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Nuclear Regulatory Commission votes 3-2 to weaken nuclear power safety rules

Republicans at U.S. nuclear regulator pass stripped down safety rule, CNBC , JAN 24 2019 
Timothy Gardner  WASHINGTON, Jan 24 (Reuters) – Republicans on the U.S. nuclear power regulator approved a stripped down safety rule on Thursday that removes the need for nuclear plants to take extra measures based on recent science to protect against hazards such as floods and earthquakes.The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a board of three Republicans and two Democrats, approved the rule on a 3-2 vote along party lines. Dissents are rare on the NRC and the two Democrats strongly disagreed with the approval.

They said the Republican decision could allow plants to avoid protections against risks of natural disasters that have become apparent with science methods that have evolved since most plants were built about 40 years ago. …….

Commissioner Jeff Baran, a Democrat, said NRC staff had included the extra safety measures in the draft after years of work, but Republicans had jettisoned them.

“Instead of requiring nuclear power plants to be prepared for the actual flooding and earthquake hazards that could occur at their sites, the NRC will allow them to be prepared only for the old out-of-date hazards typically calculated decades ago when the science of seismology and hydrology was far less advanced than it is today.”

NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki, a Republican, said after the vote that the commission’s work since 2011 has resulted in “tangible safety improvements at every U.S. nuclear power plant.”  ……..

A nuclear power safety advocate said new information showed that plants may experience bigger floods and earthquakes than they are now required to withstand, and that it is possible the commission will not require nuclear plants that face greater hazards to make upgrades.

“Nuclear plants must be protected against the most severe natural disasters they could face today – not those estimated 40 years ago,” when many plants were built, Edwin Lyman, acting director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said. (Reporting by Timothy Gardner Editing by Susan Thomas)

January 26, 2019 - Posted by | safety, USA

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