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.



Beyond Nuclear on Solartopia radio show: DYING NUKES THAT TERRIFY US ALL

Solartopia author and radio show host Harvey WassermanBeyond Nuclear's reactor oversight project director, Paul Gunter, and radioactive waste watchdog, Kevin Kamps, joined with Don't Waste Michigan's Michael Keegan on Harvey Wasserman's (photo, left) Solartopia radio show (named after the title of his book) on the Progressive Radio Network. Listen to the audio recording.

(Please note, there may be a minute or two of echo/feedback midway through the show -- just forward through that part.)

Here is Wasserman's summary:

We visit DYING NUKES THAT TERRIFY US ALL with MICHAEL KEEGAN of Don’t Waste Michigan and PAUL GUNTER and KEVIN KAMPS of Beyond Nuclear.

The debate over atomic energy is over.  FUKUSHIMA has shown the world that nuke reactors will explode and destroy whole sections of a country while contaminating oceans.  Germany’s ENERGIEWIND is showing that the transition to 100% renewables can be done quickly, cleanly and profitably.

But we’re left in the US with 99 dying nukes that truly terrify us all.  Starting in Michigan, at Monroe, we deal with Fermi Unit I, which nearly exploded in 1966;  Fermi 2 which is now falling apart; and Fermi 3, which Detroit Edison wants to build at massive ratepayer expense.

We then shift to the truly horrifying Davis-Besse reactor near Toledo, which operated for years with a massive hole in its head, and which has a shield building that’s literally crumbling.  It’s owner wants a $3 billion public bailout to keep endangering all of the Great Lakes region.

We also visit Pilgrim near Boston, which is officially in violation of both NRC production standards and NRC safety standards.  Paul tells that October 10 we will hear a major announcement from Energy, which owns this dying nuke.

Over the coming weeks we will “tour” the national fleet of reactors that need to shut ASAP.  Let’s hope Pilgrim will now lead the way to the end of this insane industry!!!


"Pilgrim nuclear station one step from shutdown: NRC downgrades plant to bottom of performance list"

As reported by Christine Legere at the Cape Cod Times, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has ranked Entergy's Pilgrim atomic reactor in Plymouth, MA near Boston as tied for the worst performing in the country.

It is tied for worst performing with another Entergy nuclear power plant, Arkansas Nuclear One (ANO). A young worker was killed, and eight others injured, on an early Easter Sunday morning in 2013, when a 600-ton piece of equipment was accidentally dropped on them.

The article reports:

...Diane Turco, Harwich resident and co-founder of the anti-Pilgrim group Cape Downwinders, called the federal letter to Entergy good news. “The NRC has finally sent a strong message to Entergy — We are looking at closing Pilgrim as a response to the failures. Finally!” Turco wrote in an email.

Cape Downwinders has planned a rally at the Sagamore Bridge on Labor Day to protest the lack of an evacuation plan in the event of a nuclear accident and to call for the shutdown of the power plant.

...U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., also issued a statement on Pilgrim’s status. “For decades, I have raised concerns about Pilgrim’s operations, security preparedness, the safety of the surrounding communities in the event of a nuclear accident and the willingness of Entergy to dedicate sufficient resources to run the reactor safely,” Markey wrote.

The senator noted Pilgrim has the same boiling water design as the reactors that had meltdowns in 2011 at Fukushima, Japan, after a tsunami. “NRC must continue this aggressive oversight until Entergy can prove unequivocally that it has dedicated the resources, manpower and training to guarantee the safe and secure operation of this reactor,” Markey wrote.

Attorney General Maura Healey called the downgrade of Pilgrim “a disturbing development" in her written statement. “My primary concern is with the safety and well-being of the residents of Massachusetts, particularly those who live near Pilgrim. Entergy must act swiftly and decisively to correct these issues and restore the public's trust in its ability to safely operate this plant.”

Pilgrim watchdog Mary Lampert, a Duxbury resident and founder of PilgrimWatch, said this latest development was no surprise. “Pilgrim is an antique reactor built when the Beatles sang on Ed Sullivan’s show, and Entergy is unwilling to spend the money for the TLC required. It’s time to retire,” Lampert said...

