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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
Feb202014

Coalition files Petition to NRC to strengthen reactor license extension rules due to significant new revelations on radioactive waste risks

Environmental coalition attorney Diane CurranA Petition for Rulemaking was filed on Feb. 18th by Washington, D.C.-based attorney, Diane Curran (photo, left), as well as Mindy Goldstein of the Emory U. Turner Environmental Law Clinic, to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The Petition seeks to re-open the License Renewal GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement), in order to consider new and significant information about irradiated nuclear fuel storage impacts that was generated by the NRC Staff during the Expedited Spent Fuel Transfer proceeding, carried out under NRC's Fukushima "Lessons Learned" activities. Curran and Goldstein filed the Petition on behalf of three dozen environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear.

One of these risks newly recognized by NRC Staff is the contribution of high-level radioactive waste storage pool risks to reactor catastrophes, and vice versa.

The filing urges that no reactor license extensions be approved by NRC until the Petition for Rulemaking has been integrated into NRC's safety regulations.

The coalition has issued a press release.

Thursday
Feb202014

Davis-Besse: from Hole in the Head, to hole in containment wall

NRC file photo of NRC inspector visually examining severe cracking in Davis-Besse's Shield Building wall in Oct., 2011.FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) ran its Davis-Besse atomic reactor to the breaking point in 2002. The Hole-in-the-Head fiasco -- a nearly complete breach of the reactor vessel closure head, or lid -- was the most infamous near-miss to a major reactor accident in the U.S. since the Three Mile Island meltdown in 1979.

Now it has been revealed that Davis-Besse has a hole in its Shield Building wall -- an essential component of the radiological containment structures -- that extends up to 12 inches through its 30-inch width, a full 40% way through. Davis-Besse has operated for over two years, at full power, with this potentially fatal flaw in its Shield Building wall.

The gap or air space was discovered last Thursday, and publicly revealed Friday, during the current Davis-Besse steam generator replacement project, which has breached Davis-Besse's Shield Building for an unprecedented fourth time. The previous three breaches include the pre-operational Initial Construction Opening in the 1970s; the 2002-2004 reactor lid replacement project; and the 2011 reactor lid replacement project. Each breach risks further damaging the Shield Building, where severe cracking was discovered in late 2011. In September 2013, FENOC admitted that the severe cracking is growing worse over time.

NRC Region III Staff are holding a Webinar on Davis-Besse's current steam generator replacement project on Thursday, Feb. 20th, from 6 to 7 PM Eastern. The Webinar was scheduled before revelation of the hole in the containment wall. Please pre-register and attend the Webinar. Beyond Nuclear and Don't Waste MI have generated a series of sample questions you can put to NRC during the Webinar.

Beyond Nuclear helps lead environmental coalition efforts challenging both the steam generator replacements, as well as FENOC's application for a 20-year (2017-2037) license extension at Davis-Besse. Terry Lodge, Toledo-based attorney, serves as legal counsel for the environmental coalition in both NRC proceedings.

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer, Fairewinds Associates, Inc., serves as expert witness for the coalition in the "experimental" steam generator replacement intervention. Gundersen serves as expert witness for Friends of the Earth on the botched San Onofre 2 & 3 steam generator replacements, which has led to the permanent shutdown of those two reactors -- a multi-billion dollar boondoggle. Gundersen was also instrumental in outing the truth on the fatal cracking in Crystal River, FL's concrete containment, also caused by a botched steam generator replacement, another multi-billion dollar boondoggle. Gundersen has alleged that Davis-Besse's steam generator replacement has taken the same shortcuts on safety, made all the worse by its Shield Building's already very questionable, and worsening, structural integrity.

The coalition launched the challenge against the steam generator replacement in May, 2013, and defended its challenge in June and July -- twice in one month! -- 2013. The NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) which heard the intervention quickly dismissed it, without addressing the merits, effectively green-lighting Davis-Besse's shortcuts on safety. Beyond Nuclear has posted the entire docket of the steam generator intervention on its website.

Beyond Nuclear has filed a Freedom of Information Act Request on the gap in the Davis-Besse Shield Building wall.

The Toledo Blade has reported on this story, on Feb. 14 and Feb. 15.

NRC posted an Event Notification Report on Feb. 18, and a Preliminary Notification of Occurrence (PNO) on Feb. 19.

Monday
Jan132014

Chris Williams, "Entergy Nuclear, Resisting a Rogue Corporation," Palisades, MI, Thurs., Jan. 16th

Yard signs created by Michigan Safe Energy Future--Kalamazoo Chapter

[And please also mark your calendars for Dr. Jeff Patterson, National Board Chair of Physicians for Social Responsibility, who is scheduled to speak about "Nuclear Power: What you need to know about Price, Pollution and Proliferation," on the evening of Feb. 14th, at the same venue as Chris Williams below. Dr. Patterson will also speak in numerous additional Michigan communities, on a week-long speaking tour in mid-February. This will include Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo on Feb. 13th, at 7 PM. It will also include stops in southeast MI, targeted by Detroit Edison for the proposed new Fermi 3 GE-Hitachi atomic reactor in Monroe County. Dr. Patterson's additional stops in other Michigan cities will be announced ASAP.]

