Posts Tagged ‘nuclear reactors’

Today, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) issued its final report.  The commission, chartered in 2010, was tasked with establishing a new national nuclear waste management plan after the embattled proposal to store the nations high-level nuclear waste at the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada was taken off the table.

The commission released its draft report this past July.  The final report reflects the majority of the recommendations the commission released this past summer with one notable exception -the final report includes a recommendation to “prepare for the eventual large-scale transport of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste to consolidated storage and disposal facilities when such facilities become available.

The United States currently has more than 65,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at about 75 operating and shutdown reactor sites around the country. More than 2,000 tons are being produced each year. The DOE also is storing an additional 2,500 tons of spent fuel and large volumes of high-level nuclear waste, mostly from past weapons programs, at a handful of government-owned sites.

The recommendation to move spent nuclear fuel from current nuclear plants and defense facilities to an interim storage site causes unnecessary risks and has been hotly contested by nuclear waste watchdog organizations.

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Next month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will release the results of its 90-day reactor safety review.

The NRC will claim that nuclear reactors in the United States are safe. But the report will leave out critical information that exposes that claim as a myth.

We’ve already seen in Japan the catastrophic combination of inadequate regulations, aging reactors and unpredictable weather.

Read on to learn more about what will be missing from the NRC report.

As severe weather becomes more frequent, nuclear reactors have become more vulnerable and less reliable.

Flood waters have knocked out power at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station in Nebraska. Just yesterday, the barrier intended to keep water from immersing the reactor grounds was breached. The plant is now reportedly running on emergency generators to maintain the cooling systems.

But floods are not the only weather phenomena to threaten reactors; extreme heat and droughts also force reactors offline. Nuclear power plants consume more water than any other energy technology. In recent summers, water rationing due to heat waves in the southeast has required shutting down nuclear plants in Tennessee and Florida.

Current regulations — amazingly — fail to account for possibility of a single weather event or natural disaster knocking out electricity from both the grid and emergency generators.

U.S. nuclear reactors are being pushed well beyond their operational design and the resulting deterioration undermines their safety.

In the U.S., reactors were designed and licensed for 40 years, but 66 of the 104 operating units have been relicensed to operate for 20 more years. In fact, the NRC has never denied a renewal — not even for the Vermont Yankee plant, where problems like groundwater contamination from leaking tritium led the state senate to vote against renewing its license. Corroded underground piping in aging plants is responsible for radioactive tritium leaks at 75% of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites.

Federal regulators are far too cozy with the nuclear industry.

Together they are maintaining the illusion that the nation’s aging reactors operate within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards or simply failing to enforce them.

According to a recent investigation by The Associated Press, NRC officials have — time after time, and at the urging of the industry — decided that original regulations were too strict and argued that safety margins should be eased.

Immediate steps can and must be taken to strengthen the regulation of nuclear reactors. But ultimately, we need to shift away from nuclear to renewable, safer and more efficient power choices.


Not only is nuclear power a health risk;  it also does not make sense from an environmental or economic perspective. Public Citizen’s Tyson Slocum explains why nuclear   energy is a waste of money when he goes head-to-head with Fox Business News.

If you missed this nuclear knock-out live, just click here to view the video and then let us know what YOU think.

Interested in ensuring Americans don’t have to endure the suffering the Japanese are enduring now? Then sign our petition to take action against nuclear power plant loan guarantees.

 

 

The whole world is horrified and saddened at the death and destruction wrought by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan.

But the horror continues with the escalating fears of nuclear meltdown at three 1970s-era Japanese reactors. Such an event could eclipse the damage and destruction already wrought by Mother Nature.

This is nuclear power’s Achilles’ heel and shows why it is sheer folly to pour resources into building and maintaining nuclear reactors in the U.S.

Despite the assurances of our elected officials and the industry, there is no way to guarantee the public’s safety when a natural disaster or terrorism strikes commercial reactors. The Japanese are arguably the best prepared to deal with earthquakes, yet they failed to adequately plan for the impact of a tsunami. This demonstrates the difficulty in planning for both the “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns” that impact nuclear reactors from natural disaster and terrorism. There are alternatives. Had Japan invested in rooftop solar and wind turbines to the degree it spent maintaining and building nuclear reactors, the country wouldn’t be grappling with the potential of a full-scale nuclear meltdown.

