March 11, 2011: Markey Queries NRC on Seismic Safety of Nuclear Reactors in Wake of Japan Earthquake

Lawmaker also cites seismic safety concerns associated with pending approval of Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactor design
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Greg Jaczko requesting additional information on the potential impacts of today’s massive earthquake on Japan’s nuclear facilities as well as any implications for America’s domestic nuclear industry. Japan has declared an “atomic power emergency” and at least one nuclear power plant the U.S. has declared an ‘unusual event’ because of the tsunami warnings that have been issued.
“This disaster serves to highlight both the fragility of nuclear power plants and the potential consequences associated with a radiological release caused by earthquake-related damage,” wrote Rep. Markey to Chairman Jaczko. “We must ensure that America’s nuclear power plants can withstand a catastrophic event and abide by the absolute highest standards for safety.”
Earlier this week, Rep. Markey wrote to Chairman Jaczko urging the NRC not to approve Westinghouse’s design for a new nuclear reactor design, known as the AP1000, until serious safety concerns have been addressed. Rep. Markey’s letter referenced concerns raised by one of the Commission’s most long-serving staff that there is a risk that an earthquake at the AP1000 could result in a catastrophic core meltdown.
“If the NRC approves the AP1000, then it may have widespread use throughout the United States, making questions about its safety of crucial national importance,” said Rep. Markey earlier this week. “Taxpayer dollars should not be spent on reactors that could be at risk of suffering a catastrophic core meltdown in the event of an aircraft strike or a major earthquake.”
Rep. Markey’s letter to the NRC can be found HERE .