US nuclear regulator looks to reposition staff

(Photo by Jay Karr,

By RAY HENRYAssociated Press

ATLANTA (AP) - The top nuclear regulator in the United States says the watchdog agency may shuffle its staff as fewer nuclear plants are built and more are taken offline.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Allison Macfarlane said Monday the watchdog agency is evaluating where it should focus its efforts.

Just six years ago, electric utility companies had plans to build 26 nuclear reactors at 17 plants across the country. But natural gas prices fell, making it significantly cheaper to build gas-fired plants rather than nuclear plants. Right now, only three nuclear plants are under construction in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Macfarlane said regulators may need new rules to govern how nuclear plants are taken out of service as some are shut down for economic reasons.

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