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April 23, 2012 

President’s Appointments to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Must Be Fully Committed to Nuclear Safety and Security

Statement by Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (April 23, 2012)—President Obama is planning to reappoint Republican Kristine Svinicki to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over the objections of some Senate Democrats. Svinicki, a nuclear engineer, was appointed to her post as an NRC commissioner in 2008 to a term that ends on June 30.

Below is a statement by the Union of Concerned Scientists Global Security Program.

“The Union of Concerned Scientists has longstanding concerns about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s commitment to ensuring the safety and security of U.S. nuclear reactors. NRC commissioners have failed to require that the NRC enforce its own regulations and to address known safety problems.

“For example, four of the current commissioners—all but Chairman Gregory Jaczko—voted to allow the continued operation of 47 reactors that are out of compliance with fire protection regulations, despite knowing that fire is a major risk factor for core damage.

“Other commission votes have reduced the safety and security of U.S. reactors. For example, Commissioner Kristine Svinicki and three other commissioners—George Apostolakis, William Magwood and William Ostendorff—voted to allow plant owners to compromise defense-in-depth safety margins for emergency cooling systems when increasing the power output of reactors, despite repeated warnings from the NRC’s own Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards. The same four also voted against a proposal by the NRC staff to require security background checks for individuals with access to nuclear plant sites under construction. The NRC staff wanted to protect plants against adversaries taking advantage of the lack of security to pre-position firearms, explosives or incendiary devices during construction that could be used after the plant began operating. 

“Given the commission’s poor safety record, the Senate should make sure that the individuals appointed by the president to the commission are fully committed to addressing safety and security problems as quickly and effectively as possible. UCS encourages the Senate to use this standard to examine the record of all candidates for reconfirmation as commissioners.”


The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.

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