NRC suspends most operations
BRATTLEBORO -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission officially furloughed 3,600 of its staffers late Wednesday as a result of a lack of funding due to the government shutdown.
"Our Resident Inspectors assigned to each operating nuclear power plant will be among those who will remain on duty," stated Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC, in a press release announcing the measure.
In addition, the NRC's website "will essentially be static" until further notice, though a portal for notice of urgent safety allegations will be monitored.
"For those who use the daily reactor status report and event reports that are posted to the website, the agency's lawyers tell us those are services that don't fall within the bounds of what the agency can provide the public in a shutdown," noted Sheehan. "They will be suspended for the duration of the shutdown. The data will be preserved and made available after the resumption of government services."
The NRC's four regional offices will also be closed and public relations personnel will not be answering questions about routine plant operations.
"They will only answer plant-specific questions if something rises to the level requiring an agency callout to inform senior leaders about a safety situation," wrote Sheehan.
"Half of the 300 still on the job are resident inspectors, such as those at VY.,," noted Elliot Brenner, of the NRC. "The rest are emergency response, technical and policy support, managers and associated personnel - investigators, some allegations staff, a small number of PR folks and some attorneys."
Jim Sinclair, communications manager for Entergy, said the furlough does not affect the two on-site resident inspectors for Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon.
"The only impact will be to reschedule any planned programmatic inspections until after staffing is restored. For us, it is business as usual," Sinclair said in an e-mail to the Reformer.
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.
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