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Relicensing

The U.S. nuclear reactor fleet is aging but owners are applying to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for license extensions to operate reactors an additional 20 years beyond their licensed lifetimes. Beyond Nuclear is challenging and opposing relicensing efforts.

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Thursday
Dec152016

NRC finalizes Fermi 2's 20-year license extension

Fermi 2, on the Lake Erie shore in Monroe County, MIOn Dec. 15, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) finalized its rubber-stamp approval of DTE's (Detroit Edison's) application for a 20-year operating license extension at its Fermi 2 atomic reactor in Monroe County, on southeast Michigan's Lake Erie shoreline.

This took place despite Citizens' Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT) efforts to raise objections -- specifically, regarding the lack of emergency response capability in the event of a catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity, to deliver potassium iodide (KI) in time to prevent harm to area residents' thyroids from dangerously radioactive I-131. (See CRAFT's Facebook page here.)

The Monroe News reported on CRAFT's resistance to the license extension.

CRAFT's contention built on work launched by Beyond Nuclear and the Alliance to Halt Fermi 3, the "Got KI?" campaign.

CRAFT had previously raised a wind power contention, as an alternative to 20 more years of radioactive Russian roulette risks at Fermi 2.

Beyond Nuclear had also joined with Don't Waste Michigan, and Citizen Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, to challenge Fermi 2's license extension. Terry Lodge of Toledo, OH serves as the coalition's legal counsel. The coalition's contentions included Fukushima lessons un-learned, as well as the vulnerability of Fermi 2's transmission line corridor to provide primary electricity in the event of a Loss-of-Cooling-Accident (LOCA) at the super-sized Fukushima Daiichi twin design Fermi 2 General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor.

Fermi 2 is as big as Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 and 2 put together. (Also see Beyond Nuclear's "Freeze Our Fukushimas" website section.)

However, NRC rebuffed the coalition's contentions on its rush to rubber-stamp.

The Nuclear "Rubber-stamp" Agency has approved 88 atomic reactor 20-year license extensions since the year 2000. However, of these, several reactors have permanently shut down, despite many years or even decades left on their extended operating licenses. These include Fort Calhoun, Nebraska; Vermont Yankee; and Kewaunee, WI. See NRC's license extension website section for more information. And see Beyond Nuclear's Relicensing website section for a chronicle of resistance.

Monday
Nov212016

A monumental day: NYS Court of Appeals decision effectively stops NRC from re-licensing Indian Point

As posted at Riverkeeper's website:

Contact: Cliff Weathers, Director of Communications, (914) 478-4501 ext. 239, cweathers@riverkeeper.org

Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay issued this statement regarding today’s NYS Court of Appeals ruling on Indian Point:

“This is a monumental day. This decision effectively stops the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from re-licensing Indian Point.

“The Coastal Zone Management Act gives the New York Secretary of State the authority to refuse certification of any project that significantly impacts river resources. In late 2015, the Secretary of State ruled that Indian Point was inconsistent with over a dozen policies designed to protect the Hudson River and its surrounding communities.

“The New York State Court of Appeals ruling reinstates the decision by the Secretary of State, which refused to provide coastal zone approval. Without that coastal zone approval, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission cannot relicense Indian Point. It is a complete stopper.

“Indian Point is not needed to provide energy to the New York Metropolitan Area. It is not safe to continue operating. And this ruling effectively bars federal relicensing of Indian Point. It’s time to close Indian Point and take advantage of the safe, sustainable energy future that awaits New York.”

Background: Citing numerous environmental and public safety concerns, the NYS Department of State filed an objection to Indian Point’s application for a Coastal Consistency Certification in late 2015. Riverkeeper was granted permission to intervene as amicus curiae and filed a brief supporting the DOS.

See news coverage, below.

Monday
Nov212016

Big Setback for Indian Point Relicensing: NY Court of Appeals Ruling

As reported by the Peekskill Patch. Here is additional media coverage, as compiled by the State of NV Agency for Nuclear Projects on its What's New page:

Wednesday
May042016

Concerns spread over "Baffling Reactor Vessel Bolts" in aging U.S. PWRs

This image, used by Lochbaum at UCS in his "All Things Nuclear" blog post, as well as his NIRS-hosted Webinar, shows the location of former plates and baffle plates at the heart of PWR reactor pressure vessels. The baffle-former bolts play a critical safety role in directly cooling water flow through the reactor core.As reported by Aaron Larson at POWER, degraded baffle-former bolts at the core of U.S. pressurized water reactors (PWRs) has raised the specter of an industry-wide safety problem. As the article reports, Salem Unit 1 in NJ has at least 18 bolts exhibiting degradation, upon visual inspection. Indian Point Unit 2 in NY, however, exhibited 227 degraded bolts, upon more rigorous Ultrasonic inspection -- a whopping 27% of the bolts there.

Such problems with bolts, the article reports, date back to the 1980s in France. However, it stands to reason that age-related degradation -- specifically, irradiation-assisted stress corrosion cracking -- contributes significantly to the bolt problems.

Both inspections -- at Salem 1 and Indian Point 2 -- resulted from 20-year license extension aging management plans. In the case of Indian Point, this was forced by the State of New York Attorney General's office, leading the state's intervention against Indian Point's license extension.

Despite the problems found at Indian Point 2, Entergy Nuclear has refused to inspect Indian Point Unit 3 to determine how bad the degradation is there. Nor does it plan to until 2019.

As reported by POWER above, PSEG has moved up its Ultrasonic inspections from 2019 to now, given the disconcerting bolt degradation revealed upon visual inspection.

As explained on April 28th by Dave Lochbaum at Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), on a Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) sponsored Webinar (entitled "Indian Point's Baffling Reactor Vessel Bolts"), baffles and formers play a critical safety role, in directing coolant flow through PWR reactor cores:

April 28, 2016. NIRS webinar on investigation of reactor pressure vessel bolts at New York's Indian Point reactors, which revealed numerous deficiencies and failures. The webinar examines those failures and explores the implications for reactors across the U.S. and world. Full video/audio of webinar. Slides only from presentation by David Lochbaum of Union of Concerned Scientists.

In an April 7 blog post at All Things Nuclear, Lochbaum praised NY Governor Cuomo and NY Attorney General Schneiderman for thier leadership in the Indian Point license extension interventions, that forced the baffle-former bolt inspections, that revealed the widespread degradation.

Wednesday
Mar302016

"Inviting disaster": Karl Grossman interviewed by RT on aging atomic reactors like Indian Point

Investigative journalist Karl Grossman, a Beyond Nuclear board memberRT has interviewed investigative journalist Karl Grossman (photo left) on the risks of age-degraded nuclear power plants like Indian Point near New York City, where rusted and even missing bolts are but the latest safety scare.

Entergy Nuclear's Indian Point Units 2 and 3 reactors, some 25 miles up the Hudson River from the New York City limits, are both operating on expired operating licenses, compliments of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's lax rules. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is leading the charge for Indian Point's shutdown.

So too is New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office has sued NRC over its false Nuclear Waste Confidence policy. (Beyond Nuclear is an official party in the NY v. NRC II proceeding currently before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.)

Karl describes the potentially "catastrophic" risks of running reactors not 40 years, but 60 and even 80 years, including with power "uprates" -- operating aged reactors harder and hotter, to make more electricity, to make more money.

Karl points out that the answer is to shut these old nuclear power plants immediately, to eliminate the Chernobyl- and Fukushima-like reactor risks, and to stop the generation of radioactive waste. The electricity can be replaced with renewables like wind and solar, which are here today.

Karl serves as a Beyond Nuclear board member.