Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommends further review of Beyond Nuclear petition for emergency enforcement actions at Fukushima-style US reactors

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 19, 2011
CONTACT:  Linda Gunter, Beyond Nuclear, 301.455.5655
         
Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommends further review of Beyond Nuclear petition for emergency enforcement actions at Fukushima-style US reactors

[Takoma Park, MD]  The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has accepted several emergency actions for further agency review that were requested in a petition filed by Beyond Nuclear on April 13, 2011. The Beyond Nuclear petition seeks to suspend the operation of the dangerous and seriously flawed General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors, 23 of which still operate around the U.S. and which are almost identical to the Fukushima reactors that melted down in Japan. The petition was co-signed by national and regional anti-nuclear groups as well as more than 5,000 individuals.
The Beyond Nuclear petition to the NRC asks that the Mark I reactors cease operations until several emergency actions are taken. The actions accepted by the federal agency for the further review include;  1) the NRC revoke the 1989 prior approval for all GE Mark I operators to “voluntarily” install the same experimental hardened vent systems on flawed containment structures that the Fukushima catastrophe demonstrates to have a 100% failure rate and; 2) that the agency immediately issue Orders requiring all U.S. Mark I operators to promptly install dedicated emergency back-up electrical power to ensure reliable cooling systems for the densely packed spent fuel pools. The GE BWR fuel pools are located at the top of the reactor building and currently do not have backup power if offsite and on-site electrical power were lost simultaneously.
“Fukushima demonstrates that a nuclear catastrophe can result from these same fundamental flaws in the Mark I reactors operating in the United States,” said Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight Project at Beyond Nuclear. “We are spotlighting these dangerous reactors to test the NRCs’ willingness to take enforcement action to protect public safety rather than protect the nuclear industry bottom line,” he said.
On July 19, 2011, NRC released its own “Near-Term Task Force Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Accident.”  While the Task Force addresses the same two action items found in the Beyond Nuclear petition that were accepted by the review board, the Task Force’s conclusions are considerably weaker.
First, where NRC task force recommendation 5 states that the agency consider issuing an Order to Mark I operators to upgrade hardened vent systems on the containment, the public petitioners have requested the agency revoke all prior approval of the “voluntary” installation of the controversial venting system. The vents were seen to fail at Fukushima and are only in place to save the containment which is too weak to withstand a severe accident. The containments were retrofitted in the 1990’s to instead temporarily vent explosive gas, steam pressure and radioactivity to the outside atmosphere to save the containment component.
“Given the catastrophic failure demonstrated at Fukushima, these same designs should not be allowed to operate with experimental vents on containment,” said Gunter, “The GE  reactor was originally licensed with the claim of a ‘leak tight’ containment so this after-thought of  installing a vent for accident conditions is in fact a violation of that same license,” he said.
Scott Portzline, security consultant to Three Mile Island Alert, Harrisburg PA said, ”The NRC’s Task Force on Fukushima has also recommended that the Mark II design reactors, like the one at Limerick PA, also be ordered to change over to a reliable vent system. The Peach Bottom Reactors would be affected by such an order since they are of Mark I design.”
In its petition, Beyond Nuclear additionally asked that the NRC then provide the public with full hearing rights to first independently review any further experimental modifications to the acknowledged weaker and substandard Mark I containment system.
Secondly, where NRC task force recommendation 7 states that emergency back-up power should be provided to ensure make-up for water boiled off of overheated spent fuel pools following loss of offsite power, the petitioners’ request that reliable back-up power be provide to assure reliable cooling to prevent the pools from boiling off.  The petitioners remain concerned about the unintended consequences of condensation from a spent fuel pool boil off affecting safety-related systems like electrical circuits and sump systems.
The NRC review board further recommended that the agency “reject” in part Beyond Nuclear’s requested actions for any further review to include; 1) “Immediately suspend operating licenses of all GE BWR Mark I units pending full NRC review with independent expert and public participation from the affected emergency planning zone communities,” and; 2) “Conduct public meetings within each of the ten-mile emergency planning zone for each GE BWR site for the purpose of receiving public comment and independent expert testimony regarding the reliability of hardened vent system or direct torus vent system.”
Beyond Nuclear and the co-petitioners will be provided an additional public meeting before the NRC’s Petition Review to present supplemental material and challenge agency recommendations to reject requested emergency actions. The date for that meeting has not been established.
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Markey Statement on NRC Vote To Act On Fukushima Task Force Recommendations

For Immediate Release
Contact: Giselle Barry 202-225-2836
August 19, 2011                                                                  
 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee and a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released the following statement after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) directed its staff to complete several actions within the next 45 days in response to recommendations from the NRC’s Near-Term Task Force.
 
“I am encouraged that all the NRC Commissioners have agreed with Chairman Greg Jaczko to act within 90 days on 11 of the 12 safety recommendations of the Near Term Task Force. It is urgent that the NRC address vulnerabilities to America's nuclear fleet that were starkly revealed by the Fukushima meltdowns.
 
“Unfortunately, Commissioners Magwood, Svinicki, and Ostendorff did not agree even to a prompt up-or-down vote on the very first, common-sense recommendation of the Task Force - to replace the current patchwork of safety regulations with a logical, systematic, and coherent regulatory framework. Now is not the time for 18 additional months of redundant study of the first recommendation, which was made by a Task Force with 135 years of collective experience at the NRC and with full access to NRC staff.
 
“The Task Force’s recommendations, if adopted, would go a long way towards ensuring the safety of America’s 104 nuclear reactors if the rest of the Commissioners also agree to support Chairman Jaczko on the substance of all 12 recommendations of the Task Force. I urge them to do so.”

