National Guard troops and State Police no longer will provide regular patrols at the state's three nuclear plants, including Oyster Creek Generating Station, the state Attorney General's Office announced Friday morning, seven years after troops were first stationed there in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Enhanced private security forces and systems have improved the plant's security to the point where 52 troops and officers are unnecessary, officials said. They also said New Jersey is the last state in the country to withdraw soldiers and officers who were on active duty protecting Oyster Creek as well as the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear power plants in Salem County.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
New Jersey withdraws National Guard, State Police from nuclear plants
TMI not on earthquake notification list
(Lebanon County, 12:04 a.m., 12/27/08) A 3.4 magnitude earthquake occurred northwest of the city of Lancaster, Lancaster County. The quake was felt by residents in Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon and Lancaster. No damage or injuries were reported. The incident was terminated at 6:23 a.m. Notifications: Departments of Health, Environmental Protection (Southcentral Regional Office and Headquarters) and Transportation, Public Utility Commission, Federal Emergency Operations Center, Turnpike Commission, PA-1 Call, Millersville University Geology Department, National Earthquake Information Center, State Police, affected counties and PEMA Central and Eastern Area OfficesUSGS
Request for Information: Fire Protection of Safe Shutdown Capability
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
YUCCA MOUNTAIN: Nevada objects -- 229 times
Nevada reached a milestone Friday in its 30-year war to defeat the federal Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project by filing 229 challenges to the Department of Energy's license application for the planned repository 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
"Clearly this is a seminal day for us," state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said at the Sawyer Building with Nevada Nuclear Projects Agency Director Bob Loux at her side. The state's petition was filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is expected to take at least four years to review the application and contentions.
Loux declared the project dead.
"I do believe it's truly over," he said.
The pitfalls of entombing 77,000 tons of highly radioactive waste and spent fuel in a porous, volcanic rock ridge flanked by earthquake faults can't be fixed, he said.
NRC Seeks Public Input On Draft Environmental Report For Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant License Renewal Application
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff is seeking public comments on its preliminary conclusion that there are no environmental impacts that would preclude renewal of the operating license for the Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 (TMI-1) in Middletown, Pa.
As part of TMI-1’s license renewal application, dated Jan. 8, AmerGen Energy Company, LLC, submitted an environmental report. The NRC staff reviewed the report and performed an on-site audit. The staff also considered comments made during the environmental scoping process, including comments offered at public meetings held May 1, 2007. Based on its review, the NRC staff has preliminarily determined that the environmental impacts of the license renewal for TMI-1 are not so great that they preclude license renewal.
NRC Agrees With Union Of Concerned Scientists and Mothers for Peace
On December 17, 2008 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “approved a rule that enhances security requirements for nuclear power reactors.” In part, the new rule reflects input from the Union of Concerned Scientists and the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace. In a Petition for Rulemaking filed April 28, 2003, the two groups sought changes to the NRC's security regulations in two areas: safety and security evaluation integration; and aerial hazards. With the final rulemaking announced yesterday, the NRC accepted and acted upon the safety and security evaluation integration portion of the petition. They did not accept the aerial hazards part.Mothers for Peace
NRC turns down TMIA request to post guards at entrances to nuke plants
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
NRC Approves Final Rule Expanding Security Requirements
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today approved a rule that enhances security requirements for nuclear power reactors. Many of the requirements of this rule are similar to those previously imposed by orders issued after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The new rule adds several new requirements as a result of experience in implementing previous security orders and updates the regulatory framework in preparation for the licensing of new nuclear power plants.
Obama's pick for Department of Energy post signed report favoring Yucca Mountain licensing
Steven Chu, the federal laboratory director selected this week to lead the Department of Energy, signed onto a nuclear energy report whose recommendations included licensing for a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. Chu’s signature on the August report, alongside those of nine other high ranking federal science managers, is suggesting to some people that there might be a gap between his thinking on the controversial Nevada project and that of his expected soon-to-be boss, President-elect Barack Obama. While some Nevada lawmakers have been quick to characterize Chu as no friend of Yucca Mountain, the report indicates there might be more nuance to his position, even if in the end he carries out an Obama campaign pledge to end the project.Las Vegas Review-Journal
Good news for wind, bad for ethanol in major energy study
Growing concerns over climate change and energy security have kicked research on alternative energy sources into high gear. The list of options continues to expand, yet few papers have comprehensively reviewed them. And fewer still have weighed the pros and cons in as much depth as a new study published earlier this month in the journal, Energy & Environmental Science. The results are a mixed bag of logical conclusions and startling wake-up calls. The review pits twelve combinations of electric power generation and vehicular motivation against each other. It is a battle royal of nine electric power sources, three vehicle technologies, and two liquid fuel sources. It rates each combination based on eleven categories. And it was all compiled by one man, Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University.Ars Technica
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Trespassers at power plant
Four hunters were found trespassing at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in Peach Bottom Township Wednesday morning, officials said.
A maintenance worker spotted the men trespassing on company property near the north substation and notified security, said Bernadette Lauer, spokesman for Exelon Corp., which owns and operates the nuclear plant.
NRC to Discuss Results of License Renewal Inspection for Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant on Dec. 16
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will discuss the results of an inspection of the proposed aging-management approach for the Susquehanna nuclear power plant on Tuesday, Dec. 16, at a meeting with the facility’s management.
PPL Susquehanna, LLC, which owns and operates the Salem Township (Luzerne County), Pa., plant, has applied for a 20-year license extension for each of the two units at the site. The inspection is part of an ongoing review of that application.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. in the meeting room of the Eagles Building, at 107 S. Market St. in Berwick, Pa. After a discussion of the inspection results, NRC staff will conduct a question-and-answer session regarding the review for interested members of the public.
