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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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Monday
Nov122012

"Reading Radioactive Tea Leaves": Kewaunee reactor to shut down

John LaForge of Nukewatch in Luck, WIJohn LaForge of Nukewatch in Luck, WI (pictured left) has penned an op-ed,"Reading Radioactive Tea Leaves: Without a Buyer for Old Kewaunee Reactor, Owner Chooses Shut Down." In it, he details the many radioactive bullets Wisconsin has dodged, and has not dodged, at Kewaunee, just in recent years, including: "...a 2009 emergency shutdown caused by improper steam pressure instrument settings; a 2007 loss of main turbine oil pressure; an emergency cooling water system design flaw found in 2006; [the August 2006 discovery of radioactive tritium leaking into groundwater, for an unknown period, from unidentified pipes somewhere beneath the reactor complex]; a possible leak in November 2005 of highly radioactive primary coolant into secondary coolant which is discharged to Lake Michigan; a simultaneous failure of all three emergency cooling water pumps in February 2005, etc.".

Nukewatch has watchdogged Kewaunee for decades. On April 23, 2011, Nukewatch organized a "Walk for a Nuclear-Free Future" from Kewaunee to Point Beach's two reactors -- a distance of seven miles, the same as the distance between Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants -- to commemorate the 25th year since the Chernobyl atomic reactor exploded and burned beginning on April 26, 1986. The event took place just six weeks after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe had begun. Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps took part in the walk, and as a keynote speaker along with Natasha Akulenko, a native of Kiev, Ukraine and surivor of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe.

Tuesday
Nov062012

Environmental coalition defends Davis-Besse intervention at ASLB oral argument pre-hearings in Toledo

Environmental coalition attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo speaks out against Davis-Besse's 20 year license extension at an NRC meeting at Oak Harbor High School, Oak Harbor, OH on August 9, 2012The environmental coalition comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio has defended its intervention contentions against the proposed 20 year license extension at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) Davis-Besse atomic reactor. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board (ASLB) oral argument pre-hearings took place on Nov. 5th and 6th (yes, Election Day) in Toledo, Ohio at the Lucas County Courthouse. The coalition's representatives, including attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo (photo, left), Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, and Michael Keegan of Don't Waste Michigan, squared off against opposition to the contentions mounted by FENOC's and NRC's legal teams and experts.

The environmental coalition defended its Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives (SAMA) analyses contentions -- already admitted for a full hearing on the merits by ASLB -- against a motion for summary disposition mounted by FENOC. The coalition also advocated for admission of its cracked concrete containment contention for a full hearing on the merits, while FENOC and NRC staff opposed it.

On Monday, the Toledo Blade published an editorial, "Tough enough to last?", questioning the structural integrity of the shield building for 25 more years (2012 to 2037). Today, it ran an article, "Davis-Besse hearings open." U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a long-time watchdog on Davis-Besse and other FENOC atomic reactors,submitted a statement for the hearing record.

Monday
Oct292012

"A Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High: Ending the Nuclear Age," Chicago, December 1-3

A number of experts have confirmed they will speak, including (alphabetical by last name): Kinnette Benedict, Executive Director & Publisher, Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsRobert Chavez, indigenous youth anti-uranium activist, Okayowingeh (San Juan Pueblo), New Mexico; Diane D'Arrigo, Radioactive Waste Project Director, Nuclear Information and Resource ServiceKay Drey, Beyond Nuclear board member, and nearly four decade long anti-nuclear activist; Norma M. Field, Ph.D., Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor in Japanese Studies in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago; Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer, Fairewinds AssociatesPaul Gunter, Reactor Oversight Project Director, Beyond NuclearKristen Iversen, author, Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky FlatsArne Jungjohann, Director for the Environment and Global Dialogue Program of the Washington, D.C. office, Heinrich Boell FoundationKevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Beyond Nuclear; and Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, and author, Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy PolicyDr. Jeff Patterson, Board of Directors, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Madison, Wisconsin; Kathleen Rude, conducting Active Hope (a workshop to deal with Nuclear Despair, based on the works of Joanna Macy); Kendra UlrichFriends of the Earth USA, Washington, DC; Charmaine White Face, Coordinator, Defenders of the Black Hills, Rapid City, South Dakota; and  Akiko YoshidaFriends of the Earth, Tokyo, Japan

In addition, a film has been confirmed to be screened: The Atomic States of Americaby Sheena Joyce and Don Argot of 9.14 Pictures in Philadelphia.

Finally, on Monday, December 3rd, an optional field trip to Red Gate Woods is being organized. This is the forest preserve in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago where Fermi's first radioactive wastes of the Atomic Age were buried under a mound of earth, and marked with a simple stone marker. Bicycle and hiking paths pass close by. Previous tours to the site have not registered higher than normal background radioactivity levels, although concerns persist about eventual leakage of radioactivity from the site into the environment. We will be sure to take radiation monitors on our Dec. 3rd field trip, in order to document radioactivity levels, as well as to protect ourselves.

Friday
Oct262012

"The Rust-Bucket Reactors Start to Fall"

Harvey WassermanHarvey Wasserman, editor of Nukefree.org and author of Solartopia, has written a blog inspired by the announced closure of the Kewaunee atomic reactor in Wisconsin. He begins by stating 'The US fleet of 104 deteriorating atomic reactors is starting to fall. The much-hyped "nuclear renaissance" is now definitively headed in reverse.'

He points out that Kewaunee may be but the first domino to fall, describing the impact of "low gas prices, declining performance, unsolved technical problems and escalating public resistance" at numerous other old, age-degraded, troubled reactors across the U.S., including San Onofre, CA; Crystal River, FL; Cooper and Fort Calhoun in NE; Vermont Yankee; Indian Point, NY; Oyster Creek, NJ; and Davis-Besse, OH. But Harvey also points out the momentum applies to new reactors as well, such as at Vogtle, GA and Summer, SC, as well as overseas, in the wake of Fukushima, not only in Japan, but also India, and even Europe, led by Germany's nuclear power phase out.

Harvey, a senior advisor to Greenpeace USA and Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), will address "From Fukushima to Fermi-3: Getting to Solartopia Before It's Too Late" in Dearborn, MI on Dec. 7th at the official launch event for the new organization, the Alliance to Halt Fermi-3.

Wednesday
Oct242012

"Aging and Expensive, Reactors Face Mothballs"

The Kewaunee atomic reactor on Wisconsin's Lake Michigan shoreThe New York Times has reported on the economics that have not only led to the Kewaunee atomic reactor's (photo, left) announced closure in Wisconsin, but also other pressures and forces on reactors, from Entergy's Indian Point near New York City to Vermont Yankee, Duke's Crystal River in Florida, Exelon's Oyster Creek in New Jersey, and Southern California Edison's San Onofre. The article speaks of "[t]he industry’s renewed glimpse of its mortality" and states "the nuclear industry may be nearing its first round of retirements since the mid-1990s."  Kewaunee's closure will be the first at an American atomic reactor since several (Yankee Rowe, Massachusetts; Zion 1 & 2, Illinois; Big Rock Point, Michigan; Millstone Unit 1, Connecticut) in the mid to late 1990s.