Susquehanna station watchdog petition targeted power plant’s use of river water

Susquehanna station Watchdog petition targeted power plant’s use of river water
June 11, 2008
Challenge to nuke nixed

By Rory Sweeney
Staff Writer

 A federal court judge dismissed on Monday a petition to review water usage increases at the Susquehanna nuclear power station because it had been filed a day too late.
Eric Epstein, who heads the Harrisburg-based nuclear-watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert, had petitioned the court to decide whether the Susquehanna River Basin Commission erred when it ruled in September 2007 that the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station could withdraw more water for a power increase at the station. The station is in Salem Township.

U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia H. Rambo dismissed the lawsuit, writing in a memorandum that “a lay person’s misunderstanding of a procedural rule is not a basis” for extending the filing deadline.
“I’m not an attorney; I thought it was filed on time,” Epstein said. “Obviously I’m disappointed. … It’s kind of like getting geared up for a heavyweight fight and having the fight stopped for wearing the wrong-colored shorts.”
He had hoped the court would require PPL Corp., the SRBC and the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission “to dig deeper and dig harder rather than to rely on assumption.”
“We were actually asking the federal government to come in and assign responsibility” for overseeing water issues within the nuclear industry.
“Of course Eric has the right of every citizen to appeal,” plant spokesman Joe Scopelliti said. “At the same time, the legal system would have held us to the same standard. … The system is what the system is, and we all have to go by the system.”
Either way, the case wasn’t hampering company plans, he said.
Epstein said he felt he had accomplished three important tasks. The SRBC and the NRC solidified “a lasting relationship,” the public was made aware of nuclear power plants’ water requirements and “I don’t think PPL will take water use for granted,” he said.
His organization will continue to question additional water usage from the river.
“Water is a commodity. We need to decide as a society where it goes and who’s going to use it,” he said.