Watchdog experts evicted from post-Fukushima conferences

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This week Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility attorney John Geesman, seismologist consultant Dr. Douglas Hamilton, and outreach coordinator David Weisman traveled to a three day workshop in Oakland, which was a part of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission mandated post-Fukushima workshop.  All three members of the watchdog organization were evicted from the building prior to a presentation by GeoPentech, Southern California Edison’s seismic research contractor. Monitors from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were present at the conference, but did not intervene to prevent the eviction of the watchdog experts.

The seismic conference is part of the Senior Seismic Hazard Analysis Committee process, (SSHAC) through which the NRC requires all licensees to update the seismic assessment for nuclear plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.  Two prior SSHAC meetings, devoted to seismic source characterization, had been held by PG&E in San Luis Obispo in November of 2011 and 2012. Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility representatives and other community members attended both of those meetings freely and without restriction.

“The Alliance is certainly an ‘interested’ party,” notes outreach coordinator David Weisman. “The information we gleaned from the earlier PG&E SSHAC workshops produced materials that were introduced during our intervention in several CPUC proceedings. PG&E and the NRC have assured ratepayers and our Congresswoman Lois Capps that the unanswered questions regarding ground motion from the new Shoreline Fault at Diablo Canyon would be answered through this SSHAC process.  Apparently we will not be allowed to watch this unfold, and there were no video cameras in the room to provide the public with archived documentation.”

As attorney Geesman noted in his follow-up letter to California Public Utilities Commission president Michael Peevey, “I have yet to hear a compelling rationale for keeping these seismic updates covert, and the fact that they are entirely ratepayer funded makes doing so indefensible. It would be hard to imagine a quicker way to undermine public confidence in the eventual results of these studies than shrouding them in secrecy.”

Mr. Geesman’s full letter to President Peevey and letter to NRC Commissioner Magwood as well as the above referenced section of NUREG 2117 can be downloaded here.

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  1. As an earth scientist and nuclear disaster preparedness specialist, I am appalled. A regulatory program that relies on “secret science” is a program headed for disaster.

  2. I’m not surprised at too much anymore, but that’s because I’ve fallen through shock directly to cynicism. Funny thing is that the light is much better here.

    “To be cynical may be a sin, but it’s rarely a mistake.”
    George Bernard Shaw

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