A document on federal websites since June 2008 that served as a virtual how-to manual for attacking a nuclear plant with an airplane has been removed from the sites at the request of Three Mile Island Alert, a midstate watchdog group.Scott Portzline, an unpaid security consultant to TMI Alert, said that while researching sabotage and terrorism targeting nuclear plants in March, he found a document available for download on the Department of Energy website titled “Evaluation of Air Craft Crash Hazards Analyses for Nuclear Power Plants.”The document showed the areas that a plane could hit at a reactor with maximum effect, and it cited buildings or targets that a plane could strike and cause radioactive release, Portzline said.Energy Department officials said the report was posted by mistake as part of an effort to make the public aware of the department’s scientific work.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
U.S. pulls guide on nuclear plant air attacks
Pilgrim Station not my choice for a neighbor
Like Ryan Boehm, whose op-ed piece, Pilgrim Station: a good neighbor, a nuclear future, was in the April 16, 2010, Duxbury Reporter, I too look out at the reactor from my home. I have not had the opportunity to take Pilgrim’s public relations tour; my husband and I signed up for a tour with the MIT Alumni Association a few years ago, but we were then “disinvited.”I have, however, spent much of the last 25 years learning about nuclear power plants in general and Pilgrim Station in particular from independent experts, and Pilgrim is not my choice for a neighbor.Health: Nuclear reactors release radiation into the water and air on a daily basis. The question is how much, and the answer is that no one really knows for sure because of antiquated and inadequate monitoring systems and lack of oversight by regulators.Pilgrim Watch has been in litigation for four years in the license renewal adjudication process. We have made it publicly known that we would settle this dispute if Entergy would install a “real” onsite groundwater monitoring system, and a “real” air monitoring system located in offsite communities to record continuous weather data and radiation, linked to the Commonwealth and local emergency operations centers with public reports. This would be far cheaper than what Entergy has spent on lawyers. We can only conclude that Entergy fears what real monitoring systems might show.
Beyond Nuclear report on leaking reactors finds regulator ignoring oversight
A new report released today by Beyond Nuclear - Leak First, Fix Later: Uncontrolled and Unmonitored Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants - looks at the epidemic of reactors leaking tritium into groundwater. The report finds that the federal regulator – the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission - is ignoring its oversight and enforcement responsibilities at the nation’s increasingly leaky, uninspected and unmaintained nuclear power plants. The report shows that despite agency efforts initiated in 1979 to prevent uncontrolled radioactive releases to groundwater, the NRC is capitulating to an industry decision to take almost three more years before announcing an action plan.Instead of mandating compliance with established license requirements for the control and monitoring of buried pipe systems carrying radioactive effluent, the NRC cedes responsibility to industry voluntary initiatives that will add years onto the resolution of a decades-old environmental and public health issue.Of further concern, the agency and the industry continue to downplay and trivialize the health risks of prolonged exposure to tritium, a known carcinogen which is shown to cause cancer, genetic mutations and birth defects.
A Sensitive Department of Energy document is removed from governmental websites at the request of Three Mile Island Alert
Critics Challenge Safety of New Nuclear Reactor Design
As Southern Company and its partners, armed with federal loan guarantees of $8.3 billion, move toward construction of two new reactors at a site near Augusta, Ga., opponents are taking aim at the design details.The reactor, the Westinghouse AP 1000, is also planned for several other locations, but has not yet been fully approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It is intended to be far safer than existing plants, ensuring that there will be no fuel melting in an accident by relying for its cooling on forces like gravity and natural heat flow instead of pumps, pipes and valves. That concept gives the AP 1000 its name, for Advanced Passive. (The 1,000 refers to the power rating in megawatts, although the actual power output is a less picturesque 1,154.)A critical feature of the design is an unusual containment structure. One part is a free-standing steel dome, 130 feet high, surrounded by a concrete shield building and topped with a tank of emergency water.The commission has raised concerns about whether a shield building would be strong enough to survive an earthquake. Westinghouse submitted a detailed report last month and plans another in May to demonstrate that the building is adequate.
