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.



Environmental coalition defends contentions against Fermi 3 proposed new reactor, challenges adequacy of NRC FEIS

Environmental coalition attorney Terry LodgeTerry Lodge (photo, left), Toledo-based attorney representing an environmental coalition opposing the proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor targeted at the Lake Erie shore in Monroe County, MI, has filed a reply to challenges from Detroit Edison (DTE) and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff.

The coalition's reply re-asserted "no confidence" in DTE's ability to safely stored Class B and C "low-level" radioactive wastes on-site at Fermi 3 into the indefinite future, due to the lack of sure access to a disposal facility. it also again emphasized the lack of documented need for the 1,550 Megawatts of electricity Fermi 3 would generate. And the coalition alleged that NRC has failed to fulfill its federal responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as by the illegal "segmentation" of the needed transmission line corridor from the rest of the Fermi 3 reactor construction and operation proposal.

This legal filing follows by a week upon the submission of public comments about NRC's Fermi 3 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The comments, commissioned by Don't Waste Michigan and prepared by Jessie Pauline Collins, were endorsed by a broad coalition of individuals and environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear. The FEIS comments included satellite images of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie in 2012, and in 2011 to 2012, attributable in significant part to thermal electric power plants such as Detroit Edison's Monroe (coal burning) Power Plant, at 3,300 Megawatts-electric the second largest coal burner in the U.S. Fermi 3's thermal discharge into Lake Erie will worsen this already very serious ecological problem.

In the very near future, the environmental coalition intervening against the Fermi 3 combined Construction and Operating License Application (COLA) will submit additional filings on its contentions challenging the lack of adequate quality assurance (QA) on the project, as well as its defense of the threatened Eastern Fox Snake and its critical wetlands habitat. The State of Michigan has stated that Fermi 3's construction would represent the largest impact on Great Lakes coastal wetlands in the history of state wetlands preservation law. 


NRC will look the other way on Seabrook cracks (and wind energy potential and....)

In its determination to give the Seabrook nuclear plant in New Hampshire a 20-year license extension 20 years before the current operating license expires, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has decided to overlook the cracking in safety-related concrete structures at the plant. The cracks are dismissed as airily as the fact that offshore wind power, 20 years from now, could power all of New England's electricity needs, making Seabrook (and other area nuclear and fossil plants) redundant. But the NRC never met a license application it didn't like. Maine-based Friends of the Coast and the New England Coalition in Vermont had asked for the concrete cracking to be taken into consideration as a formal part of the licensing proceedings. Instead of viewing the merits of the argument, the NRC threw it out based on a technicality related to timeliness, hardly an indication of putting public safety first.


Half a billion dollars already wasted on small modular reactors

The federal government is in the process of wasting more than half a billion dollars to pay large, profitable companies for what should be their own expenses for research & development (R&D) and licensing related to “small modular reactors” (SMRs), which would be about a third of the size or less of today’s large nuclear reactors.  In response, the nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense today handed out its latest “Golden Fleece Award” to the Department of Energy for the dollars being wasted on SMRs.
Titled “Taxpayer Subsidies for Small Modular Reactors,” a related TCS background report is available online here.

There is no assurance that electricity produced by an SMR would be competitive with otehr sources and there are no reliable cost estimates for SMRs. Traditional light water reactors are already seeing costs soar at the few construction sites around the world.


No shame as NRC schedules new nuke review on March 11

Thumbing its nose and what should be a sombre reminder of the perils of nuclear energy, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a "public" meeting on March 11, 2013 to review the seemingly DOA proposal for a third, redundant reactor at Calvert Cliffs, MD. (And note the NRC's laughable slogan encapsulating precisely what it tries so hard NOT to do - at least at the Commission level where NRC staff safety concerns are routinely over-ridden.)


Nuclear Relapse? Canceled! Nuclear power? Game over!

Peter BradfordAs reported by ScienceDaily in an article entitled "U.S. May Face Inevitable Nuclear Power Exit,"  the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) has concluded its three part "Nuclear Exit" series with a look at the United States. The previous two installments examined the nuclear power phase-out in Germany, and the nuclear power status quo in France.

The BAS U.S. coverage features former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Commissioner, Union of Concerned Scientists board member, and Vermont Law School professor Peter Bradford's "How to close the U.S. nuclear industry: Do nothing," which concludes that, without massive taxpayer or ratepayer infusions, almost all proposed new reactors will not happen, and currently operating reactors will permanently shutdown by mid-century, unless the NRC rubber-stamps 80 years of operations (as opposed to the current, already risky 60). More.