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.



Hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, oh my!

As reported by Matt Wald of the New York Times in his blog "Green," the five member U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission seems to have washed its hands of concern about earthquakes and tsunamis in the U.S. (despite the location of two reactors at San Onofre in southern CA and two reactors at Diablo Canyon in central CA on the Pacific coast, as but four examples), but remains concerned about other pathways to "station blackout" that could lead to reactor core meltdowns, high-level radioactive waste storage pool fires, and catastrophic radioactivity releases.


"What Will the N.R.C. Learn From Fukushima?" (As little as it can get away with?)

The New York Times' Matt Wald has reported on his blog that U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commisssion (NRC) Chairman Greg Jaczko's presentation to a gathering organized by Public Citizen raised more questions than it answered about NRC's openness to "lessons learned" from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan to be applied here in the U.S. at 23 identically-designed reactors.


"Activists to state case on Davis-Besse license," Toledo Blade

Davis-Besse's infamous "red photo," showing boric acid crystal and rust "lava" flowing from reactor lid.Tom Henry at the Toledo Blade has given advance coverage of tomorrow's Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board oral argument pre-hearing in Port Clinton, Ohio, near Davis-Besse atomic reactor. Beyond Nuclear, along with allies Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio, have submitted four contentions against First Energy Nuclear Operating Company's proposed 20 year license extension: (1) wind as an alternative; (2) solar photovoltaics as an alternative; (3) wind and solar combined as an alternative; and (4) severe underestimation of the casualties and costs that would result from a catastrophic radioactivity release. On February 18, 2011, the ASLB ruled in favor of FirstEnergy's motion to strike, and ordered the environmental coalition to "strike" long sections of its "Combined Reply" rebuttal against the utility's and NRC staff's attacks upon its intervention. This included a backgrounder about Davis-Besse's many close calls with disaster over the past 34 years, compiled by Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps. According to various federal government spokespeople, from the NRC to the Department of Justice, Davis-Besse's hole in the head fiasco of 2002 was the worst incident at a U.S. atomic reactor since Three Mile Island Unit 2's 50% core meltdown in 1979.


Three states sue NRC over Nuclear Waste Con Game

The States of New York, Vermont, and Connecticut today filed lawsuits against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's December 2010 update to its Nuclear Waste Confidence Rule. NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence Game (a con game is any elaborate swindling operation in which advantage is taken of the confidence the victim reposes in the swindler) started in 1984 (appropriately enough, in the Orwellian sense), when NRC ruled that the generation of irradiated nuclear fuel was reasonable, given that it had "confidence" that a repository would open by 2007 to 2009. In 1990, NRC revised its "confidence" date to 2025, where it remained till the December update, when a date-certain was removed entirely. NRC's current con game holds that waste can remain safely stored on-site for at least 120 years (60 years of operations, and 60 years post-shutdown). However, the NRC Commissioners have ordered NRC staff to investigate "confidence" levels of "safe" storage on-site for much longer time periods, into the centuries. Of course, all this "confidence" willfully ignores the safety, security, and environmental risks of on-site pool storage and dry cask storage, none of which was designed to withstand severe terrorist attacks, for example. Three close calls to heavy load drops -- at Prairie Island, Palisades, and Vermont Yankee -- have risked sudden drain downs of pool cooling water, which would lead quickly to radioactive waste infernos unleashing up to 100% of the cesium-137 content of pools (tens of millions of curies, as compared to the 2.4 million curies of cesium-137 released at Chernobyl), according to NRC staff itself. A 2001 NRC pool fire study estimated that 25,000 people could die downwind of a pool fire from latent cancer, with deaths occurring as far downwind as 500 miles away. An earlier 1997 NRC study put the casualty figures much higher. The Attorneys General of NY, CT, and VT deserve tremendous thanks for this long overdue challenge to NRC's nuclear waste con game. A coalition of nearly 200 environmental groups has called since 2006 for "hardened on-site storage" as an interim safety and security measure to protest irradiated nuclear fuel from accidents and attacks. Calls have been ongoing for quality assurance upgrades on dry cask storage as well, to prevent radioactivity leaks over time from the concrete and/or steel silos that are located out in the open, exposed to the degrading impacts of the elements.


Environmental coalition defends its intervention against "20 MORE years of radioactive Russian roulette?!" at Davis-Besse

"Lava" of rust and boric acid crystals flowing from Davis-Besse's reactor lid about a decade ago.In August, First Energy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a 20 year license extension at its trouble-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore east of Toledo. In October, NRC "docketed" the application as complete enough to proceed with its consideration for approval. Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio submitted their Petition to Intervene and Request for a Hearing on December 27, 2010 -- raising four contentions against the 20 year license extension: (1) wind power is a viable altenative, as is (2) solar photovoltaic power, and (3) certainly a combination of solar PV and wind; and (4), FENOC has significantly underestimated the consequences of a catastrophic radioactivity release from Davis-Besse in its "Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives" (SAMA) analysis. On January 21, 2011, both the NRC staff and FENOC objected to all four of the environmental coalition's contentions; both also challenged the standing of CEA to take part in the proceeding, absurdly asserting that CEA's members seeking standing live a mere 300 feet beyond the 50 mile radius from Davis-Besse! (Intervenors "about" 50 miles from a nuclear plant, or less,  have almost automatically been conferred standing in the past.) In a "Combined Reply," the environmental coalition defended its standing and contentions on January 28, 2011. An NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) has been empanelled. The ASLB has announced a March 1, 2011 "oral pre-hearing" in Port Clinton, Ohio to consider whether or not to admit the contentions for a full hearing on the merits; the appendix to its order spells out in some detail the key questions the ASLB has on its mind. The NRC ASLB has requested a security detail from the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department, although the coalition is comprised entirely of non-violent environmental groups. Beyond Nuclear has prepared a backgrounder on the many close calls to major disasters this reactor has already experienced in its first 33 years of operations: "Davis-Besse: 20 MORE Years of Radioactive Russian Roulette on the Great Lakes Shore?!" On February 1st, the coalition issued a media release announcing its defense of the intervention. On Feb. 10th, the Joint Petitioners filed an Errata for their Combined Reply.