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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
Jun062013

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.

Friday
May312013

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.

Tuesday
May142013

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.

Thursday
May092013

"Worst Week Since Fukushima: 4 Setbacks in 3 Days are Latest Stumbles for Nuclear Power Industry"

Former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford, and energy economist Mark Cooper, both of the Vermont Law School, as well as Dan Hirsch of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, held a telephone press conference yesterday on the subject of "WORST WEEK SINCE FUKUSHIMA: 4 MAJOR SETBACKS IN 3 DAYS ARE LATEST STUMBLES FOR U.S. NUCLEAR POWER INDUSTRY." An audio recording of the news conference has been posted online.

The four setbacks in three days include: 1) the cancellation of two proposed new reactors at South Texas Project, because they violate U.S. law, which NRC must obey, against foreign ownership of nuclear power plants; 2) Southern California Edison's threat that if NRC does not allow it to restart operations at its crippled San Onofre nuclear power plant, it will permanently shutdown both reactors there; 3) Duke Energy's cancellation of two proposed new atomic reactors at its Shearon Harris nuclear power plant in North Carolina; and 4) Florida's amendment to its previously highly permissive "advance cost recovery" or "Construction Work in Progress" law, via which ratepayers have been gouged to pay for proposed new reactors, when there is no guarantee the proposed new reactors will ever actually get built or generate electricity.

Peter Bradford also added the May 7th shutdown of Dominion's Kewaunee atomic reactor in WI -- despite the 20 years of operating license still left to it, thanks to a license extension rubberstamp provided by NRC -- as another example of the "worst week since Fukushima" for the U.S. nuclear power industry.

Wednesday
May082013

NRC "looking at the potential implications" of radioactive goldfish found deep in the heart of FirstEnergy's Perry atomic reactor in Ohio

As reported by the Associated Press, two radioactive goldfish, swimming in radioactive reactor coolant water in a lemonade pitcher, were discovered by workers in a steam tunnel deep in the heart of FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) problem-plagued Perry atomic reactor on the shore of Lake Erie northeast of Cleveland.

As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

'...The fishy tale has prompted federal regulators to ask a lot of new questions about morale at Perry and whether plant operators can control access to radioactive areas as required by regulation...

Because of a life-threatening incident during refueling two years ago at Perry in which three contractors were briefly exposed to hard radiation, the NRC has put the plant under a microscope on the issue of worker safety. The agency was already preparing to send squads of inspectors to the plant in June in an effort to determine whether Perry has corrected past shortcomings. Extra inspectors were at the plant earlier during this shutdown.

The company and the NRC said this latest incident is no laughing matter, as in the cartoon TV series "The Simpsons" in which Blinky, an orange fish, supposedly had three eyes from radiation exposure. Whoever was involved in the Perry incident will not get off as easily as nuclear worker Homer Simpson usually does...

"This is not something that happens every day. We want to know why it happened and how it happened," said Viktoria Mitlyng, NRC spokeswoman for the agency's Midwest region. "We are looking at the potential implications." '

Add that one to the "Fission Stories"!