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.



Davis-Besse Intervention Looms Large as San Onofre Units 2 & 3 Terminated Because Of Faulty Steam Generators

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, IncOn May 20th, an environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, petitioned to intervene against the steam generator replacement proposed at FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse atomic reactor in Oak Harbor, Ohio. The coalition's intervention petition, expert witness Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc's expert testimony, Gundersen's Curriculum Vitae, and a coalition press release are posted at this link.

Today, the coalition issued a media release, pointing out the similarities between their intervention at Davis-Besse, and the Friends of the Earth (FOE) intervention at San Onofre, CA. Earlier today, Southern California Edison threw in the towel, and announced the permanent shutdown of San Onofre Units 2 & 3, due to the fatal degradation of their replacement steam generators. Gundersen (pictured, above left) serves as FOE's expert witness at San Onofre.

On Dec. 27, 2010, an overlapping environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, intervened against Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board in that proceeding has rejected all of the coalition's contentions, except for its Nuclear Waste Confidence Decision contention. That one has led to an inevitable two-year delay in NRC's finalization of the license extension, until the agency completes its court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement on the risks of long-term storage of high-level radioactive waste at on-site pools and dry casks.


NRC "unable to take the most basic actions to insure nuclear safety"

In an article entitled "Nuclear Dominoes Fall in California and Kentucky," published at EcoWatch, Geoffrey Sea of Neighbors for an Ohio Valley Alternative writes:

"The Paducah and San Ofre shutdowns have a number of important connections beyond that the former facility provided the latter with fuel, and that the two sites are located in earthquake red zones. In both cases, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) proved itself incompetent and incapable, unable to take the most basic actions to insure nuclear safety. NRC should have flatly denied the San Ofre reactors permission to restart, and NRC should have revoked USEC’s operating license at Paducah after the company clearly could not meet financial capacity requirements. But the NRC failed in both cases, locked up in a kind of containment cell of quantum indeterminacy. Schrodinger’s cat , dead or alive, could do a better job of regulating the nuclear industry than the NRC as now constituted. [emphasis added]

This article is the 5th in a series. The 4 earlier installments, focused on the permanent shutdown of the Paducah gaseous diffusion plant, are accessible via links, above.

To see more news about the San Onofre reactor shutdowns, go to Beyond Nuclear's Nuclear Retreat page.


Palisades springs yet another leak into the control room: Failure of moisture barrier violates agreement with NRC 

MI Radio image showing location of chronically leaking SIRWT above Palisades' control roomBeyond Nuclear and Michigan Safe Energy Future--Shoreline Chapter issued a media release on June 6thupon learning of yet another leak into Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor control room (see image, left). The leakage has been a recurring problem for over two years now.

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps stated: “When I raised the SIRWT [Safety Injection Refueling Water Tank] leak into the control room at Entergy’s public open house in South Haven on May 14th, and on an NRC [U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] Webinar May 23rd, I was told by company and agency spokespeople that that issue was a thing of the past, that an installed moisture barrier had taken care of the problem. But as William Faulkner famously said, ‘The past is never dead. It's not even past.’ If Palisades can’t even prevent basic leakage through the ceiling of the control room, which has now been going on for over two years, what does that say about its reactor and radioactive waste safeguards? Entergy’s use of buckets, tarps, and ineffective sealant against this leak into the safety-critical control room begs the question, is it prepared to prevent large-scale radioactivity releases into the environment from a long list of severely age-degraded, critical safety systems, structures, and components?”

The leak, which was detected on June 3rd, was made known to the public in an NRC document released on June 6th.


Environmental coalition rebuts challenges against Fermi 3 proposed new reactor contention

Environmental coalition attorney Terry Lodge of ToledoAttorney Terry Lodge of Toledo (photo, left), and expert witness Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc, have filed a rebuttal against challenges brought by Detroit Edison and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff (NRC) regarding Quality Assurance (QA) contentions in opposition to the proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor.

The rebuttal includes expert witness testimony by Gundersen, and an"Intervenor's Rebuttal Statement of Position" legal filing by Lodge.

Lodge and Gundersen filed their rebuttal on behalf of an environmental coalition comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club's Michigan Chapter.

Fermi 3 is a proposed new General Electric-Hitachi so-called "ESBWR" ("Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor"), targeted at the Lake Erie shoreline in Monroe County, Michigan, 8 miles as the crow flies (or the radioactivity blows) from Ontario, Canada.

NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board hearings are set for Halloween on not only this QA contention, but also an Eastern Fox Snake threatened species contention. In addition, Fermi 3's combined Construction and Operation License Application (COLA) cannot be finalized until NRC completes its court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement on its so-called [High-Level] Nuclear Waste Confidence Rule, a proceeding that could take years.


Coalition of local residents and environmental groups confronts Congress, NRC, and Entergy at Palisades' front entrance

When Rep. Upton and NRC Commissioner Svinicki refused to meet with the coalition, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps helped organize a vigil at Palisades' front entrance. He dressed as the Little Dutch Boy. His sign reads "Have Finger--Will Plug Radioactive Leak," and "Wooden Shoe Rather Use Wind Power?!" Palisades' latest leak happened amidst west Michigan's Dutch American annual tulip time festivals. Photo credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio.While U.S. Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Commissioner Kristine Svinicki, toured Entergy's problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor, a coalition of concerned local residents and environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, vigiled and protested at the front entrance.

Upton and Svinicki were visiting the atomic reactor in the aftermath of a 82.1-gallon spill of radioactive water into Lake Michigan. The leak came from the Safety Injection Refueling Water (SIRW) storage tank, which has been leaking for over two years. Although the investigation continues, it appears that a crack in a weld on a tank floor nozzle is at least partly to blame this time around. For the first year, the leak had been kept quiet by Entergy and NRC staff. Even the Chairman of NRC, Greg Jaczko, was not told about it, even during his tour of the troubled plant on May 25, 2012. A few weeks later, based on whistleblower revelations, U.S. Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) made public that the leakage was into the control room, and that safety culture among the workforce had collapsed at Palisades: 74% of the workforce,including management, felt that reporting safety problems would solve nothing, while inviting intimidation and harassment -- and so do not report safety problems!

Beyond Nuclear has posted extensive media coverage from the vigil at its Nuclear Reactor Safety website page.