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International

Beyond Nuclear, while U.S. based, recognizes that the issue of nuclear power, particularly in relation to climate change and reactor expansion, has become an international issue. Multi-national corporations, often with foreign ownership, have taken over every facet of the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining to waste disposition. Beyond Nuclear is currently engaged in supportive efforts in a number of different countries.

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Friday
Aug102012

What Humpty Dumpty doesn't want you to know: Davis-Besse's cracked concrete containment snow job

U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps has prepared a comprehensive backgrounder about an environmental coalition's (including Citizens Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Canada, just across Lake Erie) efforts to win a hearing against the Davis-Besse atomic reactor's proposed 20-year license extension based on the safety risks presented by its severely cracked shield building. FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) claims the cracking was caused by the Blizzard of 1978, is not aging related, and will be easily solved by the application of a weather sealant (albeit 40 years late). The backgrounder, prepared for a special NRC meeting about the shield building cracking to be held on Nagasaki Day (Thursday, August 9) in Oak Harbor, Ohio, reports on NRC's response documents to a Beyond Nuclear Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, as well as recent revisions to FENOC's root cause reports and aging management plan. Also contained in the backgrounder are citations to the environmental coalition's four supplements to its original cracking contention, over the course of many months. (See links to FOIA documents here.)

Kevin will speak, along with Don't Waste Michigan's Michael Keegan and Terry Lodge, Toledo based attorney who represents the coalition, at a press conference before the NRC meeting, at 5:30 PM at the Oak Harbor High School. U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH, photo at left), a long-time Davis-Besse watchdog, who has outed much of the truth about the severity of the cracking over the past 10 months, will also take part in the press conference.

Thursday
Jul192012

Resisting "Rust Belt" reactors' radioactive risks!

The Great Lakes, drinking water supply for 40 million people, forms the international border between the U.S. and Canada. 13 and 20 atomic reactors are located along the Great Lakes shorelines of each country, respectivelyAs if the closing steel mills and automobile manufacturing plants weren't bad enough, some of the oldest, most risky atomic reactors in the U.S. are located in the Midwest. Worse still, they are on the shores of the Great Lakes, putting at risk the drinking water supply for 40 million people downstream in the U.S., Canada, and a large number of Native American First Nations. Altogether, 33 atomic reactors are located on the shorelines of the Great Lakes.

Two of the most infamous of these radiologically risky "Rust Belt reactors" are Entergy Nuclear's Palisades in southwest Michigan, and FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse in northwest Ohio.

Last month, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), a long-time watchdog on the nuclear industry, wrote the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) about an acidic, radioactive leak representing a "crisis in the control room at the Palisades nuclear power plant." The leakage had been ongoing for a year, and was being "contained" in glorified buckets referred to by Entergy PR spokesman Mark Savage as "catch basins." Although the leak came to light when Palisades was forced to shutdown after its rate reached more than 30 gallons per day, it had been ongoing for months at a rate of 15 gallons per day. The tritiated and borated water is leaking from a 300,000 gallon Safety Injection Refueling Water storage tank, which is safety critical for both reactor core and radiological containment cooling. Whistleblowers contacted Washington, D.C. attorney Billie Pirner Garde, who alerted Rep. Markey, who wrote NRC. The NRC Office of Investigations has launched a probe into potential Entergy wrongdoing. On July 17th, NRC issued a "Confirmatory Action Letter" which enables Palisades to keep operating into 2013, even if the leak increases to nearly 38 gallons per day!

Markey demanded a copy of an internal Entergy report surveying its own workers on "safety culture" at Palisades. Michigan Radio obtained a copy, which reveals "a lack of accountability at all levels," and a workforce deeply distrustful of management, fearful that they will be harassed and punished if they dare to raise safety concerns.

Last February, NRC lowered Palisades' safety status to one of the four worst atomic reactors in the U.S., after a near electrocution of an electrician last September cut power to half the control room, instantly throwing 22 plant systems into chaos, and bringing multiple Palisades' age-degraded structures and components (the reactor has operated since 1971 on the Lake Michigan shore) -- including the most embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the U.S., and steam generators that have needed to be replaced (for the second time in the plant's history) over six years ago -- to the breaking point. More than one pathway to a Loss of Coolant Accident came precariously close to happening, which could have led to meltdown and catastrophic radioactivity release.

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps will represent Palisades watchdogs at an "Occupy Entergy" gathering at the World Fellowship Center in Conway, New Hampshire this weekend. Watchdogs from numerous Entergy Nuclear reactors across the U.S. will come together to advance shutdown campaigns at Entergy reactors, from Vermont Yankee, FitzPatrick NY, and Pilgrim MA (all General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors, identical twins to Fukushima Daiichi), to pressurized water reactors like Indian Point, NY and Palisades. Beyond Nuclear's Paul and Linda Gunter will help lead the strategic retreat.

At the 35-year-old Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo on the Lake Erie shore, Beyond Nuclear and its environmental coalition allies have pressed their case against a 20 year license extension at one of the most problem-plagued plants in U.S. history. The coalition, represented by attorney Terry Lodge, contends that Davis-Besse's severely cracked and degraded shield building represents a potentially catastrophic radiological risk, which should preclude the 2017 to 2037 license extension.

