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New Reactors

The U.S. nuclear industry is trumpeting a comeback - but only if U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill. Beyond Nuclear is watchdogging nuclear industry efforts to embark on new reactor construction which is too expensive, too dangerous and not needed.

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Tuesday
Oct072014

Coalition asserts Fermi 3 transmission corridor violates NEPA

Atomic reactors and their electrical transmission lines are inextricably interlinked, yet NRC staff has failed to undertake a NEPA review of the proposed new Fermi 3 transmission line corridor's environmental impacts.The environmental coalition intervening against the proposed new Fermi 3 reactor has re-asserted its nearly three-year old challenge, directly to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's five Commissioners themselves, that the inextricably interlinked transmission line corridor needed to export the electricity to the grid is still in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The coalition's Toledo-based attorney, Terry Lodge, filed a Petition for Review with the NRC Commissioners by their ordered deadline. The petition defends not only the contention's merit, but also its separation from the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel's request to the Commissioners for permission to undertake a sua sponte review.

That is, the ASLB panel has requested permission to review, on its own initiative, the NRC staff's apparent violation of NEPA, by failing to undertake an Environmental Impact Statement review of the proposed new transmission corridor, which will past through forested wetlands, likely habitat to endangered and threatened species.

Detroit Edison (DTE) proposes to construct and operate a General Electric-Hitachi (GEH) so-called Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) -- "Unit 3" -- at the Fermi nuclear power plant in Frenchtown Township, on the Lake Erie shore in southeast Michigan. It would be located immediately adjacent to Fermi Unit 2, the world's single largest Fukushima Daiichi twin design (a GE Mark I BWR). Ironically enough, Fermi 3 would be build on the exact same spot where Fermi Unit 1, an experimental plutonium breeder reactor, suffered a partial core meltdown on Oct. 5, 1966, a near-catastrophe documented in John G. Fuller's book We Almost Lost Detroit (Reader's Digest Press, 1975).

The binational coalition intervening against Fermi 3's license includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (CACC), Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. The coalition initially filed its intervention in March 2009, and has submitted dozens of contentions since.

Monday
Sep292014

Chris Williams to speak against Davis-Besse & Fermi

Chris Williams speaking at Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent of the People's Climate March in New York City on Sept. 21stChris Williams (photo, left), the chairman of the board of directors of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), and a lead organizer with Vermont Citizen Action Network (VCAN) and Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance (VYDA), will speak out against the Davis-Besse, Ohio and Fermi, Michigan nuclear power plants during a Great Lakes tour in mid-October.

Chris will speak in Port Clinton, Ohio on Monday, October 13th (7 to 8:30pm at Ida Rupp Public Library, 310 Madison Street; see flier here), and in Bowling Green, Ohio on Tuesday, October 14th (7:30 to 8:30pm at BGSU Business Administration Building, Room 103; see flier here). Please see the linked flier, print it up, post it, hand it out, and otherwise spread the word!

Chris will also speak in downtown Monroe, Michigan on Thursday, October 16th (Hospitality at 4pm; Teach In at 6pm; Slide Show at 7pm; at Loranger Square Pavilion, E. 1st St. & Washington St., 48161; see flier here).

During a quarter-century of service at Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, including 18 years as executive director, Chris helped lead the effort that successfully blocked the proposed new nuclear power plant at Bailly in the Gary, IN/Indiana Dunes area on the Lake Michigan shore, as well as the proposed new nuclear plant at Marble Hill, on the banks of the Ohio River in Madison, IN. To this day, there are no atomic reactors located within the Hoosier State.

And since "retiring" to Vermont over a decade ago, Chris has helped achieve the tremendous grassroots victory of forcing Entergy Nuclear to permanently shut its Vermont Yankee reactor by the end of this year.

Chris's Lake Erie shoreline speaking tour is sponsored by Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste Michigan, the Green Party of Ohio, and the Toledo Safe Energy Coalition, united in coalition to block old reactor license extensions at Fermi 2, MI and Davis-Besse, OH, and the proposed new reactor at Fermi 3, MI. The Fermi and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants are visible with the naked eye, one from the other, 30 miles apart as the crow flies, across Lake Erie.

Monday
Sep292014

17 groups urge NRC to halt licensing, relicensing of 23 reactors due to failure to address 2012 court ruling

Diane CurranAs reported by a coalition press release, 17 groups engaged in interventions against 23 old and new reactors have filed new contentions with U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panels.

The contentions cite NRC's own lack of safety assurances regarding ultimate disposal of irradiated nuclear fuel, a recent reversal of NRC's previous so-called "Nuclear Waste Confidence." In addition to the contentions seeking to block new reactor licenses and old reactor license extensions, the coalition has requested stays on all proceedings until the matter is resolved.

Diane Curran (photo, above) of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg, LLP in Washington, D.C., is a lead attorney representing the environmental coalition. Mindy Goldstein of Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University in Atlanta also serves as a lead attorney on behalf of the coalition.

Dr. Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School, and Dr. Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, have each filed expert testimony on behalf of the coalition.

