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U.S. nuclear agency forms plant safety task force

By the CNN Wire Staff
The commission voted to create a task force to conduct an analysis of the lessons learned from the crisis in Japan.
The commission voted to create a task force to conduct an analysis of the lessons learned from the crisis in Japan.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The U.S. nuclear safety agency has voted to review plant safety
  • The review will focus on applying lessons from Japan's crisis
  • The first update is due in 30 days

Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has voted to begin a review of plant safety in the United States following the earthquake-induced crisis at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the agency said in a statement Wednesday.

The commission voted to create a task force of senior managers and former agency experts to conduct what the NRC said would be "both short- and long-term analysis of the lessons that can be learned from the situation in Japan." NRC inspectors stationed at each U.S. power plant will also participate, according to the commission.

The work will be made public, the agency said.

Last week, President Barack Obama said he had asked the independent agency for a "comprehensive review of the safety of our domestic nuclear plants in light of the natural disaster that unfolded in Japan."

The review will supplement existing programs to ensure plant safety, Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko said.

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"We will perform a systematic and methodical review to see if there are changes that should be made to our programs and regulations to ensure protection of public health and safety," he said.

The first formal update on the task force's work to address any short-term concerns is expected in 30 days, the commission said. An examination of any long-term changes to nuclear regulatory policy should begin within 90 days, with a final report due six months after that, the agency said.

A March 11 earthquake off the coast of Japan and the ensuing tsunami caused serious damage to the Japanese nuclear plant, resulting in explosions, repeated releases of radiation and concerns about the food and water supply in the region surrounding the plant.

Dramatic images of smoke and steam furling from the plant's damaged reactor buildings and concern about radioactive materials spreading beyond Japan have touched off worldwide concern about the safety of nuclear power.

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