WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is conducting a "more intensive review" of several U.S. plants as part of its "very conservative" safety review system, its chairman told lawmakers at a hearing on Thursday.
"Right now there are approximately six plants that are in one of the areas of more intensive review from a safety perspective, and those are the plants that right now we are most concerned about," Gregory Jaczko said at a House Appropriations Committee hearing.
The NRC determined that six U.S. plants were in need of more oversight at the end of last year. The plants included three units at the Oconee plant operated by Duke Energy in South Carolina; the Fort Calhoun operated by Omaha Public Power District in Nebraska; the H. B. Robinson 2 operated by Progress Energy in South Carolina; and Wolf Creek 1 operated by Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp. in Kansas.
An NRC spokesman said the Oconee units have been removed from the list for increased oversight since that time.
Lawmakers are looking at the budgets of the NRC and the Department of Energy in light of the Japanese nuclear crisis.
An NRC spokesman said the reviews were not unusual, and were part of yearly evaluations conducted by the regulator. The names of the plants were not immediately available.
There are 104 nuclear plants in the United States.
"We have a very conservative system, so we like to identify problems early and ensure they can get addressed early," Jaczko said in response to a question from Representative Ed Pastor of Arizona.
"With the exception of those six plants, the remaining plants really in this country are operating well within our safety requirements, and we believe are operating safely," Jaczko said.
"And again, all of the plants are meeting our safety requirements and we believe are operating safely," he said.
Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Walter Bagley and David Gregorio