Thursday, September 25, 2008

Epstein Appeals NRC's Denial of Petition on Emergency Planning

(Harisburg) - Today Eric Joseph Epstein appealed the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s ("NRC") Denial of A Petition for Rulemaking Submitted by Eric Epstein, Requiring Periodic Comprehensive NRC Review of Emergency Planning Around U.S. Nuclear Power Plants During The License Renewal Process on July 25, 2008 . Mr. Epstein said, The NRC’s decision to Deny the Petition for Rulemaking was arbitrary and capricious,made without public input, and ignored new and significant information, including data produced by the staff. The staff’s recommendations and Commissioner comments Re: PAR NUREG-0654, clearly indicate the need to update and review emergency planning for nuclear plants seeking license extensions. Mr. Epstein asked that the NRC amend its regulations that govern renewal of operating licenses for nuclear power plants. Specifically, the Petitioner requests that the NRC conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. nuclear power plant licensees' emergency planning during the license renewal proceedings based on new information he produced. The Commission's position was that the NRC's emergency planning system is part of a comprehensive regulatory process that is intended to provide continuing assurance that emergency planning for every nuclear plant is adequate. Epstein sated, "The Petition for Rulemaking does not oppose the relicensing nuclear generating stations. The Petitioner is asking the Court to compel the NRC to publish the Petition for Rulemaking and allow an open discussion based on the new information presented and subsequently revealed after the filing of the Petition. Commissioner Jaczko dissented from the NRC’s Denial of of Eric Epstein’s Petition for Rulemaking:
I disagree with the decision to deny this petition for rulemaking. Instead, I believe the review of a license renewal application authorizing, if granted, an additional twenty-years of operation, provides the opportune time at which the agency should reevaluate emergency preparedness issues. Currently, the only time the NRC issues a comprehensive affirmative finding that both onsite and offsite emergency plans are in place around a nuclear power plant, and that they can be implemented, is at the time it grants an initial operating license. Although there are regular assessments of these plans through exercises and reviews, we do not periodically reassess that initial reasonable assurance of adequate protection of the public--even if it was made decades ago--unless and until we find a serious deficiency in a biennial exercise. I believe considering emergency preparedness during the license renewal process would provide an opportunity to improve public confidence in the licensees and in all levels of government.

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