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NRC

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is mandated by Congress to ensure that the nuclear industry is safe. Instead, the NRC routinely puts the nuclear industry's financial needs ahead of public safety. Beyond Nuclear has called for Congressional investigation of this ineffective lapdog agency that needlessly gambles with American lives to protect nuclear industry profits.

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Entries by admin (283)

Tuesday
Jun122018

Environmental Coalition Demands Expedited Release of Documents regarding Public and Nonpublic Meeting Between NRC and FERC: Groups Cite Risks to Ratepayer and Taxpayer Pocketbooks from Massive Proposed Bailouts, and Regulatory Rollback Safety Risks

Terry Lodge of Toledo, OH, legal counsel for Beyond Nuclear and Don't Waste MichiganBeyond Nuclear issued the following press release (see it in PDF format here; in .docx format here; and pasted in below):

News from Beyond Nuclear

For Immediate Release, June 12, 2018 

Contact: Terry Lodge, legal counsel for Beyond Nuclear and Don’t Waste Michigan (photo, left), (419) 205-7084, tjlodge50@yahoo.com

Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Specialist, Beyond Nuclear, (240) 462-3216, kevin@beyondnuclear.org

Michael Keegan, Don’t Waste Michigan, (734) 770-1441, mkeeganj@comcast.net

Environmental Coalition Demands Expedited Release of Documents

regarding Public and Nonpublic Meeting Between NRC and FERC

Groups Cite Risks to Ratepayer and Taxpayer Pocketbooks from Massive Proposed Bailouts,

and Regulatory Rollback Safety Risks

Washington, D.C.—A coalition of environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, Don’t Waste Michigan, Public Citizen, and the Sierra Club, have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), seeking documents related to its public meeting, as well as its separate, secretive, nonpublic meeting, held with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday, June 7, 2018. The FOIA request letter to NRC is posted online.

“We are deeply concerned that at the same time President Trump and Energy Secretary Perry are scheming with nuclear power industry lobbyists to massively bail out dangerously age-degraded atomic reactors at public expense in order to keep them operating for years to come, NRC and FERC may be conspiring behind closed doors to further weaken safety regulations, in order to boost industry profits even more,” stated Terry Lodge, counsel for Beyond Nuclear and Don’t Waste Michigan.

Experts featured on a telephone press conference held on June 6, 2018 – including Tyson Slocum, director of the Energy Program at Public Citizen, a signatory group endorsing today’s FOIA request – warned that the Trump/Perry bailout could cost U.S. federal taxpayers, and American ratepayers, up to $17 billion per year, for old reactor subsidies alone. An additional $17 billion per year electricity surcharge could accrue to the American public from the old coal plant side of the Trump/Perry bailout proposal. The press release, and press conference audio recording, are posted online at NIRS’s website.

The proposed bailout originated with the coal-burning and atom-splitting electricity generator FirstEnergy, headquartered in Akron, Ohio. The utility has attempted for several years to secure multi-billion dollar bailouts at both the state and federal levels, but has not succeeded. However, it seems to have recently gained significant traction with President Trump and Energy Secretary Perry, thanks to the personal lobbying of Jeff Miller on behalf of FirstEnergy. Miller, a longtime close personal friend and colleague of the Energy Secretary, who served as Rick Perry’s campaign manager during his unsuccessful presidential run in 2016, is reportedly paid $110,000 per quarter by FirstEnergy for his lobbying services. After Miller attended a private dinner with Trump in recent weeks, the president began touting the importance of the requested bailout, publicly citing the obscure section 202(c) of the century-old Federal Power Act (FPA)—a bailout pathway also suggested to the Trump administration by the coal magnate Robert Murray.

The Trump administration is also attempting to justify the bailouts under provisions of the Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950, as well as the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act. Such major federal government interventions via the FPA or DPA are rarely undertaken, and usually only for wartime emergencies or natural disasters. No such emergency action has been taken in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, which a recent Harvard University study reported could have resulted in around 5,000 deaths, many due to the widespread power outages, some of which continue still, nearly nine months later. PJM Interconnection, the largest electric grid operator in the U.S. -- serving 65 million people in a 13-state (plus Washington, D.C.) region from Chicago to North Carolina – has consistently reported that there is now, and would be, no reliability or resilience problem whatsoever -- even if FirstEnergy’s four atomic reactors, and several coal plants, in Ohio and Pennsylvania, were to permanently shut down in the next few years, as the company has announced.

