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Westinghouse keen get new 40-year operating license for nuclear fuel plant, despite pollution, leakscand spills.

Westinghouse investing $131 million at nuclear fuel plant after recent leaks and spills, The State,  BY NOAH FEIT AND SAMMY FRETWELL DECEMBER 15, 2021

Westinghouse will invest $131 million in its troubled nuclear fuel factory on Bluff Road under a plan that includes improving pollution controls at the facility, which has been plagued by leaks and spills and recently has drawn scrutiny from federal agencies about environmental problems…………..

Wednesday’s announcement is a potentially significant step in the company’s effort to gain a new 40-year operating license, which is critical to keeping the plant open.The current license expires in 2027, but Westinghouse is seeking a new license now to help ensure future stability of its business to customers. An environmental study for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission — a report criticized by some federal agencies as inadequate — recommended the 40-year license, as did an advisory panel to McMaster. But the U.S. Department of the Interior recommended a 20-year license because of pollution that has seeped into groundwater at the plant, a problem the department said could threaten nearby Congaree National Park. Making substantial improvements at Westinghouse could mollify some concerns about future environmental threats………..

According to plans, the company’s $131 million investment includes upgrades to equipment and procedures, increasing the company’s capacity and future growth………
Westinghouse’s fuel plant, which employs about 1,000 workers, has been under intense scrutiny the past five years because of spills and leaks, and information has surfaced about contaminated groundwater that had been unknown for years to regulators and the public. Among other troubles, uranium, a radioactive material, leaked through a hole in the plant’s floor and uranium built up in an air pollution control device, a problem that could have sent a burst of radiation inside the plant. Leaking containers also allowed toxins to dribble into the ground.

The U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently voiced concerns about the plant in comment letters to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is weighing whether to grant the 40-year license. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources also expressed reservations.
Bob Guild, a veteran environmental lawyer and local Sierra Club member, questioned the impact of the $131 million plant announcement. The news release did not explain in detail how much of the investment would be for specific improvements to protect the environment. It also did not address the legacy of pollution on the property. “I’m very skeptical that there is significant investment in pollution control,’’ he said.“To the extent they are committing resources to improving processes to ensure this doesn’t happen again, all the better,’’ Guild said. “But none of that addresses cleaning up contamination that is historic at the site.’’………….Read more at:

December 16, 2021 - Posted by | safety, USA

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