[See Sen. Markey and MA AG Healey's press statement here.]


Coalition defends hearing at Palisades, with help from allies

Attorney Terry Lodge, the environmental coalition's legal counselTerry Lodge, Toledo-based legal counsel for the environmental coalition (Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste MI, MI Safe Energy Future, and Nuclear Energy Information Service) intervening against Entergy Nuclear's Palisades License Amendment Request (LAR), has filed a brief in defense of the coalition's hard-won hearing. The LAR, if approved by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), would allow Palisades to continue operating, despite loss of fracture toughness in its thermally stressed, neutron embrittled, age-degraded reactor pressure vessel (RPV) below safety screening criteria by Dec. 2016.

The coalition intervened on the matter on March 9, 2015. The NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP) ruled in the coalition's favor on June 18, 2015, granting an evidentiary hearing on the contention. Entergy appealed the ASLBP's ruling to the full NRC Commission on July 13, 2015. The coalition's rebuttal was filed on August 7, 2015.

On July 30, 2015, the Mayor Grand Rapids, MI -- George K. Heartwell -- wrote a letter to NRC's Chairman, Stephen Burns, urging that the hearing be allowed to proceed, and that physical safety tests be required to be conducted on the status of dangerous embrittlement of Palisades' age-degraded RPV. The southwestern section of Grand Rapids -- the biggest city in west MI -- is located within the 50-mile Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ) downwind of Palisades.

Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, MI on the Lake Michigan shoreline, is immediately adjacent to the Palisades Park Country Club to the south, and Van Buren State Park to the north.On August 4, 2015, Brian Huffine, President of the Board of Directors of the Palisades Park Country Club, wrote to NRC Chairman Burns on behalf of the Board and members of the community. The more than century-old Palisades Park represents Entergy Palisades nuclear power plant's nearest neighbors, with 205 cottages located immediately next door to the south (just to the right of the mechanincal draft cooling towers shown in this photo on the left). He urged that physical tests of RPV capsule samples be conducted, in order to assure the safety integrity of the worst embrittled RPV in the U.S. The June 18 ASLBP ruling held in favor of considering the need for additional capsule tests at Palisades, before the next scheduled one in 2019.

On August 7, 2015, Wallace Taylor, an attorney representing the Sierra Club, filed a friend of the court brief in support of the ASLBP ruling granting the environmental coalition a hearing. The Sierra Club's Nuclear-Free Michigan, founded and chaired by Mark Muhich, has taken a very active interest in safety risks at Palisades.


"Flaw Indications Found In RPV At Switzerland’s Beznau"

The Beznau 1 & 2 atomic reactors in SwitzerlandAs reported by NucNet, flaw indications -- or micro-cracks -- not unlike those found at two Belgian reactors in 2012, have now been discovered at the Beznau-1 reactor in Switzerland, revealed by ultrasonic tests.

The Western European Nuclear Regulators’ Association has communicated the findings throughout the nuclear power industry, given the potential safety implications for reactor pressure vessels.

The Belgian nuclear regulatory chief, as well as materials scientists cited by Greenpeace International, have warned that the Belgian micro-cracking could implicate RPVs worldwide, and have consequently called for global ultrasonic testing as a safety precaution.

Beyond Nuclear et al. have called upon the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to require such ultrasonic testing in the U.S., beginning with the severely age-degraded Palisades atomic reactor in Michigan.

The Swiss nuclear regulator, ENSI, is requiring Beznau-1's owner/operator, Axpo, to do additional tests, to determine the size and location of the flaw indications, and to assess their safety significance. Beznau-1 is 46 years old.

Beznau-2 will be similarly examined, beginning in August.


"Muhich: Testing must be done to ensure safety of nuclear power plant in Covert"

In an op-ed in the Lansing State Journal, the Chairman of the Sierra Club's "Nuclear-Free Michigan," Mark Muhich of Jackson, has urged that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission require Entergy to perform long-delayed physical tests to determine the severity of age-related degradation at its Palisades atomic reactor in southwest MI.