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Aging Reactors

April 28, 2016. NIRS webinar on investigation of reactor pressure vessel bolts at New York's Indian Point reactors, which revealed numerous deficiencies and failures. The webinar examines those failures and explores the implications for reactors across the U.S. and world. Full video/audio of webinar. Slides only from presentation by David Lochbaum of Union of Concerned Scientists.

May 14, 2015. New York City Council enters debate over Indian Point reactors; resolution introduced to close and decommission reactors 35 miles from Manhattan. Press release from NIRS and three other organizations.

March 2014. A major report from Greenpeace International: Lifetime extension of aging nuclear power plants: Entering a new era of risk. It focuses on European reactors, but applies everywhere. (pdf)

December 13, 2013. Major new study commissioned by Washington/Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility finds that closing Washington's Columbia reactor would save ratepayers nearly $2 billion dollars.

September 25, 2013. Near-miss event at New York's Nine Mile Point-1 reactor occurred in April 2013. NRC letter to Constellation Energy of September 23, 2013 proposing violation of regulations. Powerpoint explanation of event prepared by Dave Lochbaum of Union of Concerned Scientists. Important excerpt from NRC report indicating containment was not functional and evacuation could not have been successfully conducted.

July 17, 2013. Renaissance in Reverse. Dr. Mark Cooper releases new report detailing the myriad of problems facing the aging reactor fleet, predicts more reactor shutdowns. Press release. Full report.

March 19, 2013. Rep. Markey blasts NRC Commissoners vote to delay filtered vents at GE reactors. Includes links to several documents Markey's office has produced.

March 19, 2013. NRC Commissioners ok hardened vents, but fall short of requiring filtered vents for dangerous GE Mark I and II reactors. Vote sheets/comments.

January 10, 2013. New study commissioned by Greens in the European Parliament finds cause of cracking at Belgium's Doel-3 reactor is still unknown and restart would be hazardous. 10 U.S. reactors may face similar issues.

December 12, 2012. Comments from Pilgrim Watch to NRC in support of adding filtered containment vents to GE Mark I and II reactors

September 12, 2012. Far Outside the Norm. New report from Committee to Bridge the Gap on just how bad those steam generators at San Onofre really are.

October 25, 2011: New Synapse study for Riverkeeper/NRDC showing that Indian Point reactors are not needed to meet electrical demands.

October 25, 2011: New NRDC fact sheet on consequences of an accident at New York's Indian Point reactors.

September 28, 2010: New UCS report charges NRC is allowing reactors to release radioactive water with immunity.

March 1, 2010: New public opinion poll: Vermonters overwhelmingly support Vermont Yankee shutdown.

February 25, 2010: Vermont Senate votes 26-4 to close Vermont Yankee! Statement from Citizens Awareness Network. PDF

January 15, 2010: Reps. Markey, Hall and Adler request GAO investigation of leaky pipes at nuclear reactors. PDF 34.6KB

January 12, 2010: Comments of Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility and seven other groups (including NIRS) on NRC’s proposed Generic Environmental Impact Statement on reactor license renewal. PDF 34.6KB

January 2010: Greenpeace fact sheet on Vermont Yankee relicensing. PDF 34.6KB The Vermont legislature will be determining the fate of this reactor soon. Act now!

New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution submits emergency petition to NRC, PDF August 27, 2007

NIRS comments to the California Energy Commission on Nuclear Power in California; calling for opposition to relicensing of Diablo Canyon and San Onofre and discussion of nuclear power/global warming. August 12, 2005 PDF 84.48KB

NIRS presentation March 08, 2005 to the U.S. NRC Regulatory Information Conference workshop on “Pro-active Management of Material Degradation” in nuclear power stations which focuses on the incidence of failed and leaking fuel in operating reactors. PDF 19.02KB

Anywhere from 25% to 33% of the nation’s nuclear power stations are operating with failed and leaking nuclear fuel in the reactor core. NIRS and Union of Concerned Scientists jointly wrote the Commission on 02/28/2005 questioning the adequacy of NRC enforcement policy in light of a rising trend in nuclear fuel cladding failures in U.S. reactors. PDF 30.17KB February 28, 2005

NRC Pulls Fast One on Public Meeting for Davis-Besse Restart Appeal. Press Release. August 17, 2004.

