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ARTICLE ARCHIVE


 

Wednesday
Aug152012

Kucinich demands OIG investigation of NRC's two-faced "snow job" on Davis-Besse's cracked containment

U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a long time watchdog on the problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactorU.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH, photo at left) has written to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Office of Inspector General (OIG), demanding an investigation of NRC wrongdoing in regards to its Region 3 safety engineers telling him and his staff one thing months ago about Davis-Besse's shield building cracking, and another thing last Thursday night. Rep. Kucinich's office has issued a press release about his demand as well.

Kucinich referenced Beyond Nuclear's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to NRC, which has revealed, among many other things, that NRC staff worked evenings, weekends, and even through the Thanksgiving holiday, in order to rush approval for FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) to restart Davis-Besse on December 2, 2011 -- despite not knowing the "root cause," extent, and safety and environmental risk significance of the cracking in the concrete shield building, nor what corrective actions needed to be made.

Kucinich joined with environmental coalition allies seeking to block Davis-Besse's proposed 20 year license extension at a press conference in the reactor's hometown of Oak Harbor, OH, 21 miles from Toledo on the Lake Erie shore, prior to a special NRC public meeting about the cracking scandal. Beyond Nuclear unveiled a new report, "What Humpty Dumpty Doesn't Want You to Know: Davis-Besse's Cracked Containment Snow Job," which summarizes NRC's FOIA revelations. The environmental coalition's Toledo-based attorney, Terry Lodge, will file a motion this week to introduce into the record of the NRC Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board operations extension proceeding these FOIA revelations.

Wednesday
Aug152012

"Crisis du jour" at Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor

Anti-nuclear watchdogs have long called for Palisades' shutdown. Here, Don't Waste MI board members Michael Keegan, Alice Hirt, and Kevin Kamps speak out at the 2000 Nuclear-Free Great Lakes Action Camp, with Palisades' cooling tower steam and Lake Michigan visible in the background.On Sunday, Palisades shut down due to a leak of radioactive and acidic primary coolant, escaping from safety-critical control rod drive mechanisms attached to its degraded lid, atop its "worst embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the U.S." Two years ago, in a report entitled "Headaches at Palisades: Broken Seals & Failed Heals," David Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project at Union of Concerned Scientists, warned about closely related problems extending back 40 years at Palisades. The CRDM leaks are so chronic at Palisades, as reflected in 2007, 2009, and 2010 NRC PNOs (Preliminary Notifications of Occurrence), that NRC cut and paste verbage from one incident to the next, and even admitted: "While limited CRD seal leakage is not unusual for the CRD seal design at Palisades, elevated CRD seal leakage rates and increasing leak-rate trends are indicators of CRD seal degradation. The site has experienced elevated CRD seal leakage rates and increasing leak-rate trends in the past which required similar plant shutdowns." 

Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer at Fairewinds Associates, points out that boric acid leakage inside containment has led to containment liner degradation at a number of U.S. reactors, including Turkey Point, increasing the risk that containments will fail to prevent radioactivity releases during reactor accidents. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) just announced the deployment of a special inspection team to Palisades to investigate this latest leak.

Today, HuffPost Hill has broken the story that NRC's Office of Inspector General (OIG) has launched an investigation into the behavior of NRC Commissioner William C. Ostendorff, for allegedly yelling at a female NRC staffer regarding an investigation ordered by former NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko. Ironically enough, Ostendorff joined three other NRC Commissioners in late 2011, writing the White House that Jaczko's alleged bullying of female NRC staffers had chilled the agency work environment. Pro-nuclear Hill Republicans jumped on the opportunity, carrying out "witch hunt" hearings, which eventually forced the (as investigative journalist and Beyond Nuclear board member Karl Grossman has put it) "insufficiently pro-nuclear" Jaczko's ouster from the agency.

