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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
Jun222015

Entergy's Palisades but the canary in the coal mine for age-degraded RPV risks

NRC file photo of Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor, located on the Lake Michigan shoreline in Covert, MIA U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP) has granted an evidentiary hearing on the merits of concerns regarding the risks of a ductile tear, or fracture, of Entergy Nuclear's severely embrittled Palisades atomic reactor pressure vessel (RPV), located in Covert, MI on the Lake Michigan shore (see photo, left). Toledo-based attorney, Terry Lodge, filed the petition on behalf of an environmental coalition (Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste MI, Michigan Safe Energy Future, and Nuclear Energy Information Service). Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc. in Burlington, Vermont, serves as the coalition's expert witness.

Although Entergy's Palisades has the worst embrittled RPV in the U.S., it is but the canary in the coal mine. As revealed in an April 2013 NRC document (see point #4, on page 5 of 15 on PDF counter), Next Era's (Florida Power & Light's) Point Beach Unit 2, also located on the Lake Michigan shore in Wisconsin, is nearly as bad. Following not very far behind in terms of RPV fracture risk are Entergy's Indian Point Unit 3 near New York City, Pacific Gas & Electric's Diablo Canyon on the California coast, and FirstEnergy's Beaver Valley Unit 1 in Shippingport, Pennsylvania. FirstEnergy has also been required to have an Aging Management Plan for RPV embrittlement at its Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore near Toledo, an indication that this is a serious concern there as well. As a safety precaution in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, Japan's worst embrittled RPV -- Genkai 1 -- was permanently shutdown. More.

Tuesday
Jun092015

Beyond Nuclear and allies to hold Davis-Besse's feet to the fire at annual NRC meeting

FENOC's problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor, on the Lake Erie shore in Oak Harbor, OHThe U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has announced its annual performance review public meeting re: First Energy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor, on the Lake Erie shore near Toledo, will be held Thursday, June 11, 2015 -- and Beyond Nuclear and its environmental allies will be there!

Here is NRC's handout for the meeting (please note, the slides are oriented in the wrong direction, as posted at NRC's website!).

A big focus of the "open house" discussion will be Davis-Besse's severely cracked, and ever worsening, Shield Building, an integral part of the radiological containment structure. Since the cracking was first made known to the public in late 2011, Beyond Nuclear and its coalition allies (Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste MI, and Ohio Green Party) intervening against Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension have filed numerous contentions about the cracking. The intervention against the license extension was filed Dec. 27, 2010, and is still being contested. Davis-Besse's 40-year license expires on Earth Day (April 22), 2017.

Another important issue to be discussed will be Davis-Besse's 2014 replacement of steam generators, which the above environmental coalition, as well as Sierra Club, had contested. Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associated, Inc., served as the coalition's expert witness.

Toledo-based attorney, Terry Lodge, serves as legal counsel for the coalition in both proceedings.

More recently, those resisting Davis-Besse's license extension added Nuclear Waste Confidence (or lack thereof!) to their objections, an issue that will soon be heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Attorneys Diane Curran (of Harmon Curran in D.C.) and Mindy Goldstein (of Emory University's Turner Environmental Law Clinic in Atlanta) represent a national coalition on Nuclear Waste Confidence, including Beyond Nuclear at Davis-Besse.

As Michael Keegan of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes has pointed out, June 9th marks the 30th anniversary of a close call with disaster at Davis-Besse -- the loss of cooling to the reactor core for 12 minutes. NRC regarded this accident as the worst since the Three Mile Island meltdown in 1979. See pages 2-3 of Beyond Nuclear's backgrounder for a summary of this June 9, 1985 accident.

Those in the area are encouraged to attend this June 11, 2015 NRC meeting.

In addition, Davis-Besse opponents are urged to attend a Sierra Club et al. rally on Mon., June 15th at 11am, at the PUCO HQ sidewalk, 180 E. Broad, Columbus, OH 43215, to protest FirstEnergy's attempted $3 billion ratepayer bailout for its dirty, dangerous, and uncompetitive Davis-Besse atomic reactor, as well as Sammis coal burner.

Thursday
Jun042015

Coalition cites catastrophic risk of Palisades RPV fracture, appeals ASLB ruling to full NRC Commission

A diagram describing pressurized thermal shock in a nuclear reactor. Credit: Japan Atomic Energy Agency. Japan's worst embrittled RPV, at Genkai 1, has been permanently closed in the aftermath of Fukushima.Citing the risks of reactor pressure vessel (RPV) fracture, core meltdown, and catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity at Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor in southwest Michigan, an environmental coalition (Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste MI, MI Safe Energy Future, and Nuclear Energy Info. Service of IL) has appealed an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel's adverse ruling to the full U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The coalition's legal counsel, Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge, filed the appeal on June 2nd.

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc. in Burlington, VT, serves as the coalition's expert witness on the risks of pressurized thermal shock (PTS) causing "brittle fracture" in the Palisades RPV. Gundersen and Fairewinds Energy Education have produced a short, humorous, educational video about PTS risks entitled "Nuclear Crack Down?"

NRC has admitted on numerous occassions that Palisades has the worst neutron radiation embrittled RPV in the country. Palisades first surpassed embrittlement safety standards in 1981, just ten short years into its operations. NRC, and/or the nuclear utilities owning and operating Palisades, have previously predicted various "End of Life" dates for the problem-plagued atomic reactor, the earliest being 1995. However, as reported by Jeff Donn of AP in 2011, NRC has weakened safety regulations time after time, to accommodate the age-degraded nuclear power plant, one of the oldest still operating in the U.S.

See updates on Beyond Nuclear et al.'s intervention against Entergy Palisades' License Amendment Request for regulatory relief dating back to Dec. 1, 2014 at the Reactor Safety website section.

Saturday
May162015

"Nuclear Evacuation Preparations in Question for Chicago Area Communities"

NBC 5 investigative reporter Chris Coffey has looked at the Disaster Accountability Project's findings and applied them to Exelon's atomic reactors in Illinois. Major gaps are apparent, especially in the 10- to 50-mile zones around atomic reactors.

The U.S. government warned Americans in Japan to get at least 50 miles away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, once the radiological catastrophe began there in March 2011.

The report quotes Beyond Nuclear: “They are not ready for the flood of nuclear evacuees that would flow out of the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone and seek shelter in their communities, not to mention potentially large numbers of spontaneous 'shadow' evacuees who would also flee in panic, despite no official orders to do so,” said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear.

Tuesday
May122015

Beyond Nuclear on Thom Hartman's "The Big Picture" re: Indian Pt. fire/oil spill & Chinese proliferation concerns

Thom Hartmann, host of "The Big Picture"Thom Hartmann, host of "The Big Picture," had Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps on to discuss the transformer fires at Entergy Nuclear's Indian Point nuclear power plant, and consequent oil spill into the Hudson River upstream from New York City. Thom and Kevin also discussed the Obama administration's attempt to extend approval nuclear power commerce with China, despite congressional concerns about dual-use technology that could be transferred to China's nuclear submarines, as well as "vertical" and "horizontal" proliferation concerns from reprocessing plutonium (adding to China's own nuclear arsenal, or the spread of nuclear weaponry to other countries or terrorist groups, respectively). (See the segment from the 46:00 minute mark to the 52:15 minute mark.)