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Wednesday
Mar072012

Remembering Fukushima, with Ed Asner

Wednesday
Mar072012

Update on defending Great Lakes against risky atomic reactors

Satellite photo of the Great Lakes: 20% of the planet's surface fresh water; drinking water supply for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American/First Nations; and lifeblood for one of the world's biggest regional economiesThree weeks ago, we reported on Beyond Nuclear's efforts, in conjunction with environmental coalitions and concerned citizens, to shut down two especially risky atomic reactors on the Great Lakes shorelines that have been generating a lot of controversy recently: Palisades in southwest Michigan, and Davis-Besse in northwest Ohio.

A lot has happened since. NRC was forced to admit that Palisades has the most embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the U.S. NRC's repeated regulatory rollbacks have put it at risk of fracturing like a hot glass under cold water due to Pressurized Thermal Shock. And thanks to revelations by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, we've contended that Davis-Besse's containment cracking is so severe that its outer layer of steel reinforcement rebar is no longer performing its safety function. We joined Congressman Kucinich in challenging Davis-Besse's root cause report, which blames the cracking on the Blizzard of 1978, as a "snow job of convenience." Read more.

Wednesday
Mar072012

Activists tell Quebec premier to remember Fukushima and shut their nuke

Dr. Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, and Canadian co-chair of the Great Lakes United Nuclear-Free/Green Energy Task Force, has written up a short backgrounder on how hugely expensive it would be to "refurbish" Gentilly, the atomic reactor in Quebec located on the St. Lawrence River, through which the waters of the Great Lakes ultimately flow into the Atlantic Ocean. A political cartoon in a Quebec newspaper jokes about the Greenpeace occupation of the Quebec premier's office. Dr. Edwards explains and translates: the premier says to the Greenpeace occupiers, "It's gonna be safe! Gentilly-2 will be rebuilt by Quebec engineers using Quebec concrete!" [But] his assistant, aware of all the scandalous infrastructure problems in Montreal, with bridges falling apart and concrete overpasses collapsing -- including a big chunk of concrete that just fell at the garage of the Olympic Stadium -- says "Psst! This might not be the best time...."

Wednesday
Mar072012

"Living on Borrowed Time" & "U.S. Nuclear Power Safety One Year After Fukushima": UCS shines spotlight on 15 near-misses at U.S. reactors in 2011, examines Japan "lessons learned," or not, at NRC

David Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), recently published NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2011: Living on Borrowed Time, describing 15 near-misses at U.S. atomic reactors in 2011 alone. Note that 4 near-misses took place at reactors belonging to one nuclear utility, Entergy: 2 near misses at Palisades in Michigan, and 2 at Pilgrim in Massachusetts. (Yet another near-miss occurred at Cooper in Nebraska, owned by Nebraska Public Power District, but with support services provided, yet again, by Entergy.)

The Thom Hartmann Show interviewed Dave Lochbaum about his report.

On March 7th, Lochbaum and Edwin Lyman, senior scientist at UCS's Global Security Program, released a report entitled U.S. Nuclear Power Safety One Year After Fukushima. Lochbaum and Lyman summarized their findings in a special published by CNN.

Tuesday
Mar062012

Lack of permission for dry cask storage of high-level radioactive waste generated after March 21st may be Vermont Yankee's last gasp

Typical dry cask storage, with its "state of the art security system" (aka a chain link fence)Citizens Awareness Network (CAN) has posted an analysis on its website ("The Worm Turns") on how Entergy Nuclear may have planted the seed of its own destruction when it filed a lawsuit against the State of Vermont, seeking to block Vermont's efforts to shut down Vermont Yankee (VY) atomic reactor at the end of its 40 year license on March 21, 2012.

The federal district judge in Brattleboro did rule that the State of Vermont's legislature cannot intervene agaisnt VY's operations, a ruling that Vermont has appealed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City. But the district court ruling did not bar the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) from denying a Certificate of Public Good (CPG), which would also shut down the reactor. This has suddenly thrown Entergy Nuclear into a panic. It has "cross appealed" Vermont's filing with the 2nd Circuit, and incredibly, it has moved that the district judge "correct mistakes" in his January ruling -- namely, allowing the PSB to retain its authority to grant or deny a CPG, as it sees fit!

Specificially, the PSB must approve the dry cask storage of any irradiated nuclear fuel on the banks of the Connecticut River at VY. The PSB has asked some tough questions to Entergy about its plans -- or lack thereof -- for dry cask storage of irradiated nuclear fuel generated after March 21, 2012. Could this be the way that VY is finally forced to shut down, the desire of the vast majority of Vermont residents? Let's hope so. Ironically, the PSB will hear the parties on Friday, March 9th, in the very same building where Vermont's Act 160 was passed in the first place, the Vermont State House.