Nov. 15, 2011: Markey Calls on NRC
At Senate confirmation hearings in 2010, Commissioners made statements of support for NRC oversight, regulation of leaks or spills of radioactive tritium
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today sent letters to Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners William D. Magwood and George Apostolakis asking them to reverse their November 8 votes in opposition to a new performance measure related to leaks of radioactive materials, including tritium, from nuclear reactors. These votes run in stark contrast to statements previously made by both Commissioners at their confirmation hearings in which they indicated strong support for NRC involvement in addressing the issue of tritium leaks. In particular, Commissioner Apostolakis, at a separate Congressional hearing in May 2010, proposed a specific means for addressing tritium releases that he subsequently voted against.
“Commissioners Apostolakis and Magwood should practice what they preach when it comes to radioactive leaks at nuclear power plants,” said Rep. Markey, top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “I call on them to reverse their votes opposing the very same NRC oversight of these leaks they previously claimed to support."
The letters to Commissioners Magwood and Apostolakis can be found HERE and HERE .
Radioactive tritium has leaked from over three quarters of all U.S. nuclear reactors, and NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko recently reported 38 nuclear power plants have reported leaks or spill of tritium in excess of maximum levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the course of their operating history. Fourteen reactors currently report a leak or spill of tritium above maximum levels set by the EPA.
In June, Reps. Markey and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) released a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report “Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Oversight of Underground Piping Systems Commensurate with Risk, but Proactive Measures Could Help Address Future Leaks” that found there is no way to assess the integrity of buried pipes at nuclear reactors. Buried pipes at nuclear power plants carry water necessary to cool nuclear reactors. Other buried pipes carry diesel to fuel the emergency generators that power cooling systems in case of a blackout.