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.



Entergy Watch: Indian Point, Palisades, Vermont Yankee

Entergy Watch is a campaign to bridge the resistance communities living in the shadows of Entergy's dirty dozen atomic reactors across the U.S., shown here on this map posted at Entergy Nuclear's websiteU.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board (ASLB) hearings resumed in the Lower Hudson River Valley, as reported by the (note further coverage going back in time along the article's left-hand margin). The resistance being mounted by the Attorney General of the State of New York and environmental groups like Clearwater and Hudson Riverkeeper has led to the most admitted contentions yet against a 20-year license extension. The current round of hearings are dealing with the issue of underground pipes leaking radioactivity into soil, groundwater, and the Hudson River. NY AG Eric Schneiderman's office has alleged that “Entergy does not know the current state of its buried and underground pipes.” In April, 2010, Beyond Nuclear's Paul Gunter reported on a chronic, large-scale radioactivity leak of tritium and other radioactive substances from high-level radioactive waste storage pools at Indian Point.

At Palisades in Covert, Michigan, a coalition of local concerned residents and environmental groups butted heads with NRC and Entergy yet again, this time at a public meeting at which NRC attempted to justify its restoration of top-notch safety status to the problem-plagued reactor (despite admitting the need for 50% more inspections than normal in 2013, due to a rash of leaks this year), while Entergy attempted to assure that its completely collapsed safety culture is on the mend. Critics kept themselves awake during the dog and pony show by playing a game of Nukespeak B'Lingo, as reported by Michigan Public Radio. The South Bend, IN ABC affiliate also reported on this story, quoting Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps as warning that Palisades is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

As reported by the Vermont Digger, the New England Coalition has filed a lawsuit at the Vermont Supreme Court demanding that Entergy be forced to shutdown the Vermont Yankee atomic reactor unless and until it is issued a Certificate of Public Good by the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB). As also reported by the Digger, just last week the PSB denied motions by Entergy to amend its previous agreements with the state, in order to make legal its continued reactor operations. The PSB found “If we were to reach the conclusion urged on us by Entergy would be hard not to also conclude that Entergy VY had misled the Board.” Entergy has sued not only Gov. Peter Shumlin by name, but also all three members of the PSB, again by name, in its bid to make legal 20 more years of VY operations, despite its previous commitments to the state otherwise. Meanwhile, a year after federal district judge Murtha in Brattleboro ruled in Entergy's favor on the 20-year license extension, the AG of VT, William Sorrell, will appeal that ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City: oral argument was just scheduled for January 14, 2013.


Protest against NRC's absurd rush to restore Entergy Palisades to top-notch safety status

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps testifies at NRC public meeting in South Haven, MI on 12/11/12 regarding catastrophic risks at Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor. Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio.The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a public meeting in South Haven, MI on Tuesday, Dec. 11th in order to explain to the public its oversight role, Entergy's corrective actions at Palisades, and the reasons why the problem-plagued atomic reactor has been suddenly restored to top-notch safety status. NRC designated Palisades one of the four worst-run reactors in the U.S. last February, but restored its top-notch safety status on Nov. 9th -- under pressure from powerful U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who chairs the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee -- despite ongoing leaks, and a complete collapse of safety culture. The safety culture collapse was covered up by Entergy and NRC for months, but was recently revealed by Palisades' whistleblowers, their attorney Billie Pirner Garde, and U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA). The public isn't buying NRC's and Entergy's flip assurances, and marked the dog and pony show with a game of "Nukespeak Bingo," or "Blinky B'Lingo."

The coalition of concerned local residents and environmental groups put out a press release, as well as a "Blinky B'Lingo" board with 25 Nukespeak words or phrases, and a listing of their translations into plain English. The coalition included in its press packets an article entitled "No Word for Meltdown: The Return of Nukespeak," written just days after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe had begun, by Rory O'Connor and Richard Bell. Along with Stephen Hilgartner, the three co-authors had published the book Nukespeak: Nuclear Language, Myths, and Mindset in 1982, and re-issued an updated version several months after Fukushima began.

Michigan Public Radio reported on the Nukespeak bingo game in an article. Michigan Radio's "Environment Report" also published an on-air "Palisades: Year in Review." There have been so many "unplanned shutdowns" in 2011 (five safety-significant equipment breakdowns that required emergency shutdowns of the reactor) and "leaks" in 2012 (three so far), Michigan Public Radio created a timeline to keep track of it all.

South Bend's ABC57 television news also reported on this story, as did the Kalamazoo Gazette newspaper.

On the very same day as the NRC meeting in South Haven, David Lochbaum, the Union of Concerned Scientists' Nuclear Safety Project Director, published an "All Things Nuclear" blog entitled "Palisades Reprises Davis-Besse."He compared the primary coolant leaks from Palisades' control rod drive mechanisms to Davis-Besse's infamous Hole-in-the-Head fiasco of 2002.


Judge refuses to send VT Yankee protesters to jail following jury trial and “guilty” verdict

A Vermont Superior Court judge refused the request of the six members of the “Shut It Down Affinity Group” to send them to jail following a jury’s verdict of “guilty” on charges of criminal trespass.  Instead, Judge John Wesley banned the women from further protest at the Fukushima-style nuclear reactor during a 45-day suspended sentence and fined them $350 each.  The women refused to pay any fines and vowed that they would return to the controversial reactor site. The activists, Mary Kehler, Ellen Graves, Nancy First, Hattie Nestel, Frances Crowe and Paki Wieland, all Massachusetts women ranging in ages from 69 to 93 years old, had freely admitted that they entered, walked onto the property of Vermont Yankee operated by the New Orleans-base nuclear utility Entergy, pad locked the front gate closed and chained themselves to the fence.  The affinity group has carried out 22 nonviolent direct actions at the GE Mark I Boiling Water Reactor since 2006. “This is about shutting Vermont Yankee down. The state should be putting a padlock on the gate,” said Hattie Nestel.  As American historian, Professor Howard Zinn has eloquently pointed out, civil disobedience and democracy are inseparably intertwined in many major policy changes and social movements.


Small modular reactors latest "last gasp" resuscitation offer to nuclear industry

"The SMRs are without a doubt going to be more expensive than even large reactors. Their economics are only getting worse." Dr. Edwin Lyman, physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, commenting on the US Department of Energy's latest "last gasp" attempt to keep the US nuclear power sector alive. The DOE is looking to throw a multi-million dollar bone to Babcock & Wilcox and the Tennessee Valley Authority to build small modular reactors (SMRs) that would be located under ground, hard to access and with a smaller workforce. "What Fukushima has shown us is that existing nuclear power plants don't have the personnel or resources to cope with severe emergencies," said Lyman. In addition, the modular design could make it more difficult to inspect and maintain key components, many of which would be located within the pressure vessel at the heart of the reactor, he said. More.


"Shut It Down!" affinity group members face jail and fine for Vermont Yankee arrests

In this Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2010 photo, Frances Crowe holds a sign while protesting at Entergy Vermont Yankee, in Vernon, Vt. Crowe, of Northampton, Mass., and several others were arrested after they walked past the main gate at Vermont Yankee. They read a statement calling for the closure of Vermont's only nuclear plant. AP Photo | The Brattleboro Reformer, Zachary P. Stephens.As reported by Eesha Williams in the Valley Post, six women, who are members of the "Shut It Down!" affinity group, will face trial, beginning at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, November 27th in downtown Brattleboro, VT, for their non-violent civil disobedience arrests at Entergy Nuclear's Vermont Yankee atomic reactor. If convicted of the misdemeanor trespassing charges, they could be sentenced to a year in jail, and a $500 fine, Williams reports.

The six defendants are: Hattie Nestel (age 73) of Athol, Massachusetts; Paki Wieland (age 68), Nancy First (age 82), and Frances Crowe (age 93) of Northampton, MA; Betsy Corner (age 64) of Colrain, MA; and Ellen Graves (age 69) of West Springfield, MA.

The "Shut It Down!" affinity group has been arrested nearly two dozen times at the VY reactor, or in related actions, as at other Entergy Nuclear offices.

Beyond Nuclear board member Karl Grossman was quoted in Williams' article.

The Associated Press also reported on this story"Asked how many time she had been arrested in such protests, [Frances Crowe] pointed to the fact that war, nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants continue to exist. 'Not enough,' she said. 'I don't know. I don't count. But I know I haven't achieved what I'm trying to achieve.'"

(The AP has reported that the defendants, if convicted, face not a year in jail, but rather three months.)