- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) - Two U.S. senators have told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they are troubled by reports of an agency reorganization that would make safety investigations less independent. The NRC said no such reorganization is in the works.

Currently, investigations of nuclear plants and other NRC license holders are conducted through an independent office established in 1982.

Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts said in a letter to NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane on Thursday that they have been told the NRC’s general counsel is recommending changes that would in effect place it in charge of every stage of an investigation and limit the types of investigations the independent office could undertake.

“This proposal removes the independence that is essential to an effective investigative office,” the senators wrote.

In an emailed response to the letter, the agency said, “Specific to their call for rescinding a reorganization of the Office of Investigations, we can affirm that no such reorganization plan exists, nor has one been contemplated. “

The lawmakers called on the NRC to provide all correspondence, including notes and emails that discuss a reorganization of the office. They also say a congressional hearing will be held in December that looks into a possible reorganization.

Earlier this week, an NRC inspector general concluded that the agency had missed opportunities to spot potential troubles that led to the installation of faulty machinery in a Southern California nuclear power plant.

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