Midwestern nuclear plants overseen by another NRC administrator who’s been to Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi complex  via Ripple Effect

As the NRC’s Midwest regional administrator, Ms. Pederson is the top regulator outside of Washington for the historically male-dominated agency’s oversight of those 16 Midwestern plants, which are spread across seven states that include Ohio and Michigan. Her regional office also oversees 1,200 other facilities with nuclear licenses, such as universities and hospitals. She doesn’t have the final say, but she is in charge of all regional activities. Earlier this year, Ms. Pederson was part of a 14-member NRC delegation that went to Japan and saw in person what the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex looks like three years after the earthquake-triggered tsunami of March 11, 2011 wreaked havoc upon it by knocking out on-site power. That resulted in a meltdown of three of that site’s six nuclear reactors, one of the world’s worst disasters. “It’s a very striking example of what can happen when you lose control of a site,” Ms. Pederson said on a panel at the recent Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference in New Orleans. “It came home to me in very vivid terms. It’s so striking. It really reinforces the need to make sure that doesn’t happen here or anywhere else in the world.” Her comments echo those of her predecessor, former NRC Midwest Regional Administrator Chuck Casto, who was the entire U.S. government’s point man in Japan for the first 11 months after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster struck. At one time, Mr. Casto was in charge of 150 U.S. government employees in Japan during the aftermath of those meltdowns. One can argue who had the better visual, who was there the longest, who did more on the ground, and who had the better-timed visit. But the point remains: Ms. Pederson saw it. And it made an enduring impression on her, just like it did on Mr. Casto.

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