"What the AP found is a pattern of the NRC giving exemptions from regulations to utilities to allow them not to have to spend a lot of money to keep these reactors running; relaxing regulations to make them easier to meet for utilities and generally bending over backwards to keep these reactors (operating) at a cost that the utilities are willing to pay. Now if the utilities were willing to pay any cost, that would be one thing, but for the utilities, these older reactors are basically cash cows. These old reactors, the initial construction costs have been paid for and now, they just want to run them flat out and make as much money as they can until they can't run any more."
" And I'll just give you a very concrete example so you know what we're talking about. The rules say that the wiring from the control room to the safety system -- everything's electric, so you need these wires -- that these wires should be protected by fire barriers; by materials that can't catch fire, so that in the event that you do have a fire, the wires aren't going to burn, and you're going to be able to control the reactor. Well, all these years later, a lot of plants still don't have these barriers in place, and as a substitute the NRC allows fire "watches," which is a guy who walks the plant and looks for fire, and if he doesn't see a fire, he keeps on walking around the plant. And they do this every couple of hours, 24 hours a day, and that's the fire protection program. And that's just not acceptable."