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Decommissioning

Although it is imperative that we shut down nuclear plants, they remain dangerous, and expensive even when closed. Radioactive inventories remain present on the site and decommissioning costs have been skyrocketing, presenting the real danger that utilities will not be able to afford to properly shut down and clean up non-operating reactor sites.

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Friday
Sep202019

Vigilance required as TMI-1 enters decommissioning phase

Middletown, PA town council meeting, June 20, 1979. Photo by Robert Del Tredichi, from his book "The People of Three Mile Island" (Sierra Club Books, 1980). Used with permission.As reported by CNN.

Three Mile Island-Unit 1 in PA had been announced by its owner Exelon Nuclear to be closed by May 2018, but this was its bid to leverage a public bailout. After it failed to orchestrate a PA State Legislature bailout, on May 8, 2019, Exelon Nuclear confirmed that TMI-1 would close for good, by Sept. 30, 2019. It is now closing today, for good.

As we have feared, the closure of Three Mile Island Unit 1, for lack of a public bailout, is now being used as leverage to force through bailouts for several other dangerously old atomic reactors in Pennsylvania, as this WGAL report shows.

Beyond Nuclear's founding board member, Dr. Judith H. Johnsrud (1931-2014), intervened against the licensing of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, long before it was built. She did so as a founder and leader of the Environmental Coalition on Nuclear Power. Johnsrud also co-founded Nuclear Information and Resource Service. After she passed on, Beyond Nuclear established the Dr. Judith H. Johnsrud "Unsung Hero" Award, awarded annually during the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability "D.C. Days" to grassroots anti-nuclear activists who embody her spirit, and carry on her work.

Rebutting nuclear industry propaganda, Beyond Nuclear has documented the harm caused to people and the environment by the March 28, 1979 50% meltdown of the Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor core.

The good news from the TMI-1 permanent shutdown is that, by definition, once the irradiated nuclear fuel is removed from the reactor core for the last time, a meltdown can no longer occur. Also, no more high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) will be generated.

However, watchdog vigilance must continue. The high-level radioactive waste storage pool, as well as the inadequate dry cask storage permitted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, still threaten catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity. Also, the radioactive contamination of the site, in the middle of the Susquehanna River, must be cleaned up.

The companies vying for control over decommissioning -- Holtec/SNC-Lavalin, NorthStar, EnergySolutions -- are notorious. They seek to maximize profits by looting decommissioning trust funds, while doing as little radiological cleanup, and taking as many short cuts on HLRW management safety, as they can get away with.

Thursday
Sep192019

ATTEND, COMMENT: Decommissioning meetings across the country

NRC announced 11 public meetings (this link also has details on past meetings) regarding establishment of local community advisory boards (CABs).

These meetings run from August through October, 2019 and are in places where reactors are already undergoing decommissioning, or are supposed to soon enter the decommissioning phase. 

NRC will accept written comments through mid-November 2019 if you cannot attend a meeting in person.

If you want to attend in person, the next group of meetings will be in the:

 

Midwest:

Sept. 24 (Kewaunee, WI)

Sept. 26 (Zion, IL)

Northeast:

Oct. 2 (Indian Point, NY)

Oct. 3 (Oyster Creek, NJ)

and Florida:

Oct. 10 (Crystal River, FL)

Click links for times and locations. Please spread word to folks you know in any of these locations.

COMMENT electronically using the questionnaire NRC has provided. You may also complete a paper copy of the questionnaire then scan and email to NRC at NEIMA108.Resource@nrc.gov, or mail a hardcopy of the questionnaire to Kim Conway, U.S. NRC, 11545 Rockville Pike, Mail Stop T-5 A10, Rockville, MD 20852. Deadline for written comments in mid-November, 2019.

More than 200 environmental organizations have endorsed Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS), a highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel management interim alternative, during decommissioning. More

Tuesday
Sep032019

96 Organizations Join Call to Suspend NRC Pilgrim License Transfer

Beyond Nuclear and 95 other groups sent a letter to NRC raising serious concerns about the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) rubber-stamp transferring the license for Pilgrim atomic reactor to Holtec International.

CapeCodToday has a listing of the signatory groups posted, here.

Also posted there are quotes from several representatives of several of the groups.

Here is the one from Beyond Nuclear:

"Holtec has been implicated in bribery, paid a hefty fine, and was even barred from contracting with a federal agency over it," said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear. "Then Holtec's CEO Krishna Singh provided false information about it under oath to the State of New Jersey, to secure a tax break worth hundreds of millions of dollars. A company with so many skeletons in its closet cannot be trusted with decommissioning trust funds collectively worth billions, let alone the cleanup of radioactive contamination, and high-level radioactive waste management. NRC's rubber-stamp complicity, as at the Pilgrim nuclear reactor in Massachusetts, cannot stand," Kamps added.

Here is a direct link to the letter itself.

Monday
Aug262019

Beyond Nuclear testifies before NRC re: nuclear power plant decommissioning Community Advisory Boards; please submit your own public comments!

