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This blog is aimed at tracing the world news related to nuclear power development internationally and in particular countries. Being an independent resource, we accept all kinds of opinions, positions and comments, and welcome you to discuss the posts and tell us what you think.

Friday, October 24, 2008

U.S. rejects protest to nuclear waste storage plan

[I attended university about 90 miles south of this plant. I do find it ironic that the same groups that protested the potential crowding of the spent fuel pools are now protesting dry cask storage...]


By Erica WernerThe Associated PressFriday, October 24, 2008

** FILE ** This April 12, 2001, file photo, shows the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant near San Luis Obispo, Calif. Federal regulators on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008, denied an activist group's objections to a radioactive waste storage plan at Diablo Canyon. (AP Photo/Phil Klein, File)

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WASHINGTON — Federal regulators ruled Thursday that a radioactive waste storage plan can go forward at a California nuclear power plant without further study of whether it's safe from terrorist attacks.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 3-1 to deny the novel objection from the activist group San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, which had won a federal court ruling forcing the commission to consider its arguments.
The decision approves Pacific Gas & Electric's plans to store spent nuclear fuel in aboveground casks at its Diablo Canyon power plant near San Luis Obispo. Dry cask storage is increasingly common at nuclear power plants around the country.
Mothers for Peace had contended there wasn't sufficient study of whether the casks planned for Diablo Canyon could withstand potential terrorist attacks while protecting human health and the environment, but the commission said no more study was needed.
"The NRC staff and PG&E provided essentially uncontradicted evidence that the probability of a significant radioactive release caused by a terrorist attack was low, and that the potential latent health and land contamination effects of the most severe plausible attack would be small," commissioners wrote in their order.
NRC staff studied what they said were plausible attack scenarios that couldn't be made public for national security reasons, and concluded that even the worst-consequence scenario would result in such a low dose of radiation that it wouldn't cause health problems for plant neighbors.
Commissioner Gregory Jaczko dissented, contending that NRC staff didn't address potential attack scenarios raised by Mothers for Peace and made insufficiently supported assumptions that the probability of a terrorist attack was low.
"Combining this with the fact that the agency's message all along has been trust us to have looked at this information that we refuse to give you access to,' I would say the agency is standing on a very weak foundation to reject" the position of Mothers for Peace, Jaczko wrote.
Mothers for Peace spokeswoman Jane Swanson said her group would consider all options for how to respond to the ruling.
"The court ruled that the NRC staff must study the environmental effects of a terrorist attack. The NRC has not complied with that order," Swanson said.
PG&E spokeswoman Sharon Gavin said, "We are pleased with the commission's decision and respect the process that was used to make it, which included input from the public." She said the ruling would allow the company to remain on schedule to begin moving spent fuel into dry cask storage in 2009.

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