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There was a finding of no significant impact concerning the proposed renewal of the operating license for the Westinghouse Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility, but after new issues arose, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is seeking public comment regarding a draft Environmental Assessment.

NRC staff scheduled a Nov. 14 public meeting in Columbia, SC, to present the findings and receive public comments.

In June 2018, the NRC published a final Environmental Assessment, documenting the environmental impacts of continued operation of the Westinghouse plant for an additional 40 years.

An equipment leak in July 2018 and new information regarding a past leak from a buried pipe, coupled with community concerns, led the NRC staff to re-open the review and issue the new assessment.

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The meeting is also coming on the heels of a couple other incidents at the Richland County, SC, facility after it discovered it had a device in place that was not adequate to prevent uranium from leaking into chemical supply drums at the site.

That can be significant because the drums were in a “non-favorable’’ position, which under certain circumstances could increase chances of a radiation burst inside the 1,000-employee plant.

In addition, the NRC became aware of a separate issue that surfaced Oct. 14, two days before the improper equipment problem arose.

That day, three workers who were cleaning equipment complained of a “an unusual taste in their mouths,’’ prompting Westinghouse to send them to the hospital. The workers were kept overnight, before they were released. One of the employees received treatment, federal records show.

Comments will be accepted at the meeting, and written comments may be submitted through Nov. 27 through the federal rulemaking web site, Docket ID NRC-2015-0039, or by mail at Office of Administration, Mail Stop: TWFN-7-A60M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, ATTN: Program Management, Announcements and Editing Staff, or by email.

Attendees wanting to speak at the meeting will be given 3-5 minutes, depending on the number of people expecting to participate. Pre-registration to present oral comments is available by contacting Antoinette Walker-Smith at 301-415-6957 or by email.

The meeting is scheduled to be held in the Medallion Conference Center, 7309 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia, S.C. from 5:30-8 p.m.

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