Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Compared Gram for Gram – Solar is 10 times More Powerful than Nuclear

From Energy Business Daily:

An interestingly novel way of comparing solar power with nuclear power finds that solar easily bests nuclear. Ken Zweibel has an analysis at The Solar Review, that compares the two kinds of electrical energy, in terms of how much power is packed into each gram of its respective material: cadmium telluride, versus uranium.

He provides data showing that CdTe thin film solar power (using cadmium telluride) takes ten times less PV material to make 1 kilowatt hour of electricity, than nuclear uses of uranium, to make an identical 1 kilowatt hour of electricity.

This is even comparing the two as if solar “used up” each gram of cadmium telluride the way that nuclear power uses up its uranium fuel (pretty much – some can be recycled, theoretically). But of course, solar doesn’t burn up fuel. You can get electricity from the same grams of PV material for at least thirty years, and then the material can be recycled and still used again.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours

From the New York Times:

On paper, experts and investigators agree, the Deepwater Horizon should have weathered this blowout.

This is the story of how and why it didn’t.

It is based on interviews with 21 Horizon crew members and on sworn testimony and written statements from nearly all of the other 94 people who escaped the rig. Their accounts, along with thousands of documents obtained by The New York Times describing the rig’s maintenance and operations, make it possible to finally piece together the Horizon’s last hours.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oyster Creek: Prohibited Substance Located Inside the Protected Area

Event Number: 46502

PROHIBITIVE SUBSTANCE LOCATED INSIDE THE PROTECTED AREA "At 1007 EST a prohibitive substance (un-opened alcohol container) was discovered in the protected area. The non-supervisory individual involved is being evaluated under the behavior observation program and the prohibitive substance (alcohol) has been confiscated. "This report is being made in accordance Significant Fitness-For-Duty Events SEC 1.10, 10 CFR 26.719 (b) Significant FFD policy violations or programmatic failures. The following significant FFD policy violations and programmatic failures must be reported to the NRC Operations Center by telephone within 24 hours after the licensee or other entity discovers the violation: "(1) The use, sale, distribution, possession, or presence of illegal drugs, or the consumption or presence of alcohol within a protected area; "The following are considered significant fitness-for-duty events and must be reported by nuclear stations to the NRC Operations Center by telephone within 24 hours of discovery of the event by the licensee; "Alcoholic beverages and illegal drugs within the protected area, even if no person is in possession of the items." The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector.

Federal Committee OKs Reactor Design

From GPB News:

The Advisory Committee On Reactor Safeguards says the Westinghouse AP1000 reactors are safe to build and operate.

The panel advises the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which has to certify the reactor design before Southern Company can begin construction of two new units at Plant Vogtle.

Carrie Phillips is with Southern Nuclear which operates the plant.

"It’s just kind of completing another step in the licensing process and clears the way so we can move forward," said Phillips.

The panel’s decision won’t be finalized until a review shows the reactor could withstand a plane crash.

Environmental groups have challenged the Westinghouse design, saying if it failed toxic gas would leak into the atmosphere.

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Emergency Preparedness & Response News, Volume III, Issue I

Attached, please find the latest issue of Emergency Preparedness & Response News. Emergency Preparedness & Response News is a quarterly newsletter that is published by NSIR/DPR to highlight recent and upcoming events of interest to the radiological emergency preparedness community. Please feel free to pass it on to others as you see fit.

Idaho nuke company charged

From the Idaho Statesman:

Don Gillispie and Jennifer Ransom of Eagle were accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday of defrauding investors in a complex scheme they said was aimed at building a nuclear power plant in Idaho.

The SEC sought to freeze the assets of Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. and Gillispie, 67, its chairman and CEO, and Ransom, 36, his girlfriend and senior vice president for administration. The commission said AEHI had sold millions of dollars in shares in the U.S. and Asia while manipulating its stock price and funneling secret profits to Gillispie and Ransom.

“In light of AEHI’s ongoing efforts to raise funding while promoting itself through a daily deluge of press releases, we needed to take immediate action to get to the bottom of the company’s misleading statements,” said Marc Fagel, Director of the SEC’s San Francisco Regional Office. “Documents we have obtained to date indicate a scheme to personally enrich the CEO at the expense of investors.”

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DEP Announces Small Business Advantage Grants to Help Improve Energy Efficiency, Reduce Pollution, Lower Operating Costs

