WASHINGTON — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is pushing back by three weeks the deadline for public comments on a controversial rule that could determine the fate of all nuclear power plant licensing decisions.
NRC officials announced on Monday that it now will accept comments on the so-called “waste confidence” rule through Dec. 20. The delay is a result of this month’s federal government shutdown, which lasted nearly three weeks and forced the commission to postpone public meetings on the rule that it had planned to hold throughout the country.
Revision of the rule was prompted by a federal appeals court ruling last year. The court sided with the states of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, which argued the commission had wrongly assumed spent-reactor fuel eventually would move to a permanent waste repository, even though the Obama administration canceled the long-delayed Yucca Mountain project in Nevada.
In order for the commission to license nuclear facilities, it must make a regulatory determination that it has “confidence” the waste such facilities create will be disposed safely. In the absence of a permanent repository, the court ruled the commission must examine the potential consequences of fires in spent fuel pools — where much of the waste currently is stored. Critics have argued the pools are vulnerable to terrorist attacks given that they are located outside reactor’s containment structures, and in some cases in an elevated area they claim is more susceptible to air attacks.
NRC officials on Sept. 13 proposed a new waste confidence rule that they claim addresses the court’s concerns. It already is prompting criticism, with the same group of states that prevailed in the original lawsuit arguing that the scope of a new review of the impacts of leaving waste at plant sites is not as broad as the court mandated.
Industry representatives, meanwhile, argue the new rule addresses all the issues raised by the court and in some cases goes further than necessary.
According to Monday’s announcement, commission staff will host meetings on the rule Nov. 12 in Oak Brook, Ill.; Nov. 18 in Carlsbad, Calif.; Nov. 20 in San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Dec. 2 in Perrysburg, Ohio; and Dec. 4 in Minnetonka, Minn. An additional teleconference will take place on Dec. 9.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."