The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Doug Bogen, Seacoast Anti-Pollution League, 603-664-2696
Jerry Curran, New Hampshire Sierra Club, 603-493-1227
Paul Gunter, Beyond Nuclear, 301-523-0201

Groups Opposed to Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant Relicensing File Appeal to Federal Court in Boston, Mass


Three environmental organizations opposed to the 20-year license extension of the Seabrook Nuclear Generating Station have filed an appeal to federal court. The groups - Beyond Nuclear, The Seacoast Anti-Pollution League (SAPL), and the New Hampshire Chapter of the Sierra Club - are appealing the March 2012 decision by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to overrule its own Atomic Safety Licensing Board (ASLB) and deny the groups a public hearing on safer, cleaner and competitive renewable energy alternatives to nuclear power generated at Seabrook, NH.

"On behalf of Seacoast residents, we have the right to have a full hearing on this absurdly premature and ill-advised re-licensing proposal, so we are compelled to take NRC to federal court and hopefully make them bow to common sense," said Doug Bogen, executive director of Seacoast Anti-Pollution League. "In denying us the right to a hearing, the NRC is showing it's in a serious state of denial over the post-Fukushima realities of global and local efforts to pursue cleaner and safer electric power options."

The environmental groups' appeal was docketed Monday, May 7, 2012 by the clerk of the court in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, MA.

"The NRC and Seabrook's owners have set up their own 'Catch-22' promotion plan and we think that is challengeable," said Paul Gunter, Director of Reactor Oversight for Beyond Nuclear in Takoma Park, MD. "Illogically, they want to extend the nuke's operating license for another 20 years, 20 years before the current license expires. This automatically rules out a thorough environmental review for what the renewable energy alternatives will look like for that same period," he said.

"In overturning its own board's decision, the commissioners have essentially ignored federal law, namely the National Environmental Policy Act, that is the basis for this intervention which was approved by the presiding licensing board," said Jerry Curran, Chairman of The New Hampshire Chapter of the Sierra Club. "We strongly believe that it is the duty of the federal court to ensure that federal law is not trampled on by five members of an appointed regulatory commission, and we are confident that our challenge will prevail," Curran said.

The environmental groups had submitted dozens of expert documents in support of their request for a public hearing to review the State of Maine-proposed development of five Gigawatts - the power equivalent of four Seabrook plants - of offshore and deepwater wind power in the Gulf of Maine for transmission of electricity into Maine and the New England region by 2030.

In May 2010, NextEra Seabrook made application to the NRC to extend the current 40-year operating license of the Seabrook plant - which expires in 2030 - for another 20 years until 2050. The three environmental groups petitioned the NRC on October 20, 2010 in request of a public hearing and charged that the power company had not done an adequate environmental review of less harmful energy alternatives as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). On February 15, 2011, the NRC Atomic Safety Licensing Board issued an Order granting the environmental groups a hearing on a NEPA contention looking at offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine. On February 25, 2011, NextEra appealed the ASLB Order to the 5-member Commission. On March 8, 2012, the Commission issued an Order upholding the NextEra appeal and denying the three parties admission to a hearing.

Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abandon both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic.

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