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SBE opposes waiver sought by nuclear power plants

The Society of Broadcast Engineers submitted comments to the FCC Jan. 17 opposing a petition from nuclear power plant operators seeking a waiver allowing them to obtain licenses for Part 74, Subpart H, Low Power Auxiliary (LPA) station.

According to the filing, the SBE “especially opposes” granting the waiver on a blanket basis. “SBE does not believe that a proper case can be made for allowing even a single NPP to be granted an LPA station license,” the filing said.

The SBE filing pointed out that the number vacant VHF and UHF TV channels on which LPA stations can operate has dwindled as a result of assigning second DTV channels to full-service analog TV stations and re-allocating channels 52–69 to other services. Class A TV stations, LPTV stations and TV translator stations further reduce the vacant channels for LPA station use.

Granting the nuclear power plant operators their requested waiver to use this scarce bandwidth “when other hardware exists that would provide the same functionality” as the envisioned UHF wireless intercoms is not in the public interest, the comments said.

Additionally, nuclear power plant operators have access to many Part 90 radio service frequencies reserved for power radio service at VHF low band, VHF high band and UHF land mobile frequencies. The operators also could use 800MHz Specialized Mobile Radio frequencies, the filing said. In the view of the SBE, the nuclear power plant operators failed to demonstrate why Part 90 frequencies could not be used from their wireless intercom needs.

The SBE also pointed out that it would not object to the use of the wireless intercom system inside the shielded containment vessel. However, the nuclear power plant’s waiver request explained that the intercom system would be used most heavily during refueling when the containment vessel is open and workers are transporting fuel rods between the containment building and storage areas and the spent-fuel pool, “which are, of course, not inside shielded enclosures,” the SBE filing said.

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