Dear Friends:

Below is a press release about an important legal petition filed today with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by NIRS and eight other environmental groups. We are asking the NRC to halt the nuclear reactor license renewal process based on the agency’s failure to identify safety-related issues, its acceptance without investigation of utility assertions, and other problems identified by the agency’s Inspector General.

The formatted press release and entire filing are available on the front page of NIRS’ website, www.nirs.org.

YOU CAN GET INVOLVED AND HELP! We want to get broad attention and political support for this petition. Please bring it to the attention of your local media and to your Congressmembers, and ask them to issue a statement of support for this initiative and a halt to the NRC’s reactor licensing process.

While the petition, for legal reasons, is limited to Oyster Creek, Indian Point, Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee, it is our hope that its ramifications will be felt in every license renewal action from now on.

Please contact Michael Mariotte or Aja Binette at NIRS, 202.328.0002, nirsnet@nirs.org, if you’d like any more information on how you can help.

As always, thank you for everything you do.

And here’s to a 2008 that brings us closer to a sustainable, nuclear-free future.

Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service

January 3, 2008

Richard Webster, Eastern Environmental Law Center, 973-353-3189
Janet Tauro, Stop the Relicensing of Oyster Creek, 732-295-3874
Peggy Sturmfels, NJ Environmental Federation 732-280-8990
Renee Cho, Riverkeeper 914-478-4501, ext. 239


NRC Failures Threaten Public Health and Safety

OCEAN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY: In response to a scathing review by a federal investigatory agency, Stop the Relicensing of Oyster Creek (STROC), a coalition of six environmental and citizen’s groups, has teamed with Riverkeeper today to petition the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to halt the license renewal process for America’s aging fleet of nuclear power plants until objective and independent analysis is conducted into the current licensing renewal process. Pilgrim Watch and New England Coalition, the only other groups that are currently challenging license renewals, join STROC and Riverkeeper.

This petition is in direct response to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit in September 2007 that found:

1) In over 70% of the audited plant renewals the NRC staff did not verity the authenticity of technical safety information submitted by nuclear power plant operators; and

2) NRC staff reviewers routinely “cut and pasted” whole sections of the renewal application text into their own safety reviews, rather than write their own evaluations.

3) The NRC had no procedures in place to check whether the safety reviews were done properly.

At one plant in New York State, the Inspector General found that NRC staff had copied 100% of the safety review data provided by the nuclear operator into its own application.

STROC, a coalition of six environmental and citizen groups, is battling to prevent the 20-year extension of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant, the country’s oldest and with the worst safety record. Investigators from the OIG uncovered that over 70% of Oyster Creek’s safety evaluation was “unsubstantiated” by NRC staff. The Atomic Safety Licensing Board (ASLB) ruled on the challenge to Oyster Creek’s license renewal on December 20. Despite one of the three-panel judges finding that Exelon has not fully met the requirements to show it complied with the minimum safety standards, the panel decided to allow the license procedure to proceed. To date, STROC is the only group in the country to have won a hearing before the ASLB.

Richard Webster of the Eastern Environmental Law Center, the attorney representing STROC stated: “The OIG report confirms that the deficiencies we found throughout the hearing process for Oyster Creek were only the tip of the iceberg. The NRC is illegally allowing licensees to write their own safety evaluations. So far, the relicensing process has been a conveyor belt to a rubber stamp, not a proper safety review.”

“You would think a relicensing inspection for a nuclear power plant would be at least as thorough as the house inspection you get when you purchase a home,’ said STROC member Paula Gotsch. “My inspector tested equipment and systems carefully--himself. Here you have a federal agency, the NRC, content to just shuffle papers. It’s truly mind boggling.”

Peggi Sturmfels, also a STROC member, said the report demands Congressional review. “The NRC is an agency in need of Congressional overhaul, and if this OIG report doesn’t prove that, nothing short of a nuclear meltdown will.”

“I don’t know how the NRC is going to wiggle its way out of this one,” says Janet Tauro, of STROC. “We now have a federal investigatory agency saying that the NRC reviews are shoddy and without legitimacy. There can be no relicensings until this agency is fixed.”

Across the Hudson River, Entergy Nuclear Northeast submitted its application for a 20-year license extension of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. Riverkeeper and the State of New York have petitioned to intervene in the licensing proceedings.

“For years, Riverkeeper has been gravely concerned with the NRC’s lackluster approach to regulating the nuclear industry,” notes Lisa Rainwater, Riverkeeper’s Policy Director. “The infamous revolving door syndrome of the nuclear industry is the underlying cause of this grave problem. Backslapping industry and agency officials swap safety review data just as readily as they swap jobs. The time has come to put a wedge in the swinging door.”

The group’s petition demands that the NRC suspend all current license renewal proceedings pending completion of the following actions:

* A comprehensive, independent investigation to determine whether NRC staff are actually conducting independent technical reviews of license renewal applications or merely “cutting and pasting” whole sections of the applications into their safety reviews or approving them without independent verification.

* Complete revision of existing NRC procedures for license renewal reviews to ensure completeness, consistency, and documentation of review by NRC staff prior to license renewal;

*Establishment of a Quality Assurance program for NRC staff review of renewal applications.

*Redoing the safety reviews for pending license renewals, the reviews done so far are obviously inadequate.

“The OIG report makes it clear that the current NRC license renewal process is a failure and must be completely re-evaluated before another plant is relicensed,” states Phillip Musegaas, Riverkeeper staff attorney. “The Indian Point license renewal process has just gotten underway. The 20 million people who live in the shadow of Indian Point deserve a federal agency that does more than cut and paste with their health and safety.”

Riverkeeper co-petitioned with STROC’s six member groups; New Jersey Environmental Federation, Nuclear Information & Resource Service, New Jersey Sierra Club, NJ Public Interest Research Group, Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch, and Grandmothers, Mothers, and More (GRAMMES) for Energy Safety.

The petition can be found at: www.nirs.org.