NRC Questions Entergy on EPZ Risks

German ActivistsEntergy wants to save some money by reducing the Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) from 10-miles to its footprint of 148 acres when it stops producing power.  Two weeks after being granted a Certificate of Public Good, Entergy asked the NRC for an exemption to regs which say an EPZ has to stay in effect. The NRC has granted exemptions to that rule every time its been asked to do so.

In an article in the Brattleboro Reformer today, “the NRC is questioning a number of assumptions used to justify the request, especially those related to the storage of spent fuel and the extent of any possible radioactive exposure if a nuclear waste accident was to occur… Three times in the request for additional information, the NRC notes that the amendment request “inaccurately states” the ramifications of a spent fuel accident at the site in Vernon.”

“In the unlikely event that there is a catastrophic loss of spent fuel pool water inventory, there is a potential for an offsite release of radioactive material …” noted the NRC.

We have more on Entergy and the EPZ issue here, with suggestions as to how you can take action (highlights below). One more suggestion: attend the NDCAP meeting on October 30 and speak out about emergency planning.

In May of this year, US Senators Sanders, Leahy, Markey and others “called on the agency to stop the “unwise policy” of issuing exemptions for emergency response regulations to decommissioning nuclear reactors which house decades-worth of spent nuclear fuel.” They  drafted 3 bills on related issues:

  • to prohibit the NRC “from issuing exemptions from its emergency response or security requirements for spent fuel stored at nuclear reactors that have permanently shut down until all of the spent nuclear fuel stored at the site has been moved into dry casks”
  • ” to ensure that states and local communities have a meaningful role in the crafting and preparation of decommissioning plans for retired nuclear plants”
  • “require the safe removal of spent nuclear fuel from the spent fuel pools and place that spent fuel into dry cask storage within 7 years…”
  • “expands the emergency planning zone for non-compliant reactor operators to 50 miles.”

Chris Recchia, Commissioner of the VT Dept. of Public Service, testified to the NRC Senate oversight committee in  May 2014: “The assumed basis for these proposed exemptions is that spent nuclear fuel remaining in the pool presents virtually equivalent off-site emergency risks as that in dry cask – that is to say (according to the NRC), none. This defies logic. Leaving aside the many scientific articles refuting that claim, the NRC staff themselves, in other documents, while claiming that all of the risks are at acceptable levels, acknowledge that spent fuel in pools is more risky than fuel stored in dry casks.”



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