“The only so-called ‘emergency’ is FirstEnergy’s bad business decisions, and mismanagement, that extend back not years but decades,” said Michael Keegan of Don’t Waste Michigan in Monroe, Michigan, a longtime watchdog on FirstEnergy’s Lake Erie shore atomic reactors, Davis-Besse east of Toledo and Perry east of Cleveland.

“In addition to the $34 billion per year gouge on ratepayer and taxpayer pocketbooks from Trump and Perry’s absurd proposal to bailout FirstEnergy’s dirty old coal and dangerously old nuclear plants, there are the increasing safety risks,” said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, a national industry watchdog group based in Takoma Park, Maryland. “It is outrageous that FERC commissioner, Robert F. Powelson, pressured NRC commissioners during the public portion of their joint meeting last week to decrease safety regulations, in order to save money for uncompetitive old atomic reactors. We can only imagine the outrageous things that were said during the nonpublic portion of the meeting,” Kamps added, “which is why we have made this FOIA request.”

Lodge also served as legal counsel for an environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Coalition of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste Michigan, and the Ohio Green Party, which challenged the Davis-Besse atomic reactor’s 2017-2037 license extension. Despite Davis-Besse’s industry record of most close calls with meltdown catastrophes, as well as its severely cracked containment structure (which is currently operating as an experiment; see the NRC document, “Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Unit 1 - Report of Facility Changes, Tests, and Experiments,” in an “Annual Operating Report Letter” dated May 21, 2018, with the NRC ML # ML18141A502), NRC approved 60 years of operations (1977 to 2037) at the reactor.

A 1982 report commissioned by NRC, and carried out by Sandia National Lab, calculated that a meltdown at Davis-Besse would cause 1,400 acute radiation poisoning deaths, 73,000 acute radiation injuries, 10,000 latent cancer fatalities, and $84 billion in property damages. But the Associated Press reported in 2011 after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan had begun, that populations have soared since 1982 around atomic reactors like Davis-Besse, so casualties would be significantly higher today; and when adjusted for inflation to today’s dollar figures, property damages downwind of a Davis-Besse meltdown would significantly surpass $200 billion.

--30--

Thursday
Sep212017

Congressional action alert reminder: Urge both your U.S. Sens. to block confirmation of Trump's NRC nominees!

There is still time to contact both your Senators, urging they vote against confirmation for President Trump's nominees for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Annie Caputo and David Wright. Both have had long, close ties to the nuclear power industry; their confirmation to the directorship of the NRC will risk the same regulator-industry-government collusion cited by the Japanese Parliament as the root cause of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. Find your U.S. Senators' contact info. here, by following the links. Or phone them via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, by following the instructions.

Monday
Sep112017

57 groups send letter to U.S. Senators, urging opposition to Trump's NRC nominees due to dangerous bias and collusion

On Monday, September 11th a coalition of 57 national, regional, and local environmental groups from all across the country, sent a letter all 100 U.S. Senators. The letter urged no votes on the confirmation of President Donald J. Trump's two Republican nominees for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Annie Caputo and David Wright. The Senate floor vote on their confirmation could happen at any time.

You can still take action. Please contact both your U.S. Senators, and urge them to block the confirmation of Caputo and Wright. You can be patched through to your U.S. Senators' Washington, D.C. offices by phoning the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Or, you can find your U.S. Senators' direct contact information, including email/webforms and fax numbers, by following the links. You could also get together with friends and colleagues and request a face to face meeting with your Senators when they are next back home (most weekends), or your Senators' in-district staff during weekdays and normal business hours.

As the letter stated, in part:

The Japanese Parliament concluded in 2012, after a year-long independent investigation into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe, that the root cause was collusion, between regulator, industry, and government officials. Collusion was the root cause for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant being so very vulnerable to the natural disasters that ruined it on March 11, 2011, resulting in a still ongoing, catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity into the environment, from the three melted down reactors.

