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NRC ASLB rules against environmental coalition's contentions challenging 20-year license extension at Davis-Besse

"Homer Simpson and Humpty Dumpty act out" the Blizzard of '78 "snow job" root cause theory for shield building cracking at Davis-Besse's front entrance on March 24, 2012. The street theater was held in solidarity with the SAGE Alliance's Shut Down Vermont Yankee day of action, and protested FENOC's cherry-picked "root cause of convenience," first floated on Feb. 28th.The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board (ASLB) today issued two rulings rejecting an environmental coalition's intervention against the 20-year license extension sought by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) at its problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo.

The first ruling supported FENOC's Motion for Summary Dismissal of the environmental interveners' (Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, Green Party of Ohio, represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge) Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives (SAMA) analyses contentions, previously admitted for hearing. To do so, both ASLB and NRC had to ignore FENOC's assumption that the containment structures at Davis-Besse are fully functional, which they are not. This ruling came despite FENOC's admission that it had made five major errors in its original SAMA analyses, such as under-estimating the value of Ohio farmland and urban property values, and even getting wind directions 180 degrees wrong.

The second ruling rejected interveners' proposed cracked concrete containment contention. Intervenors' have dubbed FENOC's claim that the Blizzard of 1978 severely cracked its concrete containment shield building a "Snow Job," and its cover up of the visual evidence of the cracking with concrete in late 2011, and with a coat of paint on the shield building exterior in August 2012, a "White Wash."

The environmental coalition issued a press release in response to the ASLB rulings, vowing to fight on.

The Toledo Blade has reported on this story. At the bottom righthand side of the article, the Toledo Blade is conducting an online poll as to whether or not Davis-Besse should be re-licensed. Beyond Nuclear encourages readers to vote NO in the poll.

The article quoted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps:

"...Kevin Kamps, a radioactive-waste specialist for Maryland-based Beyond Nuclear, was unconvinced by the licensing board’s findings.

The cracks pose a 'major safety risk,' he said. 'If they can dismiss the cracking contention given the gravity of that risk, then it’s not a good sign for due process.'

Relicensing opponents believe the NRC and FirstEnergy don’t 'understand the root causes' of the cracking problem, and if the wrong cause is pinpointed then 'they can’t have adequate corrective action in place.'

'[It’s a] huge loss for the public. The risks don’t go away regardless,' he said...

...Mr. Kamps said the licensing board’s rulings are subject to challenge, and re-licensing opponents also may raise new contentions as the renewal process continues. Among unresolved issues is the effect of a June 8 federal appeals-court ruling in Washington declaring that regulators had not assessed potential environmental consequences of long-term radioactive waste storage at nuclear plant sites if no permanent disposal site is developed."

WKSU, the NPR radio affiliate at Kent State University, has also reported on this story. WKSU quoted Kevin:

"Beyond Nuclear is among the groups contesting the proposed license renewal. They contend that cracks discovered last year in Davis-Besse’s concrete shield are due to aging concrete – and a sign of more trouble to come...

...Kevin Kamps, a radioactive-waste specialist for Beyond Nuclear, says the board also rejected an analysis of what would happen in the event of a severe accident at the plant east of Toledo.

'I would say that, looking at a document like the Japanese Parliament report on the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, where they found that collusion between government and industry was actually the root cause of the catastrophe, that that very much applies to Davis-Besse.'

Kamps says an environmental impact statement is due in February, at which time the group will have another opportunity to file objections. And the board has yet to address a court order regarding the potential environmental impact of on-site radioactive waste storage."

Interveners can still submit contentions based on NRC's Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS), due out in February. Also, the NRC has acknowledged that interveners' application at Davis-Besse, of a recent court victory against its "Nuke Waste Con Game," will result in at least a two year delay in issuance of the final approval for the license extension. NRC has said it will take at least that long to carry out the court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement on its Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision and Rule.  

For more information on the Davis-Besse proceeding, click here.