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.



Environmental coalition filings on Davis-Besse Shield Building cracking issue

The environmental coalition challenging FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) proposed 20-year license extension at the problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor, near Toledo on the Lake Erie shore, has been challenging Shield Building cracking since January 10, 2012. Below are the coalition's filings thus far, in chronological order, as well as associated coalition press release, FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) filings, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff filings, NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) orders, etc.:


January 10, 2012Original cracking contention.

January 31, 2012: NRC Integrated Inspection Report. 93 pages.

February 6, 2012: FENOC's Answer Opposing Intervenors' Motion for Admission of Contention No. 5 on Shield Building Cracking. 137 pages.

February 13, 2012: Intervenors' Combined Reply in Support of Motion for Admission of Contention No. 5. 110 pages. (Associated February 14, 2012 coalition press release)

February 27, 2012: Filing based on U.S. Rep. Kucinich's (D-OH) revelation that the shield building's outer rebar layer was no longer structurally functional, due to the cracking. First contention supplement/amendment. (Associated coalition media release.)

June 4, 2012: Filing, in response to FENOC's woefully inadequate Aging Management Plan (AMP) for the shield building's cracks. Second contention supplement/amendment.

June 21, 2012: NRC Inspection to Evaluate the Root Cause Evaluation and Corrective Actions for Cracking in the Reinforced Concrete Shield Building of the Containment System 05000346/2012009(DRS)

July 16, 2012: Filing, in response to FENOC's revised root cause analysis report, which revealed that shield building cracking was first observed not in October 2011, but rather August 1976. Third contention supplement/amendment.

July 23, 2012: Filing, based on revelations in FENOC contractor Performance Improvement International's revised root cause assessment report, which revealed 27 areas of skeptical NRC questioning about FENOC's "Blizzard of 1978" theory of shield building cracking (the environmental Intervenors also posted documents supportive of this fourth contention supplement/amendment).

August 16, 2012: Contention supplement, on the severe shield building cracking, which cites U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) documents revealed through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by Beyond Nuclear. The coalition issued a media release about this contention supplementation.

August 2012: Beyond Nuclear prepared a report, entitled "What Humpty Dumpty Doesn't Want You to Know: Davis-Besse's Cracked Containment Snow Job," which summarized the coalition's work in 2012 on Davis-Besse's dangerously degraded condition, focused on the Shield Building cracking.


The environmental coalition (Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and Sierra Club Ohio Chapter) intervention against Davis-Besse's steam generator replacement project included concerns about damage to the Shield Building. Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc., served as the coalition's expert witness. (Multiple filings) 

April 22, 2014 (Earth Day):

The coalition issued a press release.

ASLB filing:


Exhibits: #1, NRC Preliminary Notice of Event or Occurrence (Feb. 19, 2014); #2, Toledo Blade article, “Davis-Besse Had Air Gap in Shield Building,” (Feb. 15, 2014); #3, Declaration of Victoria Clemons (April 14, 2014); #4, Minutes of Internal Meeting of Davis-Besse Oversight Panel (Oct. 18, 2001); #5, Minutes of Internal Meeting of Davis-Besse Oversight Panel (Oct. 29, 2002); #6, NRC Preliminary Notice of Event or Occurrence (Sept. 20, 2013); #7, NRC Request for Additional Information (April 15, 2014); #8, Expert Witness Report of Arnold Gundersen, 50-246-LA (2013).

DEIS comments:

1. Amory Lovins' "Nuclear power’s competitive landscape and climate opportunity cost," March 28, 2014 (TMI+35), Dartmouth College, NH

Amory Lovins on uncompetitiveness of old atomic reactors. At page 5 Lovin’s writes: "Reactors are promoted as costly to build but cheap to run. Yet as Daniel Allegretti ably described, many existing, long-paid-for U.S. reactors are now starting to be shut down because just their operating cost can no longer compete with wholesale power prices, typically depressed by gas-fired plants or windpower."

