MFP Attacks Faulty Reasoning of Nuclear Regulatory Commission

NRC attempts to stop MFP from obtaining a hearing before the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals

April 22, 2009

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Mothers for Peace Attacks Faulty Reasoning of Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MFP) on April 22, 2009, filed with the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals a reply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s attempt to counter the current court challenge by MFP.

MFP contends that the NRC has failed to prepare an environmental impact statement (“EIS”) regarding the environmental impacts of an attack on the Diablo Canyon Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (“ISFSI” or dry cask facility). A June, 2006 ruling by the court agreed with MFP that the National Environmental Policy Act required a serious evaluation of such an attack.

Additionally, the NRC has failed to provide to MFP attorney Diane Curran documents to support its conclusion that even a successful terrorist attack on the dry casks would have no significant impact on the environment. The NRC continues to hide its reasoning behind a veil of secrecy, even though MFP is asking that any protected information be made available only to its attorney, who has the necessary security clearances, and to not members of MFP or to the public.

MFP also contends that the NRC has refused to consider credible attack scenarios that could result in fire and a significant release of radioactive materials from the casks.

View the MFP Reply to the NRC, dated April 22, 2009. It will also be sent as an email attachment upon request.

BACKGROUND

The precedent-setting case began in 2002, when the NRC refused to evaluate the environmental impacts of an attack on the proposed dry cask facility before issuing a permit to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) to store spent fuel on the site. In 2006, the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ordered the NRC to do such a study in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In response, the NRC Staff produced an extremely abbreviated 8-page environmental assessment that claimed the impacts of a successful attack would be “insignificant”. MFP's expert witness, Dr. Gordon Thompson of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies, contended that the agency’s technical analysts erred by assuming a cask could be punctured without also recognizing that its contents could be ignited, allowing a large quantity of radioactive cesium and other contaminants to become airborne and transported over a broad geographic area. The resulting damage to public health and the environment would cost billions of dollars.

Today’s filing follows the initial brief, dated February 11, 2009.

MFP, an all-volunteer non-profit group, began as an anti-Vietnam War effort in 1969. It has challenged NRC regulatory practices as applied to Diablo Canyon since 1973, and has litigated issues related to sabotage and terrorism since 1976.

MFP will celebrate 40 years of activism on Saturday, April 25, 2009. Attorney Curran will be present.