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.



Environmental coalition challenges revisionist history about Fermi 1 at Fermi 3 new reactor site

Book cover from John G. Fuller's 1975 "We Almost Lost Detroit," about the 1966 partial meltdown at the Fermi 1 experimental plutonium breeder reactor near Monroe, MichiganThe environmental coalition challenging the construction and operating license for Detroit Edison's (DTE) proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor has defended its National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) contention against the revisionist history proposed by DTE, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (MI SHPO) regarding Fermi 1. Fermi 1 was the experimental plutonium breeder reactor that suffered a partial meltdown on October 5, 1966, as chronicled in John G. Fuller's We Almost Lost Detroit (book cover, left).

In order to make way for Fermi 3, DTE has propsed to demolish the Fermi 1 containment structure, despite its eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. To "mitigate" the loss of the historic site, DTE, NRC, and MI SHPO met -- without public participation, a violation of NHPA -- and agreed to merely create a small book shelf for "historic documents" at Monroe County Community College.

The coalition, consisting of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, have objected that this "mitigation" glosses over Fermi 1's true, dark history -- its initial intention to generate weapons-grade plutonium for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, its partial meltdown which came precariously close to radiological catastrophe for the entire region, etc. -- as a form of propaganda favoring Fermi 3.

Its attorney, Terry Lodge of Toledo, wrote:

"A prudent reading of the answers of DTE and the NRC Staff to Intervenors’ motion reveals that the very meaning of the word 'history' is not agreed. There is no agreement on the breadth nor extent of the detailed history of Fermi 1, nor what public officials charged with portraying the history of the plant should present. Part of the reason for this disagreement lies in the complete ignorance of the true facts of Fermi 1 as espoused by none other than the Michigan Historic Preservation Officer:

Based on the information provided for our review, the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) concurs with the determination of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the proposed undertaking will have an adverse effect on the Enrico Fermi (Fermi 1) Nuclear Power Plant, which appears to meet the criteria for listing in the National Register of Historic Places as one of the first power reactors of its type that operated safely and proved the feasibility of the fast breeder design on a commercial scale.

But the 'feasible' Fermi 1 generated fewer than three weeks of commercially-marketable electricity before the decision was made to junk it. The 'safe' Fermi 1 came to within moments of completely melting down and exploding; the design has never since been replicated anywhere on the planet, and will never be constructed again. General Pyrrhus might have been referring to Fermi 1 when he commented, 'One more such victory and we are defeated.' Michigan’s professional historian possesses such a grossly inaccurate grasp of Fermi 1's unique place in nuclear power history that the story told may bear more resemblance to conscious propagandizing than historical truth."



The coalition's NHPA contention was filed on Independence Day.



Beyond Nuclear files Nuke Waste Con Game contentions against 2 proposed new atomic reactors

NRC has formerly blocked environmental groups from objecting to new reactor licensing due to their concern about the high-level radioactive wastes that would be generated. NRC implicitly pointed to the proposed Yucca Mtn., NV dump as the "illusion of a solution." But the Obama administration wisely canceled the dump. In this photo by Gabriela Bulisova, a Western Shoshone Indian ceremonial sweat lodge frames their sacred Yucca Mtn.Beyond Nuclear has filed intervention contentions against a total of four atomic reactors (proposed new reactors at Grand Gulf Unit 3, MS and Fermi Unit 3, MI seeking construction and operating licenses, as well as degraded old reactors at Grand Gulf Unit 1, MS and Davis-Besse Unit 1, OH seeking 20 year license extensions) based on a recent U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruling gutting the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) "Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision."

That confidence game has been used against states, environmental groups, and concerned citizens for decades, blocking them from challening the generation of high-level radioactive waste in atomc reactor licensing proceedings, as the NRC has flippantly expressed "confidence" that storage on-site was safe for decades or even centuries, and that a geologic repository for permanently disposing of irradiated nuclear fuel was just over the horizon -- despite mounting evidence to the contrary.



Fermi 3, Don't Tread on Me! No Indoctrination Without Representation!

The environmental coalition officially intervening against the proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor in Monroe, Michigan has defended its contention to protest the threatened Eastern Fox Snake, an indigenous constrictor.

