March 1 (Reuters) - As the first anniversary of Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster approaches, U.S. nuclear regulators have moved to issue new rules to deal with safety issues raised by the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years, according to agency filings.
On March 11, 2011, an earthquake and tsunami overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi plant on Japan's northeast coast, knocking out critical power supplies that resulted in a nuclear meltdown and the release of radiation.
This week, three members of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have voted to issue the first of three proposed rules recommended by the agency staff, although the commissioners differ on some details.
The staff said its recommendations, based on eight changes identified by the NRC's Fukushima task force, could move forward without significant delay, with implementation by the end of 2016.
Reactor design modifications and operating changes based on lessons from Fukushima are expected to add millions of dollars in costs for nuclear operators, including Exelon Corp, Entergy Corp, Southern Co and others.
NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, and commissioners William Magwood and George Apostolakis have approved issuance of the proposed orders, but their comments indicate some difference in opinion on how the agency should proceed. (Reporting By Eileen O'Grady; Editing by David Gregorio)