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA Dept. of Environmental Protection Commonwealth News Bureau Room 308, Main Capitol Building Harrisburg PA., 17120 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/16/2010 CONTACT: John Repetz, Department of Environmental Protection 717-787-1323 HARRISBURG -- State investments are helping Pennsylvania small-business owners continue to lower their operating costs by conserving energy and reducing pollution, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said today. Hanger announced that 90 small businesses across the state will receive more than $560,000 in grants through the Small Business Advantage program to reduce energy use and pollution, enabling them to become more competitive. "Small-business owners face many challenges including how to reinvest their hard-earned dollars," said Hanger. "In recent years, a growing number of small-business owners have realized that investing in projects that reduce pollution and energy use produce immediate and long-term positive results. Owners can improve their bottom lines, allowing them to make significant investments in their own futures, and the economic and environmental future of Pennsylvania, as well." Pennsylvania's Small Business Advantage program provides small businesses (those with fewer than 100 employees) with 50-percent matching reimbursement grants of up to $7,500 to implement projects that will save at least 20 percent annually in pollution prevention or energy-related costs. Since 2004, the Small Business Advantage Grant program has invested $6.7 million in 1,220 small businesses. Examples of eligible projects include HVAC and boiler upgrades, high-efficiency lighting, solvent recovery and waste recycling systems, and auxiliary power units that help large trucks reduce time spent with idling engines. The 90 projects in 40 counties will receive a total of $564,291 and leverage an additional $1.1 million in private investments. In the first year, they will have a cumulative savings of $521,782 in operating expenses related to reductions in energy and pollution. The savings include: • 1.3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity--enough to power 130 homes; • 110,421 therms of natural gas; • 28,000 gallons of propane; • 26,000 gallons of kerosene and fuel oil; and • 40,741 gallons of diesel fuel. In addition, the projects will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly five million pounds, equivalent to the total energy used by 190 homes or removing 425 passenger vehicles from the roads. Governor Rendell has initiated several other programs to assist small business owners. The Alternative Energy Investment Act he signed into law in July 2008, created the Small Business Energy Efficiency program, which provides a 25 percent reimbursement grant up to $25,000 to help small businesses acquire equipment or adopt processes that promote energy efficiency. The program has awarded $2.3 million to 214 small businesses. The Investment Act also created the Sunshine Solar program, which reimburses small business owners and homeowners up to 35 percent of the purchase and installation costs of solar energy technology. To date, this program has allocated more than $44 million to 664 businesses to install solar energy technology. These projects will generate 59 megawatts of electricity, or enough annually to power 7,000 average homes in Pennsylvania. "These financial incentives have made energy-conserving and pollution-reducing technologies more affordable to a greater number of small business owners in the state,” said Hanger. "These types of projects can make a business more productive and more profitable -- a combination that is good for the company, the employees, the economy and the environment." For more information, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us or call 717-783-8411. Media contact: John Repetz, 717-787-1323 Editor’s Note: Below is a list of the $564,291 in Small Business Advantage Grants, listed by county. Allegheny Wojanis Supply Company Inc. - $5,566 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Colteryahn Dairy - $7,500 for the purchase and installation of efficient process equipment to conserve energy and resources. Pearce Mill LLC - $5,912 to purchase and install a high efficiency boiler to conserve energy. Tana Ethiopian Cuisine LLC - $6,625 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Allegra Print and Imaging - $7,500 to purchase and install efficient lightning to conserve energy. Armstrong Martin Luffey Autobody - $7,500 to purchase and install an efficient painting system to reduce paint waste. Beaver Acutan LP - $5,525 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Bedford Vacuum Processes Inc. - $6,577 to purchase and install upgraded efficient heating, lighting and insulation to conserve energy. Singing Brook Farms - $7,500 for the purchase and installation of efficient process equipment to conserve energy. Bradford Leona Meat Plant Inc. - $5,849 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Bucks SCB Karate LLC - $7,500 to purchase and install upgraded insulation. The Olde Stone Church Inc. (DBA Marsha Brown Restaurant) - $7,500 for the purchase and installation of a high efficiency water heater. Schmoocky’s Laundromat - $4,960 to purchase and install two high efficiency tankless water heaters to conserve energy. Carbon Weatherly Casting & Machine Company - $7,500 for the purchase and installation of efficient process equipment to conserve energy and resources. Centre Capparella Furniture - $7,500 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Formalities by Tracina Fisher - $7,500 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Nittany Summit Wash Partners - $5,161 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Clarion C&A Trees Unlimited - $7,500 to purchase and install greenhouse energy curtain to conserve energy. Clearfield Summit Car Wash Inc. /Your Favorite Car Wash Inc. - $5,865 to purchase and install efficient lightning to conserve energy. B.G. Foster Trucking - $4,475 to purchase and install auxiliary power unit in long-haul truck to eliminate idling during layovers. Clinton Rapmitco Properties - $7,500 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Crawford Cox and Kanyuck Electric LLC - $5,065 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Holbrook Tool and Molding - $5,936 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Lincoln Metal Processing Company Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install process equipment to prevent pollution. Dauphin Appalachian Brewing Company Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Elk Innovative Sintered Metals Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Erie George Ko Industries Inc. - $7,500 for the purchase and installation of efficient process equipment to conserve energy and resources. Molly Brannigans-Erie - $538 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Erie East Market Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Fayette Pleasant Trucking Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install three auxiliary power units in long-haul trucks to eliminate idling during layovers. Franklin About Your Wedding - $6,733 to purchase and install efficient lighting, insulation and hearing, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Route 5 Retail Stores - $271 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Cherpat - $4,176 to purchase and install a new high efficiency dishwasher to conserve energy and water. Wayne Building Company Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install hearing, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades and a commercial printer to conserve energy. WCW Tennis - $4,522 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Washington Franklin Developers Inc. - $2,925 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Souders Industries Inc. - $7,500 for the purchase and installation of efficient lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Huntingdon MAT Plaza LLC - $3,520 to purchase and install high efficiency furnace to conserve energy. Brick House Gym - $7,500 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Jefferson Premier Graphics LLC (DBA Nupp Printing) - $7,500 to purchase and install upgraded lighting and insulation to conserve energy. Cathedral Pines (DBA Gateway Lodge) - $7,500 to purchase install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Barber Trucking Inc. - $5,740 to purchase and install two auxiliary power units in long-haul trucks to eliminate idling during layovers. Lackawanna Homeowner Resource Center Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install upgraded installation. John F. Bushta DPM PC - $7,500 for the purchase and installation of dental digital radiography equipment to conserve energy and reduce waste. Learn and Grow Real Estate LLC - $7,500 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Lancaster National Bearings Company - $2,975 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Lawrence Kincade Trucking - $4,150 to purchase and install auxiliary power unit in long-haul truck to eliminate idling during layovers. Natale Trucking - $4,150 to purchase an install auxiliary power unit in long-haul truck to eliminate idling during layovers. Lebanon Richard Barr - $6,457 to purchase and install auxiliary power unit in long-haul truck to eliminate idling during layovers. Luzerne Blue Hen Lines Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Laflin Truck Service Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install efficient lightning to conserve energy. Kronick Kalada Berdy & Company PC - $7,500 to purchase and install efficient lightning to conserve energy. Lycoming West Branch Tennis Club - $6,570 to purchase and install upgraded insulation. Oval Country Store - $7,500 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. K. S. Bridge Inc. (DBA Bridge Tavern and Restaurant) - $7,500 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Faxon Cleaners Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install a new high efficiency washing machine and dryer to conserve energy. KM Harmon Inc. - $7,140 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. McKean Kane Manor Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. SMP Rx & Home Medical - Kane - $6,009 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Zook Motors Inc. - $6,161 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. W. E. Swanson Agency Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install a high efficiency boiler, lighting and insulation to conserve energy. Dangelo's Custom Built LLC - $7,500 to purchase and install upgraded insulation and high efficiency lighting to conserve energy. Mercer Gary Patterson Trucking - $7,500 to purchase and install auxiliary power unit in long haul truck to eliminate idling during layovers. Mifflin Main St. Bar of Milroy Inc - $7,500 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Mifflin County Savings Bank - $3,092 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Joe Krentzman and Son Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install a high efficiency boiler to conserve energy. Buffington Properties - $3,410 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Nittany Paper Mill Inc. - $3,450 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Montgomery Niche Investments Limited - $7,500 to purchase and install high efficiency boiler and insulation to conserve energy. Gwyneda Cleaners - $7,500 to purchase and install new dry cleaning machine to reduce pollution and water costs. Indian Valley Podiatry Associates PC - $7,500 for the purchase and installation of digital radiography equipment to conserve energy and reduce waste. Broudy Precision Equipment Company - $4,280 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. BBL Company - $7,500 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. Northampton Nazareth Chiropractic - $7,500 for the purchase and installation of digital radiography equipment to conserve energy and reduce waste. Northumberland George F. Amerman - $3,030 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Perry J & V Trucking - $5,250 to purchase and install auxiliary power unit in long-haul truck to eliminate idling during layovers. Philadelphia LGD Read Estate Partners LP - $7,500 to purchase and install heating and water heating upgrades to conserve energy. Levesque Urban LLC (DBA YIKES Inc.) - $7,500 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Pike DooWop Express - $4,150 to purchase and install auxiliary power unit in long-haul truck to eliminate idling during layovers. Schuylkill J. B. Geist inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install auxiliary power unit in long-haul truck to eliminate idling during layovers. Custom Gun Finishes LLC - $7,500 to purchase and install more efficient paint spray equipment to reduce pollution and associated costs. Snyder Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC - $7,500 for the purchase and installation of efficient process equipment to conserve energy and resources. Ideal Family Farms - $7,500 to purchase and install efficient lighting, heat exchangers and insulation to conserve energy. Union Copper Beech Manor - $2,001 to purchase and install upgraded insulation. Venango Chad M. Baker - $4,150 to purchase and install auxiliary power unit in long-haul truck to eliminate idling during layovers. Schake Industries Inc. - $4,789 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Kapp Alloy & Wire Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Klapec Auto Body - $7,500 to purchase and install heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to conserve energy. Wayne Church Street Laundromat - $4,615 to purchase and install high-efficiency hot water heating equipment. Westmoreland Greensburg Beverage Inc. - $7,500 to purchase and install efficient lighting to conserve energy. ###

Pilgrim plant generates new set of concerns for regulators

From the Patriot Ledger:

A local watchdog group has filed a new set of concerns with regulators about the relicensing of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant, a move that could cause more delays in the renewal of Pilgrim’s license.

Next month, the Plymouth plant’s relicensing will begin its sixth year. That puts it on par with Entergy Corp.’s other New England plant, Vermont Yankee in Vernon, Vt. Both plants are now tied, at five years, for the longest ongoing license renewals of any nuclear plant in the country.

Pilgrim Watch founder Mary Lampert said her group filed a new contention with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Monday, asking a three-judge panel overseeing the license renewal to hold a hearing on the impact that a wet environment could have on underground power lines. “I’m not saying don’t relicense them,” Lampert said of Pilgrim. “I’m just saying that public health and safety has to come first.”

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The Newsletter of TMI Alert - December 2010

Download TMIA's December, 2010 Newsletter.

Summary of March 18, 2010, Meeting with Exelon to Discuss Proprietary Information

Summary of March 18, 2010, Meeting with Exelon to Discuss Proprietary Information Adams Accession No. ML103350618

Ukraine to open Chernobyl area to tourists in 2011


Want a better understanding of the world's worst nuclear disaster? Come tour the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Beginning next year, Ukraine plans to open up the sealed zone around the Chernobyl reactor to visitors who wish to learn more about the tragedy that occurred nearly a quarter of a century ago, the Emergency Situations Ministry said Monday.

Chernobyl's reactor No. 4 exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing radiation over a large swath of northern Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people were resettled from areas contaminated with radiation fallout in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Related health problems still persist.

The so-called exclusion zone, a highly contaminated area within a 30-mile radius of the exploded reactor, was evacuated and sealed off in the aftermath of the explosion. All visits were prohibited.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Some hold out hope Vermont Yankee can stay open

From the Burlington Free Press:

Things have looked bad for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in the last year, just as the plant's owners were seeking permission to run it for another 20 years. Tritium found leaking from the plant in January. The revelation that company officials misled state officials about its underground piping system. An overwhelming February vote in the Senate to shut the plant down in 2012.

Then in November, the man who led that vote in the Senate was elected governor. Spells doom for the plant's future, right?

