'US Nuclear Commission misdoings put public at risk'

Infighting at US nuclear agency detailed as Democrats and Republicans in Congress separately released information about agency leadership.

By REUTERS
December 10, 2011 07:10
1 minute read.
B53 bomb

B53 bomb . (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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WASHINGTON - There were new allegations on Friday of misconduct at the highest levels of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as Democrats and Republicans in Congress separately released information about infighting at the agency.

Democratic Representative Edward Markey made public a 23-page report accusing four of the five NRC commissioners of trying to impede US nuclear safety reviews following the disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

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"The actions of these four commissioners since the Fukushima nuclear disaster has caused a regulatory meltdown that has left America's nuclear fleet and the general public at risk," said Markey, a Democrat.

Markey, who has offered legislation to tighten nuclear power plant safety controls following the Fukushima meltdown last March, said NRC Commissioners William Magwood, Kristine Svinicki, William Ostendorff and George Apostolakis engaged in a "concerted effort" to "undermine" a task force studying new safety steps for the US nuclear power industry.

Meanwhile, Republican Representative Darrell Issa released a letter he had sent to White House Chief of Staff William Daleysaying there were "serious questions" about NRC Chairman GregoryJaczko's "conduct and ability to lead" the NRC.

Issa also made public a letter written by Magwood, Svinicki, Ostendorff and Apostolakis on Oct. 13 accusing Chairman Jaczko of behavior that was "causing serious damage" to the NRC.

Issa, who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the US House of Representatives, has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday to examine the NRC's leadership.

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The Fukushima plant has been disabled since a major earthquake hit Japan last March, leading to radiation leaks. That disaster, the worst at a nuclear facility in 25 years, prompted US officials to review safety precautions and procedures at American nuclear facilities.

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