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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Sen. Boxer’s chart showing NRC has failed to act on any of its own Task Force’s post-Fukushima safety recommendations.

[ From Friends of the Earth:
Emails suggest NRC and PG&E colluded to downplay Diablo Canyon earthquake danger
Posted Dec. 16, 2014 / Posted by: Kate Colwell
Despite denials, heavily redacted communiqués demonstrate collusion

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Internal emails show that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. may have worked together to counteract widespread news coverage. Numerous outlets reported that the former chief inspector of the Diablo Canyon power plant had warned superiors of new seismic data suggesting that the aging nuclear plant on the California coast is operating with an invalid license and may not be safe from previously unknown earthquake faults.

Friends of the Earth obtained more than 100 pages of NRC emails through a Freedom of Information Act request. Many emails were heavily redacted, but nonetheless show that the NRC knew the exact date and time PG&E would release a long-awaited report on the plant’s Diablo Canyon’s seismic safety, and the NRC responded by simultaneously releasing its verdict rejecting the former inspector’s dissent. The documents also show that while the NRC denied collaborating on release of the reports, they had worked for weeks on a media strategy based on prior knowledge of the PG&E report. Read more

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace has joined with Friends of the Earth, the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), to file an appeal to the NRC to obtain unredacted emails between Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ]

The NRC’s Bi-Polar Mission
The schizogenic effects of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s contradictory mandate – to protect public safety while simultaneously protecting America’s failing nuclear energy industry from its own bad karma – have never been more apparent than in this recent Dec. 3, 2014 hearing of NRC Commissioners before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, under the gavel of the Committee’s out-going Chair, Sen. Barbara Boxer [ D-CA].

The hearing’s inelegant – and as it turned out, ironic title – was “NRC’s Implementation of the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force Recommendations and Other Actions to Enhance and Maintain Nuclear Safety.”

As the following video excerpts show, the two main issues raised in the NRC’s segment of the hearing were (1.) Sen. Boxer’s graphic chart demonstrating that none of the 12 recommendations made months ago by the NRC’s own Safety Task Force for retrofitting U.S. nuclear plants in keeping with post-Fukushima lessons have yet to be implemented by the NRC, and (2.) Sen. Ed Markey’s expressed outrage that document requests to the NRC in line with the Committee’s Congressionally mandated oversight authority have been persistently refused by out-going NRC Chair Allison M. Macfarlane .

As the year ends, Sen. Boxer will hand the Committee gavel over to leading GOP climate change denialist James Inhofe. At the same time, in a sure recipe for policy-setting and enforcement gridlock, departing NRC Chair Dr. Macfarlane will leave the Commission with an apparent 2/2 split until her replacement is appointed, which is likely to be a lengthy and contentious process.

So this Dec. 3 hearing is significant and worth paying attention to, as it is probably the last one for a while in which public safety is advocated for, rather than nuclear industry and wing-nut interests.

In a preview of coming distractions, in the first excerpt, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI] urges the Commission to be more vigorous in its promotion of such discredited and unproven nuclear technologies as thorium and small modular reactors as a solution to carbon-induced climate change.

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Sen. Barbara Boxer is worried about the safety of the thousands of her constituents living within the potential fallout zone of PG&E’s out-of-seismic safety compliance Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors located over 13 intersecting earthquake faults in a tsunami zone…just like Fukushima. Any questions?

[ From Friends of the Earth:
Emails suggest NRC and PG&E colluded to downplay Diablo Canyon earthquake danger
Posted Dec. 16, 2014 / Posted by: Kate Colwell
Despite denials, heavily redacted communiqués demonstrate collusion

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Internal emails show that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. may have worked together to counteract widespread news coverage. Numerous outlets reported that the former chief inspector of the Diablo Canyon power plant had warned superiors of new seismic data suggesting that the aging nuclear plant on the California coast is operating with an invalid license and may not be safe from previously unknown earthquake faults.

Friends of the Earth obtained more than 100 pages of NRC emails through a Freedom of Information Act request. Many emails were heavily redacted, but nonetheless show that the NRC knew the exact date and time PG&E would release a long-awaited report on the plant’s Diablo Canyon’s seismic safety, and the NRC responded by simultaneously releasing its verdict rejecting the former inspector’s dissent. The documents also show that while the NRC denied collaborating on release of the reports, they had worked for weeks on a media strategy based on prior knowledge of the PG&E report. Read more

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace has joined with Friends of the Earth, the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), to file an appeal to the NRC to obtain unredacted emails between Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ]

What Could Possibly Go Wrong at Diablo?
That is the question dealt with in these two video excerpts from a Dec. 3, 2014 Senate hearing on post-Fukushima nuclear safety measures in the United States chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer.

Déjà vu All Over Again
Daniel Hirsch lays out the long, sad history of PG&E and NRC nuclear negligence and incompetence at Diablo Canyon in this excerpted testimony before Senator Barbara Boxer’s Committee on Environment and Public Works, Dec. 3, 2014.

Hirsch heads CommitteeToBridgeTheGap.org and is a lecturer at the University of California in Santa Cruz.

His testimony shows that from Humboldt Bay to Bodega Head to Diablo Canyon PG&E has consistently chosen nuclear sites on earthquake faults and the NRC has consistently failed to enforce its own seismic safety standards.

Now, although one of it’s own Senior Inspectors has reported that Diablo Canyon, located in a tsunami zone near San Luis Obispo, is out of safety compliance and called for the plant’s shutdown, the NRC has failed to take action.

Despite the recent discovery that Diablo Canyon sits on the intersections of 13 active earthquake faults capable of releasing far more seismic force than the reactors were designed to withstand, PG&E is applying for an extension of it’s operating license without making any upgrades and without a re-licensing hearing.

As other segments of this historic hearing make painfully clear, the NRC’s non-enforcement of it’s own rules and staff recommendations post-Fukushima has become standard operating procedure for a so-called ‘regulatory agency’ more committed to industry profits and the promotion of nuclear energy than the protection of public safety.

Sadly, this was Senator Boxer’s last hearing as Chair of this important Committee. The gavel will now pass to leading Republican climate change denier Sen. James Inhofe.

Republican Calls for Diablo Safety Probe
Dr. Sam Blakeslee, a Phd. geophysicist, former Republican California state senator, and former commissioner, California Seismic Safety Commission is advocating an immediate seismic safety investigation of PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near San Luis Obispo, CA.

In Dec. 3, 2014 testimony before Senator Barbara Boxer’s Committee on Environment and Public Works, Blakeslee – who is emphatically NOT ‘anti-nuclear’ – denounced the fact that as new discoveries of potential earthquake dangers have increased, PG&E’s standards for seismic safety have gone down.

It is now known that Diablo sits atop 13 intersecting active earthquake faults in a tsunami zone similar to Fukushima.

The plant was not designed to withstand the level of shaking this network of active faults is capable of delivering.

A Senior NRC Inspector has called for the plant’s shutdown for being out of compliance with seismic safety standards.

Yet, PG&E is pushing to extend the plant’s operating license without retro-fitting or safety assessment.

Sen. Blakeslee is calling for an immediate NRC re-licensing hearing.


[ Download PDF of flyer here. ]

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