Not so fast, some say.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nuclear ‘Renaissance’ Is Short on Largess

From the New York Times:

The federal aid now in place for new nuclear plants is far from sufficient for the so-called “nuclear renaissance” that backers are seeking, a panel made up of members of Congress, high-ranking federal officials and leaders of major nuclear companies agreed on Tuesday.

Ground has been broken on only two new nuclear plants with a total of four reactors, and some companies have withdrawn their applications for licenses to build. “We can’t make the numbers work,’’ said Chip Pardee, chief nuclear officer of Exelon, the nation’s largest operator of civilian nuclear reactors, who sat on a panel of 25 at a conference organized by the Idaho National Laboratory of the Energy Department and a private group called the Third Way.

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Governor Christie Fulfills Pledge to Clean Up and Restore Barnegat Bay; Announces Comprehensive Plan of Action

Trenton, NJ – Governor Chris Christie today unveiled a comprehensive plan of action to address the short and long term ecological health of Barnegat Bay and deal with the cooling system at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant which has threatened the surrounding fish population. This plan fulfills the Governor’s pledge to deal with one of his top environmental priorities and puts into action a ten point plan to clean up the Bay. Furthermore, the plan resolves the need for a massive cooling system at Oyster Creek Generating Station by closing the nuclear power plant within nine years.

“Barnegat Bay is one of my top environmental priorities,’’ said Governor Christie. “After years of inaction and the Bay’s declining ecological health, we finally have a comprehensive plan that will prevent further degradation of the Bay and begin the restoration of this incredible New Jersey resource. The changes won’t happen overnight, but the long-term environmental future of Barnegat Bay is now much stronger.’’

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin explained that a large and diverse community of Bay advocates, including scientists, environmentalists, elected officials, recreational fishermen and area residents, worked independently and together with the DEP for the past year to pinpoint specific causes of the deterioration of Barnegat Bay and to find ways to address those problems.

“The goal is to restore, protect and enhance Barnegat Bay, which has been suffering,’’ said Commissioner Martin. “We are dealing with problems that have been long in the making, so we have sought solid, long-term solutions that will restore the environmental health of this tremendous resource.’’

"The Christie Administration’s guaranteed early shut down of the nuclear plant in 9 years is a win for the long-term health of Barnegat Bay, especially given the federal government and Exelon weren’t planning on closing down the plant for 19 years,” said New Jersey Environmental Federation’s David Pringle. “The Christie Administration’s leadership here with its increased emphasis on regulatory oversight provides a model that should be replicated at all nuclear plants, whatever their age.”

Closure of the Oyster Creek plant, which is the oldest operating nuclear generating facility in the nation, will occur no later than December 31, 2019, according to an ironclad agreement signed today between the state and Exelon Corp, which owns and operates the plant.

Exelon officials have pledged to work closely with state, county and local governments to ensure an environmentally safe shutdown of the facility, which currently draws significant amounts of water from the Bay for cooling and then discharges huge volumes of heated water back into the Bay. An outside safety review panel will review plant operations, issue safety reports, and hold annual public hearings.

The Comprehensive Barnegat Bay Plan unveiled today includes the following 10 key policy provisions:

  • Closing Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant: Close the Oyster Creek generating station in nine years to cease use of the Bay for cooling purposes and ensure discharges from the plant no longer damage the Bay. Closure of the plant will have a significantly more beneficial environmental impact than requiring the installation of cooling towers.
  • Funding Stormwater Mitigation Projects: Identify and fund stormwater related infrastructure projects to control nutrients entering the Bay through State Revolving Fund and Environmental Infrastructure Trust grants and zero or very low interest loans. Much of the deterioration of the Bay can be traced to pollutants that run off from lawns and streets, which stormwater basins can effectively filter.
  • Reducing Nutrient Pollution from Fertilizer: Governor Christie will sign legislation that establishes the most restrictive standards in the nation for nitrogen content in fertilizer and puts limits on application rates and dates in order to best manage nutrients.
  • Requiring Post-Construction Soil Restoration: Require post-construction restoration to mitigate soil compaction and thereby reduce runoff of nutrients into the Bay.
  • Acquiring Land in the Watershed: Use DEP Green Acres money and other funds to purchase priority sensitive lands in the Barnegat Bay watershed.
  • Establishing a Special Area Management Plan: Develop a Special Area Management Plan in conjunction with the Barnegat Bay Partnership to improve coordination among jurisdictions in the Barnegat Bay watershed and recommend any additional required research to the DEP.
  • Adopting More Rigorous Water Quality Standards: Adopt narrative criteria for all coastal waters, and determine whether a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) limit is feasible for Barnegat Bay.
  • Educating the Public: Develop an education plan for residents and visitors to the Bay, to inform them about nonpoint source pollution prevention measures they can take to help the Bay, such as altering home landscaping practices and improved maintenance of septic systems.
  • Producing More Comprehensive Research: Fill in the gaps on Barnegat Bay research, including evaluation of how modifying wastewater treatment plant discharges could improve the Bay’s circulation and recharge groundwater; establishment of the baseline conditions of the Bay; and development of a hydrology model for the Bay.
  • Reducing Water Craft Impacts: Reduce water craft impacts by restricting boats from certain shallow areas.

The Barnegat Bay watershed encompasses most of the 33 municipalities in Ocean County and four towns in Monmouth County. Its 75-square mile environmentally sensitive estuarine system consists of aquatic vegetation, shellfish beds, finfish habitats, waterfowl nesting grounds, and spectacular vistas, as well as a population of more than 550,000 people, which more than doubles during the summer season.

Over the decades, there has been a host of studies done on the estuary, and in 1995 it was designated as an “estuary of national significance” by the National Estuary Program. Ecological problems have long been observed, but identifying and quantifying the specific causes of its decline has proven difficult. Input gained from extensive stakeholder involvement complemented the scientific data and research conducted by the Department of Environmental Protection and other researchers to provide the basis for the Administration’s action plan for Barnegat Bay.

Shumlin wants VY to renew extraction

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

Gov.-elect Peter Shumlin said he wants Entergy to restart well water extraction.

In a letter addressed to Michael Colomb, site vice president for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Shumlin said the decision to halt extraction was premature.

"It's not in Vermont's best interest to stop pumping water," he told the Reformer. "We have highly radioactive materials in the ground and it seems to me that it's only logical that the more we extract now, the better it will be for our health and safety."

A spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it has asked Entergy, which owns and operates the plant, for additional information on what testing and analysis it is doing to ensure tritium is not getting into the bedrock aquifer below the site.

"We are continuing to closely monitor Entergy's activities with respect to groundwater contamination," Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC wrote in an e-mail. "We have a call scheduled with plant officials for Thursday to discuss what the company is doing to better understand the latest well sampling data."

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Shumlin Wants More Radioactive Water Pumped From Yankee

From Vermont Public Radio:

(Host) Governor-elect Peter Shumlin wants Vermont Yankee to keep pumping radioactive water from its site in Vernon.

Yankee suspended the pumping last month. But Shumlin says plant operators should resume the pumping operation to protect underground water supplies.

VPR's John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) The governor-elect said he was not satisfied with Yankee's work to remove contaminated water at the site. And he said that as of January 6th - when he takes office - he will demand action from the nuclear plant operator.

(Shumlin) "I've made clear that it's penny wise and pound foolish. I'm very concerned about it. I wish that they would turn the pumps back on. If I were governor right now, I'd be insisting that they turn the pumps back on."

(Dillon) At issue is radioactive tritium that leaked from the plant and is seeping down to bedrock toward an underground aquifer. Tests in October showed that tritium had reached a deep well on the plant grounds that had been used for drinking.

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Auditor General Wagner’s Special Investigation: Faulty Billing, Improper Gifts, and Excessive Compensation at Pa. Twp. Supervisors Association

State was overbilled millions, former director was paid over $400,000 annually HARRISBURG (Dec. 7, 2010) – Auditor General Jack Wagner said today that the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors provided employees of the Department of Community and Economic Development – who were responsible for evaluating and ultimately awarding the association a state training contract – with gifts including luncheons and free lodging and conference expenses at a lavish resort. PSATS subsequently overbilled the state millions of dollars while paying PSATS’ former executive director an excessive compensation package averaging $407,608 per year between 2004 and 2008.

Wagner said that a special investigation of DCED’s contract with PSATS found that the former executive director’s compensation package was nearly triple the compensation of the next highest paid employee of the association, and it significantly exceeded the salaries of executive directors of township associations in other states and that of comparable non-profit agencies in Pennsylvania. The former executive director was paid total compensation of $2,038,040, between 2004 and 2008, and his compensation package peaked at $561,274 in 2008.

