US NRC asks National Academy of Sciences to perform a cancer study around nuclear reactors

The NRC announced today that it has asked the NAS to perform a study on cancer risks around nuclear facilities. The study will begin this summer. Citizens' groups have already expressed aggravation that NRC would have control of such health studies since this presents a conflict of interest between NRC's role as both creator and assessor of its own health protection regulations. In their letter, the groups also expressed concern over inadequate study protocols that US government agencies have used in past studies. The division of the NAS slated to conduct this study is the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board (NRSB) which has as its chair, Richard Meserve, a former NRC Chair. NRSB has planned a public meeting for April 26 (ironically, the day Chernobyl exploded) at the NAS in Washington, DC.  A skeletal agenda has been posted. Beyond Nuclear will post further details as they occur. 


UCS files emergency enforcement petition with NRC regarding Davis-Besse lid leaks

The Union of Concerned Scientists' nuclear safety project director Dave Lochbaum has filed an emergency enforcement petition with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission concerning recent revelations of boric acid leakage through the Davis-Besse atomic reactor's lid near Toledo, Ohio. Similar leakage at Davis-Besse led, in 2002, to the nearest-miss to a major accident since Three Mile Island actually suffered a 50% core melt down in 1979. Due to that previous debacle, NRC fined Davis-Besse's owner, FirstEnergy, a record $5.45 million in penalties. However, this most recent leakage of corrosive boric acid appears to have again violated NRC's operating license, risking a fast-breaking breach of the reactor pressure vessel boundary and potential loss-of-coolant accident.


Nuclear utilities sue DOE to evade Nuclear Waste Fund fees

The industry's lobby arm, Nuclear Energy Institute, and 16 nuclear utilities, have sued the U.S. Department of Energy in federal court to seek a suspension to $750 million per year of ratepayer fees charged on electricity bills for radioactive waste generation at commercial reactors. The lawsuit comes in response to the Obama administration's decision to cancel the Yucca Mountain dumpsite proposal in Nevada.


New York Times calls on Entergy to "stop abusing the Hudson River"

In a remarkable editorial, the New York Times has celebrated the State of New York's decision to block Entergy Nuclear's Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant's NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) permit, which could force the two reactors to shut down in 2013 and 2015. The Times praised Hudson Riverkeeper, as well as folk singer Pete Seeger, for their watchdogging of the reactors, pointing out that a billion river organisms per year are killed by the plant's obsolete "once through" cooling system. (The Times may have to run a correction, though, as only 15% of the metro NYC area gets electricity from Indian Point -- the 30% figure referred to in the editorial includes nuclear electricity supplied by additional reactors in New York State and New Jersey.)


No radioactive waste on Native American lands!

In his public comments at their first meeting, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps urged Energy Secretary Chu's "Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future" to "put a stop, once and for all, to the shameful history of targeting Native American communities and lands with radioactive waste dumps." Kevin thanked President Obama and Secretary Chu for the tremendous environmental justice victory represented by their wise decision to cancel the Yucca Mountain dumpsite proposal targeted at Western Shoshone Indian lands at Yucca Mountain in Nevada (pictured at left through the frame of a Western Shoshone sweat lodge, 2004 photo courtesy of Gabriela Bulisova), and honored Native American leaders such as Corbin Harney and Grace Thorpe, who devoted their lives to stopping radioactive waste dumps targeted at Native lands. In 2005, along with Pubilc Citizen, Kevin documented the history of this radioactive racism, including at Skull Valley Goshutes in Utah. Nearly 450 groups unsuccessfully petitioned the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission against licensing the Private Fuel Storage "parking lot dump," but thanks to the tireless efforts of Skull Valley traditionals like Margene Bullcreek and Sammy Blackbear, it was ultimately blocked.