The Sierra Club, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Tennessee Environmental Council, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and We the People Inc. on Wednesday asked the NRC for permission to intervene against TVA's bid for an operating license at the Rhea County site [a.k.a. the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant].
The groups contend the Unit 2 reactor could harm water resources, including the Tennessee River, and risk public health and safety because of fundamental weaknesses in the reactor's four-decade-old design.
This comes from Knoxnews.com. Apparently, a gathering of environmental groups on one issue is a bit unusual:
[Sara] Barczak [of the the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy] believes it is "pretty unique for Tennessee" for several environmental groups to come together on an issue like Watts Bar, but is glad for the support. "We are very pleased to get some of our longtime allies to join in the fight."
Sometimes we wonder if actions like this are primarily to discourage nuclear energy in deference to, say, wind or solar. We know this not to be true – there’s an investment here against nuclear – but at least from the story, the complaints seem woebegone and not meant to be taken altogether seriously. Here’s that merry band of free marketeers, the Heritage Foundation, to explain why:
No nuclear reactor has ever harmed any water source in the United States. And just how, exactly, would the second reactor risk public health and safety? Would it be the radiation? Nuclear power plants do emit some radiation, but the amounts are environmentally insignificant and pose no threat. These emissions fall well below the legal safety limit sanctioned by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Well, the groups don’t seem to be worried about radiation (this time), so that may be a bit of a straw man. (Although looking at the various environmental sites, we couldn’t figure out where the beef was, either. So Heritage’s guess is as good as ours.)
We’ll keep half an eye on this one, but it seems a non-starter.
Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, the bone of contention.