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New York Attorney General slams NRC nuclear waste environmental assessment

Flag-USANY Attorney General faults NRC for relying on “unsubstantiated hope”   By Barbara Vergetis Lundin

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is calling upon the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to strengthen its proposed assessment of the environmental, public health and safety risks of storing highly radioactive nuclear wastes on-site at more than 100 reactors around the country for 60 or more years after the reactors are closed. The Attorney General’s testimony was delivered by Assistant Attorneys General Janice Dean at a public meeting held by the NRC on the proposed Waste Confidence Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS).

Waste-Confidence-RuleThe DGEIS was prepared by the NRC in response to Attorney General Schneiderman’s successful court challenge to the commission’s Temporary Storage Rule in which the NRC had found, without conducting necessary studies, that no significant safety or environmental impacts will result from long-term, on-site storage of radioactive waste at nuclear power plants.

In 2012, a federal circuit court agreed with Attorney General Schneiderman that federal law requires the NRC to complete a thorough analysis of the public health, safety and environmental hazards such storage would pose before allowing the long-term storage of nuclear waste in communities. In reaching its decision, the court found that the spent nuclear fuel stored on-site at nuclear power plants “poses a dangerous, long-term health and environmental risk.”

In his court challenge to the NRC’s Temporary Storage Rule, the Attorney General argued that full compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act requires the commission to conduct a rigorous analysis of the potential for environmental, health and safety impacts from long-term, on-site radioactive waste storage. An analysis of this type, if conducted thoroughly and objectively, would identify any environmental, health and safety risks related to long-term, onsite storage of radioactive waste at each site, as well as those mitigation measures (such as increased groundwater monitoring, transfer of spent fuel from pools to dry storage casks, or repair of leaking spent fuel pools) needed to fully address them.

However, in his most recent testimony, Attorney General Schneiderman calls the NRC’s DGEIS “significantly flawed,” noting that, while it recognizes that spent fuel pools are susceptible to fires and a fire would have severe consequences comparable to a severe nuclear accident, the assessment treats the consequences of such an accident generically and uses two nuclear power plants located in rural or low-population areas as its basis. Schneiderman argues that a generic review of a spent fuel pool accident risk, as performed by the NRC for the DGEIS, at the Indian Point facility is inappropriate given that the consequences of such an accident in the densely populated areas that surround the facility would be substantially greater than in rural or less populated areas.

The Attorney General also faults the NRC for assuming, with no factual basis, that all nuclear waste will be removed from the nation’s nuclear power plants by 60 years after the plants are closed. He notes that, currently, there is no available off-site location to store high-level nuclear waste from those facilities. The DGEIS, he says, fails to meet the requirements of the circuit court’s ruling by making decisions based on an “unsubstantiated hope” that sufficient, licensed, off-site radioactive waste storage capacity will be available to accept nuclear plant waste within 60 years.

For more:
– read the testimony



November 6, 2013 - Posted by | USA, wastes

1 Comment »

  1. […] New York Attorney General slams NRC nuclear waste environmental assessment […]

    Pingback by Extreme Danger Of Spent Fuel Pools – Decommissioning San Onofre | Family Survival Protocol - Microcosm News | November 15, 2013 | Reply

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