Write your own report card? The nuclear industry thinks they should.

Look Ma, I’m doing just great!

We were blown away too. There are discussions at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about allowing nuclear plants to write their own self-assessments. You know, as a way of cutting back on all that pesky regulation.

C-10 recently took the opportunity to file comments opposing this idea. Below are excerpts.  Read more about the design inspection review process on this NRC site, including detailed comments by Dave Lochbaum, Director of the Nuclear Safety Project with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Here are some of the reasons we believe surrendering safety review to plant operators would put the public at risk:

“As for-profit entities that weigh safety as only one performance metric among many, there is an inherent problem in expecting commercial nuclear plant owners to be unbiased and completely transparent when it comes to safety concerns that could put the public at risk — no matter how small or large they are perceived to be.

It will generally be in the plant owners’ and shareholders’ interests to minimize any problems that might be detected, rather than self-reporting and calling forth regulatory and public scrutiny. The possibility for reduced transparency concerns us as citizens whose lives are immediately impacted by ongoing safety problems at Seabrook Station, including and not limited to the problem known as alkali silica reaction. Transparency and the opportunity for public input is an essential part of NRC’s work, and key to C-10’s ability to function as citizen watchdogs.” Read our  full comments, here.

 

NextEra’s Halloween Trick: Seabrook Owner Appeals Board Ruling

An Update on the License Amendment Process & Seabrook’s Concrete

As we wrote on our October 8 blog, the federal Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB)  granted C-10 intervenor status in the docket relative to NextEra’s License Amendment Request concerning the ability of the Seabrook Station nuclear plant’s deteriorating concrete to continue to perform as intended.

As a pro se party without legal representation, we’ve been working with attorneys from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and  Seabrook owner NextEra Energy to establish ground rules relative to the discovery process, schedule, sensitive document access and so forth.

The public hearing  the ASLB ordered in its ruling  won’t happen until after NRC staff issues their recommendations on the License Amendment Request, and that won’t be until fall of 2018. We do know that the hearing be held near Seabrook Station and likely will last several days. C-10 was the only outside party that sought and was granted intervenor status.

Meanwhile, as former C-10  staff and board members pour through old emails and compile documents to support our contentions, the clock ticked down on the deadline to appeal the ASLB’s ruling.

On Halloween, there was no treat from NextEra attorneys, whose appeal hammered the ASLB for considering regulatory precedent in their decision to give leeway to a citizens group, and  for taking the recommendation of NRC staff and reformulating the five contentions they admitted had merit into one:

“The large-scale test program, undertaken for NextEra at the FSEL, has yielded data that are not ‘representative’ of the progression of ASR at Seabrook. As a result, the proposed monitoring, acceptance criteria, and inspection intervals are not adequate.”

Continue reading NextEra’s Halloween Trick: Seabrook Owner Appeals Board Ruling

Summer Interns rocked it at C-10!

Young people have lots of ways to use their precious time. That’s why it was so gratifying to see two stellar young ladies volunteer their time and talents to assist us with some important projects this summer.

Samantha McCraine is now at the London School of Economics.

Samantha McCraine was busy juggling other internships, waiting tables and preparing for graduate school. Still, she found time to help us freshen up our website and develop new fact sheets. We wish Samantha well at the London School of Economics, where she recently began a 12-month Master of Science program in Environmental Policy and Regulation.

Margot Springer worked closely with our Network Administrator, Mike Mansir.

Margot Springer wowed us with her maturity and level of interest in C-10’s mission as a rising high school freshman. Margot worked with our monitoring network administrator Mike Mansir to develop a new equipment inventory system. She also helped with research and data management. We hope you love Whittier Tech, Margot — don’t be a stranger!

If you know someone looking for some great experience working with a citizen science organization please refer them to our website where they can learn about our internship program.

Chernobyl and the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Newburyport Adult Ed class offers insights and lessons from local expert

The culture of obedience and the lack of the public’s ability to ask questions contributed to the chain of events that triggered the nuclear accident at Chernobyl. This is what Gary Dunbar believes, and it points to the importance of a strong democracy, freedom of speech and the role of citizen groups to engage with — and sometimes question — the government.

Gary Dunbar shares his lessons from Chernobyl and the former Soviet Union.

Dunbar is a West Newbury resident who worked for a decade as a government consultant in and around Russia and the former Soviet republics, most notably with officials trying to manage the after-effects of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown.

“Cultural differences would make it extremely unlikely for something like Chernobyl to happen in the U.S.” said Dunbar, adding that “the macho culture in Ukraine exceeds anything I’ve ever seen; it’s a very different world.”

“What your group (the C-10 Foundation) can do in this culture is vastly important,” Dunbar observed. “You have the ability to take bureaucracy to task, to raise issues and ask questions.The fact that it exists and you’re able to ask questions is an enormously important safeguard that we have in this country.”

Continue reading Chernobyl and the Collapse of the Soviet Union

NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rules in favor of C-10

Standing granted in case on Seabrook’s concrete

The C-10 Research & Education Foundation has been granted standing following its pro se petition to intervene in a regulatory proceeding regarding the plant’s safety and operating license.

