As reported by Douglas P. Guarino at Global Security Newswire in an article entitled "Watchdog Groups Add to Legal Criticism of Nuclear Waste Review," a coalition of two dozen environmental groups (including Beyond Nuclear), as well as three states (Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont) are keeping the pressure on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to do a thorough Environmental Impact Statement on the on-site storage risks of high-level radioactive waste, not to mention the transport, off-site storage, and permanent disposal risks of irradiated nuclear fuel. The article quotes one of the environmental coalition's attorneys, Diane Curran, as well as one of its expert witnesses, Dr. Arjun Makhijani (photo, left).
Currently, all radioactive waste generated by U.S. reactors is stored at the reactor site - either in fuel pools or waste casks. However, the casks are currently security-vulnerable and should be "hardened" while a better solution continues to be sought.
Watchdog groups such as Pilgrim Watch, Cape Downwinders, Pilgrim Coalition and Cape Cod Bay Watch keep up the good fight against Entergy's Pilgrim atomic reactor in Plymouth, MA. Pilgrim is a four decade old General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor, the same age, or older, and design as the Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4 reactors.
Pilgrim Watch spearheaded a six year long intervention against the reactor's 20-year license extension, a record of resistance. But, just as it has done 72 other times across the U.S. since 2000, NRC rubberstamped the license extension in the end.
Member of Cape Downwinders, who have carried out non-violent civil disobedience actions in opposition to Pilgrim's ongoing risks, networked with Beyond Nuclear staff at a Clamshell Alliance reunion in New Hampshire last July. A key risk is that there is "No Escape from the Cap" should the worst happen at Pilgrim, as recently affirmed by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency itself.
Pilgrim Coalition is plugging Pilgrim's shutdown:
"Plug-In to Unplug Pilgrim: this is an opportunity to find your place in a growing movement to remove the risk from Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in your community.
Join us on February 6, 2013 in the Otto Fehlow Room of the Plymouth Public Library and kick off the new year by learning about the issue and ways you can help. Snacks and refreshments will be served.
For more information, contact Karen Vale at email@example.com or (508) 951-4723."
And Cape Cod Bay Watch points out that "Plymouth Is Where NO NUKES Meets SAVE THE WHALES" (see photo, above left).
Another Pilgrim claim to infamy: every single irradiated nuclear fuel assembly ever generated there is still stored in its high-level radioactive waste storage pool. Thus, whereas the precarious Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 has some 135 tons of high-level radioactive waste stored in its pool, Pilgrim has around 600 tons of waste in its pool.
State of Vermont makes its case against Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee at 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
The fate of the State of Vermont's long struggle to shutdown Entergy Nuclear's Vermont Yankee (VY) atomic reactor (a General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor, identical in design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4) now rests in the hands of a three-judge panel at the 2nd Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in Manhattan. Yesterday, oral arguments were heard regarding Entergy v. Shumlin et al.Vermont is seeking to overturn a Brattleboro lower court judge's ruling a year ago that state laws had improperly strayed into radiological safety matters, the sole jurisdiction of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as settled by the 1983 PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric) U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In addition to a large turn out of journalists from Vermont and beyond, a number of long-time Vermont Yankee opponents sent representatives to witness the proceeding, including Beyond Nuclear, Conservation Law Foundation, Citizen Awareness Network (CAN), Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance (VYDA). By most accounts, the State of Vermont --represented by Attorney General William Sorrell, and David Frederick of the Washington, D.C. law firm Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, P.L.L.C. (see photo) -- more than held its own.
In March 2011, just days after the nuclear catastrophe began to unfold at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission rubberstamped a 20-year license extension at VY. This came despite a Feb. 2010 vote of 26 to 4 by the State of Vermont Senate, led by Senator Pro Tem (now Governor) Peter Shumlin, that blocked VY's license extension. Costs to the State of Vermont of decommissioning and long-term high-level radioactive waste storage, if Entergy should go bankrupt and abandon the site, figured prominantly in yesterday's arguments.
