Environmental Justice


NRC Environmental Justice Panel listening session and policy discussion

September 27, 2021 

The NRC will be having a Listening Session and Panel Discussion on Environmental Justice on September 27, 2021 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

A link to the meeting notice and agenda is immediately below: 


 The meeting notice will be updated with additional details and participant biographies by early next week.



The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is conducting a review of its environmental justice (EJ) program based on a recently issued Executive Order 14008 from the Biden Administration.  As part of this effort, the NRC is reaching out to the public to determine the effectiveness of their current program and to ask if enhancements can be made. As part of this outreach effort, NRC visited the Fairfield County Council meeting and the Adult Senior Citizens Center in Hopkins during their visit to the Midlands on July 26th and 27th. Comments regarding the Environmental Justice Review Program will be accepted by NRC through October 29th, 2021 (Note this deadline was extended).

You may submit comments through the following:

• Voicemail at 301-415-3875
• Email at NRC-EJReview@nrc.gov
• The Federal rulemaking site, www.regulations.gov, using Docket ID NRC-2021-0137
• U.S. Mail to: Office of Administration, Mail Stop: TWFN-7-A60M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, ATTN: Program Management Announcements and Editing Staff


1. WHEREAS: Westinghouse Electric Company owns and operates the Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility (WECFFF), located on Bluff Road in rural Lower Richland County where it has operated one of the few facilities in the country for the fabrication of fuel assemblies for the commercial nuclear power industry since 1969. As licensed and permitted by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control such licenses permit the possession, use and discharge into the environment of highly dangerous radioactive, hazardous and polluting substances which pose a risk of harm to workers, neighbors and the natural environment. Westinghouse has applied for a renewal of its operating license allowing for 40 years of continued operations; and

2. WHEREAS: The Westinghouse facility employs some 1,000 workers, many of whom are routinely exposed to radiation and hazardous materials and to the risk of radiological accident. The facility is located in a rural, predominantly African American and low income community, where most residents depend on private wells for drinking water and where many people depend on nearby streams and the Congaree River for recreation and subsistence fishing. The pristine ancient bottomland forests of the Congaree National Park are nearby, downstream from the facility with which it shares a floodplain; and

3. WHEREAS: the Westinghouse nuclear fuel facility has historically exhibited a poor and troubling safety culture, evidenced by a number of violations of regulatory requirements, radiological accidents, spills and discharges of hazardous chemicals and radioactive wastes to air, to groundwater below the facility and to surface waters which flow offsite toward in tributary streams to the Congaree River; and

4. WHEREAS: In a number of instances Westinghouse failed to timely report accidents, spills, discharges or instances of noncompliance to the authorities and the community; failed to timely identify and implement effective corrective action to prevent recurrence, and resisted effective remediation, clean up and corrective action; which, taken together, evidence a continued poor safety and quality culture on the part of Westinghouse, posing a continued risk of harm to the community, the public and the surrounding environment; and

5. WHEREAS: Despite repeated commitments by Westinghouse management to respectful and responsive communication and consultation with the Lower Richland community and the public at large, the Company has failed to act in a forthright and inclusive manner in its stakeholder relations and to respect principles of environmental justice; and

6. WHEREAS: Despite the history of the poor safety culture at Westinghouse, the NRC has reduced the frequency of the inspections schedule in critical areas. With less stringent and frequent oversight by the NRC in the future, accountability over the course of a 40-year license would prove less protective of workers, of the surrounding communities, and of the natural environment.


1. We support and request commitments by Westinghouse, the NRC and DHEC to adopt additional requirements for effective, open, and transparent notification, communication, and consultation with the Lower Richland Community, facility neighbors, and the general public regarding facility operations including timely information on accidents, spills and discharges of pollution to the environment. We expect the Company and regulators to adhere to the principles of environmental justice in their community engagement and decision-making, including the recognition and avoidance of unjust and disparate impacts of facility operations on communities of color and low income;

2. We support the completion of a full and effective environmental impact statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), with full and effective consultation with and participation by facility neighbors, the Lower Richland community and the general public. Such EIS process must fully identify and assess all significant impacts of facility operations on the human and natural environment, including the impacts of future accidents, spills and pollution discharges resulting from a flawed safety and quality culture at Westinghouse. This EIS process and timeline must accommodate the needs of the community which has limited access to technology and has been restricted by conditions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic; and it must fully adhere to environmental justice principles and requirements;

3. We support and request that the proposed 40 year license extension be rejected in favor of a license renewed for a term of no more than 10 years, subject to a 1 year period of trial operations. Such restricted permit terms are warranted by the Company’s poor past compliance history and demonstrated poor safety and quality culture. Any license renewal must be conditioned on effective corrective action for all past significant failures to comply with regulatory requirements, a commitment to clean up and remediation of all significant environmental contamination, a demonstrated commitment to prevent future spills and pollution and a demonstrated commitment by Westinghouse to adopt a reformed safety and quality culture at the Company.