AS usual, NRC will renew nuclear reactor license
Official opposes Plymouth nuclear plant license, By David Abel | Boston Globe May 24, 2012 Six years after the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth sought to renew its license, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted Thursday to deny the plant the right to continue operating for another 20 years.
His vote will probably be in the minority, and opponents of renewing
Pilgrim’s license said they expect the full commission to outvote
Gregory B. Jaczko, the controversial chairman who announced his
resignation this week. Jakzo’s vote was widely seen as a protest of
the commission’s stance on the Pilgrim plant.
In the license renewal process, the commissioners submit decisions in
writing that are tabulated by a secretary and released together. But
Jaczko — who has been an outspoken advocate for reforms and a
lightening rod for criticism in the industry — made his vote public.
He urged his fellow commissioners to delay their votes while
litigation brought by opponents of the plant remains unresolved and
the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board continues to hear appeals.
Support from the NRC while such issues remain outstanding is
unprecedented, Jaczko said in a statement supporting his vote.
“While I appreciate the need to have an appropriate procedure for
bringing this process to completion, the current approach that my
colleagues on the Commission support is unprecedented,” he wrote.
He added: “This hardly seems to be a fair process for the petitioners”
arguing that the plant is unsafe.
Jaczko announced his resignation Monday…..
The NRC has never rejected a license renewal application of a nuclear
plant. It has previously renewed the licenses of 72 of the nation’s
104 commercial nuclear reactors……
Entergy Corp., the Louisiana company that has run the plant since
1999, has sparked a raft of protests and lawsuits since it sought to
renew its operating license. Company officials did not return calls
Pilgrim opponents argue that Entergy cannot do enough to ensure
safety, given what they view as the intrinsic danger of nuclear
plants, especially one 35 miles from Boston and with nearly 5 million
people living and working within a 50-mile radius.
They contend that commissioners should not renew Pilgrim’s license
because of aging pipes beneath the plant that may leak radioactive
liquids, problems with electrical cables that transmit power to and
from the plant, and the lack of a sufficient cleanup plan in the event
of a radiation leak.
“All the NRC commissioners except Chairman Jaczko have caved to
industry and political pressure and abandoned the NRC’s own procedure
that requires hearings on a license renewal application is completed
before license renewal is granted,” said Mary Lampert, director of
Pilgrim Watch, who has long called for the plant to be closed.
US Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat who opposes the
plant, said Jaczko’s vote against renewal shines light on the
commission’s decision to take action before litigation is complete,
and all appeals are heard.
“This vote is an unprecedented subversion of the rules governing
relicensing of the nation’s nuclear reactors,” Markey said in a
statement. “It is the latest in a long series of votes that
demonstrate a reckless disregard for safety and the public on the part
of [the other] commissioners.”
On Thursday, President Obama nominated Allison Macfarlane, an
associate professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., who
served on a presidential commission that studied new strategies to
manage nuclear waste, to replace Jaczko.
Pilgrim’s license is set to expire June 8.
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