake, he says, is "pretty much what the operators say it is."

  • August 24, 2011


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    The quake shows why the industry shouldn’t wait to implement safety measures to guard against such events, said Bob Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, a group that pushes for tighter regulation on nuclear power.

    “We don’t need to wait for earthquakes to fix safety weaknesses that have been lingering for several years,” Alvarez, 64, said.

  • August 24, 2011


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    Robert Alvarez, a former Energy Department official under the Clinton Administration and the head of the Institute for Policy Studies, drew attention to troubles with North Anna’s spent nuclear fuel storage pools – another issue that plagued the early days of the crisis at Fukushima.

    Spent fuel pools vulnerable to disaster

    "Nearly 40 percent of the radioactivity in the North Anna spent fuel pools is cesium-137 - a long-lived radioisotope that gives off potentially dangerous penetrating radiation and also accumulates in food over a period of centuries,” he said in a statement today.

    “The North Anna Pools hold about 15-30 times more Cs-137 than was released by the Chernobyl accident in 1986 ,” he said.

    The North Anna plant, like the majority of American nuclear reactors’ spent fuel storage pools, are intensely over crowded – more so even than those at Fukushima where.

    According to Alvarez, “the spent fuel pools at North Anna contain 4-5 times more than their original designs intended.”

    He added that “As in Japan, all US nuclear power plant spent fuel pools do not have steel lined, concrete barriers that cover reactor vessels to prevent the escape of radioactivity. They are not required to have back-up generators to keep used fuel rods cool if offsite power is lost,” he said.

    “Even though they contain these very large amounts of radioactivity, spent reactor fuel pools in the US are mostly contained in ordinary industrial structures designed to protect them against the elements,” he said.

  • August 24, 2011

    The Hill

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    Robert Alvarez, a former senior policy adviser at the Energy Department under then-President Bill Clinton, said the earthquake shouldn’t be seen as “Mother Nature’s warning that we need to adopt the [task force’s] recommendations.”

    That warning, he said, came from the disaster in Japan.

    “I don’t think the quake has caused any reason to be alarmed with what’s happening with this reactor, but the problem here is that a much more important warning has come out of Japan about what can happen and how nature can overcome the best engineering judgments we have,” said Alvarez, who is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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