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Letter to The Honorable Gregory Jaczko, Chairman, Nuclear Regulatory Commission

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Today Congressman Jon Runyan (NJ-3) wrote Gregory B. Jaczko, the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, seeking answers on how new NRC policies will prevent future tritium leaks at the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Facility in Lacey Township.

This month a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report was released assessing the risk at nuclear plants of underground piping system leaks. The 2009 Oyster Creek tritium leaks were used as one of three case studies in the report.

Runyan made the following statement about the report, "I am a strong supporter of nuclear energy and Oyster Creek, but we must do it safely and responsibly with respect for public health and the environment. It is clear from this report that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Exelon must do a better job of monitoring the corrosion of underground pipes for leaks. Tritium is a serious threat to the drinking water of Ocean County and should not be taken lightly," said Runyan.

"The NRC needs to act and implement serious reforms to safeguard the health of the people of South Jersey." The GAO report is entitled, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Oversight of Underground Piping Systems Commensurate with Risk, but Proactive Measures Could Help Address Future Leaks. The report detailed three recent tritium leak case studies including Oyster Creek. You can view the report here http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11563.pdf.

Attached, you can find a copy of Congressman Runyan's letter to the NRC.

June 23, 2011

Mr. Gregory B. Jaczko
Chairman
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

Dear Chairman Jaczko,

I write to express my concern and raise some questions in regards to the June 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report entitled, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Oversight of Underground Piping Systems Commensurate with Risk, but Proactive Measures Could Help Address Future Leaks. This report included three case studies including one on the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Facility of Lacey Township, which lies in my congressional district.

The GAO report contains several findings and recommendations. Including:

* Periodically evaluate the extent to which the industry's voluntary Groundwater Protection Initiative will result in prompt detection of leaks and, based upon these evaluations, determine whether the agency should expand its groundwater monitoring requirements.
* Stay abreast of ongoing industry research to develop technologies for structural integrity tests and, when they become feasible, analyze costs to licensees of implementing these tests compared with the likely benefits to public health and safety. Based on this analysis, NRC should determine whether it should expand licensees' inspection requirements to include structural integrity tests for safety-related underground piping.

It is my understanding that the NRC has responded to the GAO by agreeing with the GAO recommendations and has begun to take "relevant actions." In addition to the recommendations, the GAO found that "stakeholders said that NRC should require licensees to provide leak information in a more timely fashion and should make that information more accessible to the public. My questions for you are as follows:

* Please explain specifically these "relevant actions" you are taking to conform to GAO recommendations and how these new actions will prevent a future tritium leak from the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station.
* Please explain exactly how the NRC is working to reduce the lag time in leak reporting, and specifically how these new actions will improve the timely leak reporting at Oyster Creek.

I look forward to your prompt response and thank you for your time. Your staff may contact Jeff Brabant of my staff at (202) 255-4765 or Jeff.Brabant@mail.house.gov if we can be of additional assistance.

Sincerely,

Jon Runyan
Member of Congress


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