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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
Jul092013

Coalition defends intervention against risky Davis-Besse steam generator replacements

Terry Lodge, Toledo-based attorney, speaking out against Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension in August 2012 at Oak Harbor High School, OHTerry Lodge (pictured left), Toledo-based attorney representing an environmental coalition intervening against FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) risky steam generator replacements at its Davis-Besse atomic reactor, has filed PETITIONERS’ REPLY IN OPPOSITION TO FENOC ‘MOTION TO STRIKE.’

The coalition includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club. Its expert witness, Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc, has warned that FENOC has taken similar shortcuts on safety as did Edison International with its dangerously flawed steam generator replacements at San Onofre, CA. Edison was forced to permanently shut San Onofre 2 & 3, after Friends of the Earth (FOE) successfully intervened for license amendment hearings after the replacement steam generators suffered extensive, premature degradation, putting 8 million residents and workers within 50 miles at risk. Arnie serves as FOE's expert at San Onofre, as well.

The coalition plans to reply in opposition to similar U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff motions to strike in coming days. More.

Wednesday
Jul032013

Davis-Besse has emergency shutdown, pressure boundary leakage; coalition presses case against risky steam generator replacements

Toledo attorney Terry Lodge speaks out against Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension at an August 2012 press conference in Oak Harbor, OhioOn June 29th, FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore near Toledo experienced an emergency shutdown.

The event notification report posted on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) website states:

'AUTOMATIC REACTOR TRIP DUE TO REACTOR COOLANT PUMP TRIP 

"Automatic trip of Reactor Coolant Pump 1-2 due to an electrical differential current fault resulted in an RPS actuation on Flux/Delta Flux/Flow. Startup Feedwater Valve 1 did not respond as expected post-trip and has been placed in manual control. All secondary side steam reliefs initially re-seated following reactor trip. Subsequent Main Steam Line #1 Safety Valve leakage mitigated during post-trip recovery actions. All other systems have functioned as expected. The plant is stable in Mode 3 - Hot Standby."

All rods inserted into the core during the trip. Decay heat is being removed via turbine bypass valves to the main condenser with normal feedwater to the steam generators. The plant is in its normal shutdown electrical lineup. The licensee characterized the trip as uncomplicated. 

The licensee will be notifying Lucas and Ottawa counties, the State of Ohio and will be issuing a press release. They have notified the NRC Resident Inspector.'

Helpfully translating that Nukespeak into plain English, David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists' Director of Nuclear Safety, has prepared a powerpoint presentation to explain what happened at Davis-Besse.

Vanessa McCray at the Toledo Blade has reported on this story. She quotes Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps:

'...Kevin Kamps, a radioactive-waste specialist for Beyond Nuclear, said the most recent incident is another worry.

“A lot of plants have problems, but often times it’s a single problem a plant will have ...,” he said. “But for Davis-Besse, they have just a whole long list of problems, and that’s what concerns us too —that those might line up one day in a very bad way.”...' More.

Tuesday
Jul022013

Paducah uranium enrichment facility suffers radioactive contamination incident 4 weeks after permanently shutting down

Paducah (uranium enrichment) Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Photo credit: U.S.E.C./U.S. Department of EnergyDespite being permanently shutdown on June 1st, the Paducah facility experienced a radioactivity contamination accident on June 28th, according to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) incident report dated July 2nd. The radioactivity contamination accident stemmed from a water leak. Given the mountain of radioactive materials at Paducah, such radioactive contamination risks to the facility, the environment beyond, and the people who live there (some directly across dirt roads from the fence line, in a community already showing signs of significantly elevated cancer incidence and death rates) will continue far into the future, despite the facility's welcome permanent shutdown.

Saturday
Jun222013

Coalition defends its challenge against risky steam generator replacements at Davis-Besse

Terry Lodge speaks out against 20-year license extension at Davis-Besse at Oak Harbor High School in Ohio, August 2012On June 21st, an environmental coalition represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge (photo, left) re-asserted its challengeagainst risky steam generator replacements at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo. The filing rebutted June 14th attacks byFENOC as well as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff on the coalition's standing, as well as the merits of its contentions.

The coalition, comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club, launched its intervention petition on May 20th. The coalition's expert, Fairewinds Associates, Inc's Chief Engineer, Arnie Gundersen, also serves as Friends of the Earth's (FOE) expert in the San Onofre defective replacement steam generator proceeding, which recently resulted in the permanent closure of two reactors. FENOC has taken similar short cuts on safety as did Edison International, which resulted in the San Onofre engineering catastrophe that put 8 million southern Californians at radiological risk, and has resulted in a $2.5 billion boondoggle.

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."