Document shows NRC did not enforce testing for reactor leaks

More radioactive leaks from reactors like Dresden, Oyster Creek, Vermont Yankee and Indian Point are calling attention to a largely ignored Nuclear Regulatory Commission document dating back to 1979 when the agency first asked operators to periodically inspect pipes and tanks to prevent uncontrolled leaks. Reactor operators are not inspecting the miles of buried and corroding pipes and tanks. NRC is instead allowing reactors a "leak first, fix later" approach rather than use preventive inspections to maintain integrity of these radioactive waste management systems through preventive inspections. In addition to frequent intentional radioactive releases, these accidental and unmonitored spills and leaks onsite are contaminating water resources away from the reactors, jeopardizing public health. The October 19, 1979 NRC technical circular entitled "Prevention of Unplanned Releases of Radioactivity" advises the nuclear industry to periodically inspect buried pipes specifically using hydrostatic testing equipment and procedures with the focus on the "prevention" of uncontrolled and unmonitored radioactive release pathways.


German reactor accident worse than first admitted

The Krummel reactor near Hamburg, Germany was shut down on July 4, 2009 following a transformer fire caused by an electrical short circuit. The reactor had been running for only two weeks after a previous fire in the other transformer in 2007 had closed the plant for two years and cost Vattenfall, its Swedish owner, $420 million in repairs and upgrades. Vattenfall officials reluctantly disclosed that this time the SCRAM was complicated by damage to "perhaps a few fuel elements" but would not elaborate other than to say all safety systems operated and there was no radiation leak. Der Spiegel reports that evidence of sharp metal shavings and other foreign objects left behind from repairs inside the reactor vessel are evidence of the company's even more problematic carelessness and mismanagement. If you can understand German (and even if you can't), please enjoy the Greenpeace video on the Vattenfal reactor situation.


Urge DOE to Extend Nuclear Loan Guarantee Comment Period!

Action Alert, Sept. 2, 2009    

Urge Energy Dept. to Extend Public Comment Period on Nuclear Loan Guarantee Rules!

The U.S. Department of Energy is attempting to fast track its nuclear loan guarantee program by drastically limiting the opportunity for the public to comment on changes to its regulations. We must all act now to extend the comment period to ensure a transparent, democratic and fair public process, not a DOE rubber stamp. Taxpayers could be left holding the bag for tens of billions of dollars, when risky new nuclear reactor projects default on their loan repayments. Read Beyond Nuclear's action alert, where you'll see how to email DOE, urging a public comment period extension.


Quake shuts reactors in Japan

A 6.4 preliminary magnitude quake on Japan's central coast injured more than 60 people and shut down the two reactors at the Hamaoka plant. Two other reactors in the plant complex have been shut for years due to delays in construction upgrades that would make them more earthquake-resistant. More damage has been found than originally thought, putting a quick restart in doubt.


Nuclear retreat continues as three more planned reactors are canceled

The nuclear industry's steady march in retreat continued this week when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) announced it would not go forward with three of four new reactors planned for its Bellefonte site. TVA has scaled back its ambitions to just one new reactor according to reports. The Bellefonte site already has two incomplete reactors mothballed since 1988.