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.



DANGER - Radioactive Leak at INDIAN POINT

This 30-minute interview has just been published and broadcast in New York City, and is also available for viewing online: Alfred C. Meyer, Board Member of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) & Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Watchdog at Beyond Nuclear, discuss the danger of continuing radioactive leaks at Indian Point, Buchanan, New York. An Access for All Production produced through the facilities of Manhattan Neighborhood Network, by Gloria Messer, Producer/Director.


NRC gives Entergy pass on falsifying fire safety reports at Waterford and Pilgrim nuclear power stations

The New Orleans-based Entergy Nuclear Corporation didn’t even get a slap on the wrist from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for “willfully” falsifying fire safety inspections at its Waterford nuclear power station in Louisiana and Pilgrim station in Massachusetts.  Instead, the NRC waived enforcement actions for violations of federal reporting requirements that could have resulted in large fines and criminal felony charges. Entergy contract workers and operations managers were caught falsifying “fire watch” reports in zones of the nuclear power plants that fail to meet federal fire safety requirements for protecting safe shutdown electrical cable from fire damage in the event of an accident.  Rather than replace bogus fire barrier systems on electrical circuits vital to safely shutting down the reactor following an accident, the NRC has allowed reactor operators to send out hourly patrols in these unprotected fire zones. The fire watch personnel are required to certify that patrols were conducted.  When the falsified fire watch records were reported, Entergy management sought to cover it up.

The NRC’s own safety studies show that fire is the largest risk contributor initiating a reactor melt down. Yet, for decades now, the NRC has colluded with industry to save the cost of installing qualified passive fire barriers around electrical cable trays, conduits and boxes to make nukes safer from fire. Instead, the NRC and industry have settled on  “compensatory actions” like these least-cost roving fire watch patrols that are in the unprotected area maybe five minutes of the hour leaving the area left unwatched for the other 55 minutes. The patrols don’t actually protect safety-related electrical cable like a working fire barrier would but report the fire to on-site fire fighting crews. Meanwhile, control of shutting down the reactor and cooling down the tremendous amount of residual heat could be lost initiating fuel damage.

The problem is not just that fire watches don't adequately compensate for reliable, tested fire barrier systems or the fact that operators are cheating on conducting fire patrols.  The root cause, now decades old, is that the NRC is “willfully” ignoring enforcement of federal fire safety laws that came about from the a very real fire at the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant. 

Where a daycare facility would get promptly shutdown for fire code violations that jeopardize children’s safety, the NRC provides nuclear power plants with no real compliance standard at all jeopardizing entire regions.


When "FirstEnergy says PUC vote assures Davis-Besse operation for several years," Beyond Nuclear begs to differ

This still images comes from a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission video. The yellow arrow shows a sub-surface crack in Davis-Besse's concrete containment Shield Building wall. The cracking was revealed during an October 2011 reactor lid replacement. The cracking grows by a half-inch, or more, in length, every time it freezes out, due to Ice-Wedging Crack Propagation, due to water locked in the walls by FENOC's 2012 "White Wash" weather sealant of the Shield Building exterior, 40 years too late.In an article entitled "FirstEnergy says PUC vote assures Davis-Besse operation for several years," Nucleonics Week reporter Michael McAuliffe quoted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps:

A coalition of anti-nuclear and environmental groups including Beyond Nuclear was also critical of the PUC decision.

“PUCO’s $4 billion bailout to FirstEnergy will mostly go towards padding the pockets of company executives and shareholders, not to critically needed repairs of safety systems, structures, and components,” Beyond Nuclear spokesman Kevin Kamps said in a March 31 statement.

[FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company, FENOC, spokesman] Colafella said “there are currently no major capital improvements needed at Davis-Besse.” But the coalition said that among needed plant maintenance is repairing a shield building which has a multitude of cracks. The shield building protects the reactor from impact by external objects.

Kamps questioned whether Davis-Besse will be able to remain in operation for the eight years covered by the plan and said in an April 4 interview that FirstEnergy does not “plan on plowing much of their bailout back into maintenance, and the NRC didn’t require it.” More.


Entergy to permanently shut down FitzPatrick on Jan. 27, 2017

NRC file photo of Entergy's FitzPatrick atomic reactor in upstate NYEntergy Nuclear, in an official regulatory communication with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), has committed to permanently shut down its James A. FitzPatrick atomic reactor in Scriba, NY (six miles northeast of Oswego, NY on the Lake Ontario shoreline, photo at left). The closure date is set at Janurary 27, 2017.

FitzPatrick is a General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor. Having fired up in 1974, it is the same vintage, and identical in design, to the GE BWR Mark Is that melted down and exploded at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan in March 2011.

Although the reactor risks will cease, by definition, as soon as the last of the irradiated nuclear fuel is removed from the reactor core, the risks will continue in the high-level radioactive waste storage pool, as well as at the dry cask storage installation for irradiated nuclear fuel. Beyond Nuclear, and hundreds of other groups representing all 50 states, have long called for emptying of the vulnerable storage pools, and expedited transfer in Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) dry casks. (Irradiated fuel must cool for at least five years -- even longer for High-Burnup -- in the storage pool.)

Starting on January 28, 2017, long-term decommissioning challenges to "clean up" (that is, transfer to another location, such as licensed radioactive waste dumps out west) the radioactive contamination of the site and structures will present themselves. Beyond Nuclear has called for the empty pools to be preserved, as an emergency contingency for cask-to-cask transfer operations in the years, and perhaps even decades, of on-site storage ahead.


SNL: "Palisades plant critics vow to continue fight over 'thermal shock' issue" (risks extend to Pt. Beach, Indian Pt., Diablo, & Beaver Valley)

Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor, located on the Lake Michigan shoreline in southwest Michigan.SNL Financial has published an in-depth investigative article by Matthew Bandyk, "Palisades nuclear plant critics vow to continue fight over 'thermal shock' issue."

The article revealed that Palisades' previous owner, Consumers Energy, had planned to attempt to repair the severely neutron radiation embrittled reactor pressure vessel (RPV), by undertaking experimental, expensive annealing (super-heating the metal in an attempt to restore ductility) in the late 1990s, but decided not to, for fear of public backlash and/or legal intervention against the needed License Amendment Request. More.