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Cong. Eliot Engel questions NRC on Indian Point safety

Congressman Eliot Engel used a joint subcommittee hearing on proposed legislation governing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to raise the issue of safety at Indian Point with NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane. Rep. Engel said the plant “has an operational history … plagued by irresponsible acts.”

He then asked Chairwoman Macfarlane about the expedited transfer of radioactive wastes from spent pools at nuclear generating sites to dry casks storage. “You are well aware that the risks from spent fuel in storage pools can be reduced by removing some of it to dry casks.”

Chairwoman Macfarlane said that the NRC was considering an expedited removal of nuclear waste to dry cask storage, and has a meeting scheduled for early January to review reports from staff on the transfer.

Rep. Engel told the chairwoman, “Indian Point has an operational history that has been plagued by irresponsible acts, unplanned shutdowns, leaking fuel pools, and inadequate emergency notification and response systems.” He urged Chairwoman Macfarlane to work with him “to address these safety issues and assure the New York Metropolitan Region is protected.”   

Rep. Engel spoke Thursday at a joint hearing of two subcommittees of the Energy and Commerce Committee: the Energy and Power and the Environment and the Economy Subcommittees. Rep. Engel is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The hearing was called to review proposed legislation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Reorganization Plan Codification and Complements Act (H.R. 3132).

 

Rep. Engel opposes the legislation saying it “chips away at the authority” of the NRC chair in the event of an emergency by requiring her to notify other NRC Commissioners, relevant Congressional committees, and the public before taking any action to protect the public.

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