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Inspector General Condemns Nuclear Agency Safety Evaluation

Aug. 31, 2000

Inspector General Condemns Nuclear Agency Safety Evaluation

NRC Safety Evaluation at Indian Point 2 Flawed

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? The inspector general of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has released a report condemning the agency’s handling of safety problems at the Indian Point 2 nuclear reactor in Buchanan, N.Y., approximately 25 miles from New York City. The failure of both the NRC and the plant’s owner, Consolidated Edison, to adequately review information in their possession resulted in the February steam generator tube rupture that released radiation into the environment.

According to the report released today:

The flaw in the steam generator tube that caused the February 2000 accident at Indian Point 2 was nearly 100 percent through the tube wall in 1997.

NRC senior engineers failed to review the documents submitted by Consolidated Edison, including the 1997 steam generator tube inspection report.

The NRC and Consolidated Edison could have identified the flaw and thus avoided the accident if someone with technical expertise had evaluated the 1997 inspection findings.

Despite the fact that the NRC’s junior engineer had concerns regarding the steam generator tubes that were not addressed by Consolidated Edison’s license amendment request, the NRC failed to ask follow-up questions because a second round of questioning was “frowned upon” by NRC senior management.

“The NRC is in regulatory retreat and has shirked its responsibility to protect the health and safety of the people of New York,” said James Riccio, senior policy analyst with Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy & Environment Program. “The NRC’s senior management needs to be held accountable. They are too concerned with allowing nuclear reactors to run, and as a result, safety has been sacrificed.”