DTE doesn't oppose holding Fermi 3 Nuclear Waste Confidence matters in abeyance, pending resolution of NY v. NRC II appeal
On July 31st, Detroit Edison filed a response to Beyond Nuclear et al.'s motion to hold the proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor proceeding in abeyance. The nuclear utility agreed with Beyond Nuclear that the Nuclear Waste Confidence aspects of the proceeding should be held in abeyance, pending resolution of New York v. NRC II. However, DTE emphasized its desire that the other matters on appeal -- namely, quality assurance (or lack thereof), and transmission corridor "pre-construction" National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)-compliance (or lack thereof) -- be resolved ASAP.
Detroit Edison proposes building a General Electric-Hitachi ESBWR (so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor") at its Fermi nuclear power plant site in Monroe County, MI, on the Lake Erie shoreline.
Permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste, at a geologic repository, is -- or should be -- an aspect of NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence policy, renamed Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel in 2014. In its June 2012 ruling in New York v. NRC (I), the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered NRC to analyze the impacts of a repository never being opened.
Essentially, NRC has not done so. NRC has merely expressed continued confidence that irradiated nuclear fuel can, and will, be stored safely, securely, and soundly, indefinitely into the future. This "assumed safety" applies not only at on-site storage at reactor sites, but also away from reactors, at centrailzed interim storage sites.
Beyond Nuclear's appeal against Nuclear Waste Confidence at Fermi 3 challenges this "assumption of safety." NEPA requires a "hard look," actual concerted analysis, at environmental impacts of a proposed action, such as NRC approving new reactor licenses, as at Fermi 3, which will inevitably lead to the generation, and storage, of high-level radioactive waste. And the Atomic Energy Act requires NRC establish "reasonable assurance of adequate protection" of public health and safety, which NRC has not done in its Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement) and Rule.
The risk of a repository never opening would exacerbate such on-site and away from reactor (centralized or consolidated interim storage) risks. However, despite the court order, NRC has not analyzed this risk of a repository never opening, nor the exacerbation of storage risks this would cause at, and away from, reactors.
Yucca Mountain, Nevada has -- in the words of Michael Keegan of the Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes -- long served as the "illusion of a solution" to the radioactive waste problem. Yucca has been targeted as the country's repository site since the 1987 "Screw Nevada" bill was passed by Congress, and signed by President Reagan, all over Nevada's objections. However, the Yucca dump was cancelled by President Obama shortly after he took office. The Obama Department of Energy moved to withdraw its Yucca license application, and the administration zeroed out its budget requests for the project, defunding it.