Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Meeting on TMI License Renewal

The meeting notice for the forthcoming public information sessions for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff to discuss the license renewal process for the Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1, license renewal application review is on the NRC web site. The meeting is scheduled for March 4th.

Another pipe leaks tritium at Braidwood

Engineers are continuing their check into the reason for a new tritiated water leak at Braidwood Generating Station. Station spokesman Paul Dempsey said today a leak was discovered last Wednesday by a worker at the station. The flow was stopped at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. The incident occurred in a metal transfer pipe leading from the condensation storage tank to an auxiliary boiler on the non-nuclear side of the station. About 878 picocuries of tritium per liter wwere present in the water in the pipe. The amount is well below the federal maximum of 20,000 picocuries per liter, and 478 picocuries above the California level of 400 picocuries per liter.

PA homeland security spending lacked focus, oversight

Pennsylvania has done a poor job overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal homeland security grants, making it hard to evaluate if the spending has improved the state's disaster-response capabilities, three reports found. The reports said record-keeping has been so inadequate that state emergency officials, who must approve local requests for the money, cannot say whether equipment that has been purchased is still in use or where it is.

Nuclear Costs Explode

Progress Energy Florida is going to have to spend more than originally planned to build two nuclear reactors in Levy County, the utility's top executive said.

The St. Petersburg-based utility won't disclose how much more expensive the project will be until it's presented to state regulators within 90 days. Based on new industry estimates, the revised cost could be two to three times more expensive than the projection Progress issued more than a year ago.

That's because the cost of concrete, steel, copper, labor and reactor technology has soared as energy companies move forward with plans to build more than 30 new reactors nationwide. Also, Progress Energy's initial estimate excluded the cost of land, inflation, interest payments and new transmission lines.


Wackenhut Chief Exits as Reactor Guards Caught Asleep

Wackenhut Corp. Chief Executive Officer Gary Sanders left a month after the security company lost contracts from Exelon Corp. because guards fell asleep on the job at a nuclear power plant.

Sanders, 55, will be replaced by G4S Plc Chief Operating Officer Grahame Gibson, Wackenhut said in a statement today. Gibson will continue to serve as operating chief and a board member of UK-based G4S, parent company of Wackenhut.

Exelon, owner of the largest fleet of U.S. commercial reactors, said last month it was terminating all nuclear-plant security contracts with Wackenhut after guards at its Peach Bottom reactor in Pennsylvania were videotaped asleep while on duty. The videotapes were made public in September.

``They had so many other problems,'' David Lochbaum, director of the nuclear safety project for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said about Wackenhut. ``It's no single disaster that caused this resignation, it's the potpourri of disasters.''


Video of guards asleep at Peach Bottom could force NRC overhaul

Videotapes of sleeping guards shot by a freshly hired security worker at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in York County are sending ever-widening shock waves through the commercial nuclear community.

The tapes, which cost Lancaster County resident Kerry Beal his job, have focused national attention on the state of security at the nation's 64 nuclear power plant sites.

Since the tapes were made public last year, Exelon Corp., the nation's largest nuclear energy company with 10 plants, including Peach Bottom, Three Mile Island and Limerick in Pennsylvania, announced it would end its contracts with Wackenhut Corp., which employed the guards.


Petition asks that kids be moved farther from nuclear plan

If another nuclear emergency were declared at Three Mile Island, some parents might be swimming against the stream as they drive to pick up their kids from schools.

In such an emergency, some schoolchildren would be sent to pickup centers on the fringe of evacuation zones, raising concerns that parents trying to pick up their kids would slow traffic fleeing the danger.

The watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert petitioned the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to require pickup centers instead be at least five to 10 miles beyond the evacuation zones.


