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.



Earthquakes send “wake-up” calls for nuke hazards at Seabrook and Indian Point

Two separate earthquakes in New York and New Hampshire are significant wake-up calls to address the continued operation of nuclear power plants with existing vulnerabilities and significant radiological hazards at the Indian Point (NY) and Seabrook (NH) stations. On February 7, 2018, an early morning earthquake (2.2 magnitude) rumbled through portions of Westchester and Putnam Counties where the Indian Point 2 & 3 nuclear power station is co-located with a giant fracking gas pipeline, and maybe a pipe-bomb generated by a large earthquake that ruptures the gas line and creates an ignitiion source. Then on Friday February 16th, another tremor (2.7 magnitude) shook portions of southern New Hampshire and Massachusetts around the Seabrook nuclear power station and the concrete containment structure is already crumbling like a bridge overpass. The recent earthquakes under these two reactor sites underscores the money-for-risk we are collectively gambling versus the unacceptable consequences of a severe accident.

Indian Point sits on intersecting fault lines along the Ramapo Earthquake Fault Zone and right next to a 42-inch diameter fracking gas pipeline. The threat of a large earthquake affecting the operations of the nuclear power station and/or its adjacent gas pipeline continues to mobilize public opposition to the combined threat. Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory believes this fault zone can produce a 7-magnitude earthquake. A section of the gas pipeline that traverses the reactor site comes as close as 105-feet to one of the reactor’s critical safety-related structures. Independent analyses estimate an explosion on the high-pressure pipeline could produce a blast radius of 4000-feet. Even though Indian Point is scheduled to cease operations by 2021, the risk of a combined catastrophe exists from thousands of tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste still packed into high-density storage pools, with nowhere to go.  

Nine days later, a 2.7 magnitude earthquake shook the 10-mile emergency planning zone for New Hampshire and Massachusetts communities around the Seabrook nuclear power station.  Seabrook Station is under international scientific scrutiny as the first U.S. reactor to be identified with degradation of safety-related concrete structures including the reactor’s foundation, the pressure containment and its irradiated fuel storage pool, that are damaged and weakened by alkali silica reaction (ASR).  Water intrusion into the concrete structures is chemically reacting with cement compounds to create an expansive gel and microscopic cracking. After nearly 27-years of operation, the age-related cracking has already resulted in an estimated 30% loss of compression and tensile strength in portions of the concrete. Even small earthquakes can accelerate the cracking induced by the chemical reaction further weakening structures vital to containing the inherent danger of nuclear power. Seabrook Station is in the middle of a twenty-year license renewal battle before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A public safety group, otherwise focused on the independent radiological monitoring of the nuclear power station, the C-10 Education and Research Foundation, is challenging the reactor’s operating license extension. C-10 has won standing and contentions before the NRC licensing board for a hearing on safety concerns from unmanaged ASR degradation.Natalie Hildt-Treat, executive director of C-10, was quoted, “You would think a measurable earthquake would put further stress on that,” she said. “Little cracks can lead to bigger cracks ... it’s definitely a safety concern.”


Troubles at Perry nuclear power plant in northeast Ohio, on the Lake Erie shore


[Please note, this document does not save and post in an accessible way; to receive a copy of this document by email, contact Kevin Kamps at Beyond Nuclear:; 240-462-3216. Apologies for the inconvenience, but NRC's document is not in a readily accessible format.].

TMI Alert Press Release - planned closure of Three Mile Island

for immediate release:                                                 Three Mile Island Alert                                  5/30/2017

Contact:  Scott D. Portzline 717-232-8863 and cell 717-421-7574
Three Mile Island Alert suspects that the announcement of Three Mile Island's planned closure is actually an attempted "shot across the bow" of PA's Nuclear Caucus.  It is designed to make the General Assembly pass legislation to rescue nuclear power.
Scott Portzline of TMI Alert said, "Exelon has used this same tactic in the last two years to pressure the states of Illinois and New York to artificially restructure the playing field. The result was tens-of-billions of dollars in bailouts for nuclear plants. This nation has already bailed out the nuclear power fleet on several occasions to the tune of a third of a trillion dollars. Nuclear power is not economically feasible and Wall Street knew that 20 years ago."
Portzline said, "Exelon took a very bad risk and should face the consequences. It was like betting that the mythical Washington Generals would beat the Harlem Globetrotters, it just wasn't going to happen. PA has a surplus of electricity and our taxpayers and ratepayers should not be forced to salvage a doomed decision."
Three Mile Island Alert believes that PA Legislators should pave the way for upstart wind and solar power equipment manufacturers. Pennsylvania could in effect create 20 times more jobs than are lost to nuclear plant closures. Nuclear power releases thousands of tons of chemicals into PA waterways and the mining and processing of nuclear fuel take a heavy toll on carbon releases to the atmosphere. Alternative power does not represent a terrorist target like nuclear reactors do.
Three Mile Island Unit #2 provided electricity for less than 90 days, yet a federal court ordered ratepayers to continue to pay for the destroyed power plant as if it were benefiting the area. TMI Alert believes that Pennsylvanians have already endured too many financial hardships from nuclear power.

