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Capitol Health Call
July 11, 2012

Nuclear Reactor Risk Assessment

JAMA. 2012;308(2):123. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.7530

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) does not require operating nuclear reactors to use the most updated method of risk analysis to assess vulnerability to earthquakes, floods, or other natural disasters, said 2 Democratic members of Congress.

Sen Barbara Boxer (D, Calif) and Rep Edward J. Markey (D, Mass) released a Government Accountability Office report ( that found that although the NRC, since 1986, has repeatedly endorsed the use of probabilistic risk assessment (a comprehensive risk assessment method looking at all potential causes of an accident for any particular hazard), it has not required any reactor operators to use it. Boxer and Markey noted that 8 nuclear reactors are in the seismically active West Coast and about 27 are near the New Madrid seismic zone in the Midwest.

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