House Dems call for hearings on U.S. nuclear safety

The White House said Monday it will not change course on its nuclear energy policies as a result of the Japanese disaster, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission insisted that U.S. nuclear reactors can withstand tsunamis and earth quakes.
 
But the lawmakers said Monday the NRC should consider the potential dangers of nuclear power when approving new projects and renewing reactor licenses.
 
The lawmakers take aim at the Vermont Yankee nuclear project, a boiling water reactor similar to those in question in Japan. The Yankee plant has come under criticism from Vermont lawmakers.
 
“In recent years, the NRC has approved over 60 license renewal applications, including several for plants with the same design as the endangered Japanese facilities,” the letter says. “In fact, the NRC recently voted to renew the operating license for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, which is of the same design as some of other reactors experiencing severe problems in Japan.”
 
Committee ranking Democrat Henry Waxman (Calif.), Energy and Power subcommittee ranking Democrat Bobby Rush (Ill.), Oversight and Investigations subcommittee ranking Democrat Diana DeGette (Colo.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) sent the letter Monday.
 
The letter was sent to full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich), Energy and Power subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Oversight and Investigations subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.).