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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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Monday
Jul262010

NRC raises safety concerns about French Areva EPR

The New York Times has reported allegations of safety significant design flaws with nuclear fuel rod cladding, as well as the danger of control rod ejection accidents, at the French Areva "European Pressurized Reactor" targeted at Flammanville on the Normandy Coast. Meanwhile, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has continued to question the safety of interconnections between safety and non-safety "Instrumentation and Control" systems at the Areva "Evolutionary Power Reactor" targeted to be built at Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland, Nine Mile Point on the Lake Ontario shoreline in New York State, and elsewhere. See the NRC press release here.

Monday
Jul192010

PSR blasts Congressional proposal to rollback NRC safety regulations

In an op-ed published in The Hill newspaper, Physicians for Social Responsibility's board president, Dr. Jeff Patterson, has compared legislative attempts -- as in the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act discussion draft -- to rollback Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety and licensning regulations for new atomic reactors to the same kinds of mistakes -- speed over safety -- that led to the BP Gulf of Mexico oil catastrophe.

Wednesday
Jun162010

Quality assurance contention against Fermi 3 new reactor accepted for hearing by NRC ASLB

An environmental coalition, co-led by Beyond Nuclear, has won a hearing from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (NRC ASLB). Despite NRC staff and company objections to the contrary, the ASLB's June 15, 2010 ruling recognized the safety significance of quality assurance (QA) violations, and agreed that the environmental coalition's evidence of Detroit Edison QA shortcomings deserved a full adjudicatory hearing on the merits. The contention relied heavily on an expert affidavit filed on Dec. 8, 2010 by nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates in Vermont on behalf of the environmental coalition. Gundersen expanded his relevant testimony with a June 8, 2010 filing. The ASLB admitted the contention even before taking Gundersen's latest allegations and evidence into consideration. A This marks the fifth contention thus far to be granted a hearing in the Fermi 3 licensing proceeding.

Wednesday
Jun162010

Just as House holds hearings on Gulf oil catastrophe, it should do the same on reactor risks to prevent radioactive disasters

The grilling of BP and other oil company executives at a June 15, 2010 U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Environment Subcommittee hearing on the BP Gulf of Mexico oil catastrophe should serve as a warning that very similar risks exist in the nuclear power industry, albeit radiological rather than petrol. An earlier version of the New York Times article linked above reported "Representative Henry A. Waxman, chairman of the House committee, focused on the spill response plans of the five companies. They were prepared by an outside contractor and are virtually identical, Mr. Waxman said." The article continued "Mr. Markey [chairman of the subcommittee] added: 'In preparation for this hearing, the committee reviewed the oil spill safety response plans for all of the companies here today. What we found was that these five companies have response plans that are virtually identical. The plans cite identical response capabilities and tout identical ineffective equipment. In some cases, they use the exact same words. We found that all of these companies, not just BP, made the exact same assurances.' " Similarly, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Office of Inspector General reported in 2006 that NRC staff "safety reviews" of atomic reactor 20 year license extension applications were regularly "cut and pasted" directly from nuclear utility analyses, sometimes verbatim. NRC has thus far rubberstamped approval for every single one of the over 50 license extension requests it has recieved, with many more awaiting approval. Waxman was also quoted as saying that the oil companies'  disaster response "plans are 'just paper exercises,' " and that "BP failed miserably when confronted with a real leak...and Exxon Mobil and the other companies would do no better." This is a frightful parallel of nuclear utilities' self-congratulatory assurance that their radiological emergency planning is adequate, despite widespread evidence to the contrary. As but one example, the Chesapeake Safe Energy Coalition, of which Beyond Nuclear is a member, challenged the adequacy of the emergency preparedness and evacuation plans at the two reactor Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland; this pressure successfully forced the Federal Emergency Management Agency to hold a public meeting on the matter, at which was revealed that even FEMA did not know where potassium iodine tablets for protecting human thyroids in the event of radiological iodine-131 releases during a disaster. Act now to prevent an atomic catastrophe -- contact the House Energy and Commerce Committee at (202) 225-2927 and urge that hearings be held on widespread, risky NRC regulatory shortfalls. Call your own U.S. Representative via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to contact their colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee about the importance of such hearings.

Tuesday
Apr062010

UCS files emergency enforcement petition with NRC regarding Davis-Besse lid leaks

The Union of Concerned Scientists' nuclear safety project director Dave Lochbaum has filed an emergency enforcement petition with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission concerning recent revelations of boric acid leakage through the Davis-Besse atomic reactor's lid near Toledo, Ohio. Similar leakage at Davis-Besse led, in 2002, to the nearest-miss to a major accident since Three Mile Island actually suffered a 50% core melt down in 1979. Due to that previous debacle, NRC fined Davis-Besse's owner, FirstEnergy, a record $5.45 million in penalties. However, this most recent leakage of corrosive boric acid appears to have again violated NRC's operating license, risking a fast-breaking breach of the reactor pressure vessel boundary and potential loss-of-coolant accident.