WASHINGTON (CN) – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected a petition from the nuclear energy industry to delay the March 31 implementation deadline for the construction of physical barriers and installation of intruder detection systems.
The barriers and systems are mandated by the “Requirements for Physical Protection of Licensed Activities in Nuclear Power Reactors Against Radiological Sabotage” regulations.
In its petition, the Nuclear Energy Institute had stated that 24 plants will not be able to meet the March 2010 compliance date and that nine other plants also probably will fail to meet the deadline. The institute argues that the costs of engineering and construction of the barriers to meet the deadline would divert resources needed to meet other more critical provisions of anti-sabotage rules.
The Institute’s petition argues that since 2001, the industry has made so many improvements in the security of nuclear power facilities that they are recognized as the most protected and secure domestic sites and that a delay in the implementation deadline would not drastically alter the resistance of the plants to sabotage.
In its decision to reject the petition, the commission noted that less than half of the nation’s nuclear facilities would not make the deadline and that a facility by facility decision on exemptions would be less disruptive than a blanket amnesty.
The commission also noted that the petition came so close to the implementation deadline that it did not have sufficient time to conduct the rulemaking process which would be required to implement such a sweeping exemption.