In a ruling issued on July 7th, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel, overseeing the combined Construction and Operating License Application (COLA) proceeding regarding the proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor, agreed with intervening environmental groups: NRC staff's Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) is incomplete. The ASLB panel has requested permission from the NRC Commissioners to undertake further sua sponte (Latin for "of their own accord") review of this National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) matter.
The environmental coalition has issued a press release. It quotes Beyond Nuclear's radioactive waste watchdog, Kevin Kamps:
“The hubris of the NRC staff in flouting environmental law is beyond belief, and unacceptable. It’s time for DTE to cancel Fermi 3, and move beyond nuclear, to efficiency and renewables, like wind and solar.”
The ASLB panel cites the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as also calling for NRC to undertake an EIS on the transmission line corridor. It also cites the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as not concurring on the NRC FEIS, as it now stands, for lack of specificity on the transmission line's route, and lack of analysis on endangered and threatened species impacts. The ASLB panel also points out that protected archaeological sites, such as Native American burials, could be impacted by the transmission line.
The environmental coalition member groups, intervening against Fermi 3 since 2009, include: Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. The coalition is represented by Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge.
DTE (formerly Detroit Edison) submitted a COLA to NRC in Sept. 2008 to build and operate Fermi 3 on the Lake Erie shore in southeastern Michigan. The coalition has opposed this at every twist and turn ever since.
On July 11th, in response to the ASLB panel's July 7th request for permission from the NRC Commission to conduct a sua sponte review of the lack of a transmission line corridor environmental impact statement by NRC staff, the NRC Commission ordered briefs from the parties (environmental coalition interveners, DTE Energy, and NRC staff) in response to the ASLB request. The 20-page briefs are due Monday, July 28th. (The coalition met this very short deadline.)
The NRC Commissioner order also calls for response briefs, not to exceed 10-pages, due August 7th.