Washington (January 24, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and leading Congressional voice on nuclear safety, released the following statement after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) today approved a weakened version of a rule designed to protect America’s nuclear power plants against earthquakes and other natural disasters like the tsunami that triggered the meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan in March 2011.


“When it comes to turning the realities of the Fukushima nuclear disaster into regulations, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been an abject failure for nearly seven years,” said Senator Markey. “This latest decision worsens the dangerous status quo. This draft rule does even less than the current one and fails to deliver on the promise by the NRC to take action to ensure what happened in Fukushima would not happen here. The NRC has decided not to enact and not to enforce standards that many operators have already voluntarily adopted. It is unacceptable that this abdication of duty has taken place, and especially without allowing the public to weigh in on this vastly different final rule. 


“Instead of learning the lessons of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, we are ignoring them and imperiling the safety of Americans who live near nuclear reactors. I intend to fully investigate this newly affirmed rule and hold the Commission accountable.”


Since 2011, Senator Markey has written to the NRC for more information on the implications for America’s domestic nuclear industry. He has repeatedly urged the NRC to consider specific domestic policies to ensure increased nuclear safety and introduced legislation to require their implementation. He also queried the Food and Drug Administration on how the agency ensures that contaminated radioactive food or other agricultural products are prevented from entering the domestic food supply.