Nuclear reactors are similar to cars or any other piece of complicated machinery in that they
have limited shelf life. When they get old, they break down more often and maintenance
activities become too costly and difficult. Pilgrim is old and no exception - time to quit.
RELICENSING - NO GUARANTEE
Just because the NRC has re-licensed old reactors does not mean that they are fit; rather it means that NRC’s re-licensing process does not take a hard look; assure that the current licensing basis shall be maintained during license renewal; and fails to even look at key areas.
OIG Report: Audit of NRC’s License Renewal Program, OIG-07-A-15, (Sept. 6, 2007), available at ADAMS accession number ML072490486. The Office of Inspector General in its Audit of the NRC’s License Renewal Program, 016-07-A-15, dated September 6, 2007, said that there was little documentary evidence that NRC staff has performed any meaningful independent review of the technical information provided by applicants in support of their license renewal requests. In numerous cases, NRC staff has simply copied extensive portions of the plant operator’s applications into agency decisions and reports without any indication that the staff has conducted any technical verification or review. Also the OIG found that the NRC Staff does not maintain its audit records in a way that would permit verification that the audits have been performed adequately. And by failing to retain the licensee documents that it audits, the Staff frustrates the public’s ability to challenge the adequacy of license renewal applications.
Based on the OIG report, environmental citizen groups filed petitions with the NRC to overhaul its review process before processing applications for license extensions by reactors in Vermont, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey because the Commission does not have sufficient information to support a finding of “reasonable assurance” needed to protect public safety over the license renewal period for any audited plants (See NRC’s Electronic Library Adams). The NRC Commission rejected the petition, Commissioner Gregory B. Jaczko respectfully dissents, in part: Commission Memorandum and Order (CLI-08-23) at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/orders/2008/2008-23cli.pdf
Petitioner's Filings in License Renewals:
See Petitioner's filings in Pilgrim's, Vermont Yankee's, Indian Point's,
and Oyster Creeks' license renewal adjudications for specific examples of
failures in the license renewal process. Outside the Northeast, the NRC inspected,
gave a clean bill of health and issued a re-license to the Oconnee reactor. Shortly after it
passed the re-licensing process, workers discovered the reactor’s cooling system, critical to
preventing a meltdown, had sprung a leak – due to aging metal on nine nozzles (NRC
Information Notice 95-17;NUREG/CR-6677-01).
Important Reports on Aging
1. U.S. Nuclear Plants in the 21st Century: The Risk of a Lifetime - A report by the Union of Concerned Scientists
2. Nuclear Information Resource Service: Aging Reactors -http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/aging/aginghome.htm
3. NRC and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Report, “Boiling Water Reactor Internals Degradation Study” NUREG/CR-5754, September, 1993; NRC/BWORG Meeting, “Core Shroud and Vessel Internals Concerns,” Rockville MD, June 28, 1994 Source: Fact Sheet, Nuclear Resource Service, Paul Gunter
Deterioration of BWR Systems and Components:
It is becoming increasingly clear that aging of reactor components poses serious economic and
safety risks at BWRs. Pilgrim is a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR).
Core Shroud Cracking: One such safety-related component is the core shroud and it is also an
indicator of cracking in other vital components through the reactor made of the same
material. The core shroud is a large stainless steel cylinder of circumferentially welded
plates surrounding the reactor fuel core. The shroud provides for the core geometry of the
fuel bundles. It is integral to providing a re-floodable compartment in the event of a