Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station

A worker places a harness and safety equipment on before operating a crane at the reactor building of the Exelon Corp. Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in Delta, Pa., on Feb. 19, 2019.  

Nuclear power plants can now implement longer shifts for workers and delay some inspections, raising concerns that as the coronavirus pandemic upends basic operations the industry may be bending the rules too far.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is already allowing six U.S. power plants to extend workers' shifts, to as long as 12 hours a day for two weeks, and more may be coming. That's up significantly from current standards that require people to get two-to-three days off a week when pulling shifts that long. Employees can also work as many as 86 hours in a week now, up from 72 hours.

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