Sen. Feinstein wants new protocol for renewing nuclear power licenses

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Evening sets on the San Onofre atomic power plant in northern San Diego County, south of San Clemente, California.

California’s senior US senator wants federal nuclear regulators to update their re-licensing process to consider possible dangers from earthquakes and tsunamis.

When nuclear power plants want to renew their operating license, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission looks at the “detrimental effects of aging plant facilities.” US Sen. Dianne Feinstein says that ignores the danger posed by natural disasters and terrorism.

In a letter to the Chairman of the NRC Gregory Jaczko, the California Democrat says we’ve learned a lot since the San Onofre nuclear power plant came online three decades ago.

“Recent events,” she says, referring to the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, “demonstrate that 30-year-old threat assessments can be devastatingly inaccurate.”

Feinstein wants the NRC to consider new information, including newly discovered fault lines near nuclear facilities, before granting license extensions.

The NRC says it’s reviewing Feinstein’s letter and will respond to the senator.

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