U.S. senators call for "comprehensive" review of nuclear facilities

10:28, March 18, 2011      

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U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Tom Carper on Thursday called for a "comprehensive" investigation of all nuclear facilities in the United States.

In a letter to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko, the duo requested that the NRC conduct the investigation to assess their capacity to withstand catastrophic natural or man-made disasters, in light of the nuclear disaster that continues to unfold in Japan.

Boxer is the chairman of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee while Carper is the chairman of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee.

They also asked the NRC to promptly supply the Environment and Public Works Committee with a full evaluation of the nation's domestic nuclear reactors, with special and immediate attention given to ones that share similar characteristics as the failing reactors in Japan, to ensure that they are as safe and resilient as possible, that worst case scenarios are examined and addressed and that personnel training and equipment for emergency responses are in place and up-to-date.

"Public safety is our top priority, and it is therefore vital that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission extensively investigate the risks posed to nuclear facilities in the United States as soon as possible," said Senators Boxer and Carper. "We believe it is important to assist Japan to ensure that the nuclear disaster is contained as quickly, safely and effectively as possible, and we will closely monitor the situation as it unfolds."

"We will also continue our oversight efforts, including holding hearings in the near future, to ensure that the nuclear energy industry and NRC regulators are adequately prepared to respond to unexpected disasters, whether they are the result of human or mechanical malfunctions, acts of nature or terrorist threats," they said.

The 9-magnitude earthquake off Japan's coast on March 11 led to a release of radioactive materials from the Fukushimi Daiichi nuclear power plant. The Japanese government is still struggling to cool the reactors and stored used nuclear fuel to avoid further release of radiation.

Source: Xinhua

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