* Chairman wants 90-day decisions, 5-yr implementation
* Commissioners call for industry, public consultations
* Ostendorff: current U.S. regulatory system not broken
* Svinicki: recommendations must be open to challenge
By Roberta Rampton and Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON, July 19 The head of the U.S.
nuclear safety regulator faces resistance from his fellow
commissioners over his push for a quick and sweeping overhaul
of rules governing the U.S. nuclear power industry.
The first public comments from the four top officials at
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission suggest that Chairman Gregory
Jaczko faces an uphill battle for his ambitious plan to rewrite
the rule book within five years.
Jaczko wants the NRC to provide clear direction to industry
on changes within 90 days on the rules that are being remade in
response to Japan's Fukushima nuclear power disaster. The
regulator and industry would then implement the changes within
A U.S. task force examining Fukushima -- the worst nuclear
accident in 25 years -- recommended sweeping long-term changes
for the NRC's regulations, but did not find any immediate
safety threats to U.S. plants.
The changes would require a shift in NRC's safety regime
that would force plants to plan for catastrophes far beyond
what they were originally designed to withstand.
Some of the safety enhancements recommended by task force
include tougher standards for back-up power supplies, back-up
water supplies for pools holding plant waste, and improvements
in reactors that share the same design as Japan's Fukushima
FACTBOX-What's in the task force report? [ID:nN1E76C176]
LINK-Task force report r.reuters.com/zyj62s
ANALYSIS-Slow change seen for US nuclear [ID:nN1E76A169]
NEWSMAKER-Jaczko meshes physics, politics [ID:nN06200024]
FACTBOX-Commissioners at the NRC [ID:nN06206336]
TAKE A LOOK-US maps out nuclear reforms [ID:nNUKEUSA]
"IMPORTANT, BUT EARLY STEP"
Three of the four commissioners, while not directly
addressing Jaczko's timeline at a public meeting on Tuesday,
stressed they wanted more time to hear from the industry and
Calling the report "an important, but early step," Kristine
Svinicki, a Republican commissioner, said the NRC needs to
proceed with a "systematic and methodical review."
The recommendations "must be open to challenge by our many
stakeholders and tested by the scrutiny of a wider body of
experts ... prior to final commission action," Svinicki said.
William Magwood, a Democratic commissioner, called the
report's ideas "intriguing and challenging" but said he wants
to hear from people outside the agency.
"We may not agree with everything they suggest, but it
would be arrogant of us not to listen to them very closely and
very carefully," Magwood said.
William Ostendorff, a Republican commissioner, echoed calls
"I personally do not believe that our existing regulatory
framework is broken," Ostendorff said.
CRITICS URGE QUICK ACTION
The NRC's Chairman Jaczko has said he wants the commission
to consider the recommendations in a series of public
On Monday, he warned that a failure to decide on a path
forward could hold up applications for new reactors proposed by
Southern (SO.N) and SCANA (SCG.N) -- decisions that had been
scheduled to be made in 2011.
Critics of nuclear energy urged the NRC to implement the
changes as soon as possible, although they said some of the
recommendations may not go far enough.
"We request that you set a deadline for the adoption of
each recommendation, and take appropriate steps to ensure that
robust public participation is an intrinsic element of this
process," the group said in a letter signed by 15 groups,
including Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Natural
Resources Defense Council, and Greenpeace.
(Editing by Alden Bentley)