Nuclear Regulatory Commission under fire over fire
Rep. Markey looking for answers from regulators on Pilgrim safety oversight
U.S. Rep. Edward Markey is using a fire last week at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth to turn up the heat on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Markey sent a letter to the federal agency on Friday, posing a long list of questions about the Oct. 29 fire in an outbuilding at the plant property that the plant operator says was contained to one room.
The Malden Democrat, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce committee, has longstanding concerns about the NRC’s oversight of its fire safety rules. Markey believes that the agency isn’t doing enough to ensure that nuclear plant operators meet or exceed the agency’s fire safety standards.
“I have yet to be persuaded that the NRC is on a path to do the right thing and require the nation’s plants to be brought (into) compliance with NRC’s fire protection regulations,” Markey wrote in the letter to NRC Chairman Dale Klein. “This latest event only heightens my concern and my interest in assuring that all appropriate measures are undertaken to protect these facilities against dangerous fires.”
Diane Screnci, a spokeswoman for the nuclear agency, said the two NRC inspectors assigned to the plant are investigating the fire’s cause and reviewing plant owner Entergy Corp.’s steps to ensure such a fire doesn’t happen again. Screnci said the agency received Markey’s letter and will respond as quickly as possible to the congressman.