Beyond Nuclear's role in this coalition effort includes its intervention against old reactor license extensions at Davis-Besse, Ohio and Fermi 2, Michigan, as well as its intervention against the proposed new reactor at Fermi 3, Michigan. Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge serves as legal counsel for the environmental coalitions intervening in these particular ASLB proceedings.

Tuesday
Aug262014

By another name, NRC Commission blesses Nuclear Waste Confidence

Environmental coalition members from the Crabshell Alliance, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, NIRS, PSR, NEIS, and Public Citizen "just say NO!" at the NRC HQ nuke waste con game public comment meeting on 11/14/13 in Rockville, MD. Photo credit David Martin and Erica Grey.Today, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) four Commissioners blessed the NRC staff's "Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel" Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) and Rule, previously called the NRC's "Nuclear Waste Confidence" policy.

The vote went ahead, despite widespread calls for Commissioner William Magwood to resign, or recuse himself, due to conflict of interest, and despite a call for NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane to postpone the vote until after Commissioner Magwood's departure from the agency on Aug. 31st.

The Commissioners' explanations for their votes included a partial objection by NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane, that NRC staff had not adequately considered the "catastrophe" that would unfold over time, if institutional control were to be lost over irradiated nuclear fuel storage. However, even she joined NRC Commissioners Kristine Svinicki, William Ostendorff, and Magwood, in approving finalization of the GEIS and Rule, pending a few, very minor corrections.

She also joined their unanimous Memorandum and Order, that stays on final NRC approvals for some two dozen operating license proceedings -- both at pending old reactor license extensions, as well as in proposed new reactor combined Construction and Operating License Application (COLA) proceedings -- be ended. Thus, licenses can now be approved by NRC licensing boards, 30 days after publication of these decisions in the Federal Register, which is set for next month.

These include the proposed new Fermi 3, MI and Grand Gulf 2, MS COLA proceedings, and several old reactor license extension proceedings (Seabrook, NH; Davis-Besse, OH; Grand Gulf Unit 1, MS; Fermi 2, MI), in which Beyond Nuclear has intervened, opposing NRC's approval of the operating licenses.

Thus, the NRC has ignored many tens of thousands of public comments, including in-depth comments made by Beyond Nuclear, a coalition of three dozen environmental groups, and a coalition of state governments and Native American tribes. The NRC has blessed the continued generation of forever deadly high-level radioactive waste, attempting to take the issue off the table in pending, and future, reactor licensing proceedings. But the big question remains: will NRC's flagrant flouting of federal court orders be allowed to stand?

Explaining how the NRC could, yet again, bless the "nuke waste con game," despite the inherent environmental and safety risks, Mother Jones quoted Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps: "The industry crawls all over that place in terms of lobbying. They own that place."

Thursday
Aug212014

Groups urge NRC to postpone key votes in order to avoid “taint” of Magwood conflict of interest

NRC Commissioner William Magwood IV34 groups, including Beyond Nuclear, have written a letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Chairman, Allison Macfarlane, as well as NRC Commissioners Christine Svinicki and William Ostendorff, urging them to postpone key Commission votes until after the departure of Commissioner William Magwood IV (photo, left) for his new job as Director-General of the Nuclear Energy Agency in Paris on September 1st.

The NEA's mission statement is to promote nuclear power, while NRC's is supposed to be public health, safety, and environmental protection. The 34 groups allege a glaring conflict of interest on Magwood's part, and have previously called for his resignation, as well as retroactive recusal on all nuclear safety votes dating back to his solicitation of the NEA directorship.

The key votes, now set for August 26th, are on NRC Commission approval of NRC staff's "Continued Storage" (formerly called Nuclear Waste Confidence) Generic Environmental Impact Statement (and very likely its closely associated Rule). The Continued Storage GEIS and Rule hold that irradiated nuclear fuel can be safely, securely, and soundly stored on-site at nuclear power plants, as well as at away-from-reactor consolidated "interim" storage sites, for many decades to come, and effectively, indefinitely.

The Commissioners could also vote to lift a stay on old reactor license extensions, and new reactor construction and operating licenses, in place since the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nullified NRC's indefensible Nuclear Waste Confidence policy in June, 2012. Via their standing as official intervenors, Beyond Nuclear and its environmental allies have helped secure stays against final approval of the Fermi 3, MI proposed new reactor construction and operating license, as well as the Davis-Besse, OH 20-year license extension, until the court-ordered revison of the Nuclear Waste Confidence policy has been finalized.

The 34-group environmental coalition, represented by attorneys Diane Curran of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg LLP of Washington, D.C., and Mindy Goldstein of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University in Atlanta, has also issued a press release.

The Hill, the Washington Post, and E&E/Greenwire, have reported on this story. The latter article, which requires a subscription to view, mentions Beyond Nuclear et al.'s request to Commissioner Magwood, filed two months ago, that he recuse himself from the Fermi 3 licensing proceeding. Magwood refused to do so.

Katherine Fuchs at FOE has posted a blog about Magwood, "Revolving doors at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission."