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Posts Tagged ‘NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko’

CBS NEWS ASKS ‘WHAT HAPPENED TO YUCCA MOUNTAIN?’

Friday, April 1st, 2011

April 1, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

What Nuclear Townhall prints today, CBS News features tomorrow. In a remarkably clear-eyed analysis, CBS has revealed the narrow partisan politics that have temporarily killed the Yucca Mountain project and highlighted what it means to the rest of the country.


Instead of putting opponents on camera to rant about the “nuclear dump” that is a “catastrophe waiting to happen,” CBS reporters went out to Nye County and found that almost everybody scheduled to live near the project actually favors it. Jobs and income are the reason, of course. Then the newscasters dug into the files (or leafed through back stories on NTH) and found that NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko had killed the project single-handed and excised whole sections out of the safety report, to the dismay of staff and other commissioners. This was paired with clips of Presidential candidate Barack Obama promising Nevada voters he would not allow Yucca to open.


“Critics charge you were simply doing the bidding of your former boss, Harry Reid,” the reporter says to Jaczko on camera. The chairman dances around the issue before ending that “the decision was in the best interest of the agency.”
 


The obvious motive here is that millions of Americans have suddenly discovered that it isn’t such a good idea to have spent fuel sitting around in cooling pools decade after decade and that a national repository – or perhaps even some form of reprocessing – wasn’t such a bad idea after all. The report ends solemnly, “Still, nuclear wastes sits scattered across 35 states . . . and Yucca Mountain sits silent, and empty.” 


Even more remarkable, the Yucca report was followed by a piece on radiation pointing out that levels detected on the West Coast are barely above background and that irrational fear of radiation was a much bigger health threat than the radiation itself. If nothing else, the Fukushima accident has caused an outbreak of common sense at CBS News.

See the video here

NRC TO CONDUCT 90-DAY STUDY ON SIGNIFICANCE OF FUKUSHIMA FOR AMERICAN REACTORS

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

March 22, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Chairman Gregory Jaczko has announced that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will conduct a 90-day study on the significance of Fukushima for American reactors with updates at 30 and 60 days.


The announcement came yesterday as top NRC officials said the situation in Japan did not warrant any immediate changes at American nuclear plants. “Every single day, we assess whether or not there is some additional regulatory action that needs to be taken immediately in order to address the information we have to date,” R. William Borchardt, executive director for operations, told the full commission in a televised hearing. Borchardt said that every day NRC inspectors double-check emergency equipment at each reactor “to make sure they haven’t fallen into disuse because they haven’t been used.”



Attention has already focused around the ventilation pipes, which have been hardened in U.S. reactors but may not have been similarly upgraded in Japan. If the pipes at Fukushima remain as simple ductwork, they could have been overpressurized when workers vented the steam, which led to several hydrogen explosions.



Dramatizing how serious the NRC’s responsibilities will be, another division of the agency issued a 20-year license renewal for Vermont Yankee even as the commission was holding hearings. Vermont Yankee is a twin of several of the Fukushima reactors. Commissioners said there would be further review of the relicensing as details of the Japanese accident come to light.


Overall, the commissioners expressed confidence in their ability to continue regulating nuclear development.  “Some may characterize that our faith in this technology is shaken,” said Commissioner Kristine L. Svinicki. “But nuclear safety is not and cannot be a matter of faith. It must be a matter of fact.”

Read more about it at the New York Times
 

 

NEWSWEEK SHOCK CLAIM: NUCLEAR PLANT SECURITY ‘FLIRTING WITH DISASTER’

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Nuclear Townhall
January 5, 2011

In a feature story right from the anti-nuclear playbook (“Flirting with Disaster…Every few years the defenses of the nation’s nuclear plants are tested. What’s scary is how often they fail”), Newsweek magazine reports that “eight times out of roughly 100 attempts over the past five years, … mock terror teams have successfully broken through … defenses” of U.S. nuclear plants.

Right on script, the article quotes a Union of Concerned Scientist spokesman accusing the industry of “hiding behind the 9/11 tragedy to withhold information—like which plants have failed tests and repairs that have been made—that should be available.”

Newsweek surmises that “worries are particularly acute because the nuclear-energy industry is experiencing a new era of growth” – citing positive support from President Obama for loan guarantees and Energy Secretary Chu’s recent public statement that nuclear energy was “clean energy.”
On a positive note, the feature concludes that “advanced technology has virtually eliminated the risk of accidental meltdowns, like the one at Chernobyl in 1986, adding repetitive safeguards that allow the plant to shut itself down if operators can’t.”

