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.



"Pilgrim nuclear station one step from shutdown: NRC downgrades plant to bottom of performance list"

As reported by Christine Legere at the Cape Cod Times, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has ranked Entergy's Pilgrim atomic reactor in Plymouth, MA near Boston as tied for the worst performing in the country.

It is tied for worst performing with another Entergy nuclear power plant, Arkansas Nuclear One (ANO). A young worker was killed, and eight others injured, on an early Easter Sunday morning in 2013, when a 600-ton piece of equipment was accidentally dropped on them.

The article reports:

...Diane Turco, Harwich resident and co-founder of the anti-Pilgrim group Cape Downwinders, called the federal letter to Entergy good news. “The NRC has finally sent a strong message to Entergy — We are looking at closing Pilgrim as a response to the failures. Finally!” Turco wrote in an email.

Cape Downwinders has planned a rally at the Sagamore Bridge on Labor Day to protest the lack of an evacuation plan in the event of a nuclear accident and to call for the shutdown of the power plant.

...U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., also issued a statement on Pilgrim’s status. “For decades, I have raised concerns about Pilgrim’s operations, security preparedness, the safety of the surrounding communities in the event of a nuclear accident and the willingness of Entergy to dedicate sufficient resources to run the reactor safely,” Markey wrote.

The senator noted Pilgrim has the same boiling water design as the reactors that had meltdowns in 2011 at Fukushima, Japan, after a tsunami. “NRC must continue this aggressive oversight until Entergy can prove unequivocally that it has dedicated the resources, manpower and training to guarantee the safe and secure operation of this reactor,” Markey wrote.

Attorney General Maura Healey called the downgrade of Pilgrim “a disturbing development" in her written statement. “My primary concern is with the safety and well-being of the residents of Massachusetts, particularly those who live near Pilgrim. Entergy must act swiftly and decisively to correct these issues and restore the public's trust in its ability to safely operate this plant.”

Pilgrim watchdog Mary Lampert, a Duxbury resident and founder of PilgrimWatch, said this latest development was no surprise. “Pilgrim is an antique reactor built when the Beatles sang on Ed Sullivan’s show, and Entergy is unwilling to spend the money for the TLC required. It’s time to retire,” Lampert said...


NRC "Way Too Cozy with Vermont's Nuclear Plant"

The Waterbury Record in Vermont has editorialized against Entergy Nuclear's raiding of the Vermont Yankee atomic reactor's decommissioning fund to inappropriately pay for high-level radioactive waste management. The editorial cheered the State of Vermont's lawsuit against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for allowing this to happen, and urges the court of appeals to do the right thing.


"Rickety & risky": Applying RPV embrittlement lessons learned at Palisades to Diablo Canyon

Diablo Boys Cartoon by Mark Bryan – ArtOfMarkBryan.comIn a post entitled NRC: ‘Diablo Canyon among ‘most embrittled plants in the U.S.,’ Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle have posted an article at applying the lessons learned about reactor pressure vessel (RPV) embrittlement at Diablo Canyon.

In a document dated March/April 2013 (see point #4, on p. 5 of 15 of PDF counter), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission listed Diablo Canyon Unit 1 as having one of the worst neutron radiation embrittled RPVs in the country, surpassing safety screening criteria by 2033. However, given that Palisades' own End-of-Life dates have been predicted as early as the mid-1990s, or even the early 1980s, only to be postponed to 2017, with applications for regulatory relief out to 2031, Diablo Canyon's "good to go" till 2033 NRC seal of approval must be subjected to critical scrutiny.

Pacific Gas & Electric has applied to NRC for 20-year license extensions at Diablo Canyon 1 & 2. Friends of the Earth recently won a hearing from the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board for a hearing on earthquake risks. A similar legal victory in 2013 led to the permanent closure of San Onofre 2 & 3 in southern CA.


NIW: "The Palisades Embrittlement Battle"

Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor is located on the Lake Michigan shore in Covert, MI.Rosa Lin at Nuclear Intelligence Weekly (NIW) has written an article entitled "United States: The Palisades Embrittlement Battle" (reproduced here with permission from the publisher), about dueling appeals submitted to the full U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Environmental intervenors, including Beyond Nuclear, have appealed an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel's (ASLBP) rejection, on May 8th, of its contention against an Entergy Nuclear License Amendment Request (LAR) for regulatory relief regarding brittle fracture risk in Palisades' reactor pressure vessel (RPV) at colder temperatures. Entergy has just appealed the same ASLBP's granting of an evidentiary hearing, on June 18th, to the intervenors regarding an Entergy LAR for RPV ductile fracture risk at hotter temperatures.

NRC has recognized, on numerous occassions, that Palisades has the worst neutron radiation embrittled RPV in the U.S., but numerous other pressurized water reactors (including Point Beach, WI; Indian Point 3, NY; Diablo Canyon 1, CA; Beaver Valley 1, PA; and Davis-Besse, OH) are not far behind. Embrittled RPVs are at risk of pressurized thermal shock through-wall fracture, which would lead to core meltdown.

Lin quotes Beyond Nuclear, as well as Dave Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project at UCS:

Palisades "would not be allowed to operate if the standards applied to Yankee Rowe were applied" to it, said Dave Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists, referring to a plant shut down in 1992 due to embrittlement.


"Palisades 50," by Dave Lochbaum, UCS

Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor, on the Lake Michigan shore in Covert, MIDave Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project at Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), has penned another of his "Fisson Stories," entitled "Palisades 50," yet another installment in his watchdogging of Entergy Nuclear's problem-plagued atomic reactor.

Remarkably, during U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission CDBI (Component Design Bases Inspections) in 2014, 10 violations were discovered at Palisades, out of 20 components (with "vitally imporant safety functions") inspected. This was nearly three times the national average.

Lochbaum concluded: "The testing and inspection programs are supposed to demonstrate that the public is adequately protected.

That’s not happening.

That must get fixed before impaired safety components contribute to the next nuclear disaster."