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On-Site Storage

Currently, all radioactive waste generated by U.S. reactors is stored at the reactor site - either in fuel pools or waste casks. However, the casks are currently security-vulnerable and should be "hardened" while a better solution continues to be sought.

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Friday
Feb082013

Entergy Watch: Pilgrim Coalition urges NRC to require Mark I atomic reactor to shutdown during historic winter storm

NRC file photo of Pilgrim, albeit on a calm, sunny day.As reported by Wicked Local Plymouth, in the lead up to what is being reported as an historic winter storm about to hit the Northeast, Pilgrim Coalition and Cape Cod Bay Watch are calling on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to order Entergy's Pilgrim atomic reactor shutdown, "arguing that a prolonged power outage, flooding, high winds, and snow and ice could cause several serious problems at Pilgrim."

However, as of 2:30 PM, NRC's "Current Power Reactor Status" report shows that Pilgrim is operating at 83% power. All other reactors in the Northeast are also operating, either at, or very close to, 100% power levels.

The Pilgrim Coalition mentioned concerns about the high-level radioactive waste storage pool's cooling systems ceasing to function.

In a press release, Pilgrim Coalition spokespeople stated:

“This is predicted to be a historic storm with severe consequences,” said Pine DuBois, Executive Director of Jones River Watershed Association. “Winds are supposed to pick up Friday night during high tide and continue through the even higher tide Saturday morning. Near hurricane gusts will be out of the east, hitting Pilgrim head-­‐on. At other times during high winds, Pilgrim’s water intake pumps have failed.”

“Entergy could not keep the lights on during the Super Bowl -­‐ can we be sure they’ll provide enough power to Pilgrim during the storm?” duBois added.

According to Karen Vale, Campaign Manager at Cape Cod Bay Watch, “This historic storm emphasizes that rising sea levels and frequent, more severe storms make Pilgrim’s continued operations increasing risky. We hope that the NRC will close Pilgrim until the threat of the storm passes.”

As Beyond Nuclear's Freeze Our Fukushimas campaign has warned, no matter the cause (earthquake and tsunami, or historic winter storm at high tide), any prolonged loss of power to atomic reactors can lead to meltdown and catastrophic radioactivity releases. Entergy's Pilgrim is an identical twin design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4, a General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor.

Friday
Jan182013

GSN: "Industry, Activists at Odds Over Security Risks of Interim Waste Storage"

TOW anti-tank missiles can be fired from vehicles, or even shoulder-fired. Large numbers of TOWs are reportedly loose and unaccounted for on the international black market.In a Global Security Newswire article entitled "Industry, Activists at Odds Over Security Risks of Interim Waste Storage," Douglas P. Guarino quotes Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps about the risks of high-level radioactive waste, including during both on-site storage, as well as during transportation. Kevin referred to a 1998 test conducted at Aberdeen Army Proving Ground in Maryland, which showed that even the so-called "Cadillac of dry casks," the German CASTOR, could not withstand an anti-tank TOW missile attack (TOW is an acronym which stands for "Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire command data link, guided missile"). Most U.S. dry cask systems have much thinner metallic walls than the CASTOR. Kevin reiterated the call by over 150 environmental groups, for Hardened On-Site Storage of irradiated nuclear fuel, rather than a risky, rushed radioactive waste shell game on the roads, rails, and waterways.

Friday
Jan182013

GSN: "Watchdog Groups Add to Legal Criticism of Nuclear Waste Review"

Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of Institute for Energy and Environmental ResearchAs reported by Douglas P. Guarino at Global Security Newswire in an article entitled "Watchdog Groups Add to Legal Criticism of Nuclear Waste Review," a coalition of two dozen environmental groups (including Beyond Nuclear), as well as three states (Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont) are keeping the pressure on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to do a thorough Environmental Impact Statement on the on-site storage risks of high-level radioactive waste, not to mention the transport, off-site storage, and permanent disposal risks of irradiated nuclear fuel. The article quotes one of the environmental coalition's attorneys, Diane Curran, as well as one of its expert witnesses, Dr. Arjun Makhijani (photo, left).

