NRG has announced that they will back off of additional development of STP reactors 3 & 4, while awaiting federal guidance regarding safety issues resulting from the nuclear disaster in Japan. The reactor site in Bay City, Texas, is 100 miles from Houston.
Reactor safety has long been a concern of Public Citizen and the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. The disaster in Japan illustrates the danger of fires and explosions and of putting many nuclear reactors in the same location. The SEED Coalition raised these concerns in legal opposition to the licensing of two additional South Texas Project reactors and anticipate an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board hearing this Fall. This case is likely to set important precedent as it will be the first in the nation to examine these safety issues in new reactor licenses.
The risks of nuclear power are real and apply to U.S. reactors as well as those in Japan. At the South Texas site, a hurricane could knock out power and flood diesel generators, leading to a loss of coolant and potentially a meltdown. Human error or technological problems can lead to accident scenarios. Drought conditions are expected to worsen so low river flows could threaten the ability to cool existing reactors. Hopefully, we’ll never see a terrorist attack, but that is a possibility too. We believe it is time to use safer, more affordable ways to generate electricity.
SEED Coalition recently raised safety issues in opposition to the re-licensing of reactors 1 and 2, which are set to retire in 2027 and 2028. The NRC is considering allowing them to operate another 20 years past their originally intended lifespan. Reactors become more risky as they age, and we do not believe another 20 years of operation is safe. We must prevent a serious accident from happening here.
There have been plenty of problems with the existing reactors, both of which were shut down for over a year in the 1993-94 timeframe due to problems with the auxiliary feedwater pumps and diesel generators. Houston Lighting and Power was fined $500,000 for safety violations.
Click here for a summary of historical problems at the site.
The public can comment on STP re-licensing until April 1st. Click here for information on how to comment.