Did you know the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission doesn’t publish nuclear licensee documents? Hear them say it on this video of Tuesday’s NRC “public meeting” in Maryland about restarting the San Onofre reactor in California. This is the same NRC that gave Plant Vogtle a clean bill of health at a public meeting two days before Unit 1 shut down, and the same NRC that could stop the new nukes there even if the GA PSC won’t. This same NRC recertified Plant Hatch on the Altamaha in Georgia, extending the original 40 year design lifespan of Unit 1 from 2014 to 2034 and of Unit 2 from 2018 to 2038. But don’t worry; if you’re farther than 10 miles from Hatch, you’re outside the evacuation zone, so you must be safe, right? Just study the licensing documents to see; oh, wait!
Kendra Ulrich of Friends of the Earth asked the NRC some simple questions that stumped the Commissioners and staff. She wondered when the public could expect to see a a 50-59 analysis California Edison had done about restarting San Onofre. Dave Beaulieu, NRC Generic Communications Branch, said it was a “licensee document, licensee documents are not made public.” He did say NRC would release its own inspection results. She asked again, and Rick Daniel, NRC meeting facilitator suggested she submit written questions. Beauleiu summarized:
“At the end of the day, licensee documents are not made public; that’s the answer.”
So what would be the point of her submitting questions when she was just told they won’t make the answers public?
Ulrich continued by asking why NRC was considering going ahead on the basis of experimental data that has never been used before and that has not been made public. Remember this is about a nuclear reactor that was shut down because it was leaking. That question sure caused some passing of the buck and pretending not to understand the question by everybody in the room who should have been able to answer the question.
Here’s the video:
Video by Myla Reson, 18 December 2012, Maryland.
I wonder if anybody has tried an open records request or a FOIA to see if the First Amendment trumps NRC’s secrecy? (FOE has, with little success so far.) Sure, there’s a difference between a document produced by a licensee and a licensing document produced by the NRC, but if the former is being used as evidence for restarting a licensed reactor, why isn’t it thereby a part of the licensing procedure and thereby made accessible to the public?
And what’s with the staffer refusing to let go of the microphone? Are they afraid somebody will throw it at them? With non-answers like that, maybe that’s a valid concern.
More information in San Onofre’s Steam Generator Failures Could Have Been Prevented by Fairewinds Associates for Friends of the Earth, 14 May 2012.