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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
Jul092013

Coalition defends intervention against risky steam generator replacements at Davis-Besse

Terry Lodge, Toledo-based attorney, speaking out against Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension in August 2012 at Oak Harbor High School, OHTerry Lodge (pictured left), Toledo-based attorney representing an environmental coalition intervening against FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) risky steam generator replacements at its Davis-Besse atomic reactor, has filed PETITIONERS’ REPLY IN OPPOSITION TO FENOC ‘MOTION TO STRIKE.’

The coalition includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club. Its expert witness, Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc, has warned that FENOC has taken similar shortcuts on safety as did Edison International with its dangerously flawed steam generator replacements at San Onofre, CA. Edison was forced to permanently shut San Onofre 2 & 3, after Friends of the Earth (FOE) successfully intervened for license amendment hearings after the replacement steam generators suffered extensive, premature degradation, putting 8 million residents and workers within 50 miles at risk. Arnie serves as FOE's expert at San Onofre, as well.

In a separate but related proceeding, Beyond Nuclear, CEA, Don't Waste MI, and the Green Party of Ohio have also challenged the 20-year license extension at Davis-Besse which FENOC has applied for. Davis-Besse's current 40-year operating license expires on Earth Day (April 22), 2017.

The coalition plans to reply in opposition to similar U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff motions to strike in coming days. More.

Wednesday
Jul032013

Davis-Besse has emergency shutdown, pressure boundary leakage; coalition presses case against risky steam generator replacements

Toledo attorney Terry Lodge speaks out against Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension at an August 2012 press conference in Oak Harbor, OhioOn June 29th, FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore near Toledo experienced an emergency shutdown.

The event notification report posted on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) website states:

'AUTOMATIC REACTOR TRIP DUE TO REACTOR COOLANT PUMP TRIP 

"Automatic trip of Reactor Coolant Pump 1-2 due to an electrical differential current fault resulted in an RPS actuation on Flux/Delta Flux/Flow. Startup Feedwater Valve 1 did not respond as expected post-trip and has been placed in manual control. All secondary side steam reliefs initially re-seated following reactor trip. Subsequent Main Steam Line #1 Safety Valve leakage mitigated during post-trip recovery actions. All other systems have functioned as expected. The plant is stable in Mode 3 - Hot Standby."

All rods inserted into the core during the trip. Decay heat is being removed via turbine bypass valves to the main condenser with normal feedwater to the steam generators. The plant is in its normal shutdown electrical lineup. The licensee characterized the trip as uncomplicated. 

The licensee will be notifying Lucas and Ottawa counties, the State of Ohio and will be issuing a press release. They have notified the NRC Resident Inspector.'

Helpfully translating that Nukespeak into plain English, David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists' Director of Nuclear Safety, has prepared a powerpoint presentation to explain what happened at Davis-Besse.

Vanessa McCray at the Toledo Blade has reported on this story. She quotes Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps:

'...Kevin Kamps, a radioactive-waste specialist for Beyond Nuclear, said the most recent incident is another worry.

“A lot of plants have problems, but often times it’s a single problem a plant will have ...,” he said. “But for Davis-Besse, they have just a whole long list of problems, and that’s what concerns us too —that those might line up one day in a very bad way.”...' 

A coalition including Beyond Nuclear, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio have challenged Davis-Besse's proposed 20-year license extension since 2010. If NRC rubber-stamps it, Davis-Besse could then operate past the expiration of its 40-year license on Earth Day (April 22), 2017, and would then have permission to operate till 2037, despite its worsening breakdown phase risks.

More.

Saturday
Jun222013

Coalition defends its challenge against risky steam generator replacements at Davis-Besse

Terry Lodge speaks out against Davis-Besse license extension at Oak Harbor High School, Ohio, in August 2012On June 21st, an environmental coalition represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge (photo, left) re-asserted its challengeagainst risky steam generator replacements at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo. The filing rebutted June 14th attacks byFENOC as well as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff on the coalition's standing, as well as the merits of its contentions.

