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Security

Nuclear reactors are sitting-duck targets, poorly protected and vulnerable to sabotage or attack. If their radioactive inventories were released in the event of a serious attack, hundreds of thousands of people could die immediately, or later, due to radiation sickness or latent cancers. Vast areas of the U.S. could become national sacrifice zones - an outcome too serious to risk. Beyond Nuclear advocates for the shutdown of nuclear power.

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Friday
Feb212014

Coalition files Petition to NRC to strengthen reactor license extension rules due to significant new revelations on radioactive waste risks

Environmental coalition attorney Diane CurranA Petition for Rulemaking was filed on Feb. 18th by Washington, D.C.-based attorney, Diane Curran (photo, left), as well as Mindy Goldstein of the Emory U. Turner Environmental Law Clinic, to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The Petition seeks to re-open the License Renewal GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement), in order to consider new and significant information about irradiated nuclear fuel storage impacts that was generated by the NRC Staff during the Expedited Spent Fuel Transfer proceeding, carried out under NRC's Fukushima "Lessons Learned" activities. Curran and Goldstein filed the Petition on behalf of three dozen environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear.

One of these risks newly recognized by NRC Staff is the contribution of high-level radioactive waste storage pool risks to reactor catastrophes, and vice versa.

NRC staff has also admitted that release into the environment of even a small fraction of the contents of a high-level radioactive waste storage pool could cause the long-term dislocation of more than 4 million people, and could render more than 9,000 square miles of land uninhabitable for long time periods. What would the socio-economic costs of such a catastrophe be? Don't people have the inalienable right to safety, health, and environmental protection?

Also, what are the risks to the environment and non-human biota? Answering such questions is part and parcel of the requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act, as the Petition points out.

The filing urges that no reactor license extensions be approved by NRC until the Petition for Rulemaking has been integrated into NRC's safety regulations.

Friday
Dec202013

Atomic reactors? Electricity is but the fleeting byproduct; the actual product is forever deadly high-level radioactive waste!

At the first anti-nuclear power event Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps ever attended, in March 1993, Michael Keegan of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes and Don't Waste Michigan pointed out that "Electricity is but the fleeting byproduct from atomic reactors. The actual product is forever deadly radioactive waste."

An environmental coalition of nearly three dozen groups, including Beyond Nuclear and Don't Waste Michigan, has said just as much to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regarding its "Nuclear Waste Confidence" Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement. So too has Beyond Nuclear directly itself.

A key conclusion of such public comments? The security risks alone associated with generating, storing, and "disposing of" high-level radioactive wastes, mean that NRC approving license extensions at old reactors is a non-starter, as is NRC approving proposed new reactor construction and operating license applications. This should have been revealed by the "hard look" required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) during NRC's court-ordered EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) undertaking.

The image to the left is the cover of the Beyond Nuclear pamphlet published for the Dec. 2, 2012 conference held at the U. of Chicago entitled "A Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High." Sponsored by Beyond Nuclear, FOE, and NEIS, it marked the 70th year, to the day, since Enrico Fermi fired up the first self-sustaining chain reaction in an atomic reactor, creating the world's first high-level radioactive waste, as part of the Manhattan Project's race to create atomic weapons, culminating in the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in August, 1945.

Wednesday
May082013

NRC "looking at the potential implications" of radioactive goldfish found deep in the heart of FirstEnergy's Perry atomic reactor in Ohio

As reported by the Associated Press, two radioactive goldfish, swimming in radioactive reactor coolant water in a lemonade pitcher, were discovered by workers in a steam tunnel deep in the heart of FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) problem-plagued Perry atomic reactor on the shore of Lake Erie northeast of Cleveland.

As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

'...The fishy tale has prompted federal regulators to ask a lot of new questions about morale at Perry and whether plant operators can control access to radioactive areas as required by regulation...

Because of a life-threatening incident during refueling two years ago at Perry in which three contractors were briefly exposed to hard radiation, the NRC has put the plant under a microscope on the issue of worker safety. The agency was already preparing to send squads of inspectors to the plant in June in an effort to determine whether Perry has corrected past shortcomings. Extra inspectors were at the plant earlier during this shutdown.

