Tag Archives: Friends of the Earth

BOMB PLANT NEWS | FOIA Documents Show Plan to Pursue Experimental Nuclear Reactors at Savannah River Site without Required NRC Licenses

Documents Reveal Reactors Could Be Fueled by Radioactive Fuel Reprocessed at SRS, Leading to More Importation of Dangerous High-Level Radioactive Waste into South Carolina

Documents obtained by Friends of the Earth under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that a private contractor plans to pursue  experimental nuclear reactors without licensing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, even though such licensing is required by law.
The revelation that two prototype “small modular reactors” are being pursued by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, the private contractor that manages the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina, “in advance of any design certification and licensing by the NRC” has drawn the charge from Friends of the Earth that such a move does not comply with pertinent U.S. regulations and must be dropped.
“We call on Savannah River Nuclear Solutions and the Department of Energy (DOE) to immediately affirm that no experimental nuclear reactors will be pursued in South Carolina without the required license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” said Tom Clements, Southeastern Nuclear Campaign Coordinator for Friends of the Earth.  “Construction of ‘small modular reactors’ that are not licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would violate U.S. law as well as endanger the public and we will strongly oppose any attempt to avoid required licensing of such reactors.”  
Small modular reactors are being pursued by various companies but at present only exist as concepts. Although such reactors would be smaller than those currently operating, modular reactors would still produce nuclear waste and pose the same safety and proliferation problems of larger reactors. Licensing discussions between at least one firm and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have begun.
On January 7 Friends of the Earth obtained two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) related to two different small modular reactors. The memoranda were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request to the Savannah River Site.  The memoranda, related to the “Hyperion SMR” (signed August 2010) and the “GE-Hitachi PRISM SMR” (signed September 2010) designs, both state that “[the U.S. Department of Energy] would assume responsibility for regulating the design, construction, and operation of a PRISM prototype under DOE’s existing authority as codified in l0 CFR 830, in advance of any design certification and licensing by the NRC.” 
The federal Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, which created the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Energy Research and Development Administration (now DOE), requires NRC licensing of a nuclear reactor “when operated in any other manner for the purpose of demonstrating the suitability for commercial application of such a reactor.”  Thus, unless the projects are pursued exclusively by the Department of Energy with no private involvement, Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing is mandated.
“In order to avoid required regulation, it appears that the Savannah River Site is trying to manipulate things so that requirements of the Energy Reorganization  Act are avoided, but that will be impossible to do,” said Clements.  “In addition, the private firm that intends to construct these experimental reactors appears poised to try to force taxpayers to pick up the cost. Savannah River Nuclear Solutions must pay for its own activities. Friends of the Earth calls on DOE and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions and its partners to demonstrate that 100 percent of the funding for any experimental reactors will come from private sources and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will play the role required by law.”
The Department of Energy, which is not a party to the memoranda and which is generally not regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, would have to take over and finance 100 percent of the projects if they were to go forward as proposed in the MOUs.  Friends of the Earth believes that the private companies developing the experimental reactors, which are only concepts at this point, must provide 100 percent of the financing, but even partial private financing would still trigger the requirement that licensing be carried out by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  
The Hyperion memorandum, signed for the Savannah River National Laboratory by Garry Flowers, President and CEO of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, also states that the fuel for the Hyperion reactor could come from commercial reprocessing in the H-Canyon reprocessing plant, an idea that is already stirring controversy and which may be impossible to pursue as the H-Canyon may be placed on stand-by due to budget constraints. Clements of Friends of the Earth and many members of the public spoke out against use of the H-Canyon facility for commercial reprocessing R&D before a January 7 meeting in Augusta, Georgia of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future as such R&D and full-scale reprocessing could lead to commercial radioactive spent fuel being dumped at SRS.  Clements affirms that environmental and public interest groups will fight against SRS from becoming the new Yucca Mountain.
Likewise, the PRISM memorandum states that the Savannah River Site plutonium fuel (MOX) facility, now under construction, could be used to fabricate the first fuel for the reactor, which is in direct contradiction to pledges by the Energy Department that the facility would not be used for missions beyond fabricating surplus weapons plutonium into MOX fuel for existing light-water reactors.  (That program is in trouble as the Energy Department has failed to identify reactors to use the MOX fuel and the facility could end up could end up sitting idle.  A multi-year MOX testing program will be required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission even if reactors are identified, and the Energy Department was unable to outline the details of such a testing program during a public tour of the Savannah River Site on January 6, 2011, in parallel with a tour by the presidential Blue Ribbon Commission.)
As an indication that some are thinking of SRS as the new Yucca Mountain, in a SRNS presentation to the SRS Citizens Advisory Board on September 29, 2010 entitled SRS Energy Park – Vision and Implementing Concepts, the SMRs are pitched as part of a “potential alternative to Yucca Mountain.” 
Contrary to the approach presented by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions in the two memoranda, the Tennessee Valley Authority is pursuing an mPower “small modular reactor” and has recently revealed that it plans to seek a construction license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  But like other small modular reactors, the mPower reactor is but a concept this point and faces a host of technical and licensing hurdles.

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Filed under Department of Energy, Environmental, Nuclear bombs, Nuclear materials, Nuclear waste, Nuclear weapons, Obama Administration, South Carolina, The Obama Administration

Gather for SCE&G Nuke Hearing, Thurs., 9:30 a.m., SC Supreme Court, Columbia

The South Carolina Supreme Court is set on Thursday to hear the Friends of the Earth appeal of the SC Public Service Commission’s approval of the SCE&G nuclear project.