Three Mile Island Had Lasting Consequences

August 7, 2007 Fortune Magazine Dear Editor: I was deeply disappointed in David Whitford’s causal dismissal of the impact the Three Mile Island (“TMI”) accident had on our community, i.e. Rethinking Three Mile Island. Without supplying any hard data, Mr. Whitford regurgitates the mantra of the nuclear renaissance: "But guess what? No one died at Three Mile Island. No one even got hurt. Hard evidence simply does not exist that any living thing, animal or vegetable, was significantly harmed by the small amount of radiation released during the accident. Even in the most extreme cases, the exposure was less than anyone living in the area receives from natural sources.” Perhaps Mr. Whitford was referring to the University of Pittsburgh (1) health study which was essentially a recitation of discredited protocol and disputed data. Rereleased on October 31, 2002, the study actually acknowledged an increase in lymphatic and blood cancers among men. Also, as in previous health studies relating to TMI, this survey relied on government and nuclear industry sponsored “health studies” which were completed in the early 1980s. These studies were based on inaccurate dose projections, did not factor data regarding the severity and conditions of the core meltdown (2), and ignored prevailing weather conditions and wind patterns in March-April, 1979. None of these “studies” evaluate the health impact to members of our community who defueled Three Mile Island. In fact, TMI’s owners choose not to maintain a health or cancer registry despite the fact, that from 1979-1989, 5,000 cleanup workers received 'measurable doses' of radiation exposure. (3) Moreover, the University of Pittsburgh’s Study relied heavily on the much maligned Pennsylvania Department of Health’s 22-year-old survey released in September, 1985. That Study’s protocol was ridiculed and criticized by epidemiologists at Harvard and Penn State for “diluting” increases in cancer by “expanding” the population base to include people living outside of the ten-mile study-zone. (October; 1985.) (4) A great deal of radiation was released by the core melt at TMI. The President's Commission estimated about 15 million curies of radiation were released into the atmosphere. A review of dose assessments, conducted by Dr. Jan Beyea, (National Audubon Society; 1984) (5) estimated that from 276 to 63,000 person-rem were delivered to the general population within 50 miles of TMI. More recently, David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists, estimated between 40 million curies and 100 million curies escaped during the accident. The plant's owners, codefendants and insurers have paid over $84 million in health, economic and evacuation claims, including a $1.1 million settlement for a baby born with Down's Syndrome. (6) In June 2000, the United States Supreme Court remanded 1,990 unsettled health suits from the TMI-accident back to Federal Court. (GPU v. Abrams; Dolan v. GPU.) (7) In August 1996, a study by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill authored by Dr. Steven Wing reported that "...there were reports of erythema, hair loss, vomiting, and pet death near TMI at the time of the accident...Accident doses were positively associated with cancer incidence. Associations were largest for leukemia, intermediate for lung cancer, and smallest for all cancers combined...Inhaled radionuclide contamination could differentially impact lung cancers, which show a clear dose-related increase." (8) Today, TMI-2 remains a high-level radioactive waste in the middle of the Susquehanna River. There was no decommissioning fund established for TMI at the time of the accident. (9) The site of the nation’s worst commercial nuclear accident has not been decontaminated nor decommissioned. There has not been a human entry in the basement of the reactor building since March, 1979. TMI is an accident without an ending. Next time you drive through our community, stop for a while, and read the fine print on the nuclear label. Sincerely, Eric Joseph Epstein 4100 Hillsdale Road Harrisburg, PA 17112 (717)-541-1101 Phone Mr. Epstein is the Chairman of Three Mile Island Alert , Inc.,, a safe-energy organization based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and founded in 1977. TMIA monitors Peach Bottom, Susquehanna, and Three Mile Island nuclear generating stations.

NRC Asked to Review Emergency Planning

September 12, 2007 Contact:Eric Epstein (717)-541-1101 NRC Asked to Review Emergency Planning Prior to Relicensing Suspension of Licensing Proceedings Sought (Harrisburg, Pa.) Eric Epstein, Chairman of Three Mile Island Alert, Inc., filed a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) asking for a new rule requiring a comprehensive review of emergency planning during the relicensing process. License renewals extend the operating life of a nuclear plant for an additional 2o years. The purpose of this rule is to have the NRC make an “affirmative finding” that “a reasonable assurance of adequate protection of the population” can be provided by emergency plans certified over 20 years ago. Eric Epstein Chairman of TMI-Alert said, “The world has changed in the last 2o years, and emergency plans around aging nuclear plants require rigorous site-specific reexaminations. The NRC reviews aging components of nuclear power plants, but it does not recertify the plant's initial emergency plans.” Epstein added, “The current process is insanity! How many people would ride in an car or get on an elevator with compliance certificates that are 20 years out of date?” Epstein stated, “Current and pending relicensing proceedings should be suspended until the NRC can validate and reestablish current emergency plans, and provide a ‘reasonable assurance of adequate protection.’” Three Mile Island Alert , Inc.,, a safe-energy organization based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and founded in 1977. TMIA monitors Peach Bottom, Susquehanna, and Three Mile Island nuclear generating stations. Petition For Rulemaking by Eric Epstein Stronger Support for State and Local Governments by The Honorable Gregory B. Jaczko, Commissioner U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Plant safety divides Oyster Creek critics from proponents

Who would not applaud the benign-sounding goal of the NJ Affordable, Clean, Reliable Energy Coalition (NJACRE), a new lobbying organization. NJACRE's mission, according to its senior adviser, Richard S. Mroz, is "to educate and raise the public awareness about the critical energy and environmental challenges facing our state." ("Nuclear energy power of future," letter, Jan. 7.)

NJACRE's first emphasis, according to its Web site, is to support the relicensing of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lacey. Not surprising since NJACRE's start-up funding is from Exelon, the owner of the Oyster Creek plant.