The coalition, represented by attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo, has also challenged Detroit Edison, the State of Michigan, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's attempt to whitewash the true history of the Fermi 1 experimental plutonium breeder reactor's partial meltdown on October 5, 1966. Detroit Edison has moved to demolish the Fermi 1 containment shell despite its listing on the National Register of Historic Places without public participation in the decision making process, a violation of the National Historic Preservation Act. The Fermi 3 construction plan requires the removal of the remaining half-century-old Fermi 1 facilities. The intervenors presented evidence of the true nature of Fermi 1, from the nearly catastrophic consequences of the meltdown, to the fact that originally Fermi 1 was proposed to generate weapons-grade plutonium for use in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.


Declaration of Independence from proposed Fermi 3 new atomic reactor: "No indoctrination without representation!" regarding Fermi 1 meltdown history 

A cover on the 1975 non-fiction book by John G. Fuller, "We Almost Lost Detroit," about the 1966 meltdown at the Fermi 1 experimental plutonium breeder reactor in Monroe, MichiganBeyond Nuclear and its allies in the intervention against the proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor in Monroe, Michigan have filed their 25th contention opposing the proposed new atomic reactor, citing a violation of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). NRC, Detroit Edison and the State of Michigan have finalized a NHPA mitigation Memorandum of Agreement about the demolition of the Fermi 1 containment shell, despite its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, in order to make room for the construction of Fermi 3, a General Electric-Hitachi so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR) . However, the decisions were made without even notifying -- let alone involving -- the public, a violation of NHPA. The coalition has issued a media release.

The intervenors have cited Atomic Energy Commission, Nuclear Power Development Corporation (Dow Chemical, Detroit Edison, et al.), U.S. congressional testimony, and documentation on how close the Fermi 1 meltdown of October 5, 1966 came to a "terrifying," catastrophic radioactivity release. The coalition's attorney, Terry Lodge of Toledo, has argued that the Fermi 1 archive must include documentation of the experimental plutonium breeder reactor's original goal of generating weapons-grade plutonium for U.S. hydrogen bombs, as well as materials for radiological ("dirty bomb") weaponry. "The 'official' narrative of this 20th century failure must not be hijacked for use as pro-industry promotion by the 21st century nuclear industry," Lodge said.

"The story of Fermi 1's nearly catastrophic failure offers a large window into the history of commercial nuclear power, an institutional void of safety culture within the primary regulatory agency, and nuclear power’s inherent weapons connection," said Keith Gunter of Livonia, Michigan, a launch partner of Beyond Nuclear and an official intervenor against Fermi 3. "After all, as John G. Fuller's book and Gil Scott-Heron's song titles put it, 'We Almost Lost Detroit,' not to mention Monroe, Toledo, and beyond," Keith Gunter added. (see image, above left)


"Fermi 3, Don't Tread on Me!" 

A growing movement of human beings feeling endangered by the proposed new reactor, Fermi 3, are declaring their independence from the tyranny of atomic energyBeyond Nuclear and its environmental coalition allies intervening against the proposed Fermi 3 atomic reactor have defended their threatened Eastern Fox Snake contention against a motion for summary disposition filed by nuclear utility Detroit Edison.The filing, submitted by the coalition's attorney Terry Lodge, challenged DTE's proposed mitigation plans, as well as the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' (MDNR) woefully inadequate enforcement of threatened and endangered species protections. DTE's plan for replacement habitat for land ruined by Fermi 3's construction and operation is a former farm field immediately under its Monroe Power Plant, one of the largest coal burners in North America (3,000 Megawatts-electric), meaning the land is likely contaminated with acids, radioactivity, mercury, and other toxic chemicals fallout.

Even the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board (ASLB) has agreed with the intervenors that harm to the Eastern Fox Snake species will be inflicted by the 1,000 acre (29.4 mile long, 300 foot wide) transmission line corridor to be built, which neither DTE nor NRC have adequately addressed. And the State of Michigan has de-funded MDNR endangered species regulatory activities, meaning no staff are available to review DTE's proposals, nor to monitor its mitigation activities.

The intervenors issued a press release. Don't Waste Michigan's Michael Keegan of Monroe, MI, was quoted as saying "DTE, don't tread on me! No irradiation without representation!" The other coalition groups include Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.