But Newsweek warns:  “The bigger problem is the highly radioactive waste that is left over once most of the energy-producing juice has been sucked out of it” – stuff that “will remain dangerously radioactive for about 10 millennia, until the year 12011.”

The features rebuts a pithy quote from American Nuclear Society President Andy Kadak that modern nuclear plants are like prisons opining that “prison breaks still happen from time to time”  and the “security measures that are in place result in very little transparency.”  Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko offers Newsweek a bureaucratic defense saying “we think in the end overall security is best achieved by keeping most of [our security information] protected.”  This prompts another rebuff from Newsweek, which observes that “yet as the Gulf Coast oil spill showed, an industry out of public view can get sloppy.”

Newsweek offers a new rationale not yet floated by the Obama Administration for the termination of the Yucca Mountain project, which it describes positively as “dry, desolate, not prone to natural disasters – the perfect location for a repository” saying the project was canceled “in pursuit of something less risky than concentrating millions of pounds of waste in one place.”

Not to worry, we’re told the Energy Department has a Blue Ribbon Commission “researching other ideas, such as burying it in the oceans, shooting it into space, or finding a new repository somewhere else in the world.” The Newsweek feature concludes with this oddity:  “That site’s defenses, however, would need to be foolproof,” an observation presumably not applicable to an outer-space-based repository.

Read more at Newsweek

 
 

NRC: ‘NO DEADLINE’ FOR YUCCA LICENSE WITHDRAWAL REVIEW

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
November 24, 2011
Nuclear Townhall
 
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission public relations chief Eliot Brenner has told the Seattle Times in a letter that the agency has "no deadline to make a decision" on its long pending review of a lower panel’s rejection of the Energy Department’s Yucca Mountain license withdrawal. Brenner also told the paper in a letter to the editor that there is "as yet no final verdict to make public."
 
While noting that all four eligible NRC members have ‘voted’, Brenner downplayed the significance of the votes calling them "initial" while also characterizing them as "merely the exchange of preliminary views to start internal discussion."
 
Brenner also signaled that issuance of a Commission order may not be coming anytime soon on the matter advising that "votes can be supplemented, withdrawn and refiled, edited or revised during deliberations."
 
The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board voted unanimously on June 29 to deny the U.S. Department of Energy’s request to rescind the license application. Commissioner Kristine Svinicki was first to file her vote on August 25 with Chairman Gregory Jaczko following shortly thereafter. Jaczko subsequently withdrew his vote and was the last to re-record his vote on October 29.
 
A Federal court has postponed preliminary hearings on a swath of Yucca Mountain-related issues pending full NRC action on the ASLB ruling.
 
Incoming House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has asked Jaczko to provide his plans for issuance of a Commission order to the Committee by December 2.
 
Brenner’s letter was published on November 22 in response to the paper’s editorial charging Jaczko with stalling the vote and playing political games with the Yucca Mountain-related review.

NRC’S ASLB DECISION: 234 days AND COUNTING

Friday, November 19th, 2010

[month] [monthday], [year]
Nuclear Townhall
 
As the legendary CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite might have put it:
 
And that’s the way it is, [weekday], [month] [monthday], [counter date=2010/06/29] [after] [elapsed-dtimer] into captivity[/counter] of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision on its review of the Atomic Safety Licensing Board’s unanimous rejection of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Yucca Mountain project license withdrawal request.
 
In a process that has been defined by days and even hours for the most part, it is now [counter date=2010/06/29] [after] [elapsed-dtimer] [/counter] and counting since the ASLB’s June 29 ruling and the initiation of the Commission’s review of the lower panel’s decision. The full Commission, which has now had the matter under consideration over parts of six calendar months, has more than trebled the 39 days it initially provided to the ASLB to sift through considerably more complicated issues.  Meanwhile the U.S. Court of Appeals, which was scheduled to begin oral arguments on September 23 on an avalanche of legal contentions now filed on the Yucca Mountain issue, has put a hold on the proceedings awaiting a Commission determination.
 
Notwithstanding the NRC Commission impasse, on September 30, the U.S. Department of Energy closed the doors of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, which is responsible for the license application.  Just days later, perhaps putting the cart before the horse, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko ordered the agency’s review of the Yucca Mountain license application stopped.  The handling of the latter matter is now under scrutiny by Jaczko’s own Inspector General and is expected to be the subject of oversight hearings by the U.S. House of Representatives in the next Congress.
 
