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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
Jul082009

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.

Wednesday
Jul082009

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.

Wednesday
Jul082009

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.

Wednesday
Jul082009

Beyond Nuclear and allies defend contentions against new proposed reactor on Great Lakes Shoreline 

On April 10, a bi-national environmental coalition comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens fo Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club defended its contentions against Detroit Edison's proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor targeted at the Lake Erie shoreline in Southeastern Michigan. The coalition's April 10th filing rebutted challenges raised by the NRC Staff as well as Detroit Edison, which sought to disqualify their concerns from any further consideration. In its filing, the coalition re-asserted its objections to Fermi 3's radioactive, toxic, and thermal impacts on Lake Erie's very shallow and vulnerable western basin. The coalition's contentions emphasized the cumulative damage already occurring in the Great Lakes due to the presence of 33 operating atomic reactors, and dozens of additional coal fired power plants. These include Detroit Edison's Fermi 2 atomic reactor and Monroe Power Plant (one of the largest coal burners in North America), Consumers Energy's Whiting Coal Plant, and First Energy's Davis-Besse atomic reactor and Bay Shore (Coal) Plant near Toledo. Read the coalition's defense of its contentions here. Read the media release here.

Wednesday
Jul082009

No joke, oldest reactor in US relicensed despite adverse safety findings on April Fools Day 2009

Since November 15, 2005, a coalition of national, state and local groups (Stop The Relicensing of Oyster Creek) has struggled through the labyrinth of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s relicensing process. Oyster Creek began generating power in December 1969. Its 40-year operating license expires on April 9, 2009. The coalition’s single contention before the licensing board focused on the discovery of a band of corrosion at the base of the 100-foot tall iron structure that in places had eaten through nearly half the contain wall structure raising the concern that the structure could buckle and collapse.It was no joke on April Fools’ Day 2009 when the Commission voted (4-0) to extend the operating license despite an NRC inspection report and email disclosed by the Freedom of Information Act documenting that Exelon Nuclear doesn’t have a working age-management program for the corrosion nor do they know the extent of the containment damage all critical elements of the relicensing decision. The Commission decided that the reactor’s containment corrosion management program and the enhanced assessment of the extent of the damage can come later.This kind of decision-making can lead to the next Three Mile Island accident or worse. NRC has placed its cart before the horse in the relicensing process. The company has demonstrated neither a working age-management program nor the knowledge of the extent the damage. This should have been grounds for denying or at least delaying the re-licensing. NRC’s decision to promote schedule over assurance of safety undermines confidence in the NRC’s gamed process and the continued safety of the reactor.