Sunday, January 31, 2010

Susquehanna: Notice of Violation

From the NRC (ML100280714):
This refers to the inspection completed on September 30, 2009, at Susquehanna Steam Electric Station Units 1 and 2 (Susquehanna). The purpose of the inspection was to examine activities complted under your license as they relate to safety and compliance with the Commission's rules and regulations and with the conditions of your license. During the inspection, the NRC reviewed two instances ofa failure by PPL Susquehanna, LLC (PPL) to obtain NRC approval for two senior reactor operators (SROs) to continue to conduct NRC-licensed activities after each SRO did not meet a specific medical prerequisite for performing the duties of a licensed operator, as required by 10 CFR 55.3. These faiulres, which were identified by your staff, were discussed during an exit meeting that Mr. Paul Krohn and the Susquehanna resident inspectors held with your staff on October 9, 2009. The apparent violation was described in detail in the subject NRC inspection report dated November 13, 2009.
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Peach Bottom: Changes that Implement Revised Rules for Gas Control

From the NRC (ml100130814):
Subject: Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Units 2 and 3 - Issuance of License Amedments to Incorporate TSTF-478, Revision 2, "BWR Technical Specifications Changes that Implement the Revised Rule for Combustible Gas Control"
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

PSB sees Entergy pattern of deception

From the Rutland Herald:
The Vermont Public Service Board said Wednesday Entergy Nuclear may have provided false information to state utility regulators and the Legislature "for an extended period of time," and said the issue is "broader" than just buried radioactive pipes at Vermont Yankee. James Volz, chairman of the Public Service Board, said it appeared Entergy had given not just false sworn testimony to the board, but also to the Public Service Department, to the state's contractor, Nuclear Safety Associates, the state's Public Oversight Panel, the Legislature and the public. The controversy over radioactive leaks and Entergy's misinformation erupted almost three weeks ago, when Entergy announced that a groundwater monitoring well had tested positive for tritium, a radioactive isotope. The company quickly launched an investigation to find the source of the radioactivity. The probable source: buried pipes that the company said last year didn't exist. Compounding the problem, Volz said, is that Entergy "did nothing to correct the record."
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Douglas fed up with Vermont Yankee

From the Burlington Free Press:

“Like many Vermonters, I have lost trust in the current management team, and I have been disappointed that changes have not already been made,” Douglas said during a news conference Wednesday, shifting from his long-standing support of the plant.

Douglas said long-term decisions about the plant cannot be made until the company re-establishes the public’s trust following revelations this month that the radioactive isotope tritium is leaking from the plant, and that company officials misled the state about the presence of pipes that might be involved in the leak, the source of which remains unknown.

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N.C. nuclear plant gets deal on meltdown-era Three Mile Island generator

From Facing South:
The generator from the unit at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island nuclear power plant that suffered a meltdown in March 1979 has found a new home at a nuclear plant in North Carolina -- a move that's sparking concerns among nuclear industry watchdogs. FirstEnergy, the Ohio-based company that owns TMI (pictured right), sold the Unit 2 generator to Siemens Power Generation, a division of the German conglomerate Siemens AG. Siemens in turn sold it to North Carolina-based Progress Energy, which plans to install the equipment at its Shearon Harris nuclear plant near Raleigh, N.C. to boost power capacity. Progress is selling the generator that's currently at the plant to Siemens for resale to the nuclear industry.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Exelon wants to store nuclear waste at Peach Bottom plant


Exelon Energy wants to begin sending low-level radioactive waste from its Limerick nuclear plant to the Peach Bottom nuclear plant in York County.

Exelon has applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to amend its operating license so that each year it can send one or two truckloads of the waste from the Montgomery County plant to Peach Bottom, where it would be stored.

For decades, most low-level radioactive waste generated at nuclear plants in the East has been sent to a licensed low-level radioactive waste facility near Barnwell, S.C.

But in July 2008 the facility stopped accepting waste from all but three states.

