WASHINGTON — The official responsible for nuclear safety in the United States said Tuesday he is worried that U.S. nuclear plant operators have become complacent just nine months after the nuclear disaster in Japan.
Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said recent instances of human error and other problems have endangered workers and threatened safety at a handful of the 65 nuclear power plants in the United States.
Workers at nuclear plants in Ohio and Nebraska were exposed to higher than expected radiation levels, Jaczko said, while three other plants were shut down for months because of safety problems, the first time in more than decade that several plants have been shut down at the same time. The Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida and Fort Calhoun in Nebraska remain shut down, while the earthquake-damaged North Anna plant in Virginia reopened last month after being shut down for three months.
Tony Pietrangelo, senior vice president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry group, called the past year “challenging,” but said the industry is in broad agreement with the NRC’s response to the Fukushima crisis. Specifically, he said the industry is ready to adopt most of the commission’s short-term changes, including one to improve response to prolonged power outages, most likely through additional equipment such as portable pumps, battery chargers, hoses and even bulldozers.
“We are committed to addressing lessons learned from Fukushima through expeditious actions in concert with our regulator, but not at the expense of our focus on day-to-day safe and reliable plant operations,” Pietrangelo said.
Continue reading at U.S. atomic industry must heed lesson of Japan: NRC chief