Citizens Intervene To Halt Sequoyah Plant Relicensing

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Local activists and citizens groups filed a legal petition on Monday against the Sequoyah Plant with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They called upon the agency to deny a license extension for the aging nuclear plant, listing eight specific safety and environmental reasons for denial.

Stewart Horn, president of BEST-MATRR, a local opposition group filing the petition, said, “Their application is sorely lacking.” Referring to continual whistleblower complaints, he added, ”We are not sure of TVA’s ability to manage in the future without endangering residents.”

The petition details the increasing danger from Sequoyah to nearly a million people living and working within 50 miles of the plant.  A major finding shows that during the last 14 years, incident reports average 7.14 problems per year, but for the last six years the trend indicates increasing numbers of safety-related incidents, both in frequency and severity.

“We contend that the ice-condenser design, especially at an aging nuclear plant, exposes citizens to the most risk of any nuclear reactor ever built.  As age problems mount and we apply lessons learned from Fukushima, it’s prudent to decommission Sequoyah as soon as possible rather than allowing a license extension,” said Lou Zeller, executive director of Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. 

BREDL research shows that citizens in Hamilton, McMinn, Monroe and Marion counties within 50 miles of Sequoyah have higher cancer death rates than Tennessee state average in most years. 

“Our knowledge of the real risks of nuclear power has increased exponentially since these reactors were designed and first licensed.  The massive amounts of radiation they create are a regional threat.  Radiation from Fukushima caused the long-term evacuation of 160,000 people and contamination of over 11,000 square miles of land for hundreds of years.  TVA needs to close these reactors before we suffer a similar tragedy,” said Don Safer, Tennessee Environmental Council board chairman. 

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League with its local chapter Bellefonte Efficiency & Sustainability Team and subset Mothers Against Tennessee River Radiation (BEST/MATRR) filed the petition.  TVA and the NRC now have 25 days to reply.  After that, a hearing on the intervention could be ordered by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board.

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