They're part of the money-saving rollbacks sought by the country's nuclear industry under President
The nuclear power industry says the safety culture at the
Opponents say the changes are bringing the administration's business-friendly, rule-cutting mission to an industry — nuclear reactors — where the stakes are too high to cut corners.
While many of the regulatory rollbacks happening at other agencies under the current administration may be concerning, "there aren't many that come with the existential risks of a nuclear reactor having a malfunction," said
This week, the NRC released staff recommendations for rollbacks in safety inspections for the 90-plus
The country's nuclear regulators were looking at "far-reaching changes to the NRC's regulatory regime without first actively conducting robust public outreach and engagement,"
Svinicki and two other NRC commissioners did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment made through the agency's public affairs staff. A fourth commissioner,
Nuclear regulators post notices of meetings on proposed rollbacks on oversight of nuclear power plants on the NRC website. Lawmakers complained there's been scant notice to the public at large about the meetings or proposals.
In general, according to attendance logs, the rollbacks are being hashed out at meetings attended almost solely by NRC staff and nuclear industry representatives. Occasionally, a single reporter or representative for private groups monitoring or opposing nuclear power is shown as attending.
Korsnick, the industry trade group head, said the safety of workers and the public remains the priority.
"Our outstanding performance as an industry is due an exceptional culture of safety at the nation's nuclear power stations and a strong, independent regulator," she said in Wednesday's statement.
Commissioners have been moving more assertively to cut regulation requirements for the nuclear industry under the Trump administration, which has now nominated or renominated all four current members of the five-member board.
The drills are meant to test whether attackers would be able to reach the heart of a nuclear reactor.
Lyman said the security changes "are jeopardizing public health and safety by restricting the NRC's ability to ensure that nuclear plants are sufficiently protected against radiological sabotage attacks."
In January, in one of the comparatively few widely reported changes, commissioners rejected staff recommendations for making nuclear power plants harden themselves against Fukushima-scale natural disasters.
New recommendations by staff made public Tuesday would cut the time and scope of annual plant inspections. They also would change how the NRC flags safety issues at plants for the public and for local state officials.
Some of the changes would require a vote by NRC commissioners.
Some rollbacks pushed by the industry have been rejected by the commission's staff. Others are still under consideration, including one that would further cut NRC inspections at plants and allow more self-inspections overseen by plant operators.
This week's staff recommendations for rollbacks in government oversight are "just the tip of the iceberg," Lyman said.