(Originally published January 5, 2016 on https://athf3.wordpress.com/)
January 1, 2016
The Fermi update:
On 5-1-15, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved a license for DTE Energy to build and operate a new nuclear reactor, Fermi 3. Held off for 4.8 years by several organizations’ efforts, resistance continues to the building of Fermi 3. Submissions by a long list of organizations and individuals to the NRC opposing Fermi 3 can be viewed at www.beyondnuclear.org/new-reactors/2012/2/3/strong-resistance-mounted-against-fermi-3-new-reactor-propos.html .
The nuclear reactor, Fermi 2’s original 40-year operating license expires in 2025. DTE Energy has applied to the NRC for a 20-year extension of this license. As part of the process of reviewing that application, two Environmental Impact Statements, Supplemental (SEIS) and Generic (GEIS) were produced by the NRC and made available for public comment. The Board of Directors of The Alliance to Halt Fermi 3 (ATHF3) submitted comments on August 29, 2014 and on December 28, 2015. The first can be viewed athttp://www.athf3.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/ATHF3-comments-Fermi-2-relicensing.pdf . and the second athttps://athf3.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/athf3_fermi-2_eis-comments.pdf. Here too, most if not all of the organizations and individuals listed in the above link to Beyond Nuclear, opposing Fermi 3 are active opposing Fermi 2 being given another 20 years to produce morbidity. Hence, there are many more submissions opposing Fermi 2 license extension, in addition to the 2 from ATHF3. Organizational submissions involve individual members’ writing comment on separate parts of the EIS and reactor issues and the organizations editors putting it together in a single document.
Issues addressed in the August 29, 2014 ATHF3 submission opposing Fermi 2 relicense:
- The GE Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactor (BWR), of which Fermi 2 is one example, has serious design flaws which give a high probability of catastrophic failure.
- Actual demand for electricity in Michigan has declined, not grown, since 2007. Michigan does not need electricity from Fermi 2 or from the proposed Fermi 3 reactor.
- Emergency planning for regional evacuation is completely inadequate. A 50-mile evacuation zone should be the basis of planning, as evidenced by NRC evaluation of the Fukushima disaster.
- Fermi 2’s effects on public health have been demonstrably and significantly negative. Cancer rates, cancer deaths and mortality from other illnesses have increased in regions around nuclear reactors generally and in the region around Fermi 2 specifically.
- Thermal discharges from Fermi 2 into Lake Erie have contributed to creation of public health emergencies with municipal drinking water. Lake Erie’s shallow western basin has proven much less able to handle thermal discharges than was anticipated when Fermi 2 was initially approved.
- Radiation protection standards by which Fermi 2 has been evaluated are in fact inadequate to protect children.
- The severe accident analysis for Fermi 2’s spent fuel pool is simply wrong. Potential accidents originating from the spent fuel pool actually have severe consequences. This is one of the design flaws of GE Mark 1 BWRs.
- There are numerous endangered species in and near to the Fermi 2 site, for which no analysis of the effects of Fermi 2’s operation has been done.
- The lessons of the Fukushima nuclear disaster (according to the NRC task force on this issue) have not been applied to Fermi 2, and there are no plans to apply those lessons.
- Numerous Native American/First Nations communities have treaty rights affected by the continued operation of Fermi 2, but the effects of Fermi 2 on these communities has not been evaluated and the legal standing of some of these communities is not recognized by the NRC.
Issues addressed in the December 28, 2015 ATHF3 submission opposing Fermi 2 relicense:
- Uranium mining and processing.
- High-Level Radioactive Waste (HLRW) impacts during the period of extended operation.
- Public Health impacts during the period of extended operation: Fermi 2 violates the most basic human right, the right to life.
- NRC’s Solar Alternative analysis fails the “hard look” test.
- NRC omits a “hard look” at the future demand for electricity.
- NRC’s Energy Efficiency Alternative analysis fails the “hard look” test.
- Environmental Justice impacts on Monroe County residents.
- Refurbishments: recent onsite events require a “hard look” (degraded equipment).
- License Renewal impact on Fermi 2 decommissioning.
