Pennsylvania decision-makers’ poor understanding of the electricity industry led them into a big mistake 13 years ago: Giving up the state’s authority to control electricity-generation prices.Read more
Consumers were promised a competitive retail electricity market that would restrain prices. The warnings that such a market would not develop went unheeded, but they turned out to be correct.
We’re told that today’s electricity prices are at early 1990s levels. That happens to be because prices at that time were off the chart for customers of utilities that invested in nuclear generation. Prices were trending downward by the mid-1990s, and they could have continued downward were it not for capping some rates at high levels in 1999.
Now Pennsylvania is approaching the end of the purported transition to full deregulation, with electricity monopolies still in place.
In the PPL service territory, that will mean a 30 percent rate increase for residential customers in January. Other utilities, such as PECO and FirstEnergy (including Met-Ed and Penelec), will go to full deregulation in January 2011.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission approved a $30.16 million refund for PPL residential customers that resulted from PPL Electric Utilities Inc. overcollecting its competitive transition charge (CTC).Read more
The Commission voted 5-0 to approve the revised CTC rates that reflect actual collection and reconciliation data. Because of an overcollection of the CTC, PPL will refund about $30.16 million to its residential customers and $2 million to its industrial customers. These consumers will see the “transition charge” portion of their bill move from a charge to a credit.
PPL undercollected the CTC from its small commercial and industrial customers by about $17.6 million, meaning those customers will continue to pay the CTC in 2010.
Pennsylvania decision-makers' poor understanding of the electricity industry led them into a big mistake 13 years ago: giving up the state's authority to control electricity-generation prices. Consumers were promised a competitive retail electricity market that would restrain prices. The warnings that such a market would not develop went unheeded, but they turned out to be correct.
Now Pennsylvania is approaching the end of the purported transition to full deregulation, with electricity monopolies still in place. In the PPL service territory, that will mean a 30 percent rate increase for residential customers in January. Other utilities, such as PECO and FirstEnergy (including Met-Ed and Penelec), will go to full deregulation in January 2011.
Unfortunately, the governor and the General Assembly are essentially ignoring the problems that will accompany full deregulation.
The 81 action items identified after a reliability assessment was conducted at Vermont Yankee in 2008 have been addressed, said a spokesman for the nuclear power plant in Vernon.
But a frequent critic of Entergy’s management of the plant, and a member of the oversight panel tasked by the state to review the reliability assessment, takes issue with the company’s view.
According to Vermont Yankee spokesman Rob Williams, "as of last week, more than two years before the license renewal period is set to start, all 81 recommendations have been addressed by Vermont Yankee and have been reviewed by the Department of Public Service and their consultant Nuclear Safety Associates."
The assessment was conducted on behalf of the Vermont Legislature, which is reviewing whether Yankee should be allowed to continue operating after its license expires in 2012.
But nuclear industry inside turned safety advocate Arnie Gundersen said Entergy’s assessement of the assessment is wrong.
"The 81 items that were identified by NSA and the oversight panel have yet to be addressed," he said.
Yankee has in fact only developed plans to address the items, said Gundersen.
"These plans will now take years to implement and will continue to require constant supervision by the state to assure adherence," he said.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
No. 09-200 December 18, 2009
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will host several public workshops next year to gather input on the agency’s draft policy statement on “safety culture,” and the staff wants to hear from individuals interested in participating in the workshops’ roundtable discussions.
“Safety culture is not a simple issue, but it is vital to the NRC’s mission of protecting the public’s health and safety,” said NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko. “Public involvement is critical to addressing the complexities of this topic and I welcome and encourage the public’s participation in the upcoming discussions.”
The Commission recently published the draft safety culture policy statement in the Federal Register, (http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-26816.pdf ), setting forth the NRC’s expectation that all licensees and certificate holders establish and maintain a safety culture that protects public health and safety and the common defense and security. The draft policy defines safety culture as: “That assembly of characteristics, attitudes and behaviors in organizations and individuals which establishes that as an overriding priority, nuclear safety and security issues receive the attention warranted by their significance.”
The workshops, described in another Federal Register notice (http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-29793.pdf), are tentatively scheduled for February, April and October 2010. The staff expects the workshops will help forge a consensus around the objectives, strategies, activities and measures that enhance safety culture for NRC-regulated activities. The effort should also help develop high-level description/traits of areas important to safety culture. These concepts will be incorporated into the final safety culture policy statement and could also be incorporated into the NRC’s oversight programs.Individuals or organizations interested in participating should submit names of individuals who will represent a group (or themselves) to Alex Sapountzis or Maria Schwartz, by mail to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Office of Enforcement, Concerns Resolution Branch, Mail Stop O-4 A15A, Washington, DC 20555-0001, or by e-mail to Alexander.Sapountzis@nrc.gov or Maria.Schwartz@nrc.gov.
As you know, we have moved to a digital version of Pennsylvania Geology. The newest issue can be found at the following link: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/topogeo/pub/pageolmag/pdfs/v39n3.pdf. I want to thank you for your patience as we continue to transition to this new format. It is a format which will allow us to make far more use of color photos and digital map data. Please forward this link to anyone who you might think would be interested in the geology of Pennsylvania and ask them to contact us at RAfirstname.lastname@example.org to subscribe. For previous versions of Pennsylvania Geology, please visit http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/topogeo/pub/pageolmag/pageolonline.aspx.
Monday, December 14, 2009
If no federal repository for spent nuclear fuel is opened in the next 100 years, the nation’s taxpayers could be on the hook to pay for on-site storage, such as the dry casks at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon.
That cost could run anywhere between $10 billion and $26 billion.
That was the conclusion of the Government Accounting Office, which just released a report on the costs of nuclear waste management -- whether it be a long-term repository, centralized storage or on-site storage.
The United States has 70,000 tons of waste stored at 80 sites in 35 states. By 2055, the amount of waste is expected to increase to 153,000 tons.
PUC Expands the Role of the Office of Competitive Market Oversight to Include Electric Retail Choice Issues
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
More than 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data. That law requires communities to deliver safe tap water to local residents. But since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage. Regulators were informed of each of those violations as they occurred. But regulatory records show that fewer than 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials, including those at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has ultimate responsibility for enforcing standards. Studies indicate that drinking water contaminants are linked to millions of instances of illness within the United States each year. In some instances, drinking water violations were one-time events, and probably posed little risk. But for hundreds of other systems, illegal contamination persisted for years, records show.Read more
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Congress passed a law instructing the federal government to help states build bigger stocks of a simple, cheap drug to protect people near nuclear power plants in the event of an accident or terrorist attack. But the 2002 law left a legal loophole allowing the White House to forgo distribution if officials found that there was a better way to prevent cancer than administering the thyroid drug, potassium iodide. And after years of delays, the Bush administration dropped the plan in 2007, saying evacuations would be a better alternative. Now advocates are trying again, bargaining on a new administration that is re-examining Bush-era policies.Read more
The poisoning of more than 90 workers with radioactive tritium at the Kaiga nuclear power station is a serious safety violation, which calls for a critical look at India's nuclear power programme. The way the episode came to light, and the manner in which the authorities, from plant managers to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, to top officials of the Department of Atomic Energy, responded to it is a disturbing tale in itself.
The tritium ingestion was noticed on November 24 only after its effects had become manifest in abnormal levels of the isotope found in the urine of 92 plant workers, of the 800 tested. The plant managers admitted to the incident only after it caused public concern and the media reported it. Although they called this a "malevolent act", they didn't report it to the police for a week. The police aren't convinced this was the first occurrence of its kind at Kaiga.
We still don't know precisely how and for how long the workers' internal exposure to tritium occurred, what was the concentration of tritium in the water-cooler (which was allegedly deliberately spiked with tritium), and how many people drank the water. All that the Nuclear Power Corporation, which operates the Kaiga reactors, said is that two workers received a dose exceeding the 30 millisievert maximum limit stipulated by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. This is a general limit for radiation, not specific to tritium, a highly toxic substance for which different measures such as Curies or Bequerels per litre are usually prescribed the world over.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
From the Patriot News:
The middle of an ugly economic climate when people are already struggling to pay their bills is the wrong time to jolt PPL customers with a 30 percent bill increase, a group of activists argued at the Capitol on Tuesday.
"The increases will be significant, the suffering will be significant," said Eric Epstein of Rock the Capital. "People will be making choices they shouldn't have to make between food, warmth and medicine."
Epstein and others argued that legislators should quickly act to extend rate caps that have kept prices at 1996 levels.
From the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:
“The Commission has established its tentative schedule for the first months of 2010 with the goal of continuing to ensure that our stakeholders are informed of, and involved in, the agency’s activities and plans. The Commission is moving into the new year with a comprehensive meeting schedule, tackling diverse and timely issues as well as undertaking discussions to resolve several long-standing issues from the past.
The Commission is moving forward in our planning while not losing sight of where we have been, or the challenges that face us currently. I look forward to discussions about our anticipated activities, such as those in the area of uranium recovery, to make sure that our mission – for safety, security and protection of the environment – is being met. I’m also looking forward to discussions to help us close out long-standing generic safety issues, such as the GSI-191, which addresses sump performance issues. The meetings planned around current issues will provide an opportunity to engage stakeholders on such critical items as safety culture and ensuring adequate decommission funding.
I am looking forward to exploring these items with my Commission colleagues, the agency staff, and our stakeholders, as we move forward with the agency’s business of protecting people and the environment.”
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said there "are still a lot of questions" about an incident Friday in which a Davis-Besse security guard accidentally shot himself in his leg.Read more
The incident occurred in the bathroom of a men's locker room at 7:35 a.m. when security guard Jamie Arthur bent over to set down a rifle. A 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun issued by FirstEnergy Corp. went off in the holster he was wearing and a bullet struck his calf, Capt. Steve Levorchick of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Office said.
Governor Edward G. Rendell announced today that one of the world’s most competitive and innovative thin-film solar panel producers will open a manufacturing facility in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard, creating 400 jobs and leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment.
The Governor said the planned project by Heliosphera US represents an exciting development for Pennsylvania’s green economy that will bolster the state and city’s reputation as an emerging leader in solar technology and development.
“This was a very competitive project and Heliosphera’s decision to locate this exciting facility at the Navy Yard speaks volumes about Pennsylvania’s efforts to build a competitive economic climate and one that encourages growth and innovation in the renewable energy field that will define our future,” said Governor Rendell.
“This project means a great deal for the city and the state, not only in terms of jobs and the sizeable investment the company is making here, but also in strengthening our state’s presence in the solar energy industry. Solar is the fastest growing source of electric generation in the world. With this and other solar projects underway across the state, we’re making a statement that we intend to be a leader in that growth.”
