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Emergency Response

Because reactors are so dangerous, an emergency response and evacuation plan are essential. Yet many reactor sites are not easily accessible making such evacuation plans unrealistic and the demands placed on emergency response teams unachievable.

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Friday
Feb212014

Coalition files Petition to NRC to strengthen reactor license extension rules due to significant new radioactive waste risks

Environmental coalition attorney Diane CurranA Petition for Rulemaking was filed on Feb. 18th by Washington, D.C.-based attorney, Diane Curran (photo, left), as well as Mindy Goldstein of the Emory U. Turner Environmental Law Clinic, to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The Petition seeks to re-open the License Renewal GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement), in order to consider new and significant information about irradiated nuclear fuel storage impacts that was generated by the NRC Staff during the Expedited Spent Fuel Transfer proceeding, carried out under NRC's Fukushima "Lessons Learned" activities. Curran and Goldstein filed the Petition on behalf of three dozen environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear.

One of these risks newly recognized by NRC Staff is the contribution of high-level radioactive waste storage pool risks to reactor catastrophes, and vice versa.

NRC staff has also admitted that release into the environment of even a small fraction of the contents of a high-level radioactive waste storage pool could cause the long-term dislocation of more than 4 million people, and could render more than 9,000 square miles of land uninhabitable for long time periods. What would the socio-economic costs of such a catastrophe be? Don't people have the inalienable right to safety, health, and environmental protection?

The filing urges that no reactor license extensions be approved by NRC until the Petition for Rulemaking has been integrated into NRC's safety regulations.

Saturday
Jun082013

Layoffs won't begin at San Onofre until nuclear fuel is removed from Unit 2 reactor core

Image by J. DeStefanoThe Capistrano Dispatch has reported that, even though Edison International has announced the permanent shutdown of its San Onofre Generating Station (SONGS) Unit 2 and 3 reactors:

"The plant’s 1,500 person staff will not be cut until its revised emergency preparedness and security plans, for a shutdown plant, are approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Craver said. Currently, the regulatory body views the plant as operational since Unit 2 still houses nuclear fuel."

Of course, as pointed out by Ace Hoffman, longtime San Onofre watchdog, in a Counterpunch article, even though the reactor risks are no more, the high-level radioactive waste risks remain.

Saturday
Jun082013

Swan SONGS as Edison opts to permanently close San Onofre

Image by J. DeStafano, 2012Southern California Edison has decided to permanently shutter its Units 2 and 3 San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS) reactors in Southern Cal! Congratulations to all who fought so hard for this great victory! Read the Edison press release.

As reported in certain media coverage, the likelihood that the fatal flaws with its steam generators would end up blocking its U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) 20-year license extension rubberstamp contributed to SCE's decision to permanently shutdown both reactors.

The sheer impossibility of evacuating the 7 to 8 million people who live and work within 50 miles of San Onofre in the event of a radiological emergency has been repeatedly raised by those seeking the reactors' permanent shutdown.

But as longtime San Onofre watchdog Ace Hoffman has pointed out in a Counterpunch article, while the reactor risks may have gone away, the radioactive waste risks remain. The good news is, no more new radioactive waste will be generated now at San Onofre.

"This is very good news for the people of Southern California," said [a] statement from Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica. "We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate and now Edison has agreed. The people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with the safe and clean energy provided by the sun and wind." 

Beyond Nuclear has compiled comprehensive media coverage on, and other reactions to, the San Onofre 2 & 3 closures at its Nuclear Retreat page.

Friday
Feb082013

Entergy Watch: Pilgrim Coalition urges NRC to require Mark I atomic reactor to shutdown during historic winter storm

NRC file photo of Pilgrim, albeit on a calm, sunny day.As reported by Wicked Local Plymouth, in the lead up to what is being reported as an historic winter storm about to hit the Northeast, Pilgrim Coalition and Cape Cod Bay Watch are calling on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to order Entergy's Pilgrim atomic reactor shutdown, "arguing that a prolonged power outage, flooding, high winds, and snow and ice could cause several serious problems at Pilgrim."

However, as of 2:30 PM, NRC's "Current Power Reactor Status" report shows that Pilgrim is operating at 83% power. All other reactors in the Northeast are also operating, either at, or very close to, 100% power levels.

In a press release, Pilgrim Coalition spokespeople stated:

“This is predicted to be a historic storm with severe consequences,” said Pine DuBois, Executive Director of Jones River Watershed Association. “Winds are supposed to pick up Friday night during high tide and continue through the even higher tide Saturday morning. Near hurricane gusts will be out of the east, hitting Pilgrim head-­‐on. At other times during high winds, Pilgrim’s water intake pumps have failed.”

“Entergy could not keep the lights on during the Super Bowl -­‐ can we be sure they’ll provide enough power to Pilgrim during the storm?” duBois added.

According to Karen Vale, Campaign Manager at Cape Cod Bay Watch, “This historic storm emphasizes that rising sea levels and frequent, more severe storms make Pilgrim’s continued operations increasing risky. We hope that the NRC will close Pilgrim until the threat of the storm passes.”

As Beyond Nuclear's Freeze Our Fukushimas campaign has warned, no matter the cause (earthquake and tsunami, or historic winter storm at high tide), any prolonged loss of power to atomic reactors can lead to meltdown and catastrophic radioactivity releases. Entergy's Pilgrim is an identical twin design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4, a General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor.

A major objection of Pilgrim critics, such as Cape Downwinders, is the fact that Cape Cod cannot be evacuated in the event of a radiological catastrophe at Pilgrim. This would be true on a calm, sunny day, let alone during a natural disaster, such as an historic winter storm.

Thursday
Feb072013

Markey letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on hydrogen explosions/vents

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources CommitteeThe Office of U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA, pictured left), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, has circulated the following statement:

"Today, Rep. Markey sent a letter to NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane urging NRC to follow the recommendations of its technical staff and require filtered vents on some nuclear reactors in order to facilitate the prevention of the sort of hydrogen explosions that occurred during the Fukushima meltdowns. The letter also conveyed Rep. Markey’s concerns about ongoing potentially misleading statements made by some NRC personnel concerning the ability of U.S. nuclear reactors to prevent a dangerous buildup of hydrogen gas in nuclear containment structures in the event of a nuclear accident."