- Fukushima Lessons not Learned, not implemented.
- NRC’s Alternatives analysis relies on misleading assumptions.
- NRC’s Severe Accident analysis relies on misleading assumptions (obsolete data in computer modeling).
The Potassium (KI) pill:
ATHF3, with cosponsors, Beyond Nuclear beyondnuclear.org, Nuclear Information and Resource Service NIRS.org and Citizens Resistance at Fermi 2, has begun a project of going door to door to every household within a 10 mile radius of Fermi 2 to gather support and signatures for direct delivery of potassium iodide (KI) pills to every household and business within the 10 mile radius. The NRC recognizes the KI pill as part of emergency planning but leaves implementation up to the states with federal government covering cost. Only 5.3 % of those within a 10 mile radius of Fermi 2 have used a voucher to obtain the pill. This is in large part because the NRC and DTE Energy dismiss the risk as small and not needing mitigation.
Pregnant women and children are at the highest risk of thyroid cancer and other thyroid related illnesses from a release of radioactive iodine 131. If immediately informed of such a release and the pill is taken, it will block absorption of radioactive iodine 131 by the thyroid gland. Of course, KI does not protect against the impact of other radionuclides released. The American Thyroid Association recommends direct delivery of KI pills to everyone within 50 miles and stockpiling in hospitals, schools, police and fire stations out to 200 miles from nuclear reactors.
ATHF3 acts for a nuclear free world, as do people across the country on nuke issues, knowing full well that the NRC has never turned down a nuclear license application and that, on safety contentions, the U.S. Supreme Court (UAW law suit to stop Fermi 1) and an Appeals Court (State of Vermont vs Entergy) have deferred to the NRC and its predecessor, Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The evidence is abundant that the NRC and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are nuclear advocates not regulators protecting the public. Furthermore, the public has been successfully lied to resulting in a majority believing nuclear weapons are useable and provide security and that reactors are clean, safe and carbon free and are separate from nuclear weapons (“the good atom”).
Nonetheless, civil society organizations across the country have been at work resisting expansion of man made radionuclides exposure. When the NRC processes are exhausted, some of the organizations opposing Fermi 3 and Fermi 2 will be back in court. Similarly, the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance orepa.org has indicated the prospect of going to court to compel compliance by the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) and Department of Energy (DOE) to requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. For 10 years, OREPA, and many of us, have opposed the NNSA plan to build a new Uranium Production Facility to expand the production capacity of new nuclear warheads by an additional 80 per year.
In 2012, four states Attorneys General and a number of civil society organizations successfully sued the NRC on the issue of “Waste Confidence” (someday there will be a solution to lethal withdrawn nuclear fuel rods) as the basis for all the decades of licensing reactors. The DC Appeals Court Ruled against the NRC, requiring suspension of licensing of reactors (lasted 2 years) and that an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) had to be done on the high level waste issue. The EIS was done and many organizations and individuals across the country did oral and written comment. We think the EIS on nuclear waste, produced by the NRC in response to the Court, does not comply with the court order and our litigants will be back in the DC Appeals Court again. If we are successful, licensing of reactors could be suspended again.
What’s missing, as the necessary complement to all of this, is millions of people saying no to nukes (weapons and reactors, two sides to the same coin) in a very public and persistent way. For those who take a hard look at the nuclear legacy, it becomes clear that humans are the only species that is fatally destroying its own nest and at an ever accelerating pace. The engaging and highly regarded physicist, Stephen Hawking has a remarkable way of pointing to the same reality: He states that the universe is about 15 billion years old. The Big Bang, an incomprehensible nuclear explosion, can be thought of as the beginning of the universe. It took 5 billion years before some life form could evolve. Then he states, “At the heart of an atom bomb explosion, man can create temperatures of some ten thousand million degrees. This is comparable to the temperature of the universe one second after the Big Bang.”
Vic Macks, Alliance to Halt Fermi 3 http://www.athf3.org,
Active on abolition of nuclear reactors and weapons and nuclear waste issues.
20318 Edmunton St.
St. Clair Shores, MI 48080-3748