The United States Government Accountability Office reports PDF (May 2004) on the botched federal oversight of the near-miss accident at Davis-Besse nuclear power station outside Toledo, Ohio.  FirstEnergy put electricity production ahead of maintaining safety by ignoring multiple warning signs of severe corrosion of the reactor vessel head in what could have resulted in a nuclear accident far worse than Three Mile Island with as little as 2 months operational margin remaining.



NIRS interventions against aging reactor relicensing:

   >>> Oyster Creek

   >>> Palisades



Vermont Yankee Cooling Tower Collapses.
A portion of a cooling tower at the Vermont Yankee reactor collapsed Wednesday, August 22, 2007. A broken 52” pipe was photographed spewing water into the ground, to the embarrassment of Yankee owner Entergy Corporation, the nation’s second-largest nuclear utility. More pictures here.

photo of Davis Besse reactor vessel, 2000
NRC and FirstEnergy were in possession of this photo of Davis-Besse reactor vessel head taken during the April 2000 refueling and maintenance outage just prior to allowing the reactor restart for its operational run to the February 16, 2002 shutdown. Photo clearly indicates extensive corrosion occurring on vessel head.

Click on the photo to see more pictures from Davis-Besse.


NIRS presented to NRC Safety Research Conference October 22, 2003 on a panel discussion of  “Material Degradation: Present and Future Directions” PDF 23.68KB where NIRS revealed that a federal laboratory tests of mock-ups of the severely corroded as found Davis-Besse reactor pressure vessel head burst  at less than the reactor’s normal operational pressure.

NIRS PowerPoint presentation “Case for Closing Oyster Creek” PDF 477.17KB October 2003, Lacey Township, New Jersey.

NIRS comments to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission September 2003 PDF 42.26KB regarding the Generic Environmental Impact Statement for reactor license extensions or license renewal.

NIRS speech to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regulatory Information Conference April 14, 2003 workshop PDF 37.71KB focuses on material degradation of reactor internal components.

NIRS comments July 2003 to NRC PDF 36.8KB in support of communications that strengthen requirements for inspection of deteriorating steam generator tubes in Pressurized Water Reactors.

NIRS fact sheet July 2003 PDF 71.55KB focuses on the sudden and unexpected discovery of cracking of stainless steel penetration sleeves in the bottom reactor vessel head at South Texas Project nuclear generating station.

NIRS letter June 2003 to NRC Commission Chair Nils Diaz PDF 105.04KB in follow-up to NIRS presentation to NRC Commissioners February 2003 conveying continued concern that the federal nuclear safety agency has not learned the most significant lesson from the near miss accident at Davis-Besse nuclear station (2002) regarding failure to enforce safety guidelines and an agency Order in a gamble to give FirstEnergy more production time.

NIRS letter February 2003 to NRC Commissioner Chair Meserve (soon to resign) in follow-up to NIRS presentation to Commission February 2003 PDF 36.12KB conveying continued concern that the federal nuclear safety agency ducked its own safety guidelines in deference to a utility production agenda narrowly missing a potentially catastrophic nuclear accident in 2002 at Davis-Besse.

NIRS presented February 2003 to the Commissioners of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission PDF 41.32KB its concerns with the near-miss accident of the Davis-Besse nuclear power station and the agency’s abandonment of its safety principles for an industry production agenda.

Office of Inspector General Report on NRC/First Energy deficiences at Davis-Besse, PDF 265.95KB December 30, 2002

NIRS comments November 2002 in response to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Davis Besse Lessons Learned Task Force Final Report PDF 47.67KB outlining how the NRC lack of oversight and enforcement in the near miss accident at Davis-Besse 2002 has significantly undermined public confidence in the federal nuclear safety agency.

NIRS/UCS Report Update, PDF 0KB October 2002

NIRS-UCS Report- Davis Besse: NRC Has a Brain, But No Spine. PDF 654.17KB August 2002

Restart of Browns Ferry Unit 1 Reactor in Decatur, Alabama Ignores Safety and Security. NIRS Press Release. May 16, 2002

We Almost Lost Toledo! Davis-Besse Nuclear Plant in Ohio Comes Close To Disaster. NIRS Press release. March 13, 2002

Important background info:
NRC memo # 1, PDF November 29, 2001
NRC memo #2, PDF November 29, 2001