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NRC Fast-Tracks Safety Measures for Nuclear Plants

BUCHANAN, N.Y. – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has fast tracked a number of safety changes for U.S. nuclear power plants, following the Fukushima task force recommendations following the nuclear disaster in Japan.

“Our lessons-learned task force spent several months looking at the information coming out of Japan after Fukushima, in July they issued a report outlining what they had determined to that point. That report included a number of recommendations the task force thought would help with the safety of us nuclear power plants,” said Scott Burnell, spokesman for the NRC.

Burnell emphasized that “plants in the U.S. are operating safely. Of course there are things we can improve on, based on what we know from Fukushima.” He also said that the task force intended to look at evacuation measures in the future, one of the flash points in the Indian Point debate.

“The staff looked at other areas that could receive staff attention at some point. Just the basic topic of evacuation was one of the areas,” said Burnell.

Indian Point spokesman, Jerry Nappi, released a statement about the issue. “Entergy supports the NRC's and nuclear industry's efforts to capture the lessons learned from Japan, some of which have already been implemented, and further enhance safety at its nuclear plants,” he said in the statement.

“Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Gregory Jaczko admitted that America's existing nuclear regulations are ‘no longer acceptable,’ considering what we've learned since Fukushima,” said Paul Gallay, president of Hudson Riverkeeper.

“In the past six months, an NRC task force found major flaws in federal standards for evacuation planning, spent fuel storage and earthquake readiness at America's nuke plants.  Indian Point is vulnerable on all three issues. It defies reason to talk about relicensing Indian Point when both the NRC chair and staff admit that our country's nuclear safety rules are so fundamentally flawed,” said Gallay.

Some of the measures fast tracked by the commission included:

-Reevaluation of seismic and flooding hazards.

-Provide a means of communication in the event the station is without power for an extended period of time, known as a Station Black Out.

- Start preplanning how a nuclear plant could import cooling measures, in case a natural disaster impaired the plant’s cooling abilities.

-Pre plan uninterrupted spent fuel and core cooling measures.

-Improve spent fuel pool monitoring instrumentation.

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