A. SLOMFP AMONG 34 ORGANIZATIONS DEMANDING RESIGNATION OF NRC COMMISSIONER WILLIAM MAGWOOD
Commissioner Magwood applied for and was given an international job promoting nuclear power while serving as an NRC Commissioner.
Both applying for and accepting such employment violates the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 that safety, not economics, must dominate NRC regulation. By federal law, the promotion of nuclear energy falls to the Department of Energy. The NRC is supposed to only regulate it.
The employment that Magwood successfully applied for is as Director General with the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development of the Nuclear Energy Agency or NEA. NEA actively promotes nuclear energy and the economic interests of its member governments.
According to attorney Diane Curran, “Commissioner Magwood should resign because a reasonable person would question his independence and objectivity in applying NRC safety requirements or judging the significance of safety issues. Mr. Magwood has a conflict of interest whenever he is forced to consider a solution to a safety issue that could significantly increase the cost of nuclear power production and thus limit its viability in the marketplace.”
In addition to seeking Magwood’s resignation, the letter also demands that Magwood retroactively recuse himself from any safety decisions he participated in after submitting his employment application to the NEA, approximately nine months ago. The letter charges that while Magwood’s application to the NEA was pending, he had a “strong incentive” to improve his employment prospects “by avoiding safety decisions that would exacerbate nuclear power’s ongoing economic difficulties.” During the nine-month period since the NEA position was closed for further applications, Magwood voted against further research by the NRC technical staff on two important post-Fukushima issues: the adequacy of the scope of NRC’s safety regulations and whether the NRC should order the expedited transfer of spent fuel from high-density storage pools into dry storage. Had Magwood voted in favor of further research into these safety issues, the research “could have led to the imposition of additional costly safety requirements on reactor licensees,” posing a “conflict with the NEA’s interests in minimizing reactor costs.” Thus, the letter asserts that Magwood should recuse himself because “a reasonable person would question the objectivity of [Magwood’s] vote against further inquiry by the Staff.”
The letter from MFP attorneys Diane Curran and Mindy Goldstein of Emory Law School in Atlanta was sent June 18 and Magwood acknowledged receipt of the letter demanding his resignation on June 20 and said he would respond when he had time to review all points.
B. ADDITIONAL 11 MONTH DELAY IN PROCESSING PG&E’S APPLICATION FOR LICENSE RENEWAL
The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board gave notice on June 23, 2014 that PG&E’s application for license renewal will not be ready to go forward until March of 2016. The previous expectation was that it would be ready April of 2015.
The 11 month delay is not related to MFP’S opposition to license renewal. It is due largely to the NRC’s request for additional information related to both safety and environmental reviews after PG&E submits its completed seismic report expected in July, 2014. Then the NRC Staff will need time to study PG&E submissions and issue the final supplemental environmental impact statement (FSEIS). Only then can the evidentiary hearing proceed.
The evidentiary hearing consists of the challenge filed by SLOMP in early 2010. The substance of our legal challenge is that
“PG&E’s Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives [(SAMA)] analysis fails to consider information regarding the Shoreline fault that is necessary for an understanding of seismic risks to the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. As a result, PG&E’s SAMA analysis does not satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act [(NEPA)] for consideration of alternatives or NRC implementing regulation 10 C.F.R. § 51.53(c)(3)(ii)(L).”
C. Two developments related to the handling of “spent” fuel. So-called "spent" fuel is a million times more radioactive than when it was first put into the reactor core.
MFP case for the expedited transfer of spent fuel from pools to dry casks denied by all but one commissioner.
As of the very end of May, a 4 of the 5 NRC Commissioners voted against requiring the expedited transfer of spent fuel from high-density storage pools to dry storage. The lone vote to require further study of the matter came from NRC chairman Allison Macfarlane. She wrote an excellent opinion setting forth her reasons for voting to study the matter further. This topic is not necessarily closed, as there may well be future developments to justify again pushing for faster loading of "spent fuel into dry casks.
In April of 2014 the NRC gave approval of the use of an untested dry cask for the purpose of transporting high burn up fuel. MFP Attorney Diane Curran worked with attorney Mindy Goldstein of Emory Law School to object on behalf of 20 organizations.
The NRC has not previously approved any cask system for transportation of high burnup fuel, because of significant questions regarding its safety. Moreover, the NRC has explicitly stated that it will not give generic approval to transportation of high burnup fuel because it does not have enough technical information about its behavior or the conditions under which it can be safely transported.