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Friday
Mar272015

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, stalwart opponent of Yucca dump, announces he won't seek re-election

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of NevadaU.S. Senator Harry Reid (Democrat from Nevada, photo left) has announced he won't seek re-election, and will retire 22 months from now. Reid, who has long served as either the U.S. Senate Majority or Minority Leader (depending on the number of Democrats serving in the chamber), has devoted his entire Senate career to successful opposition to the high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) dump targeted at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

In 1987, when the "Screw Nevada" bill was enacted into law, Reid was a rookie U.S. Senator. In "Screw Nevada," other targeted, more populous and politically powerful states -- such as Texas and Washington, as well as Northeastern states -- ganged up on Nevada, singling out Yucca Mountain as the sole location in the country to be further studied as a potential irradiated nuclear fuel and HLRW dump. This, despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Energy already knew by then, via preliminary scientific studies, that the site was unsuitable. But in Reid, a former boxer, the nuclear lobbyists had chosen the wrong rookie Senator to mess with. More.

Thursday
Mar262015

Nuclear Licensing Board Examines Brittle Vessel Risks at Entergy’s Palisades Atomic Reactor; Critics Call for Permanent Shutdown

NRC file photo of Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shore in Covert, MIAs reported by a press release, a coalition of environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, today testified before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB), at the agency's HQ in Rockville, Maryland, just outside D.C.

The coalition, represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge, defended its intervention against an Entergy License Amendment Request (LAR) to further weaken reactor pressure vessel (RPV) embrittlement/pressurized thermal shock (PTS) safety regulations.

Palisades has the worst-embrittled RPV in the U.S., at risk of a PTS fracture, Loss-of-Coolant-Accident, core meltdown, and catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity. A bad precedent at Palisades will then be applied by NRC to approve operations at other dangerously brittle pressurized water reactor (PWR) RPVs across the U.S.

The coalition intervened on Dec. 1, 2014. Entergy Nuclear and NRC staff counter-attacked on Jan. 12, 2015. The coalition rebutted the attacks on Jan. 20.

Today's "oral argument pre-hearing" was essentially an ASLB exercise to determine whether the coalition's intervenion is worthy of an evidentiary hearing on the merits of the contention. The ASLB is scheduled to rule on the admissibility of the intervenors' contention within 45 days.

On March 9, the coalition filed a parallel intervention regarding loss of Charpy V-Notch Upper-Shelf Energy in Palisades RPV, another form of age-related degradation.

Thursday
Mar262015

"Aileen Mioko Smith: Anti-Nuclear Feminist"

Smith amidst the 2012 "Occupy METI" (Ministry for Economy, Trade, and Industry) anti-nuclear protests in Tokyo in 2012Heidi Hutner, Director of the Stony Brook University Sustainability Program, has honored Aileen Mioko Smith, Executive Director of Green Action in Kyodo, Japan as a "Wonder Woman Who Has Made History," in Ms. Blog's Women's History Month Series.

As the article describes, Smith has decades of anti-nuclear grassroots (and additional environmental and feminist) activism under her belt, including interviewing hundreds of survivors of the Three Mile Island meltdown, collecting four million signatures onto petitions against nuclear power in Japan in the late 1980s, fending off plutonium mixed oxide fuel use in Japanese reactors for decades, and helping lead the remarkably successful nationwide resistance to reactor restarts in Japan in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.

Beyond Nuclear is privileged and honored to work closely with Smith, from hosting speaking tour exchanges in Japan and the U.S. (see various web posts in Sept. 2011), to featuring her TMI work (see article on page 4 of our TMI newsletter), to nominating her as a keynote speaker at the August 2011 Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) concert, as well as for a 2014 Nuclear-Free Future Award.

In late 2013, Smith published "The Potential of Japan's Anti-Nuclear Citizens' Movement to End Nuclear Power and Implement Change in Japan's Energy Policy: What Needs to Be Undertaken to Meet this Challenge." For the fourth anniversary of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, Smith published a Power Point presentation entitled "Nuclear Phase Out in Japan."

Thursday
Mar262015

"Feds probe PG&E report on California nuclear plant safety"

NRC file photo of PG&E's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, on the Pacific Coast near San Luis Obispo, CAAs reported by David R. Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has launched an investigation into the appearance of collusion between NRC and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) to circumvent seismic safety at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant on the faultline-riddled coastline of California.

The independent investigation by the Japanese Diet (Parliament) into the root cause of the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe concluded it was collusion between safety regulators, the nuclear utility, and elected officials that left the nuclear power plant so very vulnerable to the natural disaster (the massive earthquake, and the tsunami it spawned) on 3/11/11.

David Lochbaum of Union of Concerned Scientists, Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth, and Rochelle Becker of Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, are quoted in the article. So too is Michael Peck, the NRC inspector who has consistently warned that Diablo Canyon is operating in violation of its licensing basis and NRC seismic safety regulations, and has called for its shutdown until this is rectified.

Tuesday
Mar242015

"They're baaaaaaaaaack!" The return of the Mobile Chernobyl bill on Capitol Hill

An infrared photo showing the thermal heat of a German CASTOR cask filled with irradiated nuclear fuel being transported by rail to Gorleben. The high-level radioactivity, not the thermal heat, is the hazard to human health, safety, and the environment, however.As trumpeted by its "Gang of Four" co-sponsors (Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Democrats Maria Cantwell of Washington State and Dianne Feinstein of California) in a press release, the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2015, S. 854, has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Although the devil is always in the details, and further careful analysis and comparison is required, on the surface it appears that this session's bill is very similar to previous attempts in the Senate to open a "pilot" parking lot dump for commercial high-level radioactive waste in less than a decade, followed a few years later by a full-scale parking lot dump. This included Senate Bill (S.B.) 1240, the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013, about which Beyond Nuclear published a comprehensive critique of the scheme's many risks.

On the very same day, Energy Secretary Moniz, speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center, announced a major reversal of decades-old policy: no longer will nuclear weapons complex and commercial HLRW be "co-mingled," but instead separate permanent dumps will be built. Moniz also expressed full DOE support for the congressional call for parking lot dumps.

The clearly coordinated actions are a case study on the revolving door between industry, government, and academia, or incestuous nature of the nuclear establishment.

More.

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