Area residents and officials spoke favorably at a public scoping meeting held by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Jan. 6 in Glen Rose about the expansion at Comanche Peak, despite vocal opposition.
The meeting focused on the environmental review, in which environmental impacts are identified and evaluated by a team of experts.
Review topics included land use, water use, aquatic ecology and terrestrial ecology. Karen Hadden, executive director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition attended the meeting and felt using unapproved design places an extra burden on the public.
“It puts the burden on the public to be nuclear experts,” Hadden said.
Luminant Generation submitted its application Sept. 19 to build and operate two U.S. Advanced Pressurized Water Reactors (US-APWR) at the site.
Information provided by Luminant during the meeting said Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), a Japanese-based firm designed the reactor and submitted an application to the NRC in December 2007 to certify the design.
By applying for a Combined License (COL) and using a non-certified design, stakeholders do not have a chance to review the plans, Hadden said.
Under NRC regulations, the COL review and the design certification review can run parallel. The review process for new reactor design involves certifying standard reactor designs through a rulemaking, which certifies a design for 15 years. At the meeting, Hadden also said the new reactors couldn’t be built fast enough to keep pace with growing energy demands and Luminant should stay focused on energy efficiency and energy storage.
“I maintain these reactors are not necessary,” Hadden said.
But area residents and officials spoke up, showing support for Luminant and the Comanche Peak expansion project.
Hood County Commissioner Steve Berry said he supported the project and felt it would be good for the local economies. Somervell County Commissioner Mike Ford added at a Commissioner’s Court meeting Jan. 12 that although the economic benefits were a factor in the widespread support of the expansion, there was more to it.
“That’s not the only reason we do (support the Comanche Peak expansion),” Ford said. “It’s part of a smart energy solution.”
GRISD board president Marilyn Phillips said Luminant has been a good neighbor to the school and has earned the trust of the community.
“I realize there is some danger, but they have proven themselves and earned our trust,” Phillips said.
Kevin Taylor, general manager of the Somervell County Water District, also spoke in favor of Luminant’s application.
“I’m here today in support of the expansion of Comanche Peak,” Taylor said.
And local resident and naturalist Rod Hale said he supported the plant expansion project and did not feel the reactors were a threat to natural flora.
“Everything is looking pretty good right now,” Hale said.
Information about nuclear waste storage was also provided at the meeting.
Comanche Peak stores used fuel, or spent fuel, in pools on site. After cooling off for five years, the spent fuel can be relocated to dry cask storage, which would free up space in the pool for newer spent fuel.
Comanche Peak is not licensed for on-site dry cask storage, but even with dry cask storage, a permanent waste repository is still needed but has not yet been developed.
A scoping summary report is expected to be released in June. The report will include comments from the meeting as well as responses to the questions raised.
NRC staff will consider written comments on the scoping process. Comments should be submitted no later than Feb. 17 either by mail to the Chief, Rules and Directives Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Office of Administration, Mailstop TWB-05-B01M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, or via e-mail at Comanche.COLEIS@nrc.gov.
The application’s environmental report is available on the agency’s Web site at http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors/col/comanche-peak.html. Copies of the report are also available at the Somervell and Hood county libraries.
Citizens also have 60 days from the notice of intent to file a petition to intervene. The notice of intent to build two nuclear reactors was published in the federal register on Dec. 19, 2008.