"I think what this highlights to us — especially to me as a geologist — is the importance of paying close attention to earth processes and making sure we properly account for them in ensuring that the plants operate safely," Macfarlane said in an interview.
Nuclear plants in the eastern and central United States will need until the end of 2013 to finish the re-evaluation, she said. New evaluations for nuclear plants on the West Coast will take until 2015 to complete since they face more varied geologic conditions.
"If a plant is found to be deficient then, yes, it will have to get up to its new design basis," Macfarlane said.
Her term runs through 2013. Macfarlane had said she planned to seek re-appointment if Obama won the presidential election.
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