Meanwhile, what is known at this point is that all four Commission votes are filed with Commissioner Kristine Svinicki recording hers on August 25; Jaczko was last in on October 29 in a maneuver seen by some as a delaying action to ensure that a possible affirmation of the ASLB decision would not surface in the re-election contest of mentor and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who ultimately prevailed in a hard-fought campaign.  Commissioner George Apostolakis has recused himself from the issue.
 
No Commission affirmation session, which would codify any Commission verdict, is slated for this week, according to longtime NRC watchers.
 
As Walter Cronkite might have also put it:  
 
Stay tuned to this channels for further updates.

NRC’S ASLB DECISION: 453 days AND COUNTING

Friday, November 19th, 2010

[month] [monthday], [year]
Nuclear Townhall
 
As the legendary CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite might have put it:
 
And that’s the way it is, [weekday], [month] [monthday], [counter date=2010/06/29] [after] [elapsed-dtimer] into captivity[/counter] of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision on its review of the Atomic Safety Licensing Board’s unanimous rejection of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Yucca Mountain project license withdrawal request.
 
In a process that has been defined by days and even hours for the most part, it is now [counter date=2010/06/29] [after] [elapsed-dtimer] [/counter] and counting since the ASLB’s June 29 ruling and the initiation of the Commission’s review of the lower panel’s decision. The full Commission, which has now had the matter under consideration over parts of six calendar months, has more than trebled the 39 days it initially provided to the ASLB to sift through considerably more complicated issues.  Meanwhile the U.S. Court of Appeals, which was scheduled to begin oral arguments on September 23 on an avalanche of legal contentions now filed on the Yucca Mountain issue, has put a hold on the proceedings awaiting a Commission determination.
 
Notwithstanding the NRC Commission impasse, on September 30, the U.S. Department of Energy closed the doors of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, which is responsible for the license application.  Just days later, perhaps putting the cart before the horse, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko ordered the agency’s review of the Yucca Mountain license application stopped.  The handling of the latter matter is now under scrutiny by Jaczko’s own Inspector General and is expected to be the subject of oversight hearings by the U.S. House of Representatives in the next Congress.
 
Meanwhile, what is known at this point is that all four Commission votes are filed with Commissioner Kristine Svinicki recording hers on August 25; Jaczko was last in on October 29 in a maneuver seen by some as a delaying action to ensure that a possible affirmation of the ASLB decision would not surface in the re-election contest of mentor and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who ultimately prevailed in a hard-fought campaign.  Commissioner George Apostolakis has recused himself from the issue.
 
No Commission affirmation session, which would codify any Commission verdict, is slated for this week, according to longtime NRC watchers.
 
As Walter Cronkite might have also put it:  
 
Stay tuned to this channels for further updates.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS TO FILE RESOLUTION CONDEMING JACZKO YUCCA REVIEW SHUTDOWN DECISION: CALL FOR RESUMPTION OF “LA”

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

U.S. House Republicans are planning to file a formal resolution “condemning” the “unilateral decision” of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko to terminate the agency’s Yucca Mountain project review in early October.  Jaczko says he based his decision on budgetary considerations emanating from the current stop-gap Fiscal Year 2011 continuing resolution, which is in place until December 3 and very likely to be extended into the next Congress.

The resolution will call on the NRC to “resume license activities immediately pending further direction from Congress.”
 
The action is expected to make note of the June 29th finding by the NRC’s Atomic Safety Licensing Board that the license application cannot be legally withdrawn under the provisions of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.  An appeal of the ASLB verdict remains pending in Commission chambers with Federal legal proceedings on the Obama Administration’s termination efforts on hold pending the outcome of the review.  The Republican resolution will also point out that no money has been provided by Congress to close-out the project; and the FY2011 continuing resolution provides no funding for any new activities by the NRC.
 
The resolution will also cite growing internal divisions within the Commission over Jaczko’s decision.
 
While the resolution is not expected to be taken up in the current post-election “lame-duck” session, Republican persistence in pressing Jaczko — in what has become a contentious, highly-personalized, increasingly one-sided flurry of missives aimed at the beleaguered NRC Chairman over the decision – is indicative of rock-solid support among House Republicans, who take over the chamber in January, to restart the national repository program.

NRC’S ASLB DECISION: 142 DAYS AND COUNTING

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

November 18, 2010
Nuclear Townhall
 

As the legendary CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite might have put it:
 
And that’s the way it is, Tuesday, November 16, the 142st day of captivity for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision on its review of the Atomic Safety Licensing Board’s unanimous rejection of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Yucca Mountain project license withdrawal request.
 
