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.



Coaltion petitions NRC to close New York's dangerous FitzPatrick nuke

On March, 9, 2012, Beyond Nuclear and the Syracuse, New York-based Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE) filed an emergency enforcement petition with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission calling for the closure of the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant. FitzPatrick is a Fukushima-design GE Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactor located on the shores of Lake Ontario in Scriba, New York.  Listen to WBAI (New York, NY) radio coverage here.

The coalition is calling for the suspension of FitzPatrick operations based on the discovery that the operator refused to voluntarily install a "hardened vent system" on their unreliable Mark I containment as recommended by the NRC in 1989.  The NRC took no action to enforce the installation and instead approved FitzPatrick's pre-existing vent system orginally used to purge containment at low pressure so that workers could enter to perform maintence and inspections. FitzPatrick is uniquely the only Mark I unit of 23 in the US that did not install the "Direct Torus Vent System" or hardened vent. In the event of a severe accident at FitzPatrick today, the operator (Entergy) will vent extremely high pressure, radioactivity and explosive hydrogen gas into a building adjacent to the reactor building with the expectation that catastrophe will be avoided by blowing open the room's double doors to the outside environment.

Entergy's plan to vent a severe accident to save containment relies upon an assumption that there are "no likely ignition points" along the vent path that would detonate the hydrogen explosion seen over and over again at Fukushima.  The groups are calling for a hearing to challenge such assumptions in a Post-Fukushima reality.




Update on defending Great Lakes against risky atomic reactors

Satellite photo of the Great Lakes: 20% of the planet's surface fresh water; drinking water supply for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American/First Nations; and lifeblood of one of the world's biggest regional economiesThree weeks ago, we reported on Beyond Nuclear's efforts, in conjunction with environmental coalitions and concerned citizens, to shut down two especially risky atomic reactors on the Great Lakes shorelines that have been generating a lot of controversy recently: Palisades in southwest Michigan, and Davis-Besse in northwest Ohio.

A lot has happened since. NRC was forced to admit that Palisades has the most embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the U.S. NRC's repeated regulatory rollbacks have put it at risk of fracturing like a hot glass under cold water due to Pressurized Thermal Shock. And thanks to revelations by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, we've contended that Davis-Besse's containment cracking is so severe that its outer layer of steel reinforcement rebar is no longer performing its safety function. We joined Congressman Kucinich in challenging Davis-Besse's root cause report, which blames the cracking on the Blizzard of 1978, as a "snow job of convenience." Read more.


"Living on Borrowed Time" & "U.S. Nuclear Power Safety One Year After Fukushima": UCS shines spotlight on 15 near-misses at U.S. reactors in 2011, examines Japan "lessons learned," or not, at NRC

David Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), recently published NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2011: Living on Borrowed Time, describing 15 near-misses at U.S. atomic reactors in 2011 alone. Note that 4 near-misses took place at reactors belonging to one nuclear utility, Entergy: 2 near misses at Palisades in Michigan, and 2 at Pilgrim in Massachusetts. (Yet another near-miss occurred at Cooper in Nebraska, owned by Nebraska Public Power District, but with support services provided, yet again, by Entergy.)

The Thom Hartmann Show interviewed Dave Lochbaum about his report.

On March 7th, Lochbaum and Edwin Lyman, senior scientist at UCS's Global Security Program, released a report entitled U.S. Nuclear Power Safety One Year After Fukushima. Lochbaum and Lyman summarized their findings in a special published by CNN.


Lessons from Fukushima: new Greenpeace report a warning on nuclear risks


"Demonic" reality of Fukushima, versus absurdity of NRC

NRC file photo of Peach Bottom 2 & 3, PennsylvaniaWhile top level Japanese government officials admit that they feared a "demonic chain reactor" of atomic reactor meltdowns not only at Fukushima Daiichi, but also at Fukushima Daini and Tokai nuclear power plants, which would have led to an evacuation of Tokyo and perhaps its permanent loss, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's SOARCA report absurdly claims that a reactor meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi identically designed Peach Bottom Units 2 and 3 in Pennsylvania, surrounded by several other nuclear power plants, would cause few to no casualties. Read more.