Cancers suggest radiation dangers
Vermont Yankee is one of the oldest nuclear reactors in the United States and routinely releases greater amounts of radioactive iodine-131, (the 13th highest in 2002) than the other 104 U.S nuclear reactors. The Vermont Department of Health 2008 surveillance report released this past July, reports, "The ionizing radiation to which people are exposed as a result of Vermont Yankee operations is a known human carcinogen. As with other carcinogens, it is impossible to prove that low doses are without risk. With radiation exposure it is assumed that no dose is without risk." A National Academy of Sciences panel also recently concluded that even very low doses of radiation pose a risk of cancer over a person's lifetime.Rutland Herald
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
PPL drops $440M expansion at Holtwood, blames economy
PPL said today it has dropped plans to expand its Holtwood hydroelectric plant, citing the venture's soaring estimated cost and other factors. The project price tag has grown to $440 million, compared to initial estimates of $250 million when the project was unveiled in March 2006. "As we evaluated this project in light of current economic conditions and projections of future energy prices, we reached the conclusion that it is no longer economically justifiable," said PPL's William H. Spence in a prepared statement.LancasterOnline.com
Order Directing Publication of Notice of Public Input Hearing
Mothers for Peace to appeal NRC failure to fully address terrorism issues in Federal Court
TMI Licensing information
DEP eNews Report
Monday, December 1, 2008
Letter/Op-Ed: Zebra Mussel
Nuclear reactor owners rush to extend licenses
Since 2000, according to NRC records, 50 of the nation's 104 reactors have been relicensed, 13 of those at least 15 years before their original licenses will end. Another 19 had licenses renewed at least 10 years before the originals will expire.
Among the 18 reactor license renewals now under review by the NRC, six are operating under original licenses that won't expire until 2022 at the earliest. The original license for one, the Vogtle Unit 2 reactor in Waynesboro, Ga., won't end until 2029.
The nuclear power industry says the early renewals are necessary for long-term planning, investment, maintenance and a stable electricity supply.
But citizen groups and industry watchdogs have criticized the process as perfunctory and inadequate to ensure safe operation and public health as the plants age.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Supreme Court to hear arguments in Riverkeeper v. Entergy case
Environmental organization Riverkeeper, Inc. will argue its case over the need for cooling towers at Indian Point and other power plants before the US Supreme Court on December 2.
The case will determine whether or not the Environmental Protection Agency is authorized to compare costs with benefits in determining the “best technology available” for the cooling water intake structures of existing power plants including the Indian Point nuclear plants.
Demise of Yucca project predicted
President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. Harry Reid have had several discussions about the Yucca Mountain Project since the election, with Reid saying this week the nuclear waste burial plan will "bleed real hard" before being halted. Reid said the most recent conversation, covering the waste repository program and other issues, took place Tuesday. He declined to give details, but hinted that the plan to bury 77,000 tons of highly radioactive material in Nevada could die a slow and painful death. "Yucca Mountain is history, OK?" Reid said in an interview Wednesday. "Just watch, we'll see what happens real soon, just watch. You will see it bleed real hard in the next year."Las Vegas Review-Journal
NRC cites visibility for probe failure
A special inspection team from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission failed to find five degraded support columns in the only safety-related cell in Vermont Yankee's cooling towers because inspectors didn't have a clear view of the interior of the cell, according to an NRC spokesman. The columns, estimated to be 40 feet tall, were either bowed or cracked and were in the interior of the cooling towers, where inspectors' views were obscured by louvers that cover the structural timbers but accommodate the trickling and cooling of the water. "There was no way the special inspection team could see these with fill and louvers in place," according to NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.Rutland Herald
Nuclear decommissioning fund suffers big loss
The fund set aside to pay for dismantling the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant when it shuts down was already about $400 million short of what would be needed to do the job, according to an estimate by a subsidiary of the plant's owner.
Then it lost nearly $76 million more amid the turmoil in the financial markets during the past 13 months, with more than $33 million of that loss coming last month, according to the state Department of Public Service.
Day-care sites near TMI say they lack plan for evacuation
Corradi has experienced mass evacuation. But other day-care centers within 10 miles of TMI are struggling to prepare emergency plans, says a survey of 38 licensed centers by the EFMR Monitoring Group, a nonprofit organization that monitors radiation around TMI. The monitoring group sent questionnaires to 73 state-licensed centers in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster and York counties in December, asking how much support they have received from federal, state and local authorities to develop plans for a nuclear emergency. Half of the centers, caring for nearly 1,500 children, responded. Among the findings: * 87 percent don't know who would provide transportation for their children. * 58 percent don't know to which relocation center they should take children. * Two-thirds have not been provided transportation by the state, the county or a municipality. Even those with evacuation plans admitted they were relying on assumptions about where they would go and how they would get there. The survey shows that the state is not in compliance with federal regulations for a nuclear emergency, said Eric Epstein, founder of the monitoring group. "What we found is a lack of coordination for transportation amplified by a lack of vehicles," Epstein said. "There simply are not enough vehicles to take the kids there." Epstein and Larry Christian of New Cumberland claim that Pennsylvania has been out of compliance with federal Radiological Emergency Response Plans for decades.The Patriot News
NRC Sends Special Inspection Team to Beaver Valley Nuclear Plant
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent a team of specialists to review the circumstances surrounding the identification of air trapped in a safety system at the Beaver Valley Unit 1 nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pa. The team began its work at the site today. There are two nuclear reactors at Beaver Valley, both operated by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC).
On Sept. 23, FENOC detected air (called a “void”) in the suction lines for both trains of the low-head safety-injection system (LHSI) at Beaver Valley Unit 1. (The low-head safety-injection system is one of the systems that supply water to the reactor in the event of an accident at the plant. It is also used to circulate cooling water following an accident.) At the time, FENOC determined that the system would have operated as designed. On Oct. 4 and 5, the company effectively eliminated the void by venting both loops of the system and filled the system with water. The company also verified the same conditions did not exist at Beaver Valley Unit 2.
There was no immediate danger to public health and safety or the environment from this condition.
Nuclear Plant Proposals Challenged by Southeast, National Groups
An attempted revival of U.S. nuclear power is plagued by design problems that have severely delayed federal approval of the reactor most chosen by utilities hoping to build new plants. A coordinated legal action announced today by watchdog groups across the Southeast and in Washington challenges the licensing process by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as unlawful. The NRC has canceled a 2007 pledge to review and recertify the standard design by 2011, and has missed several deadlines for committing to a new timetable. The groups say plant designs must be completed and genuinely certified before the agency or others can assess safety and financial risks of the multi-billion dollar projects.Nukefree.org
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Leaking radioactive waste pool at Indian Point drained
Officials at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan can cross a big chore off their to-do list. A leaking waste-containment pool, containing 500,000 gallons of radioactive water and spent fuel rods, has been drained and cleaned.
The bulk of the work was completed at the end of October, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The last step is for work crews to coat the pool and do some other maintenance-related work, thus solving a problem that surfaced several years ago.
In August 2005, a dangerous dose of strontium-90, a carcinogenic isotope, was detected in storm drains and groundwater around the riverside power plant. The contamination was eventually traced back to a leaking spent fuel pool for reactor Unit 1, which was shut down in the 1970s.
NRG Energy Rejects $6.1 Billion Offer From Exelon
NRG Energy Inc., the second-largest power producer in Texas, rejected an unsolicited $6.1 billion takeover offer from Exelon Corp., the largest U.S. utility owner. The offer "significantly undervalues NRG and is not in the best interests of NRG's shareholders," Princeton, New Jersey- based NRG said in a statement today. "The Board thoroughly reviewed Exelon's proposal and reached its decision after careful consideration with its independent financial and legal advisers."Bloomberg.com
TVA fund for cleanup takes a hit
TVA and other utilities have socked away money to shut down and clean up nuclear power plants once they're too old to function, but those trust funds are generally thick with stocks and other investments that have taken an economic beating. TVA's stash has seesawed over the years, losing or gaining more than $100 million at times, with a 9.7 percent drop to $983 million in March from six months earlier.The Tennessean
Friday, November 7, 2008
Markey: Pilgrim Plant Fire Raises Issue of Lax Fire Safety Regulation by NRC
Following a fire at the Pilgrim Nuclear Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce committee, today expressed concerns to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) about fire safety and the lack of compliance with critical fire protection regulations at many nuclear power plants. Rep. Markey said, "Thankfully no one was hurt and as far as we know there was no release of radioactivity during this week's fire incident at the Pilgrim plant, but the incident raises once again longstanding concerns about the NRC's lax enforcement of fire safety rules at our nation's nuclear plants. Fire poses a particularly potent risk to nuclear reactors, and shoddy fire protection procedures at nuclear plants are simply inexcusable."Office of Congressman Ed Markey
Monday, November 3, 2008
NRC Assigns New Resident Inspector to Limerick Nuclear Plant
Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials in the Region I Office in King of Prussia, Pa., have selected Nicole Sieller as the Resident Inspector for the Limerick nuclear power plant in Limerick, Pa. She joins Senior Resident Inspector Gene DiPaolo at the two-unit site, which is operated by Exelon Nuclear.U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Air Force: Nuke missile silo fire went undetected
A fire caused $1 million worth of damage at an unmanned underground nuclear launch site last spring, but the Air Force didn't find out about it until five days later, an Air Force official said Thursday.
The May 23 fire burned itself out after an hour or two, and multiple safety systems prevented any threat of an accidental launch of the Minuteman III missile, Maj. Laurie Arellano said. She said she was not allowed to say whether the missile was armed with a nuclear warhead at the time of the fire.
Arellano said the Air Force didn't know a fire had occurred until May 28, when a repair crew went to the launch site—about 40 miles east of Cheyenne, Wyo., and 100 miles northeast of Denver—because a trouble signal indicated a wiring problem.
She said the flames never entered the launch tube where the missile stood and there was no danger of a radiation release.
Entergy plan calls for 60 years before Yankee decommissioning
Even if Vermont Yankee nuclear plant shuts down in 2012 when its original federal license expires, Entergy Nuclear wouldn't start cleaning up and dismantling the reactor for close to 60 years, according to a plan filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Entergy Nuclear has agreed to add $60 million to its shrinking decommissioning fund for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant — but not until 2026. In its filing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Entergy Nuclear said it planned on decommissioning the reactor in 2067, and completing the job by 2072, at a total cost of $875 million.Rutland Herald
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Entergy to postpone spinoff
Entergy Corp ETR.N is likely to delay a proposed spinoff of its five nuclear-power plants into the nation's first standalone nuclear-generating company, the Wall Street Journal said.
The present financial crisis has clouded prospects for completion of the largely debt-financed transaction, the paper said in a report quoting Entergy Chief Financial Officer Leo Denault.
Last year, Entergy announced plans to transfer the five stations to a new publicly traded company, hoping to capitalize on the plants' low operating costs and carbon-free emissions.
U.S. Nuclear Regulator Commission
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has made available to the public the combined license (COL) application for a new reactor at the Bell Bend site near Berwick, Pa.
