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.



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.


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."


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.


Coalition asserts Fermi 3 transmission corridor violates NEPA

Atomic reactors and their electrical transmission lines are inextricably interlinked, yet NRC staff has failed to undertake a NEPA review of the proposed new Fermi 3 transmission line corridor's environmental impacts.The environmental coalition intervening against the proposed new Fermi 3 reactor has re-asserted its nearly three-year old challenge, directly to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's five Commissioners themselves, that the inextricably interlinked transmission line corridor needed to export the electricity to the grid is still in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The coalition's Toledo-based attorney, Terry Lodge, filed a Petition for Review with the NRC Commissioners by their ordered deadline. The petition defends not only the contention's merit, but also its separation from the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel's request to the Commissioners for permission to undertake a sua sponte review.

That is, the ASLB panel has requested permission to review, on its own initiative, the NRC staff's apparent violation of NEPA, by failing to undertake an Environmental Impact Statement review of the proposed new transmission corridor, which will past through forested wetlands, likely habitat to endangered and threatened species.

Detroit Edison (DTE) proposes to construct and operate a General Electric-Hitachi (GEH) so-called Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) -- "Unit 3" -- at the Fermi nuclear power plant in Frenchtown Township, on the Lake Erie shore in southeast Michigan. It would be located immediately adjacent to Fermi Unit 2, the world's single largest Fukushima Daiichi twin design (a GE Mark I BWR). Ironically enough, Fermi 3 would be build on the exact same spot where Fermi Unit 1, an experimental plutonium breeder reactor, suffered a partial core meltdown on Oct. 5, 1966, a near-catastrophe documented in John G. Fuller's book We Almost Lost Detroit (Reader's Digest Press, 1975).

The binational coalition intervening against Fermi 3's license includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (CACC), Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. The coalition initially filed its intervention in March 2009, and has submitted dozens of contentions since.


Will Diablo Canyon survive the next big earthquake?

Karl GrossmanKarl Grossman (photo, left) has published an article at Enformable about a "Differing Professional Opinion" filed by Dr. Michael Peck, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) top on-site inspector at Pacific Gas & Electric's twin reactor Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in Avila Beach, CA, just 12 miles from San Luis Obispo on the Pacific coast.

Dr. Peck expressed strong concerns that Diablo Canyon's systems, structures, and components, including those significant to safety, are not proven robust enough to survive the magnitude of earthquakes emanating from multiple faultlines in the immediate vicinity, including the Shoreline Fault discovered in 2008, just 650 yards away.

The NRC concealed the report from the public for a year, but the AP broke the story of its existence this week. Friends of the Earth has launched a petition drive addressed to NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane, herself a PhD geologist, demanding transparent public hearings to examine the earthquake risks at Diablo Canyon.

Karl Grossman is the professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. Karl is also the author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power and other books on nuclear technology, as well as hosting numerous TV programs on the subject including "Chernobyl: A Million Casualties," "Three Mile Island Revisited" and "The Push to Revive Nuclear Power." Karl serves as a Beyond Nuclear board member.