Expert Calls NRC Weak Regulator

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(Host) A nuclear industry expert says the federal government has failed to protect the public from leaking underground pipes at aging reactors.

Paul Blanch is a Navy veteran and an engineer who worked for three decades in the industry. In recent years he has emerged as a critic of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Blanch told the Senate Natural Resources Committee that decaying underground pipes are a problem at many plants – including Vermont Yankee in Vernon.

(Blanch) "My strongest opinion is that we have buried, corroded pipes that are way beyond their design life and these pipes contain radioactive water – and it’s reactor coolant water at least at 2.5 million picorcurries per liter."

(Host) Blanch said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is a weak regulator that has failed to develop an adequate pipe inspection program.

(Blanch) "Vermont Yankee has submitted their program for management of buried pipes and tanks. They admit in their license renewal application that they have buried pipes. No doubt about it they have buried pipes. The NRC has evaluated it and said it’s just fine, you guys are great."

(Host) The Senate will hold a vote next week on whether Yankee should be allowed to operate for another 20 years past its scheduled shutdown date.

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