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.



"The Hidden and Not-So-Hidden Costs of Entergy's Vermont Yankee"

Beyond Nuclear staffpersons Paul Gunter and Kevin Kamps have been invited by the grassroots Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance (VYDA) to tour the Green Mountain State from Jan. 26th to Jan. 28th to present testimony at public events and before a joint hearing of the State of Vermont House Natural Resources and Energy and Senate Finance Committees, the key bodies currently reviewing Entergy Nuclear's application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a 20 year license extension at the nearly 40 year old reactor. Paul and Kevin will focus on tritium leaks at Vermont Yankee, age-related degradation of reactor systems, structures and components increasing safety risks, and the security risks of the plant's elevated high-level radioactive waste storage pools as well as outdoor dry casks. They will be joined by Lorraine Rekmans of Serpent River First Nation from Ontario, Canada, an indigenous expert and watchdog on uranium mining and milling's environmental, justice, and health impacts. VYDA has put out a cool poster announcing the speaking tour. Greenpeace USA, which has been campaigning for many months to shut down Vermont Yankee, has informative blogs, fact sheets, and timelines on the issues, including descriptions of their "One World" hot air balloon and "Rolling Sunlight" mobile solar power display. VPIRG (the Vermont Public Interest Research Group) also has extensive information on its website regarding the campaign to shut down Vermont Yankee at the end of its current operating license in 2012. Vermont Citizens Action Network has valuable information on its website, including about Act 160, by which the State of Vermont empowered itself to decide whether or not Vermont Yankee can have a license extension -- the only state in the country to have done so. VT CAN has a comprehensive newsletter laying out its campaign to shut Vermont Yankee by 2012. The Vermont State Legislature is expected to vote by March or April on Vermont Yankee's license extension.


"Highly radioactive water found at Vermont nuke plant"

In a startling development, news agencies are reporting that water containing 2 million picocuries per liter of radioactive tritium -- "about 100 times the allowable federal level for drinking water and 70 times the standard for groundwater" -- has been discovered at Entergy Nuclear's Vermont Yankee atomic reactor. The discovery comes just days after Vermont Yankee spokesman Rob Williams mischaracterized a more than 15% increase in radioactive tritium concentrations in test well water, from 17,000 to nearly 20,000 picocuries per liter, as a stabilizing situation, stating on a Vermont Public Radio interview "Essentially, those two readings - 17,000 to 20,000 - those are in the ballpark where you could say it's essentially stable at this point." Now that tritium readings in water at Vermont Yankee that are 100 times more radioactive than that have been revealed, let's hope Entergy spokesman Rob Williams stops trying to downplay the seriousness of the situation.


Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen speaks on Vermont Yankee tritium leaks, Entergy Nuclear lies

Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen -- energy adviser at Fairewinds Associates, Inc., who serves as Beyond Nuclear's expert witness on quality assurance violations at the Fermi 3 new reactor project in Michigan -- speaks in this live television interview on Vermont's WCAX about Entergy Nuclear's misrepresentations to the State of Vermont about buried pipes containing radioactive liquids, and newly reported tritium leaks there that are 50 times more radioactive than allowed under EPA Safe Drinking Water Act regulations, and 500 times more radioactive than allowed under certain European regulations.


"Vt. Yankee Says Didn't Mean to Mislead Lawmakers" 

Entergy Nuclear officials have been caught in a lie regarding leakage of radioactive tritium from buried pipes at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in southeastern Vermont on the Massachusetts and New Hampshire borders along the Connecticut River. (Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, mentioned in the article as a consultant to the State of Vermont Legislature, which has been strongly critical of Vermont Yankee's requested 20 year license extension, also serves as an expert witness on Beyond Nuclear's quality assurance violations contentions at the proposed Fermi 3 atomic reactor in Michigan.) The Vermont State Department of Public Service, which has been generally supportive of Vermont Yankee and its bid for a 20 year license extension, may be reconsidering its position in light of Entergy Nuclear's misleading statements in the past regarding buried piping at the plant. The DPS may even seek to levy financial penalties against the company for the false information. Vermont lawmakers responded to the leaks of radioactive water from underground pipes that supposedly did not exist with a "storm of criticism."


Congressmen call for investigation of leaky, buried piping at atomic reactors

U.S. Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA), John Hall (D-NY), and John Adler (D-NJ) have called upon the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to launch an investigation into the corrosion of and leakage from buried piping at the nation's nuclear power plants. In their letter to GAO, the Congressmen stated that "The recent discoveries of leaks of reactor cooling water, diesel fuel, and radioactive water at several plants suggest that NRC processes must be improved to help licensees adequately manage the aging of this infrastructure to ensure the safety of the reactors and of the public." The Congressmen cite leaking pipes at such nuclear power plants as Oyster Creek NJ, Indian Point NY, San Onofre CA, Byron IL, Perry OH, Dresden IL, and Braidwood IL to make clear that this is a nation-wide problem. Hazardous tritium -- a radioactive form of hydrogen -- is very often involved in such leakage into groundwater. (However, besides such accidental, uncontrolled, and unmonitored leaks, tritium is also "routinely" discharged from atomic reactors, with permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.)