The agency that oversees the safety of the nation’s 100 commercial nuclear reactors announced it’s furloughing more than 90 percent of its staff starting Thursday — a day earlier than expected.
The NRC had earlier said it could keep up normal operations until Friday, using the same carry-over funds that have allowed the agency to function despite the government shutdown. But the NRC learned late Tuesday about an unexpected payroll employee benefit charge “that cut into our financial safety margin,” a spokesman said.
The agency said it’s committed to protecting public safety despite the massive employee furloughs. The NRC will continue inspecting reactors, will maintain emergency response personnel at its headquarters and will call in additional staff as needed to deal with potential accidents.
“Despite our best hopes, the NRC on Thursday will be joining the rest of the federal government in shutting down due to a lapse in appropriations,” Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane wrote in a blog post Wednesday. “I believe we all share a deep disappointment that this action has become necessary.”