Anatomy of a Demand

i am working with this new group called “Not on Our Fault Line” which has come together after the local earthquake and is interested in not just stopping the proposed third block, but keeping the two existing blocks off-line until they are safe.

Of course when they will be safe is a very open question.  The group had a number of discussions about what we should be asking for.  Several people believed that it was simply impossible to make the plant and we should be advocating for permanent closure now.  Let go the 400 people who work at the reactor and simply shutter the place.  And while most of the group understood this thinking, it felt like to extreme a demand to make, not something which would be taken seriously.

We talked about all types of demands, specific inspection demands, waiting to evaluate several upcoming NRC report, independent inspectors because we dont trust the NRC.  But in the end we were pretty satisfied with just two demands:

1) Retrofit the two current plants to the seismic standard the proposed new third block reactor is designed for

2) Inspect the 8 miles of pipes carrying radioactive water under the plant.

These are two very different types of demands.  The first is a long term demand of reasonableness.  If there is a new standard (represented by the dramatically increased seismic capacity of the proposed third reactor) then since we have just experienced an earthquake beyond the design basis of the existing plants, they should be upgrade and this should be the standard.  When i have been talking with media people they like this demand, it makes sense to them, it feels reasonable.  It may turn out to be prohibitively expensive, but Dominion should have thought about that when they lied about the fault line the plant is located on.

The second demand is much more specific and a bit technical.  It turns out that North Anna (like many reactors) have miles of underground pipe.  These are headachy to check.  They require something called a ground penetrating radar which traces over them and establishes if they are leaking.    Both Dominion and the NRC dont want to do this type of analysis.  Yet it is clear, if we care about safety more than we care about corporate profits, we would do this testing.