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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Nuclear physicist Alvin M Weinberg told the Senates Special Committee on Atomic Energy in December 1945 Atomic power can cure as well as kill It can fertilize and enrich a region as well as devastate it It can widen mans horizons as well as force him back into the cave The Atomic Energy Act of 1946 was passed with the intention of using potential peaceful benefits of atomic power However the act emphasized the military aspects of nuclear energy and further emphasized the need for secrecy of raw materials and production of new weapons The 1946 law did not allow for private or commercial handling of atomic energy Rather it created a virtual government monopoly of the nuclear energy technology Walker pg 4 To manage the nations atomic energy programs the act established the Atomic Energy Commission AEC The AEC was created for two purposes It controlled the development and production of nuclear weapons and it directed the research and development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy Britannicacom In 1954 Congress passed new legislation that for the first time permitted the wide use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes The 1954 Atomic Energy Act ended the government monopoly and made the growth of a private commercial nuclear industry an urgent national goal The measure directed the AEC to encourage widespread participation in the development and utilization of atomic energy for peaceful purposes Walker pg 5 At the same time it instructed the agency to make regulations that would protect public health and safety from radiation hazards and concerns Therefore the 1954 act assigned the AEC three major roles to continue its weapons program to promote the private use of atomic energy for peaceful applications and to protect public health and safety from the hazards of commercial nuclear power Those functions were in many respects inseparable and incompatible especially when combined in a single agency Walker
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