Nuke regulators bless reactor design amid Capitol Hill cheers, jeers

A number of other power companies plan to use the Westinghouse design at proposed new nuclear plants as well, although the extent of the industry's hoped-for "renaissance" depends on multiple factors, including the ability to win financing for expensive reactor projects amid competition from plentiful natural gas.

Massachusetts Rep. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Mueller indicts Russians for DNC hack | US officially lifts ZTE ban | AT&T CEO downplays merger challenge | Microsoft asks for rules on facial recognition technology | Dems want probe into smart TVs Dems push FTC to investigate smart TVs over privacy concerns Hillicon Valley: Hacker tried to sell military docs on dark web | Facebook fined over Cambridge Analytica | US closer to lifting ZTE ban | Trump, Obama lose followers in Twitter purge | DOJ weighs appeal on AT&T merger MORE, a senior Democrat of the Energy and Commerce Committee and longtime nuclear power critic, blasted the NRC decision and alleged that the regulators are allowing Southern Co. to proceed with work on its project prematurely.

Markey contrasted the NRC decisions with what he alleges is slow action to implement safety reforms recommended by an NRC task-force convened following the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant.

“While they continue to slow walk the implementation of recommendations of the NRC professional staff’s Near-Term Task Force on Fukushima, they have fast-tracked construction of a reactor whose shield building could ‘shatter like a glass cup’ if impacted by an earthquake or other natural or man-made impact,” Markey said in a statement.

But Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSens introduce bipartisan bill matching Zinke proposed maintenance backlog fix Supreme Court vacancy throws Senate battle into chaos Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion groups see chance to overturn Roe v. Wade with Kennedy retirement | HHS watchdog to probe detention center conditions | VA pick vows to oppose privatization MORE (R-Tenn.), a nuclear power advocate, praised the NRC.

“The United States invented nuclear power but we have fallen behind other countries in embracing new reactor technology and haven’t built a new reactor in 30 years,” Alexander said in a statement. “This new design will make it easier to produce the huge amount of clean energy our economy needs to create good private-sector jobs.”