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Senator warns Calif. nuke disaster could be worse than Chernobyl

A visibly irate Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) blasted the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Wednesday for not doing enough to protect the country from a nuclear disaster similar to Fukushima or Chernobyl.

“It’s been more than three years since the Fukushima disaster and Japan is still struggling to clean up the site,” Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said during a hearing.

“We must learn from the tragic events in Fukushima and take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of nuclear facilities in the United States,” she said.

Boxer focused her criticism on NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane, but also had harsh words for the agency’s other four commissioners, all of whom testified at the hearing. She accused the NRC of granting exemptions to safety rules to every nuclear facility that has requested one, which she said puts the nation at risk of a nuclear disaster.

Boxer expressed particular concern about the state of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in her home state, which closed last year because of safety problems and is in the process of being decommissioned.

“This isn’t just any plant,” Boxer said. “This is a nuclear plant that sits in an earthquake zone, a tsunami zone, and a fire came within half a mile.

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