We won't spend too much time dissecting or rebutting the Union of Concerned Scientists news release from yesterday. Mostly because it's the same rhetoric they have been spitting out for years. But I do have to set the record straight on a few things.
In a letter to James E. Dyer, Director, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation at the NRC, Lochbaum writes:
The truth is there were four public meetings, the first was held in December 2005. Two of which I attended with our chief health physicist Ralph Andersen.
While your staff held two public meetings with the industry on this subject (and who knows how many secret phone calls), there was no publicly available documentation about the specifics of the rumored initiative other than the few words appearing in NEI's PowerPoint slides for the May 9th public meeting on June 28th when you proposed to deny our petition.
And don't even get me started on the Mr. Lochbaum's quote in the news release:
"On June 28 of this year, the NRC proposed denying the coalition's petition based on a promise allegedly made by a nuclear industry lobbyist to provide information on tritium leaks on a voluntary basis. The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), a lobby group that only promotes industry interests, presented a sketchy outline of this voluntary initiative to the NRC on July 12 -- two weeks after the NRC proposed denying the petition.."If anybody questions our Groundwater Protection Initiative, I invite you to review a transcript of Ralph Andersen's briefing for journalists held May 8, 2006. Here's a snippet:
The objectives of the initiative are: 1) to improve the management of situations involving inadvertent radiological releases into the groundwater, and 2) to enhance trust and confidence on the part of local communities, states, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the public in our commitment and practices in maintaining a high standard of public radiation safety and protection of the environment. Most specifically it involves: 1) actions to communicate pro-actively on issues associated with inadvertent releases in the groundwater, and 2) actions intended to assure timely detection and effective response to those situations so that we prevent migration of materials off-site and are able to quantify impacts for decommissioning planning.UCS had all the information and plenty of opportunity to comment on the initiative, given time to ask questions at NRC meetings. In fact, Ralph took their feedback and incorporated some items into the Initiative. In a nutshell, the industry has a zero-tolerance standard for unplanned releases of tritium at commercial nuclear facilities. We take our responsibility seriously as stewards of the environment and as neighbors in the communities in which we operate facilities.
The commitments that are specific in the initiative are: 1) by July 31st that every site will have in place a site-specific action plan with a set of actions that will assure timely detection and effective response to situations involving inadvertent releases in the groundwater; and 2) to expand the scope of our existing requirements for notification and reporting such that we will document all of our on-site and off-site groundwater sample results on an annual basis so that additionally and on an annual basis we would document any significant on-site leaks or spills of groundwater.
Thirdly, that we would provide a 30-day report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on a voluntary basis of any water sample results that exceed the criteria that we currently have in our license that are only applicable to off-site monitoring. So what we would do is expand that program to include on-site monitoring results as well. That's a publicly available report. Finally, that we would notify our state and local officials -- and it would need to be determined exactly who that is at each site -- whenever we have a situation involving either a report of elevated samples of radioactivity in groundwater, either on-site or off-site, or of any significant spills or leaks of material into groundwater.
Technorati tags: Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Power, Environment, Energy, Tritium, Union of Concerned Scientists