NRC, Entergy reach agreement on quality assurance, retaliation against workers who raise safety concerns at 11 reactors

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a media release, "NRC ISSUES CONFIRMATORY ORDER TO ENTERGY WITH ACTIONS TO IMPROVE QUALITY CONTROL AND EMPLOYEE CONCERNS PROGRAMS." NRC and Entergy Nuclear have reached agreement, through a "neutral mediator," regarding safety significant quality assurance practices, as well as resolving allegations by workers that Entergy retaliates against them for raising safety concerns. NRC refers to this "neutral mediation" as its "Alternative Dispute Resolution process." Why the federal regulatory agency charged with protecting public health, safety, and the environment had to undergo "neutral mediation" with Entergy, rather than simply cracking down on the licensee's safety and workplace violations, is not explained. The agreement applies at 11 atomic reactors owned and operated by Entergy: Arkansas Nuclear One Units 1 and 2, James Fitzpatrick (NY), Grand Gulf (MS), Indian Point Units 2 and 3 (NY), Palisades (MI), Pilgrim (MA), River Bend (LA), Vermont Yankee, and Waterford 3 (LA).


Rep. Markey urges NRC to strengthen safety regulation of backup diesel generators after yesterday's failure at North Anna

Ed Markey, senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and top Democrat on the House Natural Resources CommitteeEd Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts), who truly has been "Congress’ leading voice for nuclear safety" for a 35 years, has documented that yesterday's emergency diesel generator failure at North Anna nuclear power plant was the 74th such failure in the U.S. over just the past 8 years. Markey issued a media release, with links to his full letter to NRC Chairman Jaczko calling for strengthened safety regulations on emergency diesel generators, as well as a link to his report entitled "Fukushima Fallout," on the remarkable failure rate of these vital safety systems. In late March, Markey introduced legislation to upgrade U.S. nuclear safety regulations in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. He has called for a suspension of NRC licensing activities until post-Fukushima "lessons learned" and safety upgrades can be implemented. And he has blasted NRC Commissioners Svinicki, Magwood, and Ostendorff for footdragging, while praising NRC Chairman Jaczko for calling for expedited action, regarding implementation of the NRC "Near Term Task Force" Fukushima policy recommendations.


Hurricane Irene headed towards dozens of atomic reactors on U.S. east coast

The GOES-13 satellite saw Hurricane Irene entering the Bahamas on Aug. 24, 2011 at 1302 UTC (9:02 a.m. EDT). Irene became a major hurricane shortly before this image and now has a clear, visible eye. Credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project.The Federal Emergency Management Agency yesterday affirmed that the powerful Hurricane Irene, currently ravaging the Caribbean with 100 miles per hour winds, is moving towards the U.S. east coast. It could hit as early as this weekend, anywhere from Florida to New England. FEMA is urging residents to use the days ahead to prepare for the hurricane's landfall.

This should include the shutdown of the following 16 atomic reactors, located immediately on the Atlantic Coast, as mapped on a Beyond Nuclear pamphlet. This safety precaution should be taken at the following atomic reactors (from south to north): Turkey Point Units 3 and 4 near Miami, FL; St. Lucie Units 1 and 2 on Florida's central Atlantic coast; Brunswick Units 1 and 2 in North Carolina; Calvert Cliffs Units 1 and 2 on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland; Salem Units 1 and 2, as well as Hope Creek, located just off the Delaware Bay, just 15 miles from the capital city of Delaware, in New Jersey; Oyster Creek, New Jersey; Millstone Units 2 and 3 on Long Island Sound in Connecticut (and the permanently shutdown Millstone Unit 1's high-level radioactive waste storage pool); Pilgrim in Massachusetts; and Seabrook in New Hampshire. Of course, numerous additional reactors, just inland, are not far removed from hurricane risks. FEMA has warned that the electrical grid could be damaged by high winds -- which could throw nuclear power plants onto emergency backup generators, which have a high failure rate.


Paul Gunter quoted in Reuters coverage of North Anna earthquake

Beyond Nuclear's Reactor Oversight Project director, Paul Gunter, was quoted by Reuters regarding the earthquake epi-centered very close to the North Anna nuclear power plant in Mineral, VA:

" 'Nuclear power plants lose a significant margin of safety when they're forced to rely on these emergency back-up systems,' said Paul Gunter, director of reactor oversight at Beyond Nuclear, an anti-nuclear lobby group."

The International Business Times' coverage of the earthquake's impact on North Anna also quoted Paul.


Offsite power restored at North Anna, Lake Anna dam inspected for damage

Dominion Nuclear has put out a media release reporting that offsite grid power was restored to the North Anna nuclear power plant last night, so that the two atomic reactors no longer have to rely on backup emergency diesel generators, one of which failed during the post-earthquake cooling operations. Dominion also reports that its inspectors checked the Lake Anna dam for earthquake damage, but found none. Lake Anna is the cooling water supply for North Anna nuclear power plant.