The applicant, PPL Bell Bend, submitted the application and associated information Oct. 13. The application, minus proprietary or security-related details, is available on the NRC Web site at: http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors/col/bell-bend.html.
The PPL application seeks approval to build and operate an Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) at the site, about seven miles southeast of Berwick. The EPR is an Areva-designed pressurized water reactor, with a nominal output of approximately 1,600 megawatts of electricity. Areva filed its application to certify the design on Dec. 11, 2007. A version of the EPR is currently under construction at the Olkiluoto site in Finland and at Flamanville, France. The EPR application, minus proprietary or security-related details, is available on the NRC Web site at: http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors/design-cert/epr.html.
The NRC staff is currently conducting an initial check of the Bell Bend application to determine whether it contains sufficient information required for a formal review. If the application passes the initial check, the NRC will docket the application for review; the staff expects to make this decision by late December. If the staff accepts the application, the NRC will then announce an opportunity for the public to participate in an adjudicatory hearing on the application.Information about the new reactor licensing process is available on the NRC Web site at: http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors.html.
Monday, October 27, 2008
NRC Monitoring Alert at Susquehanna 2 Nuclear Plant
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is monitoring an Alert declared this afternoon at the Susquehanna 2 nuclear power plant in Salem Township (Luzerne County), Pa. An Alert is the second-lowest of four levels of emergency classification used by the NRC.
At 4:15 a.m. today, maintenance work was initiated on a water line that is part of a reactor safety system for the plant. That work involved the use of a “freeze seal” – that is, placing a device containing nitrogen over a section of piping so that the water inside the line can be frozen. Once frozen, the line can be isolated to allow maintenance to be performed on it.
PPL, the plant’s owner and operator, declared an Alert at 12:06 p.m. when higher-than-acceptable levels of nitrogen, a toxic gas, were detected inside the room. As required by procedures, the one plant worker who was in the room at the time evacuated.
Davis-Besse leak no hazard, officials say
On Wednesday, FirstEnergy personnel discovered a leak in a drainage pipe at 4 p.m. The leak contained tritium, a normal byproduct of nuclear reactors, though it can cause cancer with significant exposure. But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and company officials both said the leak hadn't migrated off the site, and neither the public nor the public's drinking water were threatened. Jim Greer, director of Ottawa County's Emergency Management Agency, said FirstEnergy ran extensive tests and confirmed no one was in harm's way. "They have a number of monitoring wells on site to measure the contamination," Greer said. "It was a reportable level, but not an alarming level, and it hadn't migrated off the property."Sandusky Register
Exelon Corporation Offers to Acquire NRG Energy, Inc. in $6.2 Billion Transaction
Exelon Corporation EXC today announced its proposal to acquire Princeton, N.J.-based NRG Energy, Inc. NRG. Exelon has offered to acquire all of the outstanding NRG common stock in an all-stock transaction with a fixed exchange ratio with a value of $26.43 for each NRG common share, representing a total equity value of approximately $6.2 billion for NRG based on Exelon’s closing price on October 17.MSN Money
Monday, October 20, 2008
Exelon Corporation Offers to Acquire NRG Energy, Inc. in $6.2 Billion Transaction
Exelon Corporation today announced its proposal to acquire Princeton, N.J.-based NRG Energy, Inc. Exelon has offered to acquire all of the outstanding NRG common stock in an all-stock transaction with a fixed exchange ratio with a value of $26.43 for each NRG common share, representing a total equity value of approximately $6.2 billion for NRG based on Exelon’s closing price on October 17.Exelon Corporation Press Release
New income limits on Pa. heating program to help more
Gov. Ed Rendell has announced new higher income limits for participating in the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, as well as higher minimum amounts of grant assistance.
The state will expand eligibility for LIHEAP to Pennsylvanians earning up to $44,443 for a family of four – an increase from 150 percent of the federal poverty level to approximately 210 percent of the federal poverty level.
The minimum cash grant will increase from $100 to $300, and residents in need of crisis assistance will see their maximum grant rise from $300 to $800.
Friday, October 17, 2008
NRC Seeks Public Input On Draft Environmental Report For Beaver Valley License Renewal; Meetings Oct. 30
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff is seeking public comment on its preliminary conclusion that there are no environmental impacts that would preclude renewal of the operating license for the Beaver Valley Power Station in Shippingport, Pa.U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Monday, October 13, 2008
Two decades later, how we got here
John McCain supports plans to store high-level nuclear waste 90 miles from Las Vegas at Yucca Mountain.
Barack Obama does not.
The question being asked by Nevadans who oppose the repository — and by those who support it, too — is whether that matters. What could each candidate actually do about it as president?
The short answer is that the next president may be the only thing standing between train loads of radioactive waste and a hole in the Nevada desert.
First, though, a more nuanced view of where they actually stand:
SUN DAY Campaign
Thursday, October 9, 2008
ADAMS Citrix text searching function
We are currently experiencing difficulties with the Citrix text searching function. NRC IT staff is currently working to resolve the issue. In the meantime, text searching may be done using the Web-based version of ADAMS. Please contact the staff of the Public Document Room with any questions about this or related issues at 301-415-4737, 1-800-397-4209, or at pdr.resourceNOSPAM@nrc.gov . Sincerely, NRC Public Document Room Reference Staff
Oyster Creek foes lose bid to halt reactor relicensing
Opponents of the relicensing of Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in Lacey lost another round Monday in their ongoing battle. The four commissioners who oversee the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission denied a petition aimed at suspending license renewal proceedings at Oyster Creek and three other plants in the Northeast. One commissioner dissented in part. A number of groups filed the petition in January after the NRC inspector general office found that some of the wording in NRC reports was identical or nearly identical to language in the license renewal applications written by plant owners. The groups demanded that the review process be overhauled.Daily Record
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Nuclear energy is not renewable energy, PSC staff says
Florida Power & Light's effort to persuade regulators that nuclear power is a renewable energy suffered a blow Thursday when the staff of Florida's Public Service Commission recommended against including nuclear in the state's portfolio of green energy. In a 75-page report the commission's staff did not wade into the debate over nuclear's impact on the environment but instead relied on the definition of "renewable energy" from Florida statutes. That definition includes hydrogen, biomass, solar, geothermal, wind, ocean, hydroelectric and waste heat as renewable energy sources.Palm Beach Post
Power cuts feared in UK nuclear plants crisis
In theory, at least, Britain now has 10 operating nuclear power stations, stretching from Torness on the Firth of Forth to Dungeness on the south Kent coast. Each has two reactors, and ministers boast that they supply about one-fifth of the power that keeps the lights on.
