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October 04, 2012
Proposal seeks to ensure safety of nuclear plants

Two members of Congress, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), have introduced legislation they say will make nuclear plants safer. The intent is to prevent the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from granting a renewal of a nuclear facility-operating license to any licensee that applies more than 10 years before the expiration of its current license.

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Currently, licensees are allowed to request a 20-year extension of their license at any time. Markey and Tierney see dangerous implications for neighboring businesses and individuals. Nuclear plant operating licenses are good for 40 years.

While the action is targeted at the Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant in New Hampshire, the lawmakers say their effort is aimed at plants across the country. “It seems crazy that the NRC would even consider relicensing aging nuclear plants more than a decade before its license expires,” said Tierney.

 “As these facilities age, safety concerns inevitably arise,” Markey says. He likens allowing the NRC to give a 60-year clean bill of health to aging reactors to “allowing a doctor to assure a 20-year-old smoker they will never get lung cancer.”

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