WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Fukushima Daiichi task force has provided a report on the first 90 days of its nuclear power plant review to congressional oversight committees. The task force report confirms the safety of U.S. nuclear energy facilities and recommends actions to enhance U.S. nuclear plant readiness to safely manage severe events. Following is a statement from the Nuclear Energy Institute’s senior vice president and chief nuclear officer, Tony Pietrangelo.
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission task force report is the first step in the agency’s process to review safety and preparedness at America’s nuclear energy facilities and proposed changes to the agency’s regulations. Implementation of the full scope of recommendations in the report, if approved by the NRC commissioners, would require clear policy direction from the commission on reshaping the agency’s regulatory framework.
“The nuclear energy industry has taken seriously the accident at Fukushima Daiichi and continues to both support recovery efforts in Japan and compile lessons learned that can be applied to U.S. reactors. We have undertaken significant work in the past 90 days to examine our facilities and take the steps necessary to enhance safety. We will continue to work with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to identify potential enhancements in safety that should be made.
“The task force report does not cite significant data from the Fukushima accident to support many of its recommendations. Given the mammoth challenge it faced in gathering and evaluating the still-incomplete information from Japan, the agency should seek broader engagement with stakeholders on the task force report to ensure that its decisions are informed by the best information possible.
“Even though there are clear differences between the Japanese and U.S. approaches to the operation of nuclear energy facilities, every company operating a U.S. nuclear plant has verified its ability to safely manage a severe event, regardless of its cause, and the industry is coordinating our ongoing response to the Fukushima accident.
“Consistent with the NRC’s principles of good regulation and consistent with President Obama’s announcement this week that wise regulatory decisions depend on public participation and careful analysis of the likely consequences of regulation, we look forward to participating in a broad stakeholder dialogue on the task force report. The NRC has always supplemented regulatory requirements based on operating experience and significant events. The industry expects that this NRC practice will continue with a focus on those aspects that are most important to plant safety.
“The industry reiterates our commitment to make nuclear plant safety our top priority. Even as the NRC and industry separately have taken steps to identify additional layers of protection to enhance nuclear plant safety, the NRC and many of our nation’s leaders have recognized that U.S. reactors are safe. We certainly agree.”