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Groups Request Info on Reactor Exemptions, Evacuation

Environmental Protection

Richard Brodsky, a former New York Assemblyman, currently serving as a senior fellow at the national policy center Demos, has sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIArequest to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko asking for a list of "exemptions" from health and safety rules the commission has issued to the 104 commercial nuclear reactors in the United States.

According to Brodsky, the "exemptions" include, but are not limited to:

  • issues of fire safety,
  • control of safety systems that are required for safe shutdown in cases where core meltdown is possible,
  • safe evacuation of civilian populations, and
  • safe storage of spent fuel.

Brodsky stated in a press release, "The NRC has secretly issued thousands of 'exemptions' from its own health and safety rules. For example, at Indian Point, when it was discovered that the fire insulation that protects the electric cables that control shutdown of the reactor core during the threat of a meltdown did not meet the NRC's requirement of lasting for one hour in a fire." Brodsky said that "the NRC secretly 'exempted' Indian Point from the Rule and lowered the insulation survival requirement to 24 minutes (because the test showed it only survived for 27 minutes). This has been repeated time after time at reactors in New York and around the nation, and without any public notice or participation in the secret 'exemption' process. We need to know what reactors received 'exemptions,' what rules are no longer applied as written, and how and why the 'exemptions' were issued."