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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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Wednesday
Jan312018

Beyond Nuclear letter to the editor: Letter: Nuclear plants unsafe, should close

Beyond Nuclear's letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch (Ohio), as posted online there:

I respond to the Associated Press article “Company says Ohio, PA nuclear plants in danger of closing” in Friday’s Dispatch. Ohio and Pennsylvania’s atomic reactors cannot be closed soon enough.

Beaver Valley Unit 1 in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, has one of the worst neutron-embrittled reactor pressure vessels in the U.S., at risk of a pressurized thermal shock through-wall fracture like a hot glass under cold water. A core meltdown would follow, and only the containment would stand in the way of catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity onto the winds and waters.

Fukushima Daiichi in Japan showed a containment can be damaged, or even destroyed, releasing its contents to the environment to harm people.

Davis-Besse near Toledo on the Lake Erie shore has an embrittled reactor too. But it also has a severely cracked concrete containment shield building. The cracks worsen with every freeze-thaw cycle, due to water locked in the walls. It is so bad, FirstEnergy has admitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, large chunks of exterior face concrete could spall off, crashing down on safety-significant systems, structures and components below. In this sense, the containment itself could cause the meltdown, then fail to hold in the consequences.

The nuclear workers, as well as the host communities, should be helped with just transitions, and made whole. But for safety’s sake, the reactors should be permanently shut down as soon as possible.

Kevin Kamps
Radioactive waste specialist
Beyond Nuclear
Takoma Park, Maryland

Thursday
Sep282017

Beyond Nuclear warns about safety risks of operating Palisades till 2022

Beyond Nuclear issued a press statement upon the news of Entergy Nuclear's decision to not close its Palisades atomic reactor in s.w. MI, as it previously had announced, by Oct. 1, 2018.

Entergy has now indicated it will run Palisades until at least 2022, till the end of its Power Purchase Agreement with Consumers Energy.

However, in 2007, the NRC rubber-stamped Palisades' operating license extension till 2031, so it's possible the reactor could continue to operate even after 2022.

This would be unlikely, given its inability to compete with much cheaper sources of electricity, including renewables.

However, as seen in IL and NY, massive subsidies at ratepayer expense, awarded by the nuclear power industry's friends in high places of government, have overcome such economic failures, and allowed dangerously age-degraded atomic reactors to keep operating.

In the case of Palisades on the Lake Michigan shoreline, the Davis-Besse and Fermi nuclear power plants on the Lake Erie shore in OH, and multiple reactors on the Lake Ontario shore in NY, this is putting the Great Lakes at increasing risk of a radioactive catastrophe.

The Great Lakes are the source of drinking water for 40 million people, in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations, in current generations alone. All future generations will also need safe, clean drinking water, of course, and the Great Lakes are one of the most significant single sources on the planet.

Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer at Fairewinds Energy Education (our expert witness at Palisades, Davis-Besse, and Fermi), wrote an essay entitled "Downstream," about the extreme radioactive risks faced by the Great Lakes. It seems Entergy intends to exacerbate such risks at Palisades, for at least another five years, if not for 14 more years!

Friday
Sep082017

Davis-Besse cracks to be repaired

As reported by the Sandusky Register.

Beyond Nuclear has sought Davis-Besse's closure, ever since these uniquely-bad-in-the-nuclear-industry containment cracks were first revealed in Oct. 2011. Alas, NRC not only allowed Davis-Besse to continuing operating under its initial 1977-2017 license, it even rubber-stamped a license extension till 2037!

It is quite telling that FirstEnergy now sees it necessary to repair the cracks.

For years after the cracks were first revealed to the public, FirstEnergy stuck with its Blizzard of 1978 root cause theory for the cracking's origin, and argued the cracks had not worsened since. Citing dozens of likely synergistic root cause explanations put forth by FirstEnergy and NRC themselves, Beyond Nuclear and others dubbed the Blizzard of 1978 root cause theory the Snow Job of 2012, when it was first floated by FirstEnergy.

