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Sunday
Aug282011

Wind-driven aluminum siding shuts down Calvert Cliffs reactor

As reported by CNN: "A nuclear power reactor automatically went offline late Saturday in Calvert Cliffs after its main transformer was hit by a piece of aluminum siding that Hurricane Irene had peeled off a building, said Mark Sullivan, spokesman for the Constellation Energy Nuclear Group said. All employees were safe."

Sunday
Aug282011

Numerous atomic reactors shut down or reduce power as Hurricane Irene batters East Coast

Bloomberg has reported that the Oyster Creek reactor in NJ shut down as a safety precaution, while one of the Calvert Cliffs reactors in MD was forced to automatically shut down when wind driven debris damaged its main transformer. The twin Brunswick reactors in NC lowered powere to 70%, and the two operating reactors at Millstone nuclear power plant in CT lowered power levels to 70% and 50%, of normal as a safety precaution, in case they had to quickly shut down completely. However, the Surry reactor in VA, the two Indian Point, NY reactors, Calvert Cliffs Unit 2 in MD, and Pilgrim in MA continued to operate at full power levels throughout the storm. (As of August 26th, North Anna Units 1 and 2 were still shutdown following last week's Mineral, VA earthquake, epicentered just a few miles away -- hopefully they were kept shutdown given Hurricane Irene's approach).

Saturday
Aug272011

20 atomic reactors in 9 East Coast states poised to shut down as safety precaution in the face of Hurricane Irene

NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Irene at 8:45pm Eastern FridayBusiness Insider reports that 20 atomic reactors in 9 states on the East Coast of the U.S. are poised to shut down as a safety precaution if Hurricane Irene's winds and waves prove too intense. The article links to a National Geographic report warning that downed trees could cause widespread power outages -- which would be exacerbated by atomic reactor shutdowns prompted as safety precautions. In fact, the second biggest electricity outage in world history, the August 14th, 2003 "Northeast Blackout," which plunged 50 million Americans and Canadians into darkness, was initiated by a single sagging tree limb in northwest Ohio touching a power line. This was the fault of FirstEnergy Nuclear, which had neglected its tree-trimming responsibilities, as it was distracted at the time by a costly and serious scandal at its Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo. The 2003 "Northeast Blackout" led to the safety-related shutdown of about two dozen atomic reactors as a safety precaution due to the unstable electrical grid, which dramatically widened the scope of the incident. As Beyond Nuclear has warned, nuclear power is too risky to operate as climate chaos worsens; this is due to the vulnerable locations of atomic reactors, such as on coastlines, subject to not only severe weather events such as storm surges, but also earthquake-spawned tsunamis and sea level rise due to global warming.

Saturday
Aug272011

NRC slaps FirstEnergy for safety violations at Perry

NRC file photo of FirstEnergy's Perry nuclear power plant, to the northeast of Cleveland on the Lake Erie shorelineThe Plain Dealer of Cleveland has reported that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has cited the FirstEnergy nuclear utility with a "white finding" of "low to moderate" safety significance after four contract workers were briefly exposed to high radiation levels due to poorly written procedures involving a task near the reactor core. The article quotes Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps: "Kevin Kamps, a radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, a group opposed to nuclear energy, said Perry's problems are not as isolated from Davis-Besse's past problems as one would think. 'All the hooting and hollering about the need to improve FirstEnergy's 'safety culture' after the Davis-Besse hole-in-the-head fiasco of 2002 comes to mind,' he said. 'Apparently that 'safety culture' isn't as fixed as FirstEnergy and even the NRC would like the public to believe.' "

FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse nuclear power plant came closer than any other U.S. reactor since the Three Mile Island meltdown of 1979 to a major accident, due to severe corrosion of its reactor lid. Beyond Nuclear, in coalition with Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwest Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio, has won standing and the admittance of several contentions against the 20 year license extension sought by FirstEnergy at Davis-Besse.

Friday
Aug262011

Cheney urged Bush to bomb secret Syrian atomic reactor

In a "preview" book review, the New York Times has reported that his soon to be published memoir, In My Time, reveals that in June 2007, Dick Cheney urged George W. Bush to bomb a secret Syrian atomic reactor. However, he was not supported by a single other member of Bush's Cabinet, and so was overruled. But Israel did bomb the reactor, three months later.

Cheney also expresses no regret for the WMD and "smoking gun as mushroom cloud" false pretenses that he and other Bush administration officials used to push the U.S. into war with Iraq in 2003. He is unapologetic for the infamous "16 words" in Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech, alleging that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium yellowcake in Niger, Africa for nuclear weapons purposes -- despite it being instantly exposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency as untrue. Cheney is likewise unrepentent for his Chief of Staff Scooter Libby's "Fair Game" outing of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame (a counter-proliferation specialist), to punish her husband, U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson, for daring to publicly challenge Bush's State of the Union fraud.