US nuclear officials doubt plant safety

Trojan Nuclear Plant Cooling Tower, Oregon, Usa
American nuclear regulators expressed doubt that US nuclear facilities are prepared for a Fukushima-scale disaster, despite prior public confidence.

Union of Concerned Scientists, a public watchdog organization, released internal Nuclear Regulatory Commission e-mails and memos which showed many officials questioning the sufficiency of the back-up plans designed to keep nuclear reactor cooling systems running following a loss of power.

The concerns expressed in the documents are in direct contrast to public statements and information provided by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"While the NRC and the nuclear industry have been reassuring Americans that there is nothing to worry about – that we can do a better job dealing with a nuclear disaster like the one that just happened in Japan – it turns out that privately NRC senior analysts are not so sure," Edwin Lyman, a Union of Concerned Scientists nuclear expert told Reuters.

The emails specifically discuss possible electrical failures at nuclear plants in Delta, Pennsylvania, and Surry County, Virginia.

In one email, a staff member at the commission, speaking about the plant in Delta, Pennsylvania said the plans “have really not been reviewed to ensure that they will work to mitigate severe accidents."

Some of the reactors in use in the US are General Electric reactors with similar designs to those at Fukushima.