- - Thursday, March 24, 2011

FAA

Air traffic tower supervisor suspended

The nation’s top aviation official says he has suspended a control tower supervisor while investigating why no controller was available to aid two planes that landed at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport this week.

Federal Aviation Administration Administrator J. Randolph Babbitt said Thursday in a statement that the controller has been suspended from his operational duties. He said he was “personally outraged” that the supervisor — the lone controller on duty in the airport tower at the time — failed to meet his duties.

An aviation official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because an investigation is under way, said the supervisor fell asleep.

NRC

Defects at nuclear plants unreported

Companies that operate U.S. nuclear power plants are not telling the government about some equipment defects that could create safety risks, according to a report released Thursday.

The inquiry by the inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission also raised questions about the agency’s oversight, saying reporting guidelines for the nuclear industry are “contradictory and unclear.”

Questions are being raised about the safety of U.S. nuclear facilities in the wake of the nuclear crisis in Japan. The NRC voted Wednesday to conduct two safety reviews of the 104 nuclear reactors operating in the U.S.

Unless the NRC takes steps to improve its reporting guidelines, “the margin of safety for operating reactors could be reduced,” the report said.

NRC inspectors found at least 24 instances where potential equipment defects were identified but not reported to the agency from December 2009 through September, according to the study.

NRC staff reviewed a draft of the report but opted not to provide formal comments. An NRC spokesman declined to comment.

STATE

Carter plans trip to North Korea

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