MADIGAN CALLS FOR STRICTER REGULATIONS WHEN RELICENSING NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
Six Attorneys General Highlight Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Failure to Consider National Security Concerns and Natural Disasters When Relicensing Older Facilities
Chicago - Attorney General Lisa Madigan today joined the attorneys general of five other states in sending a letter to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Dale E. Klein expressing serious concerns with the agency's failure to update its relicensing procedures for older nuclear power plants.
The attorneys general are specifically concerned that the NRC's relicensing procedures do not require the effective evaluation of plants for vulnerability to terrorist attacks or natural disasters, such as earthquakes. The letter calls on the NRC to take action to update its relicensing procedures as the nation's oldest plants – first licensed in the 1960s and 1970s – are approaching the expiration of their initial 40-year license. The first operating license renewal for an Illinois nuclear facility is due in 2009.
“This is a public safety concern for all Illinoisans, as well as for those throughout North America ,” Attorney General Madigan said. “With a total of six nuclear generating plants and 11 reactors, Illinois has more nuclear generating facilities than any other state in the country. Our national security concerns have changed since these power plants first were built. Similarly, our understanding of how a natural disaster could impact a nuclear facility has also changed in the intervening decades. We rely on the NRC to ensure the operating licenses for these plants are not renewed until we are completely confident that the plants can avoid a catastrophe.”
Under current regulations, the NRC license renewal procedures address the age-related structural degradation of fixed, non-moving components, like the reactor core, containment systems, pipes and electrical cables, but do not specifically call for the evaluation of factors relevant to the avoidance of a catastrophe, such as:
Location of the plant and population density,
Security and susceptibility to a terrorist attack,
Adequacy of emergency warning and evacuation plans, and
Geographic and seismic issues.
In 2005, Madigan joined other states in comments urging the NRC to require stronger security measures at the nation's nuclear facilities in the wake of the September 11 th terrorist attacks.
Madigan also took action on nuclear safety issues when her office and Will County State 's Attorney James Glasgow filed a lawsuit against Exelon Corporation, Commonwealth Edison and Exelon Generation Company, LLC for releases of wastewater containing tritium into the groundwater beneath the Braidwood Nuclear Generation Station.
In addition to Attorney General Madigan, Attorneys General Andrew M. Cuomo of New York , Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut , Joseph R. Biden, III, of Delaware , Gregory D. Stumbo of Kentucky and William H. Sorrell of Vermont signed the letter to NRC Chairman Klein.