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U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) challenges industry's attempt to wrest Force-on-Force security inspections away from NRC

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)Begging the question "Why does NRC even exist then?!", nuclear power industry lobbyists have urged that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission relinquish legally-required, agency-conducted Force-on-Force security inspections at nuclear power plants, and instead allow the nuclear utilities simply take care of them.

U.S. Senator Ed J. Markey (Democrat-Massaschusetts), a 40-year congressional watchdog on the nuclear power industry, has pushed back strongly against this fox-guards-the-henhouse proposal.

Citing recent revelations of terrorist plots against atomic reactors in Belgium, the 9/11 Commission Report's admission that Indian Point near New York City was under consideration for attack, and the most recent security-related incident at a U.S. reactor (the illegal disabling of a security guard force weapon at Seabrook in New Hampshire), Markey -- in a letter to NRC Chairman Steve Burns -- warned that agency-conducted Force-on-Force security inspections are a legal requirement.

Markey should know -- he authored that section of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 himself!

Markey serves on the U.S. Senate committee of jurisdiction, with oversight on NRC -- Environment and Public Works. In fact, he is Ranking Member (that is, the top Democrat) on the Regulatory Oversight and Waste Management Subcommittee (high-level radioactive waste, stored on-site at atomic reactors in vulnerable indoor wet pools and outdoor dry casks, is itself a serious security risk, despite industry and NRC's attempts to deny this).

A sign of NRC staff's deep and dark cynicism, Dave Lochbaum of Union of Concerned Scientists -- at a public event near Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, MI in April 2013 -- mentioned that Markey's tireless efforts to hold the agency's feet to the fire, in the form of letters to the Chairman, are jokingly referred to as "Markey-grams." Ironically enough, a series of just such letters addressed Palisades itself. In fact, it was Markey who exposed a major scandal, in June 2012, involving a "crisis in the control room" at Palisades. An earlier example involved a scandalous security breach at Palisades, exposed by Esquire magazine; then-U.S. Rep. Markey was the only Member of Congress to do anything about it.