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Tuesday
Jan272015

Entergy's Pilgrim atomic reactor near Boston to remain on NRC's "degraded cornerstone" list for second year, as winter storm bears down 

NRC file photo of Entergy Nuclear's Pilgrim atomic reactor on Cape Cod Bay near BostonAs reported by The Enterprise, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has kept Entergy Nuclear's Pilgrim atomic reactor (photo, left), near Boston, on its "degraded cornerstone" list of worst performing atomic reactors in the country. Ironically, Entergy failed an NRC inspection, even it told the agency when it was ready to be inspected. First of all, when do students get to tell the teacher when they're ready for the exam? And then fail the test?! Who's the regulator, and who's the regulated?!

This comes as a severe winter storm bears down on Boston. As the industry lobby and PR front, Nuclear Energy Institute, brags up nuclear power's supposed reliability during severe winter weather, anti-nuclear and environmental watchdogs near Pilgrim put out a press release warning that severe weather increases the safety risks of reactor operations and high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) management. Despite this, the reactor remains at 100% power, and inherently risky HLRW pool to dry cask transfer operations continue as if business is usual.

During Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the storm surge came precariously close to flooding safety-significant pumps needed to keep cooling water circulating in the HLRW storage pool at Pilgrim.

Wednesday
Jan212015

TransCanada's other dirty, dangerous, and expensive energy scheme: Bruce Nuclear and the proposed Great Lakes radioactive waste dump

TransCanada Pipeline's radioactive wastes from its Bruce Nuclear Generating Station are targeted to be buried less than a mile from the Lake Huron shoreline.TransCanada Pipelines, infamous for its Keystone XL tar sands pipeline scheme, is also a nuclear power utility and generator of radioactive wastes.

TransCanada is a major partner in Bruce Nuclear, which leases and operates Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Kincardine, Ontario (photo, left). Bruce is one of the world's single largest nuclear power plants, with a total of nine reactors on one site: one long-shuttered early prototype reactor (Douglass Point), and eight operable commercial CANDUs (Canadian Deuterium-Uranium reactors) at the adjacent Bruce A and Bruce B nuclear power plants.

Bruce Nuclear is located on the Great Lakes shoreline, 50 miles across Lake Huron from Michigan. OPG proposes to bury all of the province's so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes, including those generated by TransCanada Pipeline's, in a "Deep Geologic Repository" (DGR) at Bruce. This, despite the risk to the drinking water for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations. Learn more, and take action!

Wednesday
Jan212015

Coalition presses challenge against Palisades' dangerously embrittled RPV

Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor is located on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Covert, MI. The Great Lakes serve as drinking water for 40 million North Americans in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.An environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste MI, Michigan Safe Energy Future, and Nuclear Energy Information Service of IL, has pressed its legal challenge against Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor (photo, left). The coalition, represented by Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge, and Vermont-based expert witness Arnie Gundersen (Chief Engineer, Fairewinds Associates, Inc.), filed a Combined Reply on Jan. 20, to Answers filed by Entergy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff on Jan. 12.

Entergy submitted a License Amendment Request to NRC on July 29, seeking -- yet again -- to weaken safety standards against Pressurized Thermal Shock (PTS). Palisades has the worst embrittled reactor pressure vessel (RPV) in the U.S., an affliction suffered by all U.S. pressurized water reactors, to a greater or lesser extent. The coalition intervened against the regulatory rollback on Dec. 1.

On Dec. 23, Fairewinds Energy Education published a video about PTS risks at Palisades, entitled "Nuclear Crack Down?", featuring Arnie Gundersen.

From 2005 to 2007, a broad Great Lakes environmental coalition resisted the 20-year license extension at Palisades. Its top safety concern was PTS. NRC rubberstamped the extension nonetheless, approving operations till 2031. Palisades has violated NRC PTS safety standards for decades, but each time, NRC simply weakens its regulations to accommodate Palisades, and enable its ongoing, catastrophically risky operations.

Like a hot glass under cold water (albeit a hot glass under a ton of pressure per square inch!), Palisades' neutron-embrittled RPV could fracture if the Emergency Core Cooling System ever pumps cold water onto the hot metal. This would lead to a Loss of Coolant Accident, and likely core meltdown. If containment were to be breached, as at Fukushima Daiichi, a catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity would follow.

Thursday
Jan152015

Japan closing 5 reactors but U.S. still running its Fukushimas

The Japanese nuclear industry has announced it will permanently close five more of its remaining 48 "operable" nuclear reactors by March 2015, leaving the country with 43 reactors "operable" but still not actually "operating." Two of the plants to be decommissioned are the same GE Mark I boiling water reactors identical to Fukushima. Despite the political landscape in Japan still promoting nuclear power, the anti-nuclear movement there continues to campaign to keep all of Japan's reactors closed indeifinitely.
Public, political and economic pressure in the U.S. contributed to the recent permanent shutdown of Vermont Yankee, a  Mark I, but the U.S. continues to operate 22 more  of these Fukushima-style reactors (and eight similar Mark IIs.) Beyond Nuclear campaigns for the prompt and permanent closure of all the world's "Fukushimas." More
Monday
Jan122015

Anti-nuclear activists who rallied on Sunday for Charlie Hebdo understood the connection

As many of our anti-nuclear colleagues rallied on Sunday to pay tribute to their fallen comdrades at Charlie Hebdo, their protest against the silencing of dissenting voices was brought close to home once again. The group Coordination Anti-nucléaire Sud-Est learned one day before the Hebdo assassinations that Areva was suing them for defamation. Areva objects to the group reporting on the infiltration of elected officials by the nuclear lobby. This comes on the heels of a similar law suit brought against the French anti-nuclear activist Stéphane Lhomme of l’Observatoire du Nucléaire, who revealed that Areva made a multi-million dollar payment to Niger (where the company mines uranium), part of which was used to buy the Niger president a jet. The verdict in the Lhomme case will be announced on January 21st. Both groups and the French anti-nuclear movement broadly, contend that the state will continue to protect Areva in the on-going colonial war to plunder uranium resources from Niger, Mali and elsewhere in Africa. The Coordination Anti-nucléaire Sud-Est also released a statement condemning the assassinations at Charlie Hebdo and making the connection between colonialism and the suppression of freedom of expression. Read a translation of their statement here. (Caption on the cartoon, by Tignous, one of those killed at the Charlie Hebdo offices, reads: "Everything is fine at the Arlit uranium mine. If Areva says so."