Hearing on renewing plant’s license draws no opposition
By Fred Hiers
CRYSTAL RIVER – Progress Energy’s hope of renewing its nuclear power plant’s 40-year operating license for another 20 years came a little closer to being realized Thursday.
COMMENTS SOLICITED -To submit comments to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the renewal request, send an e-mail message by June 6 to CrystalRiverEIS@nrc.gov.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a public hearing Thursday afternoon as part of its decision whether to grant the 33-year-old plant another two decades of operation after 2016.
Only four members of the public came to the 2 p.m. meeting, all of whom were in favor of the NRC renewing the plant’s license.
NRC officials explained the process the commission would follow in deciding whether to renew the license, including environmental impact of the plant and its ability to continue safe operations, and how plant staff would contend with aging infrastructure.
"Nuclear energy keeps America’s businesses competitive, and the plants themselves are incredible job resources for Crystal River and surrounding communities," said town resident Andrija Vukmir. "Nuclear power plants, which do not emit carbon dioxide, account for the majority of the voluntary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector."
The NRC will accept comments from the public until June 6.
The next several steps of the two-year renewal process will involve a general environmental impact study of the plant, performed by Progress Energy. The NRC will then do its own impact study, focusing on any unique aspects of the Crystal River area in relationship to the nuclear plant.
The environmental impact study will consider such issues as water usage by the plant during the past 33 years and whether water quality in areas close to the plant have diminished. The study will look at whether the plant has had any adverse effects on local wildlife and, if it has, how the impact can be corrected, said NRC spokesman Roger Hannah
Hannah said public participation is important because local residents often are more familiar with environmental issues than hired consultants.
The NRC will consult with local and state agencies in conducting its environmental impact study, Hannah said.
The renewal process also will involve three plant safety inspection visits by the NRC during the next two years, Hannah said. The plant already has two NRC inspectors on site year-round who review operations to ensure public safety.
The plant employs about 500 people.
Progress has four additional nuclear reactor units in North Carolina and South Carolina, licenses for which have all been renewed.
Contact Fred Hiers at 352-867-4157 or firstname.lastname@example.org.