TMI - Integrated Inspection Report
Hill School finds nuclear protest unpalatable
Protesting nuclear bombs was one thing. Protesting at a local business that just happened to be a nuclear power plant, that was something else altogether.So it was that plans to house walkers protesting nuclear weapons and power overnight at The Hill School were scotched at the last minute.Rest assured, there was no blame to be found.Protestor Jon Blickenstaff of Cincinnati, Ohio, said he did not blame The Hill School for its change of heart and Hill School spokeswoman Cathy Skitko emphasized that the decision was mutual.
Dougherty Named Site Vice President At Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station
“You always have mixed feelings when you leave a site like Peach Bottom,” Maguire said. “I have a deep sense of loyalty and commitment to the professionals at Peach Bottom while at the same time I am looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead at a new station.”
As the new site vice president, Dougherty’s primary responsibility will be to oversee the safe and reliable operation of Peach Bottom Station and to ensure the public is kept informed of the operation of the plant. Dougherty has more than 20 years of experience in management and operational support of nuclear stations, serving most recently as the plant manager for the Three Mile Island Generating Station near Middletown, Pa.
Before joining Three Mile Island Unit 1 as plant manager in 2006, Dougherty was work management director at the Limerick Generating Station. Dougherty served in several leadership positions at Limerick, including shift operations superintendent and operations training manager. Before Limerick, Dougherty served in the U.S. Nuclear Navy Power Program.
“We have an aggressive leadership training program at Exelon which often results in executives managing several stations throughout their career,” said Joe Grimes, senior vice president for Exelon’s Mid-Atlantic Region. “The result is world-class leadership.”
Maguire Named Limerick Generating Station Vice President
Mudrick Named Vice President for Mid-Atlantic Operations
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Problems at the Davis-Besse nuclear reactor near Toledo are worse than expected
As many as 16 critical parts in the Davis-Besse reactor lid are cracked or flawed, and the problem could get worse.Engineers expect to find additional problems when they conduct a third round of high-tech inspections in the coming weeks.The cracks can lead to radioactive coolant seeping into reactor lid, corroding it and ultimately leaking into the heavy-walled building containing the reactor. That's what happened to Davis-Besse in 2002.
TMIA's Statement; Re: NRC issues inspection report on TMI-1 "contamination event"
NRC Announces Appointment Of New Agency Historian
Pilgrim foes get disaster impact review
Reversing a lower board’s ruling, the nation’s top nuclear regulators have agreed to hold a hearing on what steps Pilgrim nuclear power plant’s owners should take to limit the potential impact of a severe accident.The new ruling adds a stage to an already lengthy review of Entergy’s request to extend the Plymouth plant’s license an additional 20 years, to 2032. The license review has stretched over four years, twice the average length — an indication of how doggedly the renewal has been contested by local critics.
House endorses Vermont Yankee cleanup bill
With hardly any debate and no opposition, the House voted Tuesday to back a bill that would require Vermont Yankee to set aside more money for eventual cleanup of the Vernon nuclear power plant.Tuesday’s 139-0 vote stood in stark contrast to previous years’ efforts that would have required far more money to be set aside and were vetoed by Gov. Jim Douglas.House Natural Resources and Energy Committee Chairman Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier, who has been pushing for Vermont Yankee’s closure in 2012 and to beef up decommissioning funds for several years, said this bill found a balance.
Lash picked to lead FirstEnergy nuclear operations
Power company FirstEnergy said Monday that James Lash has been named president and chief nuclear officer of its nuclear operating company.He succeeds Joseph Hagan, who is retiring May 1.Peter Sena III, vice president of operations, will replace Lash as senior vice president of operations.In his new job, Lash will have overall management responsibility for the company's nuclear fleet -- the Beaver Vally Power Station in Shippingport, Pa., the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio, and the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Perry, Ohio.
How Much Tritium is Considered Safe?
- EPA: EPA’s standard for tritium in drinking water is 20,000 picocuries per liter.
- Ontario Canada’s Drinking water quality standard for tritium is 540 picocuries per liter.
- California’s recommended public health goal for tritium in drinking water is 400 picocuries per liter.
- The Department of Energy agreed to an action level of 500 picocuries per liter for tritium in surface water in the clean up at Rocky Flats - a level corresponding to Colorado’s standard for tritium in surface water.
13th Annual Congressional Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency EXPO + Forum
Ohio, NY Nuclear Plants Not Up To Snuff
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) on Monday asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to keep the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ohio shut until its owners implement measures to prevent recurring violations of federal health and safety regulations.In 2002, and again earlier this year, plant workers discovered that Davis-Besse had been operating for extended periods with cooling water leaking through cracks in the metal tubes that penetrate the lid of the vessel housing the reactor core. Federal regulations require that reactors be immediately shut down whenever such leakage occurs because leaking cracks are warning signs of a catastrophic rupture of piping carrying cooling water, or worse, vessel failure.“Davis-Besse has to kick its crack problem and operate within federal regulations--or not at all,” said David Lochbaum, director of the nuclear safety project at UCS. “It was more luck than skill that no one was harmed by Davis-Besse’s past transgressions. Ohioans deserve better protection before Davis-Besse’s luck runs out.”
New York State has denied a water-quality certification sought by the Indian Point plant's owner.
In a major victory for environmental advocates, New York State has ruled that outmoded cooling technology at the Indian Point nuclear power plant kills so many Hudson River fish, and consumes and contaminates so much water, that it violates the federal Clean Water Act.The decision is a blow to the plant’s owner, the Entergy Corporation, which now faces the prospect of having to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build stadium-size cooling towers, or risk that Indian Point’s two operating reactors — which supply 30 percent of the electricity used by New York City and Westchester County — could be forced to shut down.
Scott D. Portzline of Three Mile Island Alert -- Develop alternative energy, not nuclear power plants
The good news for energy reliability is that wind and solar are stealing the show.Recently, the North American Electrical Reliability Corp. testified to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that over the next 10 years, 260,000 megawatts of new nameplate electrical capacity will be added. A whopping 96 percent of that will come from wind and solar. The NRC was told it might have to back down some nuclear plants during off-peak loads because of new wind-powered generation.The claim by former NRC Commissioner Forrest J. Remick that nuclear power is ''the most cost-effective way to boost capacity while meeting climate change goals'' is hardly the truth (March 22 Your View).
NRC closed meeting raises ire
An invitation-only meeting being hosted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Keene, N.H., on April 14 is meant to give state, county and local officials a chance to ask the NRC questions about any of its activities, said a spokesman for the NRC.Neil Sheehan said the meeting is closed to the public and the media to allow officials to engage in "a free flow of communications" about issues they may not be knowledgeable about."An official who might not feel comfortable speaking at one of our public meetings might be more willing to discuss issues in a closed setting," he said.The meeting is scheduled from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Keene Country Club.
2010 Sustainable Energy Conference
Fire breaks out at Perry Nuclear Power Plant
A fire took place at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant about 5:45 p.m. Sunday and was finally extinguished by about 9:30 p.m., a FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. spokesperson said.Spokesman Todd Schneider said the “small” fire took place in a lubrication system for one of the pumps that feeds water into the plant’s reactor. As a result, the company reduced power at the plant to about 70 percent. Schneider said oil coated insulation in the system, which caused smoldering and the fire to reignite “several times.”“It is officially out,” he said after 10 p.m.Two of FENOC’s internal brigade personnel experienced heat stress before being transported to TriPoint Medical Center in Concord Township, Schneider said. The employees are believed not be contaminated.“Everything is under control,” Schneider said. “Our internal fire brigade responded, along with Perry, Madison and Painesville (fire departments).”
