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Uneven enforcement suspected at nuclear plants

October 15, 2013 • Business


FILE – This June 26, 2011 file photo shows the control room of the Cooper nuclear power plant in Brownville, Neb. The number of safety violations at U.S. nuclear power plants varies dramatically from region to region, pointing to inconsistent enforcement in an industry now operating mostly beyond its original 40-year licenses, according to a congressional study awaiting release. For 2000-2012, this facility led all sites in the U.S. in lower-level violations per reactor with 363. (AP Photo/Josh Funk)

BOSTON (AP) — The number of safety violations at U.S. nuclear power plants varies dramatically from region to region, pointing to inconsistent enforcement in an industry now operating mostly beyond its original 40-year licenses, according to a congressional study awaiting release.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission figures cited in the Government Accountability Office report show that while the West has the fewest reactors, it had the most lower-level violations from 2000 to 2012 — more than 2½ times the Southeast’s rate per reactor.

The Southeast, with the most reactors of the NRC’s four regions, had the fewest such violations, according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

The striking variations do not appear to reflect real differences in reactor performance. Instead, the report says, the differences suggest that regulators interpret rules and guidelines differently among regions, perhaps because lower-level violations get limited review.

The study also says that the NRC’s West region may enforce the rules more aggressively and that common corporate ownership of multiple plants may help bolster maintenance in the Southeast.

However, the reasons aren’t fully understood because the NRC has never fully studied them, the report says. Right now, its Login to read more

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