Palisades a catastrophe waiting to happen, must be shutdown before it melts down

Photo Credit: Steve Carmody, Michigan RadioA strong turn out of concerned local residents and representatives of environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, calling for the shutdown of Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor in southwest Michigan, has generated extensive local media coverage. In the photo at left, longtime grassroots anti-nuclear watchdog Catharine Sugas asks the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) “If you can’t shut down a plant that’s dangerous…what are you? How can you keep a plant going that’s obviously dangerous?”


Japan will be nuclear-free sometime in the 2030s

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has finally done what tens of thousands of Japanese people have been urging - agreed to phase out nuclear power in that country entirely. After demonstrators surrounded his residence every Friday and tens to hundreds of thousands of Japanese took to the streets in unprecedented protests, the Japanese government has agreed to have all nuclear power plants shut down by the 2030s. Noda admitted that the majority of the Japanese public favored a transition to zero use of nuclear power. The government had also been considering 15% and 25% usage. But the continuing aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi triple reactor meltdowns, and the perilous state of unit 4 at the site along with on-going radioactive releases made a continued pro-nuclear policy untenable. More.


Police brutality and blaming of foreign NGOs mark India clampdown on Koodankulam protesters

Many us have been following the often shocking events unfolding in India as protesters at both the Koodankulam and Jaitapur nuclear sites have been brutalized by authorities. Meanwhile, government officials blame foreign interference and incitement by overseas NGOs. Nothing could be further than the truth, with challenges to the proposed Jaitapur reactors and the fuel loading at the Russian Koodankulam reactors led by prominent Indians such as Admiral Ramdas and S.P. Udayakumar. The latter's life was considered in such danger at Koodankulam that fellow protesters refused to allow him to volunteer for arrest. Thousands occupied the beach and many fled into the sea when police opened fire, killing one protester. Read more. And to participate in support of the Koodankulam protests, go here.


Explosion at oldest French nuclear plant

The oldest operating French nuclear power plant, at Fessenheim near the German border, suffered a chemical explosion on September 5 that sent 8 workers to the hospital, two of them with steam burns. This was just the latest set-back for the French nuclear sector which is struggling to maintain a presence overseas but saw its Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) all but canceled at the Calvert Cliffs, MD site on August 30. Fessenheim sits on the banks of a river and on an active fault line and has been the object of consistent and large opposition to its continued operation (Colmar rally in 2009 pictured). At first alarm, it was believed a fire had broken out as 50 firefighters were dispatched to the site, operated by EDF. Later, it was described as a chemical explosion that released "non-radioactive" steam. The newly-elected French president, François Hollande, said he would shut the Fessenheim plant during his five-year term which most observers believe means at the end of it, in 2017. Furthermore, his energy minister, Dauphine Batho, has been quoted recently describing nuclear energy as "necessary" and the "energy of the future" causing a flurry of critical and often derisory articles and commentaries in the French media.


Concerned local residents and environmental groups express concerns to NRC Chair Macfarlane about leaks & coverups at Palisades

The area of the control room at Palisades where, on Sept. 25, 2011, a short circuit nearly electrocuted a worker, cutting off 50% of control room power, which plunged Palisades into near-disaster, testing age-degraded systems, structures, and components to the breaking point. Photo taken by Mark Bugnaski, Kalamazoo GazetteA coalition of concerned local residents, as well as representatives of environmental groups, has responded to a letter sent to them on September 4th by U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairwoman, Allison Macfarlane. The exchange centers on a leak of radioactive and acidic water above, around, and even into the control room at the problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Chairwoman Macfarlane stated that the NRC Staff had determined that the leak was not significant enough for the NRC Chair and Commissioners, as well as the general public, to be notified about it. The coalition begged to differ.

Chairwoman Macfarlane also stated that NRC's approval of Palisades' 20 year license extension requires Entergy to manage aging of safety significant systems, structures, and components. The coalition responded that Entergy is utterly failing at that, as are NRC's own oversight and inspections, for Palisades has suffered a large number of sudden age-related break downs, some of "substantial significance to safety," in NRC's own words (see photo, above left). More.