NRC: 2 years after Japan, US nuke plants safer

Associated Press
FILE - In this Jan. 14, 2013 file photo, Alison Macfarlane, the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, talks about her tour of the troubled San Onofre Nuclear Power Station in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The plant, located between Los Angeles and San Diego, hasn't produced electricity since January 2012 after a tiny radiation leak led to the discovery of excessive wear on hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water. Macfarlane said in an interview that the agency won't let the San Onofre plant reopen until regulators are certain it can operate safely, which may take several months. She says performance of U.S. plants is "quite good.'' Macfarlane says all but five of the nation's 104 reactors were performing at acceptable safety levels at the end of last year. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, File)
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FILE - In this Jan. 14, 2013 file photo, Alison Macfarlane, the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, talks about her tour of the troubled San Onofre Nuclear Power Station in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The plant, located between Los Angeles and San Diego, hasn't produced electricity since January 2012 after a tiny radiation leak led to the discovery of excessive wear on hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water. Macfarlane said in an interview that the agency won't let the San Onofre plant reopen until regulators are certain it can operate safely, which may take several months. She says performance of U.S. plants is "quite good.'' Macfarlane says all but five of the nation's 104 reactors were performing at acceptable safety levels at the end of last year. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two years after Japan's nuclear crisis, the top U.S. regulator says American nuclear power plants are safer than ever, but not trouble-free.

Alison Macfarlane chairs the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She says performance of U.S. plants is "quite good." Macfarlane says all but five of the nation's 104 reactors were performing at acceptable safety levels at the end of last year.

But a watchdog group calls her assessment overly rosy. The Union of Concerned Scientists says in a report that nearly one in six U.S. reactors had safety breaches last year, due in part to weak oversight.

Federal officials say none of the incidents hurt workers or the public.

Monday marks the two-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that crippled Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi (foo-koo-SHEE'-mah dy-EE'-chee) nuclear plant.

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