We will gather on the sidewalk outside the court – corner of Gervais and Sumter in downtown, across from the state house grounds – at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 4 and be there in case the media wants to do interviews and then proceed to the court room. I will have only the big “blank check” (the unlimited costs given to SCE&G by the PSC) as a visual and ask that you don’t bring additional signs. As the court will already be in session, we will quietly proceed into the court room after our gathering.

Cameras are allowed into the court if the media outlets got pre-approval and as I don’t know if they have done this, one reason we will gather is to show a public face on those concerned about a clean energy future for South Carolina. The hearing is set to begin at 10:00 and our side opens with 10 minutes, the SCE&G gets 10 minutes and then we have 5 minutes for a closing, but the judges can ask questions at any point. So, the entire hearing could be less than an hour. The chief judge has recused herself from the case.

You may have seen that an article about the hearing appeared in The State on March 2
(and also in today’s Charleston Post & Courier):

“Reactor foes having their say on Thursday”

If the nuclear project goes forward we can kiss goodbye to any serious energy conservation and efficiency programs in South Carolina. SCE&G will have a glut of electricity to sell if the reactors were ever to operate and significant reduction of consumption will be the last thing on their mind.

The association of large industrial users, the SC Energy Users Committee, has also appealed the PSC nuclear decision to the Supreme Court but their hearing will be later, though the court could respond in a single ruling to our appeals.

Call if you have any questions and I hope to see you on Thursday.

Tom Clements
Southeastern Nuclear Campaign Coordinator
Friends of the Earth
Columbia, SC
803-834-3084 | 803-834-3084

www.carolinapeace.org |  (803) 875-0392  | (803) 875-0392 info@carolinapeace.org
PO Box 7933
Columbia, SC 29202
United States

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Filed under Environmental, Events & Actions, Nuclear materials, Nuclear waste, South Carolina Politics

Bomb Plant News | SRS Clean Up – Not Build Up : Speak out with us TOMORROW in N. Augusta!

Tuesday, August 18th  

The bombLocation: North Augusta, SC, at the N. Augusta Municipal Building, 100 Georgia Ave.

We want clean up –not build up!
“Nuclear weapons are inherently destructive of the environment in their possession, manufacture and use. Global and national security lie in U.S. leadership that works towards disarmament, environmental restoration and nuclear waste management.”  Georgia WAND

Now is the time! Your voice is needed!
You can and should let DOE know how you feel – So hop on the bus with Georgia WAND as we meet up in N. Augusta with Friends of the Earth and other groups to hold a press conference and then we will attend and speak out at the DOE meeting on the future mission of Savannah River Site, a US nuclear weapons production facility on the Georgia/South Carolina border.
12:30PM   Press Conference in N. Augusta, Georgia WAND, Friends of the Earth, etc other groups will be gathering. (Please bring brown bag lunch to eat prior to mtg as time allows) Signs welcome!!

1:00Pm – 5:00PM  Dept of Energy (DOE) meeting on the future missions of SRS >> Public testimony accepted. We hope everyone will speak out and get their voice heard.

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Filed under Actions, Actions | Events, Department of Energy, Environmental, Events & Actions, Nuclear bombs, Nuclear materials, Nuclear waste, Nuclear weapons, Obama Administration, South Carolina, The Obama Administration

Will Jenkinsville, South Carolina be the Center of the Nuclear Industry’s Revival? | By Michael Berg

In the gymnasium of an elementary school in Blair, South Carolina, staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) gathered to listen to public comment on the potential environmental impact of two new nuclear reactors proposed for construction V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in nearby Jenkinsville. “You have insight and knowledge that we don’t,” NRC Project Manager William Burton told the crowd of around 100 people. “We want you to participate in this decision. An educated consumer is our best customer.”

After a short presentation by NRC staff, Jenkinsville Mayor Gregory Ginyard was not impressed. “I live a mile and a half from the plant,” he stated. “I’m the mayor. They want me to represent them. And I don’t know what you want. Where I live we don’t have environmentalists. You guys need to educate us. The people of Jenkinsville, we are on the front lines.”

Ginyard, 52, grew up in Jenkinsville and has lived in this small, predominately African-American town all of his life, half of which he has spent in the shadow of V.C. Summer’s nuclear reactor, which was built in the late 1970s and came on line in 1982. At that time, South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) confiscated 60 acres from his father’s property for the plant, compensating the family $1,000 per an acre. Now as the first mayor of the newly incorporated town of Jenkinsville, he is caught in the middle of a battle between two utility companies and South Carolina’s small but energetic community of anti-nuclear activists, in a battle of national importance. If the plans of the privately operated SCE&G and unregulated state utility Santee-Cooper go forward, V.C. Summer Reactors 2 and 3 will likely be the first new commercial reactors in the United States to begin construction in almost 30 years.

Ginyard is not the only Jenkinsville politician concerned about the proposed expansion. Kamau Marcharia is a community activist on the Fairfield County Council. He is wary about how two new reactors will affect his community. “It’s a ten billion dollar contract,” explains Marcharia. “Out of 10 billion dollars I want to know how many minority contracts they’re going to give. I want to know how people are going to help this community with its infrastructure. Right now we have no health center and no modern fire station. I want to know how they’re going to help us with this. I want to know how they are going to improve the roads when four to six thousand people work here on construction for seven years. I want to know how they are going to make this community safer.”

These are reasonable concerns for this poor, aging community. The town’s average annual household income is only $24,000 and the average resident of Jenkinsville is almost forty years old. The first reactor at V.C. Summer has failed to produce prosperity for the town. “Thirty years ago when the plant came, Jenkinsville was pretty rural and people were pretty much uninformed. It was just like today, but we had more in this community back then. There were three stores and other things that were closed down and boarded up. Jenkinsville is worse off today than when the plant moved in.” Continue reading

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