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.



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.



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.


Coalition presses case against reactors on Great Lakes

Lake Erie's shores are dotted with numerous large-scale atomic reactors and coal burners. These thermal-electric power plants dump 2/3rds of the heat they generate as waste into the environment, contributing to recent toxic algae blooms visible in this satellite photo.An environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, is working at fever pitch against degraded old, and proposed new, reactors on the Great Lakes shoreline in southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio.

Davis-Besse, OH

At U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, the groups Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio pressed their case against a 20-year license extension at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor east of Toledo. An oral argument pre-hearing was ordered to take place on Nov. 12th by the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP) overseeing the License Renewal Application (LRA) proceeding. The coalition first intervented against the license extension nearly four years ago.

Attorney Terry Lodge, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, and Don't Waste MI's Michael Keegan represented the coalition before NRC ASLBP. The coalition was joined by expert witness Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc. The focus of the day-long hearing was the severe, and worsening, cracking of Davis-Besse's concrete containment Shield Building. The dangerously deteriorating Shield Building is the last line of defense against a catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity, as from a reactor core meltdown and Inner Steel Containment Vessel failure due to a reactor disaster, earthquake, tornado missile, etc. The coalition has filed numerous contentions about the cracking since it was first revealed on October 10, 2011.

The coalition issued a press advisory about the Nov. 12th oral hearing. The Toledo Blade has reported on this story.

Fermi 2, MI

Beyond Nuclear, CEA, and Don't Waste MI, again represented by Toledo-attorney Terry Lodge, will appear at oral argument pre-hearings before an NRC ASLB on November 20th in Monroe, Michigan. The coalition is opposing the 20-year license extension proposed at Detroit Edison's Fermi 2 atomic reactor in nearby Frenchtown Township, on the Lake Erie shore. Fermi 2 is the single biggest G.E. Mark I Boiling Water Reactor in the world -- the same design as melted down and exploded, times three, at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan.

Beyond Nuclear's Reactor Oversight Director, Paul Gunter, will argue a contention calling for radiological filters on hardened vents, an obviously needed safety upgrade actively ignored by a majority of the NRC Commissioners, despite the lessons that should have been learned from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. Beyond Nuclear's Freeze Our Fukushimas campaign calls for the shutdown of all U.S. Mark I and II reactors. (See Beyond Nuclear's Freeze Our Fukushimas pamphlet.)

Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, will argue a contention regarding serious safety risks associated with the Fermi nuclear power plant's off-site transmission line corridor, as well as radioactive waste contentions.

Another group, Citizens Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT), has launched another 15 contentions against the license extension.

Fermi 3, MI

The coalition comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (CACC), CEA, Don't Waste MI, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter -- again represented by attorney Terry Lodge -- continues to press its case against the proposed new Fermi 3 reactor, to be built on the very site that the Fermi 1 "We Almost Lost Detroit"  reactor partially melted down on October 5, 1966.

The coalition intervened against Fermi 3 on March 9, 2009, and has since filed dozens of contentions against the proposal.

Its transmission line corridor NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) contention is still before the NRC Commissioners, thanks to a sua sponte motion by the NRC ASLBP itself. On behalf of the coalition, Lodge just filed a motion with the NRC Commissioners, supporting the ASLBP's request to the Commissioners for permission to carry out its own independent review of what appears to be NRC staff violations of NEPA, for not including the required "hard look" at the environmental impacts of Fermi 3's transmission line corridor in the FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement).

In addition, the coalition has appealed the ASLBP's rejection of its quality assurance (QA) contention to the full NRC Commission. Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds serves as the coalition's Fermi 3 QA expert witness. The NRC Commissioners will likely rule on the QA and transmission corridor contentions in the near future.


Environmental coalition cites lack of Nuclear Waste Confidence, calls for suspension of reactor licensing proceedings

An environmental coalition embroiled in numerous old, degraded reactor license extension -- as well as proposed new reactor construction and operation license -- proceedings has filed its "CONSOLIDATED REPLY TO ANSWERS TO PETITIONS TO SUSPEND FINAL REACTOR LICENSING DECISIONS, MOTIONS TO ADMIT A NEW CONTENTION, AND MOTIONS TO REOPEN THE RECORD" before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The filing is a response to "Answers" filed a week ago by NRC staff and the nuclear utilities, as well as to an amicus curiae filing made by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's lobbying arm in Washington, D.C. The environmental coalition's "Consolidated Reply" was prepared by Diane Curran of the Washington, D.C. law firm Harmon, Curran, Spielberg + Eisenberg, LLP, as well as Mindy Goldstein, Director of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta.

