Pro-nuclear campaign enlists former Energy, Commerce chiefs
A growing campaign aiming to drum up support for the country's fleet of aging reactors has enlisted two heavyweights: former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Bill Daley, former Commerce secretary and chief of staff for the Obama administration.
Calif. regulators approve natural gas to replace nuclear plant
New natural gas plants can be built to replace the power lost with the closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California, under a decision today by the state's utility regulator. The California Public Utilities Commission on a 5-0 vote approved a blueprint outlining how utilities San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison Co. can add new electricity sources.
Chief defends agency amid charges it hid concerns during Japan crisis
The chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today defended the agency's Office of Public Affairs after NBC News ran a report accusing the division of hiding concerns following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear meltdown in Japan.
"I wasn't around at that time, and I don't have information about it; all I know is that our OPA has been very responsible and responsive to events that have occurred and they have my full trust," Allison Macfarlane told reporters at a nuclear conference in Rockville, Md.
Safety culture 'trickling' into Japan 3 years after disaster
There's a culture shift slowly taking place in Japan's nuclear industry three years after a powerful earthquake and tsunami slammed the country's northeastern coast and triggered a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi complex.
Workers are finding that their views matter -- a big change in the top-down culture.
"You're seeing elements of that safety culture trickle in," Dale Klein, a former head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in an interview last week. "I'd like to see it rush in, but it's trickling in. The cleanup is going to occur for a long, long time."
Klein, who was NRC's chairman from 2006 to 2009, is leading a committee of international nuclear experts helping retool the safety culture at Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that operates the Fukushima plant.
TEPCO has repeatedly come under fire for its response to the disaster. One foundation-sponsored report found safety regulation and accident planning were compromised by a disregard for the danger of an extreme tsunami because industry and regulators feared that focusing on risks would alarm the public and lead to demands for additional safety measures.
And a parliamentary inquiry accused the company of "collusion" with regulators and avoiding measures that might have averted the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima.
But Klein, who is visiting Japan this week to tour the Fukushima site and speak publicly on safety issues, said he's seeing signs that the utility's upper management is listening to workers, a change from the traditional top-down approach that fed into confusion after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck.