Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Jersey withdraws National Guard, State Police from nuclear plants

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.

Press of Atlantic City Media Group

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 Offices

Request for Information: Fire Protection of Safe Shutdown Capability

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 - Request For Additional Information Regarding Proposed Exemption From 10 Cfr 50, Appendix R, Section Iii.G, Fire Protection Of Safe Shutdown Capability (Tac No. Md8081) Download PDF

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.

Las Vegas Review-Journal

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.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

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

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will not require entrance guards at the nation’s nuclear power plants. This report details how the Nuclear Regulatory Commission bungled an effort to create a new rule to require entrance guards. TMIA Report (pdf)

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.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

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.

The York Dispatch

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.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

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.

Order Directing Publication of Notice of Public Input Hearing

On August 28, 2008, PPL Electric Utilities Corporation (PPL Electric) filed a petition (Petition) with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (Commission) seeking approval of a default service program and procurement plan (DSP) for the period January 1, 20011 through May 31, 2014. The purpose of the plan is to establish the terms and conditions under which PPL Electric will acquire and supply default service, including competitive procurement of Provider of Last Resort (POLR) supply and related alternative energy credits; rate design; an explanation of Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) compliance and consistency; and a contingency plan. The Petition and attachments were served on a lengthy list of entities and utility counsel. Download document (PDF)

Mothers for Peace to appeal NRC failure to fully address terrorism issues in Federal Court

The San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (MFP) will file a petition with the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals challenging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ruling of October 23, 2008. That ruling was the outcome of a hearing held before the Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners on July 1, 2008. The ruling is accessible at MFP believes that the NRC's October 23, 2008 decision, refusing to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement regarding the environmental impacts of an attack on the proposed Diablo Canyon spent fuel storage facility, violates the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The NRC violated NEPA by failing to address the impacts of credible attacks on the facility, or to adequately explain the basis for its refusal to do so. Therefore MFP will ask the U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse the NRC's decision and order the NRC to prepare an EIS that fully considers the environmental impacts of an attack on the facility, and evaluates the cost-effectiveness of design changes that would provide greater protection to human health and the environment from an attack, such as berming the facility and using more robust casks. MFP expects to file a petition with the Court in the coming week. BACKGROUND The precedent-setting case began in 2002, when the NRC refused to evaluate the environmental impacts of an attack on the proposed dry cask facility before issuing a permit to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) to store spent fuel on the site. In 2006, the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ordered the NRC to do such a study in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In response, the NRC Staff produced an extremely abbreviated environmental study, devoting just a few pages to its conclusion that the impacts of an attack would be insignificant. MFP's expert witness, Dr. Gordon Thompson of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies, contended that the agency's technical analysts erred by assuming a cask could be punctured without also recognizing that its contents could be ignited, allowing a large quantity of radioactive cesium and other contaminants to become airborne and transported over a broad geographic area. The resulting damage to public health and the environment would cost billions of dollars. MFP, an all-volunteer non-profit group, has challenged NRC regulatory practices as applied to Diablo Canyon since 1973, and has litigated issues related to sabotage and terrorism since 1976. Further background is available at

TMI Licensing information

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1-Supplemental Information Needed for Acceptance of Requested Licensing Action Re: License Amendment Request to Adopt Technical Specification Task Force Traveler, TSTF-490-A, Revision 0, Deletion of E Bar Definition and Revision to Reactor Coolant System Specific Activity Technical Specification (TAC No. ME0100) Download pdf

DEP eNews Report

DEP Fines Chambersburg Nuclear Gauge Company HARRISBURG (Dec. 5) – The Department of Environmental Protection this week fined Professional Inspection and Testing Services Inc. of Chambersburg $6,250 for violating the Radiation Protection Act. Full Story Environmental Policing Nets Gains for Pennsylvania Worth $1.4 Billion PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 5) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded enforcement cases in fiscal year 2008 that will produce more than $1.4 billion in pollution controls and environmental cleanup protecting Pennsylvania's air, water, and land. The cases include more than $3 million in penalties that polluters will have to pay for violating federal environmental laws. Full Story DEP’s Mine Reclamation Efforts Featured on Environmental TV Program WILKES-BARRE (Dec. 5) – Two projects underway by DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation will be featured on WNEP TV's “Power to Save” series airing in mid-December. The year-long educational campaign is designed to raise awareness of the environment, conservation, saving energy and money. Full Story In Today's Headlines: PUC approvals help electricity customers -- The state Public Utility Commission approved changes on Thursday for local energy utilities that will ease the burden on some local ratepayers, raise rates for others and give still others some control over the rates they pay. Full Story Drilling firm gets water-use approval -- A natural-gas drilling company’s request to consume millions of gallons of river water in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties was denied Thursday. Full Story Erie Art Museum gets money for green study (Erie Times News) -- The Erie Art Museum has received a $50,000 grant for the planning and design of its $9 million expansion project. The money will help pay for the project's green design requirements. Full Story

Monday, December 1, 2008

Letter/Op-Ed: Zebra Mussel

Dear Editor: We would like to thank the Patriot News for shedding light on a menacing predator that has slipped under the media microscope - the invasion of the zebra mussel. (Stripped Invader, November 30, 2008) Zebra mussels pose a serious ecological and economic threat to power plants on the Susquehanna River, and can invade nuclear generating stations causing biological fouling and impaired plant operations. Three Mile Island Alert (“TMIA) has raised concerns about the potential aquatic and financial damages associated with invasive aquatic species dating back to February 1986 when one celled organisms - believed to be fungus, bacteria and algae-like creatures - were discovered at TMI-2. These creatures obscured the view of the reactor core, and impeded the defueling of the damaged reactor. The latest wave of thermal invasions are not surprise attacks. “In 2002, the first report of zebra mussel populations in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed were reported from Eaton Reservoir in the headwaters of the Chenango River, a major tributary to the Susquehanna River in New York.... reports were received that both zebra mussel adults and juveniles, called veligers, have made their way down to the Susquehanna main stem headwaters” (Pa DEP, Update, July 16, 2004) DEP confirmed that zebra mussel adults and juveniles were found in Goodyear Lake in June 2004. This was first major accumulation of the mini mollusk on the Susquehanna River’s main stem below Canadarago Lake in New York. On June 19, 2007, zebra mussels were discovered in Cowanesque Lake, Tioga County. This marked the first time zebra mussels had been discovered in a Pennsylvania waterway in the Susquehanna River watershed. On August 18, 2008 TMIA submitted “Comments on the Susquehanna River Basin commission’s (“SRBC”) Draft Comprehensive Plan for the Water Resources of the Susquehanna River Basin.” We believe that the SRBC (an interstate compact) is not restricted by the artificial limitations and narrow scope the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has imposed on itself. TMIA recommended that the SRBC compel nuclear generating stations to physically inspect the intake pipes at nuclear generating stations. We also believe that licensees should submit a plan for the SRBC’s approval detailing how nuclear plants will defeat health, safety and structural challenges that arise from water fouling, micro biologically influenced corrosion, biofilm disease causing bacteria such as Legionella and listeria, and the eastward migration of Asiatic clams, zebra mussels and the anticipated arrival of quagga mussels. We encourage the Patriot News to continue to track this invasion which could ultimately impact municipal water and sewage capacity. Sincerely, Eric J. Epstein Chairman, TMI-Alert, Inc. Harrisburg, PA (717)-541-1101 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.

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.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette