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Saturday
Apr202019

US nukes aren't ready for climate change and the captured regulator is making sure of that

After Bloomberg ran an indepth story on just how unprepared US nuclear power plants are for the ravages of climate change -- especially sea-level rise -- Common Dreams did a follow-up piece with Beyond Nuclear's Paul Gunter.

Among the shocking findings in the Bloomberg article: "54 of the nuclear plants operating in the U.S. weren’t designed to handle the flood risk they face. Fifty-three weren’t built to withstand their current risk from intense precipitation; 25 didn’t account for current flood projections from streams and rivers; 19 weren’t designed for their expected maximum storm surge. Nineteen face three or more threats that they weren’t designed to handle."

But, as Gunter pointed out, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has "inexplicably switched out 'mandatory' requirements with 'voluntary' initiatives." This means that despite "Fukushima Lessons Learned" and other obvious common sense guidelines, the nuclear industry is no longer required by the NRC to take steps to shore up their defences against extreme weather and flooding. Instead, it's all voluntary.

This also extended to the NRC staff being over-ridden by the Republican-dominated Commission when, as Gunter explained it to Common Dreams, the NRC staff unanimously agreed that the agency issue an order to 31 U.S. Fukushima-style GE Mark I and II boiling water reactors requiring operators to install severe accident-capable radiation filters on hardened containment vents." These vents, he explained, "would allow operators to vent the containment of a severe accident's extreme heat, pressure, and explosive gases to save the structure while filtering out the release of harmful radiation."

But in a June 2013 vote, "the commission voted to order the installation of hardened containment vents but without the engineered external radiation filters which industry opposed on cost." While the NRC "suggested that the filters could be taken up later in a rulemaking process for public comment," it "abandoned the measure," said Gunter.

As Dr. Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists told Bloomberg: "The NRC basically did everything the industry wanted." More

Friday
Apr192019

EDF wants to leave faulty Flamanville weldings in place

As we watched the storied Notre-Dame Cathedral burn in Paris this week, one theory about the fire's cause was related to welding. The fire shocked France and the world. So should the admission of 66 defective welds found in key safety areas at the Flamanville nuclear reactor construction site on the French coast. Eight of the welds are inaccessible for repair so EDF has asked for an exemption to avoid replacing them. Flamanville, EDF's flagship EPR, should have been sunk long ago. Instead, like Boeing and its 373 Max, the manufacturer is hoping to dodge disaster by avoiding the cost in time and money for replacement welds. It's an unacceptable risk given the potential consequences if the reactor welds don't hold. Fortunately, no one died at the Notre Dame fire. The same is unlikely to be true should Flamanville complete its construction phase with these known defects left in place. Originally set to open in 2012, Flamanville may well be delayed beyond 2020, depending on an imminently expected decision by the French nuclear safety regulator on whether to replace the faulty welding. Meanwhile the cost of the project has almost quadrupled and this, combined with numerous other safety flaws already uncovered should prompt its immediate cancellation along with the still incomplete EPRs in Finland and the UK. More 

Friday
Apr192019

Support the nuclear ban Resolution! Call your US House Rep.  

On April 10, James McGovern (D-MA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)  of the US House of Representatives introduced a Resolution in Congress embracing the goals of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The Resolution largely follows the policy prescription of the Back from the Brink Campaign, and is an encouraging development alongside the growing list of cities that have endorsed the campaign and joined the ICAN Cities Appeal. Clearly the Trump administration will not sign the TPNW, but, as was the intention all along, the Treaty is proving very useful in building a movement in the US for the fundamental change in policy that will lead to the elimination of nuclear weapons. Please call (202-224-3121) or email your Members of Congress and urge them to co-sponsor this Resolution. We are hoping that there will be a companion resolution in the Senate in the near future. More 

Friday
Apr192019

Two screenings of A Translator in DC

If you are in the DC area, there will be two screenings of Un Traductor (A Translator) along with post-screening discussions with the directors: Saturday, April 27 at the National Gallery of Art, 2:30pm, admission free; and Sunday, April 28, 12:30pm at E Street Cinema. Un Traductor is a Cuban film, in Spanish, with English subtitles.

Nothing brings home the tragedy of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster quite like the stories of the children it afflicted. The Cuban drama, Un Traductor (A Translator), a true story, carries this off with quiet, moving grace, through the eyes of a Russian-speaking Cuban academic. When he is abruptly ordered to cease teaching and report to the Havana hospital as an interpreter, he faces the realization that many of the young patients flown in from the Soviet Union for treatment, will die. http://www.filmfestdc.org/filmView.cfm?passID=72

Wednesday
Apr172019

"La Fuga Radiactiva (The Radioactive Leak)," a 30-minute Spanish language drama (with English subtitles) about a CISF disaster: D.C. area premiere at the NIRS office, Takoma Park, MD, Thurs., May 2, 2019, 6:30 pm

Free film showing: "La Fuga Radiactiva" ("The Radioactive Leak") -- a 30-minute, Spanish language (with English subtitles) drama, about a radioactive disaster at a centralized interim storage facility (CISF) for irradiated nuclear fuel (high-level radioactive waste).

D.C. area premiere at the NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service) office, Suite 340, 6930 Carroll Avenue, Takoma Park, MD 20912

Thursday, May 2, 2019, 6:30 pm (just days after the 33rd annual commemoration of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, and during the same month as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board has announced it will make major rulings re: CISFs targeted at the Southwest)

If you can come, please RSVP to: kevin@beynodnuclear.org.

To be followed by a discussion with NIRS Radioactive Waste Project Director, Diane D'Arrigo, as well as Beyond Nuclear Radioactive Waste Specialist, Kevin Kamps.

Free refreshments will be served.

For more info., contact Kevin Kamps, (240) 462-3216, kevin@beyonduclear.org

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