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.


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."


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.


The Nuclear Juggernaut: Georgia and the Scheme to Revive Nuclear Power in the US 

A great article from Karl Grossman delineating the history of the Westinghouse AP1000 and how public input has been all but scuttled.

"Last week’s granting by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission of combined construction and operating licenses for two nuclear plants to be built in Georgia—both Westinghouse AP1000s—is the culmination of a scheme developed by nuclear promoters 20 years ago.

If Americans are anxious about a disaster involving the AP1000—and want wind and solar and other safe, clean, renewable energy technologies which they can live with instead—well, under the new system, that’s too bad.  With the new nuclear licensing system—devised 20 years ago and now moving ahead despite Chernobyl and Fukushima and the availability of energy alternatives that render nuclear power unnecessary—the citizenry and what they want are to be excluded." Counterpunch


Beyond Nuclear responds to NRC safety downgrade of Palisades: "shut it down before it melts down"

Don't Waste Michigan has long called for Palisades' shut down. Here, DWM board members Michael Keegan, Alice Hirt, and Kevin Kamps speak out at the 2000 Nuclear-Free Great Lakes Action CampIn response to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) media release, "NRC CITES PALISADES FOR THREE VIOLATIONS; PUBLIC MEETING SCHEDULED," Beyond Nuclear has issued a media release of its own.

It begins: "While we welcome the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's long overdue acknowledgement that safety risks are unacceptable at Palisades, and the agency's plans for enhanced inspections, we know all too well that not only the reactor's owner, Entergy Nuclear, but even the regulatory agency itself, needs to be watched at every turn, to keep them honest. The grassroots environmental movement of the Great Lakes will do all it can to shine a spotlight on the grave risks at Palisades. Too much is at stake: Lake Michigan, headwaters of the drinking water supply for 40 million people downstream."

Read the full Beyond Nuclear media statement here. Palisades is located on the Lake Michigan shoreline, as shown by its steam rising next to the lake in the photo above. The united environmental movement of Michigan, and beyond, opposed Palisades' 20 year license extension, but NRC rubberstamped it anyway.