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Nuclear licensing on hold.

Nuclear licensing on hold

Licensing of nuclear power plants inSeabrook, N.H., and Shoreham, N.Y., has been stalled indefinitely--despite the physical completion of both plants-- because some state and local governments have refused to participate in the emergency-evacuation planning for their residents within 10 miles of these plants. Last week, the five-member Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted 4 to 1 to endorse a staff recommendation that would make it easier to license nuclear plants held up for this reason (SN: 2/14/87, p.100).

NRC rules currently require state andlocal government participation in evacuation planning before NRC can grant an operating permit to a new plant. In both the Seabrook and Shoreham cases, the reason given by governments for not participating is that they cannot ensure safe evacuations following a severe plant accident. The new proposal would permit the utilities owning a plant to certify the ability of residents to evacuate safely.

Once the proposed rule change is publishedin the Federal Register, it will be open to public comment for 60 days. The final rule could go into effect shortly thereafter. However, there is considerable political opposition to the move, and a number of bills are before Congress that would mandate state and local government participation and endorsement of evacuation plans before any new plant could be licensed.
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Title Annotation:nuclear power plants
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 7, 1987
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