Pennsylvania provided the company with a $49 million funding offer, coordinated through the Governor’s Action Team, consisting of a variety of grants and loans.
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited is taking seriously the incident of tritiated heavy water, a radioactive substance, getting mixed with the water in a drinking water cooler in the reactor building of the first unit of the Kaiga Atomic Power Station in Karnataka, its Chairman and Managing Director S.K. Jain said on Sunday.
Mr. Jain called it “possibly an act of mischief.” Sixty-five workers, who drank that water, received doses of radiation higher than the prescribed limits. The incident came to light when their urine samples were tested on November 24. “The contamination of water in the cooler is a matter of serious concern, and the cause is being investigated,” he said.
The Three Mile Island nuclear station's former operators learned from the 1979 partial reactor meltdown that there's no such thing as overcommunication about TMI.
Two former spokesmen for GPU Nuclear Corp., which operated the facility after the 1979 accident, said that based on lessons learned from that incident, they subsequently alerted local officials about every minor event at the plant, such as when an ambulance was called or a steam release was loud.
They issued so many notifications that officials receiving them complained.
"The operation of a nuclear power plant is based on trust, and communication is an exercise in trust," said Douglas Bedell of Cornwall, who was a communication manager for GPU Nuclear.
Bedell and Joe Benish, who joined GPU Nuclear's communication staff six months after the 1979 accident, said they find it puzzling that Exelon Corp., which operates the facility now, did not alert state officials to last Saturday's radiation leak inside a TMI reactor building until more than five hours after it occurred.
A group of Cuban nationals who fled their country by boat landed in the cooling canal of a nuclear power plant along Florida's coast on Thanksgiving Day, according to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission event report issued Friday.Read more
The plant's operations were not disrupted by the incident, according to the report.
The Turkey Point nuclear power plant control room received a call from an individual stating that he was a member of a group of 33 Cuban nationals that had landed in the cooling canal. The group was made up of 29 adults and 4 children.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Radiation monitors sounded last night and again this morning inside Three Mile Island's Unit 1 containment building - the site of a small contamination incident just days earlier - but Exelon officials said they were false alarms.
Although tests showed that no abnormal radiation levels existed, Gov. Rendell today again blasted Exelon Corp. for failing to immediately inform state emergency management officials.
Rendell said the company didn't notify the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency until about 9:30 a.m. today - nearly 13 hours after the first alarm.
"What Exelon folks, at least the Exelon folks at TMI are not understanding is that the people of Central Pennsylvania, even though this is 30 years old, understandably are very apprehensive and jumpy about all this and there is no appropriate reason for us not to be notified about this," Rendell told reporters referring to the partial meltdown that occurred in 1979 at the plant's Unit 2.
Rendell said that all TMI officials had to do was pick up a phone, call PEMA and say "hey this is a false alarm . . . and we will get back to you as soon as we know that."
Eric Epstein, chairman of the watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert, went further when he labeled the calling delay a “communications fiasco.” “It appears that they have learned nothing [from the 1979 accident],” he said. TMI’s DeSantis said the level of radiation released was well below an “unusual event,” a designation requiring the notification of state and local officials within 15 minutes. However, he said, the company will review its handling of the information. “If there is a way that we can improve this we certainly will,” he said. TMI’s Unit 1 reactor has been shut down for refueling and maintenance since Oct. 26. Saturday’s incident occurred while workers were removing one of two steam generators that are being replaced. Inspectors for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission were at the site Saturday to monitor Exelon’s response to the release. Federal regulators will continue to investigate the cause of the release.Read more
Peach Bottom: Request for Additional Information Regarding Request for Exemption From 10 CFR 50, Appendix R, Section III.G, Fire Protection of Safe Sh
By letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) dated March 6, 2009 (Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) Accession No. ML090680141), Exelon Generation Company, LLC, (Exelon) submitted a Request for Exemption for Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station (PBAPS), Unit Nos. 2 and 3. The submittal seeks exemption from the provisions of Title 10 of The Code of Federal Regulations, Part 50 (10 CFR 50), Appendix R, Section III.G, "Fire Protection of Safe Shutdown Capability." The exemption requests the use of operator manual actions (OMAs) in lieu of the circuit separation requirements specified in 10 CFR 50, Appendix R, Section III.G.2 (III.G.2). The NRC staff has reviewed the request submitted by the licensee and has identified a need for additional information as set forth in the Enclosure.Read more (PDF)
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Almost every plan for limiting carbon dioxide output includes keeping old nuclear plants running. But as those plants age, they turn up new problems. The latest is at a plant owned by Progress Energy in Crystal River, Fla., where a gap was found inside the thick concrete of a containment dome. The plant had been temporarily shut in late September so workers could replace the aging steam generators — which required them to cut a hole in the dome. (The steam generators at many aging nuclear reactors were intended to last the life of the plant, so no way for swapping them out was designed.)Read more
Amid renewed criticism from Gov. Ed Rendell for a five-hour delay in telling emergency officials of a weekend radiation incident, Exelon Corp. said its Three Mile Island nuclear plant was "back to normal" yesterday.
Ventilation fans probably caused the release of a small amount of radiation inside one building on Saturday afternoon, Exelon officials said.
They said the ventilation system has since been modified, and that the 150 workers stationed in the building had all returned to work.
"Things are back to normal," site vice president Bill Noll said yesterday. No contamination was found outside the containment building, and the event never posed a threat to the public, company and federal officials reiterated yesterday.