The on-site storage facility at Limerick is filling up, but 98 percent of the storage capacity at Peach Bottom is available for use, said Rochelle Benson, an Exelon spokeswoman at Peach Bottom.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

December NRC staff paper on buried piping issues

From the NRC:
This paper responds to the Chairman’s memorandum dated September 3, 2009, (Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) Accession No. ML092460648) tasking the staff to describe the activities currently underway or planned addressing the issue of leaks from buried piping. In his memorandum, Chairman Jaczko requested a staff evaluation of the adequacy of (1) Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requirements for design, inspection and maintenance of safety-related buried piping; (2) American Society of Mechanical Engineers Code (ASME Code) requirements for design, inspection, and maintenance of safety-related piping; and (3) voluntary initiatives for the design, inspection, and maintenance of safety-related and nonsafety-related buried piping. The Chairman also requested a discussion of staff plans for recommending any revisions to regulations, requirements, practices or oversight related to buried piping.
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Upcoming Public Meeting on Proposed Enhancements to the Force-on-Force Inspection Program

Good afternoon! In case you're interested, NRC's Office of Nuclear Security & Incident Response is hosting a public meeting on proposed enhancements to the Force-on-Force Inspection Program and Significance Determination Process on February 10, 2010 from 10 am to 4 pm. For this meeting, we will be using Microsoft Live Meeting, the same web conferencing technology used during the emergency preparedness rulemaking meetings last summer and fall. Stakeholders interested in participating via the web or over the phone should contact F. Paul Peduzzi or Raymond Gibson (contact information below) no later than February 8. Meeting Contacts: F. Paul Peduzzi, NSIR/DSO 301-415-5734, Raymond Gibson, NSIR/DSO 301-415-7801, Thank you! Sara K. (Sahm) Mroz Communications and Outreach Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response US Nuclear Regulatory Commission 301-415-1692 (direct)

Tritium leaks a problem at many plants

From the Burlington Free Press:
At least 20 nuclear power plants around the country have reported tritium soil or water contamination, based on a Free Press examination of Nuclear Regulatory Commission documents and information gleaned from interviews with advocates and critics of nuclear power. Among the 20 plants are six boiling-water reactors owned by Entergy Nuclear, the Louisiana-based firm that has owned Vermont Yankee since 2002 and is seeking to have Vermont Yankee’s operating license for the 650-megawatt facility in Vernon extended for another 20 years.
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Weak demand cuts into Peco parent’s 4Q profits

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Exelon Corp., parent company of Peco Energy Co. and one of the nation's largest power generators, said today that its fourth-quarter profit fell 18 percent on weak electrical demand.

After the Chicago company's stock sank - at midafternoon, it was down 2.06 percent to $47.06 - Exelon chief executive John W. Rowe cast the earnings report as "nothing but good news" that "bodes well" for the current year.

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Announcing the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Safety Culture Workshop February 2-4, 2010

Hello Sir/Madam: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is announcing a meeting with stakeholder’s regarding reaching alignment on a high-level definition for safety culture and traits to be used for all NRC licensed activities. The attached meeting notice provides the specifics regarding this meeting scheduled February 2-4, 2010, near NRC headquarters in Rockville, MD. You are receiving this notice since in the past you have been involved and/or participated in NRC safety culture initiatives or may have expressed interest in this topic. Interested individuals may participate in the workshop in person or teleconferencing or through the use of a computer and the internet. If you plan on participating in this workshop, I encourage you to contact one of the NRC contacts on the meeting notice. Information regarding the NRC's effort on safety culture can be found at the safety culture website. Thank you for your time and we hope that you will participate in this effort. Respectfully, Alex Sapountzis Enforcement Specialist Office of Enforcement U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission 11555 Rockville Pike Mail Stop O-4A15A Rockville, MD 20852 Phone: 301-415-7822

Study: Nuclear plant radiation may be to blame for cancer spike

From the Hazleton Standard Speaker:

Thyroid cancer rates in Pennsylvania soared in recent decades and radiation from nuclear power plants may be the cause, a study released Thursday said.

