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Thousands Petition for Suspension of Fukushima-Like Nuclear Plants

Petition calls for the NRC to revoke the approval for an experimental venting system and more at Oyster Creek and other nuclear plants throughout the country

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is keeping an eye on certain nuclear plants, including Oyster Creek Generating Station, after a petition was filed by advocates concerned about the .

The petition, headed by Beyond Nuclear, an anti-nuclear organization, calls for the immediate suspension of 17 nuclear facilities with General Electric (GE) Boiling Water Reactors Mark 1 units, the same type of reactors at Fukushima that experienced a meltdown following an earthquake and tsunami.

“We should be freezing our Fukushima’s, like Oyster Creek, and not allowing them to operate given all the questions and until all those questions can be answered with confidence,” said Paul Gunter, Director of the Reactor Oversight Project for Beyond Nuclear.

The petition currently has over 6,000 co-petitioners, including the local group Grandmothers, Mothers and More for Energy Safety (GRAMMES). The advocates are also fighting for the 1989 approval of an experimental venting system to be revoked as well as for Mark 1 operators to install emergency backup power for the spent fuel cooling system, Gunter said.

“These are all issues that because of the horrible events that happened in Japan,” said Suzanne D’Ambrosio, spokesperson for Oyster Creek. “Can you compare the entire nuclear industry in the U.S. to the entire I don’t think the comparison is there.”

The design of Oyster Creek and Fukushima are similar but the Forked River-based nuclear plant has been modified and kept up to date, she said.

“Changes have been made over the years to keep it continually safe and keep it in tip top condition and to address industry concerns as they come about. We , the design itself. We saw firsthand a few weeks ago that it can withstand and ,” D’Ambrosio said.

'American Chernobyls'

The Petition Review Board of the NRC is considering revoking the approval of the vents currently installed at Oyster Creek, Gunter said. The vents were installed in 1990.

In 1972, several years after Oyster Creek came online, the containment structures of Mark 1 boilers were deemed likely to fail under a severe accident, Gunter said.

“It’s too small. GE built these things in an effort to undercut large dry containment, like Three Mile Island,” he said. “These containments are much less robust. They’re like . They don’t really have a containment that works.”

It was later confirmed that there is a 90 percent failure rate under severe conditions, Gunter said. In 1989 the NRC approved the voluntary installation of vents, which would vent open containment to the atmosphere.

The same vents installed at Oyster Creek, were installed at Fukushima in 1991. When Japan was hit with a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March, those vents had a 100 percent failure rate on three reactors, Gunter said.

“They’re a significant hazard now with continued operation. The NRC unfortunately has refused to shut the plant down until they figure out what they’re going to do about the vents,” Gunter said.

Need for Backup

Nuclear plants receive 100 percent of their power from the electrical grid, Gunter said.

In the event that power is lost, plants are designed to automatically or manually start with an emergency backup power system, he said.

“The backup power systems for safety systems keep a radioactive catastrophe from happening. However, when they go to emergency power, they have a set of priority safety systems which currently only focus on a subset of safety systems for the reactor,” he said.

The electrical power for the fuel pool, sitting on top of Oyster Creek, would shut off, Gunter said.

“Given what we’ve seen at Fukushima, we think that cooling that pool should be the priority of the operator,” he said. “They haven’t factored all the unintended consequences from allowing this water to boil away.”

The petition asks for automatic and manual backup systems to be installed to keep the fuel pool cool in the event of an emergency.

The NRC is considering additional backup systems but said they’ll require the installation of fire hoses, Gunter said.

Flood Planes, Tidal Zones and Storm Surges

Each of the Mark 1 reactors is located next to large bodies of water, Gunter said.

Nuclear plants rely on a large amount of water so they are typically located next to oceans, lakes, rivers, or reservoirs, he said.

Oyster Creek Generating Station is located off of Oyster Creek and is just miles from the Barnegat Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

But many are located on flood planes, tidal zones, or areas prone to storm surges, Gunter said.

The Cooper Station in Nebraska is on a flood plane, he said.

“There is a reevaluation that’s going on right now. We believe that many of these plants are operating well below those safety considerations. There’s no reason why they should be building nuclear power plants on flood planes. But they have. Just like they have built nuclear plants on earthquake faults,” Gunter said.

The Petition

The NRC formed a Petition Review Board to consider Beyond Nuclear’s petition, spokesperson Neil Sheehan said.

The groups met with the board and NRC staff on June 8, 2011 to further discuss the petition, he said. The Petition Review Board accepted some of the concerns arose by the petition on Aug. 16, 2011.

The NRC will continue to review the back-up electric power to spent fuel pool cooling systems, the reliability of the hardened vent system or direct torus vent system and flooding concerns, Sheehan said.

At this point, action is not required, he said. “The threshold for continued assessment of the concerns is somewhat low at this stage of the review.”