The reality, as an Independent on Sunday investigation shows today, is very different. The majority of the power stations are in dire trouble, and their failure is leading to the most acute concern in years that the country may run short of electricity this winter.
Request to suspend all licensing proceedings until NRC fixes ADAMS search
The Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) is an information system that provides access to all image and text documents that the NRC has made public since November 1, 1999, as well as bibliographic records (some with abstracts and full text) that the NRC made public before November 1999. The NRC continues to add several hundred new documents daily. ADAMS permits full-text searching and enables users to view document images, download files, and print locally.But this is a fallacy; specifically in the “ADAMS permits full-text searching” part. Earlier today, I used the Citrix-based access to ADAMS to conduct a full-text search for documents on the Vermont Yankee docket (50-271) dated between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2008. That search returned a single document. That seemed unusually low for such a long time period. I then performed a second search using all the same search parameters except moving “safety evaluation” from the Document Text Contains box to the Title Contains box. This second search returned 51 documents. Having more than a passing awareness of how the staff enters documents into ADAMS, I understand that the title field is typed in by the NRC staff rather than being taken verbatim from the document, so it’s conceivable that documents with “safety evaluation” in their title may not have “safety evaluation” in their text. So I spot-checked a few documents to see if this explained the disparate search results. Every document I spot-checked had “safety evaluation” in its text. I have attached screen captures of the two search results along with some of the spot-checked documents to save you replicating this exercise, though you are welcome to do so. ADAMS is the NRC’s official source for docketed material. I used ADAMS to look for specific docketed material related to Vermont Yankee (VY). Using the full-text search tool that NRC explicitly describes to the public, I find 1 document. Yet it appears that there may be 50 other documents on the VY docket that the full-text search fails to identify. The actual number of “hidden” documents may be far higher than 50 because there could very easily be documents with “safety evaluation” in their text but not in their titles. The NRC’s purported “full-text search” finds less than 2 percent of the relevant information. Thus, ADAMS is essentially NRC’s electronic hide & seek game. The NRC places docketed materials in ADAMS, which is allegedly then publicly available but in reality is equivalent to being withheld from the public because the tool for finding materials inside the electronic library is fundamentally flawed. I respectfully ask that you immediately suspend ALL LICENSING PROCEEDINGS – ALL OF THEM – until the NRC corrects its flawed search engine for docketed materials in ADAMS. The public cannot participate meaningfully in these proceedings maintains a large electronic library with the equivalent of a bibliographic card catalog of blank pages. We cannot find relevant materials in ADAMS because your search tool is broken. Licensing proceedings conducted with this massive impairment to information access are a sham and must cease until the NRC-imposed impairment is remedied. Sincerely, David Lochbaum Director, Nuclear Safety Project
Questions for TMI's renewal
TMI-Alert Inc. sharply disagrees with the results of a recent poll paid for and released by Exelon on the relicensing of Three Mile Island. At issue are the questions that were not asked. The poll also failed to note that a majority of the folks who actually testified before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were against extending the license of TMI-1.
When the community held a nonbinding referendum on May 18, 1982, more than 67 percent of the voters in Cumberland, Dauphin and Lebanon County opposed the restart of Three Mile Island. TMI and the NRC ignored the results.
How many people would support nuclear power if you asked the following fact-based questions:
Utilities Seek $122 Billion in Nuclear Loan Support
Southern Co., PPL Corp. and Duke Energy Corp. are among 17 utilities seeking $122 billion in loan guarantees from a U.S. Energy Department program that makes available $18.5 billion to build nuclear plants. Power companies that want to build 21 reactors submitted applications for the guarantees, the department said in an e- mail today. Spokeswoman Bethany Shively said the department isn't naming the utilities. The industry has complained that the $18.5 billion isn't enough to jumpstart a so-called nuclear renaissance, saying that amount could help support three reactors at the most. The program, mandated under a 2005 law, has been mired in funding disputes and delays. It's intended to offer financing support for clean-energy projects that otherwise might not be built.Bloomberg.com
Millstone Reaches Deal With Environmental Groups
The operator of the Millstone nuclear power plant in Waterford will speed up efforts to curb the plant's effect on Long Island Sound under an agreement reached Monday with two environmental groups. That's good news for winter flounder and other aquatic life: The plant pumps more than 2 billion gallons of water each day out of the Sound to cool its reactors, killing millions of young fish and other creatures before dumping the warmed water back into the Sound. Millstone's owner, Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, has been operating for years with an expired state permit to discharge its used water into the Sound. The process of updating that permit has been snagged by changing regulations and administrative proceedings.Hartford Courant
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Find Sites Undergoing Decommissioning
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Emergency Preparedness & Response News
Monday, September 29, 2008
Pilgrim re-licensing should consider town’s cancer occurrence
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s finding that “Plymouth most exceeded the state’s expectations for all forms of cancer” is very troubling.
