March 15th, 2011 – 0300 PM Congressional Report – Plus Plant Status

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NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko told members of Congress today that there is no water remaining in the fuel pool at Unit 4 at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Jaczko told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that “we believe that secondary containment has been destroyed and there is no water in the spent fuel pool… radiation levels are extremely high, which could impact the ability to take corrective measures.”

There is no updated information available from either Tokyo Electric Power or Japanese safety or regulatory officials on the status of the Fukushima plant. Japan‘s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said it also is concerned about the spent fuel storage pool at reactor 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi site.

Also testifying before the House committee, Energy Secretary Steven Chu restated the administration’s commitment to nuclear energy. “The American people should have full confidence that the United States has rigorous safety regulations in place to ensure that our nuclear power is generated safely and responsibly,” Chu testified. “Information is still coming in about the events unfolding in Japan, but the administration is committed to learning from Japan’s experience as we work to continue to strengthen America’s nuclear industry.

“Safety remains at the forefront of our effort to responsibly develop America’s energy resources, and we will continue to incorporate best practices and lessons learned into that process.” Chu said. “To meet our energy needs, the administration believes we must rely on a diverse set of energy sources, including renewables like wind and solar, natural gas, clean coal and nuclear power.”

The administration and Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Wednesday said that they believe it is appropriate for U.S. residents within 50 miles of the Fukushima reactors to evacuate. In response to nuclear emergencies, the NRC works with other U.S. agencies to monitor radioactive releases and predict their path. All the available information continues to indicate Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity.

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