A public meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 3 on the recent petition submitted by anti-nuclear advocates on the impact of Hurricane Sandy to Oyster Creek Generating Station, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said.
The petition, filed in November, called on Gov. Chris Christie to intervene and ensure that “major flaws” at Oyster Creek Generating Station are addressed prior to the nuclear power plant returning online.
Oyster Creek began a regular refueling and maintenance outage on Oct. 22 and returned to service on Dec. 4.
The petition submitted by Grandmothers, Mothers and More for Energy Safety, the New Jersey Environmental Federation and Beyond Nuclear, sought to keep the nuclear plant offline until safety measures were implemented to address certain problems.
During the refueling and maintenance outage, “indications” (precursors to cracks) were found in the reactor nozzle and a pinhole leak was located in the reactor vessel neither of which was related to Hurricane Sandy, according to the NRC. Both were repaired prior to returning Oyster Creek to service.
According to the activists involved in the petition, the following are new safety concerns at Oyster Creek:
- The intake canal was inches away from flooding pumps key to the cooling system
- The pre-Sandy evacuation plan fails to address the post-Sandy reality of new population centers in evacuation shelters and other places, clogged streets with debris and construction vehicles, and displaced emergency responders
- Sandy proved the design basis (how strong a storm the plant can withstand) inadequate
- The barrier island’s natural physical defenses are now weaker and make Oyster Creek more vulnerable than before Sandy
- Inspections during the outage revealed new cracks or precursors to cracks in and/or around the reactor vessel and control rods
- 33 of 43 emergency sirens were inoperable at the height of Sandy
The Petition Review Board met on Nov. 26 to review the activist’s request for immediate action regarding a lack of adequate protection of safety at Oyster Creek.
The activists asked for the following conditions to be met prior to Oyster Creek returning online:
- The evacuation plan is updated to reflect the new reality post-Sandy
- The design storm for flood defense purposes is update to reflect the recent spate of storms and climate change and, additional flood protection is put in place as appropriate.
- The “indications” are investigated and the public assured through release of additional data and analysis they pose no additional risk of a nuclear catastrophe
- Exelon reviews whether the indications were predicted by its modeling and whether it can predict that no problematic indications will develop before the next inspection cycle and proof of ability to predict fatigue accurately is released to the public.
- The NRC and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Oyster Creek advisory panel hold public meetings that satisfactorily answer the public’s concerns.
“The Petition Review Board denied the request for immediate action to take emergency enforcement action to prevent Oyster Creek from starting up from its refueling outage, because there was no immediate safety concern to Oyster Creek, or to the health and safety of the public,” a letter from John Lamb of the NRC to the activists said.
After the Petition Review Board denied the request for immediate action, the activists requested that a meeting be held.
The meeting will take place at the NRC’s headquarters in Rockville, Md. but members of the petition and the public will be able to phone in to listen. A phone number will be provided at a later date.
The meeting is not a public hearing or an opportunity for members of the petition to question the Petition Review Board on the merits of their decision, the letter from Lamb said. Members of the petition will be given the opportunity to provide an additional explanation or support for the petition.
The public is invited to observe the meeting and will be able to ask questions about the petition process after the activist’s presentation is complete. Email John.Lamb@nrc.gov to obtain a telephone number and passcode.
The NRC will transcribe the meeting by a court reporter and a webcast will be made available for the public.