May 17, 2006- Lawmakers Concerned That Corporate Influence Superseded Nuclear Security Concerns

WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce and Homeland Security Committees, and Representative William D. Delahunt (D-MA), senior Democrat on the House International Relations Oversight and Investigations Committee today sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) asking questions about a recently released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which revealed that the NRC altered its security regulations for nuclear reactors in response to industry pressure. 

The letter sent today states, “Instead of promulgating security regulations adequate to protect against a terrorist attack, the Commission seems to have issued security orders that are sufficient only to protect the nuclear industry’s bottom line.”

“Decisions made about the security of nuclear facilities need to be made based on public safety and security concerns not the bottom-line concerns of companies,” said Rep. Markey.  “When it comes to homeland security, the Bush Administration motto is “In Industry We Trust.” 

"The GAO report raises serious concerns about adequate safety at nuclear power plants.   Clearly in wake of Hurricane Katrina, its incumbent on all of us to scrutinize both safety precautions and emergency evacuation plans, failure to do so is unacceptable," said Delahunt.

The Congressmen questioned the NRC about information revealed in “Nuclear Power Plants: Efforts Made to Upgrade Security, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Design Basis Threat Process Should Be Improved” a report released on April 3, 2006 by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  Specifically, the GAO report concluded that the NRC removed several weapons from its list of weapons and reduced the size of the truck bomb nuclear reactors were supposed to be able to defend against as a result of industry claims that it couldn’t afford to protect against terrorist attacks using them.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 contains legislative language directing the Commission to promulgate regulations to upgrade security at nuclear reactors within 18 months of that bill’s July 2005 enactment. These permanent regulations required by law are intended to result in security levels necessary to protect against a terrorist attack - not in security levels that won’t cost the industry too much money. Rep. Markey is the author of many of the provisions that were enacted into law.  The Congressmen’s letter also includes questions regarding this pending rulemaking and whether it will address the concerns raised in the GAO report.

For the complete letter sent to the NRC or more information on Rep. Markey’s work on the security of nuclear facilities check out:

Letter Text, May 17, 2006

For Immediate Release
May 17, 2006

 CONTACT: Tara McGuinness(Markey)
Steven Broderick (Delahunt)