Saturday, March 31, 2012

Activists Occupy Entergy! | rubber stamps

The Activists Occupy Entergy! Starring our anti-nuclear heroes! (A homage to "The Artist".) - YouTube

Eight intrepid heroes from the New England Natural Guard affinity group, traveled to New Orleans, the headquarters of nuclear corporation, Entergy. They were there to occupy Entergy HQ on the day that the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor, owned by Entergy, should have ceased operation. Putting up crime scene tapes and holding banners, the group refused to leave without a meeting with Entergy CEO, J. Wayne Leonard. No meeting happened. 7 of the 8 agreed to be arrested, and were detained and released. Their actions came in solidarity with allies in Vermont, 1,000 of whom marched in Brattleboro, while a second affinity group of 5 were arrested at Entergy Regional HQ in White Plains, NY. The State of Vermont voted in February 2010 to shut the 40-year old Vermont Yankee plant when its license expired on March 21, 2012, a decision that was over-ruled by the federal government and Entergy which sued to keep the plant running in defiance of states' rights.

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NRC has rubber-stamped license extensions and "power uprates" at 22 of 23 GE BWR Mark I reactors operating in the U.S.

Vibrational stresses caused by Vermont Yankee's power uprate led to the collapse of its cooling tower

March 30, 2012: Pat Birnie of the GE Shareholders Alliance has compiled U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) data on "power uprates" which the agency has approved at 22 of the 23 General Electric boiling water reactors of the Mark I design still operating across the U.S. (Nine Mile Point Unit 1 in NY is the only exception). Her chart is accessible here. The Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4 which exploded and melted down beginning in March 2011 are also GE BWR Mark Is.

The single biggest power uprate, as a percentage of heat output (measured as Megawatts-thermal, or MWt), was a 20% "extended" type power uprate, granted in 2006 to Entergy Nuclear at its 34 year old (at the time) Vermont Yankee atomic reactor. This amounted to a 319 MWt power uprate (MWt must be divided by three to determine the Megawatts-electric, MWe, generated, due to the fact that 2/3rds of the heat generated by splitting atoms is lost as waste). The vibrational stresses caused by Vermont Yankee's power uprate led to the collapse of its cooling tower (see photo at left), and even contributed to a separate fiery explosion, when the increased pressure of flowing steam picked up loose metallic slag that had lain dormant for decades and slammed it into an operational transformer.

However, even bigger power uprates have been rubberstamped by NRC. The single biggest, at an individual Mark I reactor, was the 547 MWt of power uprates, granted in two installments (one a "Measurement Uncertainty Recapture" type uprate), at the Hope Creek, New Jersey Mark I. However, both Brunswick Mark Is, Units #1 and #2 in North Carolina, have each enjoyed a total of 487 MWt of power uprates, including a "stretch" type uprate, for a whopping 974 MWt of power uprates at the Brunswick nuclear power plant.

NRC gave the newly formed Exelon Nuclear Corporation (formed by the merger of Commonwealth Edison of Chicago and Philadelphia Electric Company, the first and second largest nuclear utilities in the U.S.) an early Christmas gift in 2001: a 17.8% power uprate at both of its Quad Cities 1 & 2 Mark Is, worth 446 MWt each; and a 17% power uprate, worth 430 MWt, at each of its Dresden 2 & 3 Mark Is. All four approvals took place on a single day, December 21, 2001. The combined power uprates at the four Mark I reactors netted Exelon 1,752 MWt of additional output.

While the nuclear utilities enjoy increased profits from the additional electricity sales associated with power uprates, the public downwind and downstream bears the risks of running these Mark Is harder and hotter than they were originally licensed or designed for. To make safety risks even worse, 22 of the 23 operating Mark Is have already received NRC rubberstamps for 20 year license extensions; Fermi 2 is the only exception, and it plans to apply for one in 2014. Pat Birnie has also compiled a listing of the 23 operating Mark Is in the U.S., including the reactor units' names, locations, expiration dates for their original 40 year licenses, and expiration dates for their NRC-authorized 20 year license extensions.

Pat Birnie has succeeded in getting an anti-nuclear shareholder resolution, written in the aftermath of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe, onto the agenda of the General Electric annual shareholders meeting, to be held in downtown Detroit on April 25th.

Beyond Nuclear - NRC has rubber-stamped license extensions and "power uprates" at 22 of 23 GE BWR Mark I reactors operating in the U.S.

Putney activists, 7 others, arrested at Entergy headquarters | THE COMMONS -- News and Views for Windham County, Vermont

March 22, 2012

7 arrested at Entergy headquarters in Louisiana

As protestors gather in Brattleboro to make a statement about Vermont Yankee at the corporate headquarters of Entergy, the nuclear plant’s owner, a group has been arrested on March 22 for trespass at the company’s corporate headquarters in New Orleans.

According to a press relase from the Safe and Green Energy (SAGE) Alliance, Nancy Braus, of Putney, and seven other antinuclear activists “taped off a corporate ‘crime scene’ at the downtown Entergy building, demanding an audience with Entergy, CEO, J. Wayne Leonard.”

“The request was not granted,” the press release said.

“Our simple trespass is our statement of resistance to Entergy’s corporate trespass with the continued illegal operation of this nuclear waste factory,” said Braus, who owns Everyone’s Books in Brattleboro.
Those arrested were released and plan to resume the protest, this time on the sidewalk outside the headquarters, on Saturday, March 24.