In a process that has been defined by days and even hours for the most part, it is now 142 days and counting since the ASLB’s June 29 ruling and the initiation of the Commission’s review of the lower panel’s decision. The full Commission, which has now had the matter under consideration over parts of six calendar months, has more than trebled the 39 days it initially provided to the ASLB to sift through considerably more complicated issues.  Meanwhile the U.S. Court of Appeals, which was scheduled to begin oral arguments on September 23 on an avalanche of legal contentions now filed on the Yucca Mountain issue, has put a hold on the proceedings awaiting a Commission determination.
 
Notwithstanding the NRC Commission impasse, on September 30, the U.S. Department of Energy closed the doors of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, which is responsible for the license application.  Just days later, perhaps putting the cart before the horse, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko ordered the agency’s review of the Yucca Mountain license application stopped.  The handling of the latter matter is now under scrutiny by Jaczko’s own Inspector General and is expected to be the subject of oversight hearings by the U.S. House of Representatives in the next Congress.
 
Meanwhile, what is known at this point is that all four Commission votes are filed with Commissioner Kristine Svinicki recording hers on August 25; Jaczcko was last in on October 29 in a maneuver seen by some as a delaying action to ensure that a possible affirmation of the ASLB decision would not surface in the re-election contest of mentor and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who ultimately prevailed in a hard-fought campaign.  Commissioner George Apostolakis has recused himself from the issue.
 
No Commission affirmation session, which would codify any Commission verdict, is slated for this week, according to longtime NRC watchers.
 
As Walter Cronkite might have also put it:  
 
Stay tuned to this channels for further updates.
 

INCOMING HOUSE BUDGET CHAIRMAN RYAN FIRES SALVO AT OMB OVER JACZKO YUCCA SHUT-DOWN

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Nuclear Townhall

November 17, 2010

 

In a foreshadowing of things to come in the new Congress, the soon-to-be Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), has asked the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for an explanation of the legal budgetary authority claimed by NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko in shutting down the agency’s Yucca Mountain review in early October.
 
“Despite the fact that the federal government is operating under a continuing resolution based on the Fiscal Year 2010 appropriations levels that are law, Chairman Jaczko is using President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal as the justification for his decision to halt the license review,” said Ryan.
 
The letter adds:  “As you know, the Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal was simply a request – it was never approved by Congress and does not have the force of law.”
 
The November 16, 2010 letter to Acting OMB Director Jeffrey Zients was also signed by the rising House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Rep. Mike Simpson (D-ID) a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

NRC’S ASLB DECISION: 140 DAYS AND COUNTING

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

November 16, 2010

Nuclear Townhall
 
As the legendary CBS News anchorman Walter Cronkite might have put it:
And that’s the way it is, Tuesday, November 16, the 140th day of captivity for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision on its review of the Atomic Safety Licensing Board’s unanimous rejection of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Yucca Mountain project license withdrawal request.
In a process that has been defined by days and even hours for the most part, it is now 140 days and counting since the ASLB’s June 29 ruling and the initiation of the Commission’s review of the lower panel’s decision. The full Commission, which has now had the matter under consideration over parts of six calendar months, has more than trebled the 39 days it initially provided to the ASLB to sift through considerably more complicated issues.  Meanwhile the U.S. Court of Appeals, which was scheduled to begin oral arguments on September 23 on an avalanche of legal contentions now filed on the Yucca Mountain issue, has put a hold on the proceedings awaiting a Commission determination.
 
Notwithstanding the NRC Commission impasse, on September 30, the U.S. Department of Energy closed the doors of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, which is responsible for the license application.  Just days later, perhaps putting the cart before the horse, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko ordered the agency’s review of the Yucca Mountain license application stopped.  The handling of the latter matter is now under scrutiny by Jaczko’s own Inspector General and is expected to be the subject of oversight hearings by the U.S. House of Representatives in the next Congress.
 
Meanwhile, what is known at this point is that all four Commission votes are filed with Commissioner Kristine Svinicki recording hers on August 25; Jaczcko was last in on October 29 in a maneuver seen by some as a delaying action to ensure that a possible affirmation of the ASLB decision would not surface in the re-election contest of mentor and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who ultimately prevailed in a hard-fought campaign.  Commissioner George Apostolakis has recused himself from the issue.
 
No Commission affirmation session, which would codify any Commission verdict, is slated for this week, according to longtime NRC watchers.
 
As Walter Cronkite might have also put it:   
Stay tuned to this channels for further updates.