Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff held two public meetings Tuesday, Jan. 6, in Glen Rose to discuss environmental issues the agency should consider in reviewing a Combined License (COL) application for two new reactors proposed for the Comanche Peak site near Glen Rose.

The meetings drew criticism from environmental groups when the date was announced on Christmas Eve. Organizations such as the Sierra Club, Public Citizen Texas and the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, have claimed the timing of the announcement was done purposefully to avoid calling attention to the controversial subject.

A press release from the three organizations states 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. In the past, there was a chance to fix nuclear reactor construction problems before an operating license was issued, but that safeguard is gone with the new licensing process.”

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.

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.

Both Jan. 6 meetings included an open house and an hour-long presentation by the NRC. The floor was opened for public comments and questions.

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.

Luminant Generation submitted its application Sept. 19 to build and operate two U.S. Advanced Pressurized Water Reactors at the site. The first public NRC meeting was held June 12.

Editor’s note: In-depth coverage of the Jan. 6 meeting is available at www.theglenrosereporter.com. A full-length story will appear in next week’s edition of the Reporter.