Book review: 'About a Mountain' by John D'Agata
The mountain that John D’Agata is ostensibly concerned with in his slim but powerful new book, “About a Mountain,” is Yucca Mountain, located approximately 100 miles north of Las Vegas. And he’s not the only one interested in it: since the mid-1980s, the United States government has been doing back flips to bury the country’s entire reservoir of spent nuclear waste — some 77,000 tons of apocalyptic yumminess — deep inside Yucca. In the summer of 2002, the summer after D’Agata helped his mother move to a Vegas suburb, Congress was proceeding with plans to make the mountain a nuclear dump. Also that summer, 16-year-old Levi Presley jumped to his death from the observation deck of a third-rate Vegas hotel. These subjects, disparate though they are, animate D’Agata’s sprawling narrative.The author of a well-regarded book of essays and the editor of two exceptional essay anthologies, D’Agata has an encyclopedic understanding of the form’s intricate artistry. Moreover, he is a serious thinker who regularly lays down stylish, intelligent sentences: “I do not think that Yucca Mountain is a solution or a problem. I think that what I believe is that the mountain is where we are, it’s what we now have come to — a place that we have studied more thoroughly at this point than any other parcel of land in the world — and yet still it remains unknown, revealing only the fragility of our capacity to know.”
City officials nearly disown nuke plant role
Red Wing city officials reversed course Monday amid concerns over correspondence that had called for Red Wing to effectively end its role in emergency management at the Prairie Island nuclear plant.City Council members called on top city leaders to re-sign the longstanding agreement after a response from state officials sparked pointed debate at Monday's council meeting."This says we're worse off and we can no longer support Xcel," Council member Ralph Rauterkus said of Council President Mike Schultz's letter at Monday's meeting. "I totally disagree with that."In his letter to Northern States Power's emergency planning coordinator, Schultz said the city was unable to handle the responsibilities within the Prairie Island nuclear plant's emergency response plan.
With hasty stroke of a pen, Bush DOE transferred billions of dollars in radioactive waste liability onto taxpayers
Background: Between November 4, 2008 (the day Barack Obama was elected President) and January 22, 2009 (two days after he took the Oath of Office), the George W. Bush administration’s Department of Energy (DOE) hurriedly signed new irradiated nuclear fuel contracts with utilities proposing 21 new atomic reactors. This obligates U.S. taxpayers to ultimate financial liability for breach of contract damages if DOE fails to take possession of these estimated 21,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste by ten years after the new reactors’ licenses terminate. DOE signed these contracts despite the fact that it has already cost taxpayers $565 million in damages for past breached contacts involving old radioactive waste at commercial reactors, with $790 million more soon to be transferred from the U.S. Treasury to atomic utilities. In fact, DOE estimates that by 2020, taxpayers will have paid $12.3 billion in damages to nuclear utilities for waste contract breaches, while the nuclear industry itself estimates the ultimate taxpayer damage awards will top $50 billion. These new contracts will only add to that crushing burden.Our View: President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu have wisely canceled the geologically unsuitable Yucca Mountain, Nevada dumpsite for high-level radioactive wastes. This is not only a tremendous victory for sound science and environmental protection, but also for environmental justice – Yucca belongs to the Western Shoshone Indian Nation, as recognized by treaty rights. There is already enough commercial waste to have filled Yucca to its legal limit, 63,000 metric tons. Old reactors are predicted to generate another 42,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste in decades to come; the 21 proposed new reactors will generate enough additional waste to fill a second Yucca Mountain-sized repository to its legal limit. Secretary Chu’s blue ribbon commission on radioactive waste begins deliberations on March 25th about what to do now that Yucca has been canceled. Environmental groups across the country agree that, as an interim measure, wastes must be safeguarded against accidents and leakage, as well as fortified against terrorist attacks, at the reactors that generated them in the first place. 170 groups representing every single state in the country have signed updated “Principles for Safeguarding Nuclear Waste at Reactors,” calling for hardened on-site storage and expressing united opposition to dirty, dangerous, and expensive reprocessing.What You Can Do: Beyond Nuclear has helped break this major news story. See the media release, backgrounder on new waste disposal contracts (authored by Beyond Nuclear’s Kevin Kamps), Principles for Safeguarding Nuclear Waste at Reactors, and the new contracts themselves. Then Call the White House (202-456-1111) and DOE (202-586-6210) to thank President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu for their wise decision to cancel the scientifically, legally, and morally flawed Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dumpsite once and for all. Urge them to require hardened on-site storage as an interim measure, and to oppose reprocessing.
