BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
BREDLs Lawsuit Against Dukes Plutonium Fuel Tests Wins Full Hearing
Today the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League announced that it will present detailed arguments against plutonium fuel tests at Duke Power reactors near Charlotte. In a ruling by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, the three-judge panel agreed to hear three specific objections to the experimental project: that Duke failed to account for differences between conventional and plutonium nuclear plant fuels on both plant safety and environmental impacts, and that Duke did not consider alternative sites for the use of plutonium fuel.
The specific language of the order states:
BREDLs safety concerns are based on evidence that plutonium fuel rods fail at far lower temperatures 400 to 570 degrees-F lower than conventional uranium fuel rods. Also, the metal sheath, or cladding, which holds the fuel rod together may form balloons which block cooling water, leading to an uncontrolled core meltdown. In addition, the three-judge panel ruled that Duke must consider other reactors for the lead test assemblies such as the Oconee plant near Greenville, SC.
BREDLs Executive Director Janet Zeller said, "We are pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate what the people of Charlotte and Rock Hill know alreadythat weapons-grade plutonium fuel is too unpredictable and too dangerous to use in Dukes reactors."
A full judicial hearing on BREDLs challenges could be held as early as mid-May in Charlotte. A detailed schedule of hearings on these contentions and BREDLs challenges on security problems will be agreed on soon by all parties.