Friday, July 26, 2013

Stories about Nukes

VT PSB rules it can and will hear issues surrounding Entergy VY's impacts on Connecticut River
NRC file photo of VY on the Connecticut River border of VT and NH, 8 miles north of the MA state lineAs reported by John Dillon at Vermont Public Radio, the State of Vermont has yet again asserted its right and authority to oversee operations at Entergy's controversial Vermont Yankee (VY) atomic reactor in Vernon near Brattleboro. VY is a Fukushima Daiichi twin design -- a General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor.
This time, the State of Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) has ruled it does have the authority to hear issues involving VY's impacts, such as thermal hot water releases, on the Connecticut River. The PSB is currently holding hearings on whether or not to grant Entergy a renewed Certificate of Public Good (CPG), needed in order to conduct business in the State of Vermont. VY is operating under an expired CPG, which expired on March 22, 2012 -- the first day of VY's U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rubber-stamped 20-year license extension. VY is also operating with an expired surface water discharge permit, which expired in 2006. The PSB has ruled that Entergy cannot rely on that expired discharge permit as supposed proof that its impacts on the Connecticut are acceptable.

Coalition defends its challenge against risky steam generator replacements at Davis-Besse

Terry Lodge speaks out against Davis-Besse license extension at Oak Harbor High School, Ohio, in August 2012On June 21st, an environmental coalition represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge (photo, left) re-asserted its challenge against risky steam generator replacements at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo. The filing rebutted June 14th attacks by FENOC as well as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff on the coalition's standing, as well as the merits of its contentions.
The coalition, comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club, launched its intervention petition on May 20th. The coalition's expert, Fairewinds Associates, Inc's Chief Engineer, Arnie Gundersen, also serves as Friends of the Earth's (FOE) expert in the San Onofre defective replacement steam generator proceeding, which recently resulted in the permanent closure of two reactors. FENOC has taken similar short cuts on safety as did Edison International, which resulted in the San Onofre engineering catastrophe that put 8 million southern Californians at radiological risk, and has resulted in a $2.5 billion boondoggle.

Republicans threaten Reid with radioactive waste dump if he uses "nuclear option" to do away with U.S. Senate filibuster

JESSICA EBELHAR/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL FILES Members of the U.S. House energy and commerce subcommittee on environment and economy tour the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository April 26, 2011 -- ironically enough, the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe.As reported by Steve Tetrault in the Las Vegas Review Journal, Republican U.S. Senators have threatened Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) with making the resurrection of the canceled Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump one of their top priorities, should he use the "nuclear option" to eliminate the age-old Senate filibuster rule. Reid has -- successfully -- devoted his career to fending off the Yucca dump, targeted at the Silver State. The "nuclear option" means requiring only a 51-vote majority in the U.S. Senate to do away with the filibuster, rather than the current 67-vote two-thirds majority. Reid is considering doing this in order to clear an unprecedented logjam on presidential nomination approvals, as for Labor Secretary, currently blocked by Republicans.
Republicans in the U.S. House have also not given up on their long-held dream of burying high-level radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain, despite adamant opposition by the vast majority of Nevadans. These stubborn pro-dump efforts are led by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), who has three atomic reactors in his district, and House Subcommittee on Environment and Economy Chairman John Skimkus (R-IL), who state has more atomic reactors than any other.

Experts Explain Effects of Radioactive Water at Fukushima

Japanese diplomat Akio MatsumuraIn a post at his website, Japanese diplomat Akio Matsumura (photo, left) has written an introduction to essays by Dr. Gordon Edwards (President of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility), and Dr. Helen Caldicott (Founding President of Beyond Nuclear), about the management -- or lack thereof -- of the radioactively contaminated cooling water and groundwater, that has come to be the most demanding and dangerous issue that Tepco has faced since 2011 at the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan.
Gordon explains how the water -- a whopping 800 tons per day, which then Tepco has to store and prevent from leaking into the environment -- becomes radioactively contaminated in the first place. Tepco has resorted to vast "tank farms" of surface storage tanks, especially after underground storage tanks were discovered to be leaking in April. However, the surface storage tanks have now also been discovered to be leaking, as well. Besides that, Tepco has sought to simply release 100 tons of radioactively contaminated water per day into the Pacific, for lack of storage space -- a move that local fishermen, trying to re-establish some semblance of a livelihood, despite the widespread radioactive contamination of seafood, are fiercely resisting.
Helen then delves into "Nine Medical Implications of Tritium-contaminated Water," as efforts to decontaminate the cooling and groundwater cannot remove tritium (radioactive H-3, which combines with oxygen to form radioactive water), for water cannot be filtered from water. Helen points out that, "[b]ecause it is tasteless, odorless and invisible, [tritium] will inevitably be ingested in food, including seafood, over many decades. It combines in the DNA molecule – the gene – where it can induce mutations that later lead to cancer. It causes brain tumors, birth deformities, and cancers of many organs." In fact, the contamination of the seafood chain bio-concentrates the radioactivity, so that those at the top of the food chain -- humans -- get the worst doses of harmful radioactivity.

Radioactivity levels soar in Fukushima Daiichi groundwater, flowing into ocean

A water pump draws groundwater from a well in front of Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's unit 4 reactor building, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, on June 12, 2013.As reported by Common Dreams, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has admitted that strontium-90 levels exceed legal limits by 33 times, and tritium levels by 8 times, in groundwater less than a hundred feet from the Pacific Ocean. "That is very high," a TEPCO official told a press conference.
Carcinogenic Sr-90 seeks human bone. Tritium (H-3) can lodge anywhere in the human body where hydrogen goes (which is everywhere), and is a clinically proven cause of cancer, birth defects, and genetic damage.
As reported by Agence France Presse, "Subsoil water usually flows out to sea, meaning these two substances could normally make their way into the ocean, possibly affecting marine life and ultimately impacting humans who eat sea creatures."
In fact, bio-concentration of radioactive contaminants means that those at the top of the food chain -- humans -- are most at risk.
Reuters reports that "Testing of groundwater outside the turbine building of reactor No. 2 had shown the level of strontium-90 had increased by more than 100 times between December 2012 and May this year, Toshihiko Fukuda, a general manager at TEPCO, told a news conference...Testing of groundwater showed the reading for strontium-90 increased from 8,6 becquerels to 1 000 becquerels per litre between Dec. 8, 2012 and May 24, Fukuda said. The elevated reading of strontium is more than 30 times the legal limit of 30 becquerels per litre...
About 400 tonnes of groundwater flow daily into the reactor buildings only to be mixed with highly contaminated water that comes from cooling the melted fuel.
It has been trying to convince sceptical local fisherman that it is safe to dump 100 tonnes of the groundwater a day into the ocean to take some of the strain off its storage facilities.
Earlier this month the company reversed a claim that the groundwater flowing into the damaged basements of reactor buildings was not contaminated."