It’s time to call your representatives and insist they co-sponsor bills H.R. 669 and S. 200, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017, introduced by Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts). Their press release follows.

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CONGRESSMAN LIEU, SENATOR MARKEY INTRODUCE THE RESTRICTING FIRST USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS ACT OF 2017
January 24, 2017
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) introduced H.R. 669 and S. 200, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. This legislation would prohibit the President from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress. The crucial issue of nuclear “first use” is more urgent than ever now that President Donald Trump has the power to launch a nuclear war at a moment’s notice.

Upon introduction of this legislation, Mr. Lieu issued the following statement:

“It is a frightening reality that the U.S. now has a Commander-in-Chief who has demonstrated ignorance of the nuclear triad, stated his desire to be ‘unpredictable’ with nuclear weapons, and as President-elect was making sweeping statements about U.S. nuclear policy over Twitter. Congress must act to preserve global stability by restricting the circumstances under which the U.S. would be the first nation to use a nuclear weapon. Our Founders created a system of checks and balances, and it is essential for that standard to be applied to the potentially civilization-ending threat of nuclear war. I am proud to introduce the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 with Sen. Markey to realign our nation’s nuclear weapons launch policy with the Constitution and work towards a safer world.”

Upon introduction of this legislation, Senator Markey issued the following statement:

“Nuclear war poses the gravest risk to human survival. Yet, President Trump has suggested that he would consider launching nuclear attacks against terrorists. Unfortunately, by maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict, U.S. policy provides him with that power. In a crisis with another nuclear-armed country, this policy drastically increases the risk of unintended nuclear escalation. Neither President Trump, nor any other president, should be allowed to use nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear attack. By restricting the first use of nuclear weapons, this legislation enshrines that simple principle into law. I thank Rep. Lieu for his partnership on this common-sense bill during this critical time in our nation’s history.”

Support for the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017:

William J. Perry, Former Secretary of Defense – “During my period as Secretary of Defense, I never confronted a situation, or could even imagine a situation, in which I would recommend that the President make a first strike with nuclear weapons—understanding that such an action, whatever the provocation, would likely bring about the end of civilization. I believe that the legislation proposed by Congressman Lieu and Senator Markey recognizes that terrible reality. Certainly a decision that momentous for all of civilization should have the kind of checks and balances on Executive powers called for by our Constitution.”

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We know Governor Cuomo’s plan to tax New Yorkers’ utility bills to bail out old, unsafe, unprofitable nuclear plants is a big mistake. If the governor gets his way, he’ll take $7.6 billion from hard working New Yorkers and hand it over to subsidize dangerous, inefficient nuclear plants owned by a wealthy Chicago-based corporation. We can’t let that happen.

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Tsuruga nuclear power plant - Japan - Enformable

On Thursday, a panel of experts organized by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) determined that it will not change its 2013 judgment that an active geologic fault exists under the Unit 2 reactor at the Tsuruga nuclear power plant.

The determination means that the Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC), the utility which operates the Tsuruga nuclear power plant, will be forced to decommission one of the two reactors at the nuclear site.

During the meeting, officials from the JAPC attempted to present new data, which they said challenged the decision made by NRA, but many experts at the meeting debated the validity and objective nature of the data and the ability of the new findings to support claims made by the utility.

After hearing the panel’s decision, the vice president of Japan Atomic Power demanded more discussion on the issue, but was rebuffed by NRA Commissioner Kunihiko Shimazaki who stated that “Enough scientific debates have been done.”

Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, regulators in Japan began investigating nuclear power facilities in Japan for evidence of active fault lines as a part of the national nuclear safety overhaul program.

After NRA experts determined that the D-1 fault zone of pebbles and sediments under the Unit 2 reactor is an active fault in May 2013, the JAPC began actively working to change the regulator’s decision, and the meetings between the two parties have been known to be contentious.

The secretariat of the NRA has told reporters that it plans to file a protest with Japan Atomic Power Company over inappropriate and threatening remarks made by Hiroshima University professor Koji Okumura, who is affiliated with the utility.

At one of the meetings between the utility and the regulators, Okumura was asked a question by an NRA expert and began raising his voice angrily saying “Haven’t you been listening?” The NRA expert, Kyoto University associate professor Hiroyuki Tsutsumi, was astounded and upset by the outburst, and later told the reporters from the Mainichi that “A calm decision can’t be made when things are being said in that way.”

