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Wednesday
Jun132018

Coalition Letter to NRC, re: Failure of Regulations.gov for Comments on Scope of EIS for Holtec/ELEA CISF

Beyond Nuclear's legal counsel, Diane Curran, of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, L.L.P. in Washington, D.C.Beyond Nuclear's legal counsel, Diane Curran of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, L.L.P. in Washington, D.C. (photo, left), today submitted a letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), on behalf of a coalition including Don't Waste Michigan (represented by legal counsel Terry Lodge), Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS), Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), and Nuclear Issues Study Group (NISG).

The letter regards Failure of Regulations.gov for comments on Scope of EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] for Holtec International HI-STORE Consolidated Interim Storage Facility Project, Docket No. 72-1051; NRC-2018-0052.

In the Federal Register Notice published March 30, 2018, NRC announced a 60-day public comment period for environmental scoping on the Holtec/Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA) proposal for a massive (173,600 metric ton) irradiated nuclear fuel centralized interim storage facility (CISF) in southeastern New Mexico. A primary mechanism for public comments to be submitted was via Regulations.gov, the NRC announced in its Federal Register Notice.

(In May, NRC granted a 60 day extension for public comments, in partial response to a request from 52 groups, including Beyond Nuclear. Thus, NRC extended the original deadline from May 29, until the current deadline of July 30, 2018.)

However, Regulations.gov has been spotty at best, from April onwards. In fact, from May 18 until June 7, 2018, Regulations.gov did not work at all -- as experienced by several members of the public who attempted to submit comments, including Beyond Nuclear's staff.

Beyond Nuclear, as well as Nuclear Issues Study Group of Albuquerque, NM, alerted NRC to the problem on May 22nd. But NRC denied the problem existed at all, and did nothing that fixed the problem, which continued till June 7th.

NRC said in response that there were other mechanisms for submitting comments, such as an email address. But the only reason NRC established an email address for submitting comments was in response to a request made by Joni Arends of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety of Santa Fe, NM. Arends made the request at the May 1st NRC public comment meeting in Hobbs, NM. The reason Arends made the request in the first place is because she and others had already had so much difficulty with the spotty Regulations.gov site!

In today's letter, the enviironmental coalition has requested from NRC an additional 90 days of public comment opportunity (that is, a further extension, until October 30th). The coalition has also demanded that NRC make sure Regulations.gov is consistently working properly, or else replace it with another, functional public comment mechanism. All of this must be made official by NRC, with another updated Federal Register Notice.

We urge concerned citizens and environmental groups to take full advantage of this public comment opportunity. To see sample comments you can use to help you prepare your own, as well as instructions for how to submit them by the deadline, click here.

(Email and snail mail options for submitting comments are available, and Regulations.gov itself has supposedly been working again since June 7th.)

Despite the latter, we are still demanding 90 additional days for the public to submit comments. That is, we are urging NRC to extend the current July 30th deadline till October 30th. We'll keep you posted as to our success with this request!