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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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Monday
Apr132015

Entergy's slide show regarding long deferred primary coolant system weld inspections

On April 14, 2015, Entergy will meet with NRC at the agency's HQ to discuss long deferred primary coolant system weld inspections.

Here is a link to NRC's meeting announcement.

Here is a link to Entergy's slide show.

Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, and Michael Keegan as well as Alice Hirt of Don't Waste Michigan, attended this meeting by phone, and provided verbal testimony during the public comment period.

Friday
Apr102015

Environmental coalition rebuts NRC staff and Entergy attacks re: "ductile tearing" RPV risks at Palisades

The environmental coalition filed its Reply in support of its March 9 intervention petition, rebuttng NRC staff and Entergy attacks filed on April 3rd. The March 9 intervention regards Entergy's application for regulatory relief, in the form of an EMA (equivalent margins analysis) in lieu of standard 10CFR50 Appendix G requirements, which it can no longer meet.

This second battlefront in the war over Palisades' age-degraded reactor pressure vessel (RPV) overlaps with, and is parallel to, the intervention initiated by the same coalition on Dec. 1, 2014, re: Palisades' application for regulatory relief against neutron irradiation embrittlement of its RPV, and consequent pressurized thermal shock (PTS) risks of a meltdown.

Thursday
Apr092015

Safety-significant reactor vessel flaws reported worldwide 

NRC flle photo of the problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor, in Covert, MI on the Lake Michgan shoreline. Van Buren County to the east in the background is one of Michigan's most vital agricultural areas. Lake Michigan is a part of the drinking water supply for 40 million people downstream in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.A rash of potentially risk-significant flaws have been reported around the world recently, in reactor vessels old and new. The listing below is far from exhaustive, but merely shows news from recent days.

Age-degradation in old reactors

Beyond Nuclear is challenging reactor pressure vessel (RPV) degradation at Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor in Michigan (see photo, left). On Thursday, April 9th Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps will testify at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) annual performance review at Palisades. The formal meeting begins at 6pm Eastern time, with public comments at the end. A call-in number has been provided for those who would like to listen-in, or even speak out during the public comment session: Teleconference Bridge Number: 888-989-4611; Pass code: 9165034.

The over-exposure of 192 Palisades workers to, on average, 2.8 Rem radiation doses during the short, month-long Control Rod Drive Mechanism (CRDM) replacement project at Palisades will be a hot topic for discussion, as that "White Finding" (of supposedly "low to moderate" safety significance, according to NRC) has resulted in increased NRC regulatory oversight for the foreseeable future.

On Friday, April 10th, Beyond Nuclear's attorney at Palisades, Terry Lodge of Toledo, will also be filing yet another major legal brief in the ongoing environmental coalition legal intervention against any further weakening of safety standards regarding Palisades' RPV embrittlement. Palisades has the worst neutron-embrittled RPV in the U.S., at risk of meltdown and catastrophic radioactivity release due to pressurized thermal shock (PTS).

Beyond Nuclear's expert witness at Palisades, Arnie Gundersen, the Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc. in Burlington, Vermont, has prepared a short, humorous educational video about the most serious subject of RPV embrittlement and PTS risks, "Nuclear Crack Down?".

On April 19th, a fundraiser will be held in Kalamazoo, Michigan to support the intervention.

See Beyond Nuclear's media release for more details on activities around Palisades. (For an email version of this press release with functioning hot links, email kevin@beyondnuclear.org and he'll send you a copy.)

In its RPV embrittlement legal filings, Beyond Nuclear and Lodge have raised warnings emanating from Greenpeace Belgium, and the Belgian nuclear regulatory agency, about extensive micro-cracking discovered in two Belgian atomic reactors. Greenpeace Belgium issued a press release in mid-February about these dire warnings. Belgium's nuclear regulatory chief, and Greenpeace's expert witness, have called for worldwide testing of all atomic RPVs. Beyond Nuclear has joined their call for this in the U.S., beginning at Palisades.

But Palisades isn't the only reactor with CRDM or RPV penetration problems...

As reported in an NRC "Event Notification" on April 6th, the Braidwood Unit 1 atomic reactor in IL has an "indication" of degradation at a control rod drive mechanism on the reactor vessel closure lid.

