Senators express concern over draft nuclear decommissioning rule

Published on August 09, 2018 by Kevin Randolph

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A group of senators recently sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) expressing concern over a draft proposed rule on nuclear power plant decommissioning that has been presented to the commissioners for review.

The rule includes proposed changes to emergency preparedness, physical security, cyber security, funding assurance, financial protection requirements and environmental considerations, among other issues.

Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) said in their letter to NRC Chair Kristine L. Svinicki that the rule would limit the general public’s opportunity to participate in the decommissioning process. They also wrote that the rule does not adequately address concerns about the long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel and reduces financial protections, especially in case of an accident, which increases financial risk for taxpayers and communities.

“By failing to propose a comprehensive set of decommissioning and cleanup regulations, by automatically approving facilities’ exemptions from safety, security and emergency planning regulations, and by continuing to rubber-stamp the industry’s post-shutdown decommissioning activities report, as currently drafted, this proposed regulation would abdicate the NRC’s responsibility to ensure the safety of these plants,” the senators wrote. “This is more an absence of rulemaking than a rule that will affirmatively guide plants and communities through the decommissioning process.”