Of particular concern is the high number of Leukemia and Multiple Myeloma, given the connection between such diseases and continued exposure to radiation.
Not mentioned is another troubling statistic, continued higher than expected rates of thyroid cancer, also linked to radiation exposure.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Epstein Appeals NRC's Denial of Petition on Emergency Planning
I disagree with the decision to deny this petition for rulemaking. Instead, I believe the review of a license renewal application authorizing, if granted, an additional twenty-years of operation, provides the opportune time at which the agency should reevaluate emergency preparedness issues. Currently, the only time the NRC issues a comprehensive affirmative finding that both onsite and offsite emergency plans are in place around a nuclear power plant, and that they can be implemented, is at the time it grants an initial operating license. Although there are regular assessments of these plans through exercises and reviews, we do not periodically reassess that initial reasonable assurance of adequate protection of the public--even if it was made decades ago--unless and until we find a serious deficiency in a biennial exercise. I believe considering emergency preparedness during the license renewal process would provide an opportunity to improve public confidence in the licensees and in all levels of government.
NRC, Army Corps of Engineers Update Environmental Review Cooperation
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers have revised their interagency agreement regarding environmental reviews for proposed nuclear power plants as well as significant actions at existing plants. The agencies will coordinate early in these reviews to ensure they share all the information necessary for carrying out their respective regulatory duties.
The NRC’s licensing process ensures public health and safety, as well as the environment, are maintained during commercial use of nuclear materials, including nuclear power plants. The NRC takes the lead in meeting the National Environmental Policy Act’s (NEPA) requirements during that process. The Corps protects U.S. waters and wetlands through the provisions of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and the Clean Water Act, and administers permits for such purposes.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Berkshire bails out falling Constellation
There's nothing like a good financial panic to lure Warren Buffett off the sidelines. The billionaire investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway sprang into action Thursday with a $4.7 billion plan to acquire Constellation Energy (CEG, Fortune 500), the Baltimore-based energy wholesaler and utility operator whose shares have plunged this week as the company ran short on cash. Under the deal, Constellation - which runs the Baltimore Gas & Electric utility and operates 83 electric generators around the country - will be folded into Berkshire's MidAmerican Energy unit.CNN Money
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Too cheap to meter
Monday, September 15, 2008
Alexander sponsors bill to help sick nuclear workers' families
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., today introduced legislation that he said would help the families of sick nuclear workers in cases where a worker dies before his or her claim for compensation is processed.
"We should not allow an inefficent bureaucracy to run out the clock through a claims process that takes so long that our Cold War heroes are dying before their claims are processed, leaving their families with no compensation," Alexander said in a statement distributed to the news media.
Alexander said the legislative amendment, co-sponsored by seven other senators, would reform the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act. It would address cases where workers or their eligible survivors die during the claims process, which can take years, and leave other family members without a right to collect compensation.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
NRC Permanently Bars Contractor From Many Activities, Restricts Other NRC-Licensed Functions
NRC officials said Joseph S. Shepherd, a contractor for Source Production and Equipment Company (SPEC), which supplies industrial gamma radiography equipment, repeatedly and deliberately provided inaccurate information regarding modifications to, and inspections of, a shipping container for radioactive material. Specifically, Shepherd told the NRC in 2005 that he had authorized modifications to the container, invalidating its status as an NRC-approved package. Shepherd repeatedly told both SPEC and the NRC the container had been properly inspected, but NRC investigators determined the inspections were incomplete or not performed by a qualified inspector.U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
TMI Relicensing: Letter to NRC (Piccola/DePasquale)
UCS comments on NRC security information openness and transparency
After 9/11, the NRC not only re-drew the line but also re-crafted its rules of engagement with the American public on security policy making. Essentially, the NRC’s post 9/11 rules of engagement preclude the public from meaningful input, and severely limit the public’s access to output from the NRC’s security policy decision-making. It is not only possible but essential to responsibly discuss nuclear plant security policy in public. That fact has been demonstrated repeatedly since 9/11 by open Congressional hearings, many broadcast far and wide by C-SPAN. UCS’s experts have testified at open, public Congressional hearings as have representatives of other public interest groups. Yet the NRC has resisted repeated attempted by UCS to engage the agency in responsible, productive dialogues like those conducted with the Congress. Like Congress has done, the NRC must engage public stakeholders about nuclear plant security policy issues in enough detail so that the public can make informed judgments on the adequacy of NRC’s post-9/11 security measures. We are convinced that this can be achieved without disclosing information that would aid terrorists in carrying out attacks against nuclear facilities.Letter from Union of Concerned Scientists to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (pdf)
NRC broke rules in plant inquiry, report says
When a whistle-blower told the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2007 that guards at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station were sleeping on the job, the agency told the plant's owner to investigate even though the accusation involved company managers.
Having the plant's owner, Exelon, and its security provider, Wackenhut Corp., investigate themselves was a mistake, according to a report by the NRC's Office of Inspector General. By asking the companies to handle it themselves, the agency's Region 1 office in King of Prussia violated its own rules, the report states.
