Florida Greens file petition against NRC licensing of Levy County nuclear plant

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Green Party of Florida

Green Party files Petition to Intervene in NRC licensing of Levy County Nuclear Plant, joins Nuclear Information and Resource Service to challenge deficiencies in Progress Energy Combined Operating License Application (COLA)

Gainesville, FL -- On February 6, 2009 the Green Party of Florida (GPF) joined with the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and the Ecology Party to file a legal challenge to a new nuclear power plant proposed by Progress Energy Florida (PEF) for a site in Levy County, near Inglis, Florida.

The filing is a formal Petition to Intervene in the NRC's licensing process for nuclear power plants, the latest in a series of such actions taken by NIRS and other groups nationwide to protect the health and safety of the public and the natural resources that are placed at risk by this industry. The interventions by parties with standing, which must follow rules established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), are intended to stop these nuclear boondoggles before construction work starts and millions of dollars are wasted.

PEF is seeking a license from the NRC to build the proposed Levy County Units 1 and 2 atomic reactors, on a site near the Gulf Coast that is the only "greenfield" site (no existing nuclear power facility) currently proposed east of the Mississippi River.

Among the contentions asserted in this Petition to Intervene:

  • Real options of energy efficiency and distributed generation with renewable energy options have not been adequately considered.

  • Progress Energy Florida does not meet financial qualification requirements.

  • Aquatic and radioactive waste impacts have not been adequately considered.

  • The Levy County project licensing is premature since the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design remains incomplete.

  • In all, 26 contentions challenging the Progress Energy Application were included, supported by four experts.

    The Green Party joins hundreds or organizations and thousands of individuals in endorsing the NIRS Statement on Climate and Nuclear Power, which states:

    "We do not support construction of new nuclear reactors as a means of addressing the climate crisis. Available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power."

    The Green Party has always opposed nuclear fission technology as a means of generating electricity, and the abundance of clean, safe renewable alternatives in today's energy marketplace makes nuclear power obsolete, from both an economic and ecological perspective. Investor Owned Utilities such as Progress Energy could not generate profits from nuclear power generation without federal loan guarantees, tax breaks, and massive subsidies that shift the costs of the nuclear industry to taxpayers.

    Greens call upon municipal utilities in Florida to explore all the available options for implementing aggressive conservation measures and investment in decentralized, renewable energy technologies. Merely by installing low-tech solar thermal water heaters on residential homes, electricity consumption could be reduced by 8-10%. The public should not be forced to subsidize nuclear power plants when proven solutions are available at far less risk and less cost as well. Gainesville Regional Utilities has rejected nuclear power as an alternative to coal, and instead of buying into the Levy Nuclear Plant, which will be located less than 50 miles from downtown Gainesville, GRU and the Gainesville City Commission opted to enact the nation's first Solar Power Feed-In Tariff ordinance.

    PEF can't count on private investors to finance the nuclear plant, so the company obtained permission from the Florida Public Service Commission to raise utility rates by 23%, about half of which will be used to cover the costs of development and construction of the Levy County Nuclear Plant. "The 'Early Cost Recovery' scam is little more than legalized theft from utility customers, and it should be immediately repealed by the Florida legislature," said MIchael Canney, Alachua County Green Party co-chair and member of the GPF Green Energy Committee. "Progress Energy can't get private investors to finance this $20 billion boondoggle, so they are forcing their customers to become investors."

    In 2007, the GPF worked with the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition to draft a comprehensive "green paper" on energy policy, which has this to say about the radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants:

    "There is no safe method to dispose of or store the radioactive waste produced. All six of the 'low-level' nuclear waste dumps in the United States have leaked. There are no technological quick fixes that can effectively isolate nuclear waste from the biosphere for the duration of its hazardous life. Therefore, there is no such thing as nuclear waste 'disposal.' Current methods of underground storage are a danger to present and future generations. Any nuclear waste management strategies must be above ground, continuously monitored, and they must minimize transportation of wastes."

    Green Paper on Climate Change and Energy Options for the State of Florida by Green Party of Florida & Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition

    The design of the Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors PRF plans to install in the Levy Nuclear Plant continues to undergo revisions, even as PEF and the NRC proceed with the licensing of this plant. The NRC can't prove the proposed reactor designs are safe, but is allowing PEF to proceed with licensing anyway, which places the burden of proof on the public to demonstrate the potential problems with this technology.

    The proposed nuclear plant will need more than 20 million gallons of water daily to cool the reactors, and PEF is drilling a private well field on site to draw millions of gallons of fresh water from the aquifer, yet PEF claims this project will have no detrimental effect on the local aquatic system.

    In addition to participating in this Petition to Intervene in the NRC licensing process, Greens are joining with others concerned about climate change and energy policy to build a broad, community-based alliance to stop the Levy County Nuclear Plant and oppose subsidies for fossil fuels and the nuclear industry, while promoting investment in clean, safe, renewable and sustainable energy technologies.

    "We don't see a push for solar energy here in the 'sunshine state' even in the form of off-setting our energy needs, said Jennifer Sullivan, co-chair of the Hernando County Green Party. "Solar technology is working in less sunny climates and as far north as Scandinavia. Think how many jobs could be created by investing in solar equipment manufacturing firms and by putting solar panels on every roof in the state!"

    For more information:

    Green Party of Florida
    Alachua County Green Party
    Nuclear Information and Resource Service

    Documents re PEF Levy County nuke plant: application on Florida DEP site

    References on nuclear power:

    Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy
    Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
    Rocky Mountain Institute
    Union of Concerned Scientists - Nuclear Power

    PETITION TO INTERVENE AND REQUEST FOR HEARING In the Matter of PROGRESS ENERGY FLORIDA, Levy County Nuclear Station Units 1 & 2, Docket Nos. 52-029 COL & 52-030 COL Feburary 6, 2009

    Business Risks and Costs of New Nuclear Power, a new study by CPA Craig Severance, finds that escalating reactor construction and operating costs could lead to electricity from new nukes as high as 25-30 cents per kw/h-significantly higher than industry estimates.

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