Groups, individuals petition NRC to suspend all nuclear reactor licensing in wake of Fukushima disaster

Saturday, April 16, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: nuclear reactors, petition, health news

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(NaturalNews) The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has sparked an uprising against nuclear energy production due to concerns about its safety. Recently, 45 groups and individuals from across the US banded together to ask that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) cease all licensing for 21 pending nuclear reactor projects in 15 US states, and establish an independent commission to conduct an updated safety analysis of nuclear energy production in light of the ongoing meltdown taking place in Japan.

The groups, which include Beyond Nuclear; the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL); Citizens Allied for Safe Energy; and the Nuclear Information and Resource Center, say that it is an obligation for NRC to properly consider the lessons being learned from Fukushima before permitting any further nuclear energy development in the US.

"NRC violated the law by re-licensing the Vermont Yankee reactor at the same time it launched an investigation into whether US safety and environmental standards are strong enough in light of the Fukushima accident," said Diane Curran, an attorney for the petitioners, from Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, LLP.

"The National Environmental Policy Act requires the NRC to learn and apply the lessons of Fukushima before it allows another reactor to operate. By establishing a Task Force and ordering the investigation of the regulatory implications of the Fukushima accident for US reactors, the NRC has obligated itself to consider those implications in all prospective licensing decisions."

Just days after the Japan earthquake and tsunami ravaged the Fukushima plant, the NRC extended the license for the Vermont Yankee reactor owned by General Electric (GE), despite the fact that the plant has had radioactive tritium leaks, a cooling tower collapse, and other serious problems, according to a 2010 New York Times report.

Petitioners say it is only reasonable for the NRC to take a serious step back and reevaluate how the events of Fukushima relate to US nuclear facilities, some of which are in worse shape than Fukushima was before the disaster. If such a disaster were ever to hit US soil, the consequences could be even more devastating than Fukushima.

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