Johnson City Press: NRC returning to Erwin for public hearing on NFS safety review
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NRC returning to Erwin for public hearing on NFS safety review

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Jul 2, 2019 at 9:31 PM

ERWIN — The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will conduct a public meeting for discussion of the most NRC recent safety review of Nuclear Fuel Services’ Erwin facility on July 16 at Erwin’s Town Hall at 7 p.m.

A press release announcing the meeting stated that citizens attending the meeting “will be given five minutes to make statements and/or ask questions of the NRC staff involved in licensing and inspection activities.”

The release said that those who wish to speak may register prior to the meeting by calling Joel Rivera at 404-997-4825 or emailing [email protected]

The meeting was scheduled in response to complaints lodged by citizens who objected to the open house format of an earlier public meeting on the NFS review conducted by the NRC in Erwin on May 17 that did not provide them with an opportunity to express their concerns in a public forum.

Tuesday’s press release from the NRC said, “Several people had requested a more conventional format and the NRC staff planned the July 16 meeting to allow those people and others to provide comments and/or ask questions during a more formal meeting.”

At the open house style meeting in May, the NRC presented a display of posters that explained the commission’s facility review process but did not include any information specific to NFS. Citizens at that meeting were invited to address any comments or questions they may have had directly to one of several NRC representatives who attended the meeting.

Prior to the May meeting, the NRC said it chose the open house format to allow more interaction with the NRC staff, better facilitate one-on-one and small-group discussions and allow more flexibility for local residents and others who wished to attend.

Park Overall, an actress and environmental activist who lives on the Nolichucky River downstream from the NFS site, told reporters at the May meeting the open house format was an attempt by the NRC to “shut down” a very vocal citizens watchdog group in Erwin.

Linda Modica, vice president of the Erwin Citizens Awareness Network, a watchdog group that has been monitoring NFS and NRC inspections for nearly a decade, told the Johnson City Press at the May meeting she was dismayed the NRC did not present any summary or specific reference to NFS. “You would think they would have at least had a review letter,” she said with exasperation.

NRC officials said at the beginning of May’s meeting and in press releases announcing both public meetings that its review of NFS safety operations “found no program areas needing improvement and determined that the Erwin-based facility continued to operate safely, meeting NRC requirements for the protection of nearby residents and the environment.”

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