Shamefully, NRC rubber-stamped a 20-year license extension at Vermont Yankee (VY) just days after the meltdowns, explosions, and catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity from the identically-designed Fukushima Daiichi General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors, but Vermont forced VY's permanent shutdown anyways! Let's hope that Michiganders (and Michigeese, and Michigoslings) will be inspired by, and follow the model of, their Green Mountain State allies...

Entergy Nuclear: Resisting a Rogue Corporation and its Radioactive Risks

A presentation by Chris Williams of Vermont Citizens Action Network as well as Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance

Thursday, January 16, 2014, 6:30 to 9:00 PM,

Lake Michigan College,

125 Veterans Blvd., Room 141

South Haven, MI 49090

(For directions to campus, location of parking, etc.,
see:
http://www.lakemichigancollege.edu/SH)

Come learn about Entergy Nuclear’s dirty dozen atomic reactors, including the problem-plagued Palisades near South Haven. Chris Williams is a leader of the ongoing, highly successful grassroots campaign to shutdown Entergy's dangerously degraded Vermont Yankee atomic reactor (a Fukushima Daiichi twin design). Having stopped proposed new reactors in Indiana during his 25 years of service as Executive Director of Citizen Action Coalition, he will show how community organizing can stop dirty, dangerous, and expensive atomic reactors, and replace them with efficiency and renewables like wind and solar.

Chris Williams, is a long time sustainable energy policy activist. He is currently organizer for the Vermont Citizens Action Network, a grassroots organization working to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear station and replace it with sustainable energy generation. Williams has a long professional history working with public interest organizations. For 25 years he was the executive director for Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, a not for profit consumer and environmental advocacy organization. CAC conducts extensive grassroots public education campaigns concerning, public utility regulation, energy policy, environmental policy, and the preservation of family farms.

Co-sponsored by Michigan Safe Energy Future (http://michigansafeenergyfuture.com),
Beyond Nuclear (
www.beyondnuclear.org),
and Don’t Waste Michigan
(http://dwmi.homestead.com).

For more info, contact Bette Pierman, Michigan Safe Energy Future, (269) 369-3993 or

Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear, (240) 462-3216

[See the event flier here]

Friday
Dec202013

Atomic reactors? Electricity is but the fleeting byproduct; the actual product is forever deadly high-level radioactive waste!

At the first anti-nuclear power event Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps ever attended, in March 1993, Michael Keegan of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes and Don't Waste Michigan pointed out that "Electricity is but the fleeting byproduct from atomic reactors. The actual product is forever deadly radioactive waste."

An environmental coalition of nearly three dozen groups, including Beyond Nuclear and Don't Waste Michigan, has said just as much to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regarding its "Nuclear Waste Confidence" Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement. So too has Beyond Nuclear directly itself.

A key conclusion of such public comments? The costs, liabilities, and risks of generating, storing, and "disposing of" high-level radioactive wastes mean that NRC approving license extensions at old reactors is a non-starter, as should have been revealed by the "hard look" required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) during NRC's court-ordered EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) undertaking.

The image to the left is the cover of the Beyond Nuclear pamphlet published for the Dec. 2, 2012 conference held at the U. of Chicago entitled "A Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High." Sponsored by Beyond Nuclear, FOE, and NEIS, it marked the 70th year, to the day, since Enrico Fermi fired up the first self-sustaining chain reaction in an atomic reactor, creating the world's first high-level radioactive waste, as part of the Manhattan Project's race to create atomic weapons, culminating in the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in August, 1945.

Wednesday
Nov062013

"Nuclear giant taps wind tax credit that it's trying to kill"

Greenwire has published an article by Hannah Northey, E&E reporter, exposing the hypocricy of Exelon for exploiting the very wind power subsidy that it has attacked as giving the wind power industry an unfair competition advantage.

The article reports: "Amy Grace, a North American wind analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, pegged Exelon's wind PTCs [Production Tax Credits] for 2013 at $75 million to $100 million based on the company's 1.3 gigawatts of wind projects."

The American Wind Energy Association expelled Exelon from its membership in 2012 for Exelon's lobbying to kill the wind power production tax credit.

The IL reactors Exelon has identified as at risk of closing due to being outcompeted by wind power are: Clinton, Byron 1 & 2, and Quad Cities 1 & 2.

Quad Cities twin units are identical in design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4 -- GE BWR Mark Is.

The near-term risk of closure comes despite Quad Cities already receiving a 20-year operating license extension rubberstamp from NRC, and Byron 1 & 2 having applied for one as well.