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Friday
Jul122013

Help hold NRC's feet to the fire -- please attend Palisades Webinar, Tues., July 16, 5:30 PM Eastern

MI Radio photo showing the location of the SIRWT, located on the roof directly above the control room; the reactor containment building towers to the leftAs announced by a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) meeting notice, the agency will hold yet another Webinar about Entergy's problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shore in Covert, Michigan. This one will focus on the May 5th spill of 82.1 gallons of radioactive water from the leaking Safety Injection Refueling Water Tank (SIRWT) into Lake Michigan. The Great Lakes represent 20% of the surface fresh water on the entire planet, and serve as the drinking water supply for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.

The Webinar will be held on Tuesday, July 16th (the 68th annual commemoration of the world's first atomic weapon blast, "Trinity," at Alamagordo, NM on July 16, 1945).

To register to attend the Webinar, do so by filling out the required information (your name and email address) by July 15th at the following website: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/431957345

You will receive a confirmation email in return, which will provide you with the web link needed for plugging into the Webinar on Tuesday, July 16th, at 5:30 PM Eastern. You'll then be able to watch NRC's slideshow presentation, and listen to their oral presentation. During the entire Webinar, you'll be able to type in questions to NRC via a box that appears on your computer screen. 

For those without a computer, you can also listen-in via a teleconference line, although you won't be able to ask questions. To access the teleconference option, you need to contact NRC staffperson Swetha Shah as soon as possible at (630) 829-9608.

NRC's Meeting Notice and Agenda for this Webinar can be viewed at the following link: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1317/ML13178A350.pdf

Although NRC has assigned an "ML #" for the Webinar's Meeting Slides, ML13190A255, they appear either to have not been posted, or else there is a glitch with the ML #. Normally, the ML # can be cut and pasted into the search field at the upper right hand side of the NRC homepage (www.nrc.gov). That should provide a link to the Meeting Slides. However, doing so currenlty yields only an error message. Beyond Nuclear will try to get to the bottom of the problem, and urge NRC to make the meeting slides available ASAP.

The SIRWT is a storage tank for 300,000 gallons of water, used to flood the reactor cavity during refueling operations (where it picks up radioactive contamination, such as tritium and hot particles), and held in safety-significant reserve for emergency situations as a reactor core and containment cooling water supply.

The SIRWT has been leaking into the Palisades control room for over 2 years now, "a crisis in the control room" first revealed by U.S. Represenative (now Senator-elect) Ed Markey (D-MA) in June 2012, based on a courageous whistleblower tip communicated to him via nuclear whistleblower attorney Billie Pirner Garde in Washington, D.C.

Beyond Nuclear has posted extensive background information on the SIRWT spill of radioactive water into Lake Michigan. This has included the recent admission that Palisades failed to install support structures beneath the floor of the SIRWT 45 years ago (instead of the sand bed region and nozzle grout rings called for in the original design, Palisades has substituted asphalt and fiberboard, with no public process involved in the slapdash patchjob decision making!), and a June 3rd leak of rainwater into the control room through an age-degraded roof and ceiling, due to welding sparks burning holes through a tarp.

Beyond Nuclear, along with local residents associated with the Michigan Safe Energy Future, organized a vigil at Palisades' front entrance in mid-May to protest U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and NRC Commissioner Svinicki's refusal to even acknowledge the request, much less meet with them, during their emergency tour of Palisades after the early May radioactive spill into Lake Michigan. This direct action garnered extensive media coverage. Upton and Svinicki didn't even respond to the public meeting requestion, despite the fact that concerned local residents and environmental group representatives have met with NRC Chairman Jackzo, NRC Commissioner Magwood, U.S. Sen. Stabenow's staff, and attended countless NRC public meetings, in just the past year alone.

The Kalamazoo Gazette has just published an op-ed submitted by Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps and Michigan Safe Energy Future--Kalamazoo Chapter's Iris Potter regarding the SIRWT leakage, calling for Palisades' "shutdown before meltdown." 

This is but the latest in a large number of spills and breakdowns at Entergy's age-degraded, problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor in just the past few years. Palisades is truly one of the single most risky atomic reactors in the country. Dave Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project at Union of Concerned Scientists, has documented that Palisades has experienced 3 near-misses in just the past 2 years, more than any other reactor in the U.S. Over the past 3 years, it is tied for 2nd most near-misses in the country (3) with Fort Calhoun, NE, trailing behind only Wolf Creek, KS, with 4 near-misses in the past 3 years.

NRC Region 3 has held a Webinar about Palisades every other month since October, 2012. This resulted from Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps' request to NRC Region 3 Administrator, Chuck Casto, for maximum NRC transparency and accountability at Palisades, given one of President Obama's very first acts in office -- a pledge to have the most transparent and accountable administration in U.S. history. Turn outs for these ongoing Webinars have been huge -- with 119 participants asking 85 questions at a Webinar in early 2013, for example.

Please help us to continue to hold NRC's feet to the fire at Palisades by registering for and attending this Webinar, and asking a lot of hard-hitting questions!

One question could be, why did NRC Region 3 Office of Public Affairs spokeswoman Viktoria Mytling tell area media immediately after the May 4th spill that there was "absolutely no risk" to human health? Doesn't this fly in the face of the National Academy of Science's conclusion, affirmed for decades now, that any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how small, still carries a health risk for cancer, and that these risks accumulate over a lifetime of exposures?! In fact, on the last NRC Palisades Webinar, NRC senior staff member Jack Geissner said he never would have used those words.