Inhofe Comments on NRC 90 Day Post Fukushima Report
Washington, D.C.-Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, commented today on the release of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) "Near Term Task Force Review of Insights From the Fukushima Daiichi Accident".
"In the wake of the Fukushima accident NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko has assured us repeatedly that our nuclear reactors are safe," Senator Inhofe said. "Jaczko testified before the EPW Committee in April saying, ‘we believe that plants in the United States continue to operate safely' and he reaffirmed this statement again in his testimony in June. So why has the NRC suddenly recommended sweeping regulatory changes in this report apparently without an adequate technical or regulatory basis to justify these modifications? Even the task force acknowledges in the report that its understanding of the accident has been constrained by the fact that key information was, "...in many cases, unavailable, unreliable, or ambiguous..." Only last month, NRC staff admitted that the Fukushima Daiichi spent fuel pools were believed to be intact, contrary to Chairman Jaczko's testimony before Congress March 16 that at least one of the pools had lost most if not all of its water.
"Also, a nuclear accident in Japan should not automatically be viewed as an indictment of U.S. institutional structures and nuclear safety requirements. Our regulatory systems and culture are fundamentally different, most notably with the establishment in the United States of the NRC early in the industry's history whose sole focus is to regulate the safe use of nuclear materials. A systematic and methodical regulatory comparison should determine if there are differences that either indicate necessary safety enhancements or provide added confidence that our nuclear safety regime adequately protects public health and safety. Changes in our system may be necessary, but sweeping revisions are premature without first taking into account the full extent of the differences between the United States' and Japan's nuclear safety regulations.
"Nuclear energy accounts for roughly 20% of US electricity generation-it is essential for providing reliable, clean energy for America. As this report comes to light, I am concerned that it will become another weapon in the Obama Administration's attack on affordable energy, or an excuse to unleash a regulatory agenda that will only harm our economy."