U.S. nuclear agency to shut; reactor report not available

Reuters

HOUSTON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - The U.S. Nuclear RegulatoryCommission will shut down on Thursday because the agency hasdepleted its carryover funds, the chairman said in a blog.

Resident inspectors at the nation's 100 nuclear reactors in31 states will remain in place to address immediate safety andsecurity issues, but the agency's daily reactor status reportwill not be available, said NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane.

The shutdown of the U.S. government has entered a secondweek as Congress and the Obama administration appear no closerto finding a resolution.

"Despite our best hopes, the NRC on Thursday will be joiningthe rest of the federal government in shutting down due to alapse in appropriations," Macfarlane said.

The NRC website will not be updated until the full staffreturns to work, she said, meaning that the agency's dailyreactor status and event report will not be available.

The NRC plant status report is widely followed by power andnatural gas traders as lost nuclear output is often replaced bygas-fired generation. Nuclear plants produce about 20 percent ofthe nation's electricity.

Macfarlane said the NRC staff deserved credit for continuingto work since Oct. 1 "under very challenging circumstances."

The agency will suspend activity related to non-emergencyreactor licensing, reactor license renewal amendments, emergency exercises and design certification reviews.

Also suspended will be routine licensing and inspection ofnuclear materials and waste licensees and rule making involvingwaste confidence.

The agency has canceled more than two dozen meetings it hadscheduled this month on a variety of topics due to the shutdown.

The NRC inspector general's office will operate during theshutdown.

"We are mindful of the impact the shutdown will have on thepublic, our licensees, our staff and contractors and others whocount on us," Macfarlane said. "We hope this interruption is asbrief as possible and we look forward to being back at ourdesks, hard at work, doing what we do best here at the NRC inservice to the nation."

Exelon Corp, Entergy Corp and Duke Energy are the nation's largest operators of nuclear reactors.

Meanwhile, Southern Co is working to build two newreactors in Georgia; and Scana Corp is building two newreactors in South Carolina.

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