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Monday
Feb202012

Weeks of activities ahead in Vermont & New England, commemorating Fukushima, protesting Vermont Yankee & other atomic reactors

Citizens Awareness Network has sent out an action alert, listing numerous events and activities from now till the end of March, including marches, teach ins, rallies, and more. Events will commemorate the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe as its first anniversary approaches on March 11th, and many actions will shine a spotlight on the radioactive risks of Vermont Yankee, an identical twin to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4 (a General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor), as well as other New England atomic reactors, such as Pilgrim near Boston (also a Mark I), and Seabrook on the New Hampshire coast. See the poster for a Feb. 21 CAN event at UMass-Amherst here.

Monday
Feb202012

Seismic risks to Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 could be 8 times worse than Chernobyl Nuclear Catastrophe

A recent photo of the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 ruins. Note the workers in white protective suits under the topmost girders, at the surface of the pool.Robert Alvarez at the Institute for Policy Studies warns that a major seismic aftershock at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant could be the straw that breaks the camel's back at the precarious Unit 4 pool storing high-level radioactive waste. If the pool's cooling water drains away, its 135 tons of irradiated nuclear fuel could catch fire, releasing 8 times more hazardous radioactive Cesium-137 than was released by the Chernobyl Nuclear Catastrophe in 1986. Read more.

Beyond Nuclear recently published a backgrounder on the risks of high-level radioactive waste storage pools in General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors, as part of its Freeze Our Fukushimas campaign.

Monday
Feb202012

Lawsuit filed against AP1000 reactor design certification and NRC's approval of Vogtle 3 & 4 COLA

A lawsuit filed by attorneys Diane Curran of Washington, D.C., Mindy Goldstein of Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University in Atlanta, and John Runkle of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, challenges the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) approval of the Toshiba-Westinghouse "Advanced Passive" (AP) 1000 reactor design on Dec. 30, 2011, as well as the Feb. 9-10 NRC approval of the Vogtle nuclear power plants Units 3 and 4 combined construction and operating license application (COLA). The lawsuit was filed on behalf of an environmental coalition including: Southern Alliance for Clean Energy; Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League; Center for a Sustainable Coast; and Georgia Women's Action for New Directions. Those environmental petitioners are joined by co-petitioners from the "AP1000 Oversight Group": North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network; Citizens Allied for Safe Energy; Friends of the Earth; Nuclear Information and Resource Service; and Nuclear Watch South (nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates has served as an expert witness for the AP1000 Oversight Group). Dr. Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) serves as the environmental coalition's expert witness on this lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that the NRC's failure to apply lessons learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe before approving the AP1000 reactor design, as well as the Vogtle 3 and 4 COLA, is a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as additional laws and regulations. The plaintiffs cite the dissenting opinion written by NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko in the 4-1 split NRC Commissioners decision to approve the Vogtle 3 and 4 COLA. 

The AP has reported on this story.

Beyond Nuclear and its environmental coalition allies have filed identical legal challenges against the Seabrook nuclear power plant's license extension in New Hampshire, the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant's license extension in Ohio, and the Fermi 3 atomic reactor's COLA in Michigan. However, those proceedings have not yet reached the stage that the Vogtle 3 and 4 proceeding has -- final approvals by NRC, now timely for legal action in federal court.

Sunday
Feb192012

CNN exposes risks at Vermont Yankee and other GE BWR Mark Is

Vermont Yankee's cooling tower collapse due to "sloppy maintenance" was unprecedentedCNN's Amber Lyon has reported on "Concerns over aging nuclear plants," particularly at Entergy's Vermont Yankee reactor, a General Electric Boiling Water Reactor of the Mark I design just like Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4. Despite adamant opposition by the State of Vermont to the reactor's 20 year license extension, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission rubberstamped it anyway, just days after the beginning of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe. Despite its claims of openness, transparency, and accountability, NRC's Director of the Office of Public Affairs, Elliot Brenner (who previously worked as Dick Cheney's director of communications in the Vice President's Office) refused to grant CNN an interview, despite six weeks of requests. Entergy Nuclear's CEO, J. Wayne Leonard, also turned down CNN's request for an interview. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates is interviewed on Vermont Yankee's long list of accidents and incidents stemming from "sloppy maintenance," including an unprecedented cooling tower collapse.

CNN's Matt Smith has also reported on safety concerns with GE BWR Mark Is that date back over 40 years. The article reports on Beyond Nuclear's "Freeze Our Fukushimas" 10CFR2.206 emergency enforcement petition to the NRC, which 8,000 co-petitioners, including Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds, have endorsed:

"In an October [2011] hearing before the NRC's Petition Review Board, [Gundersen] said the vents were a 'Band-Aid fix' for the design that failed 'not once, not twice, but three times' at Fukushima Daiichi.

'True wisdom means knowing when to modify something and knowing when to stop,' said Gundersen, who leads a state commission set up to monitor the Vermont Yankee plant.

The NRC has rejected a petition by anti-nuclear groups to immediately shut down all reactors using the GE Mark I containment. But it said it would examine several of the issues the petitioners raised as part of its review of the Japanese disaster."

Sunday
Feb192012

Entergy Nuclear, infamous for "buying reactors cheap, then running them into the ground"

The Kalamazoo Gazette has quoted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps responding to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's downgrading of the Palisades nuclear power plant's safety status as one of the worst in the country. The call has gone out from grassroots Vermont Yankee watchdogs for the formation of an "Entergy Watch," to monitor reactor risks at the second biggest corporate nuclear power fleet across the U.S., which includes the following dozen atomic reactors at 10 different nuclear power plants: Arkansas Nuclear One, Units 1 and 2; Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska; FitzPatrick in upstate New York; Grand Gulf in Mississippi; Indian Point Units 2 and 3 near New York City; Palisades in Michigan; Pilgrim near Boston; Riverbend in Louisiana; Vermont Yankee; and Waterford in Louisiana. Of these, Cooper, FitzPatrick, Pilgrim, and Vermont Yankee are General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors (GE BWR Mark Is), identical in design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4, the focus of Beyond Nuclear's "Freeze Our Fukushimas" shutdown campaign.