Hearings set on nuclear plant emergency prep

May 31, 2009 4:59:06 PM PDT
Federal hearings are planned in six states in June on revamped rules to safeguard the nation's nuclear power plants from emergencies, including terrorist attacks. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency hearings will begin with two sessions Tuesday in King of Prussia, Pa. Other hearings will be in Atlanta; Lisle, Ill.; Irving, Texas; Estero, Fla.; and Bethesda, Md.

Officials will hear testimony from the public on new rules that would govern the nation's 104 commercial nuclear power plants as well as research and test reactors.

Most emergency plans have been based on accident scenarios, and authorities said the plans, as well as training exercises, must be revised to address the possibility of terrorist attacks meant to cause maximum damage.

The proposed rules say that scenarios used in current training exercises are unrealistic.

The regulations would require licensees to ensure that emergency workers are not assigned conflicting duties that could hamper their ability to carry out an emergency plan. Officials are trying to clarify the responsibilities of security officers and ensure that enough people are available to help in an emergency.

Some licensees, the rules said, have been "utilizing security personnel to implement the emergency plan when many of these responders would likely not be available due to a hostile action."

The rules would also require plant operators to have backup systems for alerting the public in emergencies and strengthen requirements for timely notification.

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On the Net:

Proposed rule changes: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-10947.pdf

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