Saturday's radiation leak inside the Three Mile Island containment building occurred when ventilation fans blew irradiated particles around in the reactor's pipes, a plant spokesman says.
The particles were detected by monitors, TMI spokesman Ralph DeSantis said Monday. The incident is under review, but the ventilation system has since been modified so the problem won't happen again, he said.
Workers involved in replacing the plant's steam generators were cutting through the pipes at the time, nuclear officials said.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Radioactive dust unexpectedly blew out of a pipe being cut by workers during weekend maintenance at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, and officials on Monday were trying to determine exactly how and why it happened.
The accident at the central Pennsylvania plant — the site of the nation's worst nuclear power plant disaster — exposed a dozen employees to radiation, but the public was in no danger, plant officials and government regulators said.
Plant officials likened workers' maximum exposure to the equivalent of two medical X-rays, while the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the workers were exposed to a small fraction of the annual federal regulatory limit.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
A scientist from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology predicts that supplies of uranium are running out and countries relying on imports of uranium may face shortages by 2013, while a New York Times journalist suggests new nuclear power plants are an "abysmal" investment that will never pay for itself without government financial support.
Dr Michael Dittmar, a physicist with CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), said in the fourth and final part of an essay on the world's nuclear industry published this week that civilian stockpiles of uranium could be depleted by as early as 2013.
According to Dittmar civilian and military stockpiles and re-enriched or reprocessed uranium sources contribute 25,000 of the 65,000 tons of uranium used globally each year. The rest is mined directly, but Dittmar claims nobody knows where the mining industry can find enough uranium to make up the shortfall, and disputes the Nuclear Energy Agency's estimates of reserves of Uranium.
Dittmar is unconvinced that fission breeder reactors can provide a solution, saying that their inefficiency, high construction costs and poor safety mean they are unlikely to become commercially viable alternatives. He considers nuclear fusion even less likely to provide the needed energy.
AFTER years of widespread concern over how to refine enough gasoline, how to deliver enough megawatts of electricity and how to keep from drowning in carbon dioxide, the United States suddenly has fuel and energy in surplus, and the country is looking greener. Can it last? And would that be a good thing? The recession was hardly anybody’s idea of a good way to put the country on a sensible energy diet. But it may have done just that. Many coal plants whose emissions were spreading acid rain, mercury and the ingredients of global warming have not been running as much lately, and the price of coal was down by half in the last year — like the price of oil. Demand for electricity was down 1 percent last year and another 4 percent in the first half of 2009; ordinarily, electric use would be expected to grow 5 percent in three to four years. Industrial demand was down to levels not seen since the 1990s.Read more
Thursday, November 19, 2009
By letter dated April 17, 2009 (Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) Accession No. ML091130429), Exelon Generation Company, LLC. submitted a preliminary decommissioning cost estimate and spent fuel management plan for Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 (TMI-1). These documents were submitted in accordance with Title 10 of the Code ofFederal Regulations (10 CFR) paragraph 50.75(f)(3) and 10 CFR 50.54(bb), respectively, and are required to be submitted five years prior to the projected end of operations/termination of the operating license at power reactor facilities. By letter dated October 22,2009 (ADAMS Accession No. ML092710401), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued the Renewed Facility Operating License (DPR-50) for TMI-1. The renewed license authorized an additional 20 years of operation of the facility, with an expiration date of April 19, 2034.Read more
By letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) dated October 1, 2009 (Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) Accession No. ML0927904683), Exelon Generation Company, LLC, (Exelon) submitted affidavits requesting that information submitted to the NRC be withheld from public disclosure pursuant to Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), Part 2, Section 2.390(a)4.Read more (PDF)
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station: NRC Integrated Inspection Report 05000277/2009004 and 05000278/2009004
On Septermber 30, 2009, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) completed an inspection at your Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station (PBAPS), Units 2 and 3. Th enclosed integrated inspection report documents the inspection results, which were discussed on October 30, 2009, with Mr. William Maguire and other members of your staff.Read more (PDF)
The Commission has issued the enclosed Amendment No. 254 to Facility Operating License No. NPF-14 and Amendment No. 234 to Facility Operating License No. NPF-22 for the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 (SSES 1 and 2). These amendments consist of changes to the Technical Specifications (TSs) in response to your application dated March 24, 2009, as supplemented by letters dated April 24, and September 11, 2009.Download PDF
CPS Energy CEO Milton Lee and Interim General Manager Steve Bartley are heading to Japan on Tuesday to square off behind closed door meetings with Toshiba Corp. officials to discuss why the cost projection on two new nuclear reactors are higher than expected. Toshiba Power Systems is the lead contractor for the proposed expansion of the South Texas Project nuclear power plant in Matagorda County, Texas. There have been reports indicating that the price tag could be as much as $4 billion higher than originally projected. CPS Energy’s partner in the South Texas Project expansion, NRG Energy, will also be involved with discussions. CPS Energy will press the Japanese for a pricing structure on the two new reactors that is more affordable than the current cost projection. CPS Energy wants the cost of the nuclear reactors to have no more than a 5 percent impact on customer bills, Bartley says.Read more
Friday, November 6, 2009
Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 - Request for Additional Information Regarding License Amendment Request to Adopt Technical Specification...