The Palisades atomic reactor, and the Lake Michigan shoreline it puts at worsening risk of a radioactive catastrophe.As announced by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), ten public meeting dates and venues, regarding the potential formation of "community advisory boards" (CABs) near decommissioning nuclear power plants, have been announced. The initiative began with an August 8th NRC webinar, attended by more than 300 concerned citizens, despite the agency only having given two days' notice (see NRC's webinar slides; and here is a link to a grassroots recording of the webinar, compliments of Nick Maxwell at WeTheFourth in Lea County, New Mexico).

The nation-wide meetings kicked off with Palisades atomic reactor in southwest Michigan on August 21st, at which Beyond Nuclear's radioactive waste specialist Kevin Kamps testified (see a photo, left, of Entergy Nuclear's Palisades, and Lake Michigan, which its reactor, and stored high-level radioactive waste, continually threaten, and into which even Palisades' "routine" operation expels hazardous radioactivity on a regular basis; Lake Michigan is part of the headwaters of the Great Lakes, providing drinking water, and much more, to 40 million people downstream, in two countries, and a large number of Native American First Nations).

Kevin's testimony focused on lessons that must be learned from the decommissioning of Palisades' sibling atomic reactor, Big Rock Point in Charlevoix, MI (see his 2006 report). 

Grassroots representatives of Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of Chicago, Michigan Safe Energy Future, Sierra Club, Don't Waste Michigan, and Palisades Shutdown Campaign Coalition, as well as local residents from Palisades Park and Covert Township, also spoke out about their deep concerns.

Here is a video recording of the entire meeting, provided by Kimon Kotos.

NRC also committed to providing a transcript of the meeting, but did not say when it would become available. As soon as it is, we will post it here.

As Native Community Action Council secretary, and Western Bands of Shoshone Indians Principal Man, Ian Zabarte, made clear in a recent Las Vegas Sun interview, high-level radioactive waste cannot be dumped on their sacred, treaty-protected lands at Yucca Mountain. Therefore, as NEIS director David Kraft testified on August 21st, the call endorsed by more than 200 environmental organizations, for Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS), first promulgated in April 2002 as an interim alternative to the dangerously bad Yucca dump scheme, should -- at long last -- be taken seriously by NRC, not to mention Congress, the White House, the nuclear power industry, the U.S. Department of Energy, etc.

Future NRC CAB public comment meetings include: Humboldt Bay, August 26th, Eureka, CA; Diablo Canyon, August 27th, San Luis Obispo, CA; San Onofre, August 29th, San Juan Capistrano, CA; Vermont Yankee, September 10th, Brattleboro, VT; Pilgrim, September 11th, Plymouth, MA; Kewaunee, September 24th, Kewaunee, WI; Zion, September 26th, Waukegan, IL; Indian Point, October 2nd, Cortlandt, NY; Oyster Creek, October 3rd, Manahawkin, NJ; Crystal River, October 10th, Crystal River, FL.

NRC will accept public comments re: CABs until mid-November, 2019.

The agency has provided a questionnaire, and various means for submitting public comments, including: fill out the questionnaire online and submit electronically; scan completed hardcopy questionnaire and send to <NEIMA108.Resource@nrc.gov>; or mail completed hardcopy questionnaires to Kim Conway, U.S. NRC, 11545 Rockville Pike, Mail Stop T-5 A10, Rockville, MD 20852.

To learn more about decommissioning issues, for ideas to include in your public comments to NRC, see recordings of May 13, 2019 and July 16, 2018 Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) Capitol Hill briefings, complete with links to extensive documentation and additional information. You can also visit Beyond Nuclear's Decommissioning website section. NRC also maintains a website regarding this decommissioning CAB public comment opportunity.

Thursday
Aug152019

Canadian ethics commissioner vindicates justice minister -- Prime Minister Trudeau violated Conflict of Interest Act by urging corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin be dropped

As reported by CBC.

Earlier this year, the Canadian justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, accused Prime Minister Justice Trudeau of inappropriately pressuring her to drop criminal corruption charges against the gargantuan nuclear engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, based in Montreal, Quebec, but operating across not only Canada, but the entire world. The criminal corruption has to do with SNC-Lavalin officials engaging in bribery with the Khadaffi regime in Libya before its overthrow. If found guilty of those charges, SNC-Lavalin would be barred from entering into contracts with the Canadian federal government. It could lose many billions of dollars in revenues.

As the Canadian ethics commissioner has now clearly documented, not only Trudeau, but others in his office, pressured Wilson-Raybould to go easy on SNC-Lavalin, not only in light of the charges' impact on the company's bottom line (and jobs associated with it), but also the impact on provincial and even national elections.

The Canadian federal elections are ten weeks away, in October 2019, making the publication of this ethics commission report all the more explosive.

SNC-Lavalin has formed a consortium with Holtec International, to secure nuclear power plant decommissioning and high-level radioactive waste management contracts at permanently shutdown atomic reactors in the U.S. Actually, the form this is taking, is the complete takeover of the nuclear power plant license, as well as title to the irradiated nuclear fuel, by Holtec/SNC-Lavalin. The consortium already has secured Oyster Creek, NJ site. It is poised to secure the Pilgrim, MA site. It has its eyes on Palisades MI, Indian Point NY, and others as well.

This begs the question, should such companies as SNC-Lavalin, and Holtec International, with so many skeletons in their closets, be entrusted with multiple billions of dollars in decommissioning trust funds, not to mention the most serious tasks of cleaning up radiological contamination, and storing high-level radioactive waste?!