The Washington Times - March 15, 2011, 07:37PM

While Japan holds its collective breath as an earthquake-damaged nuclear power plant there teeters on the brink of meltdown, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday he remains a supporter of nuclear power in the U.S.

But the Maryland Democrat added the issue in Japan is a “wake-up call to look very seriously at the safety” of nuclear reactors worldwide.

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“As one who has a reactor in my community in Calvert County and who is a strong supporter of nuclear power, I share the views that we have to look very carefully at the safe operation of those plants and the security of those plants,” Hoyer told reporters during his weekly briefing with reporters at the Capitol.

“I’m sure the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] should and will analyze the events in Japan and learn from what has happened in Japan and apply them both to those presently in existence and to those that may be designed and built in the future,” he said.

Hoyer said that nuclear power plays an important role in the push to make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil.

“If we are going to reach energy independence — which I think is absolutely essential — frankly, I think we need to utilize all of the energy sources that are available to us, and we need to transition as quickly as possible.

“But, you know, what has happened in Japan clearly ought to motivate us to look very carefully at present facilities, including Calvert Cliffs” in Maryland, Hoyer said.