Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797

David Lungren (202) 224-5642

NRC Decision Could Mean More Nuclear Plant Delays

WASHINGTON, DC - Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today issued the following statement in reaction to the announcement from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that Westinghouse has not demonstrated certain safety design issues for its revised AP1000 nuclear reactor.

“The announcement by the NRC may mean a delay in the construction of some new nuclear power plants,” Senator Inhofe said. “Certainly I respect NRC’s effort, as a tough regulator, to resolve outstanding technical issues and appreciate the progress the agency has made toward licensing new plants.  Some have criticized industry and characterized applications as ‘incomplete’ and will leap on this announcement as their proof.  However, these applications are very long and complex.  As NRC staff diligently reviews thousands of pages of information, it’s only natural that staff will pose questions that applicants must address.  After all, neither the industry nor the NRC has licensed a new plant in over 20 years and they are using a new process for the first time.  Finger-pointing doesn’t accomplish anything other than tarnishing reputations.”

“However, this situation highlights my concern about the need for more schedule transparency in new reactor licensing.  Without an NRC projection of when this design will be certified, it’s difficult to ascertain the overall impact of delays on licensees choosing to build this design. I’m concerned about how this schedule uncertainty affects construction planning and the resulting financial impacts to the seven projects looking to build this design.”