Richard Watts (who took the photo above), author of Public Meltdown: The Story of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, covered the oral arguments on his blog. The Vermont Digger reported on this story, including a link to the audio of the full 37 minute long oral arguments. Vermont Public Radio filed two stories: "At Stake in Yankee Appeal: State's Rights and a Big Legal Bill," and "Appeals Judges Focus on 'Legislative Intent' in Yankee Case." The Associated Press, Burlington Free Press, Brattleboro Reformer, and Bloomberg have also reported on this story.
And, as reported by the Associated Press, Entergy was back in court on Wednesday, this time before the Vermont Supreme Court. The New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution requests that the Vermont Supreme Court order Entergy Vermont Yankee to shutdown, for lack of a Certificate of Public Good (CPG). Its old CPG expired, along with its original 40 year operating license, on March 21, 2012. The State of Vermont Public Service Board has yet to approve a new CPG for VY's continued operation.
An environmental coalition comprised of two dozen organizations, including Beyond Nuclear, today submitted supplemental public comments to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regarding the agency's court-vacated Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision and Rule. The supplemental comments constituted a rebuttal to comments submitted by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the nuclear power industry's lobbying arm in Washington, D.C.
The coalition held a press conference today, featuring four speakers: Arjun Makhijani, President of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, one of the coalition's expert witnesses; Diane Curran of the Washington, D.C. law firm Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg, LLP, a lead attorney for the coalition (see photo, left); John Runkle, an attorney with NC WARN (North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network), another coalition member; and Phillip Museegas, an attorney with Riverkeeper, and another expert witness for the coalition, of which Riverkeeper is also a member.
The coalition issued a press release; the full audio recording of the press conference is posted on-line.
The coalition's January 2nd public comments, including expert witness testimonies, are posted on-line. So are the coalition's supplemental comments submitted today, put together in rebuttal to NEI's Jan. 2nd comments.
As reported by the Rutland Herald, Vermont and New York have filed joint comments with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the agency's Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision and Rule. The Attorneys General of VT and NY, who filed the joint comments, along with the Attorneys General of CT and NJ, were plaintiffs in the original lawsuit, which resulted in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals nullifying NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence on June 8, 2012. The court then ordered the agency to carry out an environmental impact statement on the risks of long-term storage of high-level radioactive waste at reactor sites, such as Entergy Nuclear's Vermont Yankee and Indian Point near New York City.
The State of Vermont Department of Public Service joined in the VT and NY AG's joint comments. VT's Public Service Board is currently considering whether or not Entergy Nuclear, which has actually sued its three commissioners by name, whether the out-of-state utility deserves a Certificate of Public Good to continue doing business in the Green Mountain State.
State of Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell (pictured, left) stated that "Until the D.C. Circuit’s ruling, the NRC licensed and relicensed nuclear reactors on the assumption that the federal government would take away all of the spent fuel from each reactor site at some defined time, so the NRC never looked at the possibility that the fuel might stay there for years, decades, or even centuries.” He added that NRC has to consider whether licensing new -- and extending the licenses at old -- reactors makes sense in light of the long-term environmental impacts of onsite irradiated nuclear fuel storage, and the uncertainty surrounding the availability of a permanent dumpsite at any point in the future. In the 1980s, the U.S. Department of Energy was eyeing 7 potential sites in Vermont's granite for a national repository, as well as additional sites in neighboring New Hampshire (Hillsboro) and Maine (Sebago Lake).
Sorrell's office will present oral arguments at the Second Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in New York City on January 14th, seeking to overturn a federal district judge's ruling in favor of NRC's rubberstamping Entergy Vermont Yankee's 20-year license extension, despite the laws of the State of Vermont to the contrary.
Both VT and NY are strongly resisting 20-year license extensions at Entergy Nuclear's Vermont Yankee (already rubberstamped by NRC in March 2011, just days after the twin design Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 3 GE BWR Mark Is melted down and exploded in Japan) and Indian Point Units 2 and 3 near New York City.