February 6, 2008
Dear N&O Editors,
The N&O missed the mark twice on Feb. 2 regarding Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Dale Klein’s visit to Raleigh and the Shearon Harris power plant. Both articles gave the political appointee public relations platforms to endorse the industry he’s supposed to regulate. Both failed to mention that just days earlier, the NRC’s Inspector General confirmed an appalling 14 years of neglect by Klein’s agency to enforce regulations regarding a leading risk factor for a nuclear meltdown: fire.
Six nuclear plants owned by Duke Energy and Progress Energy are using fire barriers that fail federal tests in minutes. Shearon Harris uses nearly one and a half miles of the fire barrier, more than any other plant. The barriers are designed to protect electric controls for over 20 systems needed to shutdown the reactor safely. NRC is allowing the noncompliant utilities to use stopgap measures that neither have been tested nor approved by the agency.
Your omissions occurred at the same time Harris is seeking permission to operate for 20 additional years and Duke and Progress are seeking public trust to build new reactors and nuclear waste pools.
With NRC poorly performing, North Carolina needs the media to be a rigorous watchdog.