Washington, D.C.-Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, commented on his conversation today with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman, Greg Jaczko, concerning the NRC's report just released publically, "Near Term Task Force Review of Insights From the Fukushima Daiichi Accident". During the discussion, Senator Inhofe had the opportunity to ask the Chairman about a letter he had sent to him on July 8, in which he asked that the NRC conduct a full and systematic review of the differences in the regulatory systems of the United States and Japan before moving forward with sweeping regulatory changes. Chairman Jaczko replied that such an endeavor would be "difficult and time consuming."
"I appreciate Chairman Jaczko taking the time to speak to me about the NRC task force report, but after our discussion I am even more concerned about the NRC's regulatory agenda going forward," Senator Inhofe said. "Up until it was released, I was under the strong impression that the report would focus on lessons for the United States regarding the nuclear accident in Japan-even the report's title suggests this. Instead it focuses almost completely on potential disasters in the United States and how they might affect our reactors. This is certainly not what we were led to believe it would be, especially considering that our plants are already required to be designed to withstand natural disasters.
"In a letter dated July 8, I asked Chairman Jaczko to make sure that the NRC engages in a thorough study of the fundamental differences between the regulatory systems of Japan and the United States. But instead, the NRC is poised to overhaul our regulatory system without having the full picture of what happened in Japan and without a clear understanding of our regulatory differences. When I asked Chairman Jaczko again today if the NRC would be willing to engage in this study, he refused saying that such an undertaking would be 'difficult and time consuming.'
"If safety were truly the priority, the NRC would focus on learning lessons from the accident in Japan to determine whether these recommendations are the right ones. Instead, it is clear that this is just another case of 'regulate first, ask questions later' in an effort to stifle nuclear power and drive up the cost of energy for all Americans."