By letter dated November 6, 2008 (Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) Accession No. ML083120122), supplemented by letters dated December 11,2008, (ADAMS Accession No. ML083470249), and July 2,2009 (ADAMS Accession No. ML091870996), AmerGen Energy Company, LLC (the licensee, now Exelon Generation Company, LLC) submitted a license amendment request regarding proposed changes to the technical specifications (TSs) for Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 (TMI-1). The proposed amendment would replace the current TMI-1 TS limit on Reactor Coolant System (RCS) gross specific activity with a new limit on RCS noble gas specific activity. The noble gas specific activity limit would be based on a new dose equivalent Xenon-133 definition that would replace the current E Bar average disintegration energy definition. In addition, the current dose equivalent lodine-131 definition would be revised.Read more (PDF)
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
A new generation of French nuclear power reactors came under attack on Tuesday as opposition parties called for an inquiry into their security systems, after three nuclear safety bodies asked for changes to their design. In a rare joint statement, nuclear safety bodies in France, Britain and Finland on Monday ordered France's Areva and EDF to modify the safety features on its European Pressurised Reactors due to insufficient independence between the day-to-day systems and the emergency systems.Read more
Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 - Once-Through Steam Generator Tube Loads Under Conditions Resulting From Postulated Breaks In Reactor Coola
On June 25, 2009, a public meeting was held between the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or Commission) staff and representatives of the Pressurized Water Reactor Owners Group (PWROG) at NRC Headquarters, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, regarding once-through steam generator tube loads under conditions resulting from postulated breaks in reactor coolant system upper hot-leg large-bore piping.Read more
Summary Of October 20, 2009, Meeting With Exelon To Discuss Proposed Control Rod Drive Control System License Amendment Request (Tac No. Md9762)
On October 20, 2009, a Category 1 public meeting was held between the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and representatives of Exelon Generation Company, LLC (Exelon, the licensee). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the current status of Exelon's license amendment request (LAR) regarding a planned upgrade to the Control Rod Drive Control System and the remaining issues yet to be resolved.Read more
According to the Department of Environmental Protection, the program has reached its first incentive milestone for small business rebates—the deployment of 5 megawatts of solar power, or enough to supply electricity to about 575 average homes in the state.
The Governor said achieving the goal is good news for those small businesses interested in lowering their electricity costs through clean, renewable energy, and also for Pennsylvania’s environment and economy.
“When we enacted the PA Sunshine program, we said it was going to help reduce electricity bills for consumers, make solar energy more affordable, create economic opportunities, and help produce more renewable energy that will help improve our environment,” said Governor Rendell. “Reaching this milestone, not to mention the overwhelming response we’ve had to the program, is proof that it’s performing as intended.
“PA Sunshine is putting people to work across the state doing everything from manufacturing solar technologies to installing and maintaining them, while helping people and businesses become less dependent on the electrical grid and other fossil fuels, which saves them money. And because of the program, we’re also emerging as a national leader in developing and deploying solar technology. With the projects this program is making possible and others in the works, it is likely that we will be among the top five states for total solar capacity within the next year,” he added.
Since the program opened on May 18, the commonwealth has committed $12.5 million in 625 projects by residential and small business consumers. The projects represent at least $50 million in private investment, according to DEP.
More than 300 installers have been certified to install solar systems under the program and DEP continues to receive and accept applications.
The solar electricity capacity created by the small business program, 5 megawatts, is enough to offset 5,580 tons of carbon dioxide, 16,000 pounds of nitrogen oxide, and 77,500 pounds of sulfur oxide.
A running tally of completed projects is kept on the rebate program’s Web site so perspective applicants and solar developers are able to track the program’s progress.
“Among the small business community in particular, we are seeing a very high response rate to the program, so much so that in less than six months, we've more than doubled the solar capacity in Pennsylvania,” said DEP Secretary John Hanger. “As the market continues to develop, the intense competition among solar installers and greater efficiencies on the part of manufacturers will help bring down prices for solar. As such, the need for the incentive will continue to decline.”
The $100 million PA Sunshine Solar program reimburses homeowners and small business owners up to 35 percent of the purchase and installation costs of solar energy technology. In combination with federal tax credits, consumers could reduce system costs by 45 percent. It is part of the $650 million Alternative Energy Investment Fund Governor Rendell signed into in law in July 2008.
Under the original guidelines of the program, reaching the 5 megawatt threshold means the incentive rates for small business solar projects will be reduced. Originally, the program offered $2.25 per watt for 3-10 kilowatt (kW) projects, $2 per watt for 10-100 kW projects, and $1.75 per watt for 100-200 kW projects.
As of Saturday, Oct. 31, all small business incentive rates were reduced by 50 cents across the board. Homeowner incentive rates will remain at the original level of $2.25 per watt.
For more information, call the Office of Energy and Technology Deployment at 717-783-8411 or visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Pa Sunshine.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
On September 30, 2009, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) completed an inspection of your Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station (PBAPS). The enclosed report documents the inspection results, which were discussed, on October 2, 2009, by telephone with Mr. William Maguire and other members of your staff.Read more (PDF)
Plant operators and federal safety inspectors are investigating how two switches on a safety system at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant were improperly set, potentially impairing operators’ ability to respond in the event of a severe loss of cooling water.
The improperly set switches were discovered late last week during maintenance and testing conducted in a refueling shutdown of the reactor, said Emily Christensen Archer, plant spokeswoman.
