WASHINGTON – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is demanding that operators of the 104 U.S. nuclear reactors submit detailed information about plans to respond to a possible terrorist attack.
NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said Wednesday that operators must submit by June 10 details about plans, equipment and personnel in place to respond to a terrorist attack. The agency has required nuclear power plants to prove their ability to respond to terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
Officials began updating requirements after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear crisis in Japan.
Jaczko said officials want to ensure that nuclear plants can withstand a prolonged loss of power or damage to large areas of a plant caused by a possible terrorist attack, as well as review agency requirements to see whether they need to be updated.
The review is separate from a 90-day report on U.S. nuclear power plants ordered by the NRC in response to the Japan crisis. A task force of senior agency staff is expected to brief commissioners on its progress Thursday.
Eric Leeds, director of the NRC's Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, said requirements on plant operators imposed after 9/11 are an important part a nuclear plant's emergency response plan. The rules are intended to allow plants to maintain or restore their ability to cool down reactor cores and spent fuel pools even if a plant's normal safety systems are damaged or destroyed in an explosion or fire.
The agency's initial guidance focused on immediate actions to be taken by plant operators, but officials also want to consider issues such as operator training and equipment maintenance, Leeds said.
Plant operators will be required to submit an initial response by June 10 and provide more detailed information by July 11. Plant managers must guarantee under oath that all responses to the NRC bulletin are accurate and complete.
Matthew Daly can be reached at http://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC