Group calls for nu­clear re­ac­tor shut­down due to flawed parts

Maryland Independent - - News - By TAMARA WARD tward@somd­ Twit­ter: @CalRecTAMARA

Anti-nu­clear ad­vo­cacy group Be­yond Nu­clear called for the im­me­di­ate shut­down of nu­clear reac- tors with de­fec­tive parts in a Dec. 22 news re­lease. It also de­manded the Nu- clear Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis- sion, which gov­erns nu- clear plants in the United States, pub­lished the list of flawed nu­clear re­ac­tors the agency knows are op- er­at­ing with po­ten­tially de­fec­tive parts im­ported from France.

Ac­cord­ing to Be­yond Nu­clear, the al­leged de- fec­tive parts were man­u­fac­tured at the Le Creu- sot-Areva forge in France and “in­clude cru­cial com- po­nents such as re­ac­tor pres­sure ves­sels, re­place- ment re­ac­tor pres­sure ves- sel clo­sure heads (re­place­ment lids), re­place­ment steam gen­er­a­tors and re- place­ment pres­sur­iz­ers.”

The group re­ported the de­fects were first re­vealed by Areva in May 2016. It also shared there were rev­e­la­tions of al­leged fal­si­fi­ca­tion of man­u­fac­tur­ing re­ports from French safe- ty au­thor­i­ties.

“Every one of those po­ten­tially de­fec­tive parts are safety-sig­nif­i­cant and could lead to melt­down if they fail,” stated Kev- in Kamps, “Ra­dioac­tive Waste Watch­dog” at Be- yond Nu­clear. “Ev­ery­one liv­ing around these reac- tors has a right to know that the NRC has cho­sen to gam­ble with their lives rather than en­force safety mea­sures that in­clude re- plac­ing these po­ten­tially de­fec­tive parts.”

NRC re­ports it is fully aware of Be­yond Na­ture’s as­ser­tions and is keep­ing a close eye on the is­sue.

“We are ac­tively fol­low- ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of doc­u­men­ta­tion is­sues at the French man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity by that coun­try’s nu­clear reg­u­la­tor, ASN (Au­torité de Sûreté Nu- cléaire). In ad­di­tion, we have been in com­mu­nica- tion with AREVA, which op­er­ates the forge,” re­ported NRC spokesman Neil Shee­han.

Shee­han said at present, there are no in­di­ca­tions of safety con­cerns af­fect­ing U.S. nu­clear power plants and no need for the agen- cy to take reg­u­la­tory ac- tion in the near term.

Be­yond Na­ture sug­gests there is ev­i­dence of rough- ly 19 re­ac­tors at 11 sites in the U.S. op­er­at­ing with po­ten­tially de­fec­tive parts and fears if those parts are not re­placed they could lead to a melt­down.

Ex­elon Gen­er­a­tion LLC’s Calvert Cliffs Nu­clear Power Plant in Lus- by is not one of the plants listed, as the parts for both re­ac­tors were not forged in France, ac­cord­ing to Lacey Dean, se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager for Ex­elon. Calvert Cliffs’ re­place­ment Reac- tor Ves­sel Head and Re­place­ment Steam Gener- ator were forged at Ja­pan Steel Works.

The po­ten­tially af­fected nu­clear plants, some with mul­ti­ple re­ac­tors, are re­port­edly in Min­nesota, Vir­ginia, Arkansas, Florida, Michi­gan, New Jersey, Mis­souri, Con­necti­cut and Penn­syl­va­nia. That in­cludes Ex­elon-owned Three Mile Is­land nu­clear plant, with two re­ac­tors, lo­cated in Har­ris­burg, Pa. The plant was the site of a par­tial melt­down in 1979.

How­ever, “[Three Mile Is­land’s] re­ac­tor ves­sel head and steam gen­er­a­tors were forged at Ja­pan Steel Works (JSW), not at Le Creusot,” said Dean, stress­ing there is no cause for con­cern re­gard­ing de­fec­tive parts at that plant.

The ad­vo­cacy group filed an emer­gency en­force­ment pe­ti­tion to seek emer­gency shut­downs of the 19 plants, as well as a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest de­mand­ing the NRC re­lease the full list of re­ac­tors with flawed parts. The group also urges all re­ac­tor com­mu­ni­ties to con­tact their elected of­fi­cials at all lev­els of gov­ern­ment to pres­sure the agency to be forth­com­ing and to fix the prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease.

“The NRC will, of course, be pre­pared to take ac­tion should on­go­ing re­views iden­tify any is­sues war­rant­ing im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion,” shared Shee­hen. “In­for­ma­tion on which U.S. plants re­ceived com­po­nents from the forge are not avail­able at this time for pro­pri­etary rea­sons.”

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