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Groups say Fermi 2 nuclear plant license shouldn't be renewed

The Fermi 2 nuclear reactor near Monroe, Michigan began shutting down last Sunday night. It's expected to be offline for a month.

Several environmental and citizens groups argued today against extending the life of DTE Energy's Fermi 2 nuclear power plant in Monroe.

The groups presented multiple safety and environmental concerns about the plant to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. They had been granted permission to intervene in DTE Energy's application for a 20-year extension of its license to operate the Fermi 2 nuclear reactor.  

DTE wants permission to keep the plant open until 2045. Its current license expires in 2025.

Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear is one of the intervenors. "Catastrophic radioactivity releases are very possible at Fermi 2," Kamps said. "We've seen that happen in Japan [at the Fukushima Daiichi plant] at the exact same reactor design."

Kamps said Fermi 2 presents a serious danger to life, property, and the environment. "You've got a dangerous reactor design. You've got an inadequate containment on the shoreline of the Great Lakes which, of course, is itself the drinking water supply for tens of millions of people."

Guy Cerullo, spokesman for DTE Energy, disagreed with the groups' claims. "We're very confident that the renewal process will confirm that we can operate safely – as we are now – well into the future," he said.

In addition to Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste Michigan, Citizens' Resistance at Fermi 2 (CRAFT), and Citizens Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario also intervened to oppose keeping Fermi 2 open for an additional 20 years.

Viktoria Mitlyng, a senior public affairs officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, explained that representatives of the NRC and of Fermi 2 were present at the hearing to answer questions the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board might have about the opponents' contentions. She said the board will review the information presented at the hearing and decide which contentions are valid.  There would then be another hearing on those specific contentions.

– Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio News