NRC tells Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant that the ‘bucket brigade’ is just not good enough
Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following statement in response to the announcement by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that it denied the substitution of the majority of proposed measures such as fire watches and on-site fire brigades for tested measures to prevent the spread of fires at the Indian Point nuclear power plant.
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is to be commended for its recognition that the nuclear industry’s ‘bucket brigade’ approach to fire protection is just not good enough. I call on the Commission to issue enforceable regulations that will ensure that the rest of the nuclear industry is also compelled to implement true fire protection measures which are long overdue.”
Rep. Markey has long criticized the NRC’s failure to require adequate fire protection measures at nuclear power plants.
·         In 1997, Rep. Markey sent a letter to the NRC regarding evidence that the materials used to prevent the spread of fire from one part of a nuclear reactor to another was itself combustible.
·         In 2000, Rep. Markey sent a letter to the NRC about a fire at the Pilgrim Nuclear Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
·         In 2004, Rep. Markey, along with then-Ranking Democrat of the Energy and Commerce Committee John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), sent a letter to the NRC requesting information about an NRC proposal to weaken fire protection regulations for nuclear power plants.
·         In 2008, Rep. Markey wrote to the NRC about fire safety and the lack of compliance with critical fire protection regulations at many nuclear power plants following a fire at the Pilgrim Nuclear Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Problems with the NRC’s oversight of fire safety regulations have also been outlined in two reports from the Government Accountability Office: “Nuclear Safety:  NRC’s Oversight of Fire Protection at U.S. Commercial Nuclear Reactor Units Could be Strengthened,” issued in June 2008, and “Fire Protection:  Barriers to Effective Implementation of NRC’s Safety Oversight Process,” issued in April 2000. The 2000 report was a direct response to a request from Rep. Markey.  In 2010, Congressman Markey asked GAO to conduct a new report into the adequacy of NRC’s fire safety regulations.