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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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Thursday
Sep262013

Momentum building of international opposition against OPG DUD

The Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump petition now has nearly 35,000 signatures! If you haven't already signed it yourself, please do. And please continue to circulate it to everyone you know! Beverly Fernandez, spokesperson for Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump, gave powerful testimony last Saturday in opposition to the proposal to "bury poison next to the well" of 40 million people, the Great Lakes, drinking water supply for 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American/First Nations.

On September 23rd, Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, also testified against Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) proposal to bury all of Ontario's so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes (L&ILRWs), from 20 atomic reactors across the province, within a half-mile of the Lake Huron shoreline (see image, left).

OPG refers to its proposal as the DGR, for Deep Geologic Repository. But critics use DUD, for Deep Underground Dump, an apt appellation coined by Dave Martin of Greenpeace Canada.

Dave, along with Irene Koch of Nuclear Awareness Project, published a map of Nuclear Hotspots on the Great Lakes in 1990. It gave an overview of the vast number of uranium fuel chain activities taking place in the bio-region, including scores of atomic reactors on the shorelines. Anna Tilman of International Institute of Concern for Public Health recently updated the map, to include the proposed DUDs. Both maps helped frame Kevin's testimony to the JRP regarding the DUDs.

Kevin's testimony focused on the woeful inadequacy of OPG's environmental assessment of cumulative impacts, as well as synergistic effects, of radiological and toxic chemical hazards in the Great Lakes bio-region caused by nuclear power facilities, as well as other dirty, dangerous and expensive energy industries, such as fossil fuel burning power plants.

The Canadian federal Joint Review Panel, comprised of a majority of two members from the CNSC (Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission), and one member from the CEAA (Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency), have posted the transcript of Kevin's testimony (beginning at Page 112, or 116 of 350 on the PDF counter). The JRP has also posted the video recording of Kevin's testimony (beginning at time code 2:26, for two hours 26 minutes into the segment). Kevin's Power Point presentation was based on his previously filed written submission.

More.

Tuesday
Sep172013

Environmental coalition challenges NRC on risk of HLRW pool fires yet again

IPS senior scholar Robert AlvarezIt's déjà vu all over again! After announcing a public meeting on August 22nd -- supposedly intended for technical dialogue -- the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) attemped to change the rules, and unabashedly refused to respond to watchdogs' challenges to its biased analysis regarding high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) storage pool fire risks. The strong backlash by representatives of an environmental coalition, inlcuding Beyond Nuclear, has forced NRC to try again. NRC has issued a public notice, as well as slides, for its Sept. 18th public meeting.

The coalition's attorney, Diane Curran, has re-issued talking points first developed for public use in the lead up to the previous meeting. They are more relevant than ever. Curran urges concerned members of the public to register to speak by emailing kevin.witt@nrc.gov. You can phone into the meeting at (888) 324-8193 [enter passcode 4345562], and can watch the webcast at http://video.nrc.gov or https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/984626536.

On August 1st, Curran, and one of the environmental coalition's expert witnesses, Dr. Gordon Thompson of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies (IRSS), submitted a "devastating critique" regarding NRC's "Draft Consequence Study" on the risks of fire in HLRW storage pools. Curran and Thompson called for the study to be withdraw, due to its lack of basic scientific integrity and credibility.

Now Robert Alvarez (photo, above left), senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), has weighed in on the coalition's behalf. Alvarez previously served as a senior advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy during the Clintion administration. After the 3/11/11 nuclear catastrophe began in Japan, he published a report on the potentially catastrophic risks in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant HLRW storage pools--the largest concentrations of hazardous artificial radioactivity in the entire country.

As U.S. Senator Ed Markey has pointed out in a letter to NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane, a 2003 study written by none other than Macfarlane herself (along with co-authors Alvarez, Thompson, and several others) starkly contradicts NRC's current "Draft Consequence Study" regarding pool fire risks. Astoundingly, and at catastrophic risk, NRC staff is relying on the "Draft Consequence Study" as the basis to recommend that no expedited transfer of irradiated nuclear fuel should be required as a "lesson learned" in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. Beyond Nuclear and hundreds of environmental groups representing all 50 states have called for pools to be emptied into "Hardened On-Site Storage" (HOSS) for well over a decade, but their calls have fallen on deaf ears at NRC.

Tuesday
Sep172013

U.S. Sen. Markey slams NRC for biased study of HLRW storage pool risks

U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)On the eve of a public meeting at the agency's HQ in Rockville, Maryland, U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA, photo left), a long-time congressional watchdog on the nuclear power industry and its supposed regulators at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has written a blistering letter to NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane regarding NRC staff's "Draft Consequence Study" of the radiological risks of high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) storage pool fires.

Markey's letter references a "devastating critique" of NRC's "Draft Consequence Study" submitted on August 1st by Dr. Gordon Thompson, expert witness on behalf of an environmental coalition including Beyond Nuclear.

Markey points out the irony of NRC's current flip disregard of pool fire risks, given NRC Chairwoman Macfarlane's co-authorship of a 2003 study, along with several others, including Thompson, as well as IPS Senior scholar Bob Alvarez, that clearly exposed the potentially catastrophic fire risks of pool storage.

Thursday
Sep122013

Water spouts on Lake Michigan close to Zion HLRW storage pools

Photo credit: Kenosha, WI Police Dept., via CBS NewsAs reported by CBS News, twin water spouts -- tornadoes over water -- formed over Lake Michigan, and merged into a single water spout, on Thursday (see photo, left). The water spouts were reported in Kenosha, WI, just north of the WI/IL border. Just south of that border is Zion, IL, home to the twin Zion atomic reactors, located right on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Thus, the water spouts occurred just a short distance from the Zion nuclear power plant site.

Although the problem-plagued reactors permanently closed in 1998, the high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) storage pools still hold 1,052 metric tons (2,302 assembies) of irradiated nuclear fuel, as documented in the U.S. Department of Energy's Final Environmental Impact Statement for Yucca Mountain (Tables A-7 and A-8, Feb. 2002).

If the cooling water supply is lost from the pools, the large inventory of HLRW could catch on fire, unleashing catastrophic amounts of hazardous radioactivity onto the winds and waves.

A tornado could knock out the power grid, which runs the cooling pumps on the HLRW storage pool. NRC regulations assume that the grid will be re-connected before the pool boils dry, a process that could take days or weeks. However, at Fukushima Daiichi, it took 10 days or so just to restore lighting to the control rooms, let alone cooling to the HLRW storage pools.

A tornado could also cause such damage to the storage pool that its water simply drains away suddenly. The waste could then catch fire within hours.

Not uncommonly, NRC has simply granted exemptions from Emergency Planning Zone regulations to permanently shutdown reactors. Whether the population around Zion could be quickly evacuated due to a pool fire remains to be seen.

Chicago is but 30 miles south of Zion. Lake Michigan is the drinking water supply for 40 milion people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.

Monday
Sep092013

House Republicans likely to grill NRC Chairwoman Macfarlane regarding proposed Yucca dump

NRC Chairwoman Allison MacfarlaneU.S. House Environment and the Economy Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL), and other Republican members of the subcommittee, are likely to grill U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane (photo, left) at a hearing on Tuesday, September 10th regarding her position on the long-moribund proposal to dump the nation's high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

The hearing comes after a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ordered NRC to resume the long-suspended Yucca dump licensing proceeding, despite the lack of adequate funding. More.