Letter to the Editors The “nuclear hostage crisis” is finally over. Governor Rauner and the Illinois Legislature has ordered all Illinois ratepayers to pay the $2.35 billion ransom to Exelon Corporation over the next ten years, ostensibly to save the ~1,500 jobs at the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear reactors. That amounts … Continue reading OP-ED: END THE “NUCLEAR HOSTAGE CRISES” NOW! …read moreRead More


PRESS RELEASE CHICAGO– Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Exelon nuclear bailout bill into law today, insuring over the next 10 years a legislatively mandated $2.35 billion rate hike, and the production of nearly 900 tons of additional high-level radioactive wastes and the other risks that nuclear power poses for Illinois. “What a terrific Christmas … Continue reading GOVERNOR SIGNS EXELON NUCLEAR BAILOUT BILL – INSURES CONTINUED NUCLEAR RISKS, RADIOACTIVE WASTE GENERATION …read moreRead More


December, 27 2016 by Oliver Moody, The Times

Watchdog accused over safety incidents every day.

The nuclear safety regulator has been accused of turning a blind eye to dozens of serious mistakes at power plants and military bases.

A torpedo inadvertently fired by a Navy warship at the nuclear submarine dock in Plymouth and three road accidents involving vehicles carrying radioactive material were among the events dismissed as posing no danger.

Analysis by The Times shows that while the number of safety incidents formally declared by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has been stable for a decade, the rate of faults recorded by the watchdog has doubled since 2010 to more than one a day.

Between 2012 and 2015 the ONR gave 973 “anomalies” an International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) score of zero or left them unrated, meaning they were judged to have been of “no nuclear safety significance”. Among them were:

● Four cases where tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, was found at elevated levels in groundwater around the Dungeness B reactor in Kent.

● At least 70 safety incidents on the UK’s main nuclear warhead base at Aldermaston, Berkshire, including the contamination of several workers and a power cut across the site.

● An accident where a vehicle carrying nuclear material on the M1 hit a lorry, and another where a transport lorry flipped over, damaging two containers holding radioactive chemicals.

● Uranium “sludge” and an unstable form of caesium left in bin bags at Springfields, a former power plant, and Amersham nuclear materials factory.

● At least a dozen leaks of radioactive substances and more than 30 fires at power stations, including an event where a control panel at the Sellafield site was burnt out.

Experts on the nuclear industry said it was extraordinary that these events had been dismissed so lightly. Some said they were concerned that the ONR’s close ties to the industry had compromised its willingness to expose mistakes. One experienced engineer, speaking anonymously, said: “I do believe that the ONR downplays the incidents’ severity and the incompetence that has led to these events.”

A former member of the government’s nuclear safety advisory committee said the events looked like “strange anomalies” that should have been taken much more seriously.

Brief accounts of the incidents that were recorded in the three years up to March 2015 but logged as being of no significance were quietly published earlier this year in …read moreRead More


As many of the readers are aware, I travelled back to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant again in November, 2016. This year was even more powerful than our program in 2015. I am working on putting together a new series of editorials documenting the continuing remediation activities taking place in Chernobyl.

I am focusing this brief article on our visit to the central hall of the Unit 2 reactor and would like to share this video that I captured during our visit that has been narrated by my friend Carl Willis, a nuclear engineer from New Mexico.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe_zzTQFV3o]

The video begins as we are walking through the deaerator corridor, also known as the golden corridor, which is used by workers to access the control rooms, dosimetry, etc, and includes an interesting experience we had riding an old elevator.

The Unit 2 reactor is an RBMK reactor, very similar to the Unit 4 reactor that was destroyed in 1986. The Unit 2 reactor continued operating until a fire in the turbine building damaged critical safety equipment in 1991.

A photo of the Unit 2 reactor and fuel handling machine at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

The reactor hall looms above the operating floor and contains a massive fuel handling machine that is used to transport fuel assemblies.

The RBMK reactor was designed to allow operators to swap out three to five fuel assemblies per day, while the reactor was operating, unlike US reactor designs which requires the reactor to be shut down for refueling. This also means that the Central Hall is a sort of radioactive hot cell during these refueling operations.

The RBMK reactor design incorporates over 1,700 fuel channels, each is individually pressurized, meaning each channel is its own kind of reactor.

In the spent fuel pools the power plant is storing stringers which were used to raise and lower components in and out of the reactor. Some of the stringers had localized surface contamination on them from being in the reactor during operation. The exposure rates near the surface of one of the stringers was around 2 roentgen per hour, but were barely detectable from more than a few feet away.

To put the measurements in perspective, normal background radiation rates in most of Ukraine are between 6-12 uR/hr (microroentgen). There are 1,000,000 microroentgen in a roentgen, but this is a localized surface contamination, not ambient exposure levels in the general area.

One of my favorite photos from Unit 2 is through the portal where operators could view fuel handling operations.

One of my favorite photos from Unit 2 is through the portal where operators could view fuel handling operations.

All of the reactor fuel has been removed from the reactor and the spent fuel pools and placed in the ISF-1 common storage facility until the ISF-2 facility is constructed and the assemblies can be placed in dry casks for storage.

…read moreRead More