Saturday, August 2, 2008

Nuke proponent seeks communities for waste sites

Nuke proponent seeks communities for waste sites

Waterford, Haddam not in the mix

The Nuclear Energy Institute has located two communities interested in hosting commercial interim nuclear waste storage facilities, but it won't identify them.

The towns of Haddam and Waterford, past and present homes to nuclear-power facilities here in Connecticut, are not among several towns that have approached NEI voluntarily, said Marshall Cohen, NEI's senior director for government affairs.

Cohen said New England towns as a whole are unlikely candidates because nuclear power tends to be more controversial here.

As first reported Wednesday in the Platt's Nuclear News Flashes and confirmed Thursday by Cohen, the NEI has been talking with rural towns on both the East and West coasts that may be interested in storing spent fuel at sites that already house nuclear waste.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently reapplied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license for Yucca Mountain in Nevada, a proposed permanent repository for the waste, but there are no pending applications for any interim storage facilities, said NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.

Cohen said that the NEI has been talking with towns that have volunteered to host interim storage sites. U.S. lawmakers have talked off and on about the potential need for such sites because of the delays plaguing Yucca Mountain.

The environmental and security concerns raised by such steps should require full disclosure, said Paul Gunter of the watchdog group Beyond Nuclear, which alerted the media with a press release.

”We're concerned that this whole process is starting out 'behind the curtains,'” he said. “It's particularly troublesome because it involves transportation routes.”

”We think it should be an open process that includes everybody who is potentially affected,” Gunter added. “It's not cute to be hiding it like this. We really want to know where these sites are.”

Waterford First Selectman Daniel Steward confirmed Thursday that he has had no conversations with NEI on the topic.

Millstone Nuclear Power Station is already host to two operational and one closed reactor, as well as additional storage bunkers that house spent fuel.

Millstone's storage bunkers were erected as temporary, Steward noted, with the intent of having the spent fuel eventually moved to a permanent national storage site such as Yucca Mountain.

NEI represents the commercial nuclear industry and is involved in policy development.

”We, the industry, are not going to wait for DOE,” Cohen said. “We're out in the country looking to see if there are communities who after seeing what storage looks like, how it works, (if they'd) voluntarily be interested in locating a facility” in their towns.

He refused to identify the towns having those conversations.

”It's not appropriate for me to do that yet,” Cohen said. “It's not being done in secret, it's being done in fairness to the communities. The licensing process will be public when it happens.”

He accused Beyond Nuclear of using “scare tactics and misinformation,” saying, “all they want to do is kill nuclear energy, and they'll use everything they can.”

Haddam is home to the former Connecticut Yankee reactor, which has been decommissioned. First Selectman Anthony Bondi could not be reached for comment.


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