Three Mile Island’s Flawed Poll
Thursday, September 4, 2008
VPIRG challenges Vt. Yankee ads
Advertisements in print and on the air tout Vermont Yankee as "safe, clean, reliable." The nuclear power plant is none of those, argues the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, which Tuesday asked state Attorney General William Sorrell to investigate whether the ads amount to false advertising. "Each aspect of this claim is misleading as it is unsubstantiated and conflicts with relevant science and reports," VPIRG Executive Director Paul Burns said in a letter to Sorrell. Vermont Yankee stands by its advertisements, spokesman Rob Williams said. The ads are targeted at Vermont residents in advance of next year's decisions by the Legislature and Public Service Board about whether the plant may continue operating after 2012.The Burlington Free Press
Feds delay decision on license renewal
Federal regulators will delay a decision on renewing Indian Point's operating license an additional four months - until late summer 2010 - to give them more time to evaluate safety and environmental issues at the nuclear plant. "We have said from the beginning that we are committed to a thorough and rigorous review of the Indian Point license renewal application. That has not changed," said Brian Holian, director of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Division of License Renewal. "The fact that we will, when necessary, take additional time to address outstanding issues underscores our determination to give this application our full measure of attention." Advertisement Staffers at the agency want more time to review additional information provided by the plant's owner, Entergy Nuclear; to respond to a record number of contentions opponents filed against the application; and to address generic issues presented by the agency's Office of Inspector General in a recent report on the NRC's license renewal program.The Journal News
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Ohio Nuclear Engineer Convicted of Lying About Cracks in Reactor
At Oak Harbor, Ohio, 21 miles southeast of the city of Toledo, lies the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, where a hole the size of a football was discovered in the head of the nuclear reactor vessel in March 2002. Today, a federal jury in Toledo convicted a former reactor coolant system engineer at the facility of lying to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the safety condition of that reactor vessel head. "Today, after hearing all the facts, a federal jury convicted Andrew Siemaszko for concealing the truth from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission," said Ronald Tenpas, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "The effectiveness of the NRC's regulation and the safe operation of the nation's nuclear power plants depends on honest and forthright information."NBC5.com
Nuke Fight Nears Decisive Moment
The Vermont Legislature will make history in a vote expected as early as January on whether to allow the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to continue operating after 2012. Never before has a state taken such a vote. "This is a tremendous opportunity for us," said Deb Katz of the Citizens Awareness Network, an antinuclear group based in Shelburne Falls. "But it's not going to be easy."
Vermont Yankee is three miles from Massachusetts and a stone's throw from New Hampshire. A serious accident or act of sabotage at the reactor would kill thousands, and leave hundreds of square miles uninhabitable. Like all nuclear power plants, Vermont Yankee contributes to global warming. The cost of storing nuclear waste makes nuclear power more expensive than solar, wind, or any other source of electricity. So people from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont are working with Katz's group and other organizations, telephoning and going door to door in legislative districts throughout Vermont, encouraging voters to contact their state legislators.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Epstein to speak at September AIA event in Philly
Shutdown of reactor threatened
The owners of the Oyster Creek nuclear power station, now in the middle of a contentious relicensing battle, may close the plant if the government requires the installation of cooling towers, a company document shows.
Exelon Corp., Oyster Creek's owner, said the cost of cooling towers could "negatively impact" a decision to keep the oldest commercial nuclear plant running. The statement came last month in an Exelon filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Entergy deal good for shareholders; others wary
Power provider Entergy Corp. is advancing its plans to spin off nuclear plants that generate free-market electricity, a deal that may be a boon for shareholders but a potential burden for taxpayers, according to critics. If approved by regulators, Enexus Energy Corp., to be based in Jackson, Mississippi, will become a separate, publicly traded company in the next several months. Stockholders of New Orleans-based Entergy would receive Enexus shares on a pro-rata basis. The exact number has not been determined. But there is concern over debts of as much as $4.5 billion that the new company would take on, including up to $3.5 billion paid to Entergy for the plants and other assets. There is also the dismantling or mothballing of nuclear reactors at the end of their life spans, hich critics say Enexus may be unable to pay. That could leave taxpayers with billions in cleanup costs should the company become insolvent. The plants range in age from 32 years to 37 years.International Herald Tribune
Monday, August 25, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
TMI info center moves to Chester County
The office that AmerGen Energy will use to give out information about a nuclear emergency at Three Mile Island moves to Chester County next week. The move means local news organizations will have to send reporters to Coatesville, about 65 miles away, if they want face-to-face access to plant experts. AmerGen will close the center in Susquehanna Township off Interstate 81. The location is the same used by AmerGen's parent company, Exelon Corp., to handle emergencies at its Peach Bottom and Limerick plants. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which requires plant owners to maintain information centers outside a 10-mile radius of the plant, did not object to the change. The move also drew support from state and local emergency management agencies. But the watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert opposed the change, saying it will put unnecessary distance between the company and the community and have a chilling effect on news coverage. The Coatesville facility will offer wireless Internet service and access to phone lines and copy/fax machines once the center is activated on Tuesday, AmerGen officials said.The Patriot News
Diablo Canyon Fire
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Comments on Susquehanna Water Resources
Graded Exercises – prepping the students
Meeting: Nuclear Reactor Proposal
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Op-Ed: Taxpayers shouldn't have to underwrite nuclear power
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
More trouble for nukes
Duke Energy has been forced to abort a test of an experimental fuel assembly at its Catawba nuclear power plant in York County, S.C. after noticing unusual physical changes that can damage the fuel and create a safety hazard. The Charlotte, N.C.-based company was testing mixed-oxide or MOX fuel, which combines conventional uranium with plutonium from the nation's atomic weapons stockpiles. Duke is participating in a federal Department of Energy program to dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium from bombs.Facing South
Monday, August 11, 2008
AG suffers setback on Pilgrim nuclear plant
The state attorney general's office suffered a major defeat yesterday in its fight to influence relicensing proceedings for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth.
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission denied a petition submitted nearly two years ago that sought greater consideration of the environmental impact of spent fuel storage facilities in the event of an accident or terrorist attack. Attorney General Martha Coakley had argued the pools where used fuel rods are stored could be drained, leading to a zirconium fire and a significant amount of radioactive material being released into the environment.
But the NRC, in a decision published yesterday in the Federal Register, said the spent-fuel pools "are massive, extremely robust structures designed to safely contain the spent fuel discharged from a nuclear reactor under a variety of normal, off-normal, and hypothetical accident conditions."
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Denial of Petition for Rulemaking
SUMMARY: The NRC is denying two petitions for rulemaking (PRM), one filed by the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Massachusetts AG) and the other filed by the Attorney General for the State of California (California AG), presenting nearly identical issues and requests for rulemaking concerning the environmental impacts of the high-density storage of spent nuclear fuel in large water pools, known as spent fuel pools (SFPs). The Petitioners asserted that “new and significant information” shows that the NRC incorrectly characterized the environmental impacts of high-density spent fuel storage as “insignificant” in its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) generic environmental impact statement (EIS) for the renewal of nuclear power plant licenses. Specifically, the Petitioners asserted that spent fuel stored in high-density SFPs is more vulnerable to a zirconium fire than the NRC concluded in its NEPA analysis.Denial of Petition for Rulemaking (pdf)
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
NRC Meeting Aug. 20 In Monroe, Mich., To Discuss Review Process For Expected New Reactor Application
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will conduct a public meeting in Monroe, Mich., on Wednesday, Aug. 20, to discuss how the agency will review an expected Combined License (COL) application for a new reactor at the Fermi site, about 5 miles northeast of Monroe. The prospective applicant, Detroit Edison, has told the NRC it intends to apply later this year for a license to build and operate an Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) at the site.U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Friday, August 1, 2008
The Politics of Tragedy
When it comes to Vermont Yankee, it can make one’s brain hurt keeping the stories straight from week to week. Last week, we learned that radiation levels around the plant are higher now that VY is pumping out 20 percent more power. But, according to the Vermont Department of Health, “higher direct gamma radiation” measured at the site is still below the state’s limit. Of course, those limits were adjusted downward this year by 60 percent due to changes in how the state calculates radiation dosages. As it turns out, under the old standards, VY would have exceeded state standards by about 50 percent (more in some areas).Seven Days
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Denial of Petition for Rulemaking
SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is denying a petition for rulemaking submitted by Eric Epstein (PRM–54–5). The petition requests that the NRC amend its regulations that govern renewal of operating licenses for nuclear power plants. Specifically, the petitioner requests that the NRC conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. nuclear power plant licensees’ emergency planning during the license renewal proceedings. The NRC is denying the petition because the petition presents issues that the Commission carefully considered when it first adopted the license renewal rule and denied petitions for rulemaking submitted by Andrew J. Spano, County Executive, Westchester County, New York (PRM–54–02), and Mayor Joseph Scarpelli of Brick Township, New Jersey (PRM–54–03). The Commission’s position is that the NRC’s emergency planning system is part of a comprehensive regulatory process that is intended to provide continuing assurance that emergency planning for every nuclear plant is adequate. Thus, the Commission has already extensively considered and addressed the types of issues raised in the petition. Also, the petition fails to present any significant new information or arguments that would warrant the requested amendment.Federal Register (pdf)
A Phila. law firm gone nuclear
Philadelphia-based Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, L.L.P., one of the nation's largest and most influential law firms, has become a major player in the resurgent movement to build the next generation of nuclear reactors.Philly.com
After a decades-long hiatus, surging interest among utilities in construction of commercial nuclear power plants has produced a windfall of work for Morgan, which has quietly built the nation's largest practice dealing with nuclear reactors.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it expects to receive applications for 34 new reactors through 2010, and Morgan lawyers are representing some two-thirds of the utility companies involved in those projects.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Receipt of Petition for Rulemaking
SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has received and requests public comment on a petition for rulemaking filed by Mr. Eric Joseph Epstein. The petition, docketed on January 3, 2000, has been assigned Docket No. PRM-50-70. The petitioner requests that NRC amend its financial assurance requirements for decommissioning nuclear power reactors to: (1) Require uniform reporting and recordkeeping for all ``proportional owners'' of nuclear generating stations (defined by the petitioner as partial owners of nuclear generating stations who are not licensees); (2) modify and strengthen current nuclear decommissioning accounting requirements for proportional owners; and (3) require proportional owners to conduct a prudency review to determine a balanced formula for decommissioning funding that includes not only ratepayers and taxpayers but shareholders and board members of rural electric cooperatives as well. The petitioner believes that the proposed amendments would eliminate the funding gap for decommissioning between nuclear power licensees and proportional owners of nuclear generating stations.Federal Register Environmental Documents
Concern over French nuclear leaks
A French nuclear monitoring body has expressed concern at the number of leaks from French nuclear power stations in recent weeks. The director of Criirad, an independent body, said the organisation was worried by the numbers of people contaminated by four separate incidents. In the most recent leaks, about 100 staff at Tricastin, in southern France, were exposed to low doses of radiation. It came two weeks after a leak forced the temporary closure of a reactor. There has also been a 10-fold increase in the number of incidents reported by people working in the French nuclear power industry, Criirad director Corinne Castanier said.BBC News
Friday, July 25, 2008
ASLB judges wrap up Vt. Yankee hearings
Judges from the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board renewed their questioning of staff from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy Nuclear Thursday on just how effective its computer model was in determining the effects of aging in the plant's piping. The three judges also had sharp words for the NRC staff about who was really in charge of its re-licensing review, at one point uttering the infamous words, "Where is the beef?" Alex Karlin, chairman of the three-judge panel, even compared the NRC's review process to a matruska doll, a set of nested Russian toys, where you open one doll, and find inside a successively smaller and smaller but identical doll, only to find nothing at the center.Rutland Herald