Environmental coalition expert presses case against Fermi 3 due to major quality assurance violations
Expert witness Arnie Gundersen (photo, left), Fairewinds Associates, Inc's Chief Nuclear Engineer, with 40 years of experience in industry, has documented yet more violations of quality assurance (QA) at Detroit Edison's proposed new reactor, Fermi 3. His "[NON-PROPRIETARY] TESTIMONY OF ARNOLD GUNDERSEN SUPPORTING OF INTERVENORS CONTENTION 15: DTE COLA LACKS STATUTORILY REQUIRED COHESIVE QA PROGRAM" was submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board (ASLB) on April 30, 2013.
Gundersen serves as the expert witness for the QA contention introduced by the environmental coalition opposing Fermi 3, namely: Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and Sierra Club, Michigan Chapter.
Gundersen's testimony applies to non-proprietary documentation revealing DTE's QA breakdowns over the past several years, the repercussions of which continue today. Gundersen also prepared a non-public analysis of DTE's proprietary documents, as well, and states in his non-proprietary, publicly available testimony:
"...after reviewing much of the material that DTE had labeled proprietary, Fairewinds has found no basis for Detroit Edison to designate these documents as proprietary, other than to avoid embarrassment if its own mistakes were shared with the public.
In Fairewinds Associates, Inc’s opinion, Detroit Edison’s labeling non-proprietary material as proprietary is an abuse of the public’s right to know how mismanaged the 'Fermi 3 Licensing Project' is."
Gundersen's non-proprietary, publicly available testimony went on:
"The data Fairewinds reviewed shows that confusion and lack of organizational control reigned within Detroit Edison for years prior to the COLA [combined Construction and Operations License Application] submittal and to this day. These early QA problems are the root cause of the current site characterization issues that continue to plague the Fermi 3 Licensing Project...In my opinion, this extensive breakdown in nuclear Quality Assurance that endangered the geotechnical work in 2007 continues to plague the Fermi 3 Licensing Project today."
Gundersen is refering to significant problems DTE has encountered in the area of Soil Structures Analysis, which has potential seismic risk significance.
At the same time as he filed Gundersen's testimony, environmental coalition attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo also submitted Intervenors' Initial Statement of Position on the QA contention.
DTE and NRC Staff, both advocating for approval of the COLA, also filed their own testimonies and statements of position by the April 30th deadline. DTE's Initial Statement of Position was accompanied by testimonies from Peter Smith, Stanley Stasek, Ronald Sacco, and Steven Thomas. NRC Staff's Initial Statement of Position was accompanied by testimonies from Adrian Muniz, Aida Rivera-Varona, and George Lipscomb. A formal hearing on the QA contention will be heard by the NRC ASLB later this year.
Also on April 30th, ironically enough, the Fermi 3 ASLB rejected several proposed intervention contentions the environmental coalition had submitted in response to NRC's Final Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed new reactor. See the website post below for more information on these now-rejected proposed contentions.
Despite this, the environmental coalition's contention in defense of Fermi 3's impacts on the threatened Eastern Fox Snake, and its critical habitat, proceeds towards a formal hearing before the ASLB later this year.