Heart of America Northwest (HoANW) went to court to secure release of records showing increased risks of nuclear accidents, with higher radiation releases, from the scheme to use the same Plutonium fuel as was used in Fukushima Reactor #3.
If a full load of Plutonium Fuel had been in Fukushima Reactor 3, the offsite radiation doses from the disaster may have been 40% higher - according to a technical analysis which was obtained by HoANW via Public Records Act request and our legal action for disclosure.
Click here to view video of Fukushima Reactors exploding
Energy NW, formerly WPPSS, which operates the reactor, is owned by the region's publicly owned utilities, including Seattle, Snohomish and Clark PUD... Yesterday, the Energy NW Board voted to end plans to use Plutonium fuel - even after agreements were signed with Battelle and Pacific NW Lab.
Heart of America NW organized letters and meetings with Seattle City Council and the Mayor's office, and with other publicly owned utility boards, to press to have Seattle and other cities / PUDs use their votes to object to this highly dangerous nuclear experiment, which would have cost ratepayers tens of millions of dollars.
Documents we obtained after filing suit under the Public Records Act revealed that public utility board presentations failed to reveal that the staff was fully aware that use of Plutonium fuel increased the likelihood of nuclear accidents and the amount of highly radioactive contamination that would be released in an accident.
A front page story in the Seattle Times in March 2011, based on records obtained by Heart of America Northwest, revealed that Energy NW officials sought to avoid public disclosure of the plan.
Energy NW called using Plutonium in the reactor a "study" to downplay it. However, they spent several years and millions of public dollars considering inserting Plutonium fuel into the reactor.
The weapons usable Plutonium would have been trucked to Hanford's 300 Area to be fabricated into fuel rods, which would have greatly complicated and slowed cleanup of the contaminated area along the Columbia River immediately north of Richland.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently extended the license of the reactor (called the Columbia Generating Station, and formerly known as WPPSS 2) until 2043, a move we objected to. The NRC has failed to require upgrades and application of lessons learned from Fukushima before extending licenses for any reactor. The Hanford reactor is a GE mark 2 reactor, with the fuel pool above the reactor - the same dangerous configuration as at Fukushima.