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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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Saturday
May092015

ASLBP issues split decision on vessel risks at Palisades, Beyond Nuclear vows appeal

A diagram describing pressurized thermal shock in a nuclear reactor. Credit: Japan Atomic Energy Agency. Japan's worst embrittled RPV, at Genkai 1, has been permanently closed in the aftermath of Fukushima.A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP) issued a ruling on May 8th that recognized an environmental coalition's legal standing, but rejected its proferred contention, thus denying any further hearings on the matter.

Beyond Nuclear and coalition partners Don't Waste MI, MI Safe Energy Future--Shoreline Chapter, and Nuclear Energy Information Service of Chicago, represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge, and expert witness Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc., filed an intervention on Dec. 1st against regulatory rollbacks on reactor pressure vessel (RPV) embrittlement/pressurized thermal shock (PTS) risks at Palisades, the most brittle RPV in the U.S. See the full docket of filings between the adversarial parties, here.

The coalition has issued a press release in response to the rejection of its contention. It has vowed to appeal the ruling within the next 25 days.

Lodge filed a second, related but separate intervention on behalf of the coalition on March 9. It challenges Entergy’s License Amendment Request to NRC for “equivalent margins analysis” regulatory relief from potentially disastrous “ductile tearing” (as opposed to brittle fracture) risks at Palisades, due to another form of age-related RPV metal degradation (loss of Charpy V-Notch Upper Shelf Energy below the 50 foot-pound screening criteria). The ASLBP has yet to rule on that intervention.

Saturday
May022015

"Environmentalists Threaten Palisades, NRC With Lawsuit"

Photo taken in May 2013 during a protest organized by Beyond Nuclear at the front entrance of Palisades, which had just leaked 82.1 gallons of radioactive water into Lake Michigan. Marion Anderson of South Haven, a member of MSEF-Shoreline Chapter, created the placard.As reported by Rebecca Thiele at WMUK (NPR at Western Michigan University), an environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, is intervening against regulatory rollbacks at Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shore in southwest Michigan.

Thiele interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps (a native of Kalamazoo -- just 35 miles downwind of Palisades -- who serves on the board of directors of Don't Waste MI), as well as the coalition's attorney, Terry Lodge. At the top of the story, Bette Pierman of Benton Harbor, chairwoman of Michigan Safe Energy Future (MSEF)--Shoreline Chapter, is heard presenting during a panel discussion. The interviews took place at a fund- and awareness-raising event held at the Old Dog Tavern on April 19th in downtown Kalamazoo. Music performed by the "Duffield-Caron Project, with Friends" can be heard in the background of the interviews.

The intervention focuses on the risk of pressurized thermal shock (PTS). Palisades has the worst neutron radiation embrittled reactor pressure vessel (RPV) of any nuclear power plant in the U.S. Like a hot glass under cold water (and a ton of pressure per square inch!), PTS could fracture Palisades' RPV, causing a loss of coolant accident, core meltdown, and catastrophic radioactivity release.

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Energy Education, and the expert witness for Beyond Nuclear and the coaltion at Palisades, has produced a humorous short video about this serious subject, entitled "Nuclear Crack Down?"

Thursday
Mar262015

"Feds probe PG&E report on California nuclear plant safety"

NRC file photo of PG&E's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, on the Pacific Coast near San Luis Obispo, CAAs reported by David R. Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has launched an investigation into the appearance of collusion between NRC and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) to circumvent seismic safety at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant on the faultline-riddled coastline of California.

The independent investigation by the Japanese Diet (Parliament) into the root cause of the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe concluded it was collusion between safety regulators, the nuclear utility, and elected officials that left the nuclear power plant so very vulnerable to the natural disaster (the massive earthquake, and the tsunami it spawned) on 3/11/11.

David Lochbaum of Union of Concerned Scientists, Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth, and Rochelle Becker of Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, are quoted in the article. So too is Michael Peck, the NRC inspector who has consistently warned that Diablo Canyon is operating in violation of its licensing basis and NRC seismic safety regulations, and has called for its shutdown until this is rectified.

Wednesday
Mar252015

Nuclear Licensing Board Examines Brittle Vessel Risks at Entergy’s Palisades Atomic Reactor; Critics Call for Permanent Shutdown

NRC file photo of Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shore in Covert, MIAs reported by a press release, a coalition of environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, today testified before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB), at the agency's HQ in Rockville, Maryland, just outside D.C.

The coalition, represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge, defended its intervention against an Entergy License Amendment Request (LAR) to further weaken reactor pressure vessel (RPV) embrittlement/pressurized thermal shock (PTS) safety regulations.

Palisades has the worst-embrittled RPV in the U.S., at risk of a PTS fracture, Loss-of-Coolant-Accident, core meltdown, and catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity. A bad precedent at Palisades will then be applied by NRC to approve operations at other dangerously brittle pressurized water reactor (PWR) RPVs across the U.S.

The coalition intervened on Dec. 1, 2014. Entergy Nuclear and NRC staff counter-attacked on Jan. 12, 2015. The coalition rebutted the attacks on Jan. 20.

Today's "oral argument pre-hearing" was essentially an ASLB exercise to determine whether the coalition's intervenion is worthy of an evidentiary hearing on the merits of the contention. The ASLB is scheduled to rule on the admissibility of the intervenors' contention within 45 days.

On March 9, the coalition filed a parallel intervention regarding loss of Charpy V-Notch Upper-Shelf Energy in Palisades RPV, another form of age-related degradation.

From 2005 to 2007, a broad environmental coalition sought to block Palisades' 20-year license extension. The coalition's main safety objection was PTS risks. NRC rubber-stamped the extension anyway.

Thursday
Mar192015

Coalition to press its case against Palisades' RPV safety rollbacks at March 25th NRC licensing board hearing

Entergy's problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, MI, on the Lake Michigan shoreline.A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) will hold an oral argument pre-hearing on Wednesday, March 25th beginning at 10am Eastern, regarding an environmental coalition's intervention against further regulatory rollbacks regarding Entergy Palisades' reactor pressure vessel (RPV), the worst embrittled in the U.S. The hearing will be held at ASLB chambers at NRC's HQ in Rockville, Maryland, but a listen-in phone line is being provided. The hearing is scheduled to last two hours, till noon Eastern, but there is some chance it will run longer than that.

Palisades is located in southwest Michigan, on the shoreline of the Great Lakes, drinking water supply for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations (see photo, left).

We encourage environmental allies and the media to listen-in to the ASLB hearing, in order to watchdog this vital safety issue. RPV neutron radiation embrittlement, and consequent pressurized thermal shock (PTS) risks, are serious at many pressurized water reactors (PWRs) across the U.S. Any regulatory rollbacks rubber-stamped by NRC at Palisades would set bad precedents that could then be applied at other embrittled PWRs in the future.

According to Mr. Sachin Desai, ASLB law clerk: "The phone number for the oral argument is 800-857-9645. The passcode is 9568305. This will be a listen-only line."

Mr. Desai has also communicated that "Members of the public interested in attending or listening to the March 25, 2015 oral argument must reach out to me, the Board’s law clerk, beforehand [by Mon., March 23] either by phone or e-mail.  My phone number is 301-415-6523...[and] e-mail (Sachin.Desai@nrc.gov)." More.