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Safety

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.

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Saturday
May022015

"Environmentalists Threaten Palisades, NRC With Lawsuit"

Photo taken in May 2013 during a protest organized by Beyond Nuclear at the front entrance of Palisades, which had just leaked 82.1 gallons of radioactive water into Lake Michigan. Marion Anderson of South Haven, a member of MSEF-Shoreline Chapter, created the placard.As reported by Rebecca Thiele at WMUK (NPR at Western Michigan University), an environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, is intervening against regulatory rollbacks at Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shore in southwest Michigan.

Thiele interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps (a native of Kalamazoo -- just 35 miles downwind of Palisades -- who serves on the board of directors of Don't Waste MI), as well as the coalition's attorney, Terry Lodge. At the top of the story, Bette Pierman of Benton Harbor, chairwoman of Michigan Safe Energy Future (MSEF)--Shoreline Chapter, is heard presenting during a panel discussion. The interviews took place at a fund- and awareness-raising event held at the Old Dog Tavern on April 19th in downtown Kalamazoo. Music performed by the "Duffield-Caron Project, with Friends" can be heard in the background of the interviews.

The intervention focuses on the risk of pressurized thermal shock (PTS). Palisades has the worst neutron radiation embrittled reactor pressure vessel (RPV) of any nuclear power plant in the U.S. Like a hot glass under cold water (and a ton of pressure per square inch!), PTS could fracture Palisades' RPV, causing a loss of coolant accident, core meltdown, and catastrophic radioactivity release.

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Energy Education, and the expert witness for Beyond Nuclear and the coaltion at Palisades, has produced a humorous short video about this serious subject, entitled "Nuclear Crack Down?"

Tuesday
Apr212015

Successful event raises funds and awareness on Entergy Palisades atomic reactor's brittle pressure vessel

Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor, located in Covert, MI on the Lake Michigan shoreOn April 19, a fund- and awareness-raiser,  “Pull the Plug on Palisades for Earth Day,” was held at the Old Dog Tavern in downtown Kalamazoo, MI.

The event, focused on the Entergy Palisades atomic reactor's (see photo, left) dangerously brittle pressure vessel, was sponsored by  Michigan Safe Energy Future-Kalamazoo Chapter’s “Palisades Shutdown Campaign,” in support of an environmental coalition's (Beyond Nuclear, Michigan Safe Energy Future-Shoreline Chapter, Don’t Waste Michigan, Nuclear Energy Information Service of Illinois) legal interventions before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. The interventions seek the long overdue, permanent shutdown of Palisades due to major safety risks.

Highlights of the event included the "Duffield/Caron Project, with Friends," with their wonderful blend of "Piano Boogie, Blues & Ballads," as well as speakers from the local, state and national coalition: Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear, D.C.; Terry Lodge, the Toledo-based attorney who leads the legal effort; Bette Pierman, Michigan Safe Energy Future (MSEF)-Shoreline Chapter; Michael Keegan, Don't Waste Michigan; and Gail Snyder, Nuclear Energy Information Service of lllinois (NEIS).

A brief video of how “pressurized thermal shock” can shatter the embrittled reactor pressure vessel at Palisades has been prepared by Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc., in Burlington, Vermont.   

(Arnie also did a May 2013 audio podcast, "Nuclear Regulators Bury Their Heads in the Sand," about Palisades' "leak in the Lake" of 82.1 gallons of radioactive water, from its long-leaking, defectively-constructed Safety Injection Refueling Water Storage Tank. Arnie interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps.)

Beyond Nuclear prepared a slide show of images from past years and decades of anti-nuclear resistance at Palisades, as well as at Cook (two reactors, 30 miles south of Palisades), and additional anti-nuke activism in Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

Reporters from several area media outlets covered the event (WWMT TV-3, WXMI TV-17, WMUK NPR radio), which was attended by around 80 people, and raised a good amount of funding to support the intervention, as well as awareness in the local community.

Kathy Barnes of Don't Waste Michigan has posted photos of the event at Facebook.

A video/audio of the Duffield/Caron Project, with Friends, including Michael Hoag of the MSEF-Kalamazoo Chapter, has also been posted online. (Michael also created the attractive promotional poster for the event, and helped out tremendously with technical support, such as projecting the slide show and Arnie Gundersen's video, during the event.)

Wednesday
Apr152015

Docket of Beyond Nuclear and coalition interventions against Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor

First intervention proceeding (Entergy applied for alternate fracture toughness regulatory relief, under 10 Code of Federal Regulations 50.61(a), because it can't meet the standard regulationm 10CFR50.61, after 2017 for neutron radiation bombardment induced embrittlement of the reactor pressure vessel, and thus pressurized thermal shock risks -- a meltdown risk):

Intervention by Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste MI, Michigan Safe Energy Future--Shoreline Chapter, and NEIS, filed Dec. 1st, 2014.

Beyond Nuclear issued a press release on Dec. 2nd.

Beyond Nuclear also posted an entry on its website, with links to additional background information.


(On Dec. 23rd, our expert witness, Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen at Fairewinds Energy Education, published a humorous short video about a serious subject -- RPV embrittlement and PTS risk at Palisades.)


Entergy Nuclear and NRC staff both responded in opposition to Beyond Nuclear et al.'s intervention on Jan. 12th, 2015.


The coalition, represented by Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge, and Vermont-based expert witness Arnie Gundersen (Chief Engineer, Fairewinds Associates, Inc.), filed a Combined Reply on Jan. 20, 2015.

