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As the government shutdown continues to drag on, there have been some troubling new developments; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission just announced that it expects to furlough 3,900 employees today due to budget shortages. That’s 90 percent of the agency’s workforce, which is responsible for the safety of 100 commercial nuclear reactors at 63 sites across the United States.

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Only about 300 “essential” personnel will remain on staff, including 150 resident inspectors, as well as a skeleton management team, emergency response support, investigators, and a few commission staff members. This is just another devastating blow to the agencies tasked with protecting the health and safety of the U.S. public during the shutdown: the EPA, CDC, and FDA have already been affected.

NRC spokeman Eliot Brenner insisted at a press conference that the agency remains “prepared to respond to an emergency on short notice.” In the event of a nuclear-related emergency, the organization will be able to recall additional employees, although the exact number remains unclear.

This is little reassurance for Ed Lyman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, who told CNN, “Yes, I am worried. It’s not good for anyone and it’s certainly not good for the agency that needs to safeguard our nuclear power plants against accidents and terrorism, and it’s certainly not good for the American people.”

Via Gizmodo