The switches were set in such a way that they would have prevented operators from remotely opening two valves that feed cooling water back into the reactor after it had been spilled. Operators would have had to be dispatched to manually open the valves, a procedure operators are trained to perform, Christensen Archer said.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
On September 30, 2009, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) completed an integrated inspection at your Three Mile Island, Unit 1 (TMI) facility. The enclosed inspection report documents the inspection results, which were discussed on October 13, 2009, with Mr. William Noll and other members of your staff.Read more (PDF)
Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station - NRC Security Inspection Report Nos 05000277/2009403 and 05000278/2009403
On September 18, 2009, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) completed a security baseline inspection at your Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, UNits 2 and 3. The inspection covered one or more of the key attributes of the security cornerstone of the NRC's Reactor Oversight Process. The enclosed inspection report documents the inspection results, which were discussed on September 18, 2009, with Mr. William Maguire and other members of your staff.Read more (PDF)
A French documentary has revealed that radioactive materials from nuclear power plants are being being stored in containers in a Siberian parking lot. Meanwhile the largest power company in Europe, France's EDF, which sent the materials there, says it is not responsible.Read more
John Rowe, the 64-year-old chief executive of Exelon Corp., has pledged that his utility will drastically reduce its "carbon footprint," including emissions from power plants, vehicles and other sources. Recently, the company retrofitted the 10 stories it occupies in a high-rise Chicago office building, cutting its energy use there in half.
His support of carbon-emission reductions recently led him to clash with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and he pulled Exelon out of the group last month. That won him praise from some and enmity from others.
Certainly, as the country's largest operator of nuclear power plants, which don't spew carbon dioxide, Exelon could potentially emerge as a winner if Congress passes legislation to reduce carbon emissions.
Within the past year, estimates of the cost of nuclear power from a new generation of reactors have ranged from a low of 8.4 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to a high of 30 cents. This paper tackles the debate over the cost of building new nuclear reactors, with the key findings as follows:Read more (PDF)
From The Miami Herald:
Florida Power & Light will spend millions to assess whether the massive cooling canal system at the Turkey Point nuclear power plant is fueling salt contamination of the aquifer in South Miami-Dade County.
After nearly a year of balking at demands from water managers and county and state environmental regulators, FPL has bowed to expanded monitoring. It's a step the utility agreed to in its quest to complete an ``uprating'' plan intended to coax more power from its two reactors along Biscayne Bay.
The proposed agreement, designed to measure an underground plume of salt water thought to extend inland to at least Homestead-Miami Speedway, will be reviewed Wednesday by the South Florida Water Management District governing board.
Steve Jones, a house painter from Salt Lake City, Utah, who summers on Chappaquiddick, knows preparing for nuclear war is not high on most people's to-do list.
"It's not something you're going to spend time on but what if it happened?" he said. "You wouldn't have a clue."
That is why he is pitching local public safety officials with a simple credit-card size device that detects radioactive fallout. Jones volunteers for Arizona-based Physicians for Civil Defense, a nonprofit group trying to provide officials with information on what to do in case of a nuclear detonation.
Having helped distribute radiation detection meters to fire and police officials on Martha's Vineyard and in Arizona, Jones now has his sights set on the rest of Massachusetts.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials in King of Prussia, Pa., have selected Adam Ziedonis as the new resident inspector at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in Delta, Pa. He joins NRC Senior Resident Inspector Fred Bower at the two-unit site, which is operated by Exelon Nuclear. Ziedonis joined the agency’s Region I office in 2004 after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia. He is a graduate of the NRC’s Nuclear Safety Professional Development Program, a two-year training program that provides specialized training in nuclear safety and a broad perspective of NRC regulatory activities. Ziedonis also completed a rigorous NRC inspector qualification program. Most recently, he was assigned as a reactor inspector in the Region I Division of Reactor Safety, performing engineering inspections. “Adam Ziedonis has the training and commitment to safety that will help the NRC carry out its mission of protecting people and the environment, and ensure the safe operation of Peach Bottom,” said NRC Region I Administrator Samuel J. Collins. Each U.S. commercial nuclear plant has at least two NRC resident inspectors. They serve as the agency's eyes and ears at the facility, conducting inspections, monitoring major work projects and interacting with plant workers and the public. Resident Inspectors can be assigned to any one site for up to seven years. The Peach Bottom resident inspectors can be reached at 717/456-7614.
Anything that hops, burrows, buzzes, crawls or grazes near a nuclear weapons plant may be capable of setting off a Geiger counter. And at the Hanford nuclear reservation, one of the dirtiest of them all, its droppings alone might be enough to trigger alarms. A government contractor at Hanford, in south-central Washington State, just spent a week mapping radioactive rabbit feces with detectors mounted on a helicopter flying 50 feet over the desert scrub. An onboard computer used GPS technology to record each location so workers could return later to scoop up the droppings for disposal as low-level radioactive waste. The Hanford site, overseen by the federal Department of Energy, produced roughly two-thirds of the plutonium used in the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal, beginning in World War II and ending in the 1980s. Today it is the focus of the nation’s largest environmental cleanup, an effort that has cost tens of billions of dollars and is expected to continue for decades.Read more
Douglas J. Brown was named senior vice president and CIO of Exelon Corp., Chicago, effective Nov. 16.
He was assistant treasurer and CIO of Chrysler Group LLC, Auburn Hills, Mich., where he oversaw about $30 billion in assets, including $20 billion in defined benefit assets.
Mr. Brown succeeds George Shicora , who is retiring. Mr. Brown will lead a team managing $15 billion in assets, including $6.7 billion in DB assets and $2.7 billion in defined contribution assets, as well as post-retirement plans, nuclear decommissioning trusts and non-qualified plans, according to SEC filings.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission today voted to investigate a proposal to allow PPL customers the option of time-of-use (TOU) rates.
