Nuclear power plants need stronger safety measures and more oversight, task force recommends

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission task force is calling for U.S. nuclear power plants to step up safety measures, have a stronger oversight of plant safety performance and replacing existing regulations with a coherent set of rules.

The task force’s report, “Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century,” concluded that the natural disasters that hit Japan in March are unlikely to occur in the U.S. However, the task force, which is chaired by Dr. Charles Miller, also said a more balanced application of the NRC’s defense-in-depth philosophy would provide a regulatory framework that is “logistical, systematic, coherent and better understood.”

The task force report offered 12 recommendations related to clarifying the regulatory framework, ensuring protection, enhancing mitigation, strengthening emergency preparedness and improving NRC program efficiency.

The report also calls on plant operators to rethink disaster plans, install new systems that would keep reactors cool and have eight hours worth of battery power available in the case of a blackout.

The NRC formed the task force in April to study what can be learned from the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. The task force’s first review was held in May.

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