“The compensation package of the former executive director of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors is excessive and unreasonable given the nature of the association’s nonprofit status and establishment as a quasi-public organization largely funded by local and state tax dollars,” Wagner said. “It may also be a violation of state and federal laws governing nonprofit organizations. I urge PSATS to fix this problem and for DCED to immediately take steps to implement all of the recommendations of the special investigation report.”

Wagner’s investigators found that the executive director’s compensation package included an incentive or bonus payment equal to 1.9 percent of the gross revenues from all contract business, including but not limited to the contract with DCED. Federal and state laws prohibit the use of the net earnings of a non-profit organization from being used to benefit members, officers, or directors of the organization.

Wagner provided copies of his report to the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, the State Ethics Commission, the Pennsylvania Treasury Department, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, and the Internal Revenue Service for whatever further action that they deem appropriate. He also provided copies to the other state agencies, in addition to DCED, with previous or current contracts with PSATS, including the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Labor and Industry, and the Department of Transportation.

Wagner’s report noted that 54.6 percent of PSATS’ total revenue was derived from state grants and contracts, or $18.6 million of $34 million in total revenue between 2005 and 2008.

DCED’s Center for Local Government Services is responsible for monitoring and coordinating municipal training to meet the needs of local governments by providing affordable training opportunities including a full range of disciplines such as municipal finance, administration, tax collection, land use planning, police, fire, and public works. Rather than meeting those responsibilities using state employees, DCED has outsourced those services to an outside vendor since 1996.

Wagner’s investigators determined that DCED employees accepted meals, hotel lodging, and conference expenses from PSATS totaling $2,716, including eleven meals during the time when the competitive proposals were being evaluated. This was in violation of state gift and travel rules and possibly in violation of the state Public Official and Employee Ethics Act, Wagner said.

“Accepting meals and stays at luxury resorts at the expense of a vendor compromises objectivity and independence, and prevents government employees from discharging their duties without bias towards a particular vendor,” Wagner said. “Government employees must maintain objectivity and independence in their duties, both in appearance and in reality.”

PSATS has held the training services contract since 1996, and it received its latest contract award in 2005. At that time, the commonwealth allocated $3.9 million for a five-and-a-half-year period covering January 2006 to June 2011. However, within the first 14 months of the contract, DCED on three occasions expanded the scope of the work to be provided and increased total contract amount to $5.6 million, because of other commonwealth agencies and other offices within DCED “piggy-backing” on the contract. Subsequent amendments to the contract have increased its total cost to $12 million.

In addition, Wagner’s investigators found numerous billing discrepancies and flaws. They included:

  • 17 Percent Surcharges on Pass-Through Payments to Third Parties – PSATS added a 17 percent surcharge to all billings, consisting of a 9 percent surcharge to cover “overhead” and an 8 percent surcharge to cover “administrative costs”. Payment under the contract is limited to reimbursement of the costs of providing the training services, and surcharges for overhead and administrative costs are commonly used to calculate such costs. However, investigators found that PSATS could not document what costs were reflected in those percentages. In addition, investigators found that the surcharges were applied not only to services provided by PSATS’ own employees, but also to pass-through billings from third-party vendors and subcontractors who actually conducted the training programs. PSATS submitted over 100 invoices to the commonwealth every year for training programs that included services actually provided by third-party vendors and subcontractors; the average surcharge billed to and paid by the commonwealth for these pass-through billings was $5,690 per invoice. Consequently, for every 100 invoices paid, PSATS would receive excess compensation of approximately $569,000 solely from the 17 percent surcharge on the cost of training programs and other goods and services provided by third parties.
  • No Itemized Costs For Training Classes – PSATS billed DCED for the aggregate costs of all training classes provided in a particular time period, and DCED failed to require PSATS to itemize the costs for each individual training class, thereby making it impossible to determine whether PSATS gave proper credit for all registration fees collected from attendees of the training classes. Wagner’s investigators were able to determine that, for two training programs analyzed, the commonwealth did not receive proper credit for $44,594 in registration fees collected.
  • No Guidelines For Eligible Costs - DCED has not established guidelines of eligible costs to be reimbursed under the contract. Consequently, DCED reimbursed PSATS for excessive and unreasonable costs. The investigation found that the more egregious of these expenses cost the commonwealth approximately $20,000 for things such as food provided at training seminars, meals from local restaurants, and training at historic inns and resorts.

“The findings and recommendations presented in the special investigation report are intended to not only provide guidance to DCED when drafting and entering into future contracts for training services, but also to assist DCED in its monitoring of the current contract with PSATS and to serve as a basis for DCED to withhold future payments to PSATS until it provides the information necessary to prove that it has not overbilled the commonwealth,” Wagner said. Wagner made 19 recommendations to fix the deficiencies identified by the investigation to improve the monitoring of the training contract, including that DCED should:

  • Draft future Request for Proposals and contracts with nonprofit organizations to require prospective vendors to document the amount of compensation paid to top management employees and certify that the amount is reasonable and in compliance with state and federal law, as well as to document cost factors for administration and overhead to preclude the vendor from charging costs in excess of the actual costs incurred in providing the services described in the contract;
  • Follow the commonwealth’s travel and gift rules, require DCED employees to pay for their own expenses and submit the expenses to DCED for reimbursement, and ensure that employees comply with the Governor’s Code of Conduct, the Commonwealth Travel Procedures Manual, and the Ethics Act;
  • Analyze PSATS’ payroll records to determine the actual costs that PSATS incurred and reconcile actual costs to invoices submitted by PSATS, develop guidelines for allowable costs, and take action to recover any overcharges, including recouping the 17 percent surcharge that PSATS applied to services provided by third party vendors;
  • Require PSATS to reformat its invoices to show the costs and the registration fees collected for each individual training class, as the contract requires; and
  • Review invoices in detail and obtain an explanation for any questionable or poorly documented expenses prior to approving the invoices for payment.

Based on DCED’s response to the investigation, which is included in the report, Wagner said, “It is encouraging that DCED has already taken some limited steps to tighten up the terms of the contract to improve PSATS’ accountability and has expressed an intention to consider some of our recommendations in the drafting of future contracts. We will follow up at the appropriate time to determine whether all of our recommendations have been implemented.” A full copy of the investigation report is available to the public at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us. Auditor General Jack Wagner is responsible for ensuring that all state money is spent legally and properly. He is the Commonwealth’s elected independent fiscal watchdog, conducting financial audits, performance audits and special investigations. The Department of the Auditor General conducts more than 5,000 audits per year. To learn more about the Department of the Auditor General, taxpayers are encouraged to visit the department’s Web site at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us

Governor-elect Shumlin Calls on Entergy Vermont Yankee to Protect Vermont's Aquifers

December 7, 2010 Michael Colomb, Site Vice President 320 Governor Hunt Rd Vernon, Vt 05304 CC: Gregory Jaczko, NRC Chairman Dear Mr. Colomb,

As Governor elect, the integrity of Vermont’s aquifer is of the highest concern to me. I respectfully request that Entergy return its extraction wells to service and repeat my earlier request to increase the number of wells to prevent tritiated water from entering Vermont’s precious and irreplaceable aquifers.

It appears that ENVY made the decision to arbitrarily terminate the process of extracting tritiated ground water from the Vermont Yankee site as soon as 300,000-gallons of water had been removed. The tritium concentration level of the remaining on site tritiated water after the 300,000-gallon cutoff was never provided to justify that decision.

On February 25, 2010, ENVY also made the decision to close its Construction Office Building (COB) well, which had been leaking tritiated water into the underlying aquifer. ENVY’s February press release stated that if the well continued to operate, there was a “small possibility” that its operation would draw tritium into the aquifer and cause “cross contamination”. Therefore, shutting down the COB well was an appropriate precaution to avoid contaminating the aquifer.

However, the October 8, 2010 hydrological COB well test results showed that the tritiated water had indeed contaminated the COB well even though it had been shut down seven months earlier. This October 2010 discovery suggests that the likelihood of cross contamination of the COB well water was more significant than ENVY engineers had estimated in February. The evidence shows that cross contamination of bedrock has apparently been occurring even after the COB well was shut down. At that time, I recommended that the extraction wells remain in operation and their number be increased to avoid contamination of our aquifer.

