34 groups to President Obama: NRC Commissioner Magwood must go

NRC Commissioner William Magwood IVThe environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, also requests a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation of Commissioner William Magwood IV’s (photo, left) violations of ethics laws, and conflicts of interest, related to seeking and landing a job promoting nuclear energy, as Director-General of the Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), a branch of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has separately written the president and NRC OIG, making the same request.

These letters, to President Obama and to the NRC OIG, follow the coalition's June 18th letter to Commissioner Magwood, urging him to step down voluntarily, and to recuse himself from any nuclear safety votes dating back to his initial bid for the NEA directorship.

However, Commissioner Magwood refused to resign and recuse himself. He has announced his last day at NRC will be Aug. 31, the very day before he is to begin his new job at NEA.

The coalition issued a press release. News coverage has included The Hill, and Bloomberg Businessweek (in which U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is quoted as referring to Magwood as a "disaster" and saying “He couldn’t leave quick enough for me”).


Church Rock: the forgotten nuclear disaster 35 years ago

35 years ago on July 16, likely the worst and certainly most forgotten U.S. nuclear accident happened.

On July 16, 1979, just 14 weeks after the Three Mile Island reactor accident, and just 34 years to the day after the Trinity atomic test, the small community of Church Rock, New Mexico, became the scene of another nuclear tragedy.

Ninety million gallons of liquid radioactive waste, and eleven hundred tons of solid mill wastes, burst through a broken dam wall at the Church Rock uranium mill facility, creating a flood of deadly effluents that permanently contaminated the Rio Puerco river. For more on the disaster at Church Rock and the implications today, read Linda Gunter's 2009 Blog on the Daily Kos, "The best-kept nuclear secret." For more details, see also Killing our Own and Southwest Research and Information Center.


NRC Commissioner Magwood refuses to resign, recuse himself

NRC Commissioner William Magwood IVIn response to a demand made last month by attorneys Diane Curran and Mindy Goldstein on behalf of 34 groups, including Beyond Nuclear, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner (NRC) William Magwood IV (photo, left) has refused to resign from the Commission, and refused to retroactively recuse himself from all votes related to nuclear power safety.

The environmental coalition has argued that, over the past many months, Magwood's application, and acceptance of the offer, to become the Director-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) in Paris -- a nuclear power promotional institution -- has biased him in his role as a nuclear safety regulator. Magwood has indicated he will leave the NRC in September to begin his new job. But the coalition has demanded his immediate resignation, as well as his recusal on all safety-related votes dating back to his initial bid for the NEA directorship.

On June 25th, attorney Terry Lodge, on behalf of several groups (including Beyond Nuclear) intervening against the proposed Fermi 3 reactor in Michigan, likewise moved for Magwood to recuse himself from the adjudicatory proceeding (see motion, and affidavit). Attorney Wally Taylor of the Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Committee has done the same in a Fort Calhoun, Nebraska NRC proceeding. However, Magwood has also refused to recuse himself in these particular proceedings.

The environmental coalition is preparing its response to Magwood's intransigence.


Standing in solidarity against dirty, dangerous, and expensive energy

Photo by Beth KemlerBeyond Nuclear staff attended the rally in Washington D.C. on Sunday, July 13th against the Cove Point LNG (liquefied natural gas) expansion proposal, alongside organizing groups such as CCAN (Chesapeake Climate Action Network) and Public Citizen.

We've worked with them, and many other environmental group allies and concerned local residents, for the past many years, in order to successfully stop the Calvert Cliffs 3 proposed new reactor. Constellation Energy's Calvert Cliffs Units 1 & 2 (now owned by Exelon Nuclear), in Lusby, Maryland on the shoreline, are just a few miles from Dominion's Cove Point LNG terminal located out in the Chesapeake Bay. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski warned about the security risks, due to the proximity of Calvert Cliffs to Cove Point.

Dominion also owns the North Anna nuclear power plant in Mineral, Virginia. Beyond Nuclear has worked with CCAN and other anti-fracking allies to oppose proposed new reactor units there, as well. We've also joined forces to successfully promote renewable alternatives, such as offshore wind power, in the Mid-Atlantic region.

As we've reported previously, the natural gas fracking wastes that would be generated in order to supply Cove Point's overseas export expansion are not only chemically toxic, but radioactive.

See CCAN's press release about the rally, including many colorful, powerful photos.

EcoWatch has reported on this issue. Mike Tidwell, CCAN's director, appeared NPR's Diane Rehm Show on July 15th.


6.8 earthquake in Japan and tsunami warning for Fukushima prefecture

A 6.8 M earthquake was registered at 4:22 Japan Standard Time, 84 miles off the coast of the shutdown Fukushima Dai-Ni nuclear power station (not to be confused with the wrecked and melted Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor site.) Fortunately the Dai-Ni reactors remain in cold shutdown. A Tsunami Alert was also posted. More.