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NRC

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is mandated by Congress to ensure that the nuclear industry is safe. Instead, the NRC routinely puts the nuclear industry's financial needs ahead of public safety. Beyond Nuclear has called for Congressional investigation of this ineffective lapdog agency that needlessly gambles with American lives to protect nuclear industry profits.

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Thursday
Nov132014

Coalition presses case against reactors on Great Lakes

Lake Erie's shores are dotted with numerous large-scale atomic reactors and coal burners. These thermal-electric power plants dump 2/3rds of the heat they generate as waste into the environment, contributing to recent toxic algae blooms visible in this satellite photo.An environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, is working at fever pitch against degraded old, and proposed new, reactors on the Great Lakes shoreline in southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio.

Davis-Besse, OH

At U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, the groups Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio pressed their case against a 20-year license extension at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor east of Toledo. An oral argument pre-hearing was ordered to take place on Nov. 12th by the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP) overseeing the License Renewal Application (LRA) proceeding. The coalition first intervented against the license extension nearly four years ago.

Attorney Terry Lodge, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, and Don't Waste MI's Michael Keegan represented the coalition before NRC ASLBP. The coalition was joined by expert witness Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc. The focus of the day-long hearing was the severe, and worsening, cracking of Davis-Besse's concrete containment Shield Building. The dangerously deteriorating Shield Building is the last line of defense against a catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity, as from a reactor core meltdown and Inner Steel Containment Vessel failure due to a reactor disaster, earthquake, tornado missile, etc. The coalition has filed numerous contentions about the cracking since it was first revealed on October 10, 2011.

The coalition issued a press advisory about the Nov. 12th oral hearing. The Toledo Blade has reported on this story.

Fermi 2, MI

Beyond Nuclear, CEA, and Don't Waste MI, again represented by Toledo-attorney Terry Lodge, will appear at oral argument pre-hearings before an NRC ASLB on November 20th in Monroe, Michigan. The coalition is opposing the 20-year license extension proposed at Detroit Edison's Fermi 2 atomic reactor in nearby Frenchtown Township, on the Lake Erie shore. Fermi 2 is the single biggest G.E. Mark I Boiling Water Reactor in the world -- the same design as melted down and exploded, times three, at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan.

Beyond Nuclear's Reactor Oversight Director, Paul Gunter, will argue a contention calling for radiological filters on hardened vents, an obviously needed safety upgrade actively ignored by a majority of the NRC Commissioners, despite the lessons that should have been learned from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. Beyond Nuclear's Freeze Our Fukushimas campaign calls for the shutdown of all U.S. Mark I and II reactors. (See Beyond Nuclear's Freeze Our Fukushimas pamphlet.)

Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, will argue a contention regarding serious safety risks associated with the Fermi nuclear power plant's off-site transmission line corridor, as well as radioactive waste contentions.

Another group, Citizens Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT), has launched another 15 contentions against the license extension.

Fermi 3, MI

The coalition comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (CACC), CEA, Don't Waste MI, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter -- again represented by attorney Terry Lodge -- continues to press its case against the proposed new Fermi 3 reactor, to be built on the very site that the Fermi 1 "We Almost Lost Detroit"  reactor partially melted down on October 5, 1966.

The coalition intervened against Fermi 3 on March 9, 2009, and has since filed dozens of contentions against the proposal.

Its transmission line corridor NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) contention is still before the NRC Commissioners, thanks to a sua sponte motion by the NRC ASLBP itself. On behalf of the coalition, Lodge just filed a motion with the NRC Commissioners, supporting the ASLBP's request to the Commissioners for permission to carry out its own independent review of what appears to be NRC staff violations of NEPA, for not including the required "hard look" at the environmental impacts of Fermi 3's transmission line corridor in the FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement).

In addition, the coalition has appealed the ASLBP's rejection of its quality assurance (QA) contention to the full NRC Commission. Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds serves as the coalition's Fermi 3 QA expert witness. The NRC Commissioners will likely rule on the QA and transmission corridor contentions in the near future.

Friday
Nov072014

Environmental coalition cites lack of Nuclear Waste Confidence, calls for suspension of reactor licensing proceedings

An environmental coalition embroiled in numerous old, degraded reactor license extension -- as well as proposed new reactor construction and operation license -- proceedings has filed its "CONSOLIDATED REPLY TO ANSWERS TO PETITIONS TO SUSPEND FINAL REACTOR LICENSING DECISIONS, MOTIONS TO ADMIT A NEW CONTENTION, AND MOTIONS TO REOPEN THE RECORD" before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The filing is a response to "Answers" filed a week ago by NRC staff and the nuclear utilities, as well as to an amicus curiae filing made by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's lobbying arm in Washington, D.C. The environmental coalition's "Consolidated Reply" was prepared by Diane Curran of the Washington, D.C. law firm Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg, LLP, as well as Mindy Goldstein, Director of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta.