On October 13, 2010, Dr. William Irwin with the State Department of Health said, …the 300,000- gallon mark shouldn’t be an end point for the extraction process. He said cold weather is an impediment, but Entergy should continue to pump and store tritiated water through the winter. Irwin described the “extraction” wells as “critical.”… “(Entergy) should make an effort to continue the extraction as long as tritium is in the water,” Irwin said. (Vermont Digger)

Yet despite my suggestion and Dr. Irwin’s recommendation that the extraction wells remain operational, ENVY went ahead and on November 18, 2010 shut down these vital water safety devices.

The following day Entergy detected 500,000 pCi/l of tritium near the COB well and at bedrock. This high radioactive concentration near the COB well and at bedrock is a further indication that the aquifer may be in serious jeopardy of contamination from tritium and other radioactive isotopes.

Furthermore, I have been informed that since detecting tritium at a depth of 220 feet in the COB well in October, Entergy has not taken any radiation samples from the bedrock or aquifer via the COB well. The COB well is the only source of data about what is happening in the aquifer under the site, so I also respectfully request that additional samples be taken regularly to allow the State of Vermont and Entergy to ascertain if one of Vermont’s essential aquifers has been or is being contaminated by tritiated water from this newest expansion of the tritium plume. I also request that a formal schedule of testing of water, Connecticut River fish, and on-site vegetation be conducted for tritium, strontium and cesium.

None of these requests should take any extensive effort and I would anticipate that recommended actions could be completed by the end of the week. I would hope you would support these actions which I believe are in the public interest. I look forward to hearing from you and to a productive working relationship. Sincerely, Peter Shumlin Governor-Elect

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Entergy Leaving Gotham Behind

From Energy Matters:

Entergy Nuclear has dropped its share of electricity supporting New York City and Westchester County to about 4 percent of the area’s power needs while selling increasing portions of its juice in an open market stretching from Maine to Delaware.

The company is spending millions of dollars on an extensive campaign to convince the public that the region would suffer if the nuclear plants at Indian Point were shut and its 2,100 megawatts were withdrawn. Simultaneously, however, Entergy is withdrawing all but 560 megawatts and is selling the rest elsewhere through the interconnecting New England, New York, Mid-Atlantic, Quebec and Ontario power grids.

In its search for the highest profit margins, industry analysts and power operators say Entergy may well opt to sell nearly all of its electricity from Indian Point 2 and 3 in Buchanan to customers outside the New York City/Westchester County service area. And because of the success of the wholesale power markets and transmission networks run by the non-profit Independent System Operators, the absence of Indian Point’s megawatts has no effect on the region’s electricity needs or power system reliability.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Commodity prices show nuclear renaissance is underway

From the Vancouver Sun:

A renaissance in nuclear energy is underway as China doubles its target for nuclear power output and as major orders flow in from the Middle Kingdom, Scotiabank declares in its monthly commodity price report.
The news has not been lost on stock market players who have bid up prices of Canadian uranium producers like Cameco and Uranium One in recent months.
Uranium prices hit $61 US in mid-November after bottoming in March at $40.50 US, after China announced in its new five-year plan that it was doubling it target for nuclear power production to a level to 80 gigawatts, the equivalent of five per cent of the county's electrical output.
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Reversal of fortune

From commonnews.org:

“Why Entergy thinks they can sell it is hard to see. Putting it up for sale is a sign of desperation. That’s the last thing you do before you give up and walk away.”

Walking away is not an option Entergy Corp. will comment on — yet. Nor will they declare that option off the table.

“For now we are just exploring the potential sale of the plant,” said Entergy spokesman Alex Schott. “It is one option that we feel is in the best interests of the shareholders and the 650 employees that work there.”

The company does not have a lot to explore. The plant recently shut down while Entergy officials plugged a leak of radioactive fluid from 40-year-old pipes serving the reactor.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Special Report: Nuclear's lost generation

From Reuters:

On a flat, low-lying island nestled in crisp waters off the west coast of Finland, the first nuclear power plant ordered in Western Europe since 1986 is inching toward start-up.

Over 4,000 builders and engineers are at work on the sprawling Olkiluoto 3 project, whose turbine hall is so cavernous it could house two Boeing 747 jets stacked on top of each other.

When it is dark, which in winter is most of the day, enormous spotlights throw into focus scores of scaffolding towers and the red hauling equipment that encircle the grey, unfinished reactor building.

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Are ponds near nuclear plant disappearing?

From the Herald News:

Five years after radioactive tritium leaks from the Braidwood Nuclear power station became public, suspicion and frustration continue to fester among some of the people who live in the shadow of the Exelon plant.

The latest concern is for area ponds that are drying up. When Exelon Nuclear pumps water from a pond contaminated with tritium, water levels go down in nearby privately owned ponds, plant neighbors say. Coincidence?

Tom Zimmer doesn’t think so. When the Exelon pumping first started a couple of years ago, the water level in Zimmer’s nearby pond dropped about five feet. In recent months it has gone down even more, so much so that his fishing dock sits high above the water.

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Activists push for analysis of leaks at Vermont Yankee

From the Daily Hampshire Gazette:
Brattleboro-based New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution has called on federal regulators to require the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant's owners to do a complete analysis of connections between leaks of the Vernon reactor's feedwater piping system earlier this month and similar leaks at the plant in January 2009.

The coalition filed a petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to require and fully supervise a "thorough root-case analysis" of the system's inspection-port leak, and also a "comprehensive extent-of-condition review" of feedwater piping.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

UK gov't apologizes for decades of secret nuclear power industry corpse-mutilation

From BoingBoing:

The UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has apologized for 40 years' worth of clandestine, illegal mutilation of the corpses of British nuclear energy workers. When these workers died, pathologists and coroners colluded with the energy authority to remove their organs without the consent or knowledge of their families, in part to remove the possibility of a lawsuit for cancer caused by their work environment, but partly out of a seeming cavalier, better-safe-than-sorry approach that had them scooping out organs that had no diagnostic value. The corpses were then stuffed with random detritus from around the shop to disguise their mutilation; for example, broomsticks were used in place of bones removed from workers who'd died of leukemia.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Nuclear Executive Roundtable

From PennEnergy:

As the United States continues to look for clean, reliable energy to cut emissions and continue to provide power for the growing country, the nuclear power industry is making plans to expand. On Feb. 16, 2010, President Obama awarded the first loan guarantee for a nuclear plant under provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The award of $8.3 billion for two additional reactors at Southern Co.’s Vogtle plant in Georgia is conditional until the plant receives a combined construction and operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is expected in 2011.

Southern is not the only energy provider looking to build new nuclear reactors in the U.S. And modular designs and the battle to finance new construction means nuclear power has been grabbing headlines across the globe.

In a series of interviews, Power Engineering magazine Associate Editor Brian Wheeler moderated this year’s Nuclear Power Executive Roundtable.

Participants included John Herron, president, CEO & chief nuclear officer of Entergy Nuclear; Mark Marano, Areva senior vice president of U.S. new build operations; Danny Roderick, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s senior vice president for new plant projects; Christofer Mowry, president & CEO, Babcock & Wilcox Modular Nuclear Energy LLC; and Deva Chari, Westinghouse senior vice president of Nuclear Power Plants.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Peach Bottom Enters Outage to Replace Main Power Transformer

From Nuclear Street:

Operators at Exelon Nuclear’s Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station safely shutdown the Unit 3 reactor yesterday at 8 a.m. ET to allow workers to replace one of the station’s main power transformers. Station operators, who continuously monitor plant performance, made the determination to replace the transformer this weekend as a precaution.

Peach Bottom has six main power transformers, four of which have already been replaced as part of Exelon’s $87 million investment to ensure long-term equipment reliability at the station. The station’s Unit 3 ‘B’ transformer, one of two remaining units that have been in service since 1974, will be replaced with a spare unit of similar vintage that is currently on site. Both older transformers are scheduled for replacement next fall.

Station operators will take advantage of the outage to complete a host of other maintenance tasks that can only be performed while the unit is offline.

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Daya workers in radiation scare but CLP denies harm

From the Hong Kong Standard:

Workers of the Daya Bay Nuclear Power Station were exposed to "unacceptable" levels of radiation last month, an environmental campaigner warned, and a legislator is calling for a special meeting to discuss the incident.

Operator CLP Power, however, said the radiation leak did not cause any harm and was rated at level one on the seven- scale international nuclear incident rating system.

