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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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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.

Thursday
Jun042015

Coalition cites catastrophic risk of Palisades RPV fracture, appeals ASLB ruling to full NRC Commission

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.Citing the risks of reactor pressure vessel (RPV) fracture, core meltdown, and catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity at Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor in southwest Michigan, an environmental coalition (Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste MI, MI Safe Energy Future, and Nuclear Energy Info. Service of IL) has appealed an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel's adverse ruling to the full U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The coalition's legal counsel, Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge, filed the appeal on June 2nd.

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc. in Burlington, VT, serves as the coalition's expert witness on the risks of pressurized thermal shock (PTS) causing "brittle fracture" in the Palisades RPV. Gundersen and Fairewinds Energy Education have produced a short, humorous, educational video about PTS risks entitled "Nuclear Crack Down?"

NRC has admitted on numerous occassions that Palisades has the worst neutron radiation embrittled RPV in the country. Palisades first surpassed embrittlement safety standards in 1981, just ten short years into its operations. NRC, and/or the nuclear utilities owning and operating Palisades, have previously predicted various "End of Life" dates for the problem-plagued atomic reactor, the earliest being 1995. However, as reported by Jeff Donn of AP in 2011, NRC has weakened safety regulations time after time, to accommodate the age-degraded nuclear power plant, one of the oldest still operating in the U.S.

See updates on Beyond Nuclear et al.'s intervention against Entergy Palisades' License Amendment Request for regulatory relief dating back to Dec. 1, 2014 at the Reactor Safety website section.

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.