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Farley Nuclear Plant Under Scrutiny

By Associated Press

Columbia, AL – Residents of communities surrounding the Farley Nuclear Plant have seen headline after headline in the past year announcing equipment failures and increased federal oversight.

A Nuclear Regulatory Commission report last week said a pair of failures, while not directly endangering the public, left a cooling system partially disabled for more than seven hours in September.

The series of reports comes as interest in nuclear energy is on the rise, with the first two applications for new reactors in nearly 30 years filed with the NRC this fall, including one at a north Alabama site.

David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer who monitors safety issues for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the recent spate of headlines on the Farley plant mean problems have been detected and are being dealt with.

Roger Hannah, a spokesman for the NRC, said the nuclear industry is so strictly regulated that even relatively small problems lead to extra oversight and open the door for citations for violations.

Farley's two reactors are among 10 in the country in the ''degraded cornerstone'' column of the NRC Action Matrix Summary. That is the third of five columns, and it means the reactors are subject to at least one extra inspection with more action possible.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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