"If a plant is found to be deficient then, yes, it will have to get up to its new design basis," Macfarlane said.
President Barack Obama appointed Macfarlane, a geologist and expert on nuclear waste, to the post in May after former NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko announced his resignation. Jaczko pushed for safety reforms but was criticized for a style that his fellow commissioners and agency employees described as bullying. Macfarlane traveled to Atlanta this week to address top nuclear executives gathered for a conference of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.
Her term runs through 2013. Macfarlane had said she planned to seek re-appointment if Obama won the presidential election.
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