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Nuclear Opponents Argue Against Comanche Peak Expansion

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

Granbury, TX – For the second day, North Texas nuclear opponents are presenting arguments before a panel of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. They are challenging Luminant Generation's request for a license to expand the Comanche Peak nuclear plant, as KERA's Shelley Kofler reports.

Luminant wants to add two larger reactors to the two already operating at Comanche Peak, southwest of Fort Worth. Nuclear opponents have raised concerns about public health, cost, and enormous water use.

In a courtroom in Granbury, attorney Robert Eye told licensing judges that Luminant's application assumes the federal government will provide a permanent repository for radioactive waste. But Eye reminded that the US Energy Secretary has said the proposed Yucca Mountain site in Nevada is no longer an option. Eye claims storing additional radioactive waste at the plant is dangerous.

Eye: These plants as we now know from other regulatory requirements are vulnerable to attack, and the more spent fuel that's on site the bigger the target the more vulnerable we are to the consequences of a large radiological release

While Luminant believes the government will designate a waste disposal site, vice-president of nuclear affairs Mitchell Lucas says storing nuclear waste at the plant is safe.

Lucas: As far as the technical ability to store fuel we can definitely do that. It's safe. That's not a technical challenge at all. I live in this community, so do my family, my grandkids. I'm very comfortable with the safety at Comanche Peak

Lucas says Luminant is pursuing the reactors because they would provide an affordable source of energy that creates less air pollution than fossil fuels. Lucas says the reactor application meets federal government requirements.

Opponents hope to convince the licensing judges their arguments have merit. If that happens opponents would be given intervener status, and their case against building the reactors would be considered as the licensing process moves forward.