Worries over how industry lobbying will sway the NRC’s forthcoming recommendations follow critiques from experts and activists of a “stripped down” safety rule the agency’s five commissioners approved with a 3-2 party-line vote in January.

As journalist Susan Q. Stranahan—who covered the Three Mile Island accident and co-authored Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster—explained in an op-ed for the Washington Post on Thursday, “NRC commissioners rejected a recommendation from their own senior staff to require reactor owners to recognize new climate reality and fortify their plants against real-world natural hazards such as flooding and seismic events.”

The Democratic commissioners, Jeff Baran and Stephen Burns, strongly objected to the rule. Baran charged that is “nonsensical” to not require nuclear power plants “to be prepared for the actual flooding and earthquake hazards that could occur at their sites,” while Burns pointed out that “the accident at Fukushima was a direct result of the operator and regulator failing to take action to account for new scientific knowledge related to natural hazards, especially flooding hazards.”

And, as Stranahan noted: “For those keeping tabs, March is nuclear accident month. Three Mile Island occurred 40 years ago; Fukushima Daiichi, eight.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday, massive flooding in the Midwest caused a dam to fail in Spencer, Nebraska and led the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) to start sandbagging a levee that protects the Cooper Nuclear Station from the Missouri River.

Though NPPD said Friday that “there is no threat to plant employees or to the public,” Stephen Schwartz, a senior fellow at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said in a series of tweets that “it’s worth noting that Cooper Nuclear Station uses a General Electric Mark 1 boiling water reactor, identical in design to the 4 reactors that were flooded and subsequently exploded eight years ago this week in Fukushima.”

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