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U.S. nuclear sector gets good marks

April 22, 2011 at 7:25 AM

LONDON, April 22 (UPI) -- Nuclear power plants in the United States are operating at a safe and sustainable level, an international watchdog group said.

The World Association of Nuclear Operators, an industry analyst with headquarters in London, said more than 90 percent of the primary backup safety systems at U.S. nuclear power plants met industry standards last year for the 12th consecutive year.

Reactor capability exceeded its production targets for the 10th straight year and shutdowns in 2010 were the second lowest on record.

Nuclear Energy Institute President Marvin Fertel said nuclear energy production was put on notice following the magnitude-9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that crippled Japanese nuclear reactors.

"(WANO) indicators show that U.S. nuclear plants continue to operate at high levels of safety and with the reliability that makes them a cornerstone of an affordable, low-carbon energy portfolio for the American people," he said in a statement.

WANO was founded as an international nuclear safety watchdog in the wake of the 1989 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.

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