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Billion Dollar Claim Against Nuclear Plant

March 17, 1985

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ Thirty-nine people who own property near the Rancho Seco nuclear reactor have filed a $1 billion claim against the plant operator, charging that radiation from the facility is endangering their health.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which operates the plant, will review the claim, and is expected to reject it. Plaintiffs must file such a claim before filing a lawsuit.

Attorney Morton Friedman, who filed the claim Friday, said the amount of radioactivity in the environment near Rancho Seco is 20 to 100 times greater than acceptable levels set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He said people who eat wildlife taken from creeks fed by water discharged from Rancho Seco are especially endangered.

Ronald Rodriguez, SMUD’s nuclear executive director, denied the charges, claiming that people flying across the country in a jet or live at high elevations are exposed to more radiation than those near Rancho Seco.

Fewer than 500 people live within five miles of the plant, and about 11,600 people reside within 10 miles. The Rancho Seco plant was shut down for 90 days Friday for what utility officials said was a routine refueling and maintenance.

Craig Yuhas, an NRC regional chief of facilities radiological protection, said the municipal district incorrectly calculated radiactivity in Rancho Seco effluents.

He said corrected computations for 1980 through 1983 showed that the levels exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s minimum of 25 millirems of radiation exposure per year.

″We are not talking about hazardous levels of radiation,″ Yuhas said.

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