The latest incident at the station just 50 kilometers from Hong Kong follows a scare on May 23. In the latest incident, on October 23, a flaw was observed in a water pipe section of a residual heat removal system. The company admitted several workers were exposed to radiation - less than two millisieverts - carried by the liquid. This is less than what an average person in Hong Kong would be exposed to every year, it said.

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China's Nuclear Plant Leak Poses No Threat to Environment, Public, Workers

From Bloomberg:

Radiation that leaked from Daya Bay nuclear power station, China’s first large-scale atomic generator, poses no danger to the environment, the public or plant workers, said China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group Co.

The leak, detected on Oct. 23, was caused by a fault at a pipeline bearing coolant from the No. 1 reactor, the state-owned company said on its website today. The fault has been fixed since it was found on Oct. 26, Guangdong Nuclear said.

The leak is Daya Bay’s second following a leakage from a fuel rod in May. The No. 1 reactor has been shut since Oct. 22 for scheduled maintenance, Guangdong Nuclear, which owns 75 percent of the plant, said today.

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Clyde contaminated by radioactive leak from nuclear plant

From the Scotland Herald:

Radioactive waste has leaked into the Firth of Clyde from a defunct nuclear power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire, the Sunday Herald can reveal.

Heavy rain caused contaminated silt from the site to flood onto the foreshore, in breach of safety procedures. The Government’s environmental watchdog is now investigating whether to take legal action.

The revelation has prompted condemnation from politicians and local residents, who are critical of Hunterston’s safety record. They want tough action to prevent any further leaks from the site.

“Time and again we have had leaks of low-level radioactive material into the Clyde in recent years,” said Kenneth Gibson, the Scottish Nationalist MSP whose constituency includes Hunterston.

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Peach Bottom: Inspection Reports 05000277/2010004 and 05000278/2010004

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station - NRC Integrated Inspection Report 05000277/2010004 and 05000278/2010004 ADAMS Accession No. ML103140643 Download PDF

EDF's Expensive U.S. Nuclear Option

From the Wall Street Journal:

Big French companies have a poor investment record in the U.S.: think Crédit Lyonnais in financial services, the former Suez in water and Vivendi in entertainment.

Will Electricité de France join the hall of shame? That partly depends on the outcome of a tricky negotiation with Constellation Energy Group, which wants to exercise a $2 billion put option that would require its French nuclear joint-venture partner to buy 11 coal-fired power stations. With EDF threatening to walk away from the U.S. market, its international strategy could unravel.

EDF paid a big price to buy its foothold in the U.S. Constrained by foreign-ownership rules, it paid $4.5 billion for half of Constellation's nuclear business in 2008, outbidding Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy Holdings, which offered $4.7 billion for the whole company. EDF also acquired an 8.4% stake in Constellation. With Constellation in dire financial straits at the time, EDF offered a backstop financing facility in the form of the put option. Despite improved cash and credit lines valued at $3.8 billion as of June 30, Constellation wants to exercise the put before it expires at year-end.

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An 80-Year Run for Nuclear Reactors?

From the New York Times;

With the so-called “nuclear renaissance” looking smaller and slower than predicted, some in the nuclear industry are focusing on running existing plants longer — not only for their initial 40-year licensing period and the 20-year extension already allowed, but for a second 20-year extension.

“If you would have looked five years ago at the number of plants people were intending to construct and then you look today, it’s clear with the economic conditions we face in our nation, they’re pushing the builds out there,’’ said Maria Korsnick, the chief nuclear officer with Constellation Energy Group. (In industry-speak, that means delaying construction.)

In fact, her own company dropped out of a partnership to build a third reactor at its Calvert Cliffs site, 50 miles south of Washington, last month.

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Be very, very quiet; I'm Hunting Radioative Rabbits

From Physics Central:

A radioactive rabbit that was on the loose this week in the Hanford former nuclear reactor site in Washington state prompted state Department of Health workers to hunt for contaminated rabbit droppings in the area.

The radioactive rabbit was among several bunnies captured over the last few days (a scene which calls to mind an iconic moment in Monty Python and the Holy Grail) at the site near Richland, Wash. The hopping critters were rounded up for testing after contaminated rabbit droppings were found last week. Only one rabbit tested positive for radiation contamination.

State department of health workers used hand-held radiation-detecting instruments to look for contaminated droppings. After capturing the afflicted rabbit, the amount of tainted droppings they found decreased, leading them to believe only one rabbit was affected. None of the droppings, so far, have been found in areas accessible to the public.

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Power plant's outage program continues apace

From CourierPostOnline.com:

Oyster Creek Generating Station employees will continue working on replacing underground pipes during a planned outage as part of the state's tritium remediation project.

The power plant entered its planned refueling outage program on Monday morning.

More than 5,000 gallons of water have been pumped to date as part of the remediation project. Exelon Corp., the owner and operator of the Forked River-based power plant, shut down the reactor at 12:01 a.m. for a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage.

According to a statement Monday from Exelon Communications Manager David Benson, throughout the outage, workers will perform approximately 9,500 activities on a variety of plant components and systems, including replacing both of the station's main transformers, as well as finishing the majority of a 16-month, $13.3 million project to move pipes containing tritium above ground or into monitored vaults.

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TVA plans to spend $160 million on towers to help keep water cool

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

The Tennessee Valley Authority will spend up to $160 million here over the next three years, trying to stay out of hot water at its biggest nuclear power plant.

TVA Chief Operating Officer Bill McCollum Jr. said the federal utility will add another cooling tower and expand four of the six existing towers to better cool water from the Tennessee River that's used for power generation at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant.

The work should be done by 2013, TVA officials said.

TVA rejected a similar proposal in 2005 when officials projected that the extra cooling capacity was not needed to keep the river within thermal limits set by state regulators. But hot weather forced TVA to limit Browns Ferry generation during two of the past four summers when river water temperatures approached allowable limits.

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Nuclear Power Benefits From Republican Wins, NRG Says

From Bloomberg:

Electricity producers such as NRG Energy Inc. and Southern Co. will benefit as Republicans who won control of the U.S. House yesterday promote nuclear power as part of clean-energy legislation.

Requirements for the use of renewable power to reduce carbon emissions and encourage U.S. energy independence may win passage if nuclear plants are added to the wind turbines and solar panels favored by environmentalists, said David Crane, chief executive officer of Princeton, New Jersey-based NRG.

“A lot of the things we’re trying to do in Washington to move forward with zero- and low-carbon generation is something that at least the mainstream of the Republican Party wants to support -- nuclear power in particular,” Crane said in an interview. “It’s not just California and Oregon tree-huggers.”

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Reid Victory Likely to Keep Yucca Mountain Sealed

From ScienceInsider:

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada won reelection yesterday in a race with major ramifications for nuclear power politics.

Reid's victory over Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle not only helped the Democrats retain their majority—allowing him to retain his position as Majority Leader but also lets the Obama Administration continue moving forward with its plan to abandon a proposed nuclear waste-disposal project at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

One of Reid's big promises to Nevada voters was that this waste site would never be developed on his watch. The Obama Administration has cooperated closely with Reid in closing down the 20-year-old project. And despite efforts by Republicans to embarrass the Department of Energy (DOE) over its apparent deference to Reid in pulling its application for a license, DOE seems likely to stay the course. As a Reid spokesperson commented to the Las Vegas Review-Journal a few weeks before the election: "As long as Senator Reid is majority leader, there will not be a Yucca Mountain. …Yucca Mountain will be dead."

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Peach Bottom to unload spent fuel

From the York Daily Record:

Soon, workers at the nuclear-powered plant will unload more than 60 spent fuel assemblies from a 18-foot cask into the grid-like racks of the power station's spent fuel storage pool, said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The assemblies are bundled fuel rods that have been removed from the reactor and replaced with fresh alternates.

Last month, workers found a small amount of the inert gas had leaked from the system on the cask, which is designed to prevent helium inside the 115-ton container from escaping.

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Entergy to put Vt. Yankee on market

From boston.com:

Entergy Corp. will announce this week that it plans to sell the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, confirming months of speculation and perhaps beginning a new chapter in the contentious relationship between the plant and the state, according to a top Vermont utility regulator.

David O'Brien, commissioner of the Department of Public Service, said Entergy Corp. officials told him they planned to announce that they were seeking a buyer for the 650-megawatt reactor.