New York Regulators Reject Entergy Spinoff
New York regulators rejected a plan by Entergy Corp. to spin off five of its nuclear power plants Thursday, threatening the creation of the nation's first stand-alone nuclear generator.The decision by the New York Public Service Commission is a major set back for the New Orleans-based power company in its long-sought separation of its nuclear plants that sell power at market-based prices from its regulated utility businesses. Proposed in late 2007, the spinoff was stalled first by frozen credit markets, and then more recently by New York officials challenging the financial plans and consumer benefits of the deal.
Advice for the Blue Ribbon Commission
President Barack Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future will have its first meeting this week. The commission, formed after Obama cancelled the Yucca Mountain spent nuclear fuel repository in January, is tasked with rebooting the country's five-decade-plus effort to manage its high-level radioactive waste.The problems the commission will consider are far from new. In 1957 the National Academy of Sciences warned that "[t]he hazard related to radioactive waste is so great that no element of doubt should be allowed to exist regarding safety." In that same year the academy recommended that the U.S. government establish deep geologic disposal as the best solution to the problem. In 1982, after embarrassing failures by the Atomic Energy Commission (the predecessor of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Energy Department) to select a waste site on its own, Congress enacted the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which began the selection process for multiple sites throughout the United States. This process was scrapped five years later due to eastern states derailing the selection process. At that time Congress voted to make Yucca Mountain the only site to be considered. Yet Yucca's proposed opening date slipped by more than 20 years as the project encountered major technical hurdles and fierce local and state opposition.
Ex-Entergy worker returns as NRC watchdog
The new senior resident inspector from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission worked for Entergy Nuclear, the owner of Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor, until 2006, before he left to become a federal inspector.But a spokesman for the NRC said David Spindler stopped working for Entergy Nuclear in 2006, well beyond the two-year hiatus federal regulations call for.Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the NRC, said there are federal regulations dealing with employees who may face "an appearance of loss of impartiality in the performance of his official duties."He said federal regulations call for a two-year "period of disqualification" from working in matters in which a former employer is involved.
Wind, Solar negate Nuclear
FirstEnergy wants new rate plan that would allow quarterly increases for equipment upgrades
FirstEnergy Corp. has filed a comprehensive new rate plan with state regulators that would give the utility the right to tack on $390 million in new customer fees with minimal oversight.The increases are included in an application and 42-page agreement the Akron company submitted to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Tuesday.The provision calls for quarterly adjustments in delivery rates to pay for upgrades to wires, transformers, substations and similar equipment. The company could also immediately pass on to customers any increases in property taxes and income taxes.Traditionally, FirstEnergy and other utilities had to apply for rate increases after paying for upgrades or tax increases.The new plan would begin June 1, 2011, and run through May 31, 2014. It's not clear how the proposal would affect individual monthly bills.
FirstEnergy Ohio Utilities File Stipulated Electric Security Plan
Millstone Nuclear Power Plant Begins Layoffs
The Millstone nuclear power plant is telling between 50 and 75 employees this week that they are terminated.Management at Dominion, which owns the Waterford reactor complex, has not said exactly how many people will be cut. The layoffs were needed because there were not enough volunteers for buyouts.Ken Holt, spokesman for Dominion, said Dominion has compared Millstone to other nuclear plants and found it had more staff than the industry average. Current staff is 1,285, and the company wants to shrink to between 1,050 to 1,085.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
NRC: "White Security Finding" at PPL's Nuclear Power Plant
Peach Bottom: NRC integrated inspection report 05000277/2009005 and 05000278/2009005
On December 31, 2009, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) completed an integrated inspection at your Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station (PBAPS), Units 2 and 3. The enclosed integrated inspection report documents the inspection results, which were discussed on January 15, 2010, with Mr. William Maguire and other members of your staff.
Search for nuke leaks seems to turn corner in Vt.
The main source of radioactive tritium leaking at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant appears to have been stopped, and levels measured in a nearby monitoring well have been dropping for weeks. But plant, state and federal officials say the story is far from over.A 30-foot-wide alley between