(Originally published April 16, 2016 on https://athf3.wordpress.com/)
As the Alliance To Halt Fermi-3 (ATHF3) enters its fifth year in 2016, we look back to 2015 as a significant and pivotal time for our organization.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved DTE Energy’s application for a license to construct and operate the proposed Fermi-3 reactor in April 2015. While a huge setback, it is important to remember and recognize that the agency has never denied any U.S. energy utility a license request. Whether Fermi-3 will ever be built remains an open question, as DTE has not yet decided to proceed with the gigantic project. In addition, decisions on a Certificate Of Necessity (CON) and Construction Work In Progress (CWIP) remain to be made in the future by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). In December, the MPSC took action in the public interest and denied DTE’s request for $100 million as reimbursement for administrative costs associated with the license application.
As nuclear power’s costs and hazards continue to grow, a renewable energy revolution is driving the price of solar and wind power downward with their increasing capacities, proven efficiencies, and decreasing costs. These realities are the basis for continuing our work for a non-nuclear energy future in Michigan and we are preparing to re-focus our future efforts directly at the MPSC and state-level policy makers.
The Alliance has also maintained our stated commitment to address important issues surrounding the existing Fermi-2 nuclear plant, particularly DTE Energy’s request for a 20-year license extension for the largest Fukushima-design reactor anywhere. Alliance members were present at the NRC public comment session in Monroe on December 2, 2015 and clearly vocal in presenting numerous reasons why the reactor should not be granted an extension. Co-Chair Keith Gunter’s remarks were quoted at some length in both the Monroe News and the Toledo Blade.
On December 28, 2015, the Alliance submitted 35 pages of detailed written comments (coordinated by Board member David Schonberger) that forcefully and comprehensively details the flaws in the NRC’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for DTE’s requested extension. (Please go tohttps://athf3.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/athf3_
fermi-2_eis-comments.pdf for the full document).
The Alliance partnered with DC-area Beyond Nuclear in launching a major campaign in October beginning with two door-to-door public information canvasses within the Fermi-2 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone. The focus of the “Got KI?” campaign is on the need for direct delivery of potassium iodide (KI) tablets to area residents living within a 50-mile radius of any nuclear power plant (as recommended by the American Thyroid Association). KI blocks the absorption of cancer-causing radioactive Iodine-131 to the human thyroid that could be released in the event of a nuclear plant emergency. Tom
Henry of the Toledo Blade brought the issue to the public in Monroe County and surrounding areas in his October 17, 2015 “The Ripple Effect” column.
In December, the Canadian government began widespread distribution of KI directly to its citizens in regions with nuclear power plants. The Alliance, Beyond Nuclear, and our allies are seeking to engage the public and our representatives to persuade the Michigan Department of Community Health to change current and failed KI public distribution policy for U.S. citizens into a plan comparable to the Canadian model.
The year 2015 saw the Alliance receive a growing number of requests for presentations about our work, and we engaged with dozens of additional groups and organizations representing diverse interests—all of which offer additional opportunities to continue our work in 2016. One of several such opportunities is our acceptance as a member of Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), one of the state’s most prominent and influential environmental organizations.
In the wake of the fourth Fukushima anniversary, on March 18, Alliance member Jeff Alson’s “DTE’s Costly Strategy On Fermi-3” was published in Bridge Magazine. The next day, Co-Chair Keith Gunter was published in the Livonia Observer (“Michigan’s Energy Future At A Crossroads”), which was subsequently reprinted in the Monroe News on March 28 (Three Mile Island’s anniversary) and in the June issue of The People’s Tribune. In the spring, Jeff Alson gave very articulate and thoughtful interviews on WEMU and WUOM public radio representing ATHF3 and he and Co-Chair Keith Gunter were hosted on a webcast in April by Tony Trupiano.
The Alliance’s “Doors Tribute Show” benefit concert on Valentines Day night was a standing room only success, providing funds that enabled us to conduct numerous public information and education activities over the following months, a sampling that included:
- Sponsoring the “Half-Lifes, Half-Truths” display by photo-journalist Gabriela
Bulisova of the affected populace and environmental devastation from the Chernobyl
nuclear disaster at EMU’s Eco-Art Exhibit in March–and at the Livonia Civic Center
Library April 24-26 (noted by the Livonia Observer at the 2015 anniversary)
- Joining with hundreds in the October 3rd Detroit March For Justice
- Beginning a series of screenings of “The Future Of Energy” film about renewables
- Participation in environmental education forums in SE Michigan including The
Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit Conference
- Participating in Monroe County’s Earth Day Expo, the Great Lakes Renewable
Energy Association Annual Fair, Veg-Fest, the Sierra Club SEMG Green Cruise, the
August rally in Port Huron against the Deep Underground Waste Dump on the Great
Lakes, tabling at concerts by Graham Nash and Jackson Browne, and
- Co-sponsoring a presentation by noted author and activist Harvey Wasserman in
September at the Ann Arbor Ecology Center
With all of this behind us, we look ahead.
[The PDF version of this document can be downloaded HERE.]