Senator Tom Carper
Review of the NRC's Near-Term Task Force Recommendations
for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century
August 2, 2011
"Let me begin by welcoming back the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Commissioners to our Committee. I know these are trying times for the NRC, and I appreciate you taking the time to be before us today.
"As many of you know, my interest in nuclear energy comes from a clean air and energy security perspective. Nuclear power has helped this nation curb our reliance on dirty fossil fuels. Nuclear power has also helped reduce our air pollution that damages our health and causes global warming.
"However, as we saw the crisis unfold at the Fukushima Daiichi facility, one wrong step at a nuclear power plant could have big consequences. This crisis is a strong reminder that with nuclear energy, we can never be complacent. Safety must always be our top priority.
"Today, I look forward hearing an update from the NRC Commissioners regarding their review of our nation's nuclear power fleet in light of the crisis at Fukushima. I especially look forward to hearing more about the recent Task Force recommendations. I hope to learn today how the Commissioners expect to move forward on those recommendations.
"I was relieved that the task force concluded that an accident like Fukushima is unlikely to happen in the United States and that our nuclear fleet poses no imminent risk to public safety. This is due in part to the due diligence of the NRC to public safety. But as my colleagues have heard me say over and over, I believe if it is not perfect, make it better. And I believe the task force took this saying to heart. We can do better.
"I believe we can all agree that some of the task force recommendations are common sense and should be implemented soon. I liken these recommendations to patching up a hole in a boat that is slowly leaking – these are no brainers and can be done easily. And some of the recommendations are going to need much more time and vetting. These recommendations are more like taking the boat apart and building it back together. We definitely need more time and more thought on this issue.
"I sincerely hope the Commission will take time to talk to stakeholders and get public reaction – from all sides of this issue – before moving forward with any of the recommendations. However, I will be very disappointed if we are six months or a year down the road and have not seen any action from the NRC on any of the recommendations.
"We all need to work together to make sure we incorporate the right lessons learned to keep our nuclear fleet safe into the future, because in the end, we are all in the same boat when it comes to nuclear safety."