February 16, 2021
Wisconsin has two operating nuclear power reactors at Point Beach and one shuttered unit at Kewaunee, all on Lake Michigan.* Point Beach reactors are now owned by NextEra Energy Resources. The “operator” was Florida Power and Light from 2005 to2009; and in December 1996 Wepco was the owner.
The Point Beach reactors have suffered frequent unplanned shutdowns caused by accidents. Some of the mishaps have resulted in official warnings, fines, and criminal convictions.
Only four “RED” findings — the highest failure warning that is issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) — have ever been made public. Two of the four went to Point Beach. These severe failures involved procedures that were declared “inadequate” by NRC inspectors who said the failures existed “for many years and that the licensee [NextEra, FP&L, or Wepco] had seven prior opportunities to identify these inadequacies.” The failures and inaction were of “high safety significance (a Red finding)” under NRC rules. NRC inspectors found that Point Beach’s owners continuously compromised the auxiliary [cooling] feed-water pumps between 2001 and 2007.
Some unsafe operations, accidents, convictions and fines for violations against Point Beach owners and operators over the years include:
January 15, 2008
At Point Beach’s Unit 1, an “Unusual Event” emergency was prompted by the complete loss of all offsite electric power to essential buses for more than 15 minutes, mandating a notification of the NRC. A supply breaker opened “for unknown reasons,” was being investigated, and preparations were made for a Unit 1 shutdown. — Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Event No. 43907, January15, 2008
December 8, 2006
Point Beach’s the Control Room Emergency Filtration System was declared inoperable. The Control Room Charcoal Filter Fan tripped during a surveillance test, an event or condition that could have prevented the filter’s performance during a contamination emergency or, in the NRC’s words, “could have prevented fulfillment of a safety function.” — Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Event No. 43040, Dec. 8, 2006
August 22, 2006
In an August 22, 2006 letter to Point Beach, the NRC charged that a senior reactor operator was discriminated against by the company’s management for identifying potential technical violations. The discrimination was an apparent violation of employee protection requirements. — Nuclear Regulatory Commission, “Point Beach Summary,” Inspection Procedure 95002, <nrc.gov/reactors/operating/ops-experience/degraded-cornerstone/pt-beach-summary.html>
December 16, 2005
Point Beach paid a $60,000 fine imposed January 13, 2006 after two workers “deliberately provided NRC inspectors with inaccurate information” about the critique of an emergency preparedness drill at a Point Beach reactor in August 2002. The two were fired, and one was convicted in federal court of knowingly making false written statements to the NRC. — Nuclear Regulatory Commission News, No. III-05-046, Dec. 19, 2005
December 13, 2005
A manual reactor trip shut down reactor Unit 1, due to loss of a condenser vacuum caused by failure of the running circulating water pump. Decay heat was being removed by “atmospheric dump valves.” The backup feed-water system was required. The operator then, Florida Power & Light, said there are no known steam generator tube leak issues. — Notification to Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Dec. 13, 2005
November 9, 2004
While operating at 100 percent power, reactor Unit 2 sprang a steam leak from a valve in the main steam-flow transmitter. The leak of potentially contaminated steam forced an unplanned shutdown. The leak involved what is called “containment penetration” of the main steam line passing through the concrete containment building. Accordingly, operators declared a Technical Specification Condition “not met,” forcing operators to isolate the “affected penetration flow path with a completion time of 72 hours.” Operators were unable to meet the allowed completion time for this task. — Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Event No. 41212, Notification, Nov. 19, 2004
April 8, 2004
Point Beach paid a $60,000 imposed March 20, for last summer’s problems with the reactor’s backup cooling pumps. — The Capital Times, March 20, 2004
February 11, 2004
The ongoing risk of a breakdown in Point Beach’s cooling feed-water pumps results in a NRC “RED” finding, the agency’s most severe safety failure warning. — Nuclear Regulatory Commission News, Feb. 11, 2004
November 18, 1997
Point Beach reactor Unit 2 was hastily shut down because of electrical problems. — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 18, 1997
August 12, 1997
The NRC recorded 21 violations at Point Beach in the 90-day period between Dec. 1996 and Feb. 1997. — St. Paul Pioneer Press, Aug. 12, 1997
July 25, 1997
Reactor Unit 2 at Point Beach was shut down when a cooling water pump failed. — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Aug. 25, 1997
Point Beach owner WEPCO was fined $325,000 for 16 safety violations, and a 1996 explosion inside a loaded high-level waste cask. The NRC said WEPCO was “inattentive to their duties,” had “starting up a power unit while one of its safety systems was inoperable,” and had failed to install “the required number of cooling pumps.” — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Aug. 12, 1997, and Dec. 5, 1996
May 28, 1996
A potentially catastrophic explosion of hydrogen gas, “powerful enough to up-end the three-ton lid,” pushed aside a 6,390-pound cask lid while it was atop a radioactive waste storage cask filled with high-level waste. The lid was being robotically welded to the cask. — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 8, 1995
March 30, 1995
A Point Beach reactor was shut down due to instrument failure in the emergency generator system which is used to circulate cooling water when regular power is cut off during emergencies.— Wisconsin State Journal, March 30, 1995
* A small reactor at La Crosse was shut-down since 1987, and a smaller research reactor operates on the Univ. of Wisconsin campus in Madison.
By John LaForge
A change has been made to the “emergency response” protocol at the old Point Beach nuclear reactors on Lake Michigan, south of Green Bay. The operator, NextEra Energy Point Beach, has replaced the site’s disaster warning sirens.
No more will the familiar wail warn of potentially catastrophic radiation releases or spills from the two reactors — which are 51 and 49 years old, respectively, well past their originally licensed maximum of 40 years.
The siren system has been replaced with an “Integrated Public Alert and Warning System” (IPAWS). NextEra says on its website that emergency alerts will be broadcast on public radio and through cell phone alerts, but not sirens. They assure us: “If you have functional needs or do not own a cell phone, contact your emergency management agency to be registered for notification and assistance.”
That is, the system will send disaster warnings only to radios and cell phones. Are yours always on all night? The lack of sirens to wake sleeping nearby populations assumes that nuclear accidents only happen in daytime.
In fact, the Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, partial meltdown in 1979 started at 4 a.m.; the 1979 Churchrock, New Mexico, uranium mine waste spill broke at 5:30 a.m.; and the 1986 Chernobyl explosions and meltdown began at 1:23 a.m.
“I sure hope everyone has their TV, radio, computer or cell phone on in the middle of the night when the [IPAWS] alarm is sounded,” Michael Keegan of Don’t Waste Michigan, a watchdog of Point Beach and the 28 other operating reactors on the Great Lakes, wrote in an email.
Paul Gunter, at Beyond Nuclear in Takoma Park Maryland, specializes in reactor hazards and operations. He wrote in an email, “Removing the audible stationary sirens from within the emergency planning zone will significantly diminish the reactors’ early warning notification system and the radiological defense-in-depth strategy.”
Gunter points to the “bathtub curve” (pictured) depicting failure rates in every technology from toasters to nuclear reactors. “At startup, high rates of failures result from design flaws, mis-assembly and defects. A period of stable operations ensues, but over time, the aging of systems, structures and components leads to material degradation and a steeper rate of failures,” Gunter wrote.
In 2005, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted NextEra’s request to give Point Beach reactors 20-year license extensions, letting it produce radioactive waste for 60 years. Adding more risk to the reactors’ “golden years,” NRC in 2011 approved a 17 percent increase in power output from both units. The approval seems like dear old gramps gunning the engine of his jalopy, racing down main street and running red lights with the whole family involuntarily along for the ride.
Germany’s recent deadly flooding event, which killed at least 210 people, provides a tragic example of how retiring the sirens can be catastrophic. As the Los Angeles Times reported on July 24, 2021,“Residents of flood-stricken German towns say they got inadequate warning of deluge”; sirens in some towns failed when the electricity grid crashed; elsewhere there were no sirens at all. The Associated Press reported July 25 that Germans said warning systems failed and “At least 132 people were killed in the Ahr Valley alone.”
After nuclear waste, emergency and disaster response have always been the bane of nuclear reactors — our only industrial machines required to have evacuation plans before start-up. Taking down warning siren systems only increases the likelihood of catastrophe. It amounts to reckless endangerment. ###
By John LaForge, published by PeaceVoice
Hiroshima was “a military base.” The US atomic bombings “ended the war,” and they “prevented an invasion and saved lives.” Our government’s tests of atomic weapons on people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki 76 years ago were rationalized using these myths which transformed indiscriminate destruction into a “good thing.” This mythology stands as a roadblock to the elimination of nuclear weapons.
The “good bomb” story is still believed by many in the United States because of decades of deliberate myth-making started by President Truman. He announced after Hiroshima, “The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.” Some 140,000 people were killed in Hiroshima, another 70,000 in Nagasaki. Almost all were civilians. The bombs were dropped miles from the nearest military base in both cases.
The incurious can be excused for accepting this cover-story — even though it was publicly rejected at the time by great thinkers and writers including Albert Camus and Dorothy Day — because documents that prove the president and his administration lied were kept secret for decades.
One is the April 1946 US Strategic Bombing Survey, led by Dr. Paul Nitze who would later become Navy Secretary and later still a presidential advisor to Ronald Reagan. Nitze’s extensive official government study demolished Truman’s whitewash, concluding, “Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated,” according to The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth by historian Gar Alperovitz.
Likewise, the 1946 report of the Intelligence Group of the War Department’s (now Pentagon’s) Military Intelligence Division — only discovered in 1989 — concluded that atomic bombings had not been needed to end the war. The Intelligence Group “judged that it was ‘almost a certainty that the Japanese would have capitulated upon the entry of Russia into the war,’” according to The Decision.
The judgment of Major General Curtis LeMay made six weeks after Nagasaki was more emphatic. Gen. LeMay headed the 21st Bomber Command and directed the firebombing of Osaka, Tokyo and 58 other Japanese cities. LeMay said Sept. 20, 1945, at a New York press conference reported in The New York Herald Tribune, “The war would have been over in two weeks without the Russians entering and without the atomic bomb.” A surprised reporter asked, “Had they not surrendered because of the atomic bomb?” and LeMay answered, “The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.”
So for 76 years debate has raged about whether the incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was ethical. Truman’s shrewd deception that mass destruction “saved lives” has long obscured the (previously classified) historical record, as well as the voices of high-level critics who rejected the big lie.
In 1945, Brig. General Bonnie Feller wrote, “Neither the atomic bombing nor the entry of the Soviet Union into the war forced Japan’s unconditional surrender.”
President Eisenhower said, “First, the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.”
Admiral William Leahy, Truman’s Chief of Staff, said later in life, “It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan.”
Returning to Paul Nitze, after 43 years in government spent promoting nuclear weapons, he went from the Strategic Bombing Survey’s crushing of Truman’s Hiroshima myth in 1946, to obliterating all the remaining excuses for nuclear weapons in 1999. He wrote in The New York Times:
I see no compelling reason why we should not unilaterally get rid of our nuclear weapons. To maintain them … adds nothing to our security. … I can think of no circumstances under which it would be wise for the US to use nuclear weapons, even in retaliation for their prior use against us.
Today, the global clamor for abolition is invigorated by the entry-into-force of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. With it, we have a new opportunity to renounce fairytales about the atrocities of August 6 and 9, to eliminate the needless costs of perpetual nuclear threats (“deterrence”), to cease our radioactive terrorism, and to finally scrap our nuclear arsenal. ###
Also published at:
* http://www.peacevoice.info/2021/08/04/rejection-of-us-hiroshima-myths-long-overdue/ * https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/08/06/rejection-of-us-hiroshima-myths-long-overdue/ * https://sierracountyprospect.org/2021/08/04/myths-rejected-8-4-21/ · https://www.laprogressive.com/the-atomic-bomb/ (LA Progressive 8/9/21) * StarDemocrat (Easton MD)-www.stardem.com/opinion/columns/rejection-of-u-s-hiroshima-myths-long-overdue/article_bfa3be15-48d7-586d-8550-516ab86ebd0b.html *https://www.newagebd.net/article/145997/rejection-of-us-hiroshima-myths-long-overdue * https://www.fergusfallsjournal.com/opinion/rejection-of-myths-long-overdue/article_16c92098-f9df-11eb-8f0d-cf4d80bec32b.html * https://www.radiofree.org/2021/08/06/rejection-of-us-hiroshima-myths-long-overdue/* https://spotonflorida.com/southeast-florida/3003632/rejection-of-us-hiroshima-myths-long.html * https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2337046296313/rejection-of-myths-long-overdue * https://twitter.com/Antiwarcom/status/1423835843542716424 *https://spotonmaryland.com/eastern-shore/577998/rejection-of-us-hiroshima-myths-long.html -and-*www.reddit.com/r/GoldandBlack/comments/p1csht/rejection_of_us_hiroshima_myths_long_overdue/