Joseph Mangano, who authored the study which appeared in the International Journal of Health Services and is executive director for the Radiation and Public Health Project, called the growth in the number of cases "an epidemic."

Pennsylvania's incidence of thyroid cancer in the mid-1980s was 40 percent below the national rate, and now the rate is 44 percent above the national rate, he said.

"Something occurred to change Pennsylvania's rate from low to high, and one of these possible factors is radiation from reactors," Mangano said.

Some of the highest thyroid cancer rates occur in eastern Pennsylvania, which has the nation's largest concentration of nuclear reactors, including the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station in Salem Township, he said.

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TMI Unit 2: Electrical Rotor and Stator Shipments Talking Points

  • First Energy, the owner of Three Mile Island Unit 2, has sold the TMI-2 electrical rotor and stator to Siemens Power Group. Siemens has sold them to Progress Energy in North Carolina and has hired Biggie Power Constructors to ship them.
  • The TMI-2 rotor and stator are not contaminated.
  • The rotor and stator will be shipped to North Carolina in two separate shipments. Biggie Power Constructors is the shipper.
  • The first shipment will be the rotor in early February and it will go from TMI by truck to a rail siding about two miles north of the plant near Royalton. From there the rotor will be shipped by rail to North Carolina. This rotor weighs about 170 tons.
  • The stator is scheduled to be shipped sometime in early to mid-March and will travel from TMI to Havre de Grace in Maryland on a large multi-axel transporter. The stator weighs 460 tons and will take five days to reach Havre de Grace. Biggie Power Constructors is working with Penn DOT to secure all the required permits. The stator shipment to Havre de Grace will involve crossing the Rt. 30 bridge and Interstate 95.
  • Exelon Nuclear is making notifications to local stakeholders as part of our outreach program. For more information about the shipments you can contact the following point of contact at Biggie Power Constructors:
Mr. Roger Simpson Operations/Project Manager Biggie Power Constructors 510-918-4608 (mobile) For questions about how these parts (rotor and stator) will be used or about Progress Energy, please contact: Julia Milstead Progress Energy Harris Nuclear Plant Corporate Communications Office: (919) 362-2160 Cell: 919-522-6467

Left out in the cold: Pennsylvania utility shutoffs are on the rise

From the Patriot News:

Five years ago, Chapter 14 went into effect making it easier for companies to shut off customers’ utilities when they get behind in payments, scuttling protections that had been in place through the Public Utility Commission.

Reports from the PUC show that shutoffs have increased dramatically since the law was passed, and that has meant families making dangerous decisions on how to heat their homes.

The Legislature erred five years ago and should make changes to the law to give the PUC — not private companies — once again more flexibility as the final arbiter on consumers’ utility shutoffs and reconnections.

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Following Disclosure, Yankee's Record Is Examined

From Vermont Public Radio:
(Host) Last week, there was a political uproar over the disclosure of underground pipes at Vermont Yankee and rising levels of tritium in monitoring wells.

State regulators were apparently misled about the existence of the underground pipes.

And now, a lot of people are examining the record to see what Yankee said.

VPR's John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) Up until last week, Entergy Vermont Yankee had insisted that the plant did not have underground pipes that carry radioactive material.

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DEP Missing Nuclear Gauge Recovered Radioactive Materials Intact

From the DEP:

The Department of Environmental Protection said today that officials in Economy, Beaver County, located the nuclear density gauge that was reported missing last week by Coraopolis-based Jeff Zell Consultants Inc.

