"N.R.C. Votes for Upgrades to Some Reactor Vents"

"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 3 to 2 on Tuesday to require improvements to the emergency vents at 31 American reactors that share design similarities with the Japanese reactors that melted down two years ago. The agency stopped short, however, of requiring filters to scrub out radioactive particles coming through those vents."

"The nuclear industry had readily agreed to many improvements recommended by the staff of the five-member commission after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, but had argued against requiring the filters, saying that there were more effective ways to avoid releases of radioactive material. While the agency staff said that the filters could not be justified on a cost-benefit basis, it contended that they were needed because of uncertainties in estimating the risks.

The chairwoman of the commission, Allison M. Macfarlane, voted for the filters and said she had been influenced by her visit to Fukushima, which 'required travel through deserted villages, full of abandoned homes and business overgrown with weeds, and past fallow fields, and unused industrial buildings, roads and railroad tracks.'"

Matthew Wald reports for the New York Times March 19, 2013.

Source: NY Times, 03/20/2013