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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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Wednesday
May232018

Trump's lawyer Cohen opens doors for Alabama nuclear developer Haney

Zombies rally against Bellefonte nuclear power plant at TVA's Chattanooga offices.It seems perverse to call incomplete atomic reactors already nearly a half-century old "new," but alas, this is Trumpland we're living in!

As Kyle Whitmire reports in an opinion column at al.com, zombie monsters stirreth in the radioactive "swamps" of Alabama and Washington, D.C. (No offense to literal swamps or the creatures that inhabit them!)

Whitmire warns about the safety risks of a billionaire would-be "new" atomic reactor developer, Franklin Haney, who retained the infamous Trump lawyer Michael Cohen (as well as is attempting to access Qatari royal money) to help him resurrect two long abandoned, half-built atomic reactors at Bellefonte, AL.

Never mind that even zombies had long warned the Tennessee Valley Authority to use their brains and say NO! to Bellefonte's "resurrection from the dead."

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Fairewinds Associates, Inc.'s nuclear engineer, Arnie Gundersen, likewise warned TVA against any attempt to complete the zombie reactors.

Monday
Apr162018

U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Beyond Nuclear v. NRC Appeal on Fermi 3: Despite Setback, Environmental Coalition Vows Ongoing Resistance against Proposed New Reactor 

NEWS FROM BEYOND NUCLEAR

 

For immediate release: April 16, 2018

 

Contact: 

Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear, (240) 462-3216, kevin@beyondnuclear.org

Michael J. Keegan, Don’t Waste Michigan, (734) 770-1441, mkeeganj@comcast.net

Terry Lodge, legal counsel, (419) 205-7084, tjlodge50@yahoo.com


U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Beyond Nuclear v. NRC Appeal on Fermi 3

 

Despite Setback, Environmental Coalition Vows Ongoing Resistance

against Proposed New Reactor



Monroe County, MI and Washington, D.C.--The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear Beyond Nuclear’s appeal against the proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor. Despite this, the environmental coalition has vowed to continue its resistance.

 

The appeal focused on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) exclusion of the transmission line corridor from the National Environmental Policy Act’s (NEPA) required “hard look” at all environmental impacts of major federal actions, such as NRC approval of a combined construction and operations license application (COLA) for the Fermi 3 atomic reactor, a General Electric-Hitachi (GEH) so-called “Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor” (ESBWR). Fermi 3 is the flagship ESBWR in the U.S., and internationally.

 

The Fermi nuclear power plant is located in southeast Michigan, on the Lake Erie shoreline, south of Detroit, north of Toledo, immediately adjacent to Ohio and Ontario, Canada.

 

"We regret that the Supreme Court didn't take the opportunity to teach an instructive lesson to an important regulatory agency that NEPA, the environmental impact statement law, can't be weakened to address only the environmental damage that the agency wants the public to know about," said Terry Lodge, attorney for Beyond Nuclear and the other grassroots opponents of Fermi 3. "The NRC's decision to allow its staff to reshape the project undermines the public's right to know, and worse, mocks the public's right to participate in very important decisions."

 

Lodge, a Toledo-based attorney, has represented an environmental coalition opposed to Fermi 3 (Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste Michigan, and Sierra Club) since NRC docketed the DTE (formerly Detroit Edison) Fermi 3 license application filed in September 2008. DTE first announced its intention to construct and operate Fermi 3 in February 2007.

 

"DTE investors will be forever indebted to environmental intervenors for having held the company's feet to the fire long enough for them to realize what an economic boondoggle the pursuit of a Fermi 3 reactor would be, one that would leave their company in economic ruin,” said Michael Keegan, a four-decade watchdog on the Fermi nuclear power plant in Monroe, MI. “This is now the case at two failed reactors at Summer, SC and at two more failing reactors at Vogtle, GA. Westinghouse has gone bankrupt, and General Electric is on the ropes.  The 'Nuclear Renaissance' has failed miserably, and DTE has dodged that radioactive economic bullet, by not proceeding with Fermi 3. Intervenors prevented DTE from breaking ground in January 2011 by forcing compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act.  We will be there again to force compliance should a transmission line corridor commence, or any other aspect of this proposed new atomic reactor,” stated Michael J. Keegan with Don't Waste Michigan.

