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Truck Watch to Alert Public to Radioactive Dangers: Fall Newsletter

Nukewatch Plans Truck Watch to Alert Public to Radioactive Transport Dangers

This fall, Nukewatch staffers will hit the road with our Geiger counter and begin tracking private contractors hauling low-level waste, checking for radiation leaking near our public highways. Nukewatch will use the results of their research to alert the public and inform a campaign against upcoming consolidated waste storage proposals that would require a massive increase in the cross-country transport of decades’ worth of waste or “spent” reactor fuel rods.

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NRC Announces Management Changes, Streamlining

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today announced senior personnel changes that help streamline agency management and broaden the scope and diversity of its leadership at the top as the agency works to reduce its size in the coming years.

The most senior changes – which required Commission approval and will occur in early November – include:

Deputy Executive Director for Material, Waste, Research, State, Tribal and Compliance Programs Mike Weber will become director of the Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research;

Jennifer Uhle, currently deputy director for engineering in the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, will become director of the Office of New Reactors;

Director of Nuclear Materials Safety and Safeguards Catherine Haney will become the
Region II regional administrator in January, succeeding Victor McCree, who just assumed the agency’s most senior career position, Executive Director for Operations (EDO).

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Markey: Filtered Vent Vote Adds to Litany of NRC Post-Fukushima Safety Failures

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Giselle Barry (Markey) 202-224-2742

Markey: Filtered Vent Vote Adds to Litany of NRC Post-Fukushima Safety Failures

Boston (August 21, 2015) – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) yesterday announced by a vote of 3-1 that it will not even put out for public comment the question of whether to upgrade America’s Fukushima-style reactors with a commonsense safety measure to prevent radiation exposure when vents are used to prevent hydrogen explosions during a meltdown. Commissioner Jeff Baran was the dissenting vote. In 2013, then-Rep. Markey and a group of House committee leaders called on the NRC to require that all U.S. nuclear reactors of the same design as the ones that melted down at the Japanese Fukushima nuclear facility install such vents in order to reduce exposure to radiation when the vents are used. Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Massachusetts has a reactor design that would utilize a filtered vent.

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement:

“Yet again, the NRC has missed another opportunity to take the lessons learned from the Fukushima disaster and upgrade America’s nuclear fleet to make it safer in the face of a severe nuclear accident. The NRC has yet to require the nuclear industry complete implementation of a single Fukushima Task Force recommendation. It’s irresponsible, inexplicable and an abdication of NRC’s duty to protect public safety. Instead of following its top experts’ safety recommendations, the NRC chose to do nothing, leaving the people who live around these vulnerable nuclear facilities without an important protection. ”

Exelon News Release

EXELON DEFERS DECISIONS ON ITS QUAD CITIES AND BYRON NUCLEAR PLANTS FOR ONE YEAR

Deferral follows outcome of third PJM capacity auction

CHICAGO (Sept. 10, 2015) — Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC) today announced that all of its nuclear plants in the PJM market cleared in the transition capacity auction for the 2017-18 planning year and that the company will defer any decisions about the future operations of its Quad Cities and Byron nuclear plants for one year. As a result, the company plans to continue operating its Quad Cities nuclear power plant through at least May 2018. The Byron plant is already obligated to operate through May 2019.

Exelon intends to bid Quad Cities, Byron, Three Mile Island and all eligible nuclear plants into the 2019-2020 PJM capacity auction next year. The decision to defer retirement decisions comes after rigorous analysis of the present and future economics of the plants, taking into consideration the constructive market trends stemming from the PJM capacity auction reforms.

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Cancer risks at nuclear plants to be concealed from public

Agency to leave children unprotected and public in the dark on cancer risks around nuclear power facilities

Vital cancer study canceled as nuclear industry moves in to offer end-run cover-up
TAKOMA PARK, MD, September 8, 2015 — Beyond Nuclear, a leading U.S. NGO of record on the health, safety and environmental dangers of nuclear power facilities, today decried the outrageous decision by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to cancel a study that would have examined cancer incidence and mortalities and the connection to U.S. nuclear facilities.

“Study after study in Europe has shown a clear rise in childhood leukemia around operating nuclear power facilities, yet the NRC has decided to hide this vital information from the American public,” said Cindy Folkers, radiation and health specialist at Beyond Nuclear.  The study, initiated in 2009 and carried out under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), had completed Phase 1 and was looking at seven pilot nuclear sites around the country, a project that was estimated to cost $8 million.

“An $8 million price tag for the next phase of this study is a drop in the bucket for an agency with a $1 billion annual operating budget,” added Folkers.  The NRC identified the “significant amount of time and resources needed and the agency’s current budget constraints” as its excuse for terminating the study. 

Folkers noted that, in reality, nuclear industry manipulation, rather than budget constraints, could be behind the NRC’s sudden decision to abandon the NAS study.

