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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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Saturday
Jun082013

Swan SONGS as Edison opts to permanently close San Onofre

Image by J. DeStafano, 2012Southern California Edison has decided to permanently shutter its Units 2 and 3 San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS) reactors in Southern Cal! Congratulations to all who fought so hard for this great victory! Read the Edison press release.

"This is very good news for the people of Southern California," said [a] statement from Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica. "We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate and now Edison has agreed. The people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with the safe and clean energy provided by the sun and wind." 

Beyond Nuclear has compiled comprehensive media coverage on, and other reactions to, the San Onofre 2 & 3 closures at its Nuclear Retreat page.

Friday
Jun072013

Davis-Besse Intervention Looms Large as San Onofre Units 2 & 3 Terminated Because Of Faulty Steam Generators

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, IncOn May 20th, an environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, petitioned to intervene against the steam generator replacement proposed at FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse atomic reactor in Oak Harbor, Ohio. The coalition's intervention petition, expert witness Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc's expert testimony, Gundersen's Curriculum Vitae, and a coalition press release are posted at this link.

Today, the coalition issued a media release, pointing out the similarities between their intervention at Davis-Besse, and the Friends of the Earth (FOE) intervention at San Onofre, CA. Earlier today, Southern California Edison threw in the towel, and announced the permanent shutdown of San Onofre Units 2 & 3, due to the fatal degradation of their replacement steam generators. Gundersen (pictured, above left) serves as FOE's expert witness at San Onofre.

Thursday
Jun062013

Palisades springs yet another leak into the control room: Failure of moisture barrier violates agreement with NRC 

MI Radio image showing location of chronically leaking SIRWT above Palisades' control roomBeyond Nuclear and Michigan Safe Energy Future--Shoreline Chapter issued a media release on June 6thupon learning of yet another leak into Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor control room (see image, left). The leakage has been a recurring problem for over two years now.

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps stated: “When I raised the SIRWT [Safety Injection Refueling Water Tank] leak into the control room at Entergy’s public open house in South Haven on May 14th, and on an NRC [U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] Webinar May 23rd, I was told by company and agency spokespeople that that issue was a thing of the past, that an installed moisture barrier had taken care of the problem. But as William Faulkner famously said, ‘The past is never dead. It's not even past.’ If Palisades can’t even prevent basic leakage through the ceiling of the control room, which has now been going on for over two years, what does that say about its reactor and radioactive waste safeguards? Entergy’s use of buckets, tarps, and ineffective sealant against this leak into the safety-critical control room begs the question, is it prepared to prevent large-scale radioactivity releases into the environment from a long list of severely age-degraded, critical safety systems, structures, and components?”

The leak, which was detected on June 3rd, was made known to the public in an NRC document released on June 6th.

Wednesday
Jun052013

Former Japan Prime Minister calls for “global network” to oppose nuclear power and build a renewable energy future

On June 4, 2013, the San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts, Friends of the Earth and Physicians for Social Responsibility hosted an expert panel on the lessons of the tsunami-triggered Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe for California to bolster the campaign to permanently shut down the damaged San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in San Clemente, CA. The guest speakers, former Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan, former US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Gregory Jaczko, former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford and Fairewinds Energy consultant and nuclear safety engineer Arnie Gunderson , repeatedly warned that nuclear power is inherently dangerous and that another nation crippling nuclear catastrophe is only a matter of time if societies continue to rely on and expand atomic power.  

Naoto Kan called upon environmental advocates around the world to work with him to build a “global network” where nuclear safety is understood to mean “Zero nuclear power is the safest”.  In the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, Kan said, “I concluded that the only way to contain this risk was to create a society that does not rely on nuclear power.” In the closing days of his administration, Kan leveraged his resignation with the opposition party to pass energy legislation establishing Japan's feed-in tariff requiring the nation's electric utilities to purchase renewable energy. The policy shift has sparked a solar energy boom from non-utility producers such as farmers, local governments and cooperatives.  In 2013 alone, Japan is forecast to install between 6.1 and 9.4 gigawatts of solar energy panels or roughly the equivalent capacity of seven modern nuclear reactors.

The former NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko cited the American Nuclear Society in estimating the cost of the Fukushima nuclear accident to be $500 billion at minimum. He further warned that the controversial proposed restart of the SONGS Unit 2 for trial run at 70% was “not one that instills a tremendous amount of confidence in me” and suggests the company has very real safety concerns about operating the nuclear plant at 100%.  In fact, the agency’s own Atomic Safety Licensing Board has determined that start-up at reduced power is an “experiment” that warrants an independent investigation before restart.

The archived webcast is now available in its entirety at The Citizens' Oversight Project.

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Tuesday
Jun042013

Warren Buffett finally sees the light: MidAmerican Energy cancels proposed new "small modular reactor" targeted at Iowa

Des Moines Register graphicAs reported by the Des Moines Register, Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy has finally pulled the plug on a proposed new "small modular reactor" it was hoping that the ratepayers of Iowa would pay for, through "Construction Work in Progress" (CWIP) surcharges on their electricity bills. A powerful coalition, including AARP, Green State Solutions, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and others can claim credit for this environmental victory against nuclear industry greed, after a protracted three year long battle at the Iowa state legislature.