BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DUKES PLUTONIUM LICENSE
Today the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League filed a petition before the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to revoke the license amendment issued by the staff of the NRC to Duke Energy Corporation for plutonium fuel tests. The petition contends that the NRC staff granted the license illegally. In the March 9th filing, BREDL asserted that the Staffs decision is unlawful because it was made before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board issued a decision on BREDLs Security Contention 5. Contention 5 challenges Dukes application for an exemption from NRC security regulations designed to protect the plutonium fuel against theft.
In a hearing in early January, BREDL argued that the NRC should not grant Duke's request for an exemption from the security regulations because Duke has not demonstrated that its proposed substitute security measures are adequate to protect the plutonium fuel. BREDL attorney Diane Curran noted that the hearing was expedited to ensure that the Licensing Board could make a decision before the plutonium fuel was shipped to Catawba. She said, By issuing the license amendment and exemptions before the hearing process concluded, the NRC staff has trampled the integrity of the hearing process.
BREDLs petition also asks the NRC to delay imminent shipments of plutonium fuel from France. Specifically, the filing requests that Duke not be allowed to receive plutonium shipments at Catawba.
At a press conference in Charlotte, BREDL representatives stated that the program schedule has ample time for security deliberations. Louis Zeller, Southern Anti-plutonium Campaign Coordinator, charged, Plutonium fuel project delays make unnecessary an NRC rush to judgment. The US Department of Energy recently announced that it would be impossible to meet the 2009 deadline for manufacturing plutonium fuel. Also, budget cuts have delayed components of the proposed plutonium fuel factory, slated for construction at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.
BREDL believes that the federal government is failing to take reasonable measures against terrorism. Executive Director Janet Zeller said, There is more at stake here than the integrity of the process; also on the line are NRCs independence and credibility. They dont protect public health by pretending that September 11, 2001 never occurred.
Following the conference, Diane Curran and Dr. Edwin Lyman, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, briefed the press on security issues that can be made public.