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Thursday
Jan262012

Entergy Nuclear suffers black eyes at both FitzPatrick, NY and Palisades, MI

Entergy's FitzPatrick GE BWR Mark 1 on the Lake Ontario shore of upstate NYOn the same day, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has lambasted Entergy Nuclear for violations at both its FitzPatrick atomic reactor in upstate New York on the Lake Ontario shoreline, as well as at its Palisades atomic reactor in southwest Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

In a media release entitled "NRC CONFIRMS ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN AT FITZPATRICK NUCLEAR PLANT TO ADDRESS VIOLATIONS INVOLVING RADIATION PROTECTION PROGRAM," NRC addressed "actions... intended to address multiple violations involving radiation protection technicians at the Scriba, N.Y., plant...[involving] failures by the technicians to perform or properly execute their duties." These included:

"Failure by technicians to perform required respirator fit testing on multiple occasions from 2006 to 2009; a failure to maintain accurate documentation of completed respirator fit tests during the same period; a failure to perform and/or accurately document independent verification of certain valve positions after the valves were manipulated between September 2007 and December 2009; a failure to document a personal contamination event on at least one occasion; a failure to perform a contamination survey, or check, prior to the removal of an item from the plant’s radiologically controlled area; and a failure to carry out daily radiological surveys, on multiple occasions from 2006 to 2009, of a reactor building airlock."

FitzPatrick is a 38 year old General Electric Boiling Water Reactor of the Mark 1 design, identical to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4. NRC has granted FitzPatrick a 20 year license extension, as well as a power uprate.

And, in a media release entitled "NRC ISSUES CONFIRMATORY ORDERS TO PALISADES POWER PLANT OWNER AND PLANT OPERATOR," NRC discussed a 2010 incident in which "A supervisor walks off the job in the control room without permission, apparently after an argument, which leads to a violation notice."

NRC has also granted Palisades a 20 year license extension, as well as a power uprate, despite its age related degradation and litany of mishaps.

Thursday
Jan262012

BRC report continues shameful history of targeting Native American communities for radioactive waste dumps

Grace Thorpe helped stop dozens of radioative waste dumps targeted at Native American communities by DOE's Nuclear Waste NegotiatorToday's final report by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future (BRC) continued the shameful history of the U.S. nuclear establishment, in both government and industry, of targeting Native American communities for radioactive waste dumps. Beyond Nuclear issued a media statement regarding the BRC report today, and an op-ed several days ago. At the very first public meeting of the BRC nearly two years ago, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps pleaded this environmental injustice be stopped. To the contrary, BRC's final report points to the U.S. Department of Energy's "Nuclear Waste Negotiator" as a model to be followed again now to advance "consolidated interim storage sites" and repositories. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, DOE's Nuclear Waste Negotiator contacted every single federally recognized Native American tribe in the United States, then targeted 60 in particular, focusing in the end on Mescalero Apache, New Mexico. It is a testament to the extraordinary efforts of Native American environmental justice activists like Grace Thorpe that all those proposals were defeated, and the Nuclear Waste Negotiator's program eliminated. The nuclear power  utilities picked up where the Negotiator left off, next targeting Skull Valley Goshutes, Utah -- a struggle that continues. Ironically, President Obama praised Grace Thorpe in his "Women Taking the Lead to Save our Planet" Women's History Month Proclamation on March 3, 2009, for launching "a successful campaign to organize Native Americans to oppose the storage of nuclear waste on their reservations" -- only now to have his own DOE's BRC recommend that the Nuclear Waste Negotiator model be revived,  including to re-target Native American communities for radioactive waste dumps.

Wednesday
Jan252012

"Just trust us!" wears thin at Davis-Besse

An inspector from NRC investigates recently revealed cracks in Davis-Besse's concrete shield buildingTom Henry, editorial writer and columnist at the Toledo Blade, has published commentary entitled "Safety of Davis-Besse comes down to a question of faith." Henry, a board member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, and reporter of record on the 2002 Davis-Besse hole-in-the-head fiasco -- the nearest miss to a major nuclear accident in the U.S. since the 1979 Three Mile Island meltdown -- attended a standing room only January 5th U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) public meeting, successfully demanded by U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich (Democrat-Ohio), about recently revealed cracks in Davis-Besse's radiological containment concrete shield building. Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps also testified at the NRC meeting, and then, on behalf of an environmental coalition, spearheaded a 60 page contention about the cracking in opposition to FirstEnergy's application for a 20 year license extension at the problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor.

Fox News Toledo's Jennifer Steck covered Beyond Nuclear's street theater skit at Davis-Besse atomic reactor before the Jan. 5th NRC meeting, as did Northwest Ohio's WNWO and the Toledo BladeThe Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on the NRC meeting, as did the Sandusky Register, Port Clinton News Herald, Cleveland Fox 8, NPR station WKSU, Toledo ABC, and WTOL.

