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Riverkeeper Speaks Out on NRC’s ‘Epic Failure’ to Manage de facto Nuclear Waste Dump at Indian Point

Contact: Tina Posterli, 914-478-4501 x 239, [email protected]

Ossining, NY – January 8, 2014 – Riverkeeper has filed comments criticizing the failure of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”) to adequately study the consequences of indefinitely storing toxic nuclear waste at Indian Point and other reactor sites across the country.

For decades, NRC has touted unfounded “confidence” that nuclear waste can be safely stored at reactor sites “temporarily” until a long-term disposal solution is found. However, in a landmark ruling on June 11, 2012 resulting from a case brought by New York State, Riverkeeper, Natural Resources Defense Council and others, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Washington threw out the NRC’s “waste confidence” rule and mandated that the NRC, for the first time, consider the environmental effects and costs if a national nuclear waste repository is never found.

This past September, as required, the NRC issued an official draft “Generic Environmental Impact Statement” that allegedly considers the issue of long-term nuclear waste storage impacts. However, NRC’s “analysis” in this report is highly flawed.

“NRC has completely ignored the significance of storing toxic nuclear waste forever at a plant like Indian Point,” said Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director at Riverkeeper. “With such an enormous surrounding population density and location in the NYC metropolitan area and next to critically significant ecosystems of the Hudson River, the thousands of tons of nuclear waste that continues to build up at Indian Point poses an incredible risk, which NRC has failed to consider.”

Expert studies indicate that a fire in a spent fuel pool could result in a large scale radiological release, which would affect an inordinate number of people and potentially render the region uninhabitable. Radiological leaks from spent fuel pools are also a concern. Such leaks have already been occurring at Indian Point for a number of years, and centuries of additional leaks may seriously harm the ecology of the Hudson River. However, the NRC has not accounted for these far-ranging impacts in its draft generic report.

Instead of considering the many unique characteristics facing a plant like Indian Point, NRC’s environmental impact statement relies upon a host of unfounded assumptions and generically waives off critical risks and impacts associated with the prospect of centuries of nuclear waste storage at individual reactor sites. NRC wants to use this generic analysis to exempt onsite waste storage from any and all future environmental review. Riverkeeper’s comments discuss how inappropriate NRC’s overly generic assessment is and tasks the NRC to complete a legally sufficient review prior to finalizing its environmental impact statement.

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