"My understanding is that there is an impending announcement that they are in fact pursuing a sale of the plant," O'Brien said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

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Radioactive groundwater reported at Va. plant

From WTKR:

Dominion Virginia Power said Monday it is seeking the source of low-level groundwater radiation detected by one of its monitoring stations at its twin-reactor nuclear power plant in North Anna.
The utility said the elevated levels did not pose a health hazard to plant workers or residents, according to a filing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The elevated reading was detected in April by one of eight monitoring stations and has since returned to acceptable levels.
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TMI: NRC Report 5000289-2010004

Three Mile Island Station, Unit 1 - NRC Integrated Inspection Report 5000289-2010004

Download PDF

Monday, November 8, 2010

EPA Recognizes Top Green Power Purchasers

Release date: 11/01/2010

Contact Information: Stacy Kika Kika.stacy@epa.gov 202-564-0906 202-564-4355 Cathy Milbourn Milbourn.cathy@epa.gov 202-564-7849 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing its list of the top 50 organizations using the most renewable electricity. The Green Power Partnership’s top purchasers use more than 12 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electricity use of more than 1 million average American homes. Green power is generated from renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, and low-impact hydropower. The Intel Corporation tops the list as the Partnership’s largest single purchaser of green power and was recently honored with a 2010 EPA Green Power Leadership Award for green power purchasing. The company uses more than 1.4 billion kWh annually, equivalent to avoiding the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of nearly 125,000 average American homes. Both Kohl’s Department Stores and Whole Foods Market received the 2010 EPA Green Power Partner of the Year Awards, and came in as second and third this quarter in purchasing green power. Reaching the top five for the first time, Starbucks (No. 4) more than doubled its annual green power purchase to more than 573 million kWh of green power equivalent to avoiding the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of nearly 50,000 average American homes annually. Also in the top five is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which increased its green power purchase to 500 million kWh of green power annually. Rounding out the top 10 are the City of Houston, Dell Inc., Johnson & Johnson, the U.S. Air Force, and the City of Dallas. EPA’s Green Power Partnership works with nearly 1,300 partner organizations to voluntarily purchase green power to reduce the environmental impacts of conventional electricity use. Overall, EPA’s Green Power Partners are using nearly 18 billion kWh of green power annually, equivalent to avoiding the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of more than 1.5 million average American homes. Green power resources produce electricity with an environmental profile superior to conventional power technologies and produce no net increase to greenhouse gas emissions. Purchases of green power also help accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide. More information on the top 50 list: http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/toplists/top50.htm More information on EPA’s Green Power Partnership: http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/

Democratic Governors Association courts nuclear industry

From the Burlington Free Press:
The Democratic Governors Association, in a letter sent to representatives of the nuclear industry last month, said the party group’s funding of ads detailing problems at the Vermont Yankee facility in Vernon does not mean it opposes nuclear power. "I understand that our sponsorship of these ads could have given the impression that we are against nuclear power," Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, wrote in a letter dated Sept. 10. "I want to assure you that this is not the case." "These ads are meant to be statements about the candidates we oppose, not about the use of nuclear power in general," Daschle’s letter continued. "It is not our practice to adopt policy positions, but as you know many of our governors are ardent supporters of nuclear energy."
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NRC's approval of VY inches forward

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

Entergy came one step closer to receiving its approved license renewal for Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant on Thursday when the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rejected an appeal from the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution.

The contention dealt with NEC's assertion that Entergy did not have an adequate aging management program in place to deal with the effects of moist or wet environments on buried, below-grade, underground or hard-to reach safety-related electrical cables.

The submittal cited an NRC inspection finding from last May that dealt with this issue.

The ASLB based its denial on three factors: The motion was not timely because the issue of submergence of electrical cables at nuclear power plants has been known for years and could have been questioned in a contention before this past August; the motion does not address a "significant" safety or environmental issue; and because NEC was unable to demonstrate that a materially different result would be or would have been "likely" had the newly proffered evidence been considered initially.

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Offsite Notification Due to Sodium Hypochlorite Leak from Underground Piping

Event Number: 46374 Facility: PERRY Event Date: 10/28/2010 OFFSITE NOTIFICATION DUE TO SODIUM HYPOCHLORITE LEAK FROM UNDERGROUND PIPING "On October 28, 2010, at 1740 hours, the plant entered the Off-Normal Instruction for spills and unauthorized discharges. At 1751 hours, notification of a sodium hypochlorite spill was made to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Response Center. At the time of the event, the plant was in Mode 1 at 100% power. The sodium hypochlorite spill is believed to be the result of a leak in an underground piping supply line to the Emergency Service Water pump house. The leak is estimated to be approximately 130 gallons of a 12.5% Sodium Hypochlorite (Bleach) solution (80 gallons in a 24 hour period is the reportable quantity). The associated chlorination systems have been isolated, and current storage tank level is stable, indicating no more leakage in progress. "Additionally, the Ohio EPA: State Emergency Response Commission, Perry Township Fire Department, Lake County Emergency Planning Committee, and the U.S. Coast Guard were notified in accordance with plant procedures. This event is also being reported in accordance with the Operating License, Appendix B, Environment Protection Plan, which states in part, 'Any occurrence of an unusual or important event that indicates or could result in significant environmental impact causally related to plant operation shall be recorded and reported to the NRC within 24 hours followed by a written report ..' Specifically, ' ..unanticipated or emergency discharge of waste water or chemical substances.' The NRC Resident Inspector has been notified."

Op-ed: Thanks to U.S. Senator Casey for protecting the Great Lakes from radioactive waste shipping risks

Dear Erie Times-News Editorial Department, U.S. Senator Robert Casey, Jr. deserves the thanks of those who love and cherish Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes. He recently joined an effort, along with six other U.S. Senators from around the Great Lakes, to put the brakes on a risky radioactive waste shipment that would traverse Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, and the rivers and waterways that connect them. By doing so, Sen. Casey has challenged this precedent-setting shipment that could lead to even more risky high-level radioactive waste shipments on the Great Lakes. Sen. Casey, joined by Sens. Feingold (D-WI), Durbin (D-IL), Levin (D-MI), Stabenow (D-MI), Schumer (D-NY), and Gillibrand (D-NY), has challenged the proposal by Bruce nuclear power plant on Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada to ship 16 school bus-sized, 100 ton radioactive steam generators on a single boat across the Atlantic to Sweden for so-called “recycling.” The seven Senators fired off letters last month to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), urging that the highest level environmental assessments be performed before this shipment is allowed to enter U.S. territorial waters. The Senators’ concerns are well founded. Bruce Nuclear’s CEO has admitted that there is no emergency plan in place if the ship were to sink, flippantly adding that there would be plenty of time to figure out what to do once the ship sank. CNSC’s staff has done a shoddy job analyzing the risks, initially excluding consideration of Plutonium-241, an ultra-hazardous isotope whose inclusion nearly doubled the radioactivity content of the shipment. CNSC has even admitted that the welds sealing shut the radioactive steam generators are only good to a depth of 800 feet below water, the very depth of Lake Ontario, meaning there is no safety margin. It is important Sen. Casey hold PHMSA’s feet to the fire. Recent U.S. House hearings shined a spotlight on PHMSA’s incompetence in light of the recent, disastrous oil pipeline leaks into rivers in Illinois and Michigan – threatening the Great Lakes downstream – as well as deadly natural gas pipeline explosions, and the agency’s cozy connections to the very companies it is supposed to regulate. Sen. Casey has also questioned the risks of “recycling” radioactive metal. Radioactive consumer products could be re-imported to the U.S., exposing unsuspecting American families to radiation hazards. This radioactive waste shipment could set a bad precedent for worse to come on the Great Lakes. In 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy proposed 453 barge shipments of high-level radioactive waste on Lake Michigan as part of the plan for moving irradiated nuclear fuel to Yucca Mountain, Nevada for burial. This raises serious safety and security concerns. If such a shipment sank, there is enough fissile Uranium-235 and Plutonium-239 in the irradiated nuclear fuel that a chain reaction could be sparked on the bottom of the Great Lakes. This would make emergency response a suicide mission, and result in catastrophic radioactivity releases. President Obama, to his credit, has cancelled the Yucca dump and such risky shipment plans. But any away-from-reactor proposals, such as reprocessing or centralized interim storage, could again raise the specter of radioactive waste shipments on the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes represent 20% of the surface fresh water on the planet. They supply drinking water to 40 million people, and are the engine for one of the world’s biggest regional economies. Sen. Casey deserves our thanks for protecting them from the risks of radioactive waste transport. Sincerely, Kevin Kamps -- Kevin Kamps Radioactive Waste Watchdog Beyond Nuclear 6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 400 Takoma Park, Maryland 20912 Office: (301) 270-2209 ext. 1 Cell: (240) 462-3216 Fax: (301) 270-4000 kevin@beyondnuclear.org www.beyondnuclear.org

