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.



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.


Beyond Nuclear testifies on at-risk Creusot Forge components in US reactors, NRC backs off statement on parts for Beaver Valley Unit 2 

The crisis in confidence for qualified safety margins in US reactors continues at 17 US reactors that have installed reactor pressure vessels, steam generators and pressurizers of questionable quality that were manufactured at France’s Creusot Forge now owned by AREVA. On March 8, 2017, Paul Gunter with the Beyond Nuclear Reactor Oversight Project provided his testimony before a Petition Review Board of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in follow-up to its January 24, 2017 petition requesting emergency enforcement action at these U.S. reactors. The petition jointly filed by safe energy advocates asks that the NRC suspend operations at US reactors identified with reactor pressure vessel, steam generators and pressurizers manufactured by the AREVA-Creusot Forge in France until those parts can be inspected and material tested for "carbon anomalies" that can weaken the components to the point of failure and a nuclear accident. French nuclear regulators required the shutdown of their reactor fleet for inspections and testing as French courts continue to review allegations of Creusot counterfeit quality control documentation.

Drawing from a Greenpeace France report, Gunter elaborated on the manufacturing process that can introduce minute but significant carbon contamination into the steel ingots which if not subjected to strenuous quality control and quality assurance can change the material quality of steel and incorporate the weakness into the component. Beyond Nuclear further introduced a February 15, 2017 news article from the Pennsylvania publication TimesOnline where US NRC Region 1 Public Affairs Officer Neil Sheehan "confirmed" FirstEnergy Nuclear Corporation's Beaver Valley Unit 2, an apparent 18th reactor, to also have at-risk Creusot components. Mr. Sheehan stated for the record that FirstEnergy was delaying the installation of the Creusot replacement parts amidst the international controversy. The Petitioner's concern focused on AREVA's apparent failure to identify and track the Creusot components at Beaver Valley Unit 2 and failure to report  to the NRC as they had been requested.  Following the Petition Review Board hearing, Mr. Sheehan contacted Beyond Nuclear and the TimesOnline publication to say that he had been mistaken and that there really are no Creusot components in Beaver Valley Unit 2.  What Mr. Sheehan had originally "confirmed" for the TimesOnline was in fact misinformed hearsay. Exasperating. There is already enough international intrigue surrounding the forged components with forged quality assurance documentation. Now we have  an example of the NRC’s unsubstantiated remarks to the press. It does nothing to build confidence that neither the agency nor the industry are accurately capturing a factual record for critical safety margins that remain in operating nuclear power stations.

Beyond Nuclear continues its investigation into the AREVA-Creusot Forge controversy and impacts US reactors.


NRC identifies US reactors with at-risks parts from controversial French forge but balks at site-specific inspections and testing for defects

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has released the names of 17 units at  US nuclear power reactors as previously requested by Greenpeace and Beyond Nuclear that currently rely upon large reactor components (reactor pressure vessels, pressure vessel heads, steam generators and pressurizers) manufactured at the controversial Areva Le Creusot Forge in France.  The Creusot Forge is currently under investigation in France and throughout Europe for allegedly falsifying quality assurance documentation for the large components with potential manufacturing defects that make them susceptible to cracking and rapid tearing under extremely high pressure during operation. The manufacture defects arise out of the introduction of excess carbon during the forging process of the large steel ingots used to cast the nuclear grade industrial parts.

Beyond Nuclear has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the NRC  and is also preparing a petition to the agency requesting emergency enforcement action to suspend reactor power operations pending inspection and material testing of the at-risk components.  Nuclear regulatory agencies in Europe are similarly requiring  unscheduled reactor shutdowns for inspections and material testing of the Le Creusot components at reactor sites in France, Switzerland, Finland and elsewhere.

Those US reactors most recently identified by NRC with at-risk Le Creusot Forge components include:

Reactor Pressure Vessels:

Prairie Island 1 & 2 (MN)

Replacement Reactor Pressure Vessel Heads:

Arkansas Nuclear One 2 (AR)

Beaver Valley 1 (PA)

North Anna 1 & 2 (VA)

Surry 1 (VA)

Steam Generators:

Beaver Valley 1 (PA)

Comanche Peak 1 (TX)

V.C. Summer (SC)

Farley 1 & 2 (AL)

South Texas 1 & 2 (TX)

Sequoyah 1 (TN)

Watts Bar 1 (TN)

(Areva is providing NRC with additional information on US reactors with Le Creusot steam generator channel heads forged from large ingots in January 2017)

Reactor Steam Pressurizers:

Millstone 2 (CT)

Saint Lucie 1 (FL)

The NRC presently maintains that the agency is “confident” that the identified US reactors do not have any “immediate safety concerns” and can continue full power operations without being subjected to unscheduled shutdowns for inspection and material testing of the at-risk components as is occurring at European reactor sites.

Commissioned by Greenpeace, Large & Associates has published an in-depth analysis of the potential hazard raised by the Le Creusot Forge controversy.


Entergy to close Indian Point nuclear plant in landmark agreement

See the Riverkeeper/Scenic Hudson/NRDC press release, posted at the Riverkeeper website. A link to the 169-page agreement is included.


Statement By A.G. Schneiderman On Signed Agreement Between Entergy, Cuomo Administration, Riverkeeper, And NY Attorney General's Office To Decommission Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

Statement By A.G. Schneiderman:

Shutting down the Indian Point power plant is a major victory for the health and safety of millions of New Yorkers, and will help kick-start the state’s clean energy future.

“For the past six years, my office has led the state’s challenge to Entergy’s request for a twenty-year extension of its license to operate Indian Point, and this agreement marks the successful culmination of our work to address the serious health and safety risks that the plant poses to neighboring communities. 

“This agreement puts in place several important safety provisions that go beyond federal requirements to ensure that Indian Point operates as safely as possible as it transitions to a timely shut down. These measures include new requirements for safer storage of spent nuclear fuel at the plant, increased inspections to address faulty and deteriorating bolts throughout the facility, and $15 million in new funding from Entergy to support the environment in the Hudson River and neighboring communities.

“My office will vigorously monitor Entergy's compliance with today's agreement to ensure its terms are met and that our state remains a national leader on the environment. I commend Governor Cuomo for working with all stakeholders, including my office and the committed environmental advocates at Riverkeeper, to get this important deal done for New Yorkers."

Since taking office in 2011, A.G. Schneiderman has continuously advocated for improving safety conditions at the Indian Point facility, and has led the state’s challenge to Entergy’s application before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an extended 20-year license to operate the Indian Point plant. 

In March 2011, the A.G’s office filed a petition with the NRC requesting the Commission take action against Entergy for violating numerous fire safety regulations for which the company was seeking exemptions from compliance. In July 2011, the Commission accepted the A.G.’s petition, and in February 2012, the Commission denied Entergy’s request for exemptions from more than 100 fire safety requirements that overlapped with those listed in the petition.   

Following the earthquake and tsunami that caused a major nuclear accident at Fukushima, Japan in March 2011, the A.G’s office petitioned the NRC to address the risk of seismic events causing a nuclear accident at Indian Point, which is located in an area of seismic activity. In response the Commission began implementing a stepped-up program to manage seismic risk at nuclear power plants.  

Over the past five years, the A.G’s office has successfully enforced laws – over challenges raised by Entergy – requiring federal regulators to take into consideration New York’s policies protecting critical coastal resources as part of the relicensing application process for Indian Point.