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Federal nuclear watchdog agency publishes government shutdown plan

Federal nuclear watchdog agency publishes government shutdown plan, Brittany Crocker, USA TODAY NETWORK – TennesseeKnox News, Jan. 9, 2018 A federal oversight board charged with protecting workers and communities surrounding nuclear weapons complexes like Oak Ridge’s Y-12 National Security Complex has published a plan for closing out the agency if the government shuts down.

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board is made up of five nuclear safety experts who provide analysis, advice and recommendations on public health and safety to the secretary of energy.

Congress has until Jan. 19 to pass a spending bill that will keep the government funded through the fiscal year. The board is ensuring it’s prepared for the worst, according to a December letter to the White House’s management and budget office.

The board told the Office of Management and Budget it would take just half a day to completely shut down its operations and let go all but 14 of its 117 employees, a number that does not include the five sitting board members.

“If the board reaches the point where no funding is available, normal oversight activities will cease, including receiving safety complaints from workers at DOE sites and the public,” the plan said.

At that point, according to the plan, board Chairman Sean Sullivan could designate resident inspectors to continue working at nuclear sites like Y-12, along with a few administrative staff members. He also would retain the ability to recall the staff in case of an emergency at a nuclear facility.

Under fire

The letter provides a chilling insight into what could result from government attempts to curtail the board’s watchdog role over the already $10.8 billion-per-year nuclear weapons program the Trump administration has considered expanding.

Sullivan, who was appointed board chairman by Trump, has sought to limit the board’s advisory role, garnering the opposition of his fellow board members.

In May, Sullivan voted against a board letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry advising against the removal of certain safety occurrence reporting requirements that affect Department of Energy nuclear sites.

The letter asked for a DOE report on supplemental actions to make sure the proposed removals would not affect worker safety………


January 10, 2018 - Posted by | safety, USA

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