Jaczko had met with an environmental coalition in South Haven, Michigan a short time after having toured the problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor on May 25th. Jaczko's office had reached out to Beyond Nuclear a month earlier, asking for assistance in setting up the meeting, which included key environmental group representatives from across Michigan, as well as local anti-nuclear watchdogs and concerned residents. However, during the meeting, not a peep was shared with the concerned public about the Safety Injection Refueling Water (SIRW) storage tank leak, into buckets in the control room. Courageous Palisades whistleblowers, their attorney Billie Pirner Garde, and U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) brought this to light in mid-June.

The coalition immediately wrote Jaczko, asking why he had not informed them about the SIRW storage tank leak at the May 25th meeting. Jaczko never wrote back before leaving office. However, as reported by the HuffPost Hill, he did order an investigation into why his own staff had not informed him of the SIRW storage tank leak -- he was as in the dark as the public! Jaczko had been accompanied on his Palisades tour, and at his press conference and meeting with the public afterwards, by NRC Region 3 Administrator Chuck Casto, NRC Office of Public Affairs director Elliot Brenner, several NRC HQ and Region 3 staff persons, as well as NRC's Palisades resident inspectors. It is inconceivable that none of them knew about the SIRW storage tank leak, as it had been ongoing for over a year.

Thursday
Aug092012

What Humpty Dumpty doesn't want you to know: Davis-Besse's cracked concrete containment snow job

U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) will speak out against the Davis-Besse atomic reactor alongside Beyond NuclearBeyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps has prepared a comprehensive backgrounder about an environmental coalition's efforts to win a hearing against the Davis-Besse atomic reactor's proposed 20-year license extension based on the safety risks presented by its severely cracked shield building. FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) claims the cracking was caused by the Blizzard of 1978, is not aging related, and will be easily solved by the application of a weather sealant (albeit 40 years late). The backgrounder, prepared for a special NRC meeting about the shield building cracking to be held on Nagasaki Day (Thursday, August 9) in Oak Harbor, Ohio, reports on NRC's response documents to a Beyond Nuclear Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, as well as recent revisions to FENOC's root cause reports and aging management plan. Also contained in the backgrounder are citations to the environmental coalition's four supplements to its original cracking contention, over the course of many months. (See links to FOIA documents here.)

Kevin will speak, along with Don't Waste Michigan's Michael Keegan and Terry Lodge, Toledo based attorney who represents the coalition, at a press conference before the NRC meeting, at 5:30 PM at the Oak Harbor High School. U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH, photo at left), a long-time Davis-Besse watchdog, who has outed much of the truth about the severity of the cracking over the past 10 months, will also take part in the press conference.

Tuesday
Aug072012

82-year old nun and comrades shut US nuclear weapons facility - force security changes

The general manager of the Oak Ridge, TN nuclear weapons facility was this week "relieved of his duties" after an 82-year old nun, Megan Rice (pictured center), along with Michael Walli (left), 63 and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, successfully breached security at the plant last week. The three activists cut through perimeter fences to reach the outer wall of a building where highly enriched uranium, a key nuclear bomb component, is stored. They then painted slogans and threw human blood on the wall of the facility, one of numerous buildings in the facility known by the code name Y-12 that it was given during World War Two. The action was reminiscent of the Swords into Plowshares acts of civil disobedience initiated in 1980 by brothers and priests, Philip and Daniel Berrigan. As noted historian, Howard Zinn said: "Democracy requires civil disobedience. Without civil disobedience does not exist."

Tuesday
Aug072012

Activists arrested at Los Alamos lab gates on Hiroshima Day

Six anti-nuclear activists were arrested at around 8 am on August 6 after blocking the road into Los Alamos National Laboratory. The action took place on the 67th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. At least 50 activists from Trinity Nuclear Abolitionists, (un)Occupy Albuquerque, Occupy Santa Fe, Nuke Free Now and other groups participated in the protest. The action of civil disobedience came a day after a rally in downtown Los Alamos to protest plans for a new plutonium bomb factory there and to remember the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima (Aug 6) and Nagasaki (Aug 9) 1945.