US response to situation with Japan's nuclear disaster

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted to launch a review of US nuclear power plant safety in response to the March 11th Japan earthquake and tsunami which resulted in the crisis at Japanese nuclear power plants.

The NRC plans to establish an agency task force, made up of current staff and former NRC experts that will conduct both short- and long-term analysis of the situation in Japan and implications for U.S. nuclear plants.  They also announced that the results of their work will be made public.

In addition to the NRC’s response to the events happening in Japan, investors are scaling back their investments in U.S. power companies that have the biggest exposure to nuclear plants because of regulatory uncertainty in reaction to the Japanese crisis.

Public and political scrutiny of the 104 U.S. nuclear reactors erupted as the world watched Japan racing to prevent a meltdown and contain radiation at Tokyo Electric Power’s (Tepco) Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The ensuing sell-off in U.S. utilities with nuclear plants points to fears that these companies face greater regulatory hurdles and significant costs to keep their plants open.

Interestingly enough, NRG Energy (NRG) shares jumped 5.4%  on expectations that the power company will abandon its South Texas nuclear Project expansion, especially if its Japanese partners pull out, including Tepco who had announced they were going to partner with NRG and Toshiba for  a 10% share of the expansion, and possibly increase that to 20% if a U.S. loan guarantee was awarded to the project.