Nuclear safety is, of course, an oxymoron. Nuclear reactors are inherently dangerous, vulnerable to accident with the potential for catastrophic consequences to health and the environment if enough radioactivity escapes. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Congressionally-mandated to protect public safety, is a blatant lapdog bowing to the financial priorities of the nuclear industry.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Congressman William Keating (MA-09), Governor Charlie Baker, the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation, and numerous Massachusetts state legislators are calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to immediately hold a public meeting to address concerns about the safety of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant. In a letter sent today to the NRC, the Massachusetts elected officials call attention to a leaked December 6, 2016 e-mail from the leader of the NRC special inspection team that has raised serious questions about Entergy’s ability to operate the plant safely [see the Boston Globe's Dec. 7 article, "Pilgrim nuclear plant staff said to be 'overwhelmed'"]. The NRC is currently conducting a three-phased supplemental inspection process at Pilgrim as a result of the NRC determination that recurring safety issues at the aging nuclear power plant required the Commission to list the plant in “Column 4” of its reactor safety ratings, its least safe rating for an operating reactor. Most recently Entergy was forced to shut down Pilgrim on December 15 when it reportedly discovered leaks in three of the eight main steam isolation valves, which are used to prevent radioactivity from leaking into the environment during a nuclear accident.
Signing the letter are Attorney General Healey, Senator Markey, Governor Baker, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, and U.S. Reps. Keating, Michael E. Capuano, Katherine Clark, Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Stephen F. Lynch, James P. McGovern, Seth Moulton, Richard Neal, and Niki Tsongas.
Also signing are Massachusetts State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg; Massachusetts State Senators Vinny deMacedo, Patrick O’Connor, and Julian Cyr; and Massachusetts State Representatives Sarah Peake, James M. Cantwell, Randy Hunt, Mathew Muratore, Thomas J. Calter, Davis T. Vieira, Josh S. Cutler, Timothy R. Whelan, and Dylan Fernandes.
“While the NRC undoubtedly regrets the inadvertent disclosure of the preliminary thoughts expressed in the December 6 e-mail, the disclosure happened, and the NRC now has the obligation to address questions raised by that e-mail to help assuage growing public safety concerns,” write the lawmakers in the letter to NRC Chairman Stephen Burns. “A public meeting also will allow the NRC to outline for the public the steps it may take in light of the special inspection team’s findings to date, the steps that remain in the NRC’s inspection process, and when the official results of the inspection will be released to the public.”
A copy of the letter to the NRC can be found HERE.
Environmental coalition defends its legal appeal, seeks to block Fermi 3 proposed new reactor in Michigan
An environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, is entering its 10th year of resistance (2008-2017) against Detroit Edison's proposed new Fermi Unit 3 reactor in southeast Michigan on the Great Lakes shoreline.
On Dec. 23rd, Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge filed a Reply Brief, in defense of a legal appeal originally filed in October, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second highest court in the land, just below the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Reply rebuts challenges to the appeal brought by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Detroit Edison (DTE).
The appeal challenges NRC's exclusion of the transmission line corridor from the Environmental Impact Statement, a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The appeal also challenges DTE's violations of NRC's quality assurance (QA) regulations (Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc. serves as the coalition's QA expert).
As reported by Reuters, and Tweeted by Scott Stapf of the Hastings Group: Nine U.S. reactors linked to French scandal over falsified documents over nuclear parts.
The Reuters article mentions one U.S. nuclear power plant by name:
One U.S. plant with parts from Le Creusot is Dominion Resource Inc's Millstone station in Connecticut, which has had a pressurizer from the French forge in service in Unit 2 since 2006.
Dominion spokesman Ken Holt said that when Areva manufactured the pressurizer for Millstone they performed some additional heat treatment, but did not tell Dominion.
Another U.S. nuclear power plant that may be implicated, according to the article, is FirstEnergy's Beaver Valley in Pennsylvania:
Another plant that may be affected is FirstEnergy Corp's Beaver Valley station in Pennsylvania. Beaver Valley has steam generators and reactor vessel heads manufactured by Spain's Equipos Nucleares SA, or ENSA, which FirstEnergy said may contain some subcomponents from Le Creusot.
The article also reports:
There are nine U.S. plants with parts from Le Creusot, but the NRC did not immediately name them.
No explanation is given for why NRC will not name th implicated nuclear power plants, other than the obvious -- to save the plants bad publicity, and increased public and media scrutiny.
Such a lack of transparency and accountability by the NRC -- an agency largely to entirely captured by the industry it is supposed to regulate -- is a key part of the collusion that the Japanese Parliament concluded in 2012 was the root cause of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in that country. But such collusion exists in spades in the United States, as well.
Mycle Schneider, lead author of the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal, warning “Likely we have seen only the tip of the iceberg.”
Additional media coverage: