U.S. commercial nuclear power plants had 10 serious incidents in 2013 that could have resulted in damage to nuclear reactors, but the industry's overall safety record improved, the Union of Concerned Scientists said Friday.
The Washington-based watchdog group cited the incidents in its 60-page annual report, claiming inconsistent safety enforcement by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and lapses at the commercial reactors.
David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer who leads the union's safety project, said both the number of safety incidents and their severity declined last year. But he said it's too early to say whether the reduction is part of a trend.
The Nuclear Energy Institute, the trade group that represents nuclear utilities, disagreed. "Our facilities are operating at high levels of safety," institute spokesman Steven Kerekes said.
Lochbaum has worked at nuclear power plants and said he does not consider himself an opponent of the technology. The regulatory agency is generally doing a better of job of overseeing the industry, he said, but has failed to consistently carry through with safety upgrades.