Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Carnegie Mellon Students Evaluate Ways To Empower Communities To Manage Local Nuclear Plant Risks

To address the great differences in information availability from plant to plant, the team recommends that the nuclear industry develop voluntary standards for the online presentation of safety information relevant to communities around nuclear power plants. Others in the project reviewed petitions and public comments that citizens had filed since 2000 with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the governing body of the nuclear power industry. They found that many of the concerns that citizens express about local nuclear facilities go unaddressed because they are judged to lie outside the agency's purview or to contain insufficient evidence for action. "I think we were all surprised by the limited response from government officials to certain kinds of concerns from people living near nuclear sites," said Rusty Sewell, a senior majoring in social and decision sciences. The report recommends that the agency consider assigning staff to help citizens frame their formal comments in ways that are more likely to result in their voices being heard.
Carnegie Mellon

Monday, April 27, 2009

Small hole not the first found at Shippingport’s nuclear power plant

The affected area was last inspected in 2007 during another maintenance outage, Schneider said, and no problems were found then, so the corrosion occurred within the last couple of years. Sheehan said that in 2006, inspectors found a small area of corrosion that was repaired. Then, Sheehan said, it was ruled that moisture trapped between the concrete and the liner caused the corrosion. Schneider said Saturday that in the 2006 discovery, the corrosion didn’t eat all the way through the barrier. “We’re always interested in trends,” Sheehan said of Thursday’s discovery. “If this says something about any systemic corrosion, we would want to know about that.” The corroded steel will be removed, Schneider said, and another piece of steel will be welded into place. The removed steel will be examined to try to determine what caused the damage. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Friday that a coolant leak in the lid of FirstEnergy’s Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Toledo was undiscovered for several years. That allowed corrosion, which was accelerated by boric acid, to eat through a 6-inch-thick carbon steel lid. The acidic vapors also caused corrosion problems in gear and paint throughout the containment building at Davis-Besse. Schneider said that the Shippingport corrosion was not caused by boric acid, which is added to reactor coolant. Schneider would not say how long the reactor will remain offline for its scheduled maintenance, but said Thursday’s discovery won’t delay the reactor restart; the repair to the steel will proceed during the refueling and maintenance work.
Beaver County Times

NRC report on Beaver Valley

NDT REVEALS CIRCUMFERENTIAL INDICATIONS ON RCS HOT LEG DRAIN PIPING "On April 26, 2009 at approximately 1000 hours during the Beaver Valley Power Station Unit No. 1 (BVPS-1) refueling outage, ultrasonic (UT) examinations were performed on pipe base material per the Materials Reliability Project (MRP) MRP-146 recommendations. The MRP recommendations were to address industry operating experience for similar indications identified by other utilities. Two circumferential UT indications approximately 3/8 inches in length were recorded in the base material adjacent to a socket weld on the horizontal portion of line BV-1 RC-41 which is a two (2) inch drain line that connects to the 'A' Reactor Coolant System (RCS) Hot Leg. The function of this piping is to drain the applicable loop during maintenance periods. The indications are not through wall and there was no evidence of leakage. Similar 2 inch drain lines on the other loops have been inspected satisfactorily. "The plant is currently shutdown and in Mode 6. The affected RCS loop is not required to be Operable and is currently isolated and drained. Repairs are currently being planned and will be completed prior to startup. "This is reportable pursuant to 10 CFR 50.72(b)(3)(ii)(A). "The NRC Resident Inspector has been notified

Corrosion found in Pa nuclear plant - Shippingport

An inspection Thursday revealed corrosion in the steel lining of the nuclear reactor containment building of Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station’s Unit 1, according to FirstEnergy Corp. No radiation was released from the building, and there was “no impact to the public health or safety of any employees,” FirstEnergy spokesman Todd Schneider said Friday evening. The Unit 1 reactor had been shut down since Monday for scheduled refueling and maintenance. As part of that work, Schneider said, the containment building that surrounds the reactor underwent a standard inspection. The containment building has concrete walls that are 4 feet thick, Schneider said, and there’s a 3/8-inch-thick steel lining on top of that concrete in the building’s interior. The steel is coated with what Schneider described as “nuclear-grade paint.” An inspection showed a blister in some of that coating. The blister wasn’t cracked, Schneider said. Once the coating was cleaned, Schneider added, workers found that the steel underneath it had corroded through to the concrete wall. The affected area of the steel is in the shape of a rectangle, Schneider said, about one inch long by about 3/8-inch high. That’s just under the size of a standard paper clip. Schneider said the concrete beneath the steel lining was not cracked or damaged by the steel corrosion, so there was no danger of a radiation leak. As required by federal regulations, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was notified about the blister, Schneider said, though the discovery was not considered an emergency.
Beaver County Times

ENERGY POLICY: No need to build new U.S. coal or nuclear plants -- FERC chairman

No new nuclear or coal plants may ever be needed in the United States, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said today.

"We may not need any, ever," Jon Wellinghoff told reporters at a U.S. Energy Association forum.

The FERC chairman's comments go beyond those of other Obama administration officials, who have strongly endorsed greater efficiency and renewables deployment but also say nuclear and fossil energies will continue playing a major role.

Wellinghoff's view also goes beyond the consensus outlook in the electric power industry about future sources of electricity. The industry has assumed that more baseload generation would provide part of an increasing demand for power, along with a rapid deployment of renewable generation, smart grid technologies and demand reduction strategies.

