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January 30, 2004
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration is moving to replace government safety requirements at federal nuclear facilities with standards written by contractors -- after Congress directed the government to start fining the contractors for violations.
Long-established government minimum standards at the more than two dozen nuclear weapons plants and research labs around the nation would become unenforceable guidelines under the Energy Department proposal.
Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., an author of the 2002 legislation ordering the fines, accused the administration this week of distorting Congress' intent with a plan that "will likely decrease worker protection."
John Conway, chairman of an advisory board overseeing safety at the Energy Department, said the proposal would weaken safety standards covering more than 100,000 workers at the facilities.
Energy Department officials said they have not made a final decision.