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Animals

Animals are affected by the operation of nuclear power - but are the most ignored of all the nuclear industry's victims. Whether sucked into reactor intake systems, or pulverized at the discharge, aquatic animals and their habitats are routinely harmed and destroyed by the routine operation of reactors. (For more, see our Licensed to Kill page).

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Wednesday
Jan072015

Cook nuclear plant leaks 2,000 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan over two month period

The twin-reactor Donald C. Cook nuclear power plant in Bridgman, MI on the Lake Michigan shoreline Nuclear power is "clean, carbon-free" energy? Hardly!

As reported by the Detroit Free Press on Jan. 3rd, and The Huffington Post on Jan. 7th, the twin-reactor Donald C. Cook nuclear power plant, owned by American Electric Power/Indiana-Michigan Power Company, leaked an estimated 2,000 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan, over the course of two months, before the leak was discovered and stopped.

Lake Michigan is a headwaters of the Great Lakes, which provide drinking water to 40 million North Americans in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.

And, as reported by Climate Progress on Jan. 6, Entergy's Palisades -- just 30 miles north of Cook, also on the Lake Michigan shore -- recently leaked 80 gallons of oil on the beach, but claimed it didn't reach the lake.

Climate Progress also reported a scare at Cook just months ago, that 8,700 gallons of oil had leaked into Lake Michigan -- but American Electric Power later claimed a worker misread a guage, disavowing the oil leak had actually occurred.

And Climate Progress mentioned the fears swirling around Enbridge Canadian tar sands crude oil pipelines under Lakes Michigan and Huron at the Straits of Mackinac.

1.4 million gallons of Canadian tar sands crude leaked into the Kalamazoo River, upstream of Lake Michigan, in July 2010. Inside Climate News won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2013 for its coverage of the devastating impact of this largest ever inland oil spill in U.S. history.

A recent oil leak into Lake Michigan also occurred at a BP oil refinery in Whiting, IN.

The Detroit Free Press article quoted Michael Keegan of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes:

Michael Keegan, director of the nonprofit Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, is troubled by news of the leak.

"What's concerning is they don't really know the extent of the leak," he said. "Nearly two months later is the first determination they make that they have an oil leak? It speaks to the quality assurance of all of their other systems."

The fact that the oil is not recoverable is also problematic, Keegan said.

"There's a belief some have that the solution to pollution is dilution. It's not," he said.

From 1997 to 2000, both Cook units were shut down for major safety violations revealed by nuclear industry whistleblower Curtis Overall and David Lochbaum, Director, Nuclear Safety Program, Union of Concerned Scientists. A slogan developed in the nuclear power industry, of not wanting to get "Cooked" -- that is, busted by whistleblowers and nuclear safety advocates, forcing NRC to do its job.

An environmental coalition borrowed the phrase, and flew airplane banners over Cook, with holiday themes. For example, the Valentine's Day banner, complete with radiation symbols and hearts, read "Stop in the Name of Love! Don't Cook the Great Lakes!"

Wednesday
Nov262014

Seals entrained at Welsh nuclear power plant

As reported in Licensed to Kill, animals are sucked into nuclear power plants through the high velocity cooling water intake systems. In Wales, at the Wylfa plant, a mother seal and her pup recently endured this trauma, Fortunately both were rescued and survived. But it remains a little-publicized "side effect" of once-through cooling power plants that kill or mame millions of sea creatures, especially fish, fingerlings and spawn but also larger animals and endangered sea life such as sea turtles. More.

Tuesday
Oct072014

Coalition asserts Fermi 3 transmission corridor violates NEPA

Atomic reactors and their electrical transmission lines are inextricably interlinked, yet NRC staff has failed to undertake a NEPA review of the proposed new Fermi 3 transmission line corridor's environmental impacts.The environmental coalition intervening against the proposed new Fermi 3 reactor has re-asserted its nearly three-year old challenge, directly to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's five Commissioners themselves, that the inextricably interlinked transmission line corridor needed to export the electricity to the grid is still in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The coalition's Toledo-based attorney, Terry Lodge, filed a Petition for Review with the NRC Commissioners by their ordered deadline. The petition defends not only the contention's merit, but also its separation from the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel's request to the Commissioners for permission to undertake a sua sponte review.

That is, the ASLB panel has requested permission to review, on its own initiative, the NRC staff's apparent violation of NEPA, by failing to undertake an Environmental Impact Statement review of the proposed new transmission corridor, which will past through forested wetlands, likely habitat to endangered and threatened species.

