Regulators say US nuclear reactors can withstand quakes, tsunamis

Brenner’s comments come as some lawmakers are raising concerns about the safety of U.S. reactors, citing the nuclear crisis in Japan that resulted from the earthquake and tsunami in the country. Several Japanese reactors were damaged during the disaster, and press reports indicate that two reactors could have suffered partial meltdowns.

Asked for more details Sunday on the NRC’s efforts to ensure that U.S. nuclear power plants can withstand major natural disasters, NRC spokesman David McIntyre said the commission is not taking reporters’ questions on the issue at this point.

“We will, of course, be analyzing any and all information that evolves from the Japan situation for potential relevance and lessons that could improve our regulations and safety standards,” McIntyre said.

An NRC backgrounder on the issue says that companies must take into account potential seismic activity in order to receive an NRC license.

In order to receive NRC approval, nuclear reactor designs must take into account “the most severe natural phenomena historically reported for the site and surrounding area,” the backgrounder says. The commission then “adds a margin for error to account for the historical data’s limited accuracy.”

The White House underscored its support for nuclear power on Sunday as part of the country's energy portfolio.