Given their long established closeness to the nuclear power industry’s lobbying agenda, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the NRC, Annie Caputo and David Wright would worsen such dangerous regulator-industry collusion on the NRC Commission. Confirmation of Caputo and Wright would consummate the nuclear power industry’s high-risk domination of the NRC for the next five years.

Caputo previously was a top lobbyist for the largest U.S. nuclear utility, Exelon. For more than a decade, she has served as a top committee staffer for the most pro-nuclear members of congress, including U.S. Reps. Barton and Upton (chairmen of the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee), and U.S. Sens. Inhofe and Barrasso (chairmen of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee).

For a decade, Wright was a leader of the South Carolina Public Service Commisision, as well as the National and Southeastern public service commission associations, with a focus on nuclear power and radioactive waste matters. He approved multiple rate hikes in South Carolina to finance the building of the now-cancelled Summer Units 2 and 3 atomic reactors, representing a loss of billions of dollars of ratepayer money.

Thursday
Sep072017

Group letter to U.S. Senators urges opposition to NRC nominees due to bias, collusion with nuclear power industry

Beyond Nuclear is urging organizations to sign onto a coalition letter, addressed to U.S. Senators. The letter urges U.S. Senators to oppose President Donald J. Trump's two Republican nominees for seats on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) -- Annie Caputo and David Wright -- due to the nominees' clearly established bias in favor of such nuclear power industry goals as the opening of the Yucca Mountain, Nevada dump for irradiated nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

Now that the U.S. Senate is back in session after its long August recess, these nominations could come up for an up or down confirmation vote on the Senate floor at any point.

Caputo previously was a top lobbyist for the largest U.S. nuclear utility, Exelon. For more than a decade, she has served as a top committee staffer for the most pro-nuclear members of congress, including U.S. Reps. Barton and Upton (chairmen of the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee), and U.S. Sens. Inhofe and Barrasso (chairmen of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee).

For a decade, Wright was a leader of the South Carolina Public Service Commisision, as well as the National and Southeastern public service commission associations, with a focus on nuclear power and radioactive waste matters. He approved multiple rate hikes in South Carolina to finance the building of the now-cancelled Summer Units 2 and 3 atomic reactors, representing a loss of billions of dollars of ratepayer money.

After a year-long indepenedent investigation, the Japanese Parliament concluded that the root cause of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe was collusion between supposed safety regulators, the nuclear power industry, and government officials.

As the group letter states:

Given their long established closeness to the nuclear power industry’s lobbying agenda, if confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the NRC, Annie Caputo and David Wright would worsen such dangerous regulator-industry collusion on the NRC Commission. Confirmation of Caputo and Wright would consummate the nuclear power industry’s high-risk domination of the NRC for the next five years.

See the text of the letter, and the list of endorsing groups as of 9am Eastern time, Thursday, September 7, 2017.

Sign on deadline is close of business, Friday, September 8, 2017. U.S. groups only please. To sign on, please send the person's name, title, group name, city and state to the following email address: kevin@beyondnuclear.org.

Individuals can also take action. Pleaese contact both your U.S. Seantors, and urge them to oppose Caputo's and Wright's confirmations. Find your U.S. Senators' contact information by following these links, or be patched through to their Washington, D.C. offices by phone by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

To learn more about these nominees, see the entries below, at Beyond Nuclear's NRC webiste section.

Thursday
Aug102017

Beyond Nuclear urges U.S. Senators to not confirm Caputo and Wright for NRC Commission, due to their blatant pro-nuclear bias

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is supposed to regulate the safety of nuclear power, not promote the industry's financial interests, or do the bidding of its army of lobbyists. Yet, two entirely biased Trump nominees for NRC Commission slots are poised for confirmation by the U.S. Senate -- Annie Caputo, and David Wright. A third, NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki, has already been confirmed for another five years, on top of the nine she has already served at the agency.

Beyond Nuclear has delivered letters to U.S. Senators, urging opposition to the confirmation of Caputo and Wright. See Beyond Nuclear's letter to U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (Democrat-Wisconsin), as an example.

