Palisades atomic reactor "an accident waiting to happen"

Against the backdrop of the reactor's cooling tower steam and Lake Michigan, Don't Waste Michigan activists Michael Keegan, Alice Hirt, and Kevin Kamps called for the permanent shutdown of Palisades at the August 2000 Nuclear-Free Great Lakes Action Camp.As reported by the St. Joe Herald-Palladium, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps -- as well as other anti-nuclear activists from Don't Waste Michigan -- called for the permanent shutdown of the long problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor in southwest Michigan, on the Lake Michigan shoreline. The watchdogs spoke out at a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission meeting about two of Palisades' five un-planned shutdowns in 2011, one of which the NRC and even Entergy Nuclear admit was of "substantial siginificance to safety." 

Kevin was quoted as saying "We should not be here today, actually. The plant should have been shut down at the end of its 40-year license. This plant was a lemon to begin with. We see Palisades as an accident waiting to happen. The risks are very great. Talk is very cheap. Throw the book at this company. It's way past time to shut (it) down."

Referring to a worker who was nearly electrocuted, Palisades' general manager of plant operations, David Hamilton, confessed "I could have killed somebody" during the incident, which also caused the loss of half of the reactor's control room indicators. Kevin expressed concern for the worker's safety as well, but pointed out that NRC's own "Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences" in 1982 reported that a catastrophic radioactivity release at Palisades could cause 4,000 "peak early fatalities," 7,000 "peak early injuries," 10,000 "peak cancer deaths from cancer," and $52.6 billion in property damage downwind and downstream. However, the report was based on 1970 U.S. Census data, so almost certainly significantly underestimates potential casualties. When adjusted for inflation, property damages would now top $137 billion.

Don't Waste Michigan led the campaign from 2005 to 2007 to block Palisades' 20 year license extension, but were steamrolled in the NRC's rubberstamp proceeding. Palisades' previous owner, Consumers Energy, admitted in spring 2006 that several major safety repairs or replacements were needed -- such as to the highly embrittled reactor pressure vessel, for the degraded reactor lid and steam generators -- but Entergy has not done so.

The Kalamazoo Gazette also reported on this story, as did Michigan Public Radio.


Radioactive Tissue Holders from India Pulled from Bed, Bath, Beyond Stores

Metal tissue holders contaminated with low levels of radioactive material may have been distributed to Bed, Bath & Beyond stores in more than 20 states including New York, federal regulators said Thursday. Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman David McIntyre said the home products company had pulled the tissue holder from its stores.

Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. said in a statement Thursday that its Dual Ridge Metal boutique tissue holder has been carried in about 200 of its stores since July. It said it was recalling all of the tissue holdersand asking any customers who bought them to return them for a full refund. Associated Press.


French study finds childhood leukemia doubled around nuclear plants

A major epidemiological study just published in the January 2012 edition of The International Journal of Cancer indicates there is “a possible excess risk” of acute leukemia among children living in close vicinity to French nuclear power plants (NPP). The study called for an “investigation for potential risk factors related to the vicinity of NPP, and collaborative analysis of multisite studies conducted in various countries.”

The study found a doubling of occurrence of childhood leukemia between the years of 2002-2007 among children under 5 years living within 5 km of nuclear plants – similar to the findings of the German 2008 study by the Cancer Registry in Mainz which found an association between the nearness of residence to nuclear power plants and the risk of childhood leukemia.

The epidemiological study was conducted by a team from the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN) and the National Register of hematological diseases of children in Villejuif. The results marked a surprising and encouraging change at IRSN which had endeavored to discredit earlier French epidemiological studies that had shown an impact of nuclear facilities on health.


Environmental Coalition Challenges Davis-Besse License Extension on Shield Building Cracks

An NRC inspector examines one of the recently revealed cracks in the Davis-Besse concrete shield buildingToday, Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Coalition of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio filed a 60 page contention against the proposed 2017 to 2037 license extension at Davis-Besse atomic reactor on Lake Erie near Toledo, due to recently revealed severe cracking of its concrete shield building/secondardy radiological containment structure. A copy of the contention is posted here. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission allowed FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company to restart the reactor on December 6, 2011, even though the root cause and full extent of the cracking has not been determined, and corrective actions have not been identified.

Also today, the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rejected a motion by FENOC calling for dismissal of the environmental coalition's primary contention against the Davis-Besse license extension -- that the nearly 910 Megawatts of electricity could be readily replaced by a combination of wind power, solar power, and energy storage. The ruling is posted here. The environmental coalition's attorney, Terry Lodge of Toledo, and its expert witness, Al Compaan, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Toledo, prepared a response to FENOC, defending the renewable energy alternatives contention; it is posted here.

The environmental coalition issued a media release about today's filing of its shield building cracking safety challenges. The media release is posted here.


Fix 'em or shut 'em French safety agency tells EDF

The French nuclear safety authority (ASN) has told the country's national electricity supplier, Électricité de France, that it must invest billions of euros in safety fixes at the country's 58 reactors or choose to close them. A report issued January 3 by ASN said that the investment was needed to ensure French reactors could withstand natural shocks similar to those that precipitated meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site in Japan. ASN president, André Claude Lacoste, said the agency would have to suspend operations at French reactors if EDF did not meet their timeline for safety fixes. "If EDF estimates that what we are asking for is so expensive that it does no longer make it worthwhile to operate one facility, it can decide to shut that facility," he said. EDF has estimated the cost at 10 billion euros. However, the French presidential election in April 2012 could change the picture again as Socialist opposition candidate, François Holland, has pledged to shut 24 of the reactors by 2025 should he be elected.