Nuclear Relicensing Wins Local Praise, And Worry


SANATOGA PA – About 150 people arrived Thursday (Sept. 22, 2011) for two hearings at Sunnybrook Ballroom in Sanatoga over whether the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should allow the twin nuclear reactors at Exelon Corp.’s Limerick Generating Station to be licensed for operation beyond 2024, more than a decade from now. And just as the size of the crowd was about evenly divided between the meetings, so too, it seemed, were its opinions.

Some praised the Limerick operation, its safety record, and its positive effects on the economy. Others openly worried about environmental safety, the inability to evacuate area residents if an emergency arose, and the storage and disposal of spent fuel rods.

The evening meeting, which began at 7 and followed an afternoon session that began at 2, appeared well controlled. People were there for a serious purpose, many said, but they smiled and waved at neighbors they knew, looked at several display tables and talked with representatives staffing them, and generally treated differing opinions respectfully.

There was, however, a significant law enforcement presence to ensure the meetings were orderly. The Lower Pottsgrove Police Department placed four officers inside the ballroom during the evening proceeding as a precaution. No trouble was expected, one officer said, “but you never know and you don’t want to take chances,” he added.

The 13-year time lag between Thursday’s meetings and the expiration of current licenses at Limerick, in 2024 and 2029 respectively, was mentioned by several commenters as a concern. They wondered how the NRC could adequately judge, so far in advance, if Exelon would be a suitable candidate for relicensing.

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