Release: Sanders Seeks Nuclear Plant Safety Probe

WASHINGTON, March 15 - As Japanese technicians fought to stop tsunami-damaged nuclear reactors from melting down, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called today for a congressional investigation of nuclear safety in the United States.

Sanders asked for a full investigation "to determine what we can learn from the disaster in Japan and the implications for the United States' nuclear reactors."

The Fukushima reactors in Japan are the same design as General Electric boiling water reactors currently operating at 23 plants throughout the United States, including the Vermont Yankee reactor at Vernon, Vt.

"The containment design of this type of plant has been long criticized by federal nuclear safety officials," Sanders noted in a letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Senate panel that oversees the nuclear power safety in this country.  He cited reports dating back to 1986, when a senior safety official at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission cited studies concluding that there was a 90 percent probability of failure in the event of an accident at such plants.

In his letter to Boxer, Sanders suggested that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee take testimony from scientists and NRC officials.