Westinghouse wants continue operating an aging nuclear fuel plant near Columbia for another 40 years, even though the facility has a history of leaks, spills and pollution.
The 50-year-old Westinghouse factory, is one of only three facilities that makes fuel rods for nuclear power plants. It’s also located right next to Congaree National Park, in a predominantly African American and low-income community.
Westinghouse has a long history of leaks and spills including nitrate, uranium and Technetium 99, which leach into groundwater and maybe the Congaree River. In 2018, Westinghouse was caught when uranium leaked through a hole in the plant’s floor, and exposed a coverup dating back to 2008 that it had never told federal or state officials about.
But despite all these problems, Westinghouse wants a license to operate for another 40 years, and they want it early! Their current license doesn’t expire until 2027, but they’re worried that the failure of the VC Summer nuclear plant, and a change in leadership in Congress or the White House, could turn the public against the nuclear industry. So they’re trying to force the issue now, while they think nobody is paying attention.
Reports say that the facility is unlikely to clean up it’s past spills or stop new ones if their permit is renewed. It’s outrageous for the NRC to give a toxic nuclear plant with this many problems another 40 year license to pollute.
If the NRC is serious about public health, they should deny this early renewal application and conduct a more detailed environmental impact statement. They also should require Westinghouse to go at least one full year without an accident or spill before they are allowed to keep operating.
Here’s a video from local activist Virginia Sanders explaining some of the pollution at the plant:
An here’s Tom Clements, a nuclear safety watchdog from Columbia, telling the NRC they didn’t study the Westinghouse plant thoroughly enough to justify a new license:
It’s clear that this facility cannot be allowed to keep operating – but unless we speak up before November 27, that’s just what the NRC may approve. Click here to send an official comment to the NRC and tell them NOT to approve another 40 years of Westinghouse pollution.