Nuclear commissioners to testify on Fukushima issues before Senate panel

All five members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) are scheduled to testify Nov. 21 before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works about coping with potential severe events at domestic reactors.

 U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, and U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, will convene a joint hearing to discuss NRC progress on implementing the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force recommendations and other safeguards related to nuclear facilities.

Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor complex suffered a meltdown accident following a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

NRC soon impaneled a “near-term task force” comprised of senior staff people to discuss what measures could be taken to prepare nuclear units in the United States for “beyond design basis” accidents. Such events could include “station blackouts,” large fires and explosions.

Such events, while considered very unlikely, could have severe impacts.

The near-term task force issued its report in the summer of 2011. Since then, both NRC and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) have been pursuing efforts toward increased mitigation and emergency preparedness.

In addition to NRC requiring additional seismic and flooding research in some areas, nuclear power operators are also making more emergency equipment available.

There has also been a debate between interest groups on whether NRC is moving too fast or too slow in implementing post-Fukushima measures.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.