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STP On Life Support

April 19, 2011
STP On Life Support

Statement of Tom “Smitty” Smith, Public Citizen; Karen Hadden, SEED Coalition; Bob Eye, Attorney at Law

AUSTIN, Texas – The wheels seem to be falling off the nuclear renaissance for four reasons: safety, cost, lack of market and expected delays. And, as the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan continues to play out, it seems Fukushima Daiichi has claimed another victim – South Texas (Nuclear) Project’s (STP) planned expansion.

As the headlines proclaim – “NRG Energy Provides Clarity on Nuclear Project: No More Money!”– Public Citizen, the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition and the South Texas Association for Responsible Energy (STARE) sent a letter to NRG yesterday, urging it to formally withdraw its Combined Operating License application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for proposed South Texas Project (STP) reactors 3 and 4, as well as the related Department of Energy (DOE) federal loan guarantee application. 

“It seems NRG has seen the writing on the wall as well as in our letter,” said Karen Hadden, executive director of the SEED Coalition, “and are dropping their expansion plans for STP.”

Added Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, “ERCOT has said new nuclear power is too expensive to sell in Texas, and after three years of searching, NRG could not find buyers for the power that the proposed STP reactors would produce. This project, which was already three years late and three times over the initial cost estimate to build, would produce power that costs more than power generated by energy efficiency, natural gas, wind or solar.”

“This decision makes sense from an environmental and energy perspective,” said Bob Eye, the attorney for the groups contesting the licensing for reactors 3 and 4. “We will protect the environment from more radioactive waste production, and resources that would have been used to build nuclear facilities can be used instead for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.”

Like Fukushima, STP’s reactors are aging, the groups said.

“They could be swamped by a storm surge from a major hurricane, knocking out power and leading to nuclear disaster,” said Hadden. “As interveners, we raised many crucial safety issues regarding risks of co-locating multiple reactor units at the site. There is no indication that STP reactors 1 through 4 could adequately deal with fires and explosions and simultaneously maintain core cooling, containment and spent fuel cooling. NRG’s decision to halt its investment at STP is a good first step. Now it should withdraw its license and loan applications.”