 

NRC’s decision to not include the transmission line corridor at Fermi 3 in its NEPA-required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) followed a 2007 agency rule change spearheaded by NRC Commissioner Jeffrey Merrifield. Changes to the definition of “Limited Work Authorizations” (LWAs) for “pre-construction activities” – to include major features such as Fermi 3’s proposed 11-mile long, 300-feet wide transmission line corridor – represented a reversal of decades-old NRC policy. In fact, NRC had previously defended its right to regulate transmission line corridor construction and operation, asserting its jurisdiction to include such safety-related structures, systems, and components in its environmental impact statements, at not only Fermi, but other proposed Michigan reactors, as well as those in other states. Merrifield’s rule change redefined the word “construction” under NRC regulations, creating a huge loophole in NEPA to excuse major “non-nuclear” construction projects from agency EIS’s, despite their major impacts on the environment.

 

After orchestrating the Orwellian rule change, NRC Commissioner Merrifield went immediately to work for the Shaw Group, an atomic reactor construction firm engaged at that time in new build underway in the U.S. Southeast, for an annual salary of more than one million dollars. An NRC Office of Inspector General investigative report documented that NRC Commissioner Merrifield had been courting his private sector job in the many months during which he also led the LWA rule change, an ethical violation that prompted U.S. attorneys to consider criminal charges, which were ultimately not pursued. The “Merrifield-Go-Round” revolving door scandal is considered one of the worst in NRC’s history. (See the Beyond Nuclear comprehensive backgrounder, posted online at: http://www.beyondnuclear.org/new-reactors/2015/7/29/beyond-nuclear-appeals-scandalous-nrc-rule-that-has-long-und.html ).

 

“We have not yet begun to fight,” said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear. “Whether it is educating elected officials at the local, state, and federal level, opposing ratepayer and/or federal taxpayer subsidies, and even non-violent civil disobedience and direct action in the spirit of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we will remain vigilant until Fermi 3 in cancelled once and for all, Fermi 2 is permanently shut down, and the ‘We Almost Lost Detroit’ Fermi 1 nuclear power plant is decommissioned, all of the nuclear complex's radioactive contamination completely cleaned up, and its forever deadly highly radioactive wastes safeguarded and secured.”

 

“We Almost Lost Detroit” is the title of a 1975 book by John G. Fuller, as well as a song by Gil Scott-Heron, documenting the October 5, 1966 partial meltdown at the Fermi Unit 1 atomic reactor. Fermi 3 would be built on the exact spot where Fermi 1 partially melted down, as noted by environmental intervenors on the official NRC record (see: http://www.beyondnuclear.org/home/2012/7/3/declaration-of-independence-from-proposed-fermi-3-new-atomic.html). The environmental coalition marked the 50th annual commemoration of the Fermi 1 meltdown on October 5, 2016 in downtown Monroe, MI (see: http://www.beyondnuclear.org/nuclear-power/2016/9/26/october-5-2016-50-years-since-the-we-almost-lost-detroit-par.html), three years to the month after the bitterly contested Fermi 3 NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board hearings in the same location.

 

In this sense, today’s resistance to Fermi 3 carries on the tradition of United Auto Workers attorney Leo Goodman, who challenged the Fermi 1 license on behalf of the health and safety of the union’s 500,000 members, and their families, in the immediate area, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC, NRC’s forerunner), by a vote of 7 to 2. However, the dissenting opinion, in strong language, described the enabling Atomic Energy Act of 1954, granting the nuclear power industry, and its so-called regulatory agency, carte blanche to put the public at risk, as a dark day for democracy – not to mention for the protection of health, safety, and the environment – in the United States.