On April 8th, another NRC Event Notification reported reactor pressure vessel closure lid degradation at the Shearon Harris atomic reactor in North Carolina.

Problems in proposed new reactors

Weak spots in the steel of the reactor vessel, and its closure lid, at the proposed new EPR ("European Pressurized Reactor") at Flamanville, France, have been found, the French nuclear regulatory agency ASN has reported.  The weak spots are due to a high concentration of carbon in the steel, which makes the vessels vulnerable to cracking.

Other EPR construction projects worldwide have been warned, such as the highly contentious one at Olkiluoto, Finland.

Both the Flamanville and Olkiluoto construction project were already in serious trouble due to major cost overruns and long schedule delays before this latest news. Areva, the EPR vessel manufacturer, was already in financial "meltdown" mode before this news, losing billions per year.

At one point, seven EPRs (the same design, but instead dubbed "Evolutionary Power Reactors" here, for some strange reason) were proposed to be built in the U.S. (and yet more in Canada, such as four at Darlington, Ontario), with the flagship at Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. But that proposal was stopped when the American partner, Constellation Nuclear of Baltimore, balked at the $880 million credit subsidy fee the Obama administration Office of Management and Budget, and Department of Energy, were requiring for a $7.5 billion federal loan guarantee. With the termination of Calvert Cliffs 3, the other EPRs proposed in North America were either outright canceled, or indefinitely postponed.

The Wall Street Journal has also reported on this EPR story.

Saturday
Mar282015

"36 Years of Three Mile Island’s Lethal Lies…and Still Counting"

Photo by Robert Del Tredichi, from his 1980 book "The People of Three Mile Island."Harvey Wasserman has written in commeration of the meltdown at Three Mile Island (TMI) Unit 2 on March 28, 1979. He writes:

"The lies that killed people at Three Mile Island 36 years ago tomorrow are still being told at Chernobyl, Fukushima, Diablo Canyon, Davis-Besse … and at TMI itself.

As the first major reactor accident that was made known to the public is sadly commemorated, and as the global nuclear industry collapses, let’s count just 36 tip-of-the iceberg ways the nuclear industry’s radioactive legacy continues to fester:

For the full article, go to: http://ecowatch.com/2015/03/27/three-mile-island-36-anniversary/."

Wasserman reported directly on TMI’s death toll from central Pennsylvania. He co-wrote KILLING OUR OWN:  THE DISASTER OF AMERICA’S EXPERIENCE WITH ATOMIC RADIATION. Wasserman has invited Beyond Nuclear to Columbus, Ohio on April 11 and 12 to speak out at events in opposition to the crumbling Davis-Besse atomic reactor's proposed multi-billion dollar ratepayer bailout.

Fairewinds Energy Education has also posted reflections, including a presentation by its Chief Engineer, Arnie Gundersen, a year ago in Harrisburg, PA for TMI+35, and his expert witness reports from the TMI Litigation.

Nukewatch's Arianne Peterson has published an article in their Spring 2015 quarterly newsletter entitled "Spring Melt: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl & Fukushima Taint the Season."

(See continuation of Nukewatch article here).

A year ago, Beyond Nuclear also published a newsletter and website section devoted to telling the truth about TMI.

And a quarter century ago, Beyond Nuclear board member, and investigative journalist, Karl Grossman narrated EnviroVideo's first documentary, "Three Mile Island Revisited."

Thursday
Mar262015

"Feds probe PG&E report on California nuclear plant safety"

NRC file photo of PG&E's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, on the Pacific Coast near San Luis Obispo, CAAs reported by David R. Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has launched an investigation into the appearance of collusion between NRC and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) to circumvent seismic safety at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant on the faultline-riddled coastline of California.

The independent investigation by the Japanese Diet (Parliament) into the root cause of the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe concluded it was collusion between safety regulators, the nuclear utility, and elected officials that left the nuclear power plant so very vulnerable to the natural disaster (the massive earthquake, and the tsunami it spawned) on 3/11/11.

David Lochbaum of Union of Concerned Scientists, Damon Moglen of Friends of the Earth, and Rochelle Becker of Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, are quoted in the article. So too is Michael Peck, the NRC inspector who has consistently warned that Diablo Canyon is operating in violation of its licensing basis and NRC seismic safety regulations, and has called for its shutdown until this is rectified.