Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hiring freeze won’t affect VY security

Even though Entergy Corp. has enacted a company-wide hiring freeze, that freeze doesn’t affect "business critical positions" at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, according to an Entergy spokesman in New Orleans.

"Entergy Nuclear is hiring where it deems it necessary to ensure its fleet remains safe and reliable and productive," said Rob Williams, spokesman for Vermont Yankee.

Brattleboro Reformer

NRC's new regulations allow plants like Oyster Creek to beef up security

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the rules will address requirements for firearms background checks, weapons training, periodic weapons inventories and weapons safety assessments.

Plant operators now need approval from the NRC and ATF (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) to obtain and use these enhanced weapons. "These weapons will provide an important new capability in protecting nuclear facilities and radioactive materials against terrorists," Sheehan said.

The issue of more firepower for nuclear plant guards was championed after Sept. 11, 2001, by 9th District legislators.

The regulations cover machine guns, short-barreled shotguns and short-barreled rifles. The guidelines were approved by the U.S. Attorney General.

Previously, with limited exceptions, only federal, state or local law enforcement officers could lawfully possess machine guns.

Peach Bottom -- Request for Withholding Information from Public Disclosure

Subsequently, the NRC staff determined that the information in Appendix A of the Northeast Technology Corporation report designated NET-264-02, Rev. 1, does not meet the criteria of 10 CFR 2.390(b)(4)(iv) in that this information has been previously submitted to the NRC as publically available and is presently publically available under ADAMS Accession No. ML081050374. The NRC staff notified Exelon that the document would no longer be withheld from public disclosure and would be placed in ADAMS as publically available. Accordingly, this document is now publically available in ADAMS under Accession No. ML091740446.
Download PDF

Peach Bottom -- Request for Withholding Information from Public Disclosure

The following documents are being withheld from public disclosure:
"Criticality Analysis of the Peach Bottom Spent Fuel Racks for GNF-2 Fuel with Boraflex Panel Degradation Projected to May 2010," designated as NET-264-02, Rev. 3. "Characterization of Boraflex Panel Degradation in the Peach Bottom Unit 2 Spent Fuel Pool Projected to May 2010," designated as NET-264-03, Rev. 1. "Response for Request for Additional Information -Revision to Technical Specification Concerning k-infinity, Revision 1," designated as Attachment 5 to Exelon letter dated June 12, 2009, (ADAMS Accession No. ML091740446).
Download PDF

NRC Schedules Meeting in Newton, MA, on Proposed Changes to Nuclear Plant License Renewal Environmental Regulations

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will conduct a public meeting on Thursday, Sept. 17 in Newton, Mass., to hear comments on proposed changes to environmental regulations related to nuclear power plant license renewal.

The meeting, which will take place at the Boston Marriott Newton, at 2345 Commonwealth Ave. in Newton, is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. It will be preceded by an open house scheduled for 5 p.m. at the same location. At the open house, NRC staff will be available to answer questions. During the formal meeting, members of the public will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed revisions.

The proposed changes are contained in the Summary of Findings on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Issues for License Renewal of Nuclear Power Plants and the draft revision of Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) for License Renewal of Nuclear Plants, NUREG-1437. The NRC is also publishing for comment a revised Regulatory Guide 4.2, Supplement 1, Preparation of Environmental Reports for License Renewal Applications, and NUREG-1555, Supplement 1, Standard Review Plans for Environmental Reviews for Nuclear Power Plants.

The proposed rule revisions redefine the number and scope of environmental impact issues that must be addressed in a nuclear power plant license renewal review. The Commission has stated it intends to review the rule every 10 years and update it as necessary.

The GEIS assesses the overall scope and impact of environmental effects associated with license renewal at any nuclear power plant. Plant-specific supplements to the GEIS are prepared for each individual license renewal review. Those who wish to speak during the meetings are encouraged to pre-register and anyone with questions or special needs should contact Jeffrey Rikhoff, Bo Pham or Jason Lising at 1-800-368-5642, extensions 1090, 8450 or 3220 respectively, or by e-mail at Meeting transcripts will be posted to NRC’s Web site at

Comments on the proposed rule, draft revised GEIS and associated documents may be submitted over the federal e-Rulemaking Portal at (Docket I.D. NRC-2008-0608); by e-mail to; by mail to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff; or by fax to 301-492-3466. Written comments on the draft revised GEIS should be sent to: Chief, Rulemaking, Directives and Editing Branch, Division of Administrative Services, Office of Administration, Mailstop TWB-05-B01M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001. The deadline for comments is Oct. 14.

