Markey and Sanders Warn: Nuclear Dont Ask Dont Tell Policy Endangering Public Safety
Giselle Barry (Markey) 2022242742
Eben BurnhamSnyder (Markey) 2022242742
Mike Briggs (Sanders) 2022245141
NRC staff prevented from engaging in safety, financial oversight of Entergy's, other troubled nuclear power plants
Washington (November 14, 2013) - Senators Edward J. Markey (DMass.) and Bernie Sanders (IVt.) today sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) expressing grave concerns that the Commission's technical staff have been directed to stop requesting financial information from Entergy or any other nuclear plant licensee whose reactors are experiencing safety problems. Traditionally, licensees must provide reasonable assurance that they have enough funding to cover the costs of operating their nuclear reactors safely. However, after Entergy officials recently contacted senior NRC officials complaining about pending oversight, NRC technical staff was prevented from requesting relevant information from Entergy they felt was needed to determine whether other Entergy merchant reactors had sufficient funds with which to operate safely. Additionally, NRC staff then was directed to refrain from requesting financial information from any licensee that is currently subjected to additional NRC oversight because of safety problems experienced at the reactors.
"In our opinion, financial distress and the failure to maintain sufficient operating funds would be expected to signal the potential for future degradations in safety brought about by a licensee's need to conserve funding," write the lawmakers in the letter to NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane. "Unplanned safetyrelated shutdowns such as those experienced at Pilgrim and Palisades would also result in lower revenues, and could contribute to a licensee's inability to maintain sufficient operating funds. If anything, licensees that are experiencing more safety problems than others should be subjected to more financial scrutiny, not exempted from any such scrutiny whatsoever."
A link to the letter to the NRC can be found HERE .
In the letter, Senators Markey and Sanders request NRC provide documentation of technical staff requests that were prepared and approved but then not transferred to Entergy. The Senators also request NRC provide documentation related to any direction to its staff not to send requests for financial information to any licensees whose reactors are experiencing safety problems.
Entergy's merchant nuclear fleet includes of some of the nation's oldest nuclear power plants, including the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts, Vermont Yankee in Vermont, Indian Point Energy Center and the James A. Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant in New York, and the Palisades Power Plant in Michigan.