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


MAY 14, 2009

Louis Zeller (336) 982-2691 office, (336) 977-0852 cell
Sandra Kurtz (423) 488-5668 cell


Today three citizens’ groups announced a new lawsuit against TVA’s Bellefonte nuclear site in Alabama. The groups’ effort centers on the mothballed nuclear reactor units 1 and 2. They based their opposition on 14 separate flaws in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s recent approval of a construction permit. The lawsuit was filed by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, the Bellefonte Efficiency and Sustainability Team and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

The May 8th legal challenge cited major safety problems including: 1) the 40-year old plant systems are not up to modern standards, 2) TVA has cannibalized key components of the plant and 3) the NRC has had no oversight of the plant for nearly three years. The lawsuit also details environmental problems including: NRC failed to do an environmental assessment before it made its decision and a full environmental impact statement should have been done. A proper EIS would assess the impacts of four nuclear reactors on aquatic resources and other environmental values.

The groups said NRC’s approval process was illegal. The petition stated: “The two construction permits at issue here were terminated and rendered legally void by the NRC on September 4, 2006. The NRC does not have legal authority to restore the legal vitality of a construction permit once it has been rendered legally void.”

Sandra Kurtz, a BEST member, said, “NRC’s got the cart before the horse. Contrary to their own procedural requirements, they’re handing out construction permits for reactors on a 40 year old gutted plant site before new reactor designs have been approved and before environmental impacts have been determined.”

TVA requested reinstatement of construction permits for nuclear reactors of an older design. Lou Zeller, the League’s legal representative, said, “Because construction began so long ago, the reactors would be nearly a century old by the time they reached the end of their 60-year lifespan. Operation of such technological dinosaurs cannot be justified.” Zeller added that the Babcock and Wilcox reactor design TVA plans to re-build at Bellefonte has never been completed in the United States.

The lawsuit lists 14 arguments against reinstatement of the construction permit:

1. The NRC was without legal authority to reinstate the construction permit.
2. Reinstatement of the permits was legally defective due to the NRC’s failure to comply with the Atomic Energy Act.
3. The Environmental Assessment was illegally prepared after the NRC decision was made.
4. NRC failed to do an Environmental Impact Statement.
5. Plant site geologic issues are not addressed.
6. Lack of good cause: TVA dismissed alternative energy sources such as wind and solar on the grounds that they cost much more than nuclear power.
7. The re-instatement was improper because TVA cannot meet the NRC’s quality assurance and quality control requirements.
8. Bellefonte Units 1 and 2 cannot satisfy NRC safety, environmental and other requirements that have been imposed or upgraded since 1974.
9. Bellefonte Units 1 and 2 do not meet operating life requirements of 100 years.
10. No data was provided as rationale for a “finding of no significant impact” nor have recent studies been conducted to evaluate the impacts on aquatic resources
11. TVA’s analysis does not adequately address potential impacts on fish and mussels throughout the Tennessee River basin caused by operating two or four nuclear reactors.
12. Potential impacts of increased water intake and increased thermal discharge on fish and mussels in the vicinity of Bellefonte and the Guntersville Reservoir are not addressed.
13. Potential impacts of increased thermal and chemical discharges is not supported by evidence.
14. TVA used a biased rating system to justify the lack of data in concluding that impacts of Bellefonte’s operation the Tennessee River will be small or non-existent.


More info.: Petition for Intervention and Request for Hearing | BREDL's Bellefonte webpage