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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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Wednesday
Jul152015

"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 NoNukesCA.net 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.

Friday
Jul102015

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.

Tuesday
Jul072015

"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."

Friday
Jun262015

Letter to the Editor: NRC's rules too weak at Davis-Besse

Davis-Besse's weather sealant "White Wash" of 2012, applied 40 years too late, ended up locking water in the walls. The ice-wedging crack propagation thus generated worsens Shield Building cracking by a half-inch, every time it freezes!Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps wrote a letter to the editor of the Port Clinton, OH News Herald on June 26, 2015, warning about safety significant systems, structures, and components that are too age-degraded to keep operating safely during FirstEnergy Nuclear's proposed 2017-2037 license extension at its problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore in Oak Harbor, OH.

Despite a severely cracked, and ever worsening, concrete containment Shield Building, and questions about how long its reactor lid will last this time, and how its experimental steam generator replacements will go, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is poised to rubber-stamp Davis-Besse's license extension.

Monday
Jun222015

Entergy's Palisades but the canary in the coal mine for age-degraded RPV risks

NRC file photo of Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor, located on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Covert, MIA U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP) has granted an evidentiary hearing on the merits of concerns regarding the risks of a ductile tear, or fracture, of Entergy Nuclear's severely embrittled Palisades atomic reactor pressure vessel (RPV), located in Covert, MI on the Lake Michigan shore (see photo, left). Toledo-based attorney, Terry Lodge, filed the petition on behalf of an environmental coalition (Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste MI, Michigan Safe Energy Future, and Nuclear Energy Information Service). Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc. in Burlington, Vermont, serves as the coalition's expert witness.

Although Entergy's Palisades has the worst embrittled RPV in the U.S., it is but the canary in the coal mine. As revealed in an April 2013 NRC document (see point #4, on page 5 of 15 on PDF counter), Next Era's (Florida Power & Light's) Point Beach Unit 2, also located on the Lake Michigan shore in Wisconsin, is nearly as bad. Following not very far behind in terms of RPV fracture risk are Entergy's Indian Point Unit 3 near New York City, Pacific Gas & Electric's Diablo Canyon on the California coast, and FirstEnergy's Beaver Valley Unit 1 in Shippingport, Pennsylvania. FirstEnergy has also been required to have an Aging Management Plan for RPV embrittlement at its Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore near Toledo, an indication that this is a serious concern there as well. As a safety precaution in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, Japan's worst embrittled RPV -- Genkai 1 -- was permanently shutdown. More.