Environmental coalition defends its intervention against "20 more years of radioactive Russian roulette" at Davis-Besse
In August, First Energy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a 20 year license extension at its trouble-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore east of Toledo. In October, NRC "docketed" the application as complete enough to proceed with its consideration for approval. Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio submitted their Petition to Intervene and Request for a Hearing on December 27, 2010 -- raising four contentions against the 20 year license extension: (1) wind power is a viable altenative, as is (2) solar photovoltaic power, and (3) certainly a combination of solar PV and wind; and (4), FENOC has significantly underestimated the consequences of a catastrophic radioactivity release from Davis-Besse in its "Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives" (SAMA) analysis. On January 21, 2011, both the NRC staff and FENOC objected to all four of the environmental coalition's contentions; both also challenged the standing of CEA to take part in the proceeding, absurdly asserting that CEA's members seeking standing live a mere 300 feet beyond the 50 mile radius from Davis-Besse! (Intervenors "about" 50 miles from a nuclear plant, or less, have almost automatically been conferred standing in the past.) In a "Combined Reply," the environmental coalition defended its standing and contentions on January 28, 2011. An NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) has been empanelled. The ASLB has announced a March 1, 2011 "oral pre-hearing" in Port Clinton, Ohio to consider whether or not to admit the contentions for a full hearing on the merits; the appendix to its order spells out in some detail the key questions the ASLB has on its mind. The NRC ASLB has requested a security detail from the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department, although the coalition is comprised entirely of non-violent environmental groups. Beyond Nuclear has prepared a backgrounder on the many close calls to major disasters this reactor has already experienced in its first 33 years of operations: "Davis-Besse: 20 MORE Years of Radioactive Russian Roulette on the Great Lakes Shore?!" On February 1st, the coalition issued a media release announcing its defense of the intervention. The Joint Petitioners filed an Errata for their Combined Reply on Feb. 10th.