Terry Lodge, a Toledo-based attorney who represents Beyond Nuclear and other environmental groups in their interventions against the Davis-Besse, OH and Fermi 2, MI license extensions, and the Fermi 3, MI Construction and Operating Licence Application (COLA), filed the "Consolidated Reply" in these proceedings.


Beyond Nuclear to challenge Davis-Besse containment cracking at NRC HQ on Nov. 12th

Severe sub-surface laminar cracks in the Shield Building concrete adjacent to rebar (left) grow a half-inch every time it freezes at Davis-Besse. Core bore monitoring tests (right) are too few and far between, and too infrequent.

Please listen-in by phone, to show your support, as Beyond Nuclear and environmental allies challenge the problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor's proposed 20-year license extension. The focus of the Wednesday, November 12th hearing, beginning at 9 AM Eastern sharp, will be worsening cracking of the concrete containment. Your presence on the phone line will let the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), its Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP), and FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company know they are being watched. It will also let Beyond Nuclear and its allies know they have your support.

According to the NRC ASLB point of contact, law clerk Sachin Desa:

"...The dial-in number for calling in to the Davis-Besse November 12th Oral Argument (listen-only) is 888-790-4078.  When prompted, please enter the passcode 2475418.  

If others are interested in listening in on the call, please have them reach out to me so we can keep an accurate count.

The argument will start at 9:00 AM Eastern Time.  Please try to be on the line at least five minutes early so as to allow time to work through any technical issues that may arise.  Let me know if there are any further questions.

Sachin Desai, Law Clerk

Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission | 301-415-6523"


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP) overseeing FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) application proceeding for a 20-year license extension at its problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor in Oak Harbor, OH on the Lake Erie shore has announced oral argument pre-hearings will be held at NRC HQ in Rockville, Maryland on Wed., Nov. 12th, beginning at 9am Eastern sharp. The hearing will focus on the environmental coalition's latest concrete containment cracking contention, motivated by recent revelations of "ice-wedging crack propagation," despite earlier assurances by FENOC -- backed by NRC staff -- that the already severe cracking could not possibly get worse.

As ordered by the ASLBP, "a listen-only line will be available for members of the public that wish to listen to the proceedings by telephone. Interested members of the public should contact Sachin Desai [at 301-415-6532 or] no later than Monday, November 10, 2014 to receive the listen-only telephone conference number and passcode...Those participating by telephone should be on the line at least five minutes early so as to allow time to work through any technical issues that may arise."

Please see Sachin Desai's detailed call-in instructions, posted above in bold.

Supporters of this environmental intervention are encouraged to phone and listen-in, to show NRC, the ASLBP, and FENOC that people care, and to show support for the intervening groups and their representatives.

If you happen to be in Washington, D.C. at the time (such as for Michael Mariotte of NIRS's Lifetime Achievement Award event on Nov. 10th, and/or the Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign gathering beginning on Nov. 14th), you can also attend this ASLBP proceeding in person:

"The oral argument will be held at the NRC [Headquarters] on November 12, 2014, in the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards Meeting Room 2 (Room #2B1), which is on the second floor of Two White Flint North, 11545 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852...All persons participating in person should arrive at the NRC at least fifteen minutes early so as to allow sufficient time to pass through security screening."

NRC HQ is located immediately across the street from the White Flint Metro Station on the Red Line.

30-minutes ahead of time would be safer, actually, given NRC's strict security and escorting protocols. Be sure to bring a valid photo ID.

The environmental coalition intervening against Davis-Besse's 2017-2037 license extension includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio. The coalition is represented by Terry Lodge, an attorney based in Toledo. The coalition launched its intervention nearly four years ago, on December 27, 2010. The coalition has raised numerous concrete containment cracking contentions since the severe -- and now admittedly worsening -- problem was first revealed in late 2011.