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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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Thursday
Mar132014

Coalition calls for OIG investigation into NRC vote against GE BWR Mark I/II radiation filters

On the third anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, Beyond Nuclear was joined by dozens of allied grassroots groups across the country in requesting that the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) initiate an inquiry into public health and safety matters relating to the NRC's post-Fukushima severe accident countermeasures.

The request regards severe accident countermeasures for the unreliable containment systems on General Electric Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactors (BWR) as identified in “Consideration of Additional Requirements for Containment Venting Systems for Boiling Water Reactors with Mark I and Mark II Containments” (SECY 2012-0157) and the subsequent “Issuance of Order to Modify Licenses with regard to Reliable Hardened Containment Vents Capable of Operation Under Severe Accident Conditions,”( EA 2013-109).

The coalition urges OIG to investigate perceived undue bias of the majority of NRC Commissioners to protect industry financial interests, over public health and safety interests, in a March 19, 2013 vote. Four of the five NRC Commissioners voted to reject the NRC's Japan Lessons Learned Project Directorate staff recommendation to Order the installation of engineered external radiation filters on severe accident capable hardened containment vents.

By its majority vote, the Commission rejected the combined quantitative and qualitative cost-benefit analyses duly performed by the NRC technical staff to justify the associated costs in recommending an Order to require both Option 2 (severe accident capable hardened containment vents) and Option 3 (engineered external high capacity radiation filtration systems on hardened containment vents) be installed on all U.S. GE Mark I and Mark II Boiling Water Reactors.

NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane was the only Commissioner to vote for filters.

Beyond Nuclear launched its Freeze Our Fukushimas campaign, calling for the permanent shutdown of GE BWR Mark Is and IIs, in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima catastrophe.

Tuesday
Mar112014

Volunteers Crowdsource Radiation Monitoring to Map Potential Risk on Every Street in Japan

As reported by Democracy Now! on the Pacifica Radio Network:

Safecast is a network of volunteers who came together to map radiation levels throughout Japan after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011. They soon realized radiation readings varied widely, with some areas close to the disaster facing light contamination, depending on wind and geography, while others much further away showed higher readings. Safecast volunteers use Geiger counters and open-source software to measure the radiation, and then post the data online for anyone to access. Broadcasting from Tokyo, we are joined by Pieter Franken, co-founder of Safecast. "The first trip we made into Fukushima, it was an eye-opener. First of all, the radiation levels we encountered were way higher than what we had seen on television," Franken says. "We decided to focus on measuring every single street as our goal in Safecast, so for the last three years we have been doing that, and this month we are passing the 15 millionth location we have measured, and basically every street in Japan has been at least measured once, if not many, many more times."

The atomic reactors that melted down and exploded at 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 8 more very similarly designed Mark IIs.

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.