 

The ongoing resistance includes an event on Wed., April 18, 2018, as announced by the Alliance to Halt Fermi 3 at its website: http://www.athf3.org/. The “Radiation Knows No Borders” Emergency Preparedness Forum, will feature presentations by: Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear; Shawn-Patrick Stensil of Greenpeace Canada; Bushra Kazmi, M.D. of  the Infection Prevention Program at Garden City Hospital; and Michael Keegan of Don’t Waste Michigan, and the Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, and a Monroe County Emergency Planning Zone resident. The event, to be held at the University of Detroit Mercy, Life Sciences Building, Room 113, 4001 West McNichols Road, Detroit, MI 48221, will take place from 7-9pm, Wed., April 18, 2018 – eight days before the 32nd annual commemoration of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe. The title for the event is “Lessons NOT Learned from Chernobyl: Radiation Knows No Borders.”


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Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abolish both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic. The Beyond Nuclear team works with diverse partners and allies to provide the public, government officials, and the media with the critical information necessary to move humanity toward a world beyond nuclear. Beyond Nuclear: 6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 400, Takoma Park, MD 20912. Info@beyondnuclear.org. www.beyondnuclear.org.

Monday
Feb262018

Beyond Nuclear Appeals to U.S. Supreme Court in Opposition to Fermi 3 Proposed New Atomic Reactor

Photo showing cooling towers and electricity transmission lines at Fermi 2. Exclusion of Fermi 3's transmission lines from NRC's EIS forms the basis of Beyond Nuclear's NEPA appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.Environmental Coalition’s Decade-Long Resistance Challenges U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Rule that Undermines National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to Aid New Reactor Construction

Link to Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court

Link to Petition's Appendix

Link to Media Release

July 2015 Backgrounder on the issues: Beyond Nuclear appeals scandalous NRC rule that has long undermined NEPA, paving way for new atomic reactor construction

A bi-national environmental coalition has resisted the Fermi Nuclear Power Plant Unit 3 from the very beginning. Fermi 3 is a General Electric-Hitachi design, dubbed the ESBWR (so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor"). This U.S. Supreme Court appeal caps a decade of resistance to Fermi 3. Detroit Edison (DTE) announced the proposed new reactor in February 2007, as part of the Bush/Cheney “Nuclear Renaissance.” DTE applied to NRC for a combined construction and operation license in September 2008. The bi-national environmental coalition, comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste Michigan, and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, legally intervened in March 2009. The coalition, with Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge as its legal counsel, ultimately submitted some three-dozen technical contentions to the NRC’s ASLB (Atomic Safety and Licensing Board). Oral hearings were held in downtown Monroe, MI at Halloween, 2013, including on issues of Quality Assurance (QA) violations; Fairewinds Associates, Inc. nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen served as the coalition's expert witness on QA (see Fairewinds Energy Education's website, where Arnie also serves as Chief Engineer). When the NRC approved DTE’s Fermi 3 license in May 2015, the coalition immediately appealed to the federal courts.

An artist's rendition of the proposed new Fermi 3 ESBWR (in blue), proposed to be built on the Fermi 1 meltdown site, next to Fermi 2, on the Lake Erie shoreline in southeast MI.Additional coalition partners and allies resisting Fermi 3 include the Alliance to Halt Fermi 3, of which Beyond Nuclear is a member group, and Citizens Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT).

Please note that Fermi 3 would be built on the very spot where Fermi 1 had a partial core meltdown on October 5, 1966. Beyond Nuclear and its allies have fought hard to prevent the white washing of this infamous "We Almost Lost Detroit" history, including by submitting legal filings in the Fermi 3 license proceeding.

This appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court not only culminates this decade of resistance. It carries on a tradition of anti-nuclear resistance at Fermi dating back nearly six decades, to when the United Auto Workers appealed its case against Fermi Unit 1 to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Monday
Nov272017

Beyond Nuclear press release in response to adverse federal court ruling on Fermi 3

Beyond Nuclear considers appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

after D.C. Circuit panel rules against challenge to Fermi 3 license

Environmental groups cite ‘shocking and dangerous gutting of National Environmental Policy Act’

Washington, D.C.—In a ruling issued today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied a challenge brought by Beyond Nuclear against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approval of Detroit Edison’s (DTE) combined Construction and Operation License Application (COLA) for the proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor in Frenchtown Township, Monroe County, Michigan. Beyond Nuclear, its legal counsel, and its environmental coalition partners have 60 days to file an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

“We are seriously considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, given the shocking and dangerous gutting of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) today’s ruling allows to stand,” stated Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at the national watchdog group Beyond Nuclear in Takoma Park, Maryland.

See the full press release here.

Saturday
Sep092017

Amid nuclear setbacks, Virginia utility pauses plans for new reactor

As reported by Southeast Energy News. (Utility Dive has also reported on this news.)

The Southeast Energy News article reports:

“Dominion is clearly realizing its bet on more nuclear in Virginia was a colossal mistake and waste of ratepayer subsidies,” said Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network [CCAN] and an outspoken opponent of additional reactors in Virginia.

Tidwell's CCAN joined with Beyond Nuclear, NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service), Environment Maryland, Public Citizen, Baltimore-based Crabshell Alliance, and others to block Calvert Cliffs 3 (an Areva of France EPR, Evolutionary Power Reactor or European Pressurized Reactor), the proposed new reactor targeted at the Chesapeake Bay shore in Maryland.

Note that Dominion Nuclear had proposed building a Hitachi-General Electric ESBWR (so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" -- Michael Keegan of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes has pointed out  that the supposed economic simplication simply means spending other people's money). The price tag for Dominion's North Anna Unit 3 is a whopping $19 billion.

As the Southeast Energy News article reports:

On one hand, estimates of future electricity demand suggest the possibility of demand growth, albeit not at a pace to justify what would be the most expensive single reactor construction project in the world to date: at least $19 billion. That is almost twice the latest estimates for each of the now canceled reactors in South Carolina [Summer Units 2 & 3; emphasis added].

The article also reports:

...neither GE nor Hitachi has a program underway to foster the size and depth of a supply chain for the pipes, valves, pressure vessels and other parts, along with the engineering skills, needed to complete one of its reactors on time and on budget. The ever-shrinking U.S. nuclear construction supply chain along with an aging workforce pose a significant obstacle to on-time, and on-budget construction, according to industry veterans.

Detroit Edison (DTE) has also proposed building an ESBWR, Fermi Unit 3. Given prevailing union wages in Michigan, Fermi 3 would likely cost more than $19 billion. This would mean that Fermi 3 would overcome North Anna 3, then becoming "the most expensive single reactor construction project in the world to date," to quote the Southeast Energy News article.

And given the lack of a supply chain, North Anna Unit 3 and Fermi 3's price tags would likely just skyrocket further. If Westinghouse has gone bankrupt (and parent company Toshiba of Japan itself is wobbly) trying to build Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000s (Advanced Passive 1,100 megawatt-electric reactors) at Summer 2 & 3 in South Carolina, and Vogtle 3 & 4 in Georgia, what will happen to General Electric and Hitachi?!

Beyond Nuclear has co-led a license intervention and legal intervention against Fermi 3 since 2009. Terry Lodge, legal counsel for Beyond Nuclear et al., will make oral arguments at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals -- the second highest court in the land, just under the U.S. Supreme Court -- on October 12th, culminating nearly a decade of resistance to Fermi 3. (The environmental coalition legally intervening against Fermi 3 includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Don't Waste Michigan, and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. Other groups opposing Fermi 3 include CRAFT and ATHF3 -- Citizens Resistance Against Fermi Two, and Alliance to Halt Fermi 3.)