Environment News Service

NUCLEAR AGENCY UNVIELS UPDATED INSPECTION PROGRAM

A new pilot inspection and assessment program for the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Station near Red Wing, Minnesota, will be unveiled at a public meeting Monday, June 14, by officials of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The Prairie Island plant, operated by Northern States Power Company, is one of nine in a pilot program which began June 1 to test and adjust the new inspection program. Following a six-month trial, the program is expected to be extended next year to all 103 U.S. commercial nuclear power reactors. The NRC developed the new reactor inspection and assessment program to reflect improvements in nuclear power plant safety performance over the past 20 years. Plants that perform well will have less regulatory oversight than plants that have problems. A core inspection program will continue for all nuclear plants with NRC resident inspectors on site supplemented by specialists from one of four NRC regional offices. If performance declines at a plant, the NRC will step up its regulatory activities for that plant. More information on the new program is on the NRC's website at: http://www.nrc.gov/OPA/primer.htm

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