For Immediate Release
October 31, 2013
On November 1, the NRC will hold a meeting to discuss a near-accident at Nine Mile Point 1 nuclear reactor. The meeting will be held from 12:00-3:00pm in King of Prussia, PA. Members of the public can attend the meeting or call in remotely. The Alliance for a Green Economy, a coalition of environmental groups, faults the nuclear operator and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a pattern of inadequate refueling procedures and lax regulation during refueling.
The near-accident occurred in April 2013 while the reactor was down for refueling. A series of missteps by workers resulted in a 31 minute loss of power to the only pump cooling the water that surrounds the reactor core, By the time power was restored, the water around the core was quickly heating up and the plant was about 80 minutes from boiling and within nine hours of the fuel becoming uncovered, which could lead to radioactive releases and eventually a core meltdown with enormous releases. At the time, primary containment was not operable and the NRC expressed concern that if an accident had progressed, the population would not have been evacuated in time.
The NRC will be holding a regulatory conference with the nuclear operator Constellation to discuss the incident. Members of the pubic will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the meeting.
Regulatory Conference Telephone Bridge
Phone Number :888-972-9241
Statement from Jessica Azulay, organizer for Alliance for a Green Economy:
“Those of us who live in the Nine Mile Point region should count ourselves very lucky that this near-accident did not get further out of control. This is a reminder that we live daily with the possibility of a nuclear accident that could ruin Oswego, Lake Ontario, some of New York’s best farmland, and maybe even the city of Syracuse. One million of us live within 50 miles of this reactor.
“Constellation has a recent history of missteps during refueling outages at this power plant. The refueling outage for the Unit 2 last year resulted in workers being exposed to more radiation than planned because of ‘inadequate work planning and control of refueling activities.’ You’d think the company and the NRC would want to ensure things went right in April, yet we see more mistakes and insufficient procedures a year later, endangering workers and the public.
“This incident illustrates how a seemingly small mistake and a few bad procedures could lead to a catastrophic meltdown. It doesn’t take an earthquake or a tsunami to cause a Fukushima-like event. It just takes human error, corporate inadequacy, or bad luck. It is urgent that we end our reliance on this risky energy source and switch to the safer and cleaner renewable energy that we know is viable.
“We are further troubled by the lack of backups for vital cooling and other critical systems during a refueling outage. During refueling, the primary containment is not operable, so workers and the public are most vulnerable to an accident if one were to occur. In spite of this, the NRC requires only one cooling pump be connected with no backup required to be at the ready. It seems the “defense in depth” and backups to backups the industry and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission like to brag about just don’t apply during refueling. This is unconscionable and a dereliction of the NRC’s duty to protect public health and safety. We deserve protection from a nuclear accident, regardless of whether the reactor is producing power or down for refueling and maintenance.”
About Alliance for a Green Economy
Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE) works for safe, affordable energy and the development of a green economy in New York State. Our goal is a prosperous, safe, and healthy New York, fulfilling the promise of conservation, energy efficiency, and safe, clean renewable energy sources to end our state’s reliance on wasteful and environmentally destructive forms of energy. The Alliance works to promote this transition to a carbon-free and nuclear-free future and educates the public about alternatives that can revitalize the economy and safeguard human health and the environment.
Current member organizations include:CNY Chapter of Citizens Awareness NetworkSyracuse Peace Council, Peace Action of Central New York>, Peace Action New York StateCenter for Health, Environment & JusticeCitizens’ Environmental Coalition, and Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Contact: Jessica Azulay (315) 480-1515, firstname.lastname@example.org