The draft revised GEIS is publicly available at the NRC Public Document Room (PDR), located at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md. 20852, or from the NRC’s Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) at The number for the draft revised GEIS is ML090220654; the draft Regulatory Guide 4.2 Supplement 1, Rev. 1 is ML091620409 and the Draft NUREG-1555, Supplement 1, Rev. 1 is ML090230497.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

False Alarms At TMI Investigated

Dauphin County officials said that there is an investigation into what caused a false alarm at Three Mile Island. The sirens at TMI sounded twice in Hummelstown Sunday morning. The siren company is looking into it.

Event Notification Report for September 15, 2009

MANUAL REACTOR SCRAM DUE TO SHORT PERIOD DURING PLANT SHUTDOWN "During the scheduled shutdown to commence the Peach Bottom Unit 3 refueling outage, Unit 3 was manually shutdown using the mode switch in accordance with GP-3, 'Normal Plant Shutdown,' when reactor period lowered below 50 seconds as indicated on the WRNM [Wide Range Nuclear Monitoring] system. The Feedwater Startup Level Controller was in automatic set at 23" when a small addition of cold water added enough positive reactivity to cause reactor period to be less than 50 seconds. The shortest period observed was 44 seconds. The WRNM system RPS [Reactor Protective System] automatic SCRAM setpoint is 19 seconds." All control rods inserted into the core. Decay heat is being removed by shutdown cooling. The plant is continuing into its scheduled refueling outage. The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

New NRC Guidelines Published Today Are First Step Toward Allowing Security Personnel to Possess Enhanced Weapons at Nuclear Facilities

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued guidelines today making effective a section of the Atomic Energy Act that authorizes the NRC to allow the licensees and certificate holders of NRC-regulated facilities to apply for permission for their security personnel to possess and use certain “enhanced weapons.” These weapons are machineguns, short-barreled shotguns or short-barreled rifles. These guidelines have been approved by the U.S. Attorney General as required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Previously, with limited exceptions, only federal, state or local law enforcement could lawfully possess machineguns.

As indicated in the guidelines, an NRC licensee or certificate holder will have to apply for NRC approval in order to exercise the new authority. As part of the approval process, the NRC would first designate the nuclear facilities, radioactive material or other property eligible for such authority. As part of the application, the licensee or certificate holder is required to update the applicable security plan, training and qualification plan, and contingency response plan, to reflect this new weaponry. In addition, the licensee or certificate holder is required to submit a weapons safety assessment evaluating the impact of the potential use of these weapons. The security personnel of those facilities whose duties require access to any weapon will be subject to a fingerprint check and a firearms background check by the U.S. Attorney General.

The licensee or certificate holder will also need to comply with applicable U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives requirements relating to enhanced weapons.

The guidelines will be followed by a rulemaking regarding enhanced weaponry and firearms background check requirements, and the public will have an opportunity to comment. Licensees and certificate holders not currently allowed to possess enhanced weapons may not obtain and use them before the rulemaking is final.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Three Mile Island nears license renewal

The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant passed its last milestone on its way to a 20-year license renewal Thursday following a meeting with the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, an advisory group to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said it is likely a final decision will be made in November. All 54 nuclear plants that have asked for license renewals so far have received them, he said. That is because the plants must address any problems before the license application can move forward, so that some renewals have taken almost four years. Three Mile Island, which is owned by Exelon Nuclear, submitted its application in January 2008.

Eric Epstein, president of the watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert, said his organization did not attempt to stop the license renewal because it would be futile. He said his complaints about nuclear plants remain the same -- where to put the radioactive waste, where the water for cooling will come from, and why Wall Street has not embraced the technology.
The Patriot News

If there ever were a time that seemed ripe for nuclear energy, it's now.

For the first time in decades, popular opinion is on the industry's side. A majority of Americans thinks nuclear power, which emits virtually no carbon dioxide, is a safe and effective way to battle climate change, according to recent polls. At the same time, legislators are showing renewed interest in nuclear as they hunt for ways to slash greenhouse-gas emissions.

