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New Reactors

The U.S. nuclear industry is trumpeting a comeback - but only if U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill. Beyond Nuclear is watchdogging nuclear industry efforts to embark on new reactor construction which is too expensive, too dangerous and not needed.

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Thursday
Feb092017

170 Conservation Groups Urge Senate to Reject Zinke for Interior Secretary

As reported in an environmental coalition press release: Congressman Would Do Irreparable Damage to Endangered Species, Public Lands, Climate.

In a letter to U.S. Senators, Beyond Nuclear joined with Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen, and 166 more groups to urge they vote against Trump's nominee for Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, Republican U.S. Representative from Montana.

The letter and press release mention Zinke's horrible record re: the Endangered Species Act.

Beyond Nuclear, in coalition with several additional environmental groups, raised an endangered species contentions against the Fermi 3 proposed new reactor in Michigan. While numerous threatened and endangered species would be harmed by Fermi 3 construction and operation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission excluded all the rest, narrowing legal arguments to one species -- an indigenous constrictor, the Eastern Fox Snake. While the environmental coalition's legal counsel, attorney Terry Lodge from Toledo, kept the contention alive for several long years -- despite repeated attempts by Detroit Edison and NRC staff to kill it -- in the end, the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruled in favor of construction and operation of Fermi 3. The chief judge absurdly claimed the final ruling re: the Eastern Fox Snake represented a "NEPA victory." (NEPA is short for National Environmental Policy Act.)

Truth be told, it wasn't a victory for the Eastern Fox Snake. One of only four habitats for the threatened species on the very ecologically fragile Great Lakes shoreline would be destroyed by the construction and operation of Fermi 3.

The environmental coalition is still appealing the licensing of Fermi 3, including a NEPA challenge against the proposed transmission line corridor. If built, the corridor would further harm threatened and endangered species -- including the Eastern Fox Snake -- by destroying critical habitat, including forested wetlands.

Friday
Dec232016

Environmental coalition defends its legal appeal, seeks to block Fermi 3 proposed new reactor in Michigan

Terry Lodge, legal counsel for the environmental coalition resisting Fermi 3

An environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, is entering its 10th year of resistance (2008-2017) against Detroit Edison's proposed new Fermi Unit 3 reactor in southeast Michigan on the Great Lakes shoreline.

On Dec. 23rd, Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge filed a Reply Brief, in defense of a legal appeal originally filed in October, at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second highest court in the land, just below the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Reply rebuts challenges to the appeal brought by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Detroit Edison (DTE).

Lodge serves as legal counsel for an environmental coalition opposing Detroit Edison's proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor in Monroe County, MI on the Lake Erie shoreline. The coalition -- including Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizen Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste MI, and Sierra Club MI Chapter -- has resisted Fermi 3 since 2008. It has been joined by additional allies, such as the Alliance to Halt Fermi 3, as well as Citizens Resistance at Fermi Two, and others.

The appeal focuses on safety-significant quality assurance (QA -- Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc. serves as the coalition's expert witness) violations at Fermi 3, as well as violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by the NRC itself -- specifically, the proposed new transmission line corridor's exclusion from NRC's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Re: the latter, this is the first ever legal challenge against a highly controversial 2007 NRC regulatory rollback involving the Orwellian change in the definition of a single word -- construction -- in the agency's regulations. NRC Commissioner Merrifield orchestrated the change, just before retiring from the agency, and going to work for the Shaw Group, which specializes in new reactor construction. Merrifield was paid a handsome salary at his new job, inspiring the phrase "Merrifield-go-round" for this particular instance of the revolving door between government and industry.

The legalistic shenanigans allowed NRC to disregard major federal actions in the EIS, such as the building and operation of a transmission line corridor. But the coalition holds that the NRC's trickery happens to be illegal under NEPA, no matter how convenient it is to the agency for rubber-stamping proposed new reactor construction and operation.

Friday
Oct282016

Environmental coalition appeals to federal court in opposition to Fermi 3 proposed new reactor in MI

Terry Lodge, legal counsel for the environmental coalition resisting Fermi 3On Oct. 28th, Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge filed a legal appeal at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Lodge serves as legal counsel for an environmental coalition opposing Detroit Edison's proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor in Monroe County, MI on the Lake Erie shoreline. The coalition -- including Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizen Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste MI, and Sierra Club MI Chapter -- has resisted Fermi 3 since 2008. It has been joined by additional allies, such as the Alliance to Halt Fermi 3, as well as Citizens Resistance at Fermi Two, and others.

