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Nuclear Reactors

The nuclear industry is more than 50 years old. Its history is replete with a colossal financial disaster and a multitude of near-misses and catastrophic accidents like Three Mile Island and Chornobyl. Beyond Nuclear works to expose the risks and dangers posed by an aging and deteriorating reactor industry and the unproven designs being proposed for new construction.

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Friday
Jan092015

Around 185 Entergy Palisades workers exposed to 2.8 R in month-long job

Workers pictured at Palisades last spring doing repair work on top of the reactor vessel head. Entergy provided this and other photos of the work to the NRC.As reported by Lindsey Smith at Michigan Radio, around 185 workers at Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor in Michigan were exposed to 2.8 Rem of radioactivity exposure on a single project last year. From Feb. to March, 2014, the Control Rod Drive Mechanisms at Palisades were replaced, due to chronic seal and through-wall leakage that dates back to 1972.

2.8 Rem of exposure violates Entergy's self-imposed ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) limits of 2 Rem/year for workers. 2 Rem/year for nuclear workers is the national standard in Germany, which will completely phase out reactor operations by 2022 as a direct response to the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.

However, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows, or permits, up to 5 Rem/year of exposure to nuclear workers. Members of the general public, by comparison, are only allowed to receive 100 milliRem, or 0.1 Rem, per year of exposure to artificial radioactivity from the nuclear power industry. Thus, in a single month, 185 workers at Palisades were exposed to 28 times the amount of harmful radioactivity allowed for members of the general public in an entire year.

Wednesday
Dec312014

Vermont Yankee closes!

Today, thanks to decades of citizen organizing and protest; the wise backing of the elected officials of the State of Vermont; the attempted deception of Vermont Yankee owners, Entergy, whose representatives even lied under oath; and the hopeless economics of nuclear power, the Vermont Yankee reactor has shut down permanently. 

The lights will not go out. In fact, the New England electric grid operator knew two years ago that permanently closing Vermont Yankee would not affect regional grid stability.

In a statement today, Vermont governor, Peter Shumlin, said:Today, thanks to investments in renewable energy such as solar, Vermont's energy future is on a different, more sustainable path that is creating jobs, reducing energy costs for Vermonters and slowing climate change.” Shumlin was a strong advocate for the closure of the reactor once its license expired. 

In what was viewed at the time as a blatant example of regulatory capture, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave Vermont Yankee a 20-year license extension just ten days after the March 11, 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster began. Vermont Yankee was one of 23 GE Mark I boiling water reactors, along with eight Mark II units, in the U.S., the same flawed design as the Fukushima reactors. Watch Shut Vermont Yankee! and The Activists, two videos made by Beyond Nuclear during the campaign to close the plant. For more, read Harvey Wasserman's analysis.

Monday
Dec222014

Nuclear Crack Down?

Did you know that embrittled nuclear reactors could shatter like glass? Watch Fairewinds Energy Education's Nuclear Science Guy Arnie Gundersen (photo, left) demonstrate reactor embrittlement and imagine the shattering glass as a shattering nuclear reactor vessel. Learn more.

Arnie, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc., serves as expert witness for an environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, challenging Entergy Nuclear's application to weaken reactor pressure vessel (RPV) embrittlement safety standards, yet again, at its Palisades atomic reactor in s.w. MI on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Palisades has the worst embrittled RPV in the U.S., at risk of pressurized thermal shock, fracture, Loss-of-Coolant-Accident, core meltdown, containment failure, and catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity.

Tuesday
Dec162014

NRC Commissioners deny appeal on QA at Fermi 3, but environmental intervenors vow to fight on

An artist's rendition of the GEH ESBWR, proposed by DTE to be built as "Fermi 3" at its nuclear power plant in Monroe Co., MIOn Dec. 16th, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) five Commissioners, in a unanimous ruling, denied an environmental coalition's appeal in the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) proceeding on Detroit Edison's (DTE) proposed new Fermi 3 reactor in southeast MI on the Lake Erie shore. DTE proposes to construct and operate an untested General Electric-Hitachi (GEH), so-called "Economic, Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR) on the very spot where Fermi 1 had a partial meltdown in 1966, immediately adjacent to the Fukushima Daiichi twin-design Fermi 2, a GE Mark I BWR.

The coalition requested reconsideration of the ASLB's June 2014 ruling that DTE's Fermi 3 quality assurance (QA) program was adequate, reasserting its preponderence of evidence -- including the testimony of Fairewinds Associates, Inc.'s Chief Engineer, Arnie Gundersen -- that DTE's QA program was in fact in disarray, or even non-existent. The coalition intends to appeal this NRC ruling, and other pending matters, to the federal courts, if need be. More.

Friday
Dec122014

Nuclear Hotseat features Beyond Nuclear on Palisades' PTS risks

The host of the Nuclear Hotseat podcast, Libbe HaLevy, has honored Beyond Nuclear by interviewing Kevin Kamps about the environmental coalition intervention against Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor in Michigan. Palisades has the worst embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the U.S., at risk of a pressurized thermal shock fracture, Loss-of-Coolant-Accident, core meltdown, containment failure, and catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity.

Beyond Nuclear, along with Don't Waste Michigan and Michigan Safe Energy Future-Shoreline Chapter, have been joined in the intervention by Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of Chicago. The problem-plagued Palisades reactor is located on the Lake Michigan shore of southwest Michigan, just 70 miles from Chicago. Lake Michigan is the drinking water supply for Chicago's many millions, and for a total of 40-million people in eight U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations downstream. Gail Snyder, NEIS board chair, helped make this interview happen.

Listen to the interview online at Nuclear Hotseat's website. Kevin's interview begins about a third of the way, and ends about two-thirds of the way, through the program.

But the entire program is well worth the listen, with nuclear news from around the world at the beginning, and at the end, an interview with Leslie Sullivan Sachs of Vermont's Safe and Green Campaign, about the hard-won, permanent shutdown of Entergy's Vermont Yankee reactor to take place on December 29th.