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Nuclear Power

Nuclear power cannot address climate change effectively or in time. Reactors have long, unpredictable construction times are expensive - at least $12 billion or higher per reactor. Furthermore, reactors are sitting-duck targets vulnerable to attack and routinely release - as well as leak - radioactivity. There is so solution to the problem of radioactive waste.

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Wednesday
Jul202016

Susquehanna operators suspended after prioritizing reactor operation ahead of safety

Susquehanna nuclaer power plant in Salem Twp., PAAs Susan Schwartz of the Press Enterprise reports from Salem Twp., PA, three senior reactor operators at the Susquehanna nuclear power plant (see NRC file photo, left) have been temporaily suspended, pending retraining:

Three senior reactor operators have been temporarily disqualified after they took a safety system offline before shutting down a reactor at the Susquehanna nuclear plant in May, regulators confirm. A nuclear watchdog believes the operators did it in an effort to avoid shutting down the unit, an expensive move for the plant.

Susquehanna has two reactors, both Fukushima Daiichi sibling designs. Susquehanna Units 1 and 2 are General Electric Mark II boiling water reactors.

The article, which reports the incident took place at Unit 2, quotes Dave Lochbaum of UCS:

Watchdog’s take

But David Lochbaum, nuclear safety project director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said he suspects the operators disabled the safety system to buy themselves time in the hope of avoiding the shutdown.

If the high pressure coolant injection system is triggered, it can cause the unit to shut down automatically, said Lochbaum. He’s a nuclear engineer who worked 17 years in the industry and also a former reactor technology instructor with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

He believes the operators hoped that by delaying the automatic scram, they would give workers time to fix the electrical fault and restore proper cooling and ventilation so the reactor wouldn’t need to be shut down.

But before they took the safety system offline, they didn’t check to make sure nothing was happening that might require it to work.

“They breezed through that step,” he said. “They put the operation of the plant ahead of safety. They took some shortcuts.”

‘Mistakes were made’

That attitude contributed to the accident at Three Mile Island in 1979, he said.

Operators there misdiagnosed a problem with the reactor and shut off the safety systems, explained Lochbaum. If they had left them alone, he says the safety systems as designed would have saved the day.

The Susquehanna Steam Electric Station was nowhere near such dire straits, Lochbaum stressed.

“It’s unfortunate mistakes were made, but the system is pretty robust,” he said. “It would have taken several more miscues before this event would have resulted in meltdown or core damage.”

In other words, luckily, operators at Susquehanna Unit 2 in 2016 only made one major mistake, instead of several. The March 28, 1979 series of mistakes made at Three Mile Island Unit 2, however, led to a 50% core meltdown, and the worst nuclear power disaster -- thus far, anyway -- in U.S. history.

Thursday
Jul142016

Burning down the house: Entergy & NRC learn no lessons from prior fire safety and security violations

Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor, located on the Lake Michigan shore in Covert, MIForty-one years after a catastrophic fire at Browns Ferry, Alabama nearly caused a reactor core meltdown, and two years after Entergy was busted for fire watch falsifications at its Waterford reactor in Louisiana, NRC's Office of Investigations and the FBI are now investigating whistle-blower allegations at Entergy's problem-plagued Palisades reactor in Michigan (see photo, left) of skipped fire watches. 22 security guards at Palisades have reportedly been relieved of their duties, raising concerns that security is currently compromised. The remaining security guards have been pressured by Entergy to sign waivers, an end run around NRC fatigue rules, in order to work 75 hours per week, to compensate for the reduced force size. NRC has repeatedly let Entergy off the hook, via Alternative Dispute Resolution processes, instead of doing its job to protect public health, safety, and the environment by enforcing its regulations, and holding accountable wrongdoers. Congressional investigations are desperately needed. Beyond Nuclear has prepared two backgrounders in the past week, chronicling the long history of fire and security risks, not just at Palisades, but across Entergy's fleet of reactors, and even nationwide throughout the entire nuclear power industry. More

Wednesday
Jun292016

Join the March for a Clean Energy Revolution, Philadelphia, PA, July 24th!

Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) has issued an action alert, calling for folks to join the March for a Clean Energy Revolution in Philadelphia, PA on Sunday, July 24th, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention. See the beginning of the NIRS action alert, below, and follow the link to see full action alert, including a tribute to NIRS former long-time executive director, and president, Michael Mariotte, who died on May 16th, after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer. (Also, see Beyond Nuclear's own tributes to Michael Mariotte, posted at our website.)

Beyond Nuclear has joined in the NIRS-initiated planning for the March for a Clean Energy Revolution, and will take part on July 24th. Beyond Nuclear encourages everyone who can make it, to join in the Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free contingent in Philadelphia on July 24th, as well as at the teach-ins, meetings, gatherings, etc., the day before. If you can't make it, please spread the word widely to those who can.

June 29, 2016

Dear Friends,

We invite you to join us for the next historic safe energy mobilization--the March for a Clean Energy Revolution, July 24 in Philadelphia. You can find more details on the march [as well as a tribute to the life and work of Michael Mariotte, at this link to the complete NIRS action alert.]

Tuesday
Jun282016

Solar-energized Juno to arrive at Jupiter on Independence Day

NASA Juno Spacecraft graphic, showing the three large solar panels providing it power, with Jupiter pictured in the backgroundInvestigative journalist Karl Grossman has been watch-dogging nukes in space since the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986.

As Grossman relates in his latest article, "Solar-energized Juno to arrive at Jupiter on Independence Day":

I broke the story 30 years ago about how the next mission of NASA’s ill-fated Challenger shuttle was to involve lofting a plutonium-powered space probe and I have been reporting in articles, books and on television on the nuclear-in-space issue ever since.

Grossman conveys the breakthrough Juno's well timed arrival at Jupiter (July 4th -- America's Independence Day) represents, showing that solar can power not just satellites orbiting Earth, and Mars missions, but also deep space missions.

Even the mainstream media understands the significance:

“A Juno success would be a good sign for future solar-powered missions of all types,” stated [a 2011] Associated Press “NASA going green with solar-powered Jupiter probe” article.

Grossman's article concludes:

In space as on Earth, solar power works.

But, says [Bruce] Gagnon [coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space], “Just like here on Earth there is a tug-of-war going on between those who wish to promote life-giving solar power and those who want nukes. That same battle for nuclear domination is being taken into the heavens by an industry that wants more profit—no matter the consequences. The Global Network will continue to organize around the space nuclear power issue by building a global constituency opposed to the risky and unnecessary nukes in space program.”

With solar-energized Juno’s arrival at Jupiter, this Independence Day should mark a blow for independence from dangerous nuclear power above our heads in space.

Grossman serves on the board of directors of Beyond Nuclear, as well as an advisor to the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

Tuesday
Jun282016

Entergy FitzPatrick causes oil spill into Great Lakes

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary aerial photo of oil sheen on Lake Ontario caused by Entergy Nuclear's FitzPatrick atomic reactor, visible in backgroundNuclear power is not "emissions-free," as its proponents so often claim. In fact, sometimes it causes oil spills into fresh drinking water supplies...

As reported by the Democrat & Chronicle, Entergy Nuclear's FitzPatrick atomic reactor on the Lake Ontario shoreline in upstate New York just released up to 30 gallons of oil into that drinking water supply, utilized by many millions of people downstream in two countries.

The oil spill was not detected nor announced at first by Entergy, or the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), but rather by a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary air crew, who spotted the visible sheen on Lake Ontario's surface waters (see photo, left). But this is just the latest of many oil spills into fresh surface waters caused by Entergy Nuclear, not to mention other nuclear utilities. More.