Operators of 31 American nuclear power plants, including Oyster Creek in Lacey Township, can expect to enhance venting systems in order to safeguard against disasters similar to Japan's Fukushima-Daichi tsunami-related debacle.

Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant (Exelon)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is supplementing a March 2012 requirement for venting systems at boiling-water reactors with Mark I and II designs. It will require vents to have the capability to handle elevated pressures, temperatures and radiation levels associated with reactor damage, and ensure that plant workers can function safely under accident conditions.

NRC Commissioners are also giving staffers a year to develop supporting technical evaluations. The agency plans to add a public-comment component to its analysis.

Staffers are being directed to weigh the effects of filters on vents - sought by critics - against enhanced methods using existing systems to reduce radioactive emissions in an accident.

The Commissioners have given agency staffers until March 2017 to develop draft and final rulings.

Oyster Creek, America's oldest continuously-operating commercial nuclear power plant, is scheduled to close in 2019, 50 years after its opening.