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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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Wednesday
Dec032014

And fire makes four

The Tihange 3 nuclear reactor in Belgium was shut down on November 30 due to a fire. It is now the fourth Belgian nuclear reactor to be out of service, as another plant at Tihange and two at Doel have been shut down due to defects or security concerns. The Tihange 3 power station, situated 70 kilometres south-west of the German town of Aachen, shut down automatically after one of its transformers reportedly caught fire. The fire, which has since been extinguished, was caused by an explosion. Belgium is planning to phase out its nuclear fleet. The technical, safety and security problems appear to be accelerating the plan. More.

Monday
Dec012014

Coalition alleges safety rollbacks at Entergy Palisades, cites risk of vessel fracture, calls for permanent shutdown

NRC file photo of Entergy's Palisdes atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shoreline in southwest MichiganA coalition of environmental groups and concerned local residents has intervened against Entergy Nuclear's License Amendment Application (LAR) to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at its Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shore in southwest Michigan (see photo, left). The LAR seeks to apply an alternate reactor pressure vessel (RPV) fracture toughness rule (10CFR50.61a, instead of the current 10CFR50.61). If successful, the intervention could force the permanent shutdown of the 44-year-old nuclear power plant.

The coalition cites the risk of catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity to the environment due to Pressurized Thermal Shock (PTS) fracturing the embrittled RPV, causing a Loss-of-Coolant-Accident (LOCA), core meltdown, and containment failure.

See the coalition's intervention filing here, including legal and technical arguments, as well as numerous examples of PTS regulatory rollbacks over the decades. See expert witness Arnie Gundersen's declaration and CV here. See eyewitness affidavits re: NRC's refusal to require metal samples to be analyzed here. See an extensive (yet still far from complete) compilation of Palisades' PTS-related documents here. See the coalition's press release here. See also a statement by Gail Snyder, President of the Board of Nuclear Energy Information Service of IL, and a local landowner near Palisades who has intervened against the LAR.

The coalition includes Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste Michigan, Michigan Safe Energy Future, and Nuclear Energy Information Service (Chicago, IL). Arnie Gunderden, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc., serves as the coalition's expert witness. Terry Lodge, Toledo-based attorney, serves as the coalition's legal counsel.

Friday
Nov212014

Beyond Nuclear before ASLB to stop last Mark I "Fukushima" reactor relicensing

Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste Michigan, Citizens' Resistance at Fermi 2 (CRAFT), and Citizens Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario argued before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board in Monroe Michigan on November 20, that the aging Fermi 2 nuclear reactor should not receive a 20-year license extension. Fermi 2 is the last of the U.S. fleet of Mark I reactors to request a license extension. The U.S. Mark I is the same design as the GE Mark I Boiling Water Reactors that exploded and melted down at Fukushima Daiichi. The groups were there to defend their contentions against the relicensing of Fermi 2.

Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear (pictured at the table third from right) raised a concern that Fermi 2 should install a filter on a containment vent to remove any radioactive particles that may escape into the environment in the event of a severe accident, which he said wasn’t considered in DTE’s analysis. “Containment vents can fail early, and that may result in uncontrolled releases of radioactive particles,” Mr. Gunter said. “This can lead to land relocation and contamination that carries a health impact with it.”  Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps told NPR in an interview: "Fermi 2 presents a serious danger to life, property, and the environment.You've got a dangerous reactor design. You've got an inadequate containment on the shoreline of the Great Lakes which, of course, is itself the drinking water supply for tens of millions of people." First hand reports from the proceeding by Gunter and Kamps will follow soon. More.

Thursday
Nov132014

Coalition presses case against reactors on Great Lakes

Lake Erie's shores are dotted with numerous large-scale atomic reactors and coal burners. These thermal-electric power plants dump 2/3rds of the heat they generate as waste into the environment, contributing to recent toxic algae blooms visible in this satellite photo.An environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, is working at fever pitch against degraded old, and proposed new, reactors on the Great Lakes shoreline in southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio.

Davis-Besse, OH

At U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, the groups Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio pressed their case against a 20-year license extension at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor east of Toledo. An oral argument pre-hearing was ordered to take place on Nov. 12th by the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP) overseeing the License Renewal Application (LRA) proceeding. The coalition first intervented against the license extension nearly four years ago.