The company and the NRC said this latest incident is no laughing matter, as in the cartoon TV series "The Simpsons" in which Blinky, an orange fish, supposedly had three eyes from radiation exposure. Whoever was involved in the Perry incident will not get off as easily as nuclear worker Homer Simpson usually does...

"This is not something that happens every day. We want to know why it happened and how it happened," said Viktoria Mitlyng, NRC spokeswoman for the agency's Midwest region. "We are looking at the potential implications." '

Add that one to the "Fission Stories"!

Wednesday
Feb202013

5-year prison sentence for perpetrator of bomb plot hoax involving Entergy's Palisades atomic reactor

NRC file photo of Entergy's Palisades atomic reactorAs reported by WSBT-TV in South Bend, Indiana, a federal judge has sentenced an individual to five years in prison for bomb plot hoaxes. 36-year old Anthony Fortuna of Allendale, MI admitted filing false reports with both the FBI and U.S. Marshalls Service about bomb plots supposedly targeting the Entergy Nuclear Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, Michigan, as well as the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building in Grand Rapids, MI. 

As reported by WSBT, "His sentence was imposed by Chief U.S. District Judge Paul L. Maloney in Kalamazoo, who said the maximum sentence of 5 years in prison was necessary based on Fortuna’s prior criminal history...and because the false reports required both the FBI and USMS to waste time and resources conducting extensive investigations of what, if true, would have been extremely serious plots." (emphasis added)

Palisades has experienced a number of real security breaches over the past decade, however. It has been cited by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for security violations. Esquire Magazine broke the story in May, 2007 that Palisades' security chief was a fraud, unqualified for his position, although able to convince local, state, and federal officials that his nuclear security approach should be implemented as a model nationwide. And on the first anniversary of 9/11 attacks, the New York Times reported that an armed Palisades security guard had suffered a nervous breakdown on the job, due to being forced to work 72 hours per week, for months on end; additionally, three suspicious cars had penetrated deep into Palisades' property, but got away because Palisades' security had phoned the wrong local law enforcement agency for response. 

Saturday
Dec152012

Federal government whistleblower protections strengthened

Richard H. Perkins, top, and Lawrence Criscione, are risk analysts within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They are also whistleblowers who say the agency is not leveling with the public.The NRC claimed its risk analyst, Richard H. Perkins', report had to be withheld for security precautions. But the other said that was not so, but rather NRC had hidden safety risks...

As London Guardian readers elect U.S. whistleblower Bradley Manning as Person of the Year, there is more good news on the whistleblower front in the U.S. as well. As reported by Project on Government Oversight (POGO), the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act has been signed into law, after more than a decade of campaigning.

This comes just in the nick of time for two U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) whistleblowers, Richard H. Perkins and Lawrence Criscione (photos, left). The two NRC Staffers have warned, independently, that NRC has not only neglected, but even covered up, the risk of meltdowns at U.S. atomic reactors due to flooding caused by dam failures, as at the Oconee nuclear power plant in South Carolina. The Huffington Post has published a series of articles about this story (see the most recent one here).

NRC whistleblowers are very far and few between. One that Beyond Nuclear has had the honor and privilege of working with is Dr. Ross Landsman, who served at NRC Region 3 in Chicago before retiring in 2005. Landsman testified before Congress about the Midland, Michigan nuclear power plant in the 1980s, which helped stop those two reactors from ever operating (safety-critical buildings at the plant were sinking into the ground, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa). Beginning 20 years ago, Landsman also warned NRC about earthquake safety regulation violations with high-level radioactive waste storage at Palisades in Michigan, located as close as 100 yards from the waters of Lake Michigan, drinking water supply for 40 million people downstream in North America. The violations have never been addressed.

Landsman also warned about a soft-spot (due to concrete and rebar degradation) on the already too small, too weak containment building at Cook nuclear power plant in s.w. MI, a problem that has never been corrected.

Nuclear power industry whistleblowers, however, are still very vulnerable to harassment, intimidation, blacklisting, and worse. Oscar Shirani, a nationally renowned quality assurance auditor who worked for Commonwealth Edison/Exelon, was run out of the company and blacklisted by the U.S. nuclear power industry, after revealing major QA violations on the Holtec dry storage/transport cask systems for high-level radioactive waste, used at 33 U.S. reactors. Dr. Landsman supported Shirani's allegations, but the NRC and U.S. Department of Labor did not, hanging Shirani out to dry.