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Should NFS get license renewal? Have safety concerns been addressed?

August 28th, 2012 11:32 am by Staff Report

Should NFS get license renewal?  Have safety concerns been addressed?

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled a public meeting Thursday to discuss its decision to renew the operating license of Nuclear Fuel Services for an additional 25 years. The session will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Unicoi County Courthouse, located on North Main Avenue in Erwin.
As Press Erwin Bureau chief Brad Hicks reported last week, NRC senior public affairs officer Roger Hannah said the purpose of the public meeting will be to discuss the process for the approval of the Erwin facility’s renewal application. An official from the NRC will give a presentation on this process, followed by questions from the audience.
NFS submitted its license renewal application to the NRC on June 30, 2009. The NRC announced on Aug. 2 it would grant that license renewal.
“The NRC staff performed a detailed technical review and determined that the application demonstrated the company’s qualifications, training and experience to use the licensed material according to NRC regulations, and that the company’s equipment, facilities and procedures are adequate to protect health and minimize danger to life and property,” the NRC said in a news release.
NFS issued a statement at the time of the NRC’s decision stated that as part of the license renewal process, NFS provided information to the NRC including specifics regarding safety and environmental practices. According to NFS, the NRC’s approval indicates no safety or environmental issues precluded renewal of the facility’s license.
“The NRC conducted extremely rigorous review of safety and environmental practices and concluded the facility can safely operate for another 25 years,” NFS President Joseph G. Henry said in a news release. “We are proud of our work and will continue operating our facility committed to the highest standards in safety and security, protecting the public and the environment.”
In guest comment that appeared on this page Aug. 12, Barbara O’Neal — a member of the Erwin Citizens Awareness Network Inc. — noted NFS had first asked that its license be renewed for 40 years. A safety report prepared by the NRC, however, expressed concerns about the company’s “poor compliance history and safety culture issues,” and the fact that “NFS has been unable to sustain improved performance for an extended period.”
So, O’Neal wrote, NRC encouraged NFS to amend its original license renewal request.
We want to hear from you. Should NFS be given a 25-year renewal of its license? Do you think the NRC paid sufficient attention to all safety issues?
Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification.
We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks.

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