Senator Blumenthal Calls for Answers on Safety of Nuclear Facilities

(Washington, DC) – In response to the escalating situation at Japan’s nuclear facilities, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today sent a letter to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Commissioner Gregory Jaczko requesting information regarding nuclear energy facilities in the United States.

"Like all Americans, I express my condolences and support for the Japanese victims and their families. This tragic occurrence raises difficult questions and concerns that should be addressed as soon as possible," says Blumenthal in the letter. "While nuclear power plays an important role in America’s energy resource mix, we must ensure that all nuclear sites are safe for those who work and live in surrounding areas.”

The letter requests a timely response to a number of questions Blumenthal raised, regarding steps that the NRC is taking to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities.

The full text of the letter is below.


March 15, 2011


U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Mail Stop O-16G4 
Washington, DC  20555-0001

The Honorable Gregory B. Jaczko

Chairman

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Mail Stop O-16G4 

Washington, DC  20555-0001


Dear Chairman Jaczko:

I am writing to request information regarding the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) oversight of nuclear power plants in the United States.

The ongoing crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has raised concerns – expressed to me by Connecticut residents – about whether a similar problem could occur in the United States.  Like all Americans, I express my condolences and support for the Japanese victims and their families. This tragic occurrence raises difficult questions and concerns that should be addressed as soon as possible.

I would appreciate your responses to the following questions, which I believe will help Members of Congress and the public have a better understanding of the current environment in which these plants are operating:

  • What insights has the NRC gained and what lessons have been learned from the tragic experience in Japan that can be applied to the safe operation of American nuclear plants?
  • The German government recently announced that it would temporarily suspend operations at nuclear plants constructed before 1980, pending a safety review. Has the NRC contemplated steps along the same lines for any American nuclear plants?
  • Do American nuclear facilities utilize any particular design characteristics or operational methods that make a Fukushima Daiichi-like crisis less likely to occur?
  • What design or construction features, or practices and policies in connection with crisis response, could be implemented to better protect health and safety in the event of a similar emergency occurring here?

I will supplement these questions with others as more becomes known about the unfolding events in Japan.

While nuclear power has an important role in America’s energy resource mix, we must ensure the safety and security of all our nuclear power facilities, especially for people who work and live in surrounding areas.

Thank you for your attention to this request and for your continuing work to ensure that America’s nuclear industry operates in a safe and reliable manner.

Sincerely,

Richard Blumenthal

United States Senate

 

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