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.



"Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission" by Karl Grossman

Investigative journalist, and Beyond Nuclear board of directors member, Karl Grossman (pictured, left), has published an article entitled "Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission" which has appeared at the Huffington Post and elsewhere. In it, Karl reports that U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman, Dr. Gregory Jaczko, has been pressured to resign over a year early due to withering attacks by the nuclear power industry and its friends within the NRC and on Capitol Hill, due to his safety advocacy. Karl points out that NRC has never, in its nearly 40 years of existence, denied a license to construct or operate a commercial atomic reactor. It has also rubberstamped 73 license extensions for 20 additional years of operation at U.S. atomic reactors, with 13 other license extensions already applied for.

NRC's rubberstamp also extends to new reactor proposals. For the first time in several decades, NRC just this year alone has approved 4 new reactors' combined Construction and Operating Licence Applications (COLAs): 2 at Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia, and 2 at Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina. Both times, NRC Chairman Jaczko cast the sole dissenting vote in the 4 to 1 NRC Commission approvals of the proposals. Jaczko warned that the approvals took place "as if Fukushima never even happened," as NRC has not required conditions that "Fukushima lessons learned" be applied at the new reactors prior to their approval.


More than $900 million cost overrun documented on Vogtle 3 & 4 new reactors construction

"Burning Money" image by Gene Case, Avenging AngelsA coalition of environmental groups, including North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network (NC WARN), has issued a press release decrying a nearly billion dollar cost overrun at the Vogtle 3 & 4 new reactor construction project in Georgia. The groups warn that further cost increases are likely, due to rushed design and construction that has led to errors, as in sub-foundation grading, rebar quality assurance, and even radiological containment "shield building" design and construction.

The coalition's expert witness Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), said: “Southern Company rushed into this project, as evidenced by the many requests for modifications of the license and early technical difficulties and problems including failure of ‘some details’ of early construction to conform to the Design Control Document, according to Georgia Power’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Indeed, a part of the cost increase of $900 million appears to be attributable to overcoming delays and rushing the project again despite construction non-compliance.  The cost increase should not be a surprise; rather it is déjà vu all over again.  Rushing nuclear power reactors is not prudent and stockholders and/or the vendors, not ratepayers, should bear the burden of such costs.  It would be much better if construction were suspended until all design issues were resolved.”


"Fighting the Legacy of Enrico Fermi"

NRC file photo of Fermi 2Michael Leonardi of Occupy Toledo has published an essay in Counterpunch, re-run at Ecowatch, about the resistance to the Fermi nuclear power plant on the Lake Erie shoreline near Monroe, MI. Leonardi links to Beyond Nuclear's involvement in "Freeze Our Fukushimas" efforts to shutdown Fermi 2 (see photo, left), the largest Fukushima Daiichi twin GE Mark I reactor in the world, with around 550 tons of high-level radioactive waste stuck in its storage pool, more than Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4 put together.

Leonardi also mentions the struggle to nip the proposed new "Fermi 3" reactor, a GE-Hitachi "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR), in the bud. Beyond Nuclear's website hosts the compiled submissions by the the environmental coalition resisting Fermi 3, submitted in response to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Beyond Nuclear, along with Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter -- represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge -- continue to officially intervene against Fermi 3 in the NRC's Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board proceeding.


Beyond Nuclear to co-present "Into Eternity" in Livonia, MI on 3/11 to commemorate Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe

On Sunday, March 11, 2012, the first anniversary of the beginning of the still ongoing Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe, Beyond Nuclear is joining with BetterWorld Happenings to co-present the film "Into Eternity" about the proposed Finnish high-level radioactive waste repository (see the trailer, above). The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Unity Church of Livonia, Michigan. Keith Gunter, Promoter and Producer of BetterWorld Happenings, and a Beyond Nuclear Launch Partner, has organized the event. Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps will speak at the screening. A media release has gone out, as well as a flyer. Kevin will discuss the risks of such reactors in the vicinity as Fermi 2, the proposed new reactor at Fermi 3, as well as Davis-Besse.

Nukewatch of Wisconsin just showed "Into Eternity" in Duluth, MN on Feb. 20th. Nuclear Energy Information Service is planning to show it on March 22nd in Chicago (see their press release and "Know Nukes" film series schedule). And yet another screening is in the works for the Blue Water region of Michigan near Port Huron in mid-March, again with Kevin Kamps as a speaker. If you would like to host a screening, learn more here.


Lawsuit filed against AP1000 reactor design certification and NRC's approval of Vogtle 3 & 4 COLA

A lawsuit filed by attorneys Diane Curran of Washington, D.C., Mindy Goldstein of Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University in Atlanta, and John Runkle of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, challenges the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) approval of the Toshiba-Westinghouse "Advanced Passive" (AP) 1000 reactor design on Dec. 30, 2011, as well as the Feb. 9-10 NRC approval of the Vogtle nuclear power plants Units 3 and 4 combined construction and operating license application (COLA). The lawsuit was filed on behalf of an environmental coalition including: Southern Alliance for Clean Energy; Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League; Center for a Sustainable Coast; and Georgia Women's Action for New Directions. Those environmental petitioners are joined by co-petitioners from the "AP1000 Oversight Group": North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network; Citizens Allied for Safe Energy; Friends of the Earth; Nuclear Information and Resource Service; and Nuclear Watch South (nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates has served as an expert witness for the AP1000 Oversight Group). Dr. Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) serves as the environmental coalition's expert witness on this lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that the NRC's failure to apply lessons learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe before approving the AP1000 reactor design, as well as the Vogtle 3 and 4 COLA, is a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as additional laws and regulations. The plaintiffs cite the dissenting opinion written by NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko in the 4-1 split NRC Commissioners decision to approve the Vogtle 3 and 4 COLA. 

The AP has reported on this story.

Beyond Nuclear and its environmental coalition allies have filed identical legal challenges against the Seabrook nuclear power plant's license extension in New Hampshire, the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant's license extension in Ohio, and the Fermi 3 atomic reactor's COLA in Michigan. However, those proceedings have not yet reached the stage that the Vogtle 3 and 4 proceeding has -- final approvals by NRC, now timely for legal action in federal court.