Terry Lodge, a Toledo-based attorney who represents Beyond Nuclear and other environmental groups in their interventions against the Davis-Besse, OH and Fermi 2, MI license extensions, and the Fermi 3, MI Construction and Operating Licence Application (COLA), filed the "Consolidated Reply" in these proceedings.

Monday
Oct272014

If NRC is such a great place to work, why did its chairman just resign four years early?!

NRC HQ in Rockville, MDThe U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) likes to toot its own horn. Just about every year, NRC trumpets itself as among the "Best Places to Work in Government." It has just done so again.

One has to wonder why NRC staff have so much time on their hands, to fill out the associated form at rates 50% higher than their federal peers in other agencies? Did NRC staff finish protecting public health, safety, and the environment against atomic reactors and radioactive waste earlier in the week, leaving them with lots of time on their hands, with nothing better to do?

The many nuclear catastrophes waiting to happen on NRC's derelict watch would indicate otherwise.

One has to wonder if NRC itself "encourages" its workers to fill out the form, favorably? Or does that just go without saying?

Perhaps NRC, in addition to being afflicted by Nukespeak, also has a serious case of "Group Think" going on, à la in Orwell's 1984?

And one has to wonder, if NRC is such a great place to work, why NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane chose to abandon ship four years early?!

Her predecessor, Greg Jaczko, also fled the agency early, after the nuclear power industry and its friends on the NRC Commission itself, and amongst the agency staff, pulled out the stops, and launched a witch hunt against him, as punishment for carrying out the Obama administration's budget policies on the proposed Yucca Mountain dump, invoking emergency powers in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, etc. NRC -- what a great place to work. Unless you'r the chairman of the agency, it appears. Then you can't wait to run for the exits.

Thursday
Oct232014

Beyond Nuclear statement regarding NRC Chairman Macfarlane's announced resignation

NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane just announced her resignationBeyond Nuclear has issued the following statement regarding NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane's announced resignation, just a year and a half into her current five-year term:

"Chairman Macfarlane took some principled and important steps toward restoring the NRC’s integrity and upholding its public safety mission statement, but failed to fulfill them.

Unfortunately, the 'go along to get along' strategy is inherently hamstrung, particularly given the many ferocious industry policy fights raging throughout the agency.

For example, her minority vote to stand with the agency’s staff recommendation to promptly require all U.S. Fukushima-style reactors be equipped with filtered hardened containment vents took the side of public safety margins over industry financial margins.

Wrestling that Order to the mat would have fortified nearly one-third of the US nuclear fleet, for when the next accident occurs, to significantly contain the release of radioactivity while venting these fragile containments of explosive hydrogen, high pressure and extreme heat. 

Her academic positions did not translate into public safety realities.  Academically, Chairman Marfarlane has endorsed the 'expedited transfer' of high-level radioactive waste, from dangerous high-density storage pools into dry casks, at reactor sites. But her sole dissent only meant that the agency defied such efforts.

Sometimes there is no successful righting of any ship of state after its credibility has sunk just so low.

An especially disappointing vote cast by Chairman Macfarlane was her August, 2014 vote -- with the rest of the Commissioners -- to endorse so-called Nuclear Waste Confidence under a new name, 'Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel.' Although she disapproved of NRC staff's assumption that institutional control would be maintained forever into the future -- an impossibility -- she nonetheless voted the wrong way. Beyond Nuclear has already filed contentions in numerous new and old reactor licensing proceedings challenging this unanimous NRC Commissioners vote. Beyond Nuclear is part of a broad environmental coalition that may very well take this matter back to federal court, if necessary.

We thank her for her service and wish her success in her future endeavors."

Saturday
Oct112014

Coalition presses case against containment cracking at Davis-Besse

An NRC inspector investigates cracking revealed in Davis-Besse's Shield Building wall shortly after it was discovered on 10/10/11.An environmental coalition, challenging the proposed 20-year license extension at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) Davis-Besse atomic reactor in Oak Harbor, OH on the Lake Erie shore, has filed a defense of its September 3rd and September 8th, 2014 contentions regarding worsening containment cracking.

This comes in response to October 3rd motions, by both FENOC and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff, calling for the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel overseeing the nearly four-year-old License Renewal Application (LRA) proceeding, to dismiss the contentions.

The coalition consists of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio. It is represented by Toledo-based attorney, Terry Lodge.

The coalition's filing on October 10th marks the third anniversary, to the day, of when severe cracking was first discovered and publicly announced at Davis-Besse, on Oct. 10, 2011 (see photo, above). The environmental coalition filed its first cracking contention in the proceeding a few months later, and has filed many more -- throughout 2012, and on Earth Day this year. However, all have been dismissed by the ASLB, despite many of the coalition's assertions later being acknowledged as correct by FENOC.

Davis-Besse's original 40-year license will expire on Earth Day (April 22nd), 2017. FENOC is seeking a 20-year extension, till 2037. NRC has rubber-stamped 73 such extensions such the year 2000.