Detroit Edison (DTE) proposes to construct and operate a General Electric-Hitachi (GEH) so-called Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) -- "Unit 3" -- at the Fermi nuclear power plant in Frenchtown Township, on the Lake Erie shore in southeast Michigan. It would be located immediately adjacent to Fermi Unit 2, the world's single largest Fukushima Daiichi twin design (a GE Mark I BWR). Ironically enough, Fermi 3 would be build on the exact same spot where Fermi Unit 1, an experimental plutonium breeder reactor, suffered a partial core meltdown on Oct. 5, 1966, a near-catastrophe documented in John G. Fuller's book We Almost Lost Detroit (Reader's Digest Press, 1975).

The binational coalition intervening against Fermi 3's license includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (CACC), Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. The coalition initially filed its intervention in March 2009, and has submitted dozens of contentions since.

Monday
Jun092014

Two dozen groups urge State of MA to divest from Entergy due to safety and economic risks at Pilgrim

NRC file photo of Entergy's Pilgrim GE BWR Mark I on Cape Cod Bay in Plymouth, MABeyond Nuclear has signed onto an effort spearheaded by the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, and endorsed by two dozen local groups, to urge the State of Massachusetts to divest more than $8 million invested in Entergy. The signatory groups cited the economic and safety risks associated with the nuclear utility's problem-plagued Pilgrim atomic reactor. A June 4th letter was sent to Governor Patrick and Treasurer Grossman, as described in a June 9th press release.

The letter cites Pilgrim's harmful impacts on the fisheries of Cape Cod Bay.

NRC recently placed Pilgrim on its "degraded" performance short list. The only other reactor in the country with a worse performance designation is FitzPatrick in upstate New York. Both Pilgrim and FitzPatrick are General Electric Mark I boiling water reactors, identical in design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4.

Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor in Michigan was similarly designated one of the worst performers in the U.S. a couple years ago, after not one but two near-misses in 2011, and yet another one in 2012, as documented by David Lochbaum at Union of Concerned Scientists.

A year ago, energy economist Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School identified Entergy's six merchant reactors (half its national fleet), including Pilgrim, as at risk of near-term shutdown. This is due to a variety of factors, including economic uncompetitiveness and needed, costly safety repairs. In August 2013, Cooper was proven right, when Entergy announced the permanent shutdown of Vermont Yankee (another Entergy GE BWR Mark I) by the end of 2014.

Friday
May092014

Entergy's Palisades spills 70 gallons of oil on the edge of Lake Michigan

NRC file photo of Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor, as well as the Great Lake and surrounding countryside it puts at riskDespite the industry's claim that nuclear power is "clean energy," Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor has just spilled "approximately 70 gallons" of oil onto the ground, adjacent to the waters of Lake Michigan. As a headwaters for the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan supplies drinking water to 40 million people in eight U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.

The Kalamazoo Gazette has reported on this oil leak. This latest incident at Palisades was made public by an Event Notification posted at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's website.

The oil spill comes a year and two days after Palisades leaked 82.1 gallons of radioactive water directly into Lake Michigan. The radioactive spill prompted a protest vigil at Palisades' front entrace, organized by Beyond Nuclear and local concerned citizens' groups, after U.S. Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chair of the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce (whose district "hosts" Palisades), as well as NRC Commissioner Svinicki, failed to even acknowledge requests for meetings after their hastily arranged emergency tour of the problem-plagued plant.

Palisades' oil spill also comes less than two months after British Petroleum spilled 1,638 gallons of Canadian tar sands crude oil into Lake Michigan at its refinery in Whiting, IN, and less than four years after the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history, upstream of Lake Michigan: 1.4 million gallons of Canadian tar sands crude, from Enbridge's Line 6B oil pipeline, into the Kalamazoo River at Marshall, MI. To protect irreplacable surface waters like Lake Michigan, Beyond Nuclear stands in solidarity with anti-dirty energy allies against oil pipelines.

The very title of a May 7, 2014 U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General report shows there is much to be concerned about: PHMSA's State Pipeline Safety Program Lacks Effective Management and Oversight. Before becoming PHMSA's Administrator, Cynthia L. Quaterman, she had represented oil companies, including Enbridge, as a legal counsel.

There were widespread calls for PHMSA Administrator Quaterman to block a permit for Bruce Nuclear to ship, by boat, radioactive steam generators on the Great Lakes, but she did not do so. However, it took Mohawk First Nation pledges to block the boats on the Saint Lawrence River before Bruce Nuclear stopped pushing the proposal.