Millstone first US reactor to exam at-risk Creusot component but avoids conclusive testing

Dominion Energy’s Millstone Unit 2 in Waterford, CT became the first and still only of seventeen U.S. reactors with at-risk Creusot Forge components to voluntarily inspect its reactor pressurizer manufactured at France’s controversial Creusot Forge.  An Utrasonic Test (UT) enhanced visual examination found no signs of defects or cracking on the 11-year old replacement part.  The Creusot Forge, owned by AREVA, is under investigation for the manufacture and global marketing of reactor components weakened by excess carbon contamination and falsifying quality assurance documentation.  Beyond Nuclear has been pushing US operators and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) through an emergency enforcement petition to do the enhanced visual inspections and more important material testing to determine the carbon content in the steel of the Creusot components.   Dominion is not planning to do any material testing that would provide a quantitative measure of the carbon content which can weaken the component and potentially fail during operation.

Media attention and public concern in part generated by the Beyond Nuclear petition prompted the State of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to request that Dominion hire an independent contractor to conduct an Ultrasonic Test (UT) to conduct an enhanced visual inspection for cracking and defects on the reactor component. The UT results, announced April 11, 2017, found no evidence of cracking or a defect in the stainless-steel component. However, Beyond Nuclear and it co-petitioners are arguing that the UT exam would not have provided any data on the controversial root cause, excess carbon contamination or “carbon macrosegregation,” that can only be detected by material testing samples of the components’ elemental chemistry.  The presence of excessive carbon in steel once under the harsh operational environment of a nuclear power plant leaves it vulnerable to rapid tearing and cracking of the large forged reactor vessels, reactor vessel replacement heads, steam generators and pressurizers resulting in a potentially catastrophic loss of coolant accident.

Newly surfaced documents authored in 2005 and 2006 by France’s nuclear safety agency (ASN) publicly released by a French news agency reveal that the French nuclear industry, EdF and AREVA, knew that the Creusot Forge had  serious manufacturing discrepancies coupled with loss of control of quality assurance and proceeded with the manufacturing and global marketing of suspected at-risk components anyways. The director of ASN was "blown away" by the negligence he witnessed during his personal inspection of the forge.  Millstone 2 received and installed its replacement reactor pressurizer from Creusot in 2006. 

A January 2017 ASN-led multinational inspection report as described by its head of nuclear equipment, Remy Catteau, found that the AREVA-Creusot Forge was “Ill-equipped” to manufacture nuclear-grade components for the industry. In a Reuter news service interview, Catteau explained that the Creusot Forge’s limited technology had resulted in manufacturing errors (carbon macrosegregation) and "One of the ways to resolve problems was to hide things, and that was the wrong way."


U.S. reactors at risk: French regulator says Creusot Forge “ill-equipped” to make nuke components where safety-related "errors are made" 

Following an international inspection tour of France’s Areva-Creusot Forge led by the country’s top reactor safety agency (ASN), the head of the agency’s nuclear equipment division declared, “The tools at its disposal are not adequate to manufacture such huge components. In such a situation, errors are made." Seventeen U.S. reactors are known to have received and installed Creusot components including reactor pressure vessels, replacement pressure vessel heads, steam generators and pressurizers. All of these components make up critical safety systems for the reactor pressure-coolant boundary.  The Creusot Forge failed to adequately document that its manufacturing process was in control of the introduction of carbon anomalies which left unchecked will weaken the finished components to cracking, embrittlement and rapid tearing under operational conditions. The “carbon macro-segregation” defect is identified in the Creusot-manufactured reactor pressure vessel installed at the Flamanville Unit 3 nuclear construction project in France.

The ASN announcement came only days after Beyond Nuclear appeared before the U.S. counterpart, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Petition Review Board calling for emergency enforcement action at the U.S. reactors that have installed at-risk components manufactured at the Creusot Forge. The Creusot Forge, now owned by Areva, is under international investigation for manufacturing substandard safety-related components and then covering up their mistakes by falsifying quality assurance documentation. The NRC maintains that the safety of U.S. reactors or the reliability of their installed Creusot components are not in question.  However, Beyond Nuclear and co-petitioners are pressing for U.S. reactors with at-risk components to be shut down for inspection and material testing of the carbon anomaly in the installed components.  Alternatively, the petitioners have requested that the inspections and testing be required at the reactors’ next regularly scheduled outage.  The Virginia-based Dominion Energy has scheduled the requested inspection and material testing of the Creusot-manufactured pressurized installed in the Millstone Unit 2 reactor in Waterford, CT during the upcoming Spring 2017 refueling outage.  Beyond Nuclear continues to pursue the NRC to require independent inspections and material testing of Creusot components in the 16 other at-risk units.