Feb 29, 2008

Opening Statement: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Oversight: Security of Our Nation's Nuclear Plants

.... It is our job today, as Members of this Committee, to ensure that the NRC remains a strong and independent regulator, true to its mission of protecting public health and safety, and promoting the common defense and security. 

Some excerpts:

The NRC cannot condone, and this Committee cannot ignore, security guards sleeping on duty in violation of procedures. 

 There are reports that NRC staff recommended an additional $22 million for new reactor licensing that was NOT included in the final budget request and that the shortfall will lead to delays of 8 months or more in reviewing applications filed in FY'09.  If this is true, then I am very concerned to hear that the NRC may already be jeopardizing its ability to conduct thorough reviews in a timely fashion by setting the stage for a funding shortfall. In contrast, the requested budget increase for reactor oversight -- a process that even GAO has found to be logical and well-structured -- is $16.1 million, over 5 times the increase for new reactor licensing.  Testimony from our October hearing certainly didn't indicate program shortcomings requiring a strong funding increase as a remedy. 

I'm concerned by this disparity and I'm eager to understand the basis for it.

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