The Unit 2 reactor at the Tsuruga nuclear power plant started operation in 1987, the Unit 1 reactor started up in 1970. Experts estimate that the costs to decommission a reactor like the Unit 2 reactor at the Tsuruga nuclear site will cost in excess of $650 million.

Source: The Japan Times

Source: NHK

Source: The Mainichi

The post Regulatory panel in Japan affirms decision that will force decommissioning of Tsuruga reactor appeared first on Enformable.

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners today approved its controversial replacement for its “waste confidence” rule that was slapped down in 2012 by a federal court and also approved a resumption of new reactor licensing and license renewal activities.

The new replacement rule essentially gives up on the notion of “confidence” that a permanent high-level radioactive waste repository will be built in any foreseeable time frame and instead expresses the agency’s support for the concept that “continued storage” in the absence of a permanent repository–even for millenia–is just A-OK with them.

The votes on the two actions were both 4-0, although NRC Chair Allison Macfarlane dissented on part of the final version of the “continued storage” rule.

Controversial NRC Commissioner William Magwood, in probably his last official NRC action, didn’t even bother to attend the meeting. Instead he phoned in to a conference line to cast his votes in favor of both actions. Maybe he was at the airport waiting for his flight to Paris where he begins his new job as chief of the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency on Monday. Or maybe he was just packing for the trip….

In a statement on the vote, NIRS’ Executive Director Tim Judson said “For two years we had hoped that logic would prevail: but no such luck. An irrational, industry-dominated NRC has affirmed carte blanche to dirty energy corporations: ‘go ahead, produce as much highly radioactive waste as you want; tell us it is safe and we, the NRC, will believe you.’ This decision today makes it impossible for NRC to claim that it is independent. We agree with grassroots activists in nuclear power communities who have decided that this is a Con Job. NRC has done nothing to increase our confidence in its performance as a regulator of safety.”

The full NIRS statement is available here.

The NRC’s “continued storage” rule almost certainly will be challenged in court on numerous grounds and by numerous parties. But in the meantime, the NRC has now lifted its moratorium on reactor licensing activities. In practical terms, there are no new reactor license applications that have been particularly inhibited by the moratorium, so unless some utility decides it really wants to press ahead with a new reactor, there will be little change there. The major license renewal case underway is that of Indian Point in New York, and the NRC is expected to resume activity on that case quickly. But the battle over Indian Point is being waged on several fronts and the NRC long has been expected to approve license renewal for those reactors. So it’s not clear the NRC action will have a profound effect there either.

NRC Chair Allison Macfarlane

In her partial dissent, Macfarlane expressed concern about the failure of the Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) underpinning the rule to address what would happen in the event institutional controls over long-term waste storage collapsed–a not unreasonable position given the eons that radioactive waste is lethal and must be strictly overseen. She noted that the NRC staff acknowledged that even a temporary loss of institutional control “would have impacts similar to spent fuel storage accidents” and that a permanent loss of control “would be ‘a catastrophe to the environment.’”

But the staff decided not to analyze or effectively address these possibilities in the GEIS.

Macfarlane also said that the GEIS should be a living document–revised every ten years to take into account changing circumstances.

And Macfarlane pointed out that when waste is stored on-site, as the GEIS essentially presumes, the costs are borne by the utilities. The Nuclear Waste Fund, which currently is blocked from receiving more funds by the Department of Energy, goes for a permanent repository and is far short of anticipated costs in any event. Macfarlane wrote that while “funding near-term storage is not a crisis,” the NRC, and the GEIS, should recognize the “genuine reality” that the federal government–i.e. taxpayers–will pay for the long-term storage of radioactive waste.

The decision on the continued storage rule, including Commissioner comments (although one page of Macfarlane’s dissent is missing at this writing), is here.

The Commission Order on resuming licensing activities is here.

An NRC press release on the votes is here.

Michael Mariotte

August 26, 2014

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2014/08/26/nrc-approves-radwaste-rule/

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Filed under: Inside Washington, Radioactive waste Tagged: high-level radioactive waste, NRC, NRC Chair Macfarlane, NRC Commissioner William Magwood, on-site radwaste storage, reactor licensing Read More