In an agreement with environmentalists, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will review its regulations concerning General Electric Mark 1 reactors.
An NRC safety panel posted notice on its Federal Register accepting a request by three environmental groups and includes 8,000 petitioners, to review whether approvals by the agency issued in 1989; concerning whether they should revoke reactor venting systems at General Electric Mark I reactors.
The reactor is also the same type that was in operation at the Fukushima, Japan, nuclear power plant which suffered a meltdown and fire last March. One of the plants in the U.S. that uses the reactor is the Oyster Creek Generating Station in New Jersey.
Environmental groups Beyond Nuclear, New Jersey Environmental Federation and the Brick-based Grandmothers, Mothers, and More for Energy Safety (GRAMMES) said the NRC review will also include whether to order all Mark I operators, including Exelon Corp., which owns Oyster Creek, to install backup emergency power systems to cool the reactors’ highly radioactive rooftop fuel pools.
Janet Tauro, chairwoman of the board of directors at the New Jersey Environmental Federation, said last year’s crisis in Japan, caused by faulty reactor vents, was what prompted environmentalists to petition the NRC with an Emergency Action Request.
Tauro said such a request is “what environmentalists can file to the NRC if they believe there is a very dangerous situation which needs review.’’
Beyond Nuclear filed the request April 13, 2011, one month after the nuclear disaster in Japan started.
“We are encouraged that NRC has agreed to look into revoking its prior approval of dangerous venting systems installed on these reactors,” said Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight Project at Beyond Nuclear.
“Our expert scientists, engineers and nuclear professionals will work with our regulator as we are required to do,” said Oyster Creek spokeswoman Suzane D’Ambrosio. “We are confident in the safety of our facilities and the safety systems within them.”