It's déjà vu all over again! After announcing a public meeting on August 22nd -- supposedly intended for technical dialogue -- the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) attemped to change the rules, and unabashedly refused to respond to watchdogs' challenges to its biased analysis regarding high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) storage pool fire risks. The strong backlash by representatives of an environmental coalition, inlcuding Beyond Nuclear, has forced NRC to try again. NRC has issued a public notice, as well as slides, for its Sept. 18th public meeting.
The coalition's attorney, Diane Curran, has re-issued talking points first developed for public use in the lead up to the previous meeting. They are more relevant than ever. Curran urges concerned members of the public to register to speak by emailing email@example.com. You can phone into the meeting at (888) 324-8193 [enter passcode 4345562], and can watch the webcast at http://video.nrc.gov or https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/984626536.
On August 1st, Curran, and one of the environmental coalition's expert witnesses, Dr. Gordon Thompson of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies (IRSS), submitted a "devastating critique" regarding NRC's "Draft Consequence Study" on the risks of fire in HLRW storage pools. Curran and Thompson called for the study to be withdraw, due to its lack of basic scientific integrity and credibility.
Now Robert Alvarez (photo, above left), senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), has weighed in on the coalition's behalf. Alvarez previously served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy during the Clintion administration. After the 3/11/11 nuclear catastrophe began in Japan, he published a report on the potentially catastrophic risks in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant HLRW storage pools--the largest concentrations of hazardous artificial radioactivity in the entire country.
As U.S. Senator Ed Markey has pointed out in a letter to NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane, a 2003 study written by none other than Macfarlane herself (along with co-authors Alvarez, Thompson, and several others) starkly contradicts NRC's current "Draft Consequence Study" regarding pool fire risks. Astoundingly, and at catastrophic risk, NRC staff is relying on the "Draft Consequence Study" as the basis to recommend that no expedited transfer of irradiated nuclear fuel should be required as a "lesson learned" in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. Beyond Nuclear and hundreds of environmental groups representing all 50 states have called for pools to be emptied into "Hardened On-Site Storage" (HOSS) for well over a decade, but their calls have fallen on deaf ears at NRC.