A member of Economy’s road crew discovered the device intact and in its transportation case along Cooney Hollow Road and immediately reported it to police.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yankee contamination worsens

From the Rutland Herald:
The level of radioactive tritium is continuing to rise in the monitoring well at Vermont Yankee, and is now just below reportable drinking water standards, a representative from Entergy Nuclear said Friday. The level of tritium in the well was measured Thursday at 19,800 picocuries per liter, up from the 17,000 picocuries per liter last week, according to Robert Williams, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear. Williams said the new reading was still below reportable limits by 200 picocuries per liter. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has set a standard of 20,000 picocuries per liter. The level of tritium in the well has steadily risen since mid-November, when a test first showed tritium. The November level was 700 parts per liter, and then jumped to 17,000 and 14,500 parts per liter in two tests last week.
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Pantex placed on lockdown

The Pantex Plant, located in the Texas Panhandle, has been placed on lockdown. Below is the official release from the plant.
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State rips Vermont Yankee

From the Burlington Free Press:
The Douglas administration blasted Vermont Yankee on Thursday, saying the company repeatedly denied last year that the Vernont nuclear power plant had underground pipes that contain radioactive fluid. This week -- in revelations that prompted a call Thursday for a federal investigation -- it became clear the plant had such pipes after a leak of radioactive tritium was traced to them. "For us, this is a real problem," said Public Service Commissioner David O'Brien. "The governor feels this has been a breach of trust." Vermont Yankee owner Entergy Corp. revealed last week that elevated levels of radioactive tritium were found in a groundwater monitoring well at the plant and confirmed this week that underground piping was among the possible sources of the contamination. Officials initially reported the level of tritium released was not a health threat, but they continue to monitor whether the leak has spread.
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reps. Markey, John Hall And Adler Request Investigation Into Leaky Pipes at Nuclear Plants

For Immediate Release January 14, 2010 WASHINGTON, D.C. - Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.), and Rep. John Adler (D-N.J.) sent a letter yesterday to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an investigation into the integrity, safety, inspection, maintenance, regulations and enforcement issues surrounding buried piping at our nation’s nuclear power plants. These pipes serve critical functions within power plants. In some cases, these buried pipes carry the water which would cool the reactor core in the event of an unexpected plant shut-down. In other cases, the pipes carry diesel fuel to emergency generators. Despite the critical importance of these pipes, most have never been inspected. After decades underground, neither the NRC nor the plant operators can be absolutely certain that the pipes are intact. The letter to the GAO was prompted by a rash of recent failures in the buried piping systems of nuclear reactors. For example, just one week after the 40-year-old Oyster Creek (NJ) reactor’s license was extended for another 20 years, plant workers discovered standing water in an on-site cable vault. This water, apparently leaking from two different buried pipes, was contaminated with the radioactive isotope tritium. A similar leak at the Indian Point (NY) reactor occurred last February in pipes that are part of the primary backup cooling system, which cools the reactor during any unexpected shutdown. The pipes at the Indian Point reactor had not been inspected since 1973 – when the plant was built. These cases are not isolated incidents. Other known or suspected leaky buried piping systems at our nation’s nuclear power plants were found in Ohio, California and Illinois. “Under current regulations, miles and miles of buried pipes within nuclear reactors have never been inspected and will likely never be inspected,” said Markey. “This is simply unacceptable. As it stands, the NRC requires – at most – a single, spot inspection of the buried piping systems no more than once every 10 years. This cannot possibly be sufficient to ensure the safety of both the public and the plant.” "Recent leaks at Indian Point indicate a serious potential for disaster that must be understood and sufficiently monitored to prevent problems," said Rep. Hall, whose Congressional District includes Indian Point. "The aging buried infrastructure at Indian Point should not be ignored and needs to be a major consideration in Indian Point's re-licensing process. With eight percent of the U.S. population living within 50 miles of Indian Point, any breakdown there would be catastrophic." In their GAO request, the Congressmen lay out their questions about the NRC’s buried pipe inspection processes, current relevant regulations, and whether they are both adequate and enforced in a manner that is sufficiently protective of reactor and public safety. A copy of the letter can be found here

Monday, January 11, 2010

Nuke plant security improves

From the Times Leader:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced Friday that a follow-up inspection of the nuclear plant in Salem Township found that security issues from a previous inspection had been corrected, though the NRC and the operator wouldn’t elaborate on what those issues were and how they were addressed.