2. PJM Interconnect: 30% grid integration of renewables not a problem.

In fact, it was well known to PJM (Pennsylvania/Jersey/Maryland) Interconnect, covering 13 states and this nation's largest single electric grid, as published in this 2010 2010 ISO/RTO Metrics Report, posted at the website of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, that wind power and solar PV are available in abundance and that there is no disruption or destabilizing of "baseload grid" associated with their integration. Replacement power was available in 2010, and is available now, and certainly in 2017.

On Dec. 27, 2010, the environmental coalition -- with University of Toledo professor emeritus Al Compaan as its expert witness -- contended that wind and solar PV, combined with compressed air energy storage, could easily replace Davis-Besse's 908 megawatts of electricity during the 2017-2037 period. In 2011, the ASLB agreed to hear the contention. But on March 27, 2012, the five-member NRC Commission, responding to an appeal by FENOC, unanimously overruled the ASLB, rejecting the renewables-as-alternative-to-license-extension hearing. Interveners reassert their contention and call for the NRC Commissioners' order to be reversed, because they are simply wrong. The coalition reserves the right to appeal the rejection of its renewables contention to federal court, once the ASLB proceeding has concluded.

3. Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, also submitted five comments to NRC: #1, Jan. 10, 2012 SB cracking contention's relevance to DEIS; #2, four 2012 cracking contention supplements' (Feb. 27; June 4; July 16; July 23) relevance to DEIS; #3, fifth cracking contention supplement's (Aug. 16, 2012) relevance to DEIS; #4, Dec., 2010 backgrounder, "Davis-Besse Atomic Reactor: 20 MORE Years of Radioactive Russian Roulette on the Great Lakes Shore?!"; #5, Aug. 2012 SB summary report, "What Humpty Dumpty Doesn't Want You to Know: Davis-Besse's Cracked Concrete Containment Snow Job". 

4. Joe DeMare's comments. Joe is a local resident near Davis-Besse. He is also an official intervener, as part of the environmental coalition, against the license extension. Joe is affiliated with the Ohio Green Party.

July 3, 2014: FENOC filing "L-14-224," including: cover letter; Attachment L-14-224, "Reply to Requests for Additional Information for the Review of [LRA] Section B.2.42"; and Enclosure, Amendment No. 51 to the D-B LRA.

July 8, 2014: FENOC filing, "Notification of Documents Related to Davis-Besse Shield Building," including: Enclosure 1 (identical to July 3, 2014 post immediately above); and Enclosure 2, "Full Apparent Cause Evaluation, Shield Building Laminar Crack Propagation." 98 pages.

July 25, 2014: ASLB Memorandum and Order (Denying Intervenors' Motion for Admission of Contention No. 6 on Shield Building Concrete Void, Cracking and Broken Rebar Problems). 19 pages.


Coalition presses case against containment cracking at Davis-Besse

An NRC inspector investigates cracking revealed in Davis-Besse's Shield Building wall shortly after it was discovered on 10/10/11.An environmental coalition, challenging the proposed 20-year license extension at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) Davis-Besse atomic reactor in Oak Harbor, OH on the Lake Erie shore, has filed a defense of its September 3rd and September 8th, 2014 contentions regarding worsening containment cracking.

This comes in response to October 3rd motions, by both FENOC and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff, calling for the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel overseeing the nearly four-year-old License Renewal Application (LRA) proceeding, to dismiss the contentions.

The coalition consists of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio. It is represented by Toledo-based attorney, Terry Lodge.

The coalition's filing on October 10th marks the third anniversary, to the day, of when severe cracking was first discovered and publicly announced at Davis-Besse, on Oct. 10, 2011 (see photo, above). The environmental coalition filed its first cracking contention in the proceeding a few months later, and has filed many more -- throughout 2012, and on Earth Day this year. However, all have been dismissed by the ASLB, despite many of the coalition's assertions later being acknowledged as correct by FENOC.

Davis-Besse's original 40-year license will expire on Earth Day (April 22nd), 2017. FENOC is seeking a 20-year extension, till 2037. NRC has rubber-stamped 73 such extensions since the year 2000.


Chris Williams to speak against Davis-Besse & Fermi

Chris Williams speaking at Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent of the People's Climate March in New York City on Sept. 21stChris Williams (photo, left), the chairman of the board of directors of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), and a lead organizer with Vermont Citizen Action Network (VCAN) and Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance (VYDA), will speak out against the Davis-Besse, Ohio and Fermi, Michigan nuclear power plants during a Great Lakes tour in mid-October.

