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Tuesday
Apr172018

Groups call for equal nuclear protections for Americans

Beyond Nuclear, Greenpeace Canada, and The Alliance to Halt Fermi 3, are calling for US citizens to receive the same protections against nuclear disaster as their neighbors in Canada. The American Thyroid Association has also come out in favor of harmonizing American and Canadian distribution of potassium-iodide tablets which, if administered promptly, can help reduce the risk of and even prevent thyroid cancer caused by exposure to radioactive iodine released during a nuclear accident.

The group statement came at a public event held in Detroit on April 18, 2018, which set out the reasons why people in Michigan and Ohio living near the Fermi 2 nuclear reactor (pictured) near Monroe, MI, should receive the same protections as Ontario residents living within the Fermi nuclear station’s 10- and 50-mile emergency zones.

In an April 17, 2018 press release, the groups called on U.S. authorities to harmonize American nuclear emergency plans with newly strengthened Canadian public safety rules requiring the direct distribution and stockpiling of potassium iodide (KI) pills for Canadians living near the Michigan-based Fermi 2 nuclear station.

If taken shortly after a nuclear accident, a KI pill significantly reduces the risk of thyroid cancer caused by exposure to radioactive iodine released during a nuclear accident. Thousands of people, especially children, came down with thyroid cancer downwind of the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Ukraine. 

Ontario’s recently updated nuclear emergency plan requires KI be predistribute by direct delivery to to door of  Canadians living within the 10-mile evacuation planning zone of the Fermi 2 and strategically stockpiled in 50-mile ingestion planning zones, which reach deep into Southern Ontario.  

“Michigan and Ohio residents living in the Fermi 2 emergency planning zone deserve the same level of protection as their Canadian neighbors,” said Paul Gunter with the Maryland-based organization, Beyond Nuclear. “American authorities should match the new Canadian requirements so that potentially impacted U.S. residents can have KI predistributed directly to their homes and workplaces,” Gunter continued.

Following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, Canadian authorities required safe and effective KI pills be delivered to the homes of over 200,000 Canadians living within the six-mile evacuation zone around Ontario-based reactors and be made available upon request to anyone within a 30-mile extended planning zone. Ontario’s new emergency plan extends this requirement to Canadians living within the Fermi nuclear station’s 10- and 50-mile emergency zones.

The joint campaign effort focuses on a petition initative to municiple governments in the Fermi 2 emergency planning zones calling for harmonization with the Canadian predistribution and stockpiling of KI as supported by medical professionals with the ATA. 

Read the full press release.

Wednesday
Apr112018

Sample comments you can use to write your own for submission to NRC in opposition to Holtec's CISF in s.e. NM

See Beyond Nuclear's Centralized Storage website section, for sample comments (prepared by Beyond Nuclear, and other groups, such as Nuclear Watch New Mexico) you can use to prepare your own for submission to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). We need to generate large numbers of quality public comments, in opposition to Holtec International/Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance's (ELEA) scheme to open a centralized interim storage facility for 100,000+ metric tons of highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel in southeast New Mexico. This de facto permanent surface storage parking lot dump would be bigger than the permanent burial dump targeted at Yucca Mountain, Nevada (limited by law to 70,000 metric tons of highly radioactive waste). Thus, the transport impacts to most states in the Lower 48 would also be worse.

If you live close enough, you can submit verbal comments in person at NRC public meetings in s.e. NM in late April/early May. See details at Beyond Nuclear's Centralized Storage website section for details on dates, locations, and times.

NRC has announced a national phone-in/webinar session for public comment submission on Wednesday, April 25, from 7-9pm Eastern Time. The call-in number/webinar sign-up instructions will be circulated, as soon as NRC provides them. Those who live in the Washington, D.C. area could also attend this meeting, to be held at NRC HQ in Rockville, MD, located at 11555 Rockville Pike, to provide verbal comments in person.

(And if you know people near s.e. NM and Washington, D.C., please spread word to them! Let folks know far and wide about the phone-in webinar, and other comment submission opportunities!)

The public comment deadline is May 29, 2018. Instructions for how to submit your public comments online, via Regulations.gov, as well as by snail mail, to NRC are provided at Beyond Nuclear's Centralized Storage website section posts.

Members of the public can submit as many public comments as they wish, with no length restrictions. Watch Beyond Nuclear's Centralized Storage website section in the days and weeks ahead, for yet more sample comments, addressing the multifaceted high risks of the Holtec/ELEA scheme.

