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 MarkeySenate Dems urge Trump to continue nuclear arms control negotiations after treaty suspension Massachusetts is leading the way on gun safety, but we can’t do it alone Lobbying World 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 AlexanderRepublicans skeptical of Trump’s plan to have military build the wall The Year Ahead: Drug pricing efforts to test bipartisanship Overnight Health Care: Manchin pitched Trump on reviving bipartisan ObamaCare fix | 4 in 10 don’t plan to get flu shots | Survey finds more than a quarter have pre-existing conditions 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.”