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Licensing of Columbia Generating Station Until 2043 Is No Cause for Celebration

Why is this license accelerated ahead of schedule with no regard for the nuclear disaster at Fukushima?

May 24, 2012

Press Release

May 24, 2012

Contact:

Miriam German, No Nukes Northwest: 503-453-9005
Leslie March, Sierra Club: 503-615-5750
Chuck Johnson, Physicians for Social Responsibility: 503-777-2794

Licensing Northwest nuclear plant until 2043 is no cause for celebration

Energy Northwest is having a celebration today at Columbia Generating Station (CGS) nuclear power plant, formerly known as WPPSS 2, on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to celebrate the relicensing for an additional 20 years beyond its 2023 retirement date, by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

A coalition of groups including No Nukes Northwest, the Oregon and Washington chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility, the national No Nukes Activist Team of the Sierra Club, and the Alliance for Democracy, are questioning why this license is accelerated ahead of schedule with no regard to the recent nuclear disaster at Fukushima, Japan.  

The CGS nuclear plant is a GE Boiling Water Reactor, like those in Fukushima, and is subject to the same earthquake safety issues with regard to its elevated, unreinforced spent fuel pool and malfunctioning venting system. The CGS plant is also, according to local geologists, located in an active seismic zone.

“It is a great concern to us when the NRC wouldn’t consider the lessons being learned from Fukushima and take their time in considering this relicense” says Miriam German of No Nukes Northwest.  “As a representative of the 99%, I can’t fail to wonder if the speed of the relicensing is part of the fuel contract deal made with USEC, a uranium enrichment plant in Paducah, KY”.

Energy Northwest has an advertising campaign that stresses the environmental benefits of nuclear power. “However, they fail to include the costs of the nuclear fuel chain from mining to processing”, says Sierra Club volunteer, Leslie March. “I was shocked to find out that the plant in Paducah uses coal fired power to make its fuel. Sierra Club members have been trying to shut down the nine plants in Paducah but have been told that they are necessary to keep the enrichment plant going. This is so ironic that we would be buying fuel for our reactor that comes from dirty old coal plants”. The nuclear plant only provides 4% of the total electricity used in the state of Washington. The groups advocate shutting down the plant and using efficiencies and renewable power to replace this production.  

“Relicensing this old nuclear power plant simply makes no sense”, says John Pearson, MD, President of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, “Nuclear power is very expensive, it creates toxic wastes that we have not figured out how to handle, and the effect of accidents can be catastrophic.”  

“Because the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant has the same structural flaw with its spent fuel storage as Fukushima, it is a threat to our region,” says Tom Buchanan, Vice President of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, “the only responsible choice is to shut it down.”

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