Chris will speak in Port Clinton, Ohio on Monday, October 13th (7 to 8:30pm at Ida Rupp Public Library, 310 Madison Street; see flier here), and in Bowling Green, Ohio on Tuesday, October 14th (7:30 to 8:30pm at BGSU Business Administration Building, Room 103; see flier here). Please see the linked fliers, print them up, post them, hand them out, and otherwise spread the word!

Chris will also speak in downtown Monroe, Michigan on Thursday, October 16th (Hospitality at 4pm; Teach In at 6pm; Slide Show at 7pm; at Loranger Square Pavilion, E. 1st St. & Washington St., 48161; see flier here).

During a quarter-century of service at Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, including 18 years as executive director, Chris helped lead the effort that successfully blocked the proposed new nuclear power plant at Bailly in the Gary, IN/Indiana Dunes area on the Lake Michigan shore, as well as the proposed new nuclear plant at Marble Hill, on the banks of the Ohio River in Madison, IN. To this day, there are no atomic reactors located within the Hoosier State.

And since "retiring" to Vermont over a decade ago, Chris has helped achieve the tremendous grassroots victory of forcing Entergy Nuclear to permanently shut its Vermont Yankee reactor by the end of this year.

Chris's Lake Erie shoreline speaking tour is sponsored by Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste Michigan, the Green Party of Ohio, and the Toledo Safe Energy Coalition, united in coalition to block old reactor license extensions at Fermi 2, MI and Davis-Besse, OH, and the proposed new reactor at Fermi 3, MI. The Fermi and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants are visible with the naked eye, one from the other, 30 miles apart as the crow flies, across Lake Erie.


17 groups urge NRC to halt licensing, relicensing of 23 reactors due to failure to address 2012 court ruling

Diane CurranAs reported by a coalition press release, 17 groups engaged in interventions against 23 old and new reactors have filed new contentions with U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panels.

The contentions cite NRC's own lack of safety assurances regarding ultimate disposal of irradiated nuclear fuel, a recent reversal of NRC's previous so-called "Nuclear Waste Confidence." In addition to the contentions seeking to block new reactor licenses and old reactor license extensions, the coalition has requested stays on all proceedings until the matter is resolved.

Diane Curran (photo, above) of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg, LLP in Washington, D.C., is a lead attorney representing the environmental coalition. Mindy Goldstein of Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University in Atlanta also serves as a lead attorney on behalf of the coalition.

Dr. Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School, and Dr. Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, have each filed expert testimony on behalf of the coalition.

Beyond Nuclear's role in this coalition effort includes its intervention against old reactor license extensions at Davis-Besse, Ohio and Fermi 2, Michigan, as well as its intervention against the proposed new reactor at Fermi 3, Michigan. Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge serves as legal counsel for the environmental coalitions intervening in these particular ASLB proceedings.


Coalition defends its intervention against Fermi 2 license extension

NRC file photo of Fermi 2Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, and Don't Waste Michigan, in coalition opposing Detroit Edison's application for a 20-year license extension at Fermi 2 on the Lake Erie shore in southeast MI (photo, left), have defended their intervention. Their Toledo-based attorney, Terry Lodge, filed the coalition's reply to objections filed a week earlier by DTE and NRC staff. The coalition's petition for leave to intervene and request for a hearing was filed by the Aug. 18th deadline.

Detroit Edison hopes to extend Fermi 2's operating license from 2025 till 2045.

Fermi 2 is the largest General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor in the world. At 1,122 Megawatts-electric, it is nearly as big in size as Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 and 2's Mark I reactors put together.

The coalition's contentions concern the Mark I's fatally flawed containment, and no plans to upgrade it by adding radioactivity filters to hardened vents; the risk of a high-level radioactive waste storage pool fire releasing a catastrophic amount of hazardous radioactivity; and the risk of common mode failures of safety and cooling systems, stemming from the age-degraded Fermi 2, and the proposed new, untested Fermi 3 GE-Hitachi so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR), both sharing the same transmission line corridor for importing off-site electricity.