WASHINGTON (CN) – Nearly ten years after terrorists flew commercial aircraft into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will require applicants for new nuclear power reactors to perform a design-specific assessment of the effects of the impact of a large, commercial aircraft on a nuclear power generating facility.
The NRC is not requiring that new plants withstand such an impact, just that features are developed that would help fight fires or radioactive releases that might occur in an impact.
While the NRC requires nuclear facilities to have redundant design features to survive so called design-basis events such as large fires, floods, earthquakes and hurricanes, it will not require redundant controls for events occurring after the impact of an aircraft.
The NRC does not require nuclear power plant operators to prevent the impact of large commercial aircraft, but expects that the layered efforts of federal intelligence and military agencies would effectively preclude an aircraft attack. In a press release announcing the new rule, the NRC said that “should such an unlikely event take place at a new plant designed in accordance with the new rule, the NRC expects the plant would be better able to withstand such a crash than the same design without changes resulting from the rule.”