Nuclear Regulatory Commission considering plan to reduce inspections

Posted at 9:44 AM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 11:44:02-04

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering a plan to reduce the number of inspections it conducts, according to a document posted to its website.

For example, the document says one inspection can be changed from “a biennial to a triennial inspection.”

“These changes will result in the staff performing an appropriate level of oversight with less regulatory burden and expenditure of resources by focusing oversight on issues of greater safety significance,” the plan says.

The Associated Press first reported the proposal.

The document, which is dated June 28 and posted on Tuesday, said some of the changes require commission approval. It says some can be implemented without commission approval and others “require additional internal discussion” by the commission’s staffers.

In a letter to NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki this week, House Democrats said they were concerned with the idea of replacing agency inspector assessments with industry self-evaluations, cutting the number of core safety inspections and reducing the public reporting of certain findings.

“It would be a mistake to attempt to make nuclear power more cost competitive by weakening NRC’s vital safety oversight,” the Democrats, led by Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone and Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, wrote. “Cutting corners on such critical safety measures may eventually lead to a disaster that could be detrimental to the future of the domestic nuclear industry.”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission was created in the 1970s to regulate and license non-military uses of radioactive materials. It is led by five presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed commissioners, although one position is currently vacant.