The announcement brings attention to a double-edged concern with nuclear power, which is poised to increase in the country as greenhouse-gas-producing, fossil-fuel-burning plants are phased out.

“We don’t provide details on security inspection findings because that information could be useful to an individual or group intent on attacking a nuclear power plant,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan wrote in an e-mail.

Because of the potential for widespread health hazards if a plant were breached – consider the close brush with a meltdown at Three Mile Island in the Harrisburg area in 1979 – the NRC and nuclear operators are consistently mum about security issues and how they’re handled.

“We’re not going to deny that there was a finding,” said Joe Scopelliti, a spokesman for PPL Corp.’s Susquehanna Steam Electric Station. “At the same time, we’re not going to say what it was exactly so that people who would choose to do us harm, we’re not going to tip our hat to them, either.”

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Susquehanna Steam: Relief Requests


Cooling towers required for Oyster Creek nuclear plant may force its closure

New Jersey environmental officials are requiring the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Ocean County -- the nation’s oldest nuclear plant -- to install cooling towers. The design change is considered environmentally-friendly, yet costly, and one the plant operators say will force them to shut down.

The state Department of Environmental Protection is requiring the installation of a "closed-cycle cooling system," which involves mostly air-cooling the plant using one or two towers.

The plant currently cools its system by pumping in about 662 million gallons of water from the Barnegat Bay each day, and pumping in another 748 million additional gallons per day to dilute that heated water before it all is discharged back into the bay, according to Nancy Whittenberg, assistant commissioner for environmental regulation.
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Vermont Yankee groundwater well tests positive for radioactive isotope for the first time

From the Los Angeles Times:
A small amount of radioactive material was found in a test of groundwater wells at the Vermont Yankee nuclear facility, the plant confirmed Thursday. The problem at the 38-year-old reactor is similar to those cropping up at nuclear plants around the country, with the discovery of a radioactive isotope called tritium in a monitoring well. Vermont Yankee spokesman Robert Williams said Thursday the plant confirmed a report provided a day earlier by an independent testing laboratory hired to check samples from 32 groundwater monitoring wells on the site. Williams said it was the first time a groundwater sample at the plant had tested positive for tritium.
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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Follow up: Radiation releases during TMI event on November 21 2009

Eric, We do not share copies of Condition Reports or issue reports with the public. On occasion, the NRC reviews these reports at the plants but we do not typically submit them to the agency. However, the answers to your other questions are provided in blue after each question. We have some follow up questions based on your press release of December 18, 2009. If the TMI containment was open for the steam generator replacement, we are trying to determine if cobalt was released and detected by Exelon’s monitors off the Island to the southeast. We know Cobalt 60 is an activation product - not a fission product - so it does not indicate a fuel failure. Nevertheless, the release(s) did come from inside the reactor. 1) Was cobalt released during the event November 21, 2009? Yes, Cobalt was identified in the samples. 2) If so, did Exelon or the NRC attempt to correlate the C0-60 to where the wind was blowing on the day of the release? Yes, the wind was blowing in the Southeast direction that afternoon/evening. 3) Is Exelon or the NRC looking for other depositions or the centerline of the plume? If so, Cobalt-60 has a hard gamma and is easy to find. Exelon has analyzed samples in adjacent sectors. All but the ones identified in the press release indicated less than detectable levels of activity. There is an assumption in the press release that Exelon measured the worst case scenario which may be wrong since this was a ground level release, and building wake effects would keep the plume on the ground and near the plant. 4) Did Exelon check for beta emitters at the sample locations? Yes, the analysis performed at the off-site lab checks for Beta emitters per our program requirements. 5) Also, a Condition Report has been written up on this event. That is disclosable under FOIA. Can you share a copy? The sample results were entered into our Corrective Action Program and will be included in our normal Report. Thank you for your patience throughout the holidays. I hope the information is helpful. I read your recent postings on your website and I am looking forward to discussing the changes to your monitoring system. Please let me know if you need clarification or would like to get together soon. Happy New Year, Alisa Harris-Daniels

Sustainable Energy Fund Launches New Program to Acquire $20 million in Environmental Attributes

For Immediate Release:

Sustainable Energy Fund Introduces New Program To Spur Small Scale Renewable Energy Generation Development.

