2011-03-16 "Rep. Dennis Kucinich asks feds to shut down FirstEnergy nuclear plants" by Sabrina Eaton from "The Plain Dealer"
In light of safety problems at Japanese nuclear power plants that have been compromised by natural disasters, Cleveland Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich is asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to shut down U.S. nuclear facilities run by what he calls "bad actors," including Akron-based FirstEnergy.
In a March 16 letter to NRC Chairman Gregory P. Jaczko, Kucinich says Japan's failing nuclear power plants warrant a fresh assessment of U.S. nuclear catastrophe preparedness.
He cites incidents as far back as 1985 at FirstEnergy's Davis Besse nuclear plant near Toledo in claiming that "operators of nuclear power plants with demonstrated poor safety records should not be allowed to continue to put the public at risk."
"This conduct is the product of an inveterate, corrupt culture of long standing deceit and corner-cutting on safety," Kucinich's says of FirstEnergy. "With such an abysmal record, they, and other nuclear power plant operating companies with poor performance records should not be allowed to continue to operate nuclear power plants."
FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Schneider said safety is the company's top priority.
"It’s unfortunate that Congressman Kucinich is using the tragic situation in Japan to further his political agenda," said Schneider.
NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng said Kucinich has contacted the NRC before about FirstEnergy, and the commission will "respond to this letter as we do to all correspondence from members of Congress."
She said NRC believes U.S. nuclear power plants are built to withstand natural disasters "at the highest possible level, plus a margin," and that FirstEnergy has adequately addressed past safety issues.
"If the NRC didn’t have confidence that the plant can be operated safely, the plant would be shut down," Mitlyng said.
Kucinich has a history of enmity with FirstEnergy that dates back to his days as Cleveland's mayor, when he resisted pressure to sell Cleveland's municipal power plant to FirstEnergy's Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. subsidiary.