According to a press release from Beyond Nuclear, “March 24 marks a national day of action in solidarity with Vermont to ‘Freeze our Fukushimas,’ a campaign to freeze operation at all 23 operating U.S. Mark I reactors.”
Those facilities share the same containment design as Fukushima Daiichi.

The SAGE Alliance also noted that five Vermont activists were arrested on March 22 during a similar non-violent protest action at the Entergy Nuclear Northeast regional headquarters in White Plains, N.Y., near Entergy’s Indian Point Energy Center nuclear station in Buchanan, N.Y.

Seven women protesters chained the gates at VY in Vernon on March 21 as Buddhist monks and others chanted and sang.

In addition to Braus, six people from New Hampshire — Renny Cuhing, Lynn Chong, Ben Chichester, Kendra Ulrich, Jeff Brummer, and Nelia Sargent — were arrested, as was Paul Gunter from Maryland.

According to the SAGE Alliance, “It was expected that they would spend 24 hours in jail before being arraigned.”

NRC dismisses three contentions from nuclear safety groups | By Shir Haberman
March 12, 2012

SEABROOK — The road to extending the operating license for the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant until 2050 just got a little easier.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced March 8 that it has tossed out three contentions to that extension filed by nuclear safety groups that had previously been accepted for adjudication by the commission’s own Atomic Safety and Licensing Board.

“This rejection of our intervener status is a complete outrage,” said Doug Bogen, executive director of the Exeter-based Seacoast Anti-Pollution League, one of the organizations that had filed a contention against the extension that the NRC rejected. “The NRC’s action is all the more heinous in that it comes just a few days before the anniversary of the Fukushima disaster — an event which should have shaken the foundations of nuclear regulation, but appears to have caused barely a tremor.”

SAPL’s contention, filed along with the Washington, D.C.-based organization Beyond Nuclear and the New Hampshire Sierra Club, was that the Environmental Report used to justify the extension filed by NextEra Energy, the operators of the Seabrook plant, failed to evaluate the potential for renewable energy to offset the loss of energy production from the Seabrook nuclear power plant when it current license expires in 2030. The nuclear safety groups argued that new energy technologies currently in the works would make the power generated by Seabrook Station unnecessary.

The NRC overruled its licensing board’s decision that this contention had merit. In doing so, the commission effectively removed these three organizations from the license renewal process.

“As we have discussed, in assessing energy-alternatives contentions, practicality requires us to consider chiefly, often exclusively, alternatives that can be shown to have viability today or in the near future,” the NRC wrote in its March 8 order. “Here, Beyond Nuclear (SAPL and the Sierra Club have) not provided support for its claim that offshore wind is technically feasible and commercially viable — either today or in the near future — and, therefore, has not submitted an admissible contention.”

The NRC decision angered SAPL President Herb Moyer, who claimed the ruling violated federal law.

“One moniker for the NRC is, ‘Nobody Really Cares;’ another is ‘No Real Consideration,’” Moyer said. “(The commission’s) decision to discard SAPL’s legal contention that a license extension requires consideration of future power alternatives is illogical, irrational and contrary to the law embodied in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.”

NRC Public Affairs Officer Neil Sheehan said that while he would not call the commission’s decision to override its own licensing board unusual, “in general, the commission tends to support decisions reached by ASLB panels unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise, recognizing that the ASLB panel heard all of the testimony and carefully scrutinized all of the relevant information.”

The decision to toss out the SAPL contention, along with two others filed jointly by the Maine-based Friends of the Coast and the New England Coalition in Massachusetts, leaves only two left for final judgement by the licensing board. Both were filed by the Coalition and Friends groups.

The first claims that the Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives report submitted by NextEra as part of its license extension request minimized the potential amount of radiation that could be released by the Seabrook plant in a severe accident. While the commission was obviously displeased the ASLB accepted this contention, adjudication of this issue was allowed to go forward.

“Although we consider, as we said previously, that support for this contention is weak, because the (licensing) board is the appropriate arbiter of such fact-specific questions of contention admissibility, we will not second-guess the board’s evaluation of factual support for the contention, absent an error of law or abuse of discretion,” the NRC wrote.

The last contention allowed had to do with the claim that NextEra used a faulty modeling process to determine how air currents along the coast would disperse any radioactivity released from the Seabrook plant in the event of a severe accident.

“Here, the board held that (the) ‘Friends/NEC’ have raised plausible limitations of air dispersion modeling at the (Seabrook) site, and that the asserted limitations of the atmospheric dispersion model plausibly could affect the SAMA cost-benefit conclusions,” the commission wrote in the March 8 order. “Given the substantial deference we typically accord licensing boards on contention admissibility, we conclude that the board did not abuse its discretion or commit legal error in finding adequate factual support for the contention ... .”

No date has as yet been set for a hearing on these two remaining contentions.

NRC dismisses three contentions from nuclear safety groups |

NRC raises long-term operability concerns with Seabrook nuke plant |

March 27, 2012 4:44 PM
SEABROOK — The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is asking Seabrook Station for more information regarding long-term operability concerns raised in an inspection completed early this year.

Seabrook Station, which is seeking a 20-year extension of its operating license slated to expire in 2030, received a letter this week asking it to respond to concerns raised at an April 23 meeting at NRC headquarters in Rockville, Md.

NextEra Energy, which owns the plant, received a letter from Christopher G. Miller, director of nuclear reactor safety with the NRC. Miller said the recent inspection focused on NextEra’s work regarding alkali-silica reactions that are affecting concrete structures. more

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