CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago-based critic of the nuclear power industry wants a magnifying glass put to 23 reactors across the United States, including four in Illinois.

Nuclear Energy Information Service Director David Kraft said he would like all 23 shut down at least temporarily, including the Exelon-owned Dresden and Quad Cities reactors, which were built to the same General Electric Mark I design as the Fukushima Daiichi plants in Japan.

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“These reactors came on line even before the Fukushima Daiichi reactors were built, so it’s a very old design,” he said. “It has been documented, both by the documentation of the regulators and the industry itself that it was an inferior design that was prone to failure.”

He claims the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has allowed the aging reactors to be re-licensed for 20 years “with a wink, a nod and a pass.”

Kraft’s concerns focus on the containment walls and the spent fuel rod pool. He says if the quake caused containment failure, it is a problem that requires immediate attention at similar U.S. plants.

Kraft issued a statement Wednesday in which he said he was pleased with the results of the NRC’s review of the nations’ 104 operating nuclear plants because the problems it found and the recommendations it is making are exactly what so-called safe energy activists have advised for years. He said it’s disappointing that it took the Fukushima disaster to find the problems that exist.

He said the NRC must exert more stringent regulatory control over nuclear power plants in general.

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