WASHINGTON, D.C.— Daily on-site federal oversight of electricity production at America’s nuclear energy facilities will be unaffected by the reduction in staffing beginning today at the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Energy companies that operate nuclear power plants have the primary responsibility for and are committed to safely operating the facilities that produce nearly 20 percent of America’s electricity. The NRC provides up to four independent inspectors at each nuclear plant. The agency had sufficient budget to retain full staffing until today, but independent inspectors at each site are continuing oversight as usual as part of the NRC’s essential workforce.
“All of the nuclear industry safety measures and regulatory controls will remain in full effect throughout the NRC shutdown,” said Anthony Pietrangelo, chief nuclear officer at Nuclear Energy Institute. “The NRC staff reduction beginning today will have no impact on the daily oversight of nuclear energy facilities and the resident inspectors assigned to each facility will remain on the job. The industry’s foremost commitment every day is to ensure the operational safety at America’s reactors. That commitment will remain strong during the NRC shutdown.”
The NRC provides oversight of safety, security and operation at U.S. reactors and other nuclear energy facilities with between two and four independent resident inspectors at each nuclear power plant. The agency’s regional offices and headquarters also will be staffed with essential personnel during the shutdown. “Our resident inspectors will remain on the job and any immediate safety or security matters will be handled with dispatch,” NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane said on Oct. 9.
During the government shutdown, the agency will not conduct nonemergency reactor licensing, emergency preparedness exercises, reviews of reactor design certifications, or rulemaking and regulatory guidance.
In 2012, the industry recorded its best industrial safety marks ever, with only 0.05 industrial safety accidents per 200,000 worker-hours. As proof of the industry’s exacting safety standards, it is safer to work at a nuclear power plant than in the manufacturing sector, leisure and hospitality industries, and the financial sector, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.