Opponents of the expansion of the South Texas Project nuclear power plant near Bay City have won the right to intervene on one point of contention and are waiting on rulings for several other issues.
A panel at the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the project will have to consider how a severe accident at one of the two planned reactors would affect the other units. The decision means there must be hearings on the issue in the future in order for the license to proceed.
The panel has ruled on 19 of the 28 contentions submitted. It is not known when a decision will be made on the remaining contentions, including several related to the impact the additional reactors would have on water resources. The plant uses a huge man-made pond for cooling water which draws water from the Colorado River.
“This is a major victory for those living in the South Texas Project region and throughout Texas,” said Karen Hadden, Executive Director of the SEED Coalition, one of the intervening groups. “The decision recognizes that the South Texas Project reactor application is still inadequate, two years after it was submitted. We now have a case against the reactors that will move forward.”
A spokesman for STP said the company will address the issue and is “confident that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will find that STP can safely and efficiently help meet growing demand in Texas for emission-free base load power,” said Dave Knox. “We look forward to being able to begin construction in 2012.”
Earlier this month the NRC ruled the groups could intervene on the expansion of the Comanche Peak nuclear plant in North Texas on two points; the same severe accident issue and one on how using renewable energy sources, natural gas power and advances in energy storage would affect the expansion projects.
Interesting to note: the groups asked to intervene on the renewable energy issue at STP, too, but it was not granted. All but one of the panelists that reviewed the two efforts were different, so it could simply reflect different opinions, or there could be significant differences in the expansion project applications.
Here’s a copy of the decision: Download file
LBP-09-21 Ruling on Contentions