E&E Publishing

Thirty Years Later

Oil is oppressively visible. Radiation is not. Likewise, the damage done at Three Mile Island has been almost invisible compared to the Exxon Valdez. And for that, it is all the more sinister, particularly since nuclear energy is now being touted as a “clean” source of energy to counter global warming—a perspective that ignores the plethora of other environmental costs and dangers it carries with it. “We should avoid mitigating one global harm by aggravating another,” warned Geoffrey Fettus, Senior Project Attorney with the NRDC, who went on to stress the full life-cycle economic and environmental costs of nuclear power, from mining the ore to requiring vast quantities of water to disposing the waste—a little detail that has yet to be worked out as the industry enters its second half-century—not to mention the problem of radioactive materials falling into terrorist hands. Still, the illusion of operational safety plays a crucial role in the nuclear industry’s hoped-for comeback. “As the nuclear industry grows with new plants, it wants and needs citizens to believe that no one was ever injured at TMI, and then perpetuate that belief so that no one will ever be injured from the ‘peaceful atom,’” former nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen told Random Lengths.
Random Length News

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Entergy vows to sue over cleanup fund

No way, we won't pay.

In fact, if you try to force us through legislation, said a top executive from Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee, we will file a lawsuit.

The Vermont Legislature has been debating a bill that would require Entergy to fully fund Yankee's decommissioning trust prior to receive approval from the state for continued operation past 2012.

"I don't want it to sound like a threat because it's not a threat, but Vermont Yankee does not make the kind of revenue that would allow this kind of payment," Jay Thayer, Yankee's site vice president, told members of the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday.

The decommissioning bill, which was recently approved by Vermont's House of Representatives, requires that Entergy pay $229 million into the cleanup fund between now and 2012.

Yankee is scheduled to shut down in 2012, but Entergy has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend its license to 2032.

Brattleboro Reformer

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Power plants must be pushed on fish kills

Now that the nation's highest court has opened the way for aging power plants to avoid going to any great lengths to protect fish, Congress and the new president must have a clear say in the matter. In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court says the government can, indeed, weigh costs against benefits in deciding whether to order power plants to undertake expensive upgrades that would halt the devastating effects of their water-cooling systems. ... "Closed cycle'' cooling is the industry standard when new power plants are built nowadays. Environmental groups have understandably argued that if older plants are going to operate well into the future (indeed, in some cases well beyond their original intent) regulators should demand upgrades that use the best technology available as well.
Poughkeepsie Journal

Three Mile Island Unit 1 Biennial Exercise Set for April 14

Contact:Ralph DeSantis FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Three Mile Island Communications 717-948-8930 Three Mile Island Unit 1 Biennial Exercise Set for April 14 LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (April 10, 2009) - Three Mile Island Unit 1’s biennial exercise to evaluate the station’s emergency plan will be held Tuesday, April 14. Municipalities and counties within the 10-mile radius of TMI-1 will participate, staffing their emergency response centers. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Environmental Protection are also participating in the exercise. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will evaluate the exercise. Although TMI-1 performs a number of drills each year, the NRC grades TMI-1’s emergency readiness every two years. The Federal Emergency Management Agency evaluates the performance of state, county and municipal emergency organizations during the biennial exercise. The emergency exercises are conducted to test the ability of plant personnel and offsite emergency organizations to respond to a plant emergency. Residents near Three Mile Island may see non-typical activities and hear plant page announcements. The offsite emergency sirens will not be used. The exercise will begin in the afternoon and conclude in the evening. Media representatives are invited to participate in the biennial exercise at the Joint Information Center, located at 175 N. Caln Rd., Coatesville, Pa. 19320. If you are interested in participating, please contact TMI Communications at 717-948-8930. ### Exelon Corporation is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities with approximately $19 billion in annual revenues. The company has one of the industry’s largest portfolios of electricity generation capacity, with a nationwide reach and strong positions in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. Exelon distributes electricity to approximately 5.4 million customers in northern Illinois and southeastern Pennsylvania and natural gas to approximately 485,000 customers in the Philadelphia area. Exelon is headquartered in Chicago and trades on the NYSE under the ticker EXC.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Behind the scenes of Three Mile Island

Shortly after I arrived at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)'s headquarters in Washington, D.C., at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 28, 1979, I got a call from the commission's emergency center in Bethesda, Maryland. The number two reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania had declared a general emergency. There weren't supposed to be serious accidents at nuclear power plants and having to deal with one led to some, let us say, out-of-the-ordinary, and even absurd, behavior...
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Monday, April 6, 2009

US Supreme Court rules on Indian Point cost-benefit analysis

Entergy Northeast, the company that owns and operates the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, may consider cost-benefit analysis with reviewing technology at the plant.

The issue at hand was environmentalist organizations’ call for the plant to convert to a closed-cycle cooling system, which they maintain would draw far fewer fish into the system and reduce the fish kill by over 95 percent.

The Riverkeeper group fought for the closed cooling system. Hudson Riverkeeper and organization President Alex Matthiessen said they are pleased that the court “agreed that EPA is not required to use cost-benefit analysis and left it up to EPA on remand to decide to what extent, if any, cost benefit analysis should be used in regulating cooling water intake structures.”

Mid-Hudson News (emphasis added)

Cost of closing Yankee climbs

The cost of decommissioning the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has gone up $25 million in the past year, at the same time its savings account to cover the costs of dismantlement and cleanup has declined about $93 million. But according to a filing with the NRC this week, Entergy Nuclear has no plans of making any new contributions to the decommissioning trust fund, sidestepping the issue of the recent declines in the trust fund because of the economic crisis. Entergy told the NRC that it now expected decommissioning to cost $909 million, up from $875 million, according to its 2008 report. The plant's decommissioning fund has declined from $430 million to $347 million in the past 11 months, a 20 percent decline.
Rutland Herald