Caputo's and Wright's pro-industry bias, such as in favor of the Yucca Mountain, Nevada high-level radioactive waste dump scheme, could not be more blatant. See bolded sections below.

As documented by Beyond Nuclear’s Paul Gunter, Caputo worked as the congressional affairs executive manager for Exelon Corporation, now the largest nuclear power corporation in the U.S., from 1998 to 2005.  She is currently a Republican Majority Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S. Senate EPW Committee, serving Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), where she also previously served as Senior Policy Advisor for leading nuclear power proponent, Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe from 2009 to 2012, who himself served as EPW Committee chairman. She also worked for the 113th Congress as a Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, where the chairman, Michigan Republican Congressman Fred Upton, successfully led the January 2013 opposition to the NRC technical staff’s strongly worded and unanimously supported recommendation that the agency order the installation of engineered severe accident capable radiation filters on hardened containment vents for thirty-one U.S. Fukushima-style reactors.  In our view, this is one of Congress’ most egregious acts following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster to promote industry financial interests above U.S. public health, safety, and environmental protection.

On both congressional committees, Ms. Caputo has prominently advocated for what amounts to the protracted political mugging and divisive licensing of the scientifically-unsuitable, environmentally unjust, non-consent based, and illegal – considering Western Shoshone Indian treaty rights to land and water -- Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump scheme in Nevada (the radioactively contaminated groundwater from Yucca would eventually surface as springs in Death Valley, CA, where the Timbisha Band of Shoshone use it for vital drinking water). In fact, Rep. Upton – who Caputo served as a senior aid -- has been a leading congressional advocate for the Yucca dump for decades.

Trump’s other nominee to the NRC Commission, David Wright, is a former commissioner and chairman of the South Carolina Public Service Commission (SC PSC, 2004-2013), and another leading advocate for nuclear power/radioactive waste generation, and the industry’s coveted priority goal of ramrodding the Yucca dump down Nevada’s throat. In fact, SC is one of the most nuclear powered states in the country, with the SC PSC’s long, strong support for that, at SC ratepayer expense. In 2011, Wright was elected President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), which sued to keep the Yucca dump project moving forward.  In addition to NARUC President, Wright served many other roles, including as Chairman of NARUC's Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues and Waste Disposal. He has been Co-Chair of the Yucca Mountain Task Force (2005–2010) and National Chair of the Nuclear Waste Strategy Committee (2006-2013). As SC PSC chairman, he presided over the gouging of SC ratepayers (yet again), to pay for the construction of two proposed new atomic reactors, Summer Units 2 and 3. Multiple rate hikes over the course of many years now mean that SC ratepayers pay around one-fifth of their electricity bill in ‘nuclear tax surcharges,’ Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) payments, or advance cost recovery, toward building Summer 2 and 3. With the recent bankruptcy of Westinghouse Nuclear, due to years-long schedule delays and cost overruns amounting to many billions of dollars, not only at Summer 2 and 3 in SC, but also at Vogtle 3 and 4 in Georgia, the cancellation of one or both SC reactor construction projects is now under very serious consideration. This means, the billions of dollars already unwillingly ‘invested’ by SC ratepayers, would simply be lost, with nothing to show in return. This is actually the best (least worst) possible outcome. Throwing good money after bad at Summer 2 and 3 would further burden SC ratepayers. And, if those two troubled reactors are someday completed and operated, that would introduce the risk of reactor operations and radioactive waste storage, on top of the financial burden SC residents and electric consumers already shoulder, due to the industry-friendly decisions of Wright. A nuclear power industry promoter like Wright has no rightful place at the top of the safety regulatory agency, NRC.

Please urge your U.S. Senators to oppose Caputo and Wright's nominations.

Call your two U.S. Senators via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Or find your Senators' direct contact info. at this link. You can communicate your concerns to your U.S. Senators' offices by phone, email/web form, fax, etc. You can also get together with friends and colleagues and request an in-person meeting with one or both of your U.S. Senators, while they are back in-state for the August congressional recess.

To learn more, see the additional entries below in Beyond Nuclear's NRC website section.