“Of course, these issues are also being evaluated as part of a broader Japan-related review being carried out by the NRC staff. Along those lines, the NRC staff last week provided the Commission with recommendations in response to Fukushima Daiichi that it believes should be acted on ‘without delay,’ ” Sheehan said.

Another meeting with Beyond Nuclear addressing the dangerous containment and failed venting system for Oyster Creek and the other Mark 1 plants is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Interested members of the public can participate in this meeting via a toll-free audio teleconference. Please call 877-553-7601, passcode 5087356, which will accommodate 100 lines. If this line is busy, please call 866-741-7099, passcode 3340595, which will accommodate another 100 lines. If this line is also busy, please call 866-732-2413, passcode 8181837, which will accommodate an additional 100 lines.

The meeting will also available via webcast at http://video.nrc.gov.

For a copy of the petition, see the attached PDF.

Also attached is a NRC report containing the near-term recommendations of the Japan Task Force and the recommendations NRC staff believe should be implemented “without delay.”

JOHNNY Done it September 22, 2011 at 12:28 AM
If you didnt notice there is only one plant (oyster creek) not multiple units on a shoreline in an earthquake region,,,,,,,,
JOHNNY Done it September 22, 2011 at 02:25 AM
They are out there and people still complaining .So lets head to a farm & bottle up pig crap (methane) & light it off to boil water to turn a generator .People still will complain & thats going green
Mac September 22, 2011 at 02:40 AM
We will. But probably not in time for the 2019 plant closing, thus making it necessary to keep the old plant open a few more years to keep up with the always increasing demand for electricity. Some skeptics might say this was the plan all along in order to save the power company a few bucks on cooling towers, but really, who believes the plant will close in 2019 when our thirst for electricity grows daily?
jets fan September 22, 2011 at 03:19 AM
john jameson you shouldnt put down the way johnny d speaks . he is entitled to his opinion like anyone else.
jets fan September 22, 2011 at 03:22 AM
there at least is some time before the closing to come up with a solution. tim o connor says build a new plant but where will the many millions of dollars come from to do so?and if they do build a new plant will the components be built in korea or will american workers build the parts here in this country?
jets fan September 22, 2011 at 03:38 AM
and will a new plant use a closed loop system?
Johnathan M September 22, 2011 at 03:46 AM
Does it matter where the parts are built, as long as they meet design criteria? By shutting down 17 reactors, you're removing AT LEAST 8500 MW from the grid. When your electricity bill soars, who will you complain to next? We need to realize that the baseload electricity demand in the U.S. is increasing by the day. Because you are scared of what you can't see, it doesn't mean that you should end it - thousands of people die a year due to releases from chemical plants and carbon-emitting power generating stations. Nuclear is the only option which eliminates the need to "burn shit" to make power, and allows us to produce baseload electricity demands.
jets fan September 22, 2011 at 03:56 AM
jjohnathan i,m for keeping jobs in america . why cant we build something in this country that meets design criteria. the horizon deepwater rig was built in korea and that didnt turn out so well did it? also while temporarily shutting down every nuke in the country isnt going to happen we cant think the unthinkable will never happen . months ago people on here joked about the odds of an earthquake in nj. well we had an earthquake and hurricane in the same week. yes we have great electric needs but that doesnt mean we should be complacent when it comes to safety. in the japan situation they had to resort to contiminating their nearest water source to try and cool the reactor. we should have a reliable back up system. build for the worst case scenario and then hope everything goes ok not vica versa
jets fan September 22, 2011 at 04:59 AM
i,m all for natural gas. we have vast amounts of it. if they only could find a way to get it without fracking. hard to believe with all the technology we have we cant find a better way to get it.
skizma September 22, 2011 at 11:05 AM
LIke we live on a fault line....
michael drago September 22, 2011 at 12:23 PM
shamrock There is a salution to every problem with the plant , its call risk management. Take the problems out of the hands of the chichen littles. and give it back to the managers. If the plant is forced to close it will create to lacey township what is called a stranded asset, that means lacey township pays the power company and the power company pays no tax to lacey township . BEWERE OF WHAT YOU WISH FOR
suz September 22, 2011 at 01:19 PM
We all think the plant is "fine" the way it is...until the unthinkable happens. Don't know about you guys, but it scares the heck out of me!
1stcav September 22, 2011 at 02:41 PM
Earthquake..???.was felt here , no where near the epic center and the hurricane was down graded with land fall to a # 1 I think and was no challenge in this OC area...In fact more damage was done inland while everyone worried about the coastal areas..Was not a real test to say...Oh.. we came through this with flying colors..Don't beat your chest too soon !!!! Sit back you"ll get another chance before this winter's over..trust me...El Nina~
jackie master September 22, 2011 at 03:28 PM
Oyster has always run on bare minumum backups, do you think GPU would have ran away from this place if something was not up??They gave the place away and even left escrow $$$ for shutdown the place is a accident waiting to happen...less maint than before which already was at an all time low due to closing date coming ,no $$$$ going in.. just profits...This company will settle for nothing less than FULL power at all times .You dont want to check containment structures on a plant built in 1970 WE WILL LOSE. By the way you have NO insurance for nuclear issues you are on your own, AND FEMA is broke!!
jets fan September 22, 2011 at 03:41 PM
catv "earthquake was felt here"? yes it was . i live 2 miles from the plant and my house shook enough for me . i dont know how much shaking the oldest nuke plant in the country is supposed to take i,ve never seen any numbers on how much its supposed to be able to absorb.yes the hurricane was downgraded to a 1 but what if it wasnt downgraded, oyster creek shut down under a 1 whats the limit it can handle on hurricanes?and drago i didnt know the chicken littles were in charge of the plant. i,m not for or against the plant i,m only for safety. drago heres a few other people who laughed at the chicken littles . and here are the numbers.......
jets fan September 22, 2011 at 03:55 PM
according to the atomic energy agency on chernobyl another "dont worry about it " place."50 dead immedietely from the accident.9 children died within a few weeks from thyroid cancer. 4,000 more soon followed. 250,000 people forced to leave their homes for good.tens of thousands of sq miles directly effected with dramatic increase in cancer deaths especially in the ukraine and belarus area.to this day even in full radiation suits there is a 25 min time limit to exposure in the chernobyl area. in japan they are still fighting a reactor that is releasing vast amounts of radiation 5 months later and has turned nearby areas into ghost towns that are uninhabitable for 1000 yrs. so the chicken littles have every right to be concerned . not to mention how do you defend any nuke plant from an airplane being flown into it?i looked at oyster creek's security info on the web (i shouldnt have been able to the terrorists can just as easily read it) it details thickness of blast walls etc. and if you tell someone how thick a blast wall is they will begin figuring out what kind of explosion can get thru it.
jets fan September 22, 2011 at 04:02 PM
solar energy isnt ready to do the heavy lifting yet when it comes to our energy needs mainly because of the naysayers, tea party and the like. our solar production has dropped to 6%. while in china solar production increased to over 50% and they have already invested $30 billion in solar. china seems to have a way to see how to beat us because of ourselves . thats why we only make 5% of our products here . most of the people calling others chicken little on here are wearing clothes right now that say made in china, while their honda sits in the driveway and they type on a keyboard that was made in japan or china. i think it would be wise to follow what theyre(china) up to as they are already running circles around us. theres about 7 yrs left till the plant closes . time to start going with ideas not complacency.
jets fan September 22, 2011 at 04:08 PM
and drago i know its a big financial hardship if the plant closes but it will be closing in 2019 anyway so now is the time to come up with ideas whether it be a brand new plant that will takes years to build or some other solution. no one wishes for the financial to lacey burden if there is nothing there but . exelon is leaving so what is your solution?
John September 22, 2011 at 04:09 PM
Michael, This is the first time I have heard about the Plant becoming a "stranded asset". Couold you explain?
JOHNNY Done it September 23, 2011 at 02:36 AM
Agree I bet the biggest complainers use the most kw...unless someone comes up with a better way to boil water to make steam without sending hydocarbons & other stuff into the air Nuclear is the way...
JOHNNY Done it September 23, 2011 at 02:38 AM
Remember , union carbide ( chemical plant)in India killed more people then all the nukes combined in the world,,
JOHNNY Done it September 23, 2011 at 02:41 AM
The chemical plants along the turnpike could beat those numbers ..I guess we can close them down too along, with the refineries also.......See what i am getting at...When does it end, lets shut down the economy
JOHNNY Done it September 23, 2011 at 02:49 AM
Agree it was that mexican made blow off valve...that failed..every part is made somewhere but here but they take our money without looking twice. Too much greed ..
jets fan September 23, 2011 at 04:33 AM
johnny d the refineries along the turnpike have been there for decades and might have taken any amount of time a few years all the way to decades to make people within distance sick . the biggest problem we have with our economy is states compete with each other to lure businesses to their states with tax incentives etc . the problem is all of the states should be competing in a global economy. us competing with them instead of us competing against us.like i said theres 7 yrs worth of trying to race back to the top when it comes to energy technology not us racing to the bottom.
jets fan September 23, 2011 at 04:41 AM
consider this as an idea of possibilities for the future. a car that is electric with a solar paneled roof and hood that constantly feeds the car's battery . when you drive to the mall or the movies you plug into any number of outlets in the parking lot which are also solar powered . it might not solve the problem of feeding the electric grid but it could open up more possibilities in new technology.they are also talking about a kind of paint you can paint your roof with that also doubles as solar panels. the moral of the storyjohnny d is we should have started this decades ago but now we are literally the college kid staying up all night cramming for the big final exam in the morning and if we aint we sure oughta be.

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