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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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Tuesday
Dec232014

Burns to chair NRC

U.S. NRC Chairman Stephen G. BurnsAs reported by the Associated Press, the NRC announced that President Obama has appointed NRC Commissioner Stephen G. Burns (photo, left) to serve as the Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He will begin as Chairman on Jan. 1.

Burns worked as a lawyer at NRC for 33 years, including as chief counsel to NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko from 2009 to 2012.

The nuclear industry, and its supporters in Congress, such as U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), opposed Burns' confirmation to the NRC Commission due to his support of former NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko's invoking of emergency powers at NRC once the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe began.

From 2012 to 2014, Burns served as head of legal affairs for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA).

It was that latter stint that moved Beyond Nuclear to oppose Burns' nomination and confirmation to the NRC Commission in the first place.

Citing a conflict of interest, Beyond Nuclear had previously called for NRC Commissioner William Magwood IV's immediate resignation from the Commission, once he had been tapped to direct the NEA. In fact, a coalition of groups called on Magwood to retroactively recuse himself from all Commission votes, dating back to when he began courting NEA for the position.

NEA is a nuclear power promotional institution. NRC Commissioners are supposed to regulate safety, not promote nuclear power. In fact, NRC was created, in the mid-1970s, to be the regulator of nuclear safety, while the U.S. Department of Energy was tapped to promote nuclear power. This happened after the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission was disbanded, after having been tasked with doing both at the same time -- a conflict of interest in which promotions most often trumped safety regulation.

The revolving door between NEA and NRC is inappropriate, blurring the lines between the promotion of the nuclear power industry, and the regulation of safety.

Monday
Dec222014

Nuclear Crack Down?

Did you know that embrittled nuclear reactors could shatter like glass? Watch Fairewinds Energy Education's Nuclear Science Guy Arnie Gundersen (photo, left) demonstrate reactor embrittlement and imagine the shattering glass as a shattering nuclear reactor vessel. Learn more.

Arnie, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc., serves as expert witness for an environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, challenging Entergy Nuclear's application to weaken reactor pressure vessel (RPV) embrittlement safety standards, yet again, at its Palisades atomic reactor in s.w. MI on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Palisades has the worst embrittled RPV in the U.S., at risk of pressurized thermal shock (PTS), fracture, Loss-of-Coolant-Accident, core meltdown, containment failure, and catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity.

NRC rubber-stamped Palisades' 20-year license extension in 2007, steamrolling an environmental coalition's intervention in opposition. The primary technical safety focus of the coalition was RPV embrittlement and PTS risk. See the chronicle of this 2005-2007 intervenion, posted online at the NIRS website.

Tuesday
Dec162014

NRC Commissioners deny appeal on QA at Fermi 3, but environmental intervenors vow to fight on

An artist's rendition of the GEH ESBWR, proposed by DTE to be built as "Fermi 3" at its nuclear power plant in Monroe Co., MIOn Dec. 16th, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) five Commissioners, in a unanimous ruling, denied an environmental coalition's appeal in the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) proceeding on Detroit Edison's (DTE) proposed new Fermi 3 reactor in southeast MI on the Lake Erie shore. DTE proposes to construct and operate an untested General Electric-Hitachi (GEH), so-called "Economic, Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR) on the very spot where Fermi 1 had a partial meltdown in 1966, immediately adjacent to the Fukushima Daiichi twin-design Fermi 2, a GE Mark I BWR.

The coalition requested reconsideration of the ASLB's June 2014 ruling that DTE's Fermi 3 quality assurance (QA) program was adequate, reasserting its preponderence of evidence -- including the testimony of Fairewinds Associates, Inc.'s Chief Engineer, Arnie Gundersen -- that DTE's QA program was in fact in disarray, or even non-existent. The coalition intends to appeal this NRC ruling, and other pending matters, to the federal courts, if need be. More.

Friday
Dec122014

Nuclear Hotseat features Beyond Nuclear on Palisades' PTS risks

The host of the Nuclear Hotseat podcast, Libbe HaLevy, has honored Beyond Nuclear by interviewing Kevin Kamps about the environmental coalition intervention against Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor in Michigan. Palisades has the worst embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the U.S., at risk of a pressurized thermal shock fracture, Loss-of-Coolant-Accident, core meltdown, containment failure, and catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity.

Beyond Nuclear, along with Don't Waste Michigan and Michigan Safe Energy Future-Shoreline Chapter, have been joined in the intervention by Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of Chicago. The problem-plagued Palisades reactor is located on the Lake Michigan shore of southwest Michigan, just 70 miles from Chicago. Lake Michigan is the drinking water supply for Chicago's many millions, and for a total of 40-million people in eight U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations downstream. Gail Snyder, NEIS board chair, helped make this interview happen.

Listen to the interview online at Nuclear Hotseat's website. Kevin's interview begins about a third of the way, and ends about two-thirds of the way, through the program.

But the entire program is well worth the listen, with nuclear news from around the world at the beginning, and at the end, an interview with Leslie Sullivan Sachs of Vermont's Safe and Green Campaign, about the hard-won, permanent shutdown of Entergy's Vermont Yankee reactor to take place on December 29th.

Friday
Dec122014

NRC cites Palisades for worker radiological safety violations, record number of failures during Component Design Basis Inspections

NRC file photo of Palisades, located in Covert, MI.The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has cited Entergy Nuclear for violating its own workers' radiological safety at the problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shore in southwest Michigan (photo, left).

In addition, David Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, has documented that Palisades not only had the single biggest number of CDBI (Component Design Basis Inspection) failures of any reactor in the country -- 10 violations, of 20 components inspected -- its rate of such violations was nearly three times higher than the national average.

NRC rubber-stamped Palisades' 20-year license extension in 2007, despite widespread concern and opposition mounted by local residents and a large environmental coalition.

More.