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Wednesday
Apr232014

Crimea conflict could risk another Chernobyl

As tensions mount in eastern and southern Ukraine after the Russian takeover in Crimea, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant sits in the potential firing line. Zaphorizhia, with six full size nuclear reactors, is located north of Crimea. Another nine reactors, at three separate locations, are also still operating across Ukraine.

"The current tension between Ukraine and Russia serves as a stark reminder that armed conflict and nuclear power don't mix,” said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear. “Decades of warnings that nuclear power plants are potential weapons for an enemy in wartime have gone unheeded. Whether intentionally targeted or accidentally hit during military conflict, atomic reactors and radioactive waste storage facilities could unleash catastrophic amounts of hazardous radioactivity over a broad region.” Read the full Beyond Nuclear press release.

Tuesday
Apr222014

Opponents to 20 More Years at Davis-Besse Challenge New Flaws: Renewables Cited as Inevitable Replacement

Toledo attorney Terry Lodge speaks out against a 20-year license extension at the cracked Davis-Besse atomic reactor at Oak Harbor High School, OH in August 2012.On Earth Day, 2014, opponents to 20 more years at Davis-Besse called for the problem-plagued atomic reactor to be shut down by Earth Day, 2017, or preferably earlier, before it melts down and its severely compromised containment releases catastrophic amounts of hazardous radioactivity downwind and downstream into the Great Lakes basin. Davis-Besse's 40-year license expires on April 22, 2017.

Citing renewable sources of electricity, such as wind power and solar photo-voltaics (PV), as ready replacements, a coalition of environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, filed comments by last night’s midnight deadline on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) regarding FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company’s (FENOC) proposed 20-year license extension.

At the same time, a coalition of official interveners resisting the license extension launched its latest salvo in the three-and-a-half-year-long NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) proceeding. The coalition is represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge (photo, left). The filing deadline was also April 21st -- 60 days after a Shield Building wall gap, and rebar damage, were officially reported by NRC.

The coalition issued a press release.

ASLB filing:

MOTION FOR ADMISSION OF CONTENTION NO. 6 ON SHIELD BUILDING CONCRETE VOID, CRACKING AND BROKEN REBAR PROBLEMS

Exhibits: #1, NRC Preliminary Notice of Event or Occurrence (Feb. 19, 2014); #2, Toledo Blade article, “Davis-Besse Had Air Gap in Shield Building,” (Feb. 15, 2014); #3, Declaration of Victoria Clemons (April 14, 2014); #4, Minutes of Internal Meeting of Davis-Besse Oversight Panel (Oct. 18, 2001); #5, Minutes of Internal Meeting of Davis-Besse Oversight Panel (Oct. 29, 2002); #6, NRC Preliminary Notice of Event or Occurrence (Sept. 20, 2013); #7, NRC Request for Additional Information (April 15, 2014); #8, Expert Witness Report of Arnold Gundersen, 50-246-LA (2013).

DEIS comments:

Amory Lovins' "Nuclear power’s competitive landscape and climate opportunity cost," March 28, 2014 (TMI+35), Dartmouth College, NH; PJM Interconnect: 30% grid integration of renewables not a problem.

More.

Monday
Apr212014

Chernobyl no "Eden" after 28 years

A newly published study has uncovered alarming indications of biological loss and ecological collapse in the area around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor that exploded in Ukraine on April 26, 1986. 

Nuclear boosters have long claimed that the superficial appearance of teeming wildlife in the approximately 1,000 square mile Chernobyl exclusion zone indicates an Eden-like outcome. But the study observed a frightening halt to organic decay and the disappearance of important microbes that indicate the steady advance of a potential “silent spring.” 

The illusion that the absence of humanity can only benefit wildlife is trumped when humanity has inflicted man-made poisons on a fragile ecosystem whose inhabitants are now biologically compromised by radiation exposures that will continue indefinitely,” observed Linda Gunter, international specialist at Beyond Nuclear, of the study’s findings.

Highly reduced mass loss rates and increased litter layer in radioactively contaminated areas, published in Oecologia, March 4, 2014, by Mousseau (Dr. Tim Mousseau pictured), Milinevsky, Kenney‑Hunt and Møller, found that the natural cycle of decay of organic materials around Chernobyl is largely dependent on microbial communities which have been significantly reduced in these radioactively contaminated zones. 

“We already know about plant and insect mutations and the shortened lifespans of birds in the zone, but this news is even more alarming,” said Paul Gunter, Director of Reactor Oversight at Beyond Nuclear. “The long-term consequences of the loss of this essential microbial community could be unprecedented ecologically, while the most immediate consequence is the build-up of undecayed leaf matter. This creates an increased risk of forest fires which could spread radioactivity to uncontaminated areas,” Gunter said.

Read the full press release


Wednesday
Apr162014

Nuclear emergency evacuation in Japan. What would happen?

Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action, Japan, discusses what would happen during an evacuation caused by a nuclear emergency in Japan. But the plans are deeply flawed and inadequate.

Wednesday
Apr092014

NRC Denies Modest Post-Fukushima Emergency Response Recommendations

The UN IAEA's official radioactivity hazard warning signDave Kraft, Director of Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) based in Chicago, wrote the following introduction as he forwarded the NIRS press release entitled "NRC Fails the American People: Denies Petition to Make Modest Improvements in Emergency Planning for Nuclear Reactor Accidents." Beyond Nuclear joined NEIS and three dozen other groups in supporting NIRS' petition.

"As a courtesy to our colleagues at NIRS in Washington, D.C., we forward a press release that reports the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s denial of a request to improve evacuation plans around U.S. nuclear reactors, based on the real-life information and evidence provided by the Fukushima and Chornobyl nuclear disasters.  With Illinois having 14 reactors – four of which are of Fukushima design and vintage -- and 9,000+ tons of high-level radioactive waste in the form of spent fuel in spent fuel pools and dry casks, this is no inconsequential matter.  (DISCLOSURE:  NEIS was a co-signatory of the petition to NRC)

Reality has never been a strong suit at the NRC, which consistently denies even the most common sense requests and recommendations emanating from members of the public they allegedly serve and protect.  The Commission’s interest in safety seems to be in direct proportion to the length of the leash held by Marvin S. Fertel, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry trade and lobbying group.  While NEI representatives are frequently invited by NRC to help write public policy on nuclear power issues, attend meetings and give briefings, public interest groups are routinely refused such opportunities.  This has been a consistent pattern of NRC behavior for decades.

It is for this reason that the public has come to understand that “NRC” actually stands for “not really concerned.”  NRC has yet to learn the lesson that betrayal is a rational justification for distrust."

Beyond Nuclear teamed up with NEIS on many occassions, including to co-sponsor the "Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High" conference in Chicago in Dec. 2012.