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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
Jul262010

Safety concerns about French Areva EPR raised in Europe and U.S.

The New York Times has reported allegations of safety significant design flaws with nuclear fuel rod cladding, as well as the danger of control rod ejection accidents, at the French Areva "European Pressurized Reactor" targeted at Flammanville on the Normandy Coast. Meanwhile, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has continued to question the safety of interconnections between safety and non-safety "Instrumentation and Control" systems at the Areva "Evolutionary Power Reactor" targeted to be built at Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland, Nine Mile Point on the Lake Ontario shoreline in New York State, and elsewhere. See the NRC press release here.

Monday
Jul192010

PSR blasts Congressional proposals to rollback NRC safety regulations

In an op-ed published in The Hill newspaper, Physicians for Social Responsibility's board president, Dr. Jeff Patterson, has compared legislative attempts -- as in the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act discussion draft -- to rollback Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety and licensning regulations for new atomic reactors to the same kinds of mistakes -- speed over safety -- that led to the BP Gulf of Mexico oil catastrophe.

Monday
Jul122010

Is the AP1000 rust prone and at risk of catastrophic radioactivity releases? Arnie Gundersen says yes!

Image compliments of Arnold Gundersen, Fairewinds Associates, Inc.See the story in the New York Times Green blog. And see Arnie's power point on the subject at the Fairewinds Associates, Inc. website. This fatal design flaw on the most "popular" (among nuclear utilities anyway!)new reactor design in the U.S. -- with 14 on order, all targeted at the Southeast -- raises serious safety concerns about the nuclear power relapse, and the tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer-backed federal loan guarantees proposed to pay for it. Also see the April 21, 2010 press conference and related background documents that first raised the red flag on this issue. And see the Oct. 2009 NRC press release admitting another major design flaw with the AP1000, a structurally unsound shield building vulnerable to earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. If the AP1000 is "the best" new reactor design out there, awarded $8.3 billion in loan guarantees by President Obama last February and in line to potentially recieve a whole lot more, we'd hate to see the runners up!

Monday
Jun142010

Gulf oil disaster threatens reactor safety, groups warn

Nuclear watchdog groups are raising concerns about the safe operation of coastal nuclear power plants threatened by the BP oil spill. In a letter to several U.S. government agencies the groups – Beyond Nuclear, Three Mile Island Alert and Salem Watch – warn that if surface or submerged oil-contaminated water were to infiltrate reactor water intake systems, serious damage to safety systems could result.

The Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant on the Florida Gulf Coast and Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station, on the Atlantic Florida coast, are potentially the most imminently threatened.

In a letter to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the US Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, the watchdog groups call for an across-the-board and transparent analysis of all critical actions which will be necessary to prevent damage to coastal reactors posed by the threat of contaminated water. The letter asks for assurances that comprehensive guidance from federal agencies is being provided to reactor licensees. It also calls for the constant monitoring of the oil plumes.

"BP is disputing that underwater oil plumes are spreading throughout the Gulf region," said Paul Gunter, Director of the Reactor Oversight Project for the Takoma Park, MD based organization Beyond Nuclear. "It is vital that an NRC safety analysis be made public before coastal reactors take in billions of gallons of oil-contaminated water."


Read the press release and letter here.

Tuesday
Apr062010

UCS files emergency enforcement petition with NRC regarding Davis-Besse lid leaks

The Union of Concerned Scientists' nuclear safety project director Dave Lochbaum has filed an emergency enforcement petition with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission concerning recent revelations of boric acid leakage through the Davis-Besse atomic reactor's lid near Toledo, Ohio. Similar leakage at Davis-Besse led, in 2002, to the nearest-miss to a major accident since Three Mile Island actually suffered a 50% core melt down in 1979. Due to that previous debacle, NRC fined Davis-Besse's owner, FirstEnergy, a record $5.45 million in penalties. However, this most recent leakage of corrosive boric acid appears to have again violated NRC's operating license, risking a fast-breaking breach of the reactor pressure vessel boundary and potential loss-of-coolant accident.