For the second time in two weeks, Commissioners at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have rejected staff recommendations to 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 have provided the public with more information on the results of security inspections at nuclear power plants. This is a topic that POGO feels strongly about: in fact, we recently submitted public comments in favor of the staff recommendations.
And just days ago, two of the 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 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 recommendations of their staff security experts about how to protect these nuclear power plants from a realistic threat.
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 is dedicated to improving nuclear security. This is an opportunity to show that he is serious about his commitment to prevent nuclear terrorism.
-- Ingrid Drake and Peter Stockton