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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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Tuesday
Jan272015

"Relicensing Limerick nuke plant ignores safety risks"

NRC file photo of Exelon's twin GE Mark II BWR Limerick nuclear power plant. While NRC claims everything is coming up flowers, critics beg to differ.Dr. Lewis Cuthbert, President of the Alliance for a Clean Environment, has written an op-ed to the Pottstown (PA) Mercury, opposing the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's rubberstamp of a 20-year license extension at Exelon Nuclear's twin reactor Limerick nuclear power plant, near Philadelphia.

Limerick Units 1 and 2 are General Electric Mark II Boiling Water Reactors, very similar in design to the Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4 Mark Is.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) intervened against the license extension before an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board panel. NRDC raised Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives (SAMA) analyses contentions. But their contentions fell on deaf ears, and NRC rubberstamped the license extension anyway.

As revealed in the 1982 NRC-commissioned CRAC-2 report ("Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences"), Limerick's proximity to the densely populated Philadelphia metro area means a catastrophic radioactivity release there would inflict some of the worst casualties and property damages in the entire country downwind of atomic reactors.

Monday
Dec222014

Nuclear Crack Down?

Did you know that embrittled nuclear reactors could shatter like glass? Watch Fairewinds Energy Education's Nuclear Science Guy Arnie Gundersen (photo, left) demonstrate reactor embrittlement and imagine the shattering glass as a shattering nuclear reactor vessel. Learn more.

Arnie, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc., serves as expert witness for an environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, challenging Entergy Nuclear's application to weaken reactor pressure vessel (RPV) embrittlement safety standards, yet again, at its Palisades atomic reactor in s.w. MI on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Palisades has the worst embrittled RPV in the U.S., at risk of pressurized thermal shock (PTS), fracture, Loss-of-Coolant-Accident, core meltdown, containment failure, and catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity.

NRC rubber-stamped Palisades' 20-year license extension in 2007, steamrolling an environmental coalition's intervention in opposition. The primary technical safety focus of the coalition was RPV embrittlement and PTS risk. See the chronicle of this 2005-2007 intervenion, posted online at the NIRS website.

Friday
Dec122014

Nuclear Hotseat features Beyond Nuclear on Palisades' PTS risks

The host of the Nuclear Hotseat podcast, Libbe HaLevy, has honored Beyond Nuclear by interviewing Kevin Kamps about the environmental coalition intervention against Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor in Michigan. Palisades has the worst embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the U.S., at risk of a pressurized thermal shock fracture, Loss-of-Coolant-Accident, core meltdown, containment failure, and catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity.

Beyond Nuclear, along with Don't Waste Michigan and Michigan Safe Energy Future-Shoreline Chapter, have been joined in the intervention by Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of Chicago. The problem-plagued Palisades reactor is located on the Lake Michigan shore of southwest Michigan, just 70 miles from Chicago. Lake Michigan is the drinking water supply for Chicago's many millions, and for a total of 40-million people in eight U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations downstream. Gail Snyder, NEIS board chair, helped make this interview happen.

Listen to the interview online at Nuclear Hotseat's website. Kevin's interview begins about a third of the way, and ends about two-thirds of the way, through the program.

But the entire program is well worth the listen, with nuclear news from around the world at the beginning, and at the end, an interview with Leslie Sullivan Sachs of Vermont's Safe and Green Campaign, about the hard-won, permanent shutdown of Entergy's Vermont Yankee reactor to take place on December 29th.

Despite widespread resistance, NRC rubber-stamped Palisades' 20-year license extension in 2007. Although NRC also approved Vermont Yankee's 20-year license extension in March 2011, just days after the twin-designed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered three meltdowns and four explosions, the people and State of Vermont forced the reactor's closure, nonetheless.

Friday
Dec122014

NRC cites Palisades for worker radiological safety violations, record number of failures during Component Design Basis Inspections

NRC file photo of Palisades, located in Covert, MI.The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has cited Entergy Nuclear for violating its own workers' radiological safety at the problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shore in southwest Michigan (photo, left).

In addition, David Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, has documented that Palisades not only had the single biggest number of CDBI (Component Design Basis Inspection) failures of any reactor in the country -- 10 violations, of 20 components inspected -- its rate of such violations was nearly three times higher than the national average.

NRC rubberstamped Palisades' 20-year license extension in 2007, despite widespread concern and opposition by local residents and a large environmental coalition.

More.

Monday
Dec012014

Coalition alleges safety rollbacks at Entergy Palisades, cites risk of vessel fracture, calls for permanent shutdown

NRC file photo of Entergy's Palisdes atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shoreline in southwest MichiganA coalition of environmental groups and concerned local residents has intervened against Entergy Nuclear's License Amendment Application (LAR) to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at its Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shore in southwest Michigan (see photo, left). The LAR seeks to apply an alternate reactor pressure vessel (RPV) fracture toughness rule (10CFR50.61a, instead of the current 10CFR50.61). If successful, the intervention could force the permanent shutdown of the 44-year-old nuclear power plant.

The coalition cites the risk of catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity to the environment due to Pressurized Thermal Shock (PTS) fracturing the embrittled RPV, causing a Loss-of-Coolant-Accident (LOCA), core meltdown, and containment failure.

See the coalition's intervention filing here, including legal and technical arguments, as well as numerous examples of PTS regulatory rollbacks over the decades. See expert witness Arnie Gundersen's declaration and CV here. See eyewitness affidavits re: NRC's refusal to require metal samples to be analyzed here. See an extensive (yet still far from complete) compilation of Palisades' PTS-related documents here. See the coalition's press release here. See also a statement by Gail Snyder, President of the Board of Nuclear Energy Information Service of IL, and a local landowner near Palisades who has intervened against the LAR.

The coalition includes Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste Michigan, Michigan Safe Energy Future, and Nuclear Energy Information Service (Chicago, IL). Arnie Gunderden, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc., serves as the coalition's expert witness. Terry Lodge, Toledo-based attorney, serves as the coalition's legal counsel.

An environmental coalition, including Don't Waste MI and represented by Lodge, opposed Palisades' 20-year license extension from 2005-2007, citing PTS risk as its chief safety contention. However, NRC rubber-stamped its approval, allowing Palisades to operate from 2011 to 2031.