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Planes, Trains & Automobiles – Lessons from the NTSB

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #61

Planes, Trains & Automobiles is a 1987 comedy film starring Steve Martin and the late John Candy. The title also describes several of the travel modes that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates when things go wrong. Read More

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Nuclear Near-Miss at Pilgrim

On January 27, 2015, Winter Storm Juno knocked out both of the 345,000 volt transmission lines connecting the Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth.  Per design, the reactor automatically shut down when the second offsite power line was lost. When equipment problems and operator errors complicated the intended response, the NRC dispatched a special inspection team to the site to investigate what happened (and didn’t happen). Read More

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Perils of New Nuclear Fuel: Part 4 – Grand Gulf’s Painted Water

Fission Stories #189

The previous two Fission Stories commentaries (#187 and #188) described problems at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station near Port Gibson, Mississippi involving new fuel bundles stored in the new fuel vault and later in transferring them into the spent fuel pool. Read More

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The NRC’s MOX Decision: Out of Step on Cybersecurity

On April 1, President Obama declared that the increasing threat of cyberterrorism was a “national emergency.” White House cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel said “We very much need the full range of tools across the spectrum in order to actually confront the cyber threats that we face.”

Given this warning, one might think that the U.S. Read More

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China and MIRVed Warheads

A recent Pentagon report on Chinese Military Power reported that for the first time China has apparently begun to put multiple warheads on some of its ballistic missiles. This would mean that China can use its existing missile force to launch more nuclear warheads.  Read More

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Nuclear Near-Misses

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #55

UCS launched a series of annual reports on the NRC and nuclear power plant safety in 2011. The reports share a common template for what is covered and how it is presented. The reports have something else in common—unanticipated controversies inside and outside UCS regarding our decision to use “near miss” to describe the events summarized in Chapter 2 of the reports. Read More

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NPT Brief: Keeping Chinese Nuclear Weapons Off Hair-Trigger Alert

An overwhelming majority of NPT member states agree that keeping nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert presents an irresponsibly high risk of an accidental or mistaken launch. The final report of the last NPT review conference, held in 2010, included a requirement to lower alert levels. Read More

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Perils of New Nuclear Fuel: Part 3 – Grand Gulf’s Safety Suspension

Fission Stories #188

The previous Fission Stories commentary described a problem at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station near Port Gibson, Mississippi that prevented workers from transferring fuel bundles from the new fuel vault to the spent fuel pool. This post describes a problem encountered shortly after that problem was eliminated and the transfers began. Read More

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U.S. Plays Word Games in Statement about Alert Level of Nuclear Weapons

On Tuesday, the U.S. delegation to the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York issued a statement on the alert level of U.S. nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, the statement is disingenuous and misleading, and relies on word games to obfuscate the real issues. Read More

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No Need to Give Up on Peace in Space

The headlines from this year’s space symposium in Colorado Springs were full of doom and gloom. The U.S. assistant secretary of State for arms control warned, “The threat to outer space is real and growing.” He drew bright lines in the heavens between enemies and allies, dismissed international entreaties for negotiations in the United Nations Conference on Disarmament (UNCD), and called on U.S. Read More

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Elder of the US Nuclear Power Plants

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #54

Hyman G. Rickover has often been referred to as the “Father of the Nuclear Navy.” It is even engraved on his tombstone in Arlington Cemetery. Read More

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The End for MOX

Last week the Aerospace Corporation sent to Congress its new analysis of the costs of the mixed oxide (MOX) program and other alternatives to dispose of excess plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons. UCS was the first outside organization to obtain and distribute a copy of the one-page summary of the analysis. Read More

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Perils of New Nuclear Fuel: Part 2 – Grand Gulf’s Mighty Pen

Fission Stories #187

The previous Fission Stories commentary described a problem with new nuclear fuel encountered at Browns Ferry in the early 1980s. This commentary sustains that theme by describing another problem with new nuclear fuel, this time at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station near Port Gibson, Mississippi. Read More

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Hair-Trigger Alert and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty: Fact-Checking the U.S. Fact Sheet

In the lead up to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon, for those who enjoy acronyms), opening today, the U.S. Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation released a fact sheet titled “Myths and Facts Regarding the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and Regime.”

Judging by the selection of “myths” they chose to include, the United States seems to be feeling a bit defensive about its track record in making progress towards the main objective of the NPT—nuclear disarmament. Read More

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Nuclear Safety Imperfection

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #53

NEAT #52 acknowledged the stellar results achieved by Catawba Unit 2, LaSalle Unit 1, and South Texas Project Unit 1 by remaining in Column 1 of the NRC’s Action Matrix for every one of the ROP’s first 56 quarters. Read More

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Perils of New Nuclear Fuel: Part 1 – Browns Ferry’s Midnight Ride

Fission Stories #186

Much has been written about the perils of nuclear fuel when it resides in the core of a nuclear power reactor and later when it is spent fuel stored here, there and everywhere. But new nuclear fuel has proven problematic at times, too. Read More

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The 45th Anniversary of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty: A Look Back and a Look Ahead

This year is the 45th anniversary of the entry into force of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), on March 5, 1970. It also marks the approach of the treaty’s latest Review Conference (RevCon)—a once-every-five-years meeting that will take place at the United Nations in New York from April 27 to May 22. Read More

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A Tough Week for Missile Defense Advocates

It’s not the easiest of times for national missile defense advocates. The normally friendly House Armed Services Committee hearings on missile defense hosted some tough talk centered around a recently released, critical memo from two of the Joint Chiefs. And this weekend the LA Times release a pair of damning articles drawing connections between Senators and Congress members who sheltered expensive but poorly conceived and eventually cancelled national missile defense programs and their districts’ financial benefits from these programs. Read More

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Nuclear Safety Perfection

Nuclear Energy Activist Toolkit #52

56

It’s the sum of six consecutive prime numbers (3, 5, 7, 11, 13, and 17). Read More

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Three Reasons the UCS Satellite Database is Different from Other Satellite Catalogs

The purpose of the UCS Satellite Database is to provide information about the on-orbit capabilities of different actors and to provide a research tool for specialists and non-specialists alike, using open-source information about operational satellites.

We try very hard to keep the list accurate and useful, so we appreciate communication from the space community and our users suggesting improvements and pointing out errors. Read More

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