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Project on Government Oversight

NRC Stalemates on Security Improvements Highlight Need for Obama to Appoint New Commissioners

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January 29, 2009

For the second time in two weeks, Commissioners at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have rejected staff recommendations that would improve security at nuclear power plants by a tie vote of two-two. NRC rules establish that a tie vote means a rejected vote.

The first NRC action was to reject a staff recommendation that would provide the public with more information on the results of security inspections at nuclear power plants. This is a topic that POGO feels strongly about and submitted public comments in favor of the staff recommendations.

Just days ago, the two Commissioners rejected another staff recommendation to make the NRC's Design Basis Threat (DBT) more realistic by increasing the number of adversaries that nuclear power plants have to defend against and to include a number of more lethal weapons that are commonly used by terrorists. For years, POGO has been critical of the NRC's unrealistic and diluted DBT.

"The NRC Commissioners are not doing the American people any favors by dismissing the recommendation of their staff security experts about how to protect these dangerous nuclear power plants from a realistic threat," says Danielle Brian, POGO's Executive Director.

These recent tie votes demonstrate the need for President Obama to both appoint a Commissioner to fill the NRC's vacant fifth seat and to designate a new Chairman.

"President Obama should appoint someone who has a commitment to nuclear security," says Peter Stockton, Senior POGO Investigator. "This is an opportunity to show that he is serious about his commitment to prevent nuclear terrorism."

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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