U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), whose Cleveland area district is immediately downwind, has been a long-time critic of Davis-Besse. He just wrote an op-ed, "If You Lived Downwind of this Power Plant, Would You Be Concerned?," which first appeared in the Elyria Chronicle Telegram, and has been reprinted at the Huffington Post. Rep. Kucinich has also expressed his solidarity with the 170,000 protestors in Tokyo calling for an end to nuclear power in Japan after the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe.

Referring to Davis-Besse, Rep. Kucinich said: “The people of Japan, and indeed every country, deserve better than being condemned to repeat such disasters, especially when they demand a sustainable path forward.  I stand with them not only because they have a right to be free of the catastrophic health and financial risks that nuclear power clearly brings, but because we share the same risks in my own backyard...We must support the Japanese people, if for no other reason that their nuclear explosions could easily become ours.”

FirstEnergy also owns and operates the Perry nuclear power plant to the northeast of Cleveland, which, along with Palisades, is regarded by NRC as one of the four worst run reactors in the U.S.

Tuesday
Jul172012

Bi-national environmental coalition bolsters case against Davis-Besse cracked concrete containment near U.S.-Canadian border

An NRC inspector examines cracks in Davis-Besse's concrete shield building, Oct. 2011The U.S.-Canadian environmental coalition battling against the 20 year license extension proposed at the problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor on Lake Erie near Toledo, Ohio -- and just tens of miles from Ontario -- has filed a supplement to its cracked concrete containment contention. FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company first admitted its concrete shield building, an integral part of its radiological containment, was cracked in October 2011. This most recent filing cites FENOC's own May 16, 2012 revised root cause analysis report to highlight multiple forms of cracking and other degradation across the shield building, rather than the nuclear utility's preference to exclusively focus on sub-surface laminar cracking at the outer steel reinforcement layer. FENOC blames those cracks on the Blizzard of 1978, and the fact that the shield building, the most safety significant concrete structure on site, was never weather sealed, even though its own dome, and other less safety significant concrete buildings, were sealed. The coalition has revealed that FENOC's revised root cause analysis report admits for the first time in 36 years that cracking was observed on the shield building dome in August 1976, nearly a year and a half before the Blizzard of 1978. The intervening groups, including Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio, is represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge.

Monday
Jul092012

Beyond Nuclear wakes U.S. up to Canadian radioactive waste dumps targeted at Great Lakes shoreline

The Bruce Nuclear Complex in Ontario on the Lake Huron shore is currently the biggest single nuclear power plant in the world, with 8 still operable (and 1 permanently shutdown prototype) reactorsThe Toronto Star has reported that passionate expressions of opposition to the proposed "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive waste dump targeted at the Bruce Nuclear Complex in Ontario, Canada -- just a half-mile from the Lake Huron shore -- are rolling in from U.S. citizens to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. Weekly email action alerts and website postings by Beyond Nuclear have helped spread the word across the U.S., not just in Michigan -- 50 miles across Lake Huron from Bruce. 

Ontario Power Generation, the nuclear utility which owns Bruce and is responsible for radioactive wastes generated at 20 reactors across Ontario, has proposed this "Deep Geologic Repository," which Dave Martin of Greenpeace Canada renamed the DUD (Deep Underground Dump). Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps serves on the Great Lakes United team in opposition to the dump.

At the very same time, several towns near Bruce have volunteered to be considered as Canada's high-level radioactive waste dumping ground, for a total of 22 reactors across Canada. Bruce hosts 9 reactors -- 1 a prototype that has been permanently shut down, and 8 still operable CANDUs (Canadian Uranium Deuterium atomic reactors).

Kevin also spread the word against these Canadian radioactive waste dumps across Michigan in May, as he spoke at screenings of "Into Eternity" at more than a half dozen communities around the state.

Tuesday
Jul032012

Dr. Judith H. Johnsrud receives national Sierra Club Award

This quilt Judy is admiring was created by textile artist Margaret Gregg of Virginia, and was given to her on May 4th by the Sierra Club "No Nukes Activist Team" in honor of her 50 years of anti-nuclear leadership. It reads "JUDITH: PROTECTING LIFE FOREVER."Leon Glicenstein, a life-long friend and supporter of Dr. Judith H. Johnsrud, has written an article for the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter's Summer 2012 newsletter The Sylvanian about the national Sierra Club and the Sierra Club "No Nukes Activist Team" recognition ceremony, held May 4th in Takoma Park, Maryland, honoring Judy's half-century of anti-nuclear leadership not only locally, regionally, and nationally, but even globally, including major presentations overseas. Judy is a founding board member of Beyond Nuclear. Included in Leon's article is a partial list of anti-nuclear victories Judy helped win in her home state of Pennsylvania alone.

Beyond Nuclear posted a tribute to Judy shortly after the ceremony, which includes more photos of the presentation of her quilt (see photo, left), as well as links to writings by Judy, such as her brief history of the Environmental Coalition on Nuclear Pollution, which she founded and led for many decades.