Taking the R out of the NRC

Just when you thought nuclear power plants were headed the way of the dinosaur, last month the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission doled out its first-ever 20-year extension on a beleaguered Maryland plant’s operating license, according to GRIST MAGAZINE.

Activists fear that the move could mean operating extensions for dozens of other nuclear plants across the country. At least 27 other plants are likely to seek similar extensions by 2003. Public Citizen and the National Whistleblower Center claim the NRC quietly changed the license-renewal process to make it more difficult for the public to weigh in with questions about the Maryland plant’s safety and with complaints about the nuclear waste piling up around it.

The National Whistleblower Center filed suit against the NRC in federal appeals court about the change in the review process, and the court ruled in their favor. But the decision was thrown out, and while the case awaited a new hearing, the NRC went ahead with the Maryland plant’s renewal.