ALLENTOWN, PA. -Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) today announced its planned acquisition of more than $20 million in environmental attributes to support the development of small scale renewable energy generation resources such as solar, wind or biomass.

“SEF has been monitoring Pennsylvania’s renewable energy credit market and is growing concerned that small generation resources are at a disadvantage in favor of large utility scale projects,” stated Jennifer Hopkins, President, SEF. “PECO recently issued an RFP for purchase of solar RECs that required a minimum of 300 RECs be produce from a single system. The average residential system produces 4 RECs annually.” She continued “The economics and motivation are simple. Large utilities like PPL do not generate transmission and distribution revenues from the average homeowner or small business that generated their own electricity behind the meter.”

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission recently issued a press release seeking comment on addressing barriers to new solar development in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Renewable Energy Credits are one type of Environmental Attribute often used by Pennsylvania’s electric generation suppliers and electric distribution companies to comply with Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard that requires an annually increasing percentage of electricity generation to come from renewable resources such as wind or solar. SEF’s new program seeks to acquire the rights to these credits as well as other attributes such as carbon credits.

“This new program is very exciting as it utilizes SEF’s unique position as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, financial expertise and knowledge of renewable energy markets to support the development of residential and small scale commercial renewable generation,” said Jennifer Hopkins. She continued “We are constantly working to develop new programs that support the development of sustainable energy.”

Informational meetings on SEF’s new program dubbed “Green to Green” will be held on January 6, 7 and 8 in Valley Forge, Harrisburg and the Lehigh Valley respectively. To register, please visit and click incentives and financing. Hopkins closed by stating, “The acquisition of these environmental attributes by SEF will not eliminate the unfair practices by the utilities but will help residential and small commercial generators realize value from their investment.”

About Sustainable Energy Fund

SEF is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit that was create as the result of a settlement approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission during electric deregulation proceedings. The organization seeks out, focuses on and invests in economically viable, energy related businesses, projects, and educational initiatives that create innovative, market-based technologies and solutions to enable environmentally sound sustainable energy use in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. SEF assists all types of commercial entities to reduce the consumption of energy from non sustainable sources. These reductions are achieved by reducing or removing financial and/or educational barriers that prevent these organizations from generating energy from renewable resources and implementing improvements in efficiency of energy utilization as well as reducing energy consumption through behavioral change.

For more information on Sustainable Energy Fund, visit

Court records reveal trouble at Turkey Point

From the Miami Herald:

``There are the old gauges . . . where . . . a needle that goes around and around,'' Ware testified, saying they were ``not very reliable.'' When operators looked at the indicators daily, ``they'd be stuck.

``So over the years, they developed the habit of pinging them to get them to move. . . . Well, that's not OK in a nuclear plant because you have to have reliable, you know, verification of where those rods are positioned. . . . That's a lesson from Three Mile Island,'' the worst nuclear disaster in American history.

In the hush-hush nuclear world, such insider details rarely, if ever, become public, but now a lawsuit has made public 2,000 pages of testimony that offer a fascinating window into the experiences, thoughts and frustrations of Turkey Point executives, employees and contract workers that reveal myriad problems.

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“Electric Deregulation: The Great Failed Experiment”

Comments of Eric J. Epstein, January 6, 2010

On August 4, 2000 Governor Tom Ridge announced that electric competition would lead to job growth, economic expansion, and decreased rates. According to Governor Ridge, “Pennsylvania’s national leadership in electric competition continues to bring dramatic savings and economic benefits to Pennsylvanians.” Gov. Ridge added, "And, according to this new report, those savings and benefits will continue for some time to come!”

