Nuclear Reactors Able to Withstand Commercial Aircraft Impact (Rep. Edward Markey)

This week the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued an important and long-awaited decision requiring that any new nuclear reactor constructed in the United States be designed to withstand the impact of a large commercial aircraft. This decision will go a long way toward protecting Americans from the horrific possibility that terrorists could target our nuclear plants with large aircraft. This ruling may have come later than I wanted, but it will certainly help keep our cities and towns safe from a catastrophic attack.

Al-Qaeda considered attacking a nuclear power plant as part of its September 11th plot. We must ensure that any nuclear power plant built in this country abide by the absolute highest standards for safety and security.

Prior to this decision, reactors were only required to withstand the impact of small aircraft. During the Bush administration, a majority of the NRC commissioners refused to support meaningful changes to this rule. I have long advocated that new reactors be built to withstand the impact of a large commercial aircraft. I praise the NRC and especially Commissioner Gregory B. Jaczko for this decision to reverse the its prior position on this critical safety issue. As Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment with oversight over the NRC, I will continue working to guarantee that our nuclear power plants are safe and secure.