"Nuclear Retreat" continues as new reactor designs shown to be unsafe

In the space of just a few weeks, the two leading new nuclear reactor designs currently on the international market have been revealed to have serious safety deficiencies by nuclear safety authorities in four countries. Both the U.S.-Japanese Westinghouse-Toshiba AP-1000 design and the French European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) have been shown to be potentially unsafe. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said last month that the AP-1000 containment design was structurally vulnerable to collapse from events like earthquake, tornadoes and severe storm damage. The NRC has already required the AP-1000 design to show it could withstand a major aircraft crash. The EPR, under construction in France and Finland, but also proposed for Britain, the U.S. and elsewhere, was found not to meet safety requirements for reactor control systems by the British, Finnish and French nuclear safety agencies. The U.S. and European agencies have demanded design modifications to both the AP-1000 and EPR reactors before declaring them “safe.” For more, read the Beyond Nuclear press release.


President Obama please take note - the clear case against nuclear

Jonathon Porritt, who chaired the Sustainable Develoment Commission in Britain that argued against nuclear expansion, makes a clear case in The Guardian as to why nuclear will derail meaningful efforts to employ conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. After making the case for the renewable route, Porritt concludes that making the nuclear choice instead will:

"undoubtedly slow investment in new renewables. It will reassure politicians that they don't have to do the heavy lifting required to put energy efficiency at the heart of any strategy. It will weaken efforts to move towards localised distributed energy solutions (why else do you think the industry and pro-nuclear civil servants fought so hard against feed-in tariffs for so many years?), and it will "lock us in" to today's hugely inefficient generation and transmission system for the next 40 years or so.

"And the tragedy is it won't make much difference anyway – even if the reactors do eventually get built after inevitable delay. If every OECD country follows this route, instead of pursuing the alternative mapped out above, then emissions of greenhouse gases will keep rising at a dangerously fast level, average temperatures will soar, the Greenland ice cap will melt far faster than anticipated – and all those shiny new reactors will be several metres under water. Oh, for a little bit of realism."


Beyond Nuclear joins coalition opposing "streamlining" of new reactor licensing

A coalition of environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, has written to U.S. Senators urging opposition to any further gutting of Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing proceedings for new reactor proposals. In an opinion piece printed in the New York Times, Sen. John Kerry (Democrat-MA) -- co-sponsor of Sen. Barbara Boxer's (D-CA) climate bill, S. 1733 -- along with Sen. Lindsay Graham (Republican-SC), called for such "streamlining," along with other public support for expanding the nuclear power industry, as a supposed solution to the climate crisis. But nuclear power is too expensive and slow, and has not solved its "insurmountable risks" of nuclear weapons proliferation, accidents and attacks, radioactive waste, and "routine releases" of radioactivity and toxic chemicals at every step of the uranium fuel chain. (Environment America responded to the Kerry-Graham op-ed on at Huffington Post.)


Beyond Nuclear and close to 100 groups protest blatant nuclear "booster" nominated to Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Beyond Nuclear joined close to 100 anti-nuclear watchdog groups from across the country in reiterating vehement opposition to President Obama's now official nomination of William Magwood as a new commissoner at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The groups had already alerted the White House, in an August 3rd letter, to Mr. Magwood's firmly pro-nuclear industry track record and history. Today, Beyond Nuclear issued a press release urging the Senate to carefully consider Magwood's nuclear industry boosterism given that the NRC mandate is to protect the interests of public safety in the nuclear power sector. Project on Government Oversight (POGO), with a focus on nuclear power plant security (or lack thereof), has also protested Mr. Magwood's nomination in a letter to U.S. Senate leaders, and called instead for nomination of a Commissioner with security expertise, and with a public interest background. In addition to his boosterism for new reactors, Magwood has advocated a relapse into reprocessing of high-level radioactive waste, which risks nuclear weapons proliferation, environmental devastation, and an astronomical price tag for taxpayers. Magwood has also promoted the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump, contradicting President Obama's clear position that Yucca is unsuitable for radioactive waste disposal.


Deep crack in Florida reactor signals widespread risks of aging U.S. reactors

A deep crack just discovered this week in the concrete containment wall of the Crystal River nuclear reactor on Florida’s west coast signals a disturbing trend in on-going cracking and corrosion and other dangerous wear-and-tear symptoms among the country’s fleet of aging reactors.  Beyond Nuclear argues that it is time that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission fulfill its Congressional mandate to look out for public safety instead of risking lives to save nuclear utilities money. The agency should keep the Crystal River reactor closed, Beyond Nuclear argues, while seriously evaluating the safety of continuing to relicense the country's aging reactor fleet.