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Mothers for Peace help spur rule change 

Local nuclear watchdog San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace won a concession from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that is expected to beef up security measures in nuclear power plants.

The NRC accepted a new rule on Dec. 17 after hearing arguments from Mothers for Peace and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The NRC has acknowledged in its rulemaking that Mothers for Peace advocates reasonable, practical solutions to nuclear safety and security problems,” Mothers for Peace spokeswoman Jane Swanson said in a news release.

The two groups filed a petition in April to change the NRC’s security regulations in two areas: safety and security, and aerial hazards. The NRC accepted the safety and security portion of the petition but not the aerial hazards.

There was a concern that safety and security decisions were being made without considering all the consequences. For example, padlocking all internal doors might keep out intruders, Mothers for Peace said in a news release. But padlocking all internal doors would also make it more difficult for operators to respond to non-sabotage events, such as fires and electrical system faults.

The new rule requires plant owners to evaluate changes in a larger context so gains in one area are not made at expense of losses in another.

Mothers for Peace is also appealing to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to increase protection against terrorist attacks.

“Mothers for Peace is currently challenging recent decisions of the NRC on a separate security issue involving dry cask storage of radioactive materials at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant,” Swanson said. “We hope that both the court and the NRC will take into account the contributions Mothers for Peace has made to public safety over the decades.”

—Colin Rigley

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