Attorney Terry Lodge, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, and Don't Waste MI's Michael Keegan represented the coalition before NRC ASLBP. The coalition was joined by expert witness Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc. The focus of the day-long hearing was the severe, and worsening, cracking of Davis-Besse's concrete containment Shield Building. The dangerously deteriorating Shield Building is the last line of defense against a catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity, as from a reactor core meltdown and Inner Steel Containment Vessel failure due to a reactor disaster, earthquake, tornado missile, etc. The coalition has filed numerous contentions about the cracking since it was first revealed on October 10, 2011.

The coalition issued a press advisory about the Nov. 12th oral hearing. The Toledo Blade has reported on this story.

Fermi 2, MI

Beyond Nuclear, CEA, and Don't Waste MI, again represented by Toledo-attorney Terry Lodge, will appear at oral argument pre-hearings before an NRC ASLB on November 20th in Monroe, Michigan. The coalition is opposing the 20-year license extension proposed at Detroit Edison's Fermi 2 atomic reactor in nearby Frenchtown Township, on the Lake Erie shore. Fermi 2 is the single biggest G.E. Mark I Boiling Water Reactor in the world -- the same design as melted down and exploded, times three, at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan.

Beyond Nuclear's Reactor Oversight Director, Paul Gunter, will argue a contention calling for radiological filters on hardened vents, an obviously needed safety upgrade actively ignored by a majority of the NRC Commissioners, despite the lessons that should have been learned from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. Beyond Nuclear's Freeze Our Fukushimas campaign calls for the shutdown of all U.S. Mark I and II reactors. (See Beyond Nuclear's Freeze Our Fukushimas pamphlet.)

Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, will argue a contention regarding serious safety risks associated with the Fermi nuclear power plant's off-site transmission line corridor, as well as radioactive waste contentions.

Another group, Citizens Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT), has launched another 15 contentions against the license extension.

Fermi 3, MI

The coalition comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (CACC), CEA, Don't Waste MI, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter -- again represented by attorney Terry Lodge -- continues to press its case against the proposed new Fermi 3 reactor, to be built on the very site that the Fermi 1 "We Almost Lost Detroit"  reactor partially melted down on October 5, 1966.

The coalition intervened against Fermi 3 on March 9, 2009, and has since filed dozens of contentions against the proposal.

Its transmission line corridor NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) contention is still before the NRC Commissioners, thanks to a sua sponte motion by the NRC ASLBP itself. On behalf of the coalition, Lodge just filed a motion with the NRC Commissioners, supporting the ASLBP's request to the Commissioners for permission to carry out its own independent review of what appears to be NRC staff violations of NEPA, for not including the required "hard look" at the environmental impacts of Fermi 3's transmission line corridor in the FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement).

In addition, the coalition has appealed the ASLBP's rejection of its quality assurance (QA) contention to the full NRC Commission. Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds serves as the coalition's Fermi 3 QA expert witness. The NRC Commissioners will likely rule on the QA and transmission corridor contentions in the near future.

Saturday
Oct112014

Coalition presses case against containment cracking at Davis-Besse

An NRC inspector investigates cracking revealed in Davis-Besse's Shield Building wall shortly after it was discovered on 10/10/11.An environmental coalition, challenging the proposed 20-year license extension at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) Davis-Besse atomic reactor in Oak Harbor, OH on the Lake Erie shore, has filed a defense of its September 3rd and September 8th, 2014 contentions regarding worsening containment cracking.

This comes in response to October 3rd motions, by both FENOC and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff, calling for the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel overseeing the nearly four-year-old License Renewal Application (LRA) proceeding, to dismiss the contentions.

The coalition consists of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio. It is represented by Toledo-based attorney, Terry Lodge.

The coalition's filing on October 10th marks the third anniversary, to the day, of when severe cracking was first discovered and publicly announced at Davis-Besse, on Oct. 10, 2011 (see photo, above). The environmental coalition filed its first cracking contention in the proceeding a few months later, and has filed many more -- throughout 2012, and on Earth Day this year. However, all have been dismissed by the ASLB, despite many of the coalition's assertions later being acknowledged as correct by FENOC.

Davis-Besse's original 40-year license will expire on Earth Day (April 22nd), 2017. FENOC is seeking a 20-year extension, till 2037. NRC has rubber-stamped 73 such extensions such the year 2000.