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May 15, 1980 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1980-05-15

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Page 6-Thursday, May 15, 1980-The Michigan Daily
Nuclear gas released in Ark.

attorney general of Arkansas said
yesterday that the state Health Depar-
tment was acting without authority in
its efforts to stop a nuclear power plant
from releasing radioactive gas into the
The issue of whether a state agency
could override the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission arose Tuesday when
Arkansas Power and Light Co. defied a
state order and began venting radioac-
tive gas at its reactor in Russellville.
THE GAS HAD accumulated in the
containment building of Unit One of the
Arkansas Nuclear One plant after a
seal on a reactor coolant pump failed
Saturday, releasing about 45,000
gallons of radioactive water into the
The utility vented the gas for 66
seconds late Tuesday. It continued ven-
tings on a set schedule yesterday and
planned more today.
Dr. Robert Young, director of the
state Health Department, on Tuesday

ordered the utility to delay the release
48 hours, saying he wanted an indepen-
dent analysis of the gas.
AP&L OFFICIALS delayed the
release a few hours and then proceeded
with the plan, armed with an approval
from the NRC.
The utility contended, apparently
correctly, that Young did not have the
authority to issue such an order.
"The question really is where does
the final authority lie in regulation of
nuclear energy," said AP&L President
Jerry L. Maulden. "Our understanding
is that it lies with the NRC.
"IN THE FINAL analysis, it's dif-
ficult to have more than one master.
The one agency designated by law, by
Congress, is the NRC. If you move
away from that, you move into a no-
man's land."
Maulden said the company was "ab-
solutely convinced the releasing of the
gas will pose absolutelyl no health
hazard to the public at all.".
Young said, "If they're able to do this

and get away with it, what are we going
to do if we have a significant health
problem out there, and the state is im-
potent to act."
Steve Clark said he told Young on
Tuesday that the state did not have the
authority to halt the release of the gas.
Clark said, however, that he believes
federal law should be changed to
"protect the state interests."
An AP&L spokesman said Congress
set up the NRC to eliminate conflicting
regulatory decisions.
"THERE'S GOT TO be a limit to how
many different agencies can just jump
in when they feel like it," said the
spokesman, who asked not to be iden-
tified. "We decided the principle at
stake in this was important enough to
risk the impact of the kind of publicity
we might get."
The question of state versus federal

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authority on nuclear power went to the
U.S. Supreme Court about 10 years ago
and the court ruled in favor of what was
then the Atomic Energy Commission.
In that case, the court said only the
commission had the power to regulate
operations of nuclear power plants. The
state had attempted to halt the con-
struction of a nuclear power plant at
Monticello, Minn.
spokesman in Washington, said the
NRC inherited the powers ofthe Atomic
Energy Commission when it was for-
med in 1975.
Less than a month ago, a federal
court in California ruled that state laws
relating to nuclear power plants were
unconstitutional. The ruling said the
NRC has exclusive authority over
nuclear power plants.
"Oe would think that when you were
dealing with something that concerns
public health and welfare it would be
more prudent to take time to be safe,"
Young said.
use in
(Continued from Page 3)
system to insure that inefficient
machinery is repaired quickly.
"What's important is that nothing
we've done has detracted from the ser-
vices provided to residents," Associate
Director of Housing Norm Sunstad said
about the program.
Energy-saving repairs are also being
made on the dorms themselves. With
the help of a $5 million loan from the
Department of Housing and Urban
Development, work crews are putting
insulation into roofs and installing new
windows during the summer.
THE UNIVERSITY is also expanding
its "data base" regarding the energy
problem, San Facon said. Recent
projects include publishing monthly
"energy updates" containing utility use
statistics from each of the dorms and
providing a yearly report of overall
energy consumption.
Conservation efforts are being con-
centrated on building staff rather than
students because "staff can be
significant demotivators for students in
the area of energy use," San Facon
said. "If a student shuts off the light in
his room and then walks through an
empty cafeteria where all the lights are
on, he or she is going to be less
motivated to do it the next time."
According to Housing Division
figures, it is the older dormitories that
use less energy in terms of gross
utilzation. Figures for 1978-79 show that
those dorms using the least amount of
British Thermal Units (BTUs - a
measure of heat energy) included
Couzens, Stockwell, and Alice Lloyd
halls, all of which were built before
San Facon attributes this to the lack
of complicated technology available in
the first half of the century.
"Sophisticated cooling and heating
systems were too expensive to install,
so builders used 'operable materials'
like window ventilation rather than air
bnditioirng," he sid .


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