Tighter nuclear safety standards recommended by a task force earlier this year are now undergoing implementation.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) instructed agency staff to move forward with seven of the 12 recommendations put forward by the federal task force in July.
The recommendations include new standards aimed at strengthening operators’ ability to deal with a complete loss of power, ensuring plants can withstand floods and earthquakes and improving emergency response capabilities.
The new safety standards will take as many as five years to fully implement, NRC said.
“I am pleased that the commission has taken this first step in responding to and implementing the safety recommendations of the task force,” NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said in a statement. “My colleagues and I expect that within five years, and significantly sooner in some cases, the staff will have enhanced our already robust safety standards by carrying out these recommendations.”
The federal task force, mandated by President Obama, launched an examination of U.S. nuclear safety regulations in the aftermath of the March disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
The task force issued a report in July that recommended a series of sweeping new safety standards and raised concerns about the country’s “existing patchwork of regulatory requirements and other safety initiatives.”
But the report noted current NRC regulations pose no “imminent threat” to safety and notes that a disaster on the scale of the one that occurred in Japan in May following a massive earthquake and tsunami is unlikely in the United States.