Rep. Issa says nuclear power plants need re-examination

The Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee says the nation's nuclear plants need to be reexamined from top to bottom in the wake of the crisis in Japan.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the government needs to take a close look at the nation's nuclear facilities to determine what can be done to prevent a disaster in the United States. 

"Are plants safe?" Issa said, according to Southern California Public Radio. "Are current plants safe? Do there need to be retrofits? All of those are legitimate questions. But we do the same thing when a liquefied natural-gas facility explodes. We do the same thing after a coal mine incident. We do the same thing after British Petroleum’s fiasco in the Gulf.

"I think we always have to get to the bottom of a legitimate analysis for what happened and can it be prevented and if so, how do we do it?" Issa said.

Issa is one of a number of lawmakers who have questioned the safety and preparedness of American nuclear power plants and future nuclear power projects since an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan and nearly caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

On CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who has been an outspoken critic of nuclear power, said that the crisis in Japan is raising doubts about future use of the energy source.

"It is calling into question the viability of nuclear power in this country," Markey said.

Last week President Obama ordered a safety review of American nuclear power plants, saying the U.S. has a "responsibility" to learn from the Daiichi plant crisis.

On Monday the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is set to hold a briefing to examine the safety of nuclear power plants in the U.S.