PO Box 88 ~ Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629 ~ Phone (336) 982-2691 ~ Fax (336) 982-2954 ~ Email:


MARCH 22, 2001

Janet M. Zeller (336) 982-2691
Glenn Carroll (404) 378-4263


An international coalition of environmental, social justice, and nuclear weapons groups have petitioned the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to hold a formal licensing review of government plans to build a factory to make nuclear fuel from plutonium. Today, Georgians Against Nuclear Energy (GANE) and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) released a letter signed by 142 organizations requesting a full public process including testimony, written comments, discovery, subpoena, cross-examination, appeals, and the possibility of a hearing before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board.

The February 22nd letter to NRC Chairman Richard Meserve maintains that nothing less than a full ajudicatory proceeding is acceptable. To date, the Commission has not responded to the request.

The NRC currently intends to hold only a limited review of the license application which would reduce the public’s opportunity to comment. The activists maintain that the NRC’s typical license review process--used for licensing of nuclear power plants and fuel enrichment facilities since the 1960s--is the only proper way to proceed with the license for the first commercial plutonium fuel factory in the nation.

“This is the first-ever attempt to convert weapons-grade plutonium into reactor fuel anywhere in the world. The international security, environmental and public health risks are unprecedented,” said Glenn Carroll, Coordinator of GANE. She added, “Even a tiny research reactor at Georgia Tech had its license considered under the full, formal process; the ramifications of the plutonium fuel factory are far greater.”

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League expressed concerns over Duke Power’s participation in the project. “Duke has cast its lot with a foreign company on this scheme. This alone should require NRC to open the plan to full scrutiny.” said BREDL’s Executive Director, Janet Zeller. She continued, “Plutonium fuel in commercial reactors would make civilian and military nuclear technologies indistinguishable--another first for the United States.” BREDL has offices in Aiken near the Savannah River Site, the proposed location of the factory, and in Charlotte, North Carolina, which lies between the Catawba and McGuire reactors designated for plutonium fuel use.

The NRC is reviewing the license application for the plutonium fuel factory from a consortium of Duke Power, Cogema, and Stone & Webster. Following the NRC review, the application will be published in the Federal Register, beginning the formal public comment period. In less than a year, the NRC will make the decision and release an Environmental Impact Statement. Scoping meetings for the EIS will take place in North Augusta, SC on April 17th and Savannah, GA on April 18th.


February 22, 2001 letter to NRC Chairman Richard Meserve