TSEP files formal concerns with NRC against proposed Exelon nuclear site in Texas

Source: Texans For A Sound Energy Policy

Texans For A Sound Energy Policy (TSEP) have filed formal legal contentions with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) urging denial of Exelon's (NYSE:EXC) application for an Early Site Permit (ESP) for a proposed nuclear power plant site south of Victoria, Texas. The filing of these contentions will set the stage for a formal legal hearing on TSEP's contentions regarding the site.

The contentions filed by TSEP provide detailed scientific analysis of water, environmental, endangered species and site safety concerns surrounding the proposed Victoria County site that render it unsuitable for a nuclear power plant. 

TSEP's attorney, Jim Blackburn, offered, "We have extensively documented through thorough research and analysis extremely serious and far-reaching concerns with this proposed site. We are pleased to file them formally with the NRC and look forward to the opportunity to be heard on each of them." 

TSEP's contentions regarding the proposed Exelon site center on several key issues, including: 

• Water Availability: Exelon proposes to construct a nuclear power plant—one of the most water-intensive forms of electric power generation available—in one of the most drought prone regions of the state on an already severely over-allocated Guadalupe River Basin. Yet Exelon's selective use of data in its application fails to accurately represent current diversions of water from the Guadalupe River, and Exelon fails to establish that it can secure a "highly dependable" long-term water supply, which the NRC regulations require.

• Endangered Species: TSEP's scientific analysis demonstrates a direct and statistically significant relationship between the decline of Guadalupe River freshwater inflows and an increase in deaths of the federally protected, endangered Whooping Crane. According to analysis provided by Dr. Ron Sass of Rice University, there is only a 1% chance that the whooping crane deaths observed over the last couple of decades are unrelated to river flows.
• Health & Site Safety: The presence of active geologic growth faults underlying the cooling pond and important plant infrastructure pose significant and unacceptable stability risks to the site. Additionally, the presence of an unprecedented number of active and abandoned oil and gas wells on the site (with over 100 known abandoned wells on the site) pose significant risks of explosion, releases of hydrogen sulfide and other poisonous gases. The wells also pose the potential for water contamination—including potential tritium contamination.

The NRC is required to consider not only the suitability of the proposed Victoria County site, but also whether there is an alternative site available that is superior to the proposed site. TSEP's contentions document that an alternative site in Matagorda County, Texas is clearly superior as it possesses none of the site safety flaws associated with the Victoria County site, and in addition has access to ample supplies of saltwater instead of depending on scarce surface water that raises issues of water availability and impact on endangered species.
Blackburn commented, "It is mind-boggling to me that Exelon would continue to waste their money on a greenfield site with numerous and well-documented flaws when there is a clearly superior site not 100 miles away that has none of these issues. The engineering and scientific analyses supporting our contentions clearly demonstrate that Exelon's application should be denied. We plan to aggressively pursue these issues before the NRC."

Texans for a Sound Energy Policy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was founded as a public service by various family members and entities associated with the original D. M. O'Connor Ranches of Texas.

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