The Commission voted 5-0 to examine the proposal and to approve a motion by Commissioner Kim Pizzingrilli to complete that investigation by Jan. 31, 2010. Act 129 of 2008 required that TOU plans must receive Commission consideration within six months of being filed. PPL filed its plan on July 31, 2009.
According to the filing, the proposed TOU program would provide optional pricing for electric service for residential and small commercial and industrial customers. Under the plan, customers could choose a billing option that provides different pricing for “on-peak” and “off-peak” hours. Higher rates would be charged for on-peak hours while lower rates would be charged for off-peak hours. The rates would be set on a flat cents per kWh basis and be different for summer and non-summer periods.
Fasteners made for spent fuel storage devices at Oyster Creek Generation Station and several other power plants did not meet standards, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.Read more
The NRC Web site lists information by Transnuclear Inc. that reported "a potential Part 21 violation and has reason to believe that Hwa Shin Bolt Ind. Co. provided unsubstantiated certified material."
Transnuclear is performing an evaluation and does not believe the issue has safety significance. However, the company is reporting this issue because Hwa Shin may have supplied parts that may have safety significance, the report stated.The firm also reported that in addition to Oyster Creek, affected plants include Millstone Power Station in Connecticut, Susquehanna in Pennsylvania, Ginna in New York, Brunswick in North Carolina and Cooper Nuclear Station in Nebraska.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this information notice (IN) to inform addressees of recent plant events that were attributed at least in part to human performance issues. The NRC expects recipients to review the information for applicability to their facilities and to consider actions, as appropriate, to avoid similar problems. Suggestions contained in this IN are not NRC requirements; therefore, no specific action or written response is required.Download PDF
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Full text of Markey’s letter
Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee,“There is absolutely no reason why the NRC’s deliberations should be shrouded in the type of secrecy that characterized the old Soviet Politburo,” Markey wrote in the letter. “As an independent regula
today sent a letter toNuclear Regula tory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, calling for the Commission toopen its decision-making process topublic examination. Unlike other independent regula tory agencies, the Nuclear Regula tory Commission does not vote in public. tory agency operating in a democracy, the Commission has an obligation toconduct, the public’s business in public tothe fullest extent possible.”
Markey also expressed concerns about the use of notation voting, through which Commissioners privately circulate different versions of written decisions along with their “yes” or “no” vote. This practice has greatly curtailed the ability of the public
tohear open debate on critical issues affecting nuclear reac tors, materials, and waste regulation.
“Members of Congress must cast their votes in public, and there is no reason why the NRC cannot join other independent regulaIn 2005, Markey offered an amendment
tory agencies in doing the same,” Markey wrote. tothe Energy Advancement and Conservation Act toencourage the NRC toeither hold more public meetings or for the results of non-public meetings tobe made public, consistent with the requirements of the Sunshine Act, which sets public transparency standards for federal agencies.
By letters dated April 11, 2008 (Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) Accession No. ML081020758), and October 14, 2008 (ADAMS Accession No. ML082880706), AmerGen Energy Company, LLC, the licensee, now Exelon Generation Company, LLC, provided a response to Generic Letter 2008-01 , "Managing Gas Accumulation in Emergency Core Cooling, Decay Heat Removal, and Containment Spray Systems" (ADAMS Accession No. ML072910759), for Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1.Download PDF
The amendment removed cycle-specific core parameter limits from the TS and added an administrative requirement to submit a Core Operating Limits Report to the NRC, prior to each core reload. During the ongoing TMI-1 license renewal review, it was identified that certain figures that were the subject of the application dated April 28, 1989, were present in the NRC version of the TMI-1 TS, but not in the licensee version. This discrepancy was traced to an incorrect inserUremove page included in the issuance letter for Amendment 150. This inserUremove page did not specify the removal of Figures 3.5-2A through 3.5-2L as it should have. Therefore, please remove Figures 3.5-2A through 3.5-2L from the TMI-1 TS, if you have not already done so.Dowload PDF
Thursday, October 1, 2009
China's cabinet, the State Council, has formally approved the construction of Shandong Haiyang Nuclear Power Station, State Nuclear Power Technology Corp (SNPTC) said on Friday.
The power station in eastern Shandong province is the second in the country that will be based on the third-generation AP1000 technology imported from U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Co., owned by Toshiba Corp..
Two nuclear power generating units, each with a capacity of 1.25 gigawatts (GW), would be brought online in 2014 and 2015 respectively, SNPTC said in a post on its website (www.snptc.com.cn)
We're excited to announce that Tom Ridge, former secretary of Homeland Security and former governor of Pennsylvania, will be giving the keynote address at our nuclear power symposium on October 15 and 16, entitled Nuclear Power: Back on the table. The symposium will focus on nuclear energy in Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic region. It is designed for professionals, academics, government officials, and students with an interest in nuclear energy. The symposium will feature experts from academia, industry, and government discussing nuclear power economics, environmental impact, energy policy, and nuclear power research. Scheduled speakers include representatives from Westinghouse Electric, AREVA, Energy Resources International, the Electric Power Research Institute, Bisconti Research, the Nuclear Energy Institute, Idaho National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Oregon State University, North Carolina State University, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Texas at Austin. The event is part of the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Penn State's nuclear engineering program. Information and registration can be found online atwww.nuclearpowerpa.org. Thanks in advance for your support of this symposium, and we hope to see you in October. Arthur T. Motta Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering
Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Selects Constellation NewEnergy as Service Provider for Electricity Program
A final, independent safety review has recommended that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approve 20-year operating license extensions for FirstEnergy Corp.'s two nuclear reactors in Shippingport, Beaver County.
