TMI Update: Jan 14, 2024

Did you catch "The Meltdown: Three Mile Island" on Netflix?
TMI remains a danger and TMIA is working hard to ensure the safety of our communities and the surrounding areas.
Learn more on this site and support our efforts. Join TMIA. To contact the TMIA office, call 717-233-7897.


Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 24-007 January 24, 2024
CONTACT: Scott Burnell, 301-415-8200
NRC Seeks Public Comment on Scope of Environmental Review for Diablo Canyon License Renewal Application
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold two scoping meetings in February to discuss the environmental evaluation and review process for the license renewal application of the two-unit Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in Avila Beach, California.
Plant operator Pacific Gas & Electric filed the application in November 2023, requesting to renew the licenses for an additional 20 years of operation. Diablo Canyon’s operating licenses expire in November 2024 for Unit 1, and in August 2025 for Unit 2.
The NRC staff will conduct a virtual meeting from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Pacific time on Feb. 1.
The second meeting, which will be in-person only, will be held from 6-9 p.m. Pacific time on Feb. 8 at the Embassy Suites San Luis Obispo, 333 Madonna Rd. in San Luis Obispo, California. Before the meeting, the staff will hold an “open house” from 5-6 p.m. Pacific time for informal discussions and to answer questions from members of the public. Individuals seeking accommodations or special equipment to attend, or who plan to provide comments, should contact Kim Conway by Jan. 31 through email at or by phone at 301-415-1335.
At both meetings, the staff will seek the public’s input in identifying potentially significant issues that the staff should address in its environmental review of the plant’s application.
A Federal Register notice details the following methods for submitting written comments: Filing on the federal rulemaking website,, under Docket ID “NRC-2023-0192”; emailing to; or mailing to Office of Administration, Mail Stop TWFN-7-A60M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001, ATTN: Program Management, Announcements and Editing Staff. Comments are due by Feb. 23.
A copy of the Diablo Canyon license renewal application is available for public review at the San Luis Obispo Library, 995 Palm St. in San Luis Obispo. More information about the plant’s application also is available on the NRC website.

Image: Argonne National Laboratory/Lee Walston. An Argonne scientist surveys for pollinators at a utility-scale solar facility.

Putting solar farms on agricultural land can not only create hubs for insect biodiversity but also help to mitigate the rising conflict of land use change, new research says.

The five-year, US-based study found planting native grasses and flowers under solar panels helps insect populations to massively improve – by up to 20 times in the case of native bee populations. 

Researchers from the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory planted native grasses and flowers at Enel Green Power North America’s Atwater and Eastwood solar farms, in southern Minnesota.

From 2018 to 2022, researchers conducted 358 observational surveys at the two sites to map flowering vegetation and insect communities.

“The effort to obtain these data was considerable, returning to each site four times per summer to record pollinator counts,” said Heidi Hartmann, manager of the land resources and energy policy program in Argonne’s Environmental Sciences division, and one of the co-authors of the study, published in Environmental Research

​“Over time we saw the numbers and types of flowering plants increase as the habitat matured. Measuring the corresponding positive impact for pollinators was very gratifying.”

The results show that insect abundance tripled and diversity rose by 150 per cent. 

The team saw increases in the abundance and diversity of native insect pollinators and agriculturally beneficial insects such as honeybees, native bees, wasps, hornets, hoverflies, other flies, moths, butterflies and beetles.

These insects were also seen on neighbouring soy beans farms.

“This research highlights the relatively rapid insect community responses to habitat restoration at solar energy sites,” said Argonne landscape ecologist and environmental scientist Lee Walston.

“It demonstrates that, if properly sited, habitat-friendly solar energy can be a feasible way to safeguard insect populations and can improve the pollination services in adjacent agricultural fields.”


Even bees have got to eat

Global insect biodiversity has been in decline due to habitat loss, pesticides and climate change but pairing restoration efforts with renewable energy developments could help reverse the course.

Sites with the biggest solar-pollinator habitat potential are likely to be those that have been ecologically compromised, such as marginal farmland, former industrial or mine lands, and other disturbed sites.

But even on lush farmland, the research suggests that well-sited solar farms can play a big role in protecting and conserving biodiversity and pollinator habitats and mitigate land-use conflicts associated with the conversion of farmland for solar energy production. 

In Australia, that conflict is well entrenched with complaints against new solar farms often including the fear that more prime agricultural land is being removed in the name of energy production. 