On January 25th, NRC announced a major delay in the publication of its Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Davis-Besse license extension. This was due to FirstEnergy Nuclear revising its Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives (SAMA) analyses in its 20 year license extension application. Beyond Nuclear and an environmental coalition including Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio successfully intervened against the license extension by raising SAMA concerns over a year ago, and has defended its contentions ever since.

Wednesday
Jan252012

Palisades: "It's an accident waiting to happen"

Don't Waste Michigan board members Michael Keegan, Alice Hirt, and Kevin Kamps call for Palisades' shut down at the 2000 Nuclear-Free Great Lakes Action Camp; Lake Michigan, and Palisades' cooling tower steam, are visible in the backgroundOn January 15th, Tina Lam of the Detroit Free Press published an exposé on the long problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Owned by Entergy Nuclear (which operates such other controversial reactors as Vermont Yankee, and Indian Point near New York City), Palisades suffered 5 "un-planned shutdowns" in 2011 alone, the most serious of which involved a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) "Yellow finding" of "substantial safety significance" regarding an "electrical fault." Translated from euphemisticly misleading Nukespeak, this meant the near electrocution of a worker, and the loss of half of the control room's functions, figuratively leaving operators half-blinded, half-deaf, and half-paralyzed as they raced to adequately cool the hot reactor core. Both the pressurizer and the steam generators were a mere 9 minutes away from "going solid" -- filling completely with liquid water -- and thus losing their ability to cool the hot reactor core. One more mistake, or break down in systems, structures, or components, could have spelled disaster. Incredibly, as reported by the Freep, "It began with a light bulb...". Lam also broke the story on Palisades' five year overdue replacement of its severely corroded reactor lid.

The article quoted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, 20-year watchdog on Palisades, as saying: "If all these failings and accidents line up in just the right way, we could have a very bad day at Palisades," said Kevin Kamps, a Kalamazoo native and staff member at Beyond Nuclear near Washington, D.C. ...Kamps said opponents of the plant wanted it shut down instead of winning a 20-year extension. "It's an accident waiting to happen," he said.

A large coalition of Michigan and Great Lakes environmental groups, led by Don't Waste Michigan and Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), opposed the Palisades 20 year license extension. It was rubberstamped nonetheless by NRC in 2007, despite Palisades having the worst embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the United States, at risk of a pressurized thermal shock "hot glass under cold water" fracture and consequent loss of coolant accident.

In addition to the front page article, the Freep linked to a 101 page long NRC inspection report on the "electrical fault"; an NRC "White finding" of "low to moderate risk significance" involving "the improper greasing of a knife edge on the overspeed trip mechanism which contributed to a failure of the turbine driven auxiliary feedwater pump (pump P-8B) during surveillance testing on May 10, 2011"; yet another NRC "White finding" regarding the August 9, 2011 failure of "a safety-related service water pump (P-7C)," a repeat of a 2009 incident; a listing of "Recent problems at the Palisades nuclear plant," including one in which "A supervisor walks off the job in the control room without permission, apparently after an argument, which leads to a violation notice"; and finally, an article about new proposed reactors, including Fermi 3 in Michigan (Beyond Nuclear has helped lead an environmental coalition in opposition to that plan).

Wednesday
Jan252012

Fukushima mothers and activists face eviction

On Friday, January 27th, the tent occupation in front of METI in Tokyo faces eviction by order of minister Yukio Edano. The eviction order follows a controversial public meeting where government officials met with nuclear industry personnel to discuss nuclear power plant restarts, while attempting to exclude the public from the meeting. Concerned citizens who registered to attend the meeting were forcefully removed and the meeting took place behind closed doors.

The tent occupation in front of METI has lasted over 4 months through the support of women from Fukushima, and many others around Japan who oppose nuclear power. People from all over the world have visited the occupation to show their support and learn about issues surrounding nuclear power post March 11th, including the severe conditions that people in Fukushima continue to face. Currently, women of Fukushima are in the process of a "10 month 10 day" 24-hour sit-in to protest against nuclear power and the government's mismanagement of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster that continues today.
An emergency press conference will be held on January 27th at 1pm at the Japan Federation of Bar Associations’ Building, Room 1006. (Access: http://www.nichibenren.or.jp/jfba_info/organization/map.html ) This will be followed by a demonstration at the tent occupation from 4pm to 6pm, the hours of the eviction deadline. Please email, telephone fax minister Edano and METI ( the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) to retract the eviction order. METI (TEL) +81-3-3501-1609 METI Public Relations (FAX) +81-3-3501-6942. METI Minister Yukio Edano, (TEL) +81-3-3508-7448, (FAX) +81-3-3591-2249. (E-mail) omiya@edano.gr.jp