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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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Thursday
Jun132013

45-year-old construction error on leaky tank discovered at Palisades atomic reactor

Entergy and NRC have just discovered that, at Palisades, plant diagrams are not accurate depictions of "as-built" realityAs reported by Andrew Lersten at the St. Joe Herald-Palladium, a 45-year-old construction error has been discovered at Entergy Nuclear's problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shoreline in southwest MI. While repairing a 300,000 gallon tank of water that has been leaking for over two years -- including into the safety-critical control room, as well as directly into Lake Michigan -- workers found that a grout ring and sand bed region called for in the blueprints had never been installed back in 1968. Entergy and NRC now admit that phantom structures assumed to have been there all along may go a long way to explaining why the floor of the tank has suffered repeated leaks, despite multiple attempted repairs.

As recently as April 25, 2013, in a submission to NRC, Entergy gave engineering credit to structures which, in reality, didn't even exist: "Pressure stress loads are carried by the sand base, concrete grout ring, and concrete foundation beneath the tank bottom."

The discrepancy between Palisades' blueprints (see image, left), and the actual "as-built" reality, raises serious safety significant questions about the entire atomic reactor.

The Herald-Palladium, for whom Palisades unquestionably could do no wrong for decades on end, published a blistering editorial on May 23rd. The editorial board concluded:

"...as events in Japan proved in 2011, there is really no second chance when it comes to a catastrophic nuclear event.

We know that Entergy officials will say emphatically that they understand the stakes and are doing everything possible to maintain safety. But talk is cheap, and past problems at the plant don’t inspire confidence. What is really needed are better results.

Should Palisades continue to stumble along in the next months and years, then we hope the NRC takes a much harder look at Palisades’ license. Energy production and commerce are important, but not nearly as important as the safety and well-being of an entire region."

Wednesday
Jun122013

Davis-Besse's "San Onofre-like" shortcuts on safety with steam generator replacements focus of NRC public meeting

Terry Lodge speaks out against Davis-Besse in August 2012 at an NRC public meeting held at Oak Harbor High SchoolBeyond Nuclear set up an info. table at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) "annual performance review" public meeting in Carroll Township, Ohio, just a few miles down the road from FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor. Beyond Nuclear was there to let the public know about the ongoing resistance by an environmental coalition to Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension, and its recently filed intervention against FENOC's San Onofre-like shortcuts on safety regarding its proposed 2014 steam generator replacements.

Toledo attorney Terry Lodge (photo, left) represents the coalition, and Fairewinds Associates, Inc's Chief Engineer, Arnie Gundersen, serves as its expert witness. Gundersen also serves as Friends of the Earth's (FOE) expert, which just successfully forced Edison International to permanently shutdown the San Onofre 2 & 3 atomic reactors due to fatally flawed replacement steam generators.

WTOL's Jennifer Steck quoted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps (print articletelevision report):

'..."We want to prevent a Chernobyl or Fukishima on the shoreline of the Great Lakes," said Kevin Kamps, of Beyond Nuclear. "There is no reactor in this country that's come closer to that as many times as Davis-Besse has."

Davis-Besse is licensed for operation through 2017, and in the process of a 20-year license renewal. Delaying that renewal and preventing a steam generator replacement in 2014 are the main goals of Beyond Nuclear.

"We've long strived to shut down Davis-Besse, and we're not going to give up now," Kamps said. "We're just going to re-double our efforts."...'

The Toledo Blade's Roberta Gedert also quoted Kevin:

“They went way out of their way to avoid a license amendment on this major organ transplant,” said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste watchdog for Beyond Nuclear. “If they have made any mistakes, they have wasted hundreds of millions of dollars because we are going to challenge them at every turn.”

Saturday
Jun082013

Swan SONGS as Edison opts to permanently close San Onofre

Image by J. DeStafano, 2012Southern California Edison has decided to permanently shutter its Units 2 and 3 San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS) reactors in Southern Cal! Congratulations to all who fought so hard for this great victory! Read the Edison press release.

As reported in certain media coverage, the likelihood that the fatal flaws with its steam generators would end up blocking its U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) 20-year license extension rubberstamp contributed to SCE's decision to permanently shutdown both reactors.

"This is very good news for the people of Southern California," said [a] statement from Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica. "We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate and now Edison has agreed. The people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with the safe and clean energy provided by the sun and wind." 

Pica added that NRC now stands for "Nuclear Retirement Commission," given so many reactor closures in recent months (Crystal River, FL; Kewaunee, WI; and now San Onofre 2 & 3).

Beyond Nuclear has compiled comprehensive media coverage on, and other reactions to, the San Onofre 2 & 3 closures at its Nuclear Retreat page.

Friday
Jun072013

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.

Friday
Jun072013

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.