June 6, 2011: Markey on NRC Inspections of Emergency Procedures at U.S. Nuclear Power Plants

Washington DC (June 6, 2011) – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, released the following statement today on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Severe Accident Mitigation Guideline (SAMG) inspection results for the 104 operating U.S. nuclear power reactors. SAMGs are the emergency procedures meant to contain or mitigate the impact of accidents that may damage a nuclear reactor core. The inspections found that only 42 percent of the plants currently include SAMGs in their periodic review or revision procedures and only 61 percent of the plants periodically include these guidelines in their emergency drills.
We know the meltdowns that occurred in Japan could happen here in the United States. Yet, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspections highlight the industry hubris that has allowed dust to gather on their emergency response guidelines instead of ensuring that their employees are properly trained and drilled on their use. We must not wait until a nuclear incident in this country to ensure that the guidelines in place to respond to an emergency are up-to-date and consistently applied. The Commission should not give the go-ahead to any new reactors, new designs or relicense applications for operating reactors until we have incorporated the lessons of the Fukushima meltdown into our regulations.”
Since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Rep. Markey has written to the NRC and President Obama for more information on the implications for America’s domestic nuclear industry. Rep. Markey recently introduced legislation to overhaul nuclear safety. The Nuclear Power Plant Safety Act of 2011 will impose a moratorium on all new nuclear reactor licenses or license extensions until new safety requirements are in place that reflect the lessons learned from the Fukushima reactor meltdowns. Rep. Markey’s office also released the report , “Fukushima Fallout: Regulator Loopholes at U.S. Nuclear Plants”, detailing several concerns about NRC safety regulations following the Fukushima crisis.