The industry is seizing this chance to move out of the shadow of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and show that it has solved the three big problems that have long dogged it: cost, safety and waste. Researchers are working on reactors that they claim are simpler, cheaper in certain respects, and more efficient than the last generation of plants.

The Wall Street Journal

A difference of opinion on TMI changes

Three Mile Island is replacing its two steam generators two decades late, contends nuclear industry critic Eric Epstein. Lots of people are waiting to glimpse the ponderous new machines. The generators will be slowly piggybacked through the county this month on their way from Port Deposit, Md., to the atomic power plant at Middletown. However, said Epstein, chairman of the 32-year-old Three Mile Island Alert watchdog group, "nobody's paid attention to why" they're needed in the first place. The current generators were damaged by a sulfur compound the plant's former owner introduced in the early 1980s, he said. Some of the metal generating tubes were weakened and subsequently repaired with sleeves or "plugged," which means they were taken out of operation. "We would have preferred if the generators had been replaced 20 years ago," Epstein said.
Lancaster Online

NRC Chairman Tasks Staff to Evaluate Agency Activities on Buried Piping at Nuclear Reactors

NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko has tasked the agency’s technical staff to review the NRC’s approach for overseeing buried pipes given recent incidents of leaking buried pipes at several U.S. commercial nuclear power plants.

“Although they have not jeopardized public health and safety, leaks from buried pipes continue to occur and we need to assess the NRC’s and licensee’s efforts to prevent them,” Jaczko said. “The agency’s handling of these events has focused on each incident as it occurs, but we need to look at what we’re doing on a generic level to determine what additional actions may be necessary.”

The staff must provide the Commission an information paper in early December that explains both ongoing and planned generic activities that address leaks from buried piping. Chairman Jaczko also asked the staff to discuss actions or plans regarding:

  • Evaluating the adequacy of NRC requirements for designing, inspecting and maintaining safety-related buried piping, including rules governing operating reactors, reactor license renewal and new reactor licensing;
  • Evaluating the adequacy of American Society of Mechanical Engineers Code for designing, inspecting and maintaining safety-related buried piping;
  • Evaluating how effective current rules and voluntary initiatives for designing, inspecting and maintaining all nuclear power plant buried piping are in ensuring public health and protecting the environment, and;
  • Recommending any necessary revisions to existing regulations, requirements, practices or oversight regarding the integrity of buried piping.

Recent instances of leaks in buried pipes have primarily involved water containing elevated levels of tritium, a mildly radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The NRC continues to review how plants dealing with these leaks are using monitoring programs to confirm there is no significant effect on public health and safety and the environment.

A copy of the Chairman’s September 3 memorandum tasking the staff with this review will be available via the NRC web site at: . It will be located in the online electronic documents system known as ADAMS under Accession Number ML092460648.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

KI pills available for free this week

Those living within 10 miles of the state's five nuclear plants can pick up the tablets at various locations through Thursday. The potassium iodide pills can partially protect the thyroid gland from radiation exposure if there is a nuclear accident. "This just gives me a little extra sense of security ... but I am absolutely not scared," Kraybill said. "We have fire extinguishers in our home, but that doesn't mean we live every day in fear of fire." The state last distributed the pills in 2002, but those expired Monday, said Alice Gray, director of community health systems for the Department of Health. The state has enough tablets for the 1.2 million people living near the plants, she said.
The Patriot News

Radiation pills now available

The state Department of Health is distributing potassium iodide, or KI, pills today and tomorrow to residents who live or work near a nuclear power station such as Three Mile Island. The pills protect the thyroid from radioactive iodine, which can be released during a nuclear accident. The pills will be available from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the following locations: • Harrisburg Mall, upper level center court, 3601 Paxton St. • Masonic Village, Freemasons Cultural Center, 1 Masonic Drive, Elizabethtown. The announcement, made by the Health Department on Aug. 27, left Middletown Mayor Robert Reid and his emergency management staff scratching their heads. Because of an oversight, the borough was never notified of the distribution. Reid also criticized the state’s decision to distribute the pills at the Harrisburg Mall. “How many of our people are going to drive up there to get their KI pills?” Reid asked yesterday. “Not very many.”
Press and Journal