Massachusetts Elected Officials Call for Public Meeting on Safety at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant

As posted at the website of U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA):

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Congressman William Keating (MA-09), Governor Charlie Baker, the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation, and numerous Massachusetts state legislators are calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to immediately hold a public meeting to address concerns about the safety of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant. In a letter sent today to the NRC, the Massachusetts elected officials call attention to a leaked December 6, 2016 e-mail from the leader of the NRC special inspection team that has raised serious questions about Entergy’s ability to operate the plant safely [see the Boston Globe's Dec. 7 article, "Pilgrim nuclear plant staff said to be 'overwhelmed'"]. The NRC is currently conducting a three-phased supplemental inspection process at Pilgrim as a result of the NRC determination that recurring safety issues at the aging nuclear power plant required the Commission to list the plant in “Column 4” of its reactor safety ratings, its least safe rating for an operating reactor. Most recently Entergy was forced to shut down Pilgrim on December 15 when it reportedly discovered leaks in three of the eight main steam isolation valves, which are used to prevent radioactivity from leaking into the environment during a nuclear accident...

“While the NRC undoubtedly regrets the inadvertent disclosure of the preliminary thoughts expressed in the December 6 e-mail, the disclosure happened, and the NRC now has the obligation to address questions raised by that e-mail to help assuage growing public safety concerns,” write the lawmakers in the letter to NRC Chairman Stephen Burns. “A public meeting also will allow the NRC to outline for the public the steps it may take in light of the special inspection team’s findings to date, the steps that remain in the NRC’s inspection process, and when the official results of the inspection will be released to the public.”

A copy of the letter to the NRC can be found HERE. More.


A Maverick Former Japanese Prime Minister Goes Antinuclear


Resistance girds against "new arms race" rhetoric, press to resume nuke weapons testing

"Castle Bravo," March 1, 1954, a 15 mega-ton hydrogen bomb "test" blast carried out by the U.S. on the Marshall Islands in the Pacific OceanWhat a week it's been. It began with Russian president Putin declaring on Dec. 22 that "We need to strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces, especially with missile complexes that can reliably penetrate any existing and prospective missile defense systems." Within hours, U.S. president-elect Trump Tweeted a response: "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes". Trump then doubled down the next day, telling a t.v. reporter "Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass...And outlast them all." Resistance to Putin and Trump's reckless "new Cold War" rhetoric was immediate. The very next day, groups such as PSR and ICAN applauded the passage of United Nations Resolution L. 41, "an historic victory for nuclear disarmament advocates, [in which] a large majority of nations voted today in the General Assembly to convene negotiations in 2017 for a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination." Eric Schlosser, author of  Command and Control, warned in a major piece in the New Yorker against "World War Three, by Mistake." Even the destabilizing specter of renewed nuclear weapons blasts at the Nevada Test Site, on Western Shoshone Indian treaty land, has been raised, under Trump's Energy Secretary-appointee, former Texas governor Rick Perry ("Castle Bravo," the largest U.S. hydrogen bomb "test" blast, above left, was carried out on March 1, 1954, devastating the Marshall Islands, as well as a Japanese fishing fleet downwind; it was a thousand times bigger than the Hiroshima atomic bomb). Some hopeful and welcome relief from such fearful and fearsome prospects can be found in a Counterpunch article by John LaForge of Nukewatch Wisconsin, "In Sentencing Radical Pacifists, Judge Miles Lord Assailed 'Worship of the Bomb.'" Learn more at Beyond Nuclear's Nuclear Weapons website section.


Cost overruns, construction delays plunge Toshiba-Westinghouse into "nuclear nightmare"

Gene Case of Avenging Angels' graphic, "Burning Money," was featured on the cover of The Nation Magazine, accompanying an article by Christian Parenti in 2003 about the nuclear power relapseAs reported by Bloomberg, multi-billion dollar (and skyrocketing) cost overruns, and years-long (and worsening) schedule delays, at four new reactor construction sites in the U.S. Southeast have plunged Toshiba-Westinghouse stock values into a "nuclear nightmare" or financial meltdown. The company is facing a $4-5 billion write-down, after a major accounting error, when its acquisition of new reactor construction firm, Chicago Bridge & Iron, went sour.

Fairewinds Associates warned years ago that the Toshiba-Westinghouse AP-1000 reactor design has a potentially fatal flaw, that could result in catastrophic amounts of hazardous radioactivity being pumped into the environment in the event of a core meltdown.

A whopping one-fifth of South Carolina ratepayers' electric bills now go toward construction costs of the Summer 2 and 3 new reactors. At Georgia's Vogtle 3 and 4 new reactors, not only regional ratepayers, but also U.S. taxpayers, are on the hook, to the tune of $8.3 billion, in the form of a federal nuclear loan guarantee, compliments of the Obama administration. More.


Coalition presses case against Fermi atomic reactors in Michigan

Fermi 2, located on the Great Lakes shoreline in Monroe County, MIOn Dec. 15, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) finalized its rubber-stamp of Fermi Unit 2's 20-year license extension, despite years and decades of resistance by such grassroots groups as Citizens Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT) and Don't Waste MI. Most recently, CRAFT raised "Got KI?" contentions, building on work led by the Alliance to Halt Fermi 3. Fermi 2 is the largest Fukushima Daiichi General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor twin design in the world; but if Detroit Edison (DTE) gets its way, an even bigger boiling water reactor would be built immediately adjacent, Fermi 3. However, Beyond Nuclear and a coalition of environmental allies, represented by legal counsel Terry Lodge of Toledo, OH, has resisted the Fermi 3 combined Construction and Operating License Application at every turn, since 2008. Most recently, on Dec. 23, this included a legal filing at the second highest court in the land, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The appeal against Fermi 3's license includes an unprecedented challenge to a scandalous, Orwellian 2007 NRC rule change that fundamentally violates the National Environmental Policy Act -- excluding Fermi 3's transmission line corridor from NRC's Environmental Impact Statement. It also challenges DTE's violation of NRC's Quality Assurance regulations, a contention for which Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc. has served as Beyond Nuclear's expert witness.