Monday, June 18, 2012

NRC Petitioned To Stop Final Licensing Decisions For Nearly Three Dozen Nuclear Reactors

24 Groups and Individuals Seek Suspension of Final Agency Decisions on Reactors in States of  AL, CA, FL, MD, MI, MS, MO, NH, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX and VA.
WASHINGTONJune 18, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) must not make final licensing decisions until it has completed a rulemaking action on the environmental impacts of highly radioactive nuclear waste in the form of spent, or 'used', reactor fuel storage and disposal, as required under the landmark Waste Confidence Rule decision of June 8th by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, according to a petition filed today by 22 groups and 2 individuals. This petition is to ensure that the environmental analysis directed by the Court is meaningfully incorporated into the licensing of nearly 35 reactors in a number of states.

The groups maintain that the NRC should not finalize its licensing decisions until it satisfies its environmental review obligations under federal law in relation to the following reactors:  Callaway Plant, Unit 1, MO; Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 3, MD; Fermi Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 3, MI; William States Lee III Nuclear Station, Units 1 and 2, SC; Grand Gulf Nuclear Station Unit 1 & 2, MS; Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Unit 1, OH; Turkey Point, Units 6 and 7, FL; Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, Units 3 and 4, TX; Seabrook Station, Unit 1, NH; Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 and 2, CA; Bell Bend Nuclear Power Plant, PA; Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant, Units 2 and 3, NC; Levy County Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 and 2, FL; South Texas Project, Units 1, 2, 3 and 4, TX; Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant, Units 3 and 4, AL; Watts Bar, Unit 2, TN; and North Anna, Unit 3, VA. 

The groups also asked the NRC to establish procedures for ensuring that members of the public can comment on the environmental analysis and raise site-specific concerns about the environmental impacts of highly radioactive spent nuclear reactor fuel in individual licensing cases.  Importantly, this petition is not a request to halt or suspend all or any licensing proceedings.  Petitioners do not demand any change in the schedules for the NRC Staff's review of reactor license applications in pending reactor licensing cases.  This petition seeks the suspension of final licensing decisions only, pending the NRC's completion of the work directed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. 

The groups are still analyzing the implications of the court's far-reaching decision for recently completed NRC licensing actions such as the proposed Vogtle and V.C. Summer reactors. 

Diane Curran, an attorney representing some of the groups in the Court of Appeals case, said:  "The groups filing this petition represent neighbors of nuclear reactors around the country.  Many of them are currently participating in NRC licensing cases for new or existing reactors.  Among the many individual petitioners are neighbors of existing or proposed reactors who would have participated in NRC licensing proceedings had they not been barred from raising their concerns about spent fuel storage and disposal by the Commission rules that were struck down by the court.  By joining together, they seek to ensure that the environmental analyses ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals will be fully applied in each reactor licensing case before operation is permitted, and that they will be given a meaningful opportunity to participate in the decision-making process."  

Former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford said:  "By telling the naked emperor to go get dressed, the Court has delivered an overdue rebuke to the NRC's bad habit of pushing for the nuclear power plants while postponing the problems, as we now know the Japanese to have done at Fukushima.  It's hard to see how federal and state officials can justify putting more taxpayer or customer money at risk on new reactor projects until this situation is resolved."
"We are part of this important effort to ensure that local communities and the public finally have the ability to raise important concerns about the risks associated with radioactive waste and subsequent storage at nuclear plants across the Southeast," said Sara Barczak, High Risk Energy Choices program director with Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, one of the petitioners to the Court. "The Court agreed with us that it's long overdue for these serious impacts to finally be evaluated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and shared with the public. Now we're just making sure that'll happen--that communities will have a voice."

Lou Zeller, Executive Director of Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, another petitioner to the Court, said: "For years we have had no confidence in NRC's assertions about nuclear waste and we have not been silent about it. Finally, the courts have agreed with us. We look forward to injecting some sanity into the debate on nuclear waste."

NRC Petitioned To Stop Final Licensing Decisions For Nearly Three Dozen Nuclear Reactors... -- WASHINGTON, June 18, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

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