Nuclear power presents an inherent risk to public health and safety, yet there is no requirement that licensed professional engineers oversee the engineering design, operations, or maintenance of nuclear energy facilities. The National Society of Professional Engineers believes that requiring licensed professional engineers to have direct supervision over all engineering design, operation, and maintenance decisions at nuclear power plants would help mitigate the unavoidable risk associated with nuclear power.
Though the nuclear energy industry has an excellent safety record, thanks in part to strict regulation, comprehensive safety planning, and rigorous training and qualification standards for employees, the fact remains that an accident at a nuclear facility would cause serious harm to people, their livelihoods, and the environment. As the world's concerns regarding nuclear power mount in the face of an unexpected tragedy, NSPE urges officials to implement an additional safeguard at nuclear power stations across the country:
Licensed professional engineers, who have sworn above all else to protect the public's health, safety, and welfare, should be required to oversee the critical design and technical operations of nuclear power stations.
Professional engineers are licensed by state governments and are required to meet and maintain a legal standard of competence. This also means they are accountable to the state that licensed them, ensuring that their loyalty to the public is paramount. Further, professional engineers are bound by a code of ethics to make decisions only in their area of expertise. Most critically, professional engineers are ethically obligated to put the public health and safety above all other concerns. They take full, personal responsibility for their engineering decisions, motivating them to maintain the highest safety standards.
NSPE believes that the U.S. should lead the world in the advancement and use of nuclear power. Green, clean, renewable nuclear power systems will be an important component in the nation's efforts to reduce reliance on foreign oil and the release of harmful pollutants. Employing professional engineers to supervise engineering decisions at U.S. nuclear power plants will help the nuclear energy industry preserve its strong safety record while minimizing the potential for disaster.
The National Society of Professional Engineers is the national society of licensed professional engineers from all disciplines that promotes the ethical and competent practice of engineering, advocates licensure, and enhances the image and well-being of its members. Founded in 1934, NSPE has been promoting professional excellence for over 75 years. NSPE serves more than 43,000 members and the public through 53 state and territorial societies and more than 500 chapters. For more information, please visit www.nspe.org.