So, back to the question. 49 communities so far are being FORCED to play host to aging and dangerous reactors for at least 20 more years. The DOE, the NRC and our federal government have FAILED to deal with the waste streams from nuclear power, defacto turning every reactor site into high level radioactive waste storage facilities without adequate safeguards, such as those required if Yucca Mountain ever gets licensed and built. The NRC acts as if it is above the law, and licensees simply buy off whoever they need to in their attempts to keep their aging, leaking, cancer causing facilities up and churning out profit.
Which raises the question...should state governors take manners into their own hands, and use the National Guard to seize control of, and shut down these facilities. Here in New York, the DEC could simply refuse to grant a discharge permit, could demand that the Indian Point facility shut down until such time as it has installed a Closed Cooling system that was promised some 30 years ago. Further, the State Attorney General could state that future committments to come into compliance are inadequate, could state that New York is no longer willing to wait for the Siren Systems to be up and operating correctly. All this being so, and based on the very real reality that the NRC has NEVER TERMINATED a license against the reactor owners wishes, is it time to use our State National Guard to shut down Indian Point? What is George Bush going to do, call out the Army to go to war against us? DOUBTFUL.
The state could hire whatever former Entergy employees were needed to maintain safe shut down, and to decommission the reactors. Might seem harsh, but lets be real. Our community agreed to play host for 40 years, and only if the operator obeyed ALL LAWS and REGULATIONS as written. The NRC has granted Indian Point hundreds of exemptions to the rules, so they have broken their contract with our community. We would be fully within our rights as a state to use our military troops to shut down a dangerous facility that is endangering human health and the environment.
While we are doing some radical thinking, here is some more food for thought. The State of New York, and all counties being forced to pay for Emergency Planning and Security have the LEGAL RIGHT to simply STOP PAYING FOR THOSE COSTS, and the NRC has no choice but to force FEMA to step in and pay them...sure if FEMA were suddenly having to pick up the tab for ENTERGY, they might have a change of heart about the adequacy of Indian Points Emergency plan. By the way, EVERY REACTOR COMMUNITY IN AMERICA HAS THAT RIGHT.
Pilgrim waste needs critical look, AG says
|The state has gone to court to force the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to look at the safety of waste storage at Pilgrim. (File/The Boston Globe)|
The state attorney general's office has gone to federal court to argue that the storage of nuclear waste at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant should be studied by federal regulators as a possible danger to residents.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Brock, in oral arguments in the US Court of Appeals in Boston last week, challenged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's refusal to hold a hearing on the safety of storing spent fuel at the Plymouth plant. Briefs in the case will be prepared over the next month and filed by the end of January.
Brock's office is arguing that the potential risk of fire in the spent-fuel storage pools - whether sparked by accident or terrorism - should be weighed by the NRC in its decision on whether to extend Pilgrim's license for another 20 years.
Last year, the five members of the NRC, appointed by the president, rejected that notion. Instead, they accepted their staff's conclusions that the consequences of a "spent-fuel pool accident" are unlikely to be serious.
The state appealed, leading to last week's hearing.
The possible danger of storing nuclear waste on site has become a rallying cry for critics of the NRC, which regulates the nuclear power industry.
Local advocates, including residents of Plymouth and Duxbury, signed a letter to Attorney General Martha Coakley this week backing her action in taking the spent-fuel issue to court. The letter states that Massachusetts's actions have set a precedent that other states such as New York are following.
The governor and attorney general of New York have gone to court to question the security of the Indian Point reactor.
New York officials contend that the attacks of Sept. 11 changed the nature of risk at nuclear plants, warranting a new and critical look at the safety of on-site spent fuel storage.
While spent nuclear fuel rods are stored outside New York's Indian Point reactor facility, at Pilgrim they are stored in water inside the plant.
Critics of that method, including the National Academy of Sciences, have argued that Pilgrim's storage method renders the plant vulnerable to a spent fuel fire caused by an attack or by human or mechanical error.
Both NRC and Pilgrim officials have repeatedly defended the safety of the plant. The NRC has pointed to security upgrades it required plants to institute after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said his agency took the possibility of a terrorist attack into consideration in previous court challenges and concluded that even under the "most severe, plausible-threat scenarios" - ground assault and aircraft impact - radiation emissions would probably be too low to pose a problem for Pilgrim's neighbors.
Local critics of the NRC say the outcome of the state's appeal may have important consequences for Pilgrim's neighbors.
Without a victory on appeal, "highly toxic spent fuel assemblies will be stored on site for the indefinite future," said Mary Lampert of Pilgrim Watch, a regional advocacy group that also raised the spent fuel storage issue.
The NRC has ruled that both issues of stored nuclear waste and plant security - concerns frequently raised at public meetings held on relicensing in the Plymouth area over the last two years - are outside licensing proceedings and therefore off the table when the NRC decides whether to extend Pilgrim's operating license.
But those issues are considered in the ongoing regulation of the nation's nuclear facilities, the NRC states.
Having heard the oral arguments, the court asked the two parties whether they could agree on a date for holding a review of the state's appeal, Sheehan said.
Amie Breton, spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office, said the court is expecting written briefs by Jan. 31 if a date has not been set.
In addition to the current appeal, the state has also filed a so-called rule-making petition asking the agency to change its current licensing policy and consider spent fuel storage in relicensing reviews. The appeal was necessary, Lampert said, because relicensing could occur before the petition to change the rules is decided.
Robert Knox can be contacted at email@example.com.