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Wednesday
May282014

Fukushima lessons learned? None! NRC ends consideration of expedited unloading of radioactive waste pools

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission snuck out a major decision on the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend. Its generic study of whether or not to require the expedited transfer of "spent nuclear fuel" (irradiated nuclear fuel rods, highly radioactive waste) out of vulnerable storage pools will be unceremoniusly ended, with no requirement to unload pools into dry cask storage. The study was undertaken as part of NRC's Fukushima "lessons learned" process, created by former NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko in the immediate aftermath of the Japanese nuclear catastrophe.

The decision came in the form of a memo, sent from the NRC Secretary to the NRC EDO (Executive Director for Operations). The memo simply states: "The Commission has approved the staff's recommendation that this Tier 3 Japan lessons-learned activity be closed and that no further generic assessments be pursued related to possible regulatory actions to require the expedited transfer of spent fuel to dry cask storage."

Four of the five NRC Commissioners (Svinicki, Apostalakis, Magwood, and Ostendorff) voted to support NRC Staff's recommendation, made late last year, that irradiated nuclear fuel currently stored in densely-packed pools, need not be transferred to dry casks on an expedited basis.

The sole dissenting vote on the NRC Commission came from its Chairwoman, Allison Macfarlane. Chairwoman Macfarlane criticized the NRC staff's analysis, including that the only risk initiator considered was an earthquake. She called for a “more thorough analysis,” including consideration “of all natural and human-induced events (e.g., accidental, malevolent).”

Chairwoman Macfarlane provided a more than 10-page analysis explaining her dissent. Three of the other Commissioners who blessed the staff's recommendation for inaction provided a page, or less, of explanation for their own votes. More.

Saturday
May242014

HBO's VICE: "Playing with Nuclear Fire," about Fukushima

HBO's investigative reporting series, VICE, took a trip to Fukushima Daiichi to examine untold stories from the nuclear catastrophe. Watch the reporter's debrief here.

Friday
May232014

Coalition defends its challenge against Davis-Besse Shield Building cracks, gaps, and rebar damage

Environmental coalition attorney Terry LodgeAn environmental coalition, represented by attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo (photo, left), has filed a defense of its contention alleging that FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore should be denied a 20-year license extension by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Most recently, Davis-Besse's concrete containment Shield Building has exhibited ever more severe cracking, steel reinforcement damage, as well as wall gap 80% of the way through its 2.5 foot thickness (an air space, or void, through 24 of 30 inches of the wall). The filing rebuts challenges against the contention by FENOC and NRC Staff.

As official intervenors in the NRC Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board (ASLB) proceeding, the coalition, comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Coalition of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Ohio Green Party, has resisted Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension since the end of 2010. Davis-Besse's 40-year operating license expires on Earth Day (April 22), 2017. This is the coalition's sixth contention filed.

Wednesday
May212014

"Time to change the kitty litter!"

Arnie GundersenAs posted on the Fairewinds Energy Education website:

CNN called Arnie Gundersen to learn about the use of kitty litter at the DOE’s Waste Isolation Pilot Project facility in New Mexico, which is being blamed for radiation leaks. Out with the new kitty litter, back to the tried and true.

Monday
May192014

"Michigan lawmakers step up fight against nuke dump"

As reported by John Flesher of the Associated Press, a group of Michigan State Senators has introduced a slate of bills intended to turn up the heat against a proposal by Ontario Power Generation to bury all of the province's so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Kincardine, Ontario, less than a mile from the shoreline of Lake Huron.

The Times Herald has posted a video of the State Senators' news conference announcing their proposed legislation.

State Senator Pavlov (Republican, 25th District), Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes, has launched an online petition opposing the Great Lakes nuclear dump.