In documents obtained by Beyond Nuclear it was revealed that NRC staff had been approached by the president of U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), John Boice, offering a cheaper, faster and less sensitive study design to replace the NAS study, although the NRC has not yet agreed to accept the NCRP bid.

“NCRP is not only funded in part by the nuclear industry but its decision-makers also have strong pro-nuclear ties,” said Folkers, who has been leading a six-year effort by Beyond Nuclear and other groups to ensure the NAS cancer study went forward with scientific integrity. 

“John Boice has repeatedly taken industry funding for health studies and has testified against plaintiffs in radiation exposure cases,” Folkers continued.  “The public will have absolutely no confidence in any conclusions reached by such a study and would recognize it as an attempt by the NRC to, yet again, bury public concerns about radiation exposure,” Folkers added.

What’s also behind the cancelation, Folkers alleges, is the incontrovertible evidence of negative health impacts caused by the routine operation of nuclear power reactors and especially on children, that such a study would have made public. 

Last year, Dr. Ian Fairlie, a noted British radiation biologist, conducted a meta-analysis of cancer studies around nuclear plants in the UK, Germany, France and Switzerland and found “a highly statistically significant 37% increase in childhood leukemias within 5 km (3 miles) of almost all nuclear power plants” in those countries. 

Reacting to the NRC’s decision, Fairlie said it was “highly regrettable and inexplicable given the large amount of good evidence from countries outside the U.S. which strongly pointed to increased leukemias near nuclear power plants.”

The influence of the nuclear industry over the NRC is no surprise, given the agency receives 90% of its funding from the nuclear industry itself.  But a recent pattern of dismissing public engagement and canceling minimal safety measures at U.S. nuclear plants is a worrying trend.

“Funding a cancer study around nuclear power plants is a legitimate cost of doing radioactive business that the NRC could have collected through its licensing fees,” said Paul Gunter, Director of Reactor Oversight at Beyond Nuclear and an NRC watchdog.  “Instead, the NRC has decided to pass along another cost savings to the nuclear industry at the expense of public health and safety.”

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NRC Ends Work on National Academy of Sciences Cancer Risk Pilot Study

The NRC is ceasing work on a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) pilot study (Phase 1 and Phase 2) of cancer risks in populations near U.S. nuclear power facilities. The NRC determined that continuing the work was impractical, given the significant amount of time and resources needed and the agency’s current budget constraints.

The NRC continues to find U.S. nuclear power plants comply with strict requirements that limit radiation releases from routine operations. The NRC and state agencies regularly analyze environmental samples from near the plants. These analyses show the releases, when they occur, are too small to cause observable increases in cancer risk near the facilities.

“We’re balancing the desire to provide updated answers on cancer risk with our responsibility to use Congressionally-provided funds as wisely as possible,” said Brian Sheron, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research. “The NAS estimates it would be at least the end of the decade before they would possibly have answers for us, and the costs of completing the study were prohibitively high.”

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EXELON GENERATION COMPANY, LLC, PEACH BOTTOM ATOMIC POWER STATION UNIT 1 – NRC INSPECTION REPORT NO. 05000171/2015009

Exelon Generation Company, LLC, Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station Unit 1 - NRC Inspection Report No. 05000171/2015009

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NRC to Increase Oversight of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant Based on New Inspection Finding

NRC to Increase Oversight of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant Based on New Inspection Finding

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has finalized an inspection finding of low-to-moderate safety significance and an associated violation for the Pilgrim nuclear power plant. The decision will result in increased NRC oversight at the Plymouth, Mass., facility.

Specifically, the enforcement action will move the plant into the Repetitive Degraded Cornerstone Column, or Column 4, of the NRC’s Action Matrix. The plant transitioned into the Degraded Cornerstone Column, or Column 3, in late 2013 as a result of unplanned shutdowns and unplanned shutdowns with complications that year. During an inspection in December 2014, the NRC found that Entergy, the plant’s owner and operator, had not adequately evaluated the causes of those shutdowns and that some corrective actions had not been completed as intended or were closed out prematurely.

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Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 - Request for Additional Information Regarding License Amendment Request to Adopt NEI 99-01, Revision 6, EAL Scheme Change (TAC Nos. MF6057 and MF6058)

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 - Request for Additional Information Regarding License Amendment Request to Adopt NEI 99-01, Revision 6, EAL Scheme Change (TAC Nos. MF6057 and MF6058)

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Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 - Acceptance of Requested Licensing Action Re: Proposed Relief Requests for the Third Ten-Year Inservice Inspection Interval (TAC Nos. MF6302 through MF6307)

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 - Acceptance of Requested Licensing Action Re: Proposed Relief Requests for the Third Ten-Year Inservice Inspection Interval (TAC Nos. MF6302 through MF6307)

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