For Immediate Release
(Wednesday, February 13, 2008): For More Information:
Karen Hadden, 512-797-8481
Cyrus Reed, 512-740-4086
NRC Suspends Deadline in South Texas Project Nuclear Expansion
(Austin) – The SEED Coalition, Sierra Club, Public Citizen and other environmental groups welcomed the decision today by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to indefinitely suspend the deadline for intervention in the license application process for two proposed new nuclear reactor units at the South Texas (Nuclear) Project (STP).
"This is a welcome decision by the NRC. NRG’s application was so full of holes, that the NRC said they were planning on suspending their own internal review of the application. Opponents would have been required to develop our lists of contentions or problems with the plant and designate our expert witnesses by February 25,” said Karen Hadden, Director of the SEED Coalition. “That was an impossible and illogical burden. And that is why we filed a petition asking the NRC to suspend the deadline last Friday."
Sierra Club, Public Citizen, the Nuclear Information Resource Service, and Beyond Nuclear joined the SEED Coalition February 8 in filing a petition and the San Antonio-based Southwest Public Workers Union filed a petition February 11 to the NRC arguing that the application by NRG Energy Company/South Texas Nuclear Operating Company (STNOC) contained wide gaps and that it would be unfair to require protestants to respond on so short a deadline. [Read the petition online at http://www.nukefreetexas.org]
NRG’s application to expand the STP in Matagorda County was the first permit application declared “administratively complete” by the NRC in the United States in the past thirty years. The NRC’s new Combined Operating License Application (COLA) process collapses into one combined license a process which formerly required separate permits for nuclear power companies to construct and to operate.
“The NRC confirms what we’ve been saying all along. Its unrealistic for the public to be able to assess an application that is not complete,” said Cyrus Reed with the Sierra Club. “The exorbitant costs of nuclear power would be a huge distraction from the transition to a truly clean energy economy with more efficient homes and workplaces and renewable energy resources such as wind and solar power. We’re glad that the process has been delayed today so that we can further scrutinize the NRG license.”
This decision comes on the heals of a decision by Austin Energy on Friday that they would recommend to the City Council against buying into the plant. The City of Austin-owned utility commissioned a study that found that the plant would cost at least a $1 billion more than expected and could be two years late. Potential permitting delays were one of the causes that they cited as a potential reason for the delay and cost overruns. [See Austin Energy memo online at http://www.texas.sierraclub.org/]
"We are delighted with this victory. This is only a temporary pause in the battle against the license for this unneeded, unhealthy, budget-breaking, radioactive waste-producing, water-guzzling nuclear plant,” said Hadden.