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.



Document shows NRC did not enforce testing for reactor leaks

More radioactive leaks from reactors like Dresden, Oyster Creek, Vermont Yankee and Indian Point are calling attention to a largely ignored Nuclear Regulatory Commission document dating back to 1979 when the agency first asked operators to periodically inspect pipes and tanks to prevent uncontrolled leaks. Reactor operators are not inspecting the miles of buried and corroding pipes and tanks. NRC is instead allowing reactors a "leak first, fix later" approach rather than use preventive inspections to maintain integrity of these radioactive waste management systems through preventive inspections. In addition to frequent intentional radioactive releases, these accidental and unmonitored spills and leaks onsite are contaminating water resources away from the reactors, jeopardizing public health. The October 19, 1979 NRC technical circular entitled "Prevention of Unplanned Releases of Radioactivity" advises the nuclear industry to periodically inspect buried pipes specifically using hydrostatic testing equipment and procedures with the focus on the "prevention" of uncontrolled and unmonitored radioactive release pathways.


Beyond Nuclear challenges new reactor & old waste at Fermi, Michigan

Regarding the new reactor proposed at Fermi nuclear power plant, on July 31, 2009, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board admitted four of the fourteen contentions Beyond Nuclear and its allies submitted opposing the Fermi 3 new reactor proposal in Monroe, Michigan on the Lake Erie shoreline. Beyond Nuclear's fourteen contentions had been filed on March 9, 2009. There was extensive media coverage of Beyond Nuclear's opposition to the Fermi 3 new reactor.

Regarding "old waste" at Fermi, on August 31, 2009, Beyond Nuclear appealed to the NRC to reconsider an ASLB ruling rejecting our standing to intervene against dry cask storage of high-level radioactive waste at the 21-year-old Fermi 2 reactor. On August 21, 2009, the ASLB had rejected our standing, thus dismissing our intervention request for a hearing on the merits of our concerns. Beyond Nuclear's initial intervention, detailing security-related concerns regarding dry cask storage of high-level radioactive waste at Fermi 2 on the Lake Erie shore, was filed on May 7, 2009. See Detroit Edison's and NRC Staff's June 1st challenges to Beyond Nuclear's intervention here. Beyond Nuclear responded to those challenges on June 9th.

On Sept. 3rd, the Monroe Evening News reported on the ASLB's adverse ruling on Beyond Nuclear's intervention. But on Sept. 6th, the Monroe Evening News published an editorial supportive of Beyond Nuclear's efforts to increase security at Fermi 2's imminent dry cask storage facility.


Victory in Missouri as AmerenUE cancels plans to build new reactor

"A large plant would be difficult to finance under the best of conditions, but in today's credit constrained markets, without supportive state energy policies, we believe getting financial backing for these projects is impossible." AmerenUE statement.

AmerenUE has announced that it has canceled its plans to build a new 1,600 megawatt-electric French Areva "Evolutionary Power Reactor" at its Callaway nuclear power plant in central Missouri. The project’s biggest stumbling block was Missouri's anti-CWIP law. "Construction Work in Progress" (CWIP) allows a nuclear utility to recover the construction costs of a reactor before the reactor actually operates. Ratepayers pay this cost through their current electricity bill even though the reactor has not produced any power. Like federal taxpayer loan guarantees, CWIP is a way to overcome private investors' wise aversion to the large financial risks of new reactor loans.

In 1976, Beyond Nuclear board member Kay Drey helped lead a state-wide ballot measure barring CWIP in Missouri which passed by 2 to 1 margin. Nuclear industry efforts to overturn the anti-CWIP law in Missouri have failed, leading to the nuclear utility's announcement that it has cancelled its new reactor proposal.


Rusty bubble found at Beaver Valley reactor

During a recent visual inspection inside the Beaver Valle Unit 1 reactor containment building, a rusty-colored bubble was discovered under the protective painting coating on the inside wall of the steel liner to the thick concrete containment.


FERC Chair says "no" to nuclear and coal

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman, Jon Wellinghoff, has declared that no new coal or nuclear plants may ever be needed in the U.S. "We may not need any, ever," he said. Wellinghoff said he believed renewable energy could meet baseload capacity and future energy demands and that nuclear and coal were simply too expensive. Read more here.