The coalition, comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club, launched its intervention petition on May 20th. The coalition's expert, Fairewinds Associates, Inc's Chief Engineer, Arnie Gundersen, also serves as Friends of the Earth's (FOE) expert in the San Onofre defective replacement steam generator proceeding, which recently resulted in the permanent closure of two reactors. FENOC has taken similar short cuts on safety as did Edison International, which resulted in the San Onofre engineering catastrophe that put 8 million southern Californians at radiological risk, and has resulted in a $2.5 billion boondoggle.

In a separate NRC licensing proceeding, an environmental coalition comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio, again represented by Terry Lodge, has been challenging the 20-year license extension sought by FENOC at Davis-Besse.

Thursday
Jun132013

45-year-old construction error revealed in leaking tank at Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor

Entergy and NRC have just discovered that, at Palisades, plant diagrams are not accurate depictions of "as-built" realityAs reported by Andrew Lersten at the St. Joe Herald-Palladium, a 45-year-old construction error has been discovered at Entergy Nuclear's problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shoreline in southwest MI. While repairing a 300,000 gallon tank of water that has been leaking for over two years -- including into the safety-critical control room, as well as directly into Lake Michigan -- workers found that a grout ring and sand bed region called for in the blueprints had never been installed back in 1968. Entergy and NRC now admit that phantom structures assumed to have been there all along may go a long way to explaining why the floor of the tank has suffered repeated leaks, despite multiple attempted repairs.

As recently as April 25, 2013, in a submission to NRC, Entergy gave engineering credit to structures which, in reality, didn't even exist: "Pressure stress loads are carried by the sand base, concrete grout ring, and concrete foundation beneath the tank bottom."

The discrepancy between Palisades' blueprints (see image, left), and the actual "as-built" reality, raises serious safety significant questions about the entire atomic reactor.

The Herald-Palladium, for whom Palisades unquestionably could do no wrong for decades on end, published a blistering editorial on May 23rd. The editorial board concluded:

"...as events in Japan proved in 2011, there is really no second chance when it comes to a catastrophic nuclear event.

We know that Entergy officials will say emphatically that they understand the stakes and are doing everything possible to maintain safety. But talk is cheap, and past problems at the plant don’t inspire confidence. What is really needed are better results.

Should Palisades continue to stumble along in the next months and years, then we hope the NRC takes a much harder look at Palisades’ license. Energy production and commerce are important, but not nearly as important as the safety and well-being of an entire region."

NRC rubber-stamped Palisades' 20-year license extension in 2007, allowing it to operate till 2031.

Wednesday
Jun122013

Davis-Besse's "San Onofre-like" shortcuts on safety with steam generator replacement focus of NRC public meeting

Terry Lodge speaks out against Davis-Besse in August 2012 at an NRC public meeting held at Oak Harbor High SchoolBeyond Nuclear set up an info. table at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) "annual performance review" public meeting in Carroll Township, Ohio, just a few miles down the road from FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor. Beyond Nuclear was there to let the public know about the ongoing resistance by an environmental coalition to Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension, and its recently filed intervention against FENOC's San Onofre-like shortcuts on safety regarding its proposed 2014 steam generator replacements.

Toledo attorney Terry Lodge (photo, left) represents the coalition, and Fairewinds Associates, Inc's Chief Engineer, Arnie Gundersen, serves as its expert witness. Gundersen also serves as Friends of the Earth's (FOE) expert, which just successfully forced Edison International to permanently shutdown the San Onofre 2 & 3 atomic reactors due to fatally flawed replacement steam generators.

WTOL's Jennifer Steck quoted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps (print articletelevision report):

'..."We want to prevent a Chernobyl or Fukishima on the shoreline of the Great Lakes," said Kevin Kamps, of Beyond Nuclear. "There is no reactor in this country that's come closer to that as many times as Davis-Besse has."

Davis-Besse is licensed for operation through 2017, and in the process of a 20-year license renewal. Delaying that renewal and preventing a steam generator replacement in 2014 are the main goals of Beyond Nuclear.

"We've long strived to shut down Davis-Besse, and we're not going to give up now," Kamps said. "We're just going to re-double our efforts."...'

The Toledo Blade's Roberta Gedert also quoted Kevin:

“They went way out of their way to avoid a license amendment on this major organ transplant,” said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste watchdog for Beyond Nuclear. “If they have made any mistakes, they have wasted hundreds of millions of dollars because we are going to challenge them at every turn.”