Environmental Protection

NRC Vacancies Concern House Members

"Absent a nomination and confirmation of additional commissioners, the Commission will lack a quorum on July 1 when Chairman Svinicki's current term expires. This situation could severely inhibit the NRC's ability to execute its vital responsibility and hamper the nuclear industry," three leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote in a letter to the president.

Three leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore.; Subcommittee on Energy Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.; and Subcommittee on Environment Chairman John Shimkus, R-Ill. -- have sent a letter asking President Donald J. Trump to fill current and future vacancies at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"Absent a nomination and confirmation of additional commissioners, the Commission will lack a quorum on July 1 when Chairman Svinicki's current term expires. This situation could severely inhibit the NRC's ability to execute its vital responsibility and hamper the nuclear industry," they wrote. "We urge you to nominate commissioners to the NRC so the confirmation process may be completed as soon as possible and provide the NRC a full contingent of commissioners to fulfill its critical mission in overseeing and regulating the civilian use of radioactive material."

The commission announced April 14 that it is increasing oversight at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant in Ocean County, N.J., after finalizing an inspection finding involving deficient maintenance work on a safety-related electromagnetic relief valve. The finding was identified during a 2016 NRC inspection of the facility, which is owned and operated by Exelon. This is classified as a white safety finding, which indicates a low to moderate safety significance. (NRC's color-coded system ranges from green, for very low safety or security significance, up to white, yellow, or red, for substantial safety or security significance.)

This type of valve is used to depressurize the reactor during a pipe break; Oyster Creek has five of them. "These valves serve a key safety function and therefore it is important that they be available to help mitigate severe accidents at the plant," said NRC Region I Administrator Dan Dorman. "We will conduct a supplemental inspection at Oyster Creek to ensure the underlying problems that led to this issue have been appropriately addressed." Exelon was given an opportunity to request a regulatory conference to provide additional information to the NRC prior to a final agency decision, to submit a written response, or to accept the finding, and the company chose to take part in a regulatory conference, which was held on March 9 at the Region I Office. NRC reported that Exelon verified correct assembly of the valves following the most recent refueling and maintenance outage at the plant.

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