A public scoping meeting held by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on January 6 in Glen Rose brought questions about the lack of a design certification, increased water demand and nuclear waste disposal.
The meeting focused on the environmental review, in which environmental impacts are identified and evaluated by a team of experts.
Topics include land use, water use, aquatic ecology and terrestrial ecology.
A joint statement from the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, Sierra Club and Public Citizen Texas, said the technology being proposed for the new reactors is untested and unproven.
"The design of the reactors has not been certified and has never been built anywhere in the world. Why should Texas serve as guinea pigs for a dangerous radioactive experiment?" said Karen Hadden, executive director of the SEED Coalition. "Design problems as well as human error led to numerous problems and shutdowns of Comanche Peak reactors in the past. The competence and character of Luminant needs to be examined closely since the history of the existing reactors is disastrous."
Hadden also attended Tuesday's 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.
The design certification process is supposed to provide the public a chance to participate early on, but that is what Hadden said would not happen.
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.
Concerns over construction costs and timelines, as well as where to store the additional nuclear waste, were all voiced in the release by the organizations.
They also say the additional reactors are unnecessary.
At the meeting Hadden 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.
Cyrus Reed, conservation director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, said the money would be better spent on solar and wind energy production.
"There are a wide range of interest groups from industrial customers, to new players in the solar and wind energy markets, to low-income advocates who believe we need to look forward to reducing our demand and investing in new technologies like solar and energy storage, not using 20th century technology like coal-fired and uranium-fired power plants. Luminant should get on board," Reed said.
While county representatives such as Somervell County Judge Walter Maynard, GRISD Board of Trustees president Marilyn Phillips, Glen Rose Chamber of Commerce President Bill Atkinson and Glen Rose Medical Center Executive Director Gary Marks all spoke in favor of the Comanche Peak expansion, a few residents raised questions.
Jack Kathey, a Glen Rose resident, said during the meeting that residents should be concerned about the water source for the new reactors. While the new design calls for cooling towers versus the reservoir set-up the two existing reactors use, Kathey was also concerned about the temperature of the water that was released in the Squaw Creek. He said he has witnessed dwindling numbers of fish in the creek and the complete disappearance of frogs and soft-shell turtles.
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, 2009, 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.