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.



Long-awaited NRC "supplemental inspection" at problem-plagued Palisades, Sept. 17-28

Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor, with a century-old resort community to the right, and a state park to the leftOn Valentine's Day, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, MI on the Lake Michigan shoreline (pictured, left) is one of the four worst-run atomic reactors in the U.S. This came after a problem-plagued 2011, including: an accident, designated a "yellow finding" by NRC ("of substantial significance to safety"), on Sept. 25th, involving the near-electrocution of an electrician, and loss of half the power to the control room, which stressed multiple age-degraded safety-critical systems (a steam generator, many years in need of replacement; the reactor pressure vessel, admitted by NRC to be the worst-embrittled in the U.S.) to the breaking point, risking multiple pathways to Loss of Coolant Accident (LOCA); and an August 9th service water pump coupling failure, due to inter-granular stress corrosion cracking, a repeat of an identical 2009 breakdown (to mention but two of five "un-planned shutdowns" in 2011!). 

Last February, NRC announced that the downgrade of Palisades' safety status would result in a "supplemental inspection," at Entergy's convenience, which has finally been scheduled, seven months later. The NRC supplemental inspection will take place from September 17 to 28. The agency has requested numerous relevant documents in advance.

An NRC meeting on Entergy Palisades' lack of safety culture is scheduled for Sept. 12th in South Haven, MI, although those unable to attend in person can still call in. Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps will speak about "The Radioactive Catastrophe Waiting to Happen at Palisades, and What You Can Do To Prevent It" at the Peace House in Kalamazoo, MI on Sept. 13th. Learn more about these events here.


Charlotte, NC: Democratic National Convention, and nuclear power center

Charlotte, NCCharlotte, NC will be in the national spotlight this week, as it hosts the Democratic Party's National Convention. But Charlotte is also a hub for the nuclear power industry. As highlighted by Charlotte's Chamber of Commerce, the city hosts many a big name nuclear corporation, including: nuclear utility Duke Energy, with a dozen atomic reactors in its fleet nationwide; The Shaw Group; AREVA NP; Toshiba; Westinghouse; URS; and Fluor.

Duke's McGuire Units 1 and 2 are just 17 miles north of Charlotte, and its Catawba Units 1 and 2 are just 18 miles south of Charlotte. All four units are ice condensor designs, a pressure-suppression containment, similar in that regard to the Fukushima Daiichi GE Mark I boiling waters.

CREDO Action has published an alert calling for action to pressure Duke Energy to stop funding the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its voter suppression and anti-environment efforts.

Charlotte-based Duke's other atomic reactors are: Brunswick 1 & 2 (GE Mark Is), NC; Crystal River, FL; Harris, NC; Oconee 1, 2, and 3, SC; Robinson, SC.


Anti-nuclear drum beat continues against Vermont Yankee

Thanks to Debra Stoleroff of Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance for sharing with us news of "three opportunities to keep the fact that Vermont Yankee is still operating in the public eye and to voice your opinion regarding this fact that Entergy continues to undermine Vermont's democratic process for its own profits; gambling away the health of people in VT, MA, and NH as well as our environment.   Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant remains an accident away from devestating the region."

Sat, Sept. 1: We Are Not Going Away Until VT Yankee is Shut Down and Safely Decommissioned With a Greenfield

Sat, Sept. 8: Our River Runs Through It Flotilla Down the Connecticut River to VT Yankee (see event poster, left, and SAGE Alliance website for details)

Sun, Sept. 23: Burlington Friends Meeting at Vermont Yankee followed by NVCD at Vt Yankee

For more info., see Beyond Nuclear's NUCLEAR POWER website section.


NRC issues ruling in Calvert Cliffs 3 new reactor application prohibiting foreign ownership: Demise of French nuclear misadventure in US almost complete

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has ruled that embattled French governmental electric utility, Électricité de France (EDF) is ineligible to receive a Combined Operating License for the construction of the Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) in Lusby, Maryland. The Order finds the new reactor applicant, UniStar, is a U.S. corporation wholly-owned by the French government.  The NRC had no choice but to recognize the violation of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 which prohibits control of US domestic nuclear power by foreign governments. But in a "second last chance" notice, NRC gave the UniStar and Calvert Cliffs 3 an additional sixty-days to come up with a domestic partner after which the NRC licensing board will close the proceeding.  Beyond Nuclear, which has opposed the third reactor and supports a nuclear phase out, views the decision as simply a delay in the inevitable cancellation of all French reactor plans on US soil.


Markey Questions Palisades Nuclear Plant In Light of New Leak, On-going Safety Issues

U.S. Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA)U.S. Congressman Ed Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts, pictured left) issued an August 30th press release entitled "Markey Questions Palisades Nuclear Plant In Light of New Leak, On-going Safety Issues," containing a link to his letter to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Allison Macfarlane. Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor is located in southwest MI, on the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

Markey serves as Ranking Member of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, and as a Senior Member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. He has watch-dogged nuclear power issues in the U.S. for decades, including safety and security risks at the problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor for many years running.

In his press release and letter, Congressman Markey questions the safety implications of Palisades' latest leak-related shutdown, on August 12th, involving primary reactor coolant water, leaking through-wall from a Control Rod Drive Mechanism (CRDM). CRDMs are involved in the safety-critical control of the nuclear chain reaction in the atomic reactor's core. Palisades has been shutdown since the August 12th leak investigation began, but Congressman Markey notes that Palisades began reactor restart on August 30th. Palisades is now operating at full power.

Markey also questions NRC about an investigation, ordered by former NRC Chairman Jaczko, and allegedly interferred with by NRC Commissioner Ostendorff. Jaczko ordered an investigation into why he was kept in the dark about a leak of acidic and radioactive water into Palisades' control room, being caught in buckets, while he toured the atomic reactor on May 25th. Markey revealed the significance of that leak in June, after a tip off from courageous Palisades whistleblowers and their Washington, D.C.-based attorney, Billie Pirner Garde.

NRC will hold a public meeting in South Haven about Palisades' (lack of) safety culture, on Wed., 9/12 from 6-8:30 PM. Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, who hails from southwest Michigan, will speak on "The Radioactive Catastrophe Waiting to Happen at Palisades, and What You Can Do to Prevent It," in his hometown of Kalamazoo, on Thurs., 9/13 from 7:30-9 PM. Click here for more details on those two events, as well as for extensive background information regarding recently revealed, as well as very long term, safety, health, and environmental risks at Palisades.