Feds approve post-Fukushima nuclear power rules

The orders require that operators better protect safety equipment and install new technology to monitor water levels of spent-fuel pools located at plants. A separate order requires that certain reactors improve venting systems “that help prevent or mitigate core damage in the event of a serious accident,” according to the commission.

The decision comes just days before the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that caused a meltdown at the Fukushima plant. The disaster has prodded federal regulators to better protect U.S. plants from severe natural disasters.

Jaczko and the other NRC commissioners stressed that U.S. plants are safe. They said the new rules are necessary to prevent a disaster in a worst-case scenario.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, President Obama formed a task force to review U.S. nuclear power safety. The task force issued a report last year laying out several recommendations.

The NRC is working to implement the recommendations within the next five years. Plant operators have until Dec. 31, 2016, to comply with the three orders the commission authorized Friday.

Jaczko has clashed with his fellow commissioners over the best way to move forward with the post-Fukushima reforms. He warned this week that the commission might not meet the five-year implementation deadline.