But the swift and sudden embrace of agrisolar, where animals share paddocks with solar panels, is creating a new way for farmers keen on solar to fend off complaints from that direction.

By adding pollinator habitats to the concept of agrivoltaics – an essential service in a country where bees are trucked around rural areas to pollinate major crops from mango through to avocado, blueberry, macadamia and almond – improves a site’s land use efficiency and ecosystem services output, the US study says.

“The United States has lost over 12 million acres of agricultural land since 2015, increasing the pressure on the remaining agricultural lands for food production,” the study notes.

“Solar energy development may contribute to further declines in farmland, as approximately 80 per cent of future ground-mounted solar energy development could occur on agricultural lands.

“Rather than exacerbate the effects of these land use tradeoffs, these effects can be alleviated through the proper siting of solar energy developments and pairing with solar-pollinator habitat or other agrivoltaic dual land uses.”

The White House won't renominate the Nuclear Regulatory Commission pick on whom the Senate previously refused to hold a vote, HuffPost has learned.
Alexander C. Kaufman
Jan 22, 2024, 02:05 PM EST

The Byron Nuclear Generating Stations running at full capacity in Byron, Illinois.

The Byron Nuclear Generating Stations running at full capacity in Byron, Illinois.

President Joe Biden is dropping his pick to fill the open seat on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after a handful of Democrats joined Senate Republicans to block the nomination last year, HuffPost has learned.

Jeff Baran had held a seat on the five-person federal panel overseeing atomic energy and radiation safety since former President Barack Obama first named to the position in 2014. The Democratic commissioner easily won Senate approval when former President Donald Trump renominated him in 2018.

But pro-nuclear advocates angry over what they saw as Baran’s unwillingness to overhaul the regulatory process in favor of building new types of reactor technologies launched a campaign against the commissioner last year. With Republicans opposed to the nomination, the Biden administration needed almost every Democrat in the Senate to vote for Baran ― or leave the NRC without a tie-breaker for party-line votes between the four current commissioners.

Jeff Baran in Washington on April 2, 2019.
Jeff Baran in Washington on April 2, 2019.

The White House had wanted the Senate’s narrow Democratic majority to reconfirm Baran before his term ended last July. But as many as four senators on the Democratic side, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), either planned to come out against Baran or refused to pledge their votes, according to a source with knowledge of the process. Neither senator’s office immediately responded to emails requesting comment on Monday.

When the Senate ended 2023 last month without a vote, the nomination automatically went back to the White House.

The NRC directed HuffPost’s questions about when the administration would name its nominee for the open commission seat to the White House, which did not respond to a request for comment.

But three sources with knowledge of the plans confirmed to HuffPost that the Biden administration does not plan to nominate Baran again. Two spoke to HuffPost on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly. The third claimed Baran’s loss as a victory.

“We killed this nomination,” said Ted Nordhaus, executive director of the Breakthrough Institute, a California-based climate think tank that advocates for more nuclear energy.

He was among the most vocal opponents of Baran’s nomination, and helped drum up votes against the Democratic commissioner. Nordhaus had cast Baran as a holdover from an earlier era of liberal regulators who saw their job primarily as safeguarding the public against the atomic energy industry.

“It is my job to focus on nuclear safety and security,” Baran said in 2017 at his reconfirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee. “It is not my job to weigh in on the pros and cons of the merits of nuclear power.”

That view, Nordhaus said, was common among Democrats for decades. But a modern outlook on nuclear safety has to consider not only the threats of using atomic energy, but the risks that not doing so increases pollution from fossil fuels that damages lungs and traps heat in the planet’s atmosphere.

“Everyone went into this just assuming everybody would line up behind Baran, that this is just the kind of guy Democrats put on the commission,” Nordhaus said.

“The fact that enough Democratic senators were willing to say we’re not going to vote for this guy,” he added, “it’s pretty clear that for the first time in maybe ever a bunch of Democrats now recognize that we need reform at the NRC, that something has to change, that the technology can’t succeed if the NRC continues to approach this in the way it historically has.”