The report by the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards includes a detailed discussion of containment liner corrosion problems and future testing mandates for the Beaver Valley Unit 1 and Unit 2 reactors but clears the way for the NRC's final decision on the license renewals as soon as next month.
The NRC staff has reviewed your application and concluded that it does provide technical information in sufficient detail to enable the NRC staff to complete its detailed technical review and make an independent assessment regarding the acceptability of the proposed request for relief in terms of regulatory requirements and the protection of public health and safety and the environment.Download PDF
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Even though Entergy Corp. has enacted a company-wide hiring freeze, that freeze doesn’t affect "business critical positions" at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, according to an Entergy spokesman in New Orleans.
"Entergy Nuclear is hiring where it deems it necessary to ensure its fleet remains safe and reliable and productive," said Rob Williams, spokesman for Vermont Yankee.
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the rules will address requirements for firearms background checks, weapons training, periodic weapons inventories and weapons safety assessments.
Plant operators now need approval from the NRC and ATF (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) to obtain and use these enhanced weapons. "These weapons will provide an important new capability in protecting nuclear facilities and radioactive materials against terrorists," Sheehan said.
The issue of more firepower for nuclear plant guards was championed after Sept. 11, 2001, by 9th District legislators.
The regulations cover machine guns, short-barreled shotguns and short-barreled rifles. The guidelines were approved by the U.S. Attorney General.Previously, with limited exceptions, only federal, state or local law enforcement officers could lawfully possess machine guns.
Subsequently, the NRC staff determined that the information in Appendix A of the Northeast Technology Corporation report designated NET-264-02, Rev. 1, does not meet the criteria of 10 CFR 2.390(b)(4)(iv) in that this information has been previously submitted to the NRC as publically available and is presently publically available under ADAMS Accession No. ML081050374. The NRC staff notified Exelon that the document would no longer be withheld from public disclosure and would be placed in ADAMS as publically available. Accordingly, this document is now publically available in ADAMS under Accession No. ML091740446.Download PDF
"Criticality Analysis of the Peach Bottom Spent Fuel Racks for GNF-2 Fuel with Boraflex Panel Degradation Projected to May 2010," designated as NET-264-02, Rev. 3. "Characterization of Boraflex Panel Degradation in the Peach Bottom Unit 2 Spent Fuel Pool Projected to May 2010," designated as NET-264-03, Rev. 1. "Response for Request for Additional Information -Revision to Technical Specification 22.214.171.124.a Concerning k-infinity, Revision 1," designated as Attachment 5 to Exelon letter dated June 12, 2009, (ADAMS Accession No. ML091740446).Download PDF
NRC Schedules Meeting in Newton, MA, on Proposed Changes to Nuclear Plant License Renewal Environmental Regulations
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will conduct a public meeting on Thursday, Sept. 17 in Newton, Mass., to hear comments on proposed changes to environmental regulations related to nuclear power plant license renewal.
The meeting, which will take place at the Boston Marriott Newton, at 2345 Commonwealth Ave. in Newton, is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. It will be preceded by an open house scheduled for 5 p.m. at the same location. At the open house, NRC staff will be available to answer questions. During the formal meeting, members of the public will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed revisions.
The proposed changes are contained in the Summary of Findings on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Issues for License Renewal of Nuclear Power Plants and the draft revision of Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants, NUREG-1437. The NRC is also publishing for comment a revised Regulatory Guide 4.2, Supplement 1, Preparation of Environmental Reports for License Renewal Applications, and NUREG-1555, Supplement 1, Standard Review Plans for Environmental Reviews for Nuclear Power Plants.
The proposed rule revisions redefine the number and scope of environmental impact issues that must be addressed in a nuclear power plant license renewal review. The Commission has stated it intends to review the rule every 10 years and update it as necessary.
The GEIS assesses the overall scope and impact of environmental effects associated with license renewal at any nuclear power plant. Plant-specific supplements to the GEIS are prepared for each individual license renewal review. Those who wish to speak during the meetings are encouraged to pre-register and anyone with questions or special needs should contact Jeffrey Rikhoff, Bo Pham or Jason Lising at 1-800-368-5642, extensions 1090, 8450 or 3220 respectively, or by e-mail at LRGEISupdate.Resource@nrc.gov. Meeting transcripts will be posted to NRC’s Web site at www.nrc.gov/public-involve/doc-comment.html.
Comments on the proposed rule, draft revised GEIS and associated documents may be submitted over the federal e-Rulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov (Docket I.D. NRC-2008-0608); by e-mail to Rulemaking.Comments@nrc.gov; by mail to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff; or by fax to 301-492-3466. Written comments on the draft revised GEIS should be sent to: Chief, Rulemaking, Directives and Editing Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Office of Administration, Mailstop TWB-05-B01M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001. The deadline for comments is Oct. 14.
The draft revised GEIS is publicly available at the NRC Public Document Room (PDR), located at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md. 20852, or from the NRC’s Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) at adamswebsearch.nrc.gov/dologin.htm. The number for the draft revised GEIS is ML090220654; the draft Regulatory Guide 4.2 Supplement 1, Rev. 1 is ML091620409 and the Draft NUREG-1555, Supplement 1, Rev. 1 is ML090230497.