These are rocky days at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which finds itself under attack from the outside for decisions ranging from new reactor designs to safety issues that have languished for years, including the agency’s failure to get serious about fire hazards.
Many issues laid bare since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster are anything but new. Critics have for years railed about regulators’ coziness with industry, relative inattention to safety concerns and minimizing of seemingly unlikely events – the same factors that have brought the Japanese nuclear industry to its knees.
What’s different now is that some leaders within the tightly-knit community of U.S. overseers are openly expressing their concerns – including the chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, who has come under withering criticism in recent days for his management style.
He recently went so far as to scold his NRC colleagues for not dealing more aggressively with the threat of fire at the nation’s nuclear plants.
“The continued willingness to tie inspectors’ hands by limiting the tools they have available to ensure we meet our mission of protecting public health and safety, is more than disappointing — it is unacceptable,” Jaczko wrote.
As iWatch News recently reported, fires are the most likely accident to threaten a reactor core, and critics claim the NRC for decades has been far too lenient on fire safety.