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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


Environmental coalition opposes Magwood appointment to NRC

Soon after media reports last summer hinted that former DOE Office of Nuclear Energy director William Magwood IV was under consideration by President Obama for a seat on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), on August 3, 2009 a coalition of nearly 100 environmental groups (8 national organizations and 89 grassroots groups representing 32 states) signed a letter spearheaded by Beyond Nuclear that was sent to President Obama. The coalition's letter urged President Obama to nominate strong health, security, safety, and environmental regulators to the NRC, not industry promoters. Unfortunately, on Oct. 9, 2009 President Obama went ahead with his nomination of Mr. Magwood, who had only continued his nuclear power promotional activities after retiring from DOE in 2005, as pointed out in an Oct. 14, 2009 letter from Project on Government Oversight to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In addition to his leadership of efforts to expand atomic energy both here and around the world, Mr. Magwood supports the Yucca Mountain dumpsite, in direct contradiction to President Obama's wise policy to cancel it. Mr. Magwood also promotes commercial radioactive waste reprocessing, a radical and entirely inappropriate position for an NRC Commissioner, given its risks of nuclear weapons proliferation, environmental and health ruination, as well as astronomical costs to taxpayers and ratepayers. As with reactors, Magwood as an NRC commissioner could well be involved in formulating safety, security, health, and environmental regulations for reprocessing, and perhaps someday could decide upon a reprocessing facility license. In addition, Beyond Nuclear received an anonymous tip that Mr. Magwood had regularly met with a top leader of the Nuclear Energy Institute for secretive, private breakfast meetings to coordinate strategy and priorities for the promotion of atomic energy, outside of the scrutiny of the public and environmental groups. Beyond Nuclear's request to DOE under the Freedom of Information Act resulted only in DOE responding that any such documentation would have been destroyed shortly after Mr. Magwood left the agency in 2005. The U.S. Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Mr. Magwood's NRC nomination today, Tuesday, Feb. 9th. Check the U.S. Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee membership, and if your Senator serves on it, contact them via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) on Monday to urge that they ask him tough questions concerning his lack of independence from the industry he is seeking to regulate, and to oppose his confirmation as an NRC Commissioner based on his long record of nuclear power's promotion. Beyond Nuclear issued a press statement calling on the Senate EPW Committee to reject William Magwood's appointment to the NRC Commission.