The appeal focuses on safety-significant quality assurance (QA -- Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc. serves as the coalition's expert witness) violations at Fermi 3, as well as violations of the National Environmental Policy Act by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) itself -- specifically, the proposed new transmission line corridor's exclusion from the Environmental Impact Statement.

Re: the latter, this is the first ever legal challenge against a highly controversial 2007 NRC regulatory rollback involving the Orwellian change in the definition of a single word -- construction -- in the agency's regulations. NRC Commissioner Merrifield orchestrated the change, just before retiring from the agency, and going to work for the Shaw Group, which specializes in new reactor construction. Merrifield was paid a handsome salary at his new job, inspiring the phrase "Merrifield-go-round" for this particular instance of the revolving door between government and industry.

The legalistic shenanigans allowed NRC to disregard major federal actions in the EIS, such as the building and operation of a transmission line corridor. But the coalition holds that the NRC's trickery happens to be illegal under NEPA, no matter how convenient it is to the agency for rubberstamping proposed new reactor construction and operation.

Friday
Jul292016

Hinkley Point C in the U.K.: $50 billion radioactive white elephant stopped dead in its tracks?!

An article by Graham Ruddick in the Guardian, entitled "From feast to farce: how the big Hinkley Point C party was put on ice," reported that "the UK government was meant to be celebrating, but delays and second thoughts have left the project stalled."

The two new reactors at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, southwest England, would each be 1,600 Megawatt-electric French Areva European Pressurized Reactors (EPRs).

EPRs under construction in Finland (Olkiluoto 3) and France (Flamanville 3) are years behind schedule, and billions of dollars over budget. A major fabrication flaw in the reactors' lids and bases at those two projects may prove fatal, preventing completion and permanently blocking operation.

A proposed new EPR was blocked by an environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, at Calvert Cliffs, Maryland several years ago. That major environmental victory, blocking the flagship EPR in the U.S., likely prevented a total of seven EPRs proposed across the U.S., from Nine Mile Point, NY to Callaway, MO. Additional proposed new EPRs under consideration at Darlington, Ontario were also rejected.

The Guardian article reports that, just two hours after the board of directors of Electricité de France (EDF) voted, by a narrow 10 to 7 margin, to proceed with building the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the U.K., the new British prime minister's cabinet secretary in charge of the file, announced the British government would review the matter, and not announce its decision in early autumn.

The high-level confusion/international incident was illustrated clearly by the sudden departure of Chinese nuclear power industry investors, who had flown to Europe for the party celebrating EDF's decision, only to have the U.K. government pull the rug out.

The EDF board vote would have been 10 to 8, but an opponent of the project resigned in protest before the vote took place, citing the extreme risk of the proposal. The six labor union representatives on the EDF board voted as a bloc against proceeding with Hinkley Point C. Their position is that the top priority should be placed on safety repairs and upgrades at France's own current fleet of 58 aging atomic reactors, the second most of any country on Earth. (The U.S. has 100 operating reactors.)

Terry Macalister reported in the Guardian on July 7th that the estimated price tag for Hinkley Point C had risen to a whopping 37 billion British pounds, or nearly $49.5 billion U.S., at current exchange rates.

At a Beyond Nuclear sponsored presentation in Takoma Park, Maryland on July 21st, U.K. professor and solar power expert, Keith Barnham, reported that, at certain times of year, British taxpayers/ratepayers would subsidize 7/9ths of the cost of the electricity exported to France from Hinkley Point C, simply because the demand does not exist in the U.K. He pointed out the irony of going forward with such a U.K. subsidy of France, after the BREXIT vote removing the U.K. from the European Union. Barnham is author of The Burning Answer: The Solar Revolution, a Quest for Sustainable Power.

Tuesday
Dec292015

"[WI] GOP lawmakers lead new effort to lift nuclear freeze"

As reported by Steven Verburg in the Wisconsin State Journal, for the fourth time in 13 years, WI legislators are attempting to repeal a now 33-year old ban on the construction of new atomic reactors in the state.

But groups like Clean Wisconsin oppose the legislation:

Nuclear power plants can take a decade or more to build, making them a poor way to respond to urgent needs for alternative energy sources, Clean Wisconsin’s Amber Meyer Smith told the Assembly committee in written testimony.

And radioactive waste must be protected indefinitely from weather, security risks and human error, Smith said.