Tuesday
Apr102018

Groups call for Oyster Creek reactor to be "autopsied" after closure

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2015 identified the need to "harvest" components for examination from closed reactors. Since then, nothing has happened. At a meeting tonight (April 10)in New Jersey, Beyond Nuclear will be asking the NRC why not. And with the country's oldest nuclear reactor -- New Jersey's Oyster Creek -- due to close permanently this October, Beyond Nuclear and its allies will be insisting that such examinations be put into play, rather than bury the evidence. Such autopsies would inform regulators of the potential hazards of continued operation at the country's remaining nuclear reactors, already showing serious signs of dangerous degradation impacting health and safety. 

Here are the opening paragraphs of our press release (read the full release here.)

TAKOMA PARK, MD --The Oyster Creek nuclear power station in Lacey Township, New Jersey should undergo an “autopsy” after it closes permanently in October 2018 and begins the decommissioning process, say three groups that closely watchdog the country’s oldest nuclear power plant.

Beyond Nuclear, based in Takoma Park, MD, New Jersey Clean Water Action and GRAMMES, a New Jersey nuclear watchdog group, are calling upon the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to oversee a strategic harvesting of aged reactor materials from safety-related components and structures to be used as samples for laboratory analyses or an “autopsy.”

Oyster Creek is presently the nation’s oldest operating power reactor and the world’s first Fukushima-style nuclear reactor, a GE Mark I boiling water design. In Japan, that design saw reactor safety systems and structures fail to prevent three reactor meltdowns nor contain massive releases of radioactivity following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The groups are asking the NRC, and Chicago-based Exelon Generation which owns Oyster Creek, to harvest a variety of material samples during decommissioning, including irradiated steel and concrete from safety structures and components from the 47-year old reactor for the scientific analysis of residual safety margins.

The groups say that an Oyster Creek autopsy can provide valuable information on safety margins and potential hazards for the 21 similarly designed and aging GE Mark I reactor units still operating in the country.

Read the full press release.

Thursday
Apr052018

Plowshares action at Kings Bay Naval Base, GA

Seven Catholic plowshares activists calling themselves  Kings Bay Plowshares, were detained in the early hours of April 5 at the Kings Bay Naval Base St. Mary's Georgia. They entered on Wednesday night April 4 on the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Carrying hammers and baby bottles of their own blood, the seven attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction.

Kings Bay Naval base opened in 1979 as the Navy's Atlantic Ocean Trident port. It is the largest nuclear submarine base in the world. There are six ballistic missile subs and two guided missile subs based at Kings Bay.

The activists went to three sites on the base: The administration building, the D5 Missile monument installation and the nuclear weapons storage bunkers. The activists used crime scene tape, hammers and banners reading: The ultimate logic of racism is genocide, Dr. Martin Luther King; The ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide; Nuclear weapons: illegal - immoral. They also brought an indictment charging the U.S. government for crimes against peace.

The activists at the nuclear weapons storage bunkers were Elizabeth McAlister,78. Jonah House, Baltimore; Steve Kelly, S. J.,69 Bay Area CA; Carmen Trotta, 55, NY Catholic Worker. The activists at the Administration building were Clare Grady, 59, Ithaca Catholic Worker; Martha Hennessy, 62, NY Catholic Worker. The activists at the Trident D5 monuments were Mark Colville, 55, Amistad Catholic Worker New Haven CT; Patrick O'Neill, 61, Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker Garner NC.

All activists are being detained and as of 10:00 Thursday morning were acknowledged by the Camden County, Georgia jail as “on the way.” No one was injured.

This is the latest of 100 similar Plowshares actions around the world beginning in 1980 in King of Prussia PA.

Wednesday
Apr042018

Will FirstEnergy’s lavish lobbying dollars buy a bailout?

FirstEnergy, the Ohio-based utility that just announced premature closures of four of its nuclear reactors, has spent $2 million a year on lobbying over the past seven years. On April 4, the company’s chief lobbyist reportedly dined with President Trump, just as its subsidiary, FirstEnergy Solutions (FES), which filed for bankruptcy on March 31, is attempting to score a bailout to pre-empt the shutdowns which, it claimed, would cause a grid emergency, something the grid operator has exposed as nonsense. (More details here.) FES also played the jobs card while obfuscating its role in a fatally restrictive zoning provision passed by the Ohio legislature in 2014. The measure stifled $1.6 billion in wind power development in the state which would have created thousands of steady and secure renewable energy jobs. But FirstEnergy’s lobbying dollars, like those of the National Rifle Association, are an investment in Members of Congress and the White House for just such an instance as this, and it’s a well-used script. The Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s trade group, has typically spent similar amounts in lobbying dollars each year. Exelon, the country’s biggest nuclear corporation, spent a whopping $9 million in 2011 alone and $4.5 million last year, only a fraction less than the NRA which spent just over $5 million in 2017. More