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.



Congressmen call for investigation of leaky, buried piping at atomic reactors

U.S. Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA), John Hall (D-NY), and John Adler (D-NJ) have called upon the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to launch an investigation into the corrosion of and leakage from buried piping at the nation's nuclear power plants. In their letter to GAO, the Congressmen stated that "The recent discoveries of leaks of reactor cooling water, diesel fuel, and radioactive water at several plants suggest that NRC processes must be improved to help licensees adequately manage the aging of this infrastructure to ensure the safety of the reactors and of the public." The Congressmen cite leaking pipes at such nuclear power plants as Oyster Creek NJ, Indian Point NY, San Onofre CA, Byron IL, Perry OH, Dresden IL, and Braidwood IL to make clear that this is a nation-wide problem. Hazardous tritium -- a radioactive form of hydrogen -- is very often involved in such leakage into groundwater. (However, besides such accidental, uncontrolled, and unmonitored leaks, tritium is also "routinely" discharged from atomic reactors, with permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.)


"Step It Up To Shut It Down" -- 126 mile march through bitter cold against Vermont Yankee reaches Statehouse

Activists opposed to a 20 year license extension at Entergy's Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant have marched 126 miles through bitter winter weather from the reactor in Brattleboro to the state capitol in Montpelier. Anti-nuclear activism in the Green Mountain State is ramping up, as the Vermont state legislature will likely vote by spring whether or not to support the license extension at one of the nation's oldest reactors.


FPL halts two new reactors targeted at Turkey Point!

In what appears to be a major victory for anti-nuclear efforts in Florida, the state's Public Utility Commission  (PUC) has rejected Florida Power and Light's (FPL) request for a massive electricity rate increase, which would have largely gone to pay for two new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors at its Turkey Point nuclear power plant near Miami. This victory is all the more significant, in that the State of Florida had already empowered its PUC to approve "Construction Work in Progress," charging ratepayers on their bills in advance to build new reactors, many years before any electricity is actually delivered. However, the PUC has decided to refuse such charges.  FPL responded by halting its plans to pursue the two new reactors past the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing phase. Thus, continued anti-nuclear vigilance will be required, as FPL will undoubtedly try again to force its ratepayers to bear the financial burdens and risks of building new reactors, while offering little to none of the projected profits in return. David Kraft of Nuclear Energy Information Service in Chicago asserts that this decision could well set back the nuclear power relapse nation-wide.


'It’s like the inmates are running the jail'

Eartha Jane Melzer's article, "Group urges suspension of license process for new Fermi nuclear plant," in the Michigan Messenger reports on Beyond Nuclear's and environmental coalition allies' efforts to challenge the proposed Fermi 3 reactor in Monroe, MI based on quality assurance violations at Detroit Edison Company, "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR) designer General Electric-Hitachi, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission itself. Responding to NRC's conclusion that Detroit Edison's "failure to establish a Fermi 3 QA program resulted in inadequate control of procurement documents and ineffective control of contract services performed by [subcontractor] Black and Veatch (B&V)," the environmental coalition's expert witness Arnold Gundersen, a nuclear engineer, concluded "That’s like having the inmates running the prison."


ESBWR design may soon dwindle to a single proposed new reactor in U.S.

Detroit Edison may be the only nuclear utility in the U.S. to continue standing by the General Electric-Hitachi "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR) design if Dominion Nuclear of Virginia abandons it. Dominion is reported to now be considering a new Areva EPR or Westinghouse-Toshiba AP1000 reactor, instead of an ESBWR at its North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia. Beyond Nuclear has helped lead the environmental coalition effort to block a new ESBWR targeted at Detroit Edison's Fermi nuclear power plant in Monroe, Michigan -- most recently raising quality assurance contentions regarding the ESBWR design and the Fermi 3 new reactor license application. Dominion's cold shoulder would be an especially bad blow to the ESBWR design, given North Anna is the reference reactor for the design -- meaning it was supposed to set precedents for NRC licensing decisions for ESBWRs proposed across the U.S. However, about a year ago, Entergy and other nuclear utility coalition partners in NuStart decided to abandon the ESBWR proposed at River Bend, LA; Entergy also abandoned an ESBWR proposed at Grand Gulf, MS; and Exelon abandoned two ESBWRs targeted at Victoria County Station, TX. This begs the question -- what doesn't Detroit Edison get that these other nuclear utilities do about the problems with the ESBWR design? DOE also seems to understand the ESBWR's problems -- DOE has indicated it will not grant taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to ESBWR proposals at the present time.