U.S. policymakers should watch events in Japan closely and understand the implications to public safety of committing U.S. taxpayer resources to building new nuclear plants. We call on the federal government to do the following:

  • Immediately stop activity relating to relicensing aging U.S. reactors;
  • Halt all activity geared toward building new reactors; and
  • End federal subsidies – such as loan guarantees – for commercial nuclear power, which total $500 billion to date.

Instead, the U.S. should focus on developing wind power and assisting families in the installation of rooftop solar systems.

We went through a similar debate shortly after Sept. 11, but quickly forgot. We can’t afford to forget again.

Tyson Slocum Directs Public Citizen’s Energy Program

Please visit our website to get the facts on nuclear energy.

The Clean and Safe Energy Coalition (CASEnergy Coalition) – which claims to be a national pro-nuclear grassroots organization – will rolled out t its four-point Policy Roadmap for Clean Energy at the National Press Club, today.

The four-points behind the four-points:

1) Legitimize your position by claiming to be a grassroots organization. CASEnergy is as synthetic as Astroturf. In fact, the whole operation is completely bankrolled by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI).  NEI, the nuclear industry’s flush lobby group, started CASEnergy in 2006 to serve as a pro-nuclear public relations campaign disguised as a grassroots initiative.  Its chief engineer is the notorious Hill and Knowlton, which made its name as tobacco industry shills in the 1960s.  To counteract negative scientific findings, the firm unleashed a media campaign to convince the American public that cigarettes had no verifiable links to cancer. Now days, Hill and Knowlton pulls in in big bucks – nearly $3 million dollars in 2008 alone – to convince the American public that nuclear power is clean. Not convinced CASEnergy and Hill and Knowlton are one in the same?  If you can find a phone number on CASEnergy’s glossy website, call it.  You’ve reached the offices of Hill and Knowlton.

2) Get an “environmentalist” for hire. CASEnergy Co-Chair, Patrick Moore is billed as co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace. Don’t we think highly of ourselves, Mr. Moore? Moore is a former Greenpeace activist, but his leadership assertions have been refuted by trecorded legal documents, the current Greenpeace organization and its officially acknowledged founders. By Moore’s own admission, he joined in March 1971, fourteen months after the group was founded. Oops. But regardless of his beginnings, he has been a “corporate consultant” for most of the years since leaving Greenpeace in 1984.  His resume includes consultant for the logging industry, Canadian Mining Association, BHP Minerals (Canada) Ltd and the largest manufacturer of PVC in Canada, IPEX. Now, the nuclear industry is shuttling him all over the country to share his “even environmentalist heart nuclear” narrative.  If you’re lucky, you’ll hear Moore assert that he thinks so highly of nuclear power that he would live right inside a nuclear reactor. The gentleman doth protests too much?

3) Call your product clean. CASEnergy gets a lot of mileage off of its position that “nuclear energy does not produce greenhouse gases because it does not burn anything to generate electricity.” This is what people in the magic industry call misdirection – direct the audience to focus on one thing for the explicit purpose of keeping them away from seeing the sleight of hand. In this case, CASEnergy turns dirty energy into clean energy by revealing it as a low carbon technology.  It is a misdirect intent on keeping the focus off of uranium mining, milling and processing, high- and low- level radioactive waste, and routine and not-so-routine releases of radioactive isotopes into our air and water.

4) Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. CASEnergy is eager to wedge nuclear energy into the renewable energy camp.  When it announces its clean energy roadmap in the presence of the American Wind Energy Association, keep this mind, French state-controlled Electricite de France (EDF) told the British government that its policy of promoting wind energy threatened EdF’s intent of building more reactors there. In fact, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission Commissioner and utility expert Peter Bradford has noted that the “all of the above” approach to our national energy portfolio does not necessarily play out well at the local level. According to Bradford, “sometimes solutions [to energy demand] drive out other solutions. If a region commits to say a 1,600 MW reactor, than there is little motivation to do efficiency or renewables.”

Allison Fisher is the Organizer for Public Citizen

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