Citizens will rally tomorrow show their concern that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not making nuclear power plants safe enough in light of lessons learned from the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan. The rally will be held June 7 at 9:15 a.m., outside the John W. McCormack Post Office and Court House, 5 Post Office Square, Boston.
Pilgrim Coalition of Mashpee, Clean Water Action and other public health, environmental, and watchdog groups will rally outside the courthouse before a 10 a.m. hearing with a NRC Atomic Safety Licensing Board. The hearing was requested by Duxbury-based Pilgrim Watch, an opponent of the recent relicensing of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth.
After the March 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan, the NRC issued orders it claims will make U.S. nuclear power stations safer. Pilgrim Watch argues that the orders do not adequately meet concerns about spent fuel pools and containment vents. The ASLB was assigned to review the request and concluded that the filings raised serious enough issues to require today’s hearing.
The hearing will focus on the NRC’s orders promulgated after Fukushima in two areas. First, the rule bearing on the venting of 23 reactors -- including Plymouth’s Pilgrim -- which are the same design as those in Fukushima and another five with an almost identical design. The second issue is overcrowded spent fuel pool risks that fail to require dry cask storage for the majority of the fuel.
"The current rules the NRC is propounding, which would impact Pilgrim's overcrowded spent fuel pool and the inadequate venting of the reactor's containment vessel, are not strong enough to protect us -- the people who would be affected if a serious radiological release occurred," Sara Altherr of Pilgrim Coalition said. "The NRC needs to go back to the drawing board and strengthen these orders."
"Nuclear power may continue to be a potential source of energy for our region’s growing needs, but it must be created safely and its waste must be properly stored. I agree with the minority opinion of the former NRC Chairman (Gregory Jaczko) that the lessons of the malfunctioned reactors at Fukushima must be accounted for in the future operation of all nuclear power plants," state Rep. Jim Cantwell, D-Marshfield, said. Cantwell has filed legislation to extend nuclear power plant protections in Massachusetts. "These lessons should be considered in rulemaking for future operation of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant – and I applaud the tireless work of environmental advocacy groups concerned with nuclear power plant safety."
Pilgrim Coalition, Pilgrim Watch and other watchdog groups contend that the NRC’s new safety orders are not strong enough and do not protect public safety, property or the environment. Pilgrim Watch wants the ASLB to require further hearing on this matter and require NRC to do its job: protect public health and safety and not simply bow to industry’s annual bottom line.
--release from Pilgrim Coalition