NextEra Energy Seabrook LLC’s pending License Amendment Request is relative to the deteriorating concrete at the plant, which has been operating since 1991. Citing serious safety concerns with the concrete and flaws in the concrete testing and monitoring methodologies, C-10 sought intervenor status in the docket, and requested a public hearing.

Continue reading NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rules in favor of C-10

Safety for Citizens: Why I think about Seabrook Nuclear Plant, and Why You Should Too

By Natalie Hildt Treat, C-10 Executive Director

 

So, you live near a nuclear power plant. Not something you think about much. It sits there, rising from the Seabrook, New Hampshire marsh; you see it from the beach or your way up Route 1. It makes electricity, it doesn’t belch black smoke – good things.

Maybe you think about it a couple times a year – like when school starts and you are asked to sign the permission slip for your kid to be given potassium iodide (KI) which will help protect their thyroid in the event of an accident at Seabrook Station. Hopefully you held onto that calendar from the state with the quaint antique photos. The one that says to keep in the event of an emergency because there’s evacuation instructions inside. Not a bad idea to review that, and discuss with your family. To learn more and consider your own emergency plan, here’s the link to MEMA‘s website if you live in Massachusetts, or HSEM if you live in New Hampshire.  Continue reading Safety for Citizens: Why I think about Seabrook Nuclear Plant, and Why You Should Too

C-10 testifies before Atomic Safety & Licensing Board on concrete testing at Seabrook Station

By Sarah Doenmez and Natalie Hildt Treat

The term “pro se” is from Latin, meaning “on one’s own behalf.” As in, without lawyers. Members of the C-10 Research & Education Foundation’s board of directors have been toiling without the benefit of legal counsel in a case we feel very passionate about: the failing concrete at Seabrook Station nuclear power plant.

Sarah Doenmez and Pat Skibee look on, while Chris Nord testifies via video conference.

Continue reading C-10 testifies before Atomic Safety & Licensing Board on concrete testing at Seabrook Station

NRC tells public Seabrook is safe, admits concrete a reason for concern

Once a year the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) holds a public meeting for the people who live near nuclear power plants to hear from them that everything is A-Okay. That the plant receives thousands of hours of inspection, and any problems are minor, and the public is safe.

Last week was our turn, as about dozen NRC staffers came to offer their presentation about safety at Seabrook Station. It was not long on details. Of course, the folks from NextEra, Seabrook’s owner, were in the room. But they were quiet. The ones who had a lot to say and tough questions to ask were state legislators from either side of the border, and concerned citizens – several of whom sit on the C-10 Foundation’s board of directors, and who have closely followed developments with Seabrook’s failing concrete.  Continue reading NRC tells public Seabrook is safe, admits concrete a reason for concern

There is no “away” with nuclear waste storage

Visitors from Texas, Michigan and Vermont call on us to work together for safer solutions

Rose Gardner explained how communities in New Mexico and West Texas would be impacted by the transport and storage of High Level Nuclear Waste.

Rose Gardner watches the trucks filled with nuclear waste from around the country roll through her rural community on the Texas-New Mexico border. She’s worried about the plans to create a “high level” nuclear waste (HLNW) facility in her town — so-called interim storage — because there is no permanent U.S. storage solution for the most toxic stuff on earth. Besides that, the communities of Andrews County, Texas and Eunice, New Mexico are already impacted by an array of environmental contaminants.

Rose is a grandmother, owns a flower shop, and is an active member of the local Sierra Club Chapter. She became active in environmentalism when a company called Louisiana Energy Services applied for a license to enrich uranium with gas centrifuges for nuclear fuel rod production five miles from Eunice, raising concerns that the uranium waste could contaminate her water, air and land.  Continue reading There is no “away” with nuclear waste storage

Failing Concrete at Seabrook Station: Top Ten Reasons why C-10 Foundation Asked the NRC for Public Hearing

April 11, 2017  The C-10 Research and Education Foundation, Inc. has formally asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a public hearing in the matter of deteriorating concrete at the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant, as well as requesting intervenor status in NRC Docket 50-443. 

Debbie Grinnell, board member and former research director, spoke about concrete problems at our 2017 annual public meeting, while board member Chris Nord listened.

The proceeding relates to the License Amendment Request (LAR) 16-03 NextEra Energy Seabrook, LLC (NextEra) submitted in the summer of 2016, seeking to “Revise Current Licensing Basis to Adopt a Methodology for the Analysis of Seismic Category I Structures with Concrete Affected by Alkali-Silica Reaction.”

The C-10 Foundation has long warned of the irreversible concrete degradation known as alkali-silica reaction, or “ASR” that is ongoing at Seabrook Station. C-10 Foundation’s petition lays forth ten contentions that the group asserts merit further investigation and a public hearing by the NRC, including what it sees as insufficient testing of concrete at the Seabrook Station nuclear reactor and lack of transparency as to the test results and the seriousness of degradation.

“We are concerned not only about the public health and safety implications of allowing the current operating license to stand given what we know about the plant’s concrete, but also about the precedent it would set for the entire U.S. nuclear industry,” said Natalie Hildt Treat, Executive Director of the C-10 Foundation. For details on the ten related contentions C-10 sites as grounds for a hearing, read the petition here.