According to a report the Associated Press released this morning, the regulatory body that oversees the nation’s nuclear power industry has loosened a handful of safety requirements.
Downtown Phoenixville is less than ten miles from Limerick Power Plant—a proximity that places it on the fringe of the plant’s “plume exposure pathway zone”; a ten-mile radius wherein inhabitants could potentially be exposed to airborne radioactive contaminants in the event of an accident.
The revamped safety guidelines issued jointly by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and FEMA, according to the AP, require fewer exercises for major accidents, recommend that fewer people be evacuated if such an accident occurs, and eliminate a requirement that local responders practice for a release of radiation.
The rules have tightened in one area. State and local police will now prepare for a possible terrorist attack on their plant.
The new set of rules, the first change to the nation’s nuclear accident preparedness protocol since the 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island, went into effect in December. In the language of the report, the changes were “documented in obscure federal publications, [and] went into effect…with hardly any notice by the general public.”
The report went on to suggest that the loosened rules were necessary because many nuclear reactors are “operating beyond their design life” and so require “relaxed safety margins.”
Read the full story here.