Peach Bottom: Document Access (ML111860054)

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Unit 3 – Individual Notice of Consideration of Issuance of Amendment to Facility Operating License, Proposed No Significant Hazards Consideration Determination and Opportunity for Hearing and Order Imposing Procedures for Document Access to Sensitive Unclassified Non-Safeguards Information (TAC No. ME6391)
 
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TMI: Weld Overlay of the Pressurizer Spray Nozzle (ML112140397)

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 – Proposed Alternative RR-10-02 Regarding Weld Overlay of the Pressurizer Spray Nozzle to Safe-End and Safe-End to Elbow Dissimilar Metal Welds (TAC No. ME4795)
 
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Japan eyes global nuclear compensation treaty: report

From Reuters:

Japan is considering joining a U.S.-led global nuclear compensation treaty in a bid to fend off excessive overseas damage claims related to nuclear accidents, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Sunday, without citing sources.

The U.S., Morocco, Romania and Argentina have agreed to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, but the treaty needs at least five countries in order to go into effect.

The newspaper said Japan would start discussions with the United States in the coming week over the pact, which defines the rules for trials for damage claims in countries where accidents happen.

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Peach Bottom: Safety Limit Minimum Critical Power Ratio Change (ML111860025)

 
PEACH BOTTOM ATOMIC POWER STATION, UNIT 3 - REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REGARDING LICENSE AMENDMENT REQUEST FOR SAFETY LIMIT MINIMUM CRITICAL POWER RATIO CHANGE (TAC NO. ME6931
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US Blue Ribbon Commission goes on tour

The US government’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) will be hosting public meetings to solicit feedback on the draft commission report, in association with state regional groups that work on high-level radioactive waste policy.

 

Whilst much of the testimony to the BRC was given in Washington, DC, now the BRC is going on tour with a series of one-day meetings to present the draft BRC report (issued on July 29, 2011), and to hear feedback.

 

The current schedule is:

 

  • September 13, 2011: Denver, CO (Embassy Suites, 1420 Stout Street)
  • October 12, 2011: Boston, MA (Harvard Medical School Conference Center, 77 Louis Pasteur, Longwood Harvard University, Cambridge)
  • October 18, 2011: Atlanta, GA (Marriot Marquis, 265 Peachtree Center Avenue)
  • October 20, 2011: Washington, DC (Hilton Garden Inn, 815 14th Street NW)
  • October 28, 2011: Minneapolis, MN (Hyatt Regency, 1300 Nicollet Mall)
  • Other dates and locations are to be determined.

 

The meetings will begin with a briefing from Commission staff on the draft report, followed by comments from elected and appointed state and regional representatives. The latter portion of the meeting will be devoted to a facilitated and interactive breakout opportunity for all who attend, and will conclude with a public comment period.

 

All public are welcome to attend. Pre-registration will be strongly encouraged but not required. Transcripts (not webcasts) of the meetings will be made available on the website, along with all written comments anyone chooses to offer.

 

The draft full commission report has been published for comments (see file attachment) until 31 October 2011. Directions on how to comment are contained in the document.

 

The draft commission report , commission activity details, and pre-registration details are available at WWW.BRC.GOV

Vermont Yankee: Calls to Action

A CALL TO JOIN THE ORGANIZING OF A REGIONAL CAMPAIGN OF NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION TO SHUT DOWN VERMONT YANKEE, Sunday, August 28, 2011, 11:30 am - 5:30 pm, Norwich, VT. A People's Campaign to Close Vermont Yankee. Signed by: Randy Kehler, Bob Bady, Nancy Braus for Safe and Green Campaign; Debra Stoleroff, Chris Williams, Robin Cappuccino, David Detmold for the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance; Deb Katz and Chris Williams for VT Citizens Awareness Network; Hattie Nestel for the Shut it Down Affinity Group. Registration and more information link: http://www.clamshellalliance.org/action/?p=196
 
 
CLOSE IT DOWN! ACTION CAMP at Wheelock Mountain Farm, on the evening of Friday, Sept. 9th and all day Saturday Sept. 10th to develop and prepare a response to any effort to keep Vermont Yankee operating beyond March of next year. Sponsored by the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance, Safe and Green Campaign and the Citizen’s Awareness Network, the Shut it Down Affinity Group.  To register and for more info - Robin Cappuccino at 533-2296, Debra Stoleroff at 476-3154, or Wmtnfarm@together.net. For a poster and More information link to: http://www.clamshellalliance.org/action/?p=190

NRC COMPLICIT IN RADIATION EXPOSURE COVER-UP IN JAPAN

N   E   W   S       R  E  L  E  A  S  E
 
Date: August 11, 2011                                                Contact: Dave McCoy, Director

Protesters continue fight against nuclear power 35 years later

From the Daily News of Newburyport:

Anti-nuke protesters gathered outside the north gate of NextEra Energy Seabrook yesterday, hoping their presence would resonate amid heightened concern over the safety of nuclear power worldwide.

Around lunchtime, 20 protesters armed with bongos, guitars, Hula-Hoops and banners spent about 30 minutes singing and demanding an end to nuclear power before marching toward the main gate area off The Provident Way.

The protest came 35 years to the day after 18 people were arrested for protesting the groundbreaking of the Seabrook nuclear power plant. One of those arrested in 1976, Renny Cushing of Hampton, N.H., spent a few minutes addressing the crowd.

Cushing called nuclear power an "unforgiving technology" and said it was heartening to see that people were still concerned enough to protest.

In a separate interview, Cushing said what he and others were protesting 35 years ago is still valid today: Nuclear power is an energy option the world can live without.

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