From the New England Center for Investigative Reporting:
Internal government watchdogs and outside experts alike say the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is too lenient on the industry it is charged with regulating, often making decisions based on the industry’s profit margins rather than safety.
The charges are similar to complaints leveled against the Mine Health Safety Administration and the Minerals Management Service over the past year, after high-profile tragedies — the Upper Big Branch Mine collapse and the Deepwater Horizon spill — in the industries they are responsible for regulating.
In the wake of the events in Japan, there is a heightened sense of concern throughout the United States that a similar meltdown could occur, particularly in New England where reactors similar to those in Japan remain in operation.
Top nuclear industry officials maintain the public has nothing to fret about — that the NRC is a tough regulator that asks tough questions. NRC critics counter that the agency might ask tough questions, but is all too willing to accept easy answers.
Concerns about the NRC’s oversight are nothing new. A clear illustration is a series of reports issued since 2002 by the NRC’s internal inspector general and the U.S. General Accountability Office related to a near-catastrophe at Davis-Besse, a nuclear reactor on the shores of Lake Erie.
From those reports: