TMI Update: Jan 14, 2024

Did you catch "The Meltdown: Three Mile Island" on Netflix?
TMI remains a danger and TMIA is working hard to ensure the safety of our communities and the surrounding areas.
Learn more on this site and support our efforts. Join TMIA. To contact the TMIA office, call 717-233-7897.


The White House won't renominate the Nuclear Regulatory Commission pick on whom the Senate previously refused to hold a vote, HuffPost has learned.
Alexander C. Kaufman
Jan 22, 2024, 02:05 PM EST

The Byron Nuclear Generating Stations running at full capacity in Byron, Illinois.

The Byron Nuclear Generating Stations running at full capacity in Byron, Illinois.

President Joe Biden is dropping his pick to fill the open seat on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after a handful of Democrats joined Senate Republicans to block the nomination last year, HuffPost has learned.

Jeff Baran had held a seat on the five-person federal panel overseeing atomic energy and radiation safety since former President Barack Obama first named to the position in 2014. The Democratic commissioner easily won Senate approval when former President Donald Trump renominated him in 2018.

But pro-nuclear advocates angry over what they saw as Baran’s unwillingness to overhaul the regulatory process in favor of building new types of reactor technologies launched a campaign against the commissioner last year. With Republicans opposed to the nomination, the Biden administration needed almost every Democrat in the Senate to vote for Baran ― or leave the NRC without a tie-breaker for party-line votes between the four current commissioners.

Jeff Baran in Washington on April 2, 2019.
Jeff Baran in Washington on April 2, 2019.

The White House had wanted the Senate’s narrow Democratic majority to reconfirm Baran before his term ended last July. But as many as four senators on the Democratic side, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), either planned to come out against Baran or refused to pledge their votes, according to a source with knowledge of the process. Neither senator’s office immediately responded to emails requesting comment on Monday.

When the Senate ended 2023 last month without a vote, the nomination automatically went back to the White House.

The NRC directed HuffPost’s questions about when the administration would name its nominee for the open commission seat to the White House, which did not respond to a request for comment.

But three sources with knowledge of the plans confirmed to HuffPost that the Biden administration does not plan to nominate Baran again. Two spoke to HuffPost on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly. The third claimed Baran’s loss as a victory.

“We killed this nomination,” said Ted Nordhaus, executive director of the Breakthrough Institute, a California-based climate think tank that advocates for more nuclear energy.

He was among the most vocal opponents of Baran’s nomination, and helped drum up votes against the Democratic commissioner. Nordhaus had cast Baran as a holdover from an earlier era of liberal regulators who saw their job primarily as safeguarding the public against the atomic energy industry.

“It is my job to focus on nuclear safety and security,” Baran said in 2017 at his reconfirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee. “It is not my job to weigh in on the pros and cons of the merits of nuclear power.”

That view, Nordhaus said, was common among Democrats for decades. But a modern outlook on nuclear safety has to consider not only the threats of using atomic energy, but the risks that not doing so increases pollution from fossil fuels that damages lungs and traps heat in the planet’s atmosphere.

“Everyone went into this just assuming everybody would line up behind Baran, that this is just the kind of guy Democrats put on the commission,” Nordhaus said.

“The fact that enough Democratic senators were willing to say we’re not going to vote for this guy,” he added, “it’s pretty clear that for the first time in maybe ever a bunch of Democrats now recognize that we need reform at the NRC, that something has to change, that the technology can’t succeed if the NRC continues to approach this in the way it historically has.”

But Baran had defenders. The progressive pro-nuclear group Good Energy Collective previously told HuffPost Baran had a strong record of fighting for environmental justice and building relationships with communities saddled with radioactive pollution from the past.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: IV-24-004 January 22, 2024
CONTACT: Victor Dricks, 817-200-1128
NRC to Hold a Regulatory Conference with International Isotopes on Jan. 30 to Discuss Two Proposed Violations
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a regulatory conference on Jan. 30 with officials from International Isotopes of Idaho Falls, Idaho, to discuss the safety significance of two proposed violations.
The proposed violations, identified in a December 2023 inspection report, involve importing, receiving and transferring radioactive material without appropriate authorization in NRC licenses. The company uses radioactive materials in the manufacture of devices for medical and industrial applications.
The meeting will be held at the NRC’s Region IV office at 1600 East Lamar Blvd., Arlington, Texas, beginning at 8 a.m. Central time. The meeting notice has information detailing how the public can participate in the meeting by phone or online.
Members of the public will have an opportunity to ask questions of the NRC staff or make comments about the issues discussed following the business portion of the meeting; however, the NRC staff is not soliciting comments pertaining to regulatory decisions.
During the enforcement conference, company representatives will have the opportunity to provide their perspective or additional information, including any actions planned or completed to prevent recurrence of the issues, before the agency makes its final enforcement decision.
No decisions on the final safety significance or any potential NRC actions regarding the proposed violations will be made at the meeting.

When evaluating nuclear energy, the industry generally ignores the human or monetary costs.  The front end of the nuclear cycle is the mining and milling of uranium.  This dirty operation spreads radioactive contamination which has resulted in entire towns being bulldozed into oblivion.  Miners have contracted a host of serious medical problems and many have died of cancer.  Read The Uranium Widows which tells the story.

Last year was a bumper year for renewable energy according to Canary Energy.  Altogether, the world added more than 500 GW of wind, solar, hydro, and other renewable electricity generating capacity.  And we will do it again next year and the year after.
By contrast, according to USEIA, the world has a TOTAL of 376 GW of nuclear generating capacity.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: III-24-002 January 19, 2024
Contact: Prema Chandrathil, 630-829-9663
NRC Proposes $9,000 Civil Penalty Against Geotechnical and Materials Engineers
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $9,000 fine to Geotechnical and Materials Engineers, Inc. for a violation of NRC requirements associated with the control of NRC-regulated material.
The violation involved the failure to control and maintain constant surveillance of a portable moisture density gauge containing radioactive material or to use two independent physical controls to secure the gauge. The gauge is used for measuring the moisture content and density of soil and aggregate.
The NRC was notified by the company that a gauge was struck and damaged by a bulldozer at a temporary job site in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on March 22, 2023. The technician then walked away from the gauge, failing to secure it from being removed from the site by an unauthorized user.
Following an inspection at the company’s office in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the NRC documented the proposed violations in a November inspection report.
Geotechnical and Materials Engineers responded to the violations, documenting actions it has taken to prevent recurrence of the violation.
The company has 30 days to pay the proposed penalty, contest the penalty in writing, or request alternative dispute resolution with the NRC to resolve this issue.
January 26, 2023
Russell G. Workman
General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
EnergySolutions, LLC
299 S. Main Street Ste 1700
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Dear Mr. Workman:
By letter dated November 23, 2022, as supplemented by letter dated January 13, 2023,
EnergySolutions, LLC (EnergySolutions) requested that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) make a threshold determination that a corporate transaction involving
companies upstream of the indirect majority owner of EnergySolutions would not result in a
transfer of control of Facility Operating License Nos. DPR-39 and DPR-48 for Zion Nuclear
Power Station (Zion), Units 1 and 2, respectively, and the general license for the Zion
independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI), Possession Only License No. DPR-73 for
Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 2 (TMI-2), Possession Only License No. DPR-45 for La
Crosse Boiling Water Reactor (La Crosse), and the general license for the La Crosse ISFSI, and
Renewed Facility Operating License No. DPR-43 for Kewaunee Power Station (Kewaunee), and
the general license for the Kewaunee ISFSI; Radioactive Materials License No. 39-35044-01;
and Export Licenses XW010/04 and XW018/01 that would require prior NRC approval under the
applicable NRC regulations.

The NRC staff has completed its review and concludes that the corporate transaction, as
presented in the request, will not constitute a direct or indirect transfer of control under the
applicable NRC regulations of the NRC licenses held by EnergySolutions and its wholly-owned
subsidiaries and will not result in foreign ownership, control, or domination issues. Therefore,
EnergySolutions does not require prior NRC approval for the corporate transaction. The
enclosed safety evaluation documents the NRC staff’s review and conclusion.

Zip of 5 documents

39-35044-01 633678 EnergySolutions, LLC (Change of Control)
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: III-24-001 January 16, 2024
Contact: Viktoria Mitlyng, 630-829-9662 Prema Chandrathil, 630-829-9663
NRC to Hold Pre-Decisional Enforcement Conference with an Indianapolis-based Healthcare Company
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a pre-decisional enforcement conference Jan. 18 with representatives of Community Health Network, a multi-site healthcare services provider, to discuss proposed violations associated with radiological controls required during hospital operations at its facilities in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The meeting will take place from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Central time at the NRC’s Region III office at 2443 Warrenville Road, Suite 210, in Lisle, Illinois. It will be open to the public except for discussion on security-related information. The meeting notice has information on how the public can participate in the open portion by calling into a toll-free teleconference line or joining online.
The NRC identified three proposed violations of NRC requirements during a routine inspection. One involved the licensee’s failure to prepare a written directive before the administration of a medical isotope. The second involved the hospital’s apparent failure to monitor the occupational exposure from radiation sources to its workers and failure to require the use of individual monitoring devices. Details of the third proposed violation, which is security related, will not be made publicly available.
During the enforcement conference, hospital representatives will have the opportunity to provide their perspective or additional information regarding the issues before the agency makes its final enforcement decision. The hospital representatives also can discuss corrective actions it has taken or planned to address the issues and prevent recurrence.
No decisions will be made during the meeting. The NRC will review the information and make a final determination approximately 60 days after the conference. The decision will be publicly available.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 24-003 January 12, 2024
CONTACT: Scott Burnell, 301-415-8200
NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board to Hold Oral Argument on Perry License Renewal
A Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will hold oral argument virtually on Jan. 30 on a petition requesting a hearing on Energy Harbor Nuclear Corp.’s application to renew the operating license of Perry Nuclear Power Plant, near Perry, Ohio, for an additional 20 years.
The oral argument, scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, will allow the Board to ask questions about the admissibility of two proposed contentions from petitioners Ohio Nuclear- Free Network and Beyond Nuclear challenging safety and environmental aspects of the application. The Board will hear argument from representatives for the petitioners, Energy Harbor Nuclear, and the NRC staff.
The public will have listen-only access to the oral argument by dialing 301-576-2978 and entering the passcode 510 048 948, followed by the “#” sign.
The Board is composed of three administrative judges from the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel. Boards conduct adjudicatory hearings on NRC licensing and enforcement actions, and they are independent of the NRC staff. A Board’s ruling may be appealed to the Commission, the five-member body that sets NRC policy.