Beyond Nuclear did a web post on the Jan. 20 filing, with links to additional background info.
 

On March 25, 2015, our environmental coalition defended our intervention, against attacks by NRC staff and Entergy, at an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel oral argument pre-hearing at NRC HQ in Rockville, MD. See the transcript of the hearing.

(On April 6, 2015, both Entergy and NRC staff objected to parts of the environmental coalition attorney, Terry Lodge's, testimony at the March 25th oral argument. They accused him of introducing new info., that should not be allowed in any longer. Lodge will rebut that attack with an official sur-rebuttal, in the near future. It will be posted here ASAP thereafter.)


Second intervention (Entergy applied for regulatory relief under an "Equivalent Margins Analysis" under 10CFR50, Appendix G, because certain parts of its reactor pressure vessel at Palisades will fall below the 50 foot-pounds screening criteria for metal degradation, as early as 2016):

On March 9, 2015 the coalition opened a second front in the safety regulation battle, filing an intervention petition and hearing request regarding the parallel issues of Entergy Palisades' "Equivalent Margins Analysis." This attempt by Entergy at yet another weakening of regulations is due to the "Charpy V-Notch Upper-Shelf Energy" of RPV plates and welds at Palisades falling below NRC's 50 ft.-lb. safety screening criteria. In addition to refiling Gundersen's December 1, 2014 expert witness declaration, Lodge also cited a recent Greenpeace International report, warning that extensive cracking of RPVs in Belgium raises a red flag for similar cracking occurring worldwide. Greenpeace Belgium also issued a press release.

Beyond Nuclear posted a March 10 web entry about the March 9 filing. Although it repeats a lot of the same info. as immediately above, it does provide some additional background/context.

 

April 3, 2015 NRC staff and Entergy oppositional responses to our March 9 filing.

Beyond Nuclear et al. filed a rebuttal to NRC's and Entergy's responses on April 10, 2015.

 

For historical context, and lest we forget, a broad environmental coalition fought the 20-year license extension at Palisades. That proceeding was back in 2005-2007. Embrittlement of the reactor pressure vessel/pressurized thermal shock risks of meltdown and catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity was the single greatest safety concern (of many) back then, as well. This campaign is chronicled on the NIRS website.

Wednesday
Apr152015

Public confronts NRC and Entergy over Palisades' safety and security risks

Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor, located in Covert, MI on th Lake Michigan shore of s.w. MI.As reported by NBC 5 Chicago investigative reporter Chris Coffey, concerned residents of the region and environmental group representatives aren't buying the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's and Entergy's claims that the Palisades atomic reactor is safe and secure. Coffey interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, who stated that the problem-plagued Palisades should have been permanently shutdown a very long time ago.

And yet, the NRC is complicit in allowing Entergy to run it into the ground, with vitally needed safety repairs apparently permanently postponed.

Rebecca Thiele at WMUK (NPR radio) also quoted Kevin.

Alex Mitchell at the Kalamazoo Gazette/MLive, and WWMT (TV 3 Kalamazoo), also reported on this story.

Tuesday
Apr142015

Risks of age-degraded steam generator tubes at Palisades

The innards of a steam generator revealed: thousands of very thin-walled tubesBy a letter dated April 14, 2015 the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) gave a passing grade to Entergy Nuclear Palisades' age-degraded steam generator tubes.

This, despite the fact that on March 19, 2015, 100 gallons of radioactive tritium had "migrated" (a.k.a. leaked) from Palisades' steam generator tubes, through various other systems, structures and components at the plant, and out into the environment.

This, after Entergy Nuclear's top official at Palisades, Site Vice President Anthony Vitale, in summer 2014 had assured concerned local residents and environmental group representatives, including from Beyond Nuclear, that the persistent problem of tritium leaks at Palisades had been solved.

A cascading failure of age-degraded steam generator tubes could cause a Loss-of-Coolant-Accident (LOCA), core meltdown, and catastrophic radioactivity release.

NRC missed dangrous steam generator tube degradation at San Onofre Units 2 & 3 in CA, until a tube burst, resulting in a radioactivity release to the environment. Fortunately, the single tube failure didn't spread to other tubes, and risk a LOCA. However, when inspections were finally conducted, the extent of tube degradation (in replacement steam generators that were only a year or two old) was so severe, Southern California Edison -- under public pressure, as by Friends of the Earth and the grassroots anti-nuclear movement there -- simply decided to permanently shut both reactors.

But Palisades' steam generators are not brand new. They are replacement steam generators, installed in 1991. But they need to be replaced again, as documented in a spring 2006 presentation by Palisades' previous owner, Consumers Energy, to the Michigan Public Service Commission.

(In Feb. 2000, one of the reactors at Indian Point, NY had an age-degraded steam generator tube failure. David Lochbaum, the Director of the Nuclear Safety Project at Union of Concerned Scientists, has cited it as a prime example of "break-down phase" risks.)

Beyond Nuclear's expert witness in Palisades proceedings, Arnie Gundersen (Chief Engineer, Fairewinds Associates, Inc.) has confirmed that he knows of no other atomic reactor that has had to replace its steam generators twice.

But Entergy has backed away from the promise to replace Palisades' degraded steam generators. At an Entergy open house in South Haven in summer 2013, Entergy's two top officials at Palisades -- Site Vice President Anthony Vitale, and Plant Manager Tony Williams -- together told Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps that there was no plan to replace the degraded steam generators.

And now, NRC itself has blessed Palisades' degraded steam generators as "good to go," yet again.