Wednesday
Jan162013

Watchdogs continue to hound Entergy Pilgrim

Mother endangered Right Whale near PNPS on 1/15/13, calf is out-of-view. Images acquired under authorization of NOAA/NMFS. Credit: Rachel Karasik.Watchdog groups such as Pilgrim WatchCape DownwindersPilgrim Coalition and Cape Cod Bay Watch keep up the good fight against Entergy's Pilgrim atomic reactor in Plymouth, MA. Pilgrim is a four decade old General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor, the same age, or older, and design as the Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4 reactors. 

Pilgrim Watch spearheaded a six year long intervention against the reactor's 20-year license extension, a record of resistance. But, just as it has done 72 other times across the U.S. since 2000, NRC rubberstamped the license extension in the end.

Member of Cape Downwinders, who have carried out non-violent civil disobedience actions in opposition to Pilgrim's ongoing risks, networked with Beyond Nuclear staff at a Clamshell Alliance reunion in New Hampshire last July. A key risk is that there is "No Escape from the Cap" should the worst happen at Pilgrim, as recently affirmed by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency itself.

Pilgrim Coalition is plugging Pilgrim's shutdown:

"Plug-In to Unplug Pilgrim: this is an opportunity to find your place in a growing movement to remove the risk from Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in your community.

Join us on February 6, 2013 in the Otto Fehlow Room of the Plymouth Public Library and kick off the new year by learning about the issue and ways you can help. Snacks and refreshments will be served.

For more information, contact Karen Vale at info@capecodbaywatch.org or (508) 951-4723."

And Cape Cod Bay Watch points out that "Plymouth Is Where NO NUKES Meets SAVE THE WHALES" (see photo, above left).

Another Pilgrim claim to infamy: every single irradiated nuclear fuel assembly ever generated there is still stored in its high-level radioactive waste storage pool. Thus, whereas the precarious Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 has some 135 tons of high-level radioactive waste stored in its pool, Pilgrim has around 600 tons of waste in its pool.

Tuesday
Jan152013

State of Vermont makes its case against Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee at 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals

Bill Sorrell and David Frederick answer questions from the press in front of the Thurgood Marshall Federal Court House, Foley Square, Manhattan. Photo by Ricard Watts. (Chris Williams of CAN and VYDA is visible, back right)The fate of the State of Vermont's long struggle to shutdown Entergy Nuclear's Vermont Yankee (VY) atomic reactor (a General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor, identical in design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4) now rests in the hands of a three-judge panel at the 2nd Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in Manhattan. Yesterday, oral arguments were heard regarding Entergy v. Shumlin et al.Vermont is seeking to overturn a Brattleboro lower court judge's ruling a year ago that state laws had improperly strayed into radiological safety matters, the sole jurisdiction of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as settled by the 1983 PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric) U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In addition to a large turn out of journalists from Vermont and beyond, a number of long-time Vermont Yankee opponents sent representatives to witness the proceeding, including Beyond Nuclear, Conservation Law Foundation, Citizen Awareness Network (CAN), Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance (VYDA). By most accounts, the State of Vermont --represented by Attorney General William Sorrell, and David Frederick of the Washington, D.C. law firm Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, P.L.L.C. (see photo) -- more than held its own.

In March 2011, just days after the nuclear catastrophe began to unfold at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission rubberstamped a 20-year license extension at VY. This came despite a Feb. 2010 vote of 26 to 4 by the State of Vermont Senate, led by Senator Pro Tem (now Governor) Peter Shumlin, that blocked VY's license extension. Costs to the State of Vermont of decommissioning and long-term high-level radioactive waste storage, if Entergy should go bankrupt and abandon the site, figured prominantly in yesterday's arguments.

Richard Watts (who took the photo above), author of Public Meltdown: The Story of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plantcovered the oral arguments on his blogThe Vermont Digger reported on this story, including a link to the audio of the full 37 minute long oral arguments. Vermont Public Radio filed two stories: "At Stake in Yankee Appeal: State's Rights and a Big Legal Bill," and "Appeals Judges Focus on 'Legislative Intent' in Yankee Case." The Associated PressBurlington Free PressBrattleboro Reformer, and Bloomberg have also reported on this story.

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