For Immediate Release
Federal Nuclear Judges Affirm Citizen Intervention Against New Nuclear Power Reactors on Florida Nature Coast
Decision Relegates Hottest Waste in Question to Orphan Status
WASHINGTON - Three Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners have upheld the July 2009 ruling
by a panel of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) that is hearing a
challenge to two new Progress Energy Florida (PEF) nuclear reactors in Levy County, Florida.
Three organizations, the Ecology Party of Florida, Nuclear Information and
Resource Service (NIRS) and the Green Party of Florida are representing the
interests of members living within a 50 mile radius of the proposed new nuclear
site, located in the Florida Nature Coast less than 10 miles from the existing PEF
Crystal River Nuclear Power Station. The Levy County
reactors are projected to cost $17 billion.
The landmark ruling, handed down on Thursday, January 7 in response to
an appeal by PEF, affirms that the ASLB will hear very broad concerns raised by
the Intervening groups, including impacts of a new nuclear plant on ground and surface
waters, endangered species, and environmental and safety issues of generating
so-called "low-level" radioactive waste that currently has no
off-site disposal option.
"The Environment Report submitted by Progress in its application
is completely inadequate," said Gary Hecker, Treasurer of the Ecology
Party and co-author of the legal submissions on the environmental issues.
"Progress has a legal responsibility to investigate completely and report
the impacts of this project on the land and water of the region. With this
ruling on our Contention (the most comprehensive environmental contention
admitted thus far in current NRC proceedings) the NRC is allowing us to draw
attention to the deficiencies in the Progress Energy application. We hope this
will also augur well for other groups' efforts."
Yet the NRC ruling did limit some contentions from further hearing.
"It is good news that the Commission supports litigation on
waste that will be produced if this new atomic power site goes forward; however
the decision makes the most concentrated portion of this waste stream -
known as ‘Greater than Class C' - an orphan," said Dr. Marvin
Resnikoff, an expert working with NIRS on the intervention. "This waste
includes highly radioactive metal from components that are replaced during
operation, or at the point of decommissioning of the reactor. The new decision means
that PEF is not required to provide a plan for Greater Than Class C waste. Current
federal regulations make this waste the responsibility of the U.S. Department
of Energy (DOE), but since the DOE didn't include it in the license
application for Yucca Mountain, the proposed repository in Nevada, the Commissioners have left it homeless,"
concluded Resnikoff who is the principal at Radioactive Waste Management
Associates in New York City.
"More than 50 years after the first nuclear power reactor began
operating in the US
there is still no proven way to isolate the radioactive waste because some of
it will still be dangerous in a million years. Wherever the waste - of
any class-high or low, A, B, C or Greater than C - ends up will be a
sacrifice area and the Florida
is being sacrificed. The best plan is simply to not make it in the first
place," said Diane D'Arrigo, Director of the Radioactive Waste
Project at Nuclear Information and Resource Service.
Mary Olson, of NIRS
from its Southeast Office, is coordinating the pro se legal prosecution of
these issues and is satisfied by the ruling. "It's exciting -
it's been 35 years since the nuclear industry tried to site and build new
reactors. These new facilities are still not clean, they are not safe, and
building a huge radioactive facility on top of the recharge area for some of
the most pristine freshwater springs on the planet is wrong," said Olson.
The hearing on the PEF license application will proceed with
development of expert testimony, the publication of federal documents on safety
and environment and then in 2011 or 2012, a hearing that will be conducted by
the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board.
The full petition to intervene (filed in February 2009) and key legal
rulings are posted at: