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Freeze Our Fukushimas

"Freeze Our Fukushimas" is a national campaign created by Beyond Nuclear to permanently suspend the operations of the most dangerous class of reactors operating in the United States today; the 23 General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors, the same flawed design as those that melted down at Fukushima-Daiichi in Japan.

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Monday
Mar102014

U.S. Nuclear Agency Hid Concerns, Hailed Safety Record as Fukushima Melted

Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4 were General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors. The U.S. has 23 still-operating Mark Is, as well as an additional 8 Mark IIs of very similar design.

As reported by NBC News's Bill Dedman, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Office of Public Affairs defended its own image, as well as that of the nuclear power industry, as its top priority during the first days of the fast-breaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe three years ago. As revealed by internal NRC emails obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), NRC went so far as to attack Dedman's own reporting at the time, when he used a little known NRC report published in 2010 to rank the seismic risk at atomic reactors across the U.S. The confusion created by NRC's attack on Dedman's reporting dissuaded other news outlets, including the New York Times, from mentioning NRC's ranking of seismic risks -- of which Entergy Nuclear's twin reactor Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River near New York City had the worst ranking in the U.S. 21 million people live or work within 50 miles of Indian Point. In 2008, seismologists at Columbia University warned about previously unknown earthquake fault lines near Indian Point.

Monday
Mar102014

Markey Statement on Three-Year Anniversary of Fukushima Meltdowns

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)

[Beyond Nuclear note: Fukushima Daiichi Units 1-4 were General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors. The U.S. has 23 still-operating Mark Is, including Pilgrim near Boston, as well as Vermont Yankee in Vernon, VT, 8 miles upstream from the MA state line. Entergy announced in August 2013 that it would shutdown Vermont Yankee before the end of 2014.]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE

Contact: Giselle Barry (Markey) 202-224-2742

In 2011 in the House of Reps., lawmaker introduced nuclear safety legislation to ensure U.S. nuclear power plants could withstand earthquakes, tsunamis, long power outages, or other major events

Washington (March 10, 2014) – Senator Edward J. Markey, Congress’s leading voice on nuclear safety, released the following statement today decrying the lack of progress on key improvement to America’s nuclear fleet in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to the meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactors in Japan. 

“America’s nuclear reactors are no more protected than they were three years ago when Japan experienced the worst nuclear disaster in history,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.  “Since the catastrophic meltdowns at Fukushima, reactors in the United States have yet to be required to implement a single new safety measure. While the NRC’s technical expert report called for swift mandatory adoption of all of its recommendations, the Commission voted to extend implementation deadlines, add cost-benefit analysis barriers to moving forward and delay consideration of some of the recommendations altogether. Three years later, it is past time to immediately act to implement all of the NRC technical staffs’ recommendations and ensure Americans, especially those living near nuclear reactors, are safe.”

Since the tragic events in Japan, Senator Markey has written to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and President Obama for more information on the implications for America’s domestic nuclear industry. He has repeatedly urged the NRC to consider specific domestic policies to ensure increased nuclear safety and introduced legislation to require their implementation.  He also queried the Food and Drug Administration on how the agency is ensuring that contaminated radioactive food or other agricultural products are prevented from entering the domestic food supply.

Monday
Mar102014

Beyond Nuclear points to Pilgrim Mark I near Boston as U.S. Fukushima needing to be shutdown, before it melts down

WHDT TV interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps regarding the high-level radioactive waste storage pools at Fukushima Daiichi, the wrecked reactors' radioactive discharges to the Pacific, and what lessons the U.S. should have learned from the nuclear catastrophe.

WHDT broadcasts in the Boston area, nearby the problem-plagued Pilgrim GE BWR Mark I, identical in design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4. Entergy Nuclear owns Pilgrim. Pilgrim's pool risks are much greater than Fukushima Daiichi's, in that every single irradiated nuclear fuel assembly ever generated at Pilgrim still remains stored in its pool.

According to the US DOE's Feb. 2002 FEIS on the proposed Yucca dump (Table A-7), by spring 2010*, Pilgrim already had 527 metric tons of irradiated nuclear fuel stored in its pool. Assuming 20 metric tons per year generated since, by spring 2014, that figure will have grown to 607 metric tons.

Although Entergy plans on beginning to move irradiated fuel into dry cask storage, it will likely leave the pool as full as it can get away with, in order to defer dry cask storage expenses as far into the future as possible -- standard industry practice. It will move as little waste out of the pool as it can get away with, for as long as possible. Thus, keeping the risks of a pool drain down or boil down at a needlessly high level.

But Entergy needs to free up space in the pool, in order to allow for off-load capacity as it re-fuels the reactor. Entergy hopes to operate Pilgrim for a 20-year license extension, which was rubber-stamped by NRC in 2012, despite a record six-year intervention by Mary Lampert of Pilgrim Watch. The resistance to Pilgrim's contiued operations is intensifying, thanks to a growing coalition of watchdogs, including groups like Cape Downwinders.

Monday
Mar102014

Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster

David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) have published a book in time for the third anniversary of the beginning of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. The book details the blow by blow unfolding of the disaster at Japan, and serves as a searing indictment of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's dereliction of its safety duty domestically, risking an American Fukushima.

See UCS's web post about the book's publication here. See UCS's press release here. See UCS's blog post here.

UCS's Director of News & Commentary, Elliott Negin posted a blog at HuffPost's Green site. LA Times Pulitzer Prize-winning business columnist Michael Hiltzik has pointed to Fukushima's lessons learned (his column includes a link to his earlier review of the book).

Lochbaum is the head of the UCS's Nuclear Safety Project, and also author of Nuclear Waste Disposal Crisis. Lyman is a senior scientist in the Global Security Program of UCS. Stranahan was the lead reporter of the Philadelphia Inquirer's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Three Mile Island accident and the author of Susquehanna: River of Dreams.

Given the presence of 23 operating GE BWR Mark Is in the U.S., and 8 operating Mark IIs, this book has important Fukushima "lessons learned" to be applied here. This is especially true, given the conclusion of the Japanese Diet (Parliament), that the root cause of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe was not the earthquake and tsunami, but rather the industry-regulatory agency-elected official collusion, which left the nuclear power plant so vulnerable to the natural disasters. Of course, as this book makes clear, we have such collusion in spades here in the U.S.

Friday
Mar072014

NRDC: Preventing Hydrogen Explosions in Severe Nuclear Accidents

Hydrogen explosion at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 in mid-March 2011, which turned the reactor building into rubble and deposited 50 tons of debris into the high-level radioactive waste storage poolAs the fourth year of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe is about to begin on March 11th, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has published a report, Preventing Hydrogen Explosions in Severe Nuclear Accidents: Unresolved Safety Issues Involving Hydrogen Generation and Mitigation. This report was authored by nuclear safety consultant Mark Leyse. Christopher Paine, who served as contributing editor on the report, has published a blog. NRDC has also put out a press release.

The hydrogen explosions at the General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors at Fukushima Daiichi Units 1, 3, and 4 contributed to Beyond Nuclear's decision to launch its Freeze Our Fukushimas campaign, in April 2011, calling for the immediate and permanent shutdown of the 23 identically-designed U.S. Mark Is, and the 8 similarly-designed Mark IIs, across the U.S.