TMI: Notification of Conduct of Triennial Fire Protection Baseline Inspection

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station Unit 1: Notification of Conduct of a Triennial Fire Protection Baseline Inspection Download ML103010015

Cook Nuclear Unit 2 Refueling Extended for Emergent Repairs

From PRNewsWire:
The refueling outage for Cook Nuclear Plant Unit 2 will be extended by two to three weeks for repairs to internal components of the reactor vessel. The plant, owned and operated by Indiana Michigan Power, a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), had an initial projected return-to-service date of Nov. 6. Routine inspections following removal of the fuel assemblies identified damaged bolts from the reactor vessel's baffle plates. The baffle plates direct water flow through the fuel assemblies in the reactor. Similar bolt failures have occurred and been repaired previously in the industry. There are existing safety analyses and specialized repair tools being used to resolve the issue. The 18 damaged baffle bolts are grouped on one baffle plate. Those bolts are being removed and analyzed. Determining the root cause of the failure is ongoing. Data and analyses from those 18 bolts will determine final repair plans. In keeping with its conservative operating philosophy, I&M plans to perform all necessary repairs during this refueling outage to ensure the problem is bounded and repairs support long-term reliable operation.
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Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station deals with helium leak

From the York Dispatch:

Engineers at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station are working with a vendor to repair a helium leak from a system designed to stabilize radioactive waste inside a large cask.

No radiation has been released, and the amount of escaped helium is inconsequential, said plant officials and the federal agency that oversees security at the plant.

Plant spokesman David Tillman said there are 49 casks on site at Peach Bottom. Each unit -- inside of which radioactive waste or "spent fuel" from the plant is stored -- is 115 tons of steel equipped with a pressurization monitoring system.

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New NRC chief says he urged Entergy to be more open

From the Rutland Herald:
The new regional administrator for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday he is urging Entergy Nuclear to be more “open and transparent” with the people of Vermont about the problems at Vermont Yankee. William Dean, a 25-year NRC veteran of the federal agency, also said the NRC had no information about the repeated rumored sale of Vermont Yankee, whose license to operate expires in March 2012. Over the weekend, a British business website, SGAM, citing sources, said Entergy Nuclear had hired the Morgan Stanley investment firm to handle the potential sale. In August, Energy Daily, an e-newsletter, again citing anonymous sources, had said the plant was for sale. Dean said usually such developments are kept very quiet in the corporate world, noting that the recent failure of the deal between a French firm to build a new reactor at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant took the agency completely by surprise.
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Oyster Creek's solution to tritium leak: Water it down

From the Press of Atlantic City:
The Oyster Creek nuclear power plant will use an age-old method to clean up a radioactive water spill: For this plant and others like it, the solution to pollution is dilution.

Oyster Creek will soon begin pumping 25 to 50 gallons per minute from the Cape May and Cohansey aquifers to remove water contaminated with the radioactive material tritium. That amount is a trickle compared with the 115,000 to 460,000 gallons per minute that flows through the Ocean County plant to cool its radioactive core, owner Exelon Corp. said.

Exelon discovered on April 15, 2009, that an estimated 180,000 gallons of tritium-laced water had leaked from a pipe, seeping beneath the ground into two aquifers that supply drinking water to more than 1 million New Jersey residents.

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Peach Bottom: Cask Leakage Rate Greater than Specification

Facility: PEACH BOTTOM Event Date: 10/22/2010 SPENT FUEL STORAGE RELATED DEFECT - CASK LEAKAGE RATE GREATER THAN TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION "On 10/22/10, at 1058 EDT, a troubleshooting of Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) Cask TN-50-A indicated that a leak existed in the cask lid sealing area at a rate greater than allowed by ISFSI Cask Technical Specification (TS) Section 3.1.3, Cask Helium Leak Rate. TS 3.1.3 limits the Cask Helium Leak Rate to 1.0 E-05 ref-cc/sec. The cask is currently in unloading operations and is located within the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station Unit 3 containment building. Preliminary review indicates that a leak exists at the weld plug that provides sealing of the drilled interseal passageway associated with the drain port penetration of the cask lid. This leak effectively provides a bypass of the main lid outer confinement seal. "This report if being submitted pursuant to 10CFR72.75(c)(1) as a result of a material defect in a weld in the cask main lid. This report is also being submitted pursuant to 10CFR72.75 ® (2) as a result of a resolution in the effectiveness of the cask confinement system. "The Certificate of Compliance for this cask is 1027 (Amendment 1). "The NRC Resident Inspector has been informed of this notification."

Alabama’s financial risk in utility bonds

From examiner.com:

A first-ever report on the hidden financial risk for investors who buy the water and electric utility bonds that finance much of the country's vast water and power infrastructure was released October 22, 2010, by Ceres and Water Asset Management.

The report, The Ripple Effect: Water Risk in the Municipal Bond Market, evaluates and ranks water scarcity risks for public water and power utilities in some of the country's most water-stressed regions.

"Water scarcity is a growing risk to many public utilities across the country and investors owning utility bonds don't even know it," said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, which authored the report. "Utilities rely on water to repay their bond debts. If water supplies run short, utility revenues potentially fall, which means less money to pay off their bonds. Our report makes clear that this risk scenario is a distinct possibility for utilities in water-stressed regions and bond investors should be aware of it."

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

“Standards: An Integral Part of Regulating for Safety

Prepared Remarks for The Honorable Gregory B. Jaczko Chairman, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Download PDF

In-Ground Wall to Filter Water at NY Nuke Site

From WGRZ:

Contaminated water inching through the ground at a New York nuclear cleanup site is about to hit a wall.

And if all goes as planned, it will seep through and come out clean on the other side.

Crews at the West Valley Demonstration Project in western New York are digging a three-foot wide trench as deep as 30 feet and filling it with volcanic material called zeolite.

The in-ground zeolite wall is meant to decontaminate groundwater as it filters through.

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Suspicious Package Found at Nuke Plant Near Phoenix

From Fox News:
Maricopa County Sheriff's spokesman Brian Lee says security officers at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station called them at about 5 a.m. after they found the suspicious package. A second call initially led to confusion that a second device may have been found, but that was quickly discounted. Lee says a sheriff's bomb squad is investigating. A spokesman for plant operator Arizona Public Service Co. says security guards found the suspicious package during a search of a vehicle at a checkpoint about a mile from the plant. The plant is operating normally, but traffic in and out is stopped.
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Who rules Yankee?

From Vtdigger.org:
Last week’s discovery of tritium in a well that until last February supplied drinking water to a building at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant is again raising questions about who has authority to oversee the plant’s safety and reliability. Vermont’s two candidates for governor have staked out starkly different positions on the plant’s continued operation beyond its 2012 scheduled closing date. Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie supports relicensure by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Sen. Peter Shumlin, the Democrat, spearheaded a vote in the state Senate last spring to deny Yankee an opportunity to seek a 20-year extension of its license. Despite news reports to the contrary, those basic positions haven’t changed since last week’s new revelations that extremely low-level amounts of tritium have been found in a well connected to a “fractured” bedrock aquifer that flows toward the river, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
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Shumlin, Dubie weigh in on Vermont Yankee

From the Brattleboro Reformer:
Vermont’s top two gubernatorial candidates weighed in on an already controversial issue this election cycle when Republican Brian Dubie and Democrat Peter Shumlin both released statements regarding the recent detection of tritium in a decommissioned drinking water well at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Dubie, the state’s incumbent lieutenant governor from Essex Junction, said he was troubled by the latest reports at the Vernon-based facility after state health officials reported a sample taken from a former drinking water well was contaminated with tritium on Friday. Earlier this year, engineers at the plant traced tritium leaks to an old system of pipes. No tritium -- a radioactive byproduct of nuclear power as well as a naturally-occurring isotope -- was detected at the deepest range of the closed well, however. Yankee opponents have deemed the nuclear plant unsafe with the radioactive material findings while advocates consider the tritium issue over-politicized because the concentration detected is relatively low when compared to Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards. "I’ve always said that the health and safety of Vermonters comes first. [Friday’s] discovery demonstrates the plant has much more work to do in order to regain the trust and confidence of Vermonters," Dubie said last week in a release. "I am calling on plant management to be open and forthright with information about the latest discovery. Questions must be answered. Trust must be rebuilt."
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