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Public now has more time for input on nuclear power plant shutdown rules

Nuclear Regulatory Commission
FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant in Oswego County.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which regulates nuclear power plants, is allowing the public more time to weigh in on how nuclear power plants are shut down as it considers changes to how the plants close, or decommission. It's a lengthy process that can take decades as the fuel decays and funds to pay for the shut down build up. 

"Local governments would like to have more say in the decommissioning process," Sheehan said. "We also hear that they would like to see decommissioning more quickly. Our regulations allow plants up to 60 years to complete the process and some state and local officials have indicated to us that is too long a time period."

The public now has until March 18 to submit comment, 10 weeks later than the original January 4 deadline. Sheehan said the request for more time came from elected officials in Vermont and Massachusetts, which each have nuclear power plants that will soon close.

"Within the last several years, we have now seen about a half a dozen plants that have permanently shut down. Other plants, like FitzPatrick, that we think could be shutting down in the not too distant future. So we believe this is an opportune time to revisit this," Sheehan said. 

Sheehan said the rule changes could take years to enact.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.