WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - The attorneys general of six states say the Nuclear Regulatory Commission needs to consider new safety concerns like terrorism and earthquakes when rrelicensing nuclear power plants.
In a letter to NRC Chairman Dale Klein, the group says the reforms are necessary in a post-9-11 world.
"The tragedy that befell our nation on Sept. 11, 2001 demonstrated the utter folly of ignoring the impact of national security issues on nuclear plant safety," the letter says. "The release of radioactive material into the air and water after the recent earthquake in Japan - forcing the emergency shutdown of the world's largest nuclear plant - demonstrates the vulnerability of nuclear plants to natural forces."
New York's Andrew Cuomo, Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal, Illinois' Lisa Madigan, Kentucky's Greg Stumbo, Delaware's Beau Biden III and Vermont's William Sorrell all signed the letter.
Cuomo says a U.S. Geological survey indicated a "significant" chance of an earthquake hitting the New York metropolitan area. It would be more powerful than earthquakes that hit the western part of the country because the rocky nature in the East transmits more powerful shockwaves, he said.
"The NRC's failure to address safety issues including updating its review of seismic activity in the relicensing of nuclear power plants is irresponsible," Cuomo said.
Currently, the NRC considers age-related structural degradation of fixed, non-moving components like reactor cores, containment systems, pipes and electrical cables. Cuomo says it does not look at other factors that may help avoid a catastrophe, such as surrounding population attack, susceptibility to a terrorist attack, adequate emergency warning and evacuation plans and seismic issues.
Cuomo has long been opposed to the relicensing of Indian Point Power Plant, located on the Hudson River. He has noted that two of the hijacked planes during 9-11 flew over the plant.
Others feel it shutting the plant will put an energy strain on New York City.