The Department of Revenue released "Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition” (August, 2000), and predicted free market nirvana. Secretary of Revenue, Robert A. Judge Sr., forecast reductions in retail electricity prices would lead to the following economic impacts in Pennsylvania by 2004:

The real gross state product will be $1.9 billion higher; overall employment will increase by 36,400 full-time and part-time jobs, nominal personal income will increase by $1.4 billion; the price index will decrease by .47 percent; and the population will increase by 51,400 people, as workers are attracted to job opportunities in Pennsylvania.

The Department of Revenue also reported that deregulation would result in greater sales tax and Personal Income Tax collections.

Could the deregulators have gotten it more wrong?

The reality is not so dreamy. Electric companies are collecting $11.4 billion in stranded costs, shifted taxes to hostage rate payers, and dumped customers at record rates.

Deregulation shifted power plants back to the local tax rolls under the assumption that utilities would pay at least the same amount had they been subject to real estate taxes.

By 2004 homeowners were paying an average of 30% more in property taxes than they did in 1997. PPL and the other electric utility companies are paying 85% less in taxes on their plants, down from about $120 million annually to about $20 million according to a Philadelphia Inquirer analysis.

Uncollectible accounts were supposed to decrease with the price of electric.

On November 19, 2004 - the last day of a “lame duck session” - the General Assembly passed “The Responsible Utility Customer Protection Act” (SB #677 or Chapter 14) at the behest of the energy industry. This legislation - passed in secrecy and without public comment - became Act 201.

Prior to this legislation, the PA Public Utility Commission prevented most winter time utility shut offs between November through March.

Deregulation’s “Consume Protection Act” has produced a 113% increase in terminations. In the first eight months of 2008, PPL cut electricity to 28,561 customers, which was an 111% increase over the number of customers whose power was shut off during the same period in 2007. The statewide average was 24%.

In 2004, about 70% of customers who received notices saying power could be shut off called the company and tried to arrange an alternate payment schedule according to PPL. Now only 28% of those who receive termination warnings try to arrange other payment plans.

But it got worse for Joe the Plumber.

A study published by Carnegie Mellon University's Electricity Industry Center found, “On average, power users in restructured states pay 2 to 3 cents per kilowatt hour more than customers in states that didn't restructure.” (Electricity Prices and Costs Under Regulation and Restructuring, 2008)

Future shock: The Office of Consumer Advocate, in a letter to Governor Rendell on April 20, 2008, estimated approximate increases in the overall rates of residential customers, comparing rates that were in effect and rates that would be expected to be in effect for each company after the rate caps have expired:

Met Ed -54%

PECO - 8%

Penelec - 50%

Allegheny (West Penn) - 63%

These numbers are staggering and coincide with the deteriorating health of Pennsylvania's shrinking middle class. The promise of deregulation leading to more capacity, more competition and lower prices has turned out to be a profitable illusion for a select few.

Davis-Besse should have issued alert, NRC says

From the Toledo Blade:
FirstEnergy Corp. faces disciplinary action because its Davis-Besse operators “failed to recognize the hazard to the station’s operations” caused by a June 25 explosion inside the electrical transmission switchyard, according to a letter the Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent to the utility. The NRC’s letter, dated Monday, said operators should have immediately recognized the explosion met federal emergency action level conditions for declaring an alert. The agency said it will allow FirstEnergy to explain in greater detail what happened before deciding whether to proceed with enforcement.
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Water scarcity = Energy crisis


As water being the basic element needed for the process of energy production, it needs proper utilization ensuring zero wastage as most of the energy productions make heavy use of water. In Saudi Arabia, oil sites pump more water to increase the base reservoir pressure than the oil it generates. As per the U.S Department of Energy, an oil shale needs more than 6 gallons of water to produce about 1 gallon gasoline, whereas a conventional crude needs just about 2 to 2.5 gallons water to produce a gallon of gasoline.

The production of a gallon of corn ethanol also needs about 3.45 gallons of water, as per the U.S ethanol industry, the Renewable Fuels Association. This therefore concludes that other substitute fuel is also water intensive.

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