"The Hidden and Not-So-Hidden Costs of Entergy's Vermont Yankee"

Beyond Nuclear staffpersons Paul Gunter and Kevin Kamps have been invited by the grassroots Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance (VYDA) to tour the Green Mountain State from Jan. 26th to Jan. 28th to present testimony at public events and before a joint hearing of the State of Vermont House Natural Resources and Energy and Senate Finance Committees, the key bodies currently reviewing Entergy Nuclear's application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a 20 year license extension at the nearly 40 year old reactor. Paul and Kevin will focus on tritium leaks at Vermont Yankee, age-related degradation of reactor systems, structures and components increasing safety risks, and the security risks of the plant's elevated high-level radioactive waste storage pools as well as outdoor dry casks. They will be joined by Lorraine Rekmans of Serpent River First Nation from Ontario, Canada, an indigenous expert and watchdog on uranium mining and milling's environmental, justice, and health impacts. VYDA has put out a cool poster announcing the speaking tour. Greenpeace USA, which has been campaigning for many months to shut down Vermont Yankee, has informative blogs, fact sheets, and timelines on the issues, including descriptions of their "One World" hot air balloon and "Rolling Sunlight" mobile solar power display. VPIRG (the Vermont Public Interest Research Group) also has extensive information on its website regarding the campaign to shut down Vermont Yankee at the end of its current operating license in 2012. Vermont Citizens Action Network has valuable information on its website, including about Act 160, by which the State of Vermont empowered itself to decide whether or not Vermont Yankee can have a license extension -- the only state in the country to have done so. VT CAN has a comprehensive newsletter laying out its campaign to shut Vermont Yankee by 2012. The Vermont State Legislature is expected to vote by March or April on Vermont Yankee's license extension.


Environmental coalition defends QA contention against ESBWR at Fermi 3

The environmental coalition led by Beyond Nuclear, including Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste Michigan, the Sierra Club (Michigan Chapter), and a group of concerned local citizens, has defended its quality assurance contention against the General Electric-Hitachi "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" design chosen by Detroit Edison for its new reactor targeted at the Fermi nuclear power plant near Monroe, Michigan on the Lake Erie shoreline. This defense, prepared by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge with assistance from expert witness Arnie Gundersen, comes in response to attacks by U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff, as well as Detroit Edison, in the Fermi 3 combined Construction and Operating License Application (COLA) proceeding before an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) three judge administrative law panel.


Energy Secretary Chu vows to "accelerate" nuclear loan guarantees, while affirming Yucca dump's cancellation

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, at a briefing on the Department of Energy's priorities for 2010, admitted that finalizing the first round of $18.5 billion in taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantees for financing new atomic reactors has proven "more complicated" than he originally thought it would be. Chu assured that the first nuclear loan guarantees would be issued "soon," despite the fact that DOE's top pick candidates are plagued with problems: the partners behind the proposed South Texas Project "Advanced Boiling Water Reactors" are embroiled in a $32 billion internecine legal dispute; the AP1000s planned at Vogtle GA and Summer SC have a major safety related design flaw, as does the Areva "Evolutionary Power Reactor" targeted at Calvert Cliffs MD. On a brighter note, Chu affirmed that "Yucca Mountain is off the table," and added that his blue ribbon commission, established to study alternatives to Yucca, will not be charged with identifying a new centralized geologic repository to take its place. This raises the specter, however, that dirty, dangerous, and expensive reprocessing may be pushed as the latest "illusion of a solution" to the radioactive waste dilemma.


Vermont Yankee says it didn't mean to mislead lawmakers

Entergy Nuclear officials have been caught in a lie regarding leakage of radioactive tritium from buried pipes at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in southeastern Vermont on the Massachusetts and New Hampshire borders along the Connecticut River. (Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, mentioned in the article as a consultant to the State of Vermont Legislature, which has been strongly critical of Vermont Yankee's requested 20 year license extension, also serves as an expert witness on Beyond Nuclear's quality assurance violations contentions at the proposed Fermi 3 atomic reactor in Michigan.) The Vermont State Department of Public Service, which has been generally supportive of Vermont Yankee and its bid for a 20 year license extension, may be reconsidering its position in light of Entergy Nuclear's misleading statements in the past regarding buried piping at the plant. The DPS may even seek to levy financial penalties against the company for the false information. Vermont lawmakers responded to the leaks of radioactive water from underground pipes that supposedly did not exist with a "storm of criticism."


Congressmen call for investigation of leaky, buried piping at atomic reactors

U.S. Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA), John Hall (D-NY), and John Adler (D-NJ) have called upon the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to launch an investigation into the corrosion of and leakage from buried piping at the nation's nuclear power plants. In their letter to GAO, the Congressmen stated that "The recent discoveries of leaks of reactor cooling water, diesel fuel, and radioactive water at several plants suggest that NRC processes must be improved to help licensees adequately manage the aging of this infrastructure to ensure the safety of the reactors and of the public." The Congressmen cite leaking pipes at such nuclear power plants as Oyster Creek NJ, Indian Point NY, San Onofre CA, Byron IL, Perry OH, Dresden IL, and Braidwood IL to make clear that this is a nation-wide problem. Hazardous tritium -- a radioactive form of hydrogen -- is very often involved in such leakage into groundwater. (However, besides such accidental, uncontrolled, and unmonitored leaks, tritium is also "routinely" discharged from atomic reactors, with permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.)