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.



Beyond Nuclear et al take NRC to court to oppose Seabrook relicensing

Beyond Nuclear, Seacoast AntiPollution League and the New Hampshire Chapter of the Sierra Club have filed an appeal to Federal Court challenging the NRC Commissioners (5-0) ruling to overturn the federal agency's own Atomic Safety Licensing Board Order to admit the groups for a  hearing in the proposed 20-year license extension of the Seabrook nuclear generating station. The groups had filed a October 2010 request to hold a hearing under the National Environmental Policy Act in support of an environmentally-friendly deepwater wind energy alternative project as opposed to twenty more years of dirty, dangerous and expensive nuclear power.

NextEra (aka "Next Error") submitted an application to extend their current 40-year license by 20 years, 20 years before the nuke license expires and argued that the future of renewable energy alternatives is "too speculative" to consider for the license extension period of 2030 to 2050.  The groups argue that the company's environmental review failed to even consider a 5 Gigawatts of deep water offshore wind project under development as an environmental friendly alternative already in the works for the Gulf of Maine and scheduled to come on-line in the Seabrook region-of-service at the same time the nuke is requesting its extension by 2030.

You can view the May 14, 2012 joint press statement here.  A copy of  the October 20, 2010 petition and links to supporting documents on the deepwater wind alternative can be viewed here.



More than $900 million cost overrun documented on Vogtle 3 & 4 new reactors construction

"Burning Money" image by Gene Case, Avenging AngelsA coalition of environmental groups, including North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network (NC WARN), has issued a press release decrying a nearly billion dollar cost overrun at the Vogtle 3 & 4 new reactor construction project in Georgia. The groups warn that further cost increases are likely, due to rushed design and construction that has led to errors, as in sub-foundation grading, rebar quality assurance, and even radiological containment "shield building" design and construction.

The coalition's expert witness Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), said: “Southern Company rushed into this project, as evidenced by the many requests for modifications of the license and early technical difficulties and problems including failure of ‘some details’ of early construction to conform to the Design Control Document, according to Georgia Power’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Indeed, a part of the cost increase of $900 million appears to be attributable to overcoming delays and rushing the project again despite construction non-compliance.  The cost increase should not be a surprise; rather it is déjà vu all over again.  Rushing nuclear power reactors is not prudent and stockholders and/or the vendors, not ratepayers, should bear the burden of such costs.  It would be much better if construction were suspended until all design issues were resolved.”


"Nuclear industry suffers major defeat in Iowa"

"Burning Money" image by Gene Case, Avenging AngelsFriends of the Earth (FOE) reports that the Iowa State Legislature has ended its session without approving "Construction Work in Progress" (CWIP), a gimmick by which nuclear utilities can charge ratepayers on their electricity bill for the construction of atomic reactors, even if they never recieve one watt of electricity from their involuntary "investment." The victory is thanks to the efforts of an environmental coalition, including FOE as well as grassroots groups such as Green State Solutions. The grassroots environmental victory comes despite intense lobbying efforts by Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy, which hoped to foist the construction costs for its proposed "dirty, dangerous, and expensive" atomic reactor onto the ratepayers of Iowa, despite 3/4ths of Iowans opposing the plan.


Groups challenge insufficiency of NRC Post Fukushima Orders to install reliable hardened vents on all U.S. GE Mark I and II reactors and modify spent fuel storage pools 

Beyond Nuclear has co-petitioned with Massachusetts-based Pilgrim Watch in a legal intervention and request for a public hearing before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission challenging the insufficiency of two of the agency’s post-Fukushima Orders issued to the nuclear industry. The groups seek a public hearing on the insufficiency of a NRC Order to require nuclear power plant operators to install “reliable hardened vents” on the unreliable containment structures at all GE Mark I and Mark II Boiling Water Reactors by December 30, 2016. The groups charge that  the Order fails to require the installation of a radiation filtration system in the venting line to the atmosphere raising the risk to worker safety and public health during a nuclear accident.  The groups have also challenged a NRC Order to require additional instrumentation and back-up power to make up water in overcrowded spent fuel pools because the Order fails to address the fundamental problem and threat from high-density storage by offloading the older and cooler nuclear waste into smaller onsite dry storage casks.  Failure to reduce overcrowding in nuclear power plant spent fuel pools present unacceptable risks such as those now facing Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 where the damaged reactor building is threatened with collapse in the next earthquake and as a result significantly larger radioactive releases than the combined reactor accidents at Units 1, 2 and 3.


Fire at closed San Onofre nuclear plant

Despite being shuttered for months, a fire broke out at the already troubled San Onofre nuclear plant in southern California that has been closed since January 31 after a steam tube ruptured and released radioactive steam. The fire was quickly extinguished but environmental organizations and local groups are engaged in keeping the two reactors at the dangerous facility permanently shut down. Even the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has agreed that the plant should not reopen for the time being given problems with the piping and while officials conduct technical investigations at both reactors. The plant sits on a beach near San Clemente in a popular surfing area.