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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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Friday
Oct192012

"Process Flaws" in NRC's 20 year license extension rubber-stamp process

Riverkeeper has published an account at its website about "Process Flaws" with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) license extension process:

"Riverkeeper has previously joined regional and national nuclear watchdog groups in petitioning the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to suspend current license renewal proceedings for the Indian Point, Oyster Creek, Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee nuclear power plants until an objective and independent investigation is conducted into the current license renewal process.

This petition was in direct response to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission Office of the Inspector General (OIG) audit in September 2007 which found:

1) The NRC staff failed to verify the authenticity of technical safety information in over 97% of the renewal applications audited by OIG; and

2) NRC staff reviewers routinely ‘cut and pasted’ whole sections of the renewal application text into their own safety reviews, rather than write their own evaluations.

At the Ginna nuclear power plant in upstate New York, the Inspector General found that NRC staff had copied 100% of the safety review data provided by the nuclear operator into its own safety evaluation, without providing any evidence that the information in the application had been properly verified."

Friday
Oct192012

Over the past 20 years, Entergy has inspected less than half of "highly important," safety-significant pipes and components susceptible to corrosion at Indian Point Units 2 & 3

Riverkeeper reports at its Facebook page:

"Under cross-examination by Riverkeeper attorneys yesterday, Entergy admitted that in 20 years, it had inspected fewer than half of the 8,000 components susceptible to corrosion at the Indian Point nuclear reactors. And these are pipes and other components that Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission agree are "highly important" to the safety of the plant. 

Who knows if those pipes can withstand another 20 years of use, or if they'd fail catastrophically, endangering the 20 million Americans who live in the shadow of the plant. 

How safe and secure does that sound? 

That's just one reason why Riverkeeper--the first to present evidence in the historic NRC hearings that started this week--is arguing that the NRC should close Indian Point as intended when Entergy's licenses expire.

Learn more about our Indian Point relicensing battle: http://bit.ly/S63VI2"

In April 2010, Beyond Nuclear's Paul Gunter published a report, Leak First, Fix Later, which described the epidemic of radioactive leaks from underground pipes -- and other systems, structures, and components -- at aging nuclear power plants, including a chapter on Indian Point's leaking high-level radioactive waste storage pools. In August 2010, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps prepared a backgrounder about leaking high-level radioactive waste storage pools in the U.S., for use on a national speaking tour of Japan organized by Green Action Kyodo. His first stop was Fukushima Daiichi.

Friday
Oct192012

News coverage of Indian Point license extension hearings

Environmental groups Hudson Riverkeeper and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, as well as the State of New York's Attorney General, have intervened against Entergy Nuclear's bid for 20 year license extensions at Indian Point Units 2 & 3 near New York City. The hearings before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board panel (ASLB) have just begun.

LowHud.com quoted AG Eric T. Schneiderman as stating " 'The problem is neither Indian Point nor the NRC has demonstrated to New Yorkers that their health and safety will be adequately protected if the plants are relicensed,' state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said. 'In the upcoming hearing, my office is committed to holding Indian Point and the NRC fully accountable for making such demonstration before any decision on relicensing is made. New Yorkers deserve nothing less.' "

The publication also quoted Riverkeeper attorney Phillip Musegaas as saying: “The big question is, ‘Has Entergy shown in its application it can safely operate and maintain Indian Point for the next 20 years?’ We don’t think they have.” 

LoHud.com has reported on this story. (Note related stories about Indian Point, down the left hand column)

In an earlier article, LoHud.com reported that proponent and opponents of Indian Point's 20 year license extension were vying with one another to send a record number of "limited appearance statements" expressing their views to the ASLB. The Indian Point license extension proceeding has already set another record as well, with 10 contentions admitted for hearing.

As reprinted by the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press has also reported on the commencement of the long awaited license extension oral hearings. The Huffington Post ran a longer version of the AP article.

The New York Times has also reported on this story.

The Peekskill Patch has reported that the ASLB hearings will reconvene Oct. 22-24 and Dec. 10-14.

The NRC's press release lists the ten contentions (spearheaded by the State of NY, Riverkeeper, and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater). NRC's blog on the proceeding points out that this is the largest number of contentions admitted for hearing in any license extension proceeding thus far. Since 2000, NRC has rubberstamped 73 atomic reactor 20 year license extensions, denying not a single application.

 

Thursday
Oct182012

People power pressure against Entergy intensifies nationwide

Entergy Nuclear's ironic motto, "The Power of People" (see left), has backfired, with concerted pressure intensifying against its dirty dozen atomic reactors across the country. In New York, hearings have begun on the State's and environmental groups' opposition to Indian Point's license extensions; the Alliance for a Green Economy and Beyond Nuclear have followed up their emergency enforcement petition with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request against the FitzPatrick Mark I; and Beyond Nuclear has been invited to speak in Stony Point on October 21st, and on Long Island on October 27th. A lawsuit has been launched against the Pilgrim Mark I near Boston, objecting to Entergy's impacts on Cape Cod Bay. And at Vermont Yankee, the drum beat of citizen actions continues, as oral arguments at the federal court of appeals against the Mark I's extended operations are scheduled for next month.

(Indian Point is a pending license extension fight; while FitzPatrick, Pilgrim, and Vermont Yankee are among the 73 atomic reactors that have already received 20 year license extension rubberstamps by NRC, resistance to those reactors, and calls for their shutdowns, continue!)

Thursday
Oct182012

NRC ASLB oral argument pre-hearings on Davis-Besse license extension, Nov. 5 & 6, Toledo

Nuclear Regulatory Commission photos taken in late 2011 show the laminar subsurface cracking (left) at the Shield Building and core bore samples from the Shield Building. Despite the severe cracking, NRC Staff has strenuously opposed the environmental coalition's attempts to raise the issue in the license extension proceedings.The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel presiding over the Davis-Besse atomic reactor license extension proceeding has ordered oral argument pre-hearings at the Common Pleas Courtroom in the Lucas County Courthouse, located at 700 Adams Street in downtown Toledo, Ohio, to be held from 9 AM to 4:30 PM on Monday, November 5th and Tuesday, November 6th (yes, Election Day!).

Beyond Nuclear, along with Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio, represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge, launched an official intervention against Davis-Besse's 20 year license extension on December 27, 2010. At these oral argument pre-hearings, the environmental coalition will strive to fend off FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) and NRC Staff's attempts to gut their Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives (SAMA) analyses contention, which alleges that FENOC's SAMA models significantly underestimate the casualties and costs of a catastrophic radioactivity release from Davis-Besse.

The coalition will also argue for a hearing on the merits of its concrete containment cracking contention, first filed on January 10, 2012, and supplememted numerous times this year based on new revelations contained in FENOC and NRC documents, including those made public by a Beyond Nuclear Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Members of the public and news media reporters are encouraged to attend these critical oral argument pre-hearings. But, as the ASLB itself has noted: "We recognize that November 6 is Election Day. We encourage those who will have to travel out-of-town to attend this oral argument to vote early if their jurisdiction permits or to request an absentee ballot."