Bloomberg News

Jaczko Says Spent-Fuel Safety May Be Top Priority for NRC

October 05, 2011

(Updates with Jaczko comment in third paragraph.)

Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will consider improving spent-fuel cooling-pool safety as a “top-tier” priority in a report to be released this week, Chairman Gregory Jaczko said.

“The staff, I expect, is going to recommend this to the Commission” in the report that will weigh priorities for the agency’s work on safety, Jaczko said today during a meeting with reporters in Washington.

NRC staff didn’t include as an immediate concern in a Sept. 9 memorandum to commissioners a proposal by a task force that nuclear-plant owners be required to upgrade precautions, such as installing water sprays at the cooling pools. The reservoirs hold used radioactive material from reactors.

The NRC is weighing regulations to improve safety at 104 U.S. commercial reactors following meltdowns and radiation leaks at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, caused by a March earthquake and tsunami. Tepco took emergency measures to keep fuel rods cool in the pools at four damaged reactors.

An agency task force in July issued recommendations for immediate action, including requirements for plant owners to review earthquake and flooding hazards.

NRC staff weighed the priority of the task-force’s recommendations in an Oct. 3 report, which the agency hasn’t yet published. Jaczko said he expects the report to be released within “the next day or so.”

The commission plan to hold a public meeting Oct. 11 to discuss the report.

--Editors: Judy Pasternak, Steve Geimann

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Wingfield in Washington at bwingfield3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net


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