But FirstEnergy's Blizzard of 1978 Snow Job did achieve its desired goal, of blocking Beyond Nuclear and a coalition of environmental groups, from winning a hearing on its cracking-related contentions as part of its opposition to the 20-year license extension. The coalition was and is represented by Terry Lodge, an environmental attorney based in Toledo, just to the west of Davis-Besse. Lodge has watch-dogged the troubled reactor for over four decades. To win a hearing in a license extension proceeding, under NRC's Byzantine rules, a contention must be proven aging-related. FirstEnergy's claim that the cracking was not aging-related prevailed before the NRC's kangaroo court Atomic Safety and Licensing Board panel.

But some years later, FirstEnergy admitted the cracks were growing.

It kept its Ice-Wedging Crack Propagation root cause theory report secret for 2.5 critical years during the license extension. Only in July 2015 was it revealed publicly. By then, the environmental coalition's tireless efforts to win a contention hearing had been blocked.

Most ironic of all was FirstEnergy's adamant opposition, when challenged by the coalition, to commit to any repair or replacement of the cracked Shield Building. All FirstEnergy would commit to was an Aging Management Plan of minimally monitoring the cracking as the years dragged on.

Apparently, even FirstEnergy has now been forced to admit, the cracking is so severe, it needs to be repaired. Beyond Nuclear et al. have argued this for many long years, banging our heads against a cracked concrete containment wall.

But Beyond Nuclear et al. have also pointed out that such repairs are woefully inadequate. Their effectiveness is very dubious. Davis-Besse should have been retired long ago, for safety's sake!

Friday
Sep082017

"Nuclear close calls" at Davis-Besse -- Beyond Nuclear letter to the editor in n. OH's News-Messenger

Nuclear close calls

Davis-Besse’s atomic reactor has had more close calls with radioactive catastrophe than any other in the U.S. Six years ago, we learned its Shield Building was severely cracked.

In 2014, FirstEnergy finally deigned to reveal, after a 2½-year cover-up, that every time it freezes, the cracking grows by a half inch or more in circumferential orientation, around the steel reinforced, cylindrical, concrete containment.

In short, it is doubtful the containment would prevent catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity to the environment, if Davis-Besse melts down. The 20-year license extension that began on Earth Day (April 22) 2017 means that risk increases with time.

FirstEnergy has been trolling for a massive ratepayer bailout for several years. In essence, the nuclear lobbyists hope Ohio ratepayers won’t mind if several billion dollars are added to household and business electric bills over coming years to compensate for FirstEnergy’s own mismanagement and bad business decisions. At least exorbitant executive salaries, and shareholder dividends, will be protected.

Regarding the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants workforce, and tax revenues generated, it’s past time to begin preparing for the day the reactors close for good.

The dismantlement and radioactivity contamination cleanup during decommissioning mean many of the workers, who know the sites the best, can be retained for many years to come.

So too, considering the need for ongoing management of highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel on-site. A just transition, for workers and the host communities, should be a top priority, and FirstEnergy should help fund it. 

Kevin Kamps

Takoma Park, Maryland

Link to letter to the editor published online:

http://www.thenews-messenger.com/story/opinion/2017/09/08/letters-editor/641294001/

Beyond Nuclear has resisted Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension since 2010, but the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rubber-stamped it anyways, despite the severe, and ever worsening, cracking of the Shield Building. The cracking has grown so bad that FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) has begun repair work. During Beyond Nuclear et al.'s legal intervention against Davis-Besse's license extension, FENOC downplayed the risk of cracking, and committed to merely monitor it under its Aging Management Plan. (Beyond Nuclear et al. is represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge.) Apparently, that plan was not good enough. Beyond Nuclear stands by its years-long call for Davis-Besse's permanent shutdown, for safety's sake.

Friday
Feb102017

Thom Hartmann: How We Almost Lost Detroit

The Big Picture

How We Almost Lost Detroit

Big Picture Fact Of the Day...

For more information on the stories we've covered visit our websites at thomhartmann.com - freespeech.org - and RT.com. You can also watch tonight's show on Hulu - at Hulu.com/THE BIG PICTURE and over at The Big Picture YouTube page. And - be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter!