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U.S. Nuclear Reactors Fall Short on Steps to Cope With Disasters

  • Report notes failings in securing spent fuel, plant security
  • Operators have already spent $4 billion on safety measures
This Dec. 16, 2009 file photo shows the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y., as seen from across the Hudson River in Tomkins Cove, N.Y. The nuclear plants that generate more than a quarter of New York's electricity are going through turbulent times. Different plants are being subsidized, vilified and targeted for long-term financial support amid slumping power prices. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
Photographer: Julie Jacobson/AP Photo

More than five years after a tsunami struck Japan triggering one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, U.S. reactors and industry regulators haven’t done enough to prevent a similar catastrophe, a government-sponsored study found.

Reactor operators are falling short on measures to prevent spent nuclear fuel stored at the plant from overheating and releasing radiation into the atmosphere following an accident or natural disaster, according to a report Friday from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Operators should also upgrade plant security “to cope with extreme external events and severe accidents.”