But Baran had defenders. The progressive pro-nuclear group Good Energy Collective previously told HuffPost Baran had a strong record of fighting for environmental justice and building relationships with communities saddled with radioactive pollution from the past.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: IV-24-004 January 22, 2024
CONTACT: Victor Dricks, 817-200-1128
NRC to Hold a Regulatory Conference with International Isotopes on Jan. 30 to Discuss Two Proposed Violations
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a regulatory conference on Jan. 30 with officials from International Isotopes of Idaho Falls, Idaho, to discuss the safety significance of two proposed violations.
The proposed violations, identified in a December 2023 inspection report, involve importing, receiving and transferring radioactive material without appropriate authorization in NRC licenses. The company uses radioactive materials in the manufacture of devices for medical and industrial applications.
The meeting will be held at the NRC’s Region IV office at 1600 East Lamar Blvd., Arlington, Texas, beginning at 8 a.m. Central time. The meeting notice has information detailing how the public can participate in the meeting by phone or online.
Members of the public will have an opportunity to ask questions of the NRC staff or make comments about the issues discussed following the business portion of the meeting; however, the NRC staff is not soliciting comments pertaining to regulatory decisions.
During the enforcement conference, company representatives will have the opportunity to provide their perspective or additional information, including any actions planned or completed to prevent recurrence of the issues, before the agency makes its final enforcement decision.
No decisions on the final safety significance or any potential NRC actions regarding the proposed violations will be made at the meeting.

When evaluating nuclear energy, the industry generally ignores the human or monetary costs.  The front end of the nuclear cycle is the mining and milling of uranium.  This dirty operation spreads radioactive contamination which has resulted in entire towns being bulldozed into oblivion.  Miners have contracted a host of serious medical problems and many have died of cancer.  Read The Uranium Widows which tells the story.

Last year was a bumper year for renewable energy according to Canary Energy.  Altogether, the world added more than 500 GW of wind, solar, hydro, and other renewable electricity generating capacity.  And we will do it again next year and the year after.
By contrast, according to USEIA, the world has a TOTAL of 376 GW of nuclear generating capacity.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: III-24-002 January 19, 2024
Contact: Prema Chandrathil, 630-829-9663
NRC Proposes $9,000 Civil Penalty Against Geotechnical and Materials Engineers
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $9,000 fine to Geotechnical and Materials Engineers, Inc. for a violation of NRC requirements associated with the control of NRC-regulated material.
The violation involved the failure to control and maintain constant surveillance of a portable moisture density gauge containing radioactive material or to use two independent physical controls to secure the gauge. The gauge is used for measuring the moisture content and density of soil and aggregate.
The NRC was notified by the company that a gauge was struck and damaged by a bulldozer at a temporary job site in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on March 22, 2023. The technician then walked away from the gauge, failing to secure it from being removed from the site by an unauthorized user.
Following an inspection at the company’s office in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the NRC documented the proposed violations in a November inspection report.
Geotechnical and Materials Engineers responded to the violations, documenting actions it has taken to prevent recurrence of the violation.
The company has 30 days to pay the proposed penalty, contest the penalty in writing, or request alternative dispute resolution with the NRC to resolve this issue.
January 26, 2023
Russell G. Workman
General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
EnergySolutions, LLC
299 S. Main Street Ste 1700
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Dear Mr. Workman:
By letter dated November 23, 2022, as supplemented by letter dated January 13, 2023,
EnergySolutions, LLC (EnergySolutions) requested that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) make a threshold determination that a corporate transaction involving
companies upstream of the indirect majority owner of EnergySolutions would not result in a
transfer of control of Facility Operating License Nos. DPR-39 and DPR-48 for Zion Nuclear
Power Station (Zion), Units 1 and 2, respectively, and the general license for the Zion
independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI), Possession Only License No. DPR-73 for
Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 2 (TMI-2), Possession Only License No. DPR-45 for La
Crosse Boiling Water Reactor (La Crosse), and the general license for the La Crosse ISFSI, and
Renewed Facility Operating License No. DPR-43 for Kewaunee Power Station (Kewaunee), and
the general license for the Kewaunee ISFSI; Radioactive Materials License No. 39-35044-01;
and Export Licenses XW010/04 and XW018/01 that would require prior NRC approval under the
applicable NRC regulations.

The NRC staff has completed its review and concludes that the corporate transaction, as
presented in the request, will not constitute a direct or indirect transfer of control under the
applicable NRC regulations of the NRC licenses held by EnergySolutions and its wholly-owned
subsidiaries and will not result in foreign ownership, control, or domination issues. Therefore,
EnergySolutions does not require prior NRC approval for the corporate transaction. The
enclosed safety evaluation documents the NRC staff’s review and conclusion.

Zip of 5 documents

39-35044-01 633678 EnergySolutions, LLC (Change of Control)