Rep. Dan Kelley, D-Newton, on Monday signed a letter urging the federal government to reassess the current nuclear power plant regulations to improve their safety.
"Nuclear power plants in the United States are aging, including Iowa's facility in Palo, and are, therefore, becoming more vulnerable to natural disasters," Kelley said. "The Fukushima power plant disaster, occurring one year ago, highlighted continuing nuclear power plant vulnerabilities worldwide."
Kelley is a member of the bipartisan National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL). As a member, he urged the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency to resolve safety issues at nuclear plants.
As an example, Kelley cited the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's current regulation calling for a 10-mile evacuation zone should an accident occur at a nuclear reactor site. Kelley called for the NRC to extend that evacuation zone to 50 miles due to the high levels of radiation that could be released in the case of a disaster.
"As shown by Hurricane Katrina and the tornadoes in Parkersburg and Joplin, Mo., the U.S. is not immune to devastating natural disasters," Kelley said. "Our current emergency planning requirements are inadequate and post-disaster regulations with regard to nuclear power plants need to be revised as soon as possible. We must keep safety for all Americans our highest priority."