Multiple Legal Challenges: All Nuclear Reactor Licensing Must Be Delayed Or Cancelled Due To Existing Federal Law
Augusta Area Activists, Georgia WAND, Savannah Riverkeeper and Other Groups are Among 26 Organizations Across the U.S. Calling on Nuclear Regulatory Commission to Follow Legal Requirements for Reactor Licensing and Re-licensing
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Not only should the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) slow down reactor licensing and re-licensing in order to address a wide range of post-Fukushima health and safety concerns, but the reality is that the NRC is required to apply the brakes in order to comply with existing federal law, according to 19 separate legal challenges filed today by a total of 26 public interest groups and several individuals.
Among the 26 groups is the Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (Georgia WAND), Savannah Riverkeeper, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
Ms. Stephens and Mr. Dicks are longtime human rights and health activists in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) who have serious concerns about expansion and other plans involving nuclear power Plant Vogtle along the Savannah River near Waynesboro.
Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro is named among “the other plants across the U.S.” that activists have listed in their legal concerns, said Bobbie Paul, Executive Director of Georgia WAND.
“We are all united,” said Paul of the legal actions. “Onward we go – we’ll stop them against all odds!”
Federal and State officials along with the owners of Plant Vogtle are engaging in “environment racism,” critics say.
African American residents of Waynesboro say Plant Vogtle was placed in their community because officials knew that low income black residents would have a hard time fighting expansions and other decisions involving the nuclear power plant run by Georgia Power.
The groups contend that under federal law, the NRC may not issue or renew a single reactor license until it has either strengthened regulations to protect the public from severe accident risks or until it has made a careful and detailed study of the environmental implications of not doing so.
The groups are also pursuing a technical finding from high in the NRC that leads to upgraded safety standards.
“What we’ve learned in the wake of Japan’s nuclear disaster — and what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s experts concluded — is that current regulations are fundamentally inadequate,” said Phillip Musegaas, Hudson Program Director of Riverkeeper, Inc., which in August 2011 filed a contention document related to the Indian Point reactor in New York State with the NRC.
“They simply do not provide the level of safety required by laws including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Atomic Energy Act,” Musegaas said.
“The law requires regulators to take this information into account before issuing any licenses for reactors,” Musegaas said. “Our filing today is intended to force them to do so.”
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s 90-day review of the lessons learned from the meltdowns and radioactive release at Fukushima produced substantial new information that raised health and safety concerns that now must be considered in formal environmental impact statements, the groups contend.
Because of this, existing environmental impact statements for all reactors in the licensing process fail to satisfy the requirements of NEPA, and issuing licenses prior to the completion of supplemental environmental impact statements would be illegal.
“Significant regulatory changes are needed to ensure that existing or new nuclear reactors do not pose unacceptable safety and environmental risks to the public,” said Dr. Arjun Makhijani, a nuclear expert who prepared a declaration that will be filed with the contentions.
“In light of the disastrous and ongoing events at Fukushima, it is clear that the issues of public safety raised by the Task Force are exceptionally grave,” Dr. Makhijani said.
The delays that could result from additional analysis are likely to be substantial, and it is possible license applications could be rejected altogether at the end of the licensing process.
If a license is issued prior to the NRC conducting the required environmental analyses, the commission could be held accountable by federal courts.
The contentions address reactors at facilities including Diablo Canyon, Watts Bar, Bellefonte, Summer, South Texas, Comanche Peak, Vogtle, Turkey Point, Indian Point, Calvert Cliffs, Davis-Besse, Seabrook, Fermi, Levy, Shearon Harris, North Anna, Bell Bend and W.S. Lee.
The 26 groups filing contentions with the NRC in August 2011 are listed below.An example from the contentions that were filed can be found at: http://foe.org/sites/default/files/SLOMFP_Fukushima_Contention_TO_BE_FILED_8-11-11.pdf The supporting technical declaration can be found at: http://foe.org/sites/default/files/Makhijani_Declaration_for_new_Fukushima_Contention_with_CV_8-8-11.pdf
The 26 Groups filing contentions include:
Bellefonte Efficiency and Sustainability Team
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League
Center for a Sustainable Coast
Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario
Don’t Waste Michigan
Ecology Party of Florida
Friends of the Coast
Friends of the Earth
Green Party of Ohio
National Parks Conservation Association
New England Coalition
People’s Alliance for Clean Energy
Reduction Network in COL
San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace
Seacoast Anti-Pollution League
Sierra Club (Michigan Chapter)
Sierra Club of New HampshireFor more information contact: Nick Berning 202-222-0748 firstname.lastname@example.org or Leslie Anderson 703-276-3256 email@example.com NCR Info/photos of the Alvin Ward Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/licensing/renewal/applications/vogtle.html Plant Vogtle Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogtle_Electric_Generating_Plant http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vogtle_NPP.jpg Plant Vogtle website: http://www.southerncompany.com/nuclearenergy/vogtle.aspx News story about opposition to actions involving Plant Vogtle: http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/latest/lat_500265.shtml Environmental Racism: Georgia Nukes Selectively Penalize Black Communities By Black Agenda Report (BAR) Managing Editor Bruce A. Dixon http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/obamas-georgia-nukes-selectively-penalize-black-communities-environmental-racism Video of Annie Laura Stephens, a resident of rural Waynesboro, Ga., describing the impact of Plant Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant on her community: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi1oNz-2iPw