New Ruling Echoes Markey Legislation of 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, today applauded a decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to require that any new nuclear reactor constructed in the United States be designed to withstand the impact of a large commercial aircraft.

“This decision will go a long way toward protecting Americans from the horrific possibility that terrorists could target our nuclear plants with large aircraft,” said Rep. Markey. “This ruling may have come later than I would have wanted, but it will certainly help keep our cities and towns safe from a catastrophic attack.”

“We know that al-Qaeda considered attacking a nuclear power plant on September 11th 2001, and we must ensure that any nuclear power plant built in this country abide by the absolute highest standards for safety and security.  As chairman, I will continue working to guarantee that our nuclear power plants are safe and secure."

Prior to this decision, reactors were only required to withstand the impact of small aircraft and not large passenger jets.  Rep. Markey’s subcommittee has oversight and authorization jurisdiction over the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In October, Rep. Markey criticized as “outrageous” a draft rule which would have required new reactor applicants to tell the Nuclear Regulatory Commission how their facility would handle an aircraft impact, instead of specifically designing reactors capable of withstanding such crashes.  Within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Commissioner Gregory B. Jaczko has advocated strong aircraft impact rules similar to Rep. Markey’s legislation.

Rep. Markey has long advocated that new reactors be built to withstand the impact of a large commercial aircraft.   Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Rep. Markey wrote the NRC urging it to strengthen nuclear power plant security against such attacks. Rep. Markey included a provision mandating that new reactors be capable of withstanding such attacks as part of the Nuclear Facility and Materials Security Act of 2008, which he introduced in August 2008 with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton.

For more information on the Nuclear Facility and Materials Security Act of 2008, visit

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February 17, 2009

  CONTACT: Daniel Reilly 202-225-2836