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 testimony to Vermont Legislature regarding Vermont Yankee radioactivity leaks

On Jan. 27th, Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, testified before a joint hearing of the State of Vermont House and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committees regarding radioactivity leaks from underground pipes at Entergy Nuclear's Vermont Yankee atomic reactor. The notes accompanying Kevin's Power Point Presentation can be obtained upon request. Beyond Nuclear's Reactor Oversight Project Director, Paul Gunter, also prepared a backgrounder on buried pipes and tritium leaks that was distributed to Vermont legislative committee members. Later that same day, nuclear expert witness Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc., presented a Power Point Presentation documenting Entergy Nuclear's repeated "misstatements" regarding the presence of buried piping that carries radioactive materials at the Vermont Yankee atomic reactor.


Co-60 and Zn-65 also detected in Vermont Yankee groundwater

In addition to the hazards of tritium, harmful Cobalt-60 and Zinc-65 radioisotopes have been detected in groundwater at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. According to the Rutland Herald,  Co-60 levels are 130 times higher than federal reportable levels, while the Zn-65 levels are over 8 times higher than federal reportable levels. Tritium concentrations in a test well just 30 feet from the Connecticut River are higher than EPA Safe Drinking Water Act limits allow, and tritium concentrations in a radioactive waste trench are even in violation of NRC's lax groundwater standards. Meanwhile, Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee has hired a Washington, D.C. law firm to investigate allegations, and do damage control, concerning top ENVY officials providing false testimony under oath to state officials regarding the presence of buried pipes at Vermont Yankee that carry radioactive liquids.


Vermont AG investigating alleged perjury by Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee official

The Governor of Vermont, James Douglas, has confirmed that the Vermont Attorney General, William Sorrell, is investigating the possibility that Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee vice-president of operations, Jay Thayer (pictured at left) provided false testimony under oath to the Vermont Public Service Board last year when he assured utility regulators that the Vermont Yankee reactor did not have buried piping that carries radioactive liquids. Last week, Vermont Yankee officials announced that such buried piping does indeed exist at the Connecticut River-side site, which likely explains the tritium contaminated well water revealed there last week.


NRC Issues Notice of Violation to Entergy Nuclear Palisades for High-Level Radioactive Waste Risk

Beyond Nuclear, Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, and Don't Waste Michigan issued a media release upon learning of a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Notice of Violation issued to Entergy's Palisades Nuclear Power Plant on the Lake Michigan shoreline in southwest Michigan citing a nuclear criticality risk in the irradiated nuclear fuel storage pool that threated not only worker safety, but also public health. The coalition not only raised concerns about the waste storage pool, but also pointed out that the outdoor dry casks are defective and at risk of earthquakes.


"The Hidden and Not-So-Hidden Costs of Entergy's Vermont Yankee"

Beyond Nuclear staffpersons Paul Gunter and Kevin Kamps have been invited by the grassroots Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance (VYDA) to tour the Green Mountain State from Jan. 26th to Jan. 28th to present testimony at public events and before a joint hearing of the State of Vermont House Natural Resources and Energy and Senate Finance Committees, the key bodies currently reviewing Entergy Nuclear's application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a 20 year license extension at the nearly 40 year old reactor. Paul and Kevin will focus on tritium leaks at Vermont Yankee, age-related degradation of reactor systems, structures and components increasing safety risks, and the security risks of the plant's elevated high-level radioactive waste storage pools as well as outdoor dry casks. They will be joined by Lorraine Rekmans of Serpent River First Nation from Ontario, Canada, an indigenous expert and watchdog on uranium mining and milling's environmental, justice, and health impacts. VYDA has put out a cool poster announcing the speaking tour. Greenpeace USA, which has been campaigning for many months to shut down Vermont Yankee, has informative blogs, fact sheets, and timelines on the issues, including descriptions of their "One World" hot air balloon and "Rolling Sunlight" mobile solar power display. VPIRG (the Vermont Public Interest Research Group) also has extensive information on its website regarding the campaign to shut down Vermont Yankee at the end of its current operating license in 2012. Vermont Citizens Action Network has valuable information on its website, including about Act 160, by which the State of Vermont empowered itself to decide whether or not Vermont Yankee can have a license extension -- the only state in the country to have done so. VT CAN has a comprehensive newsletter laying out its campaign to shut Vermont Yankee by 2012. The Vermont State Legislature is expected to vote by March or April on Vermont Yankee's license extension.