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  • Union of Concerned Scientists

otherwise known as corrective action. Chapter 4 describes how the NRC assesses the effectiveness of corrective action programs, why the NRC’s efforts have been unsuccessful, and what needs to be done to fix this problem.

Next, Chapter 5 examines the NRC’s per- formance in addressing year-plus outages. This performance is characterized by specific occasions in which the agency’s actions were commendable, and occasions when its actions were condemnable. The former category dispels any notion that the NRC is incapable of ever becoming an effective guardian of public health and safety, but the latter illustrates why the NRC needs specific reforms to transform itself into such a guardian.

Answers Are within Reach

Finally, Chapter 6 provides recommendations that would not only help the NRC address the findings presented in Chapters 3 and 4, but also help Congress ensure that the NRC becomes

a more effective watchdog. It is the job of the NRC to monitor safety performance at nuclear power plants, but it is the job of Congress to monitor the NRC’s performance. With that in mind, we examine the role played by Congress in the past and the role it should play in a future where the risk of disaster at nuclear power plants is minimized.

Implementation of our recommendations would enable the NRC to better monitor safety margins, reducing the likelihood that safety could erode to the point that plant owners need a year or more to fix the problem. Or worse, that a neglected safety problem triggers a potentially catastrophic reactor meltdown.

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