Group calls for nuclear reactor shutdown due to flawed parts
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.”