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Thursday
Nov082012

Attendance and public comments critically needed at NRC Nuke Waste Con Game environmental scoping hearing

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has announced that it will hold environmental scoping sessions on Wednesday, November 14th to take public comments about what should be included in its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on court-ordered changes to its Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision and Rule. See NRC's meeting notice, as well as the agenda for the hearing sessions, the associated Federal Register notice, and NRC's Waste Confidence website.

NRC has not done an EIS on the risks of on-site storage of high-level radioactive waste in pools and dry casks. Last June, a coalition of several state attorneys general and environmental groups won a landmark victory when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nullified NRC's 30 year old Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision and Rule, and ordered the agency to carry out an EIS at long last. In 2010, NRC had flippantly ruled that high-level radioactive wastes were safe and sound at reactor sites for at least 120 years, and was considering extending that ruling out to 200 to 300 years. The court nullified such nonsense, ordering an EIS. The EIS -- which realistically should take on the order of seven years to carry out, if done properly -- will cause at least two years of delay in final NRC approval of new reactor construction and operations licenses, as well as old reactor license extensions.

It is critical that concerned citizens and environmental groups attend and provide public comments at these environmental scoping hearing sessions on Nov. 14th. The two sessions will be identical.

The first session, to be held from 1-4 PM Eastern (10 AM-1 PM Pacific) will involve both an in-person public hearing at NRC's HQ in Rockville, MD (in the One White Flint North Commissioners' Hearing Room), as well as the opportunity to take part by webcast and teleconferece. The second session will be webcast/teleconferenced only (no in-person meeting), and will be held from 9 PM-12 Midnight Eastern (6-9 PM Pacific).

To present comments by telephone during the webcast, dial 1-800-475-8385; when prompted, enter passcode 3682386, followed by the # sign.

To access the webcast, go to http://video.nrc.gov for connection information.

Register to participate and request to present oral comments, whether in-person or via teleconference, by contacting Ms. Susan Wittick (extension 3187) or Ms. TR Rowe (ext. 3133) at the following phone number: 1-800-368-5642. You can also register by email at WCOutreach@nrc.gov.

As Beyond Nuclear urged in our weekly email bulletin last week regarding the NRC Chairwoman, please also consider sending letters or emails, or making phone calls, to the five members of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (click on each Commissioners' name to see their contact info.), as well as to NRC Staff liaison Sarah Lopas (NEPA Communications Project Manager, Office of Nuclear Materials Safety and Safeguards, U.S. NRC, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001, Sarah.Lopas@nrc.gov, 301-492-3425), requesting an extension of time for the hearings, as well as an extension of time for the entire environmental scoping process, as the NRC has not provided the public with enough time to study the issues and prepare either written or oral comments. Point out that the lack of adequate information in the Federal Register Notice, which the NRC should have provided in the first instance -- such as what the proposed action is, and what are reasonable alternatives to it, basic components of any National Environmental Impact Statement (NEPA) environmental impact statement process. Ask the NRC Commissioners and Staff liaison to withdraw the scoping notice and re-publish it in form that passes legal muster under NEPA. In addition, urge the NRC Commissioners and NRC Staff liaison to hold regional hearings, so that those living in the shadows of nuclear power plants and their stored high-level radioactive waste can attend and talk to NRC officials in person. See Diane Curran et al.'s letter below for ideas about what to say.

Please see below for additional background information, including strategic ideas for key public comments you can make.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

See Beyond Nuclear's pamphlet on the Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High (cover, above left). A key message to deliver to NRC: "It's time to stop making it!"

See Beyond Nuclear's backgrounder on the risks of GE Mark I reactor high-level radioactive waste storage pools, in light of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.

See Beyond Nuclear's backgrounder on radioactive leaks from high-level radioactive waste storage pools, into soil, groundwater and surface water (note this is not an exhaustive list -- Hatch in Georgia, and recently Davis-Besse in Ohio, have also suffered pool leaks). Beyond Nuclear's report "Leak First, Fix Later" has an entire chapter about the pool leaks at Entergy's Indian Point reactors near New York City.

Diane Curran, Geoffrey Fettus, and Mindy Goldstein, the attorneys who led the environmental coalition's effort in the Nuclear Waste Confidence lawsuit, have written to the five NRC Commissioners on behalf of 25 groups, urging that the current environmental impact statement proceeding be suspended and corrected, due to major legal errors in NRC's notice and approach, which violate the National Environmental Policy Act.

Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), one of the four environmental groups (also including Natural Resources Defense Council, Riverkeeper, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy) which joined the States of New York, Vermont, New Jersey, and Connecticut's Attorneys General in suing NRC over the Nuclear Waste Confidence Rule, has put out a helpful fact sheet about the upcoming Nov. 14th environmental scoping sessions, as well as related Dec. 5th and 6th NRC webinars.

An important comment to make is that Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) is a wise, interim alternative to risky radioactive waste transport, as well as risky pool and dry cask storage. Nearly 200 environmental groups have endorsed HOSS for well over a decade, but their call has fallen on deaf ears at NRC. (To learn more about the risks of radioactive waste transport, see Beyond Nuclear's website sub-section on this subject, as well as that of NIRS and the State of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects.)

To learn more about the risks of on-site pool and dry cask storage, see Beyond Nuclear's relevant website section, as well as that of NIRS.

To learn more about the risks of permanent dumpsites, see Beyond Nuclear's and NIRS's websites. To learn more about the risks of the Yucca Mountain dumpsite proposal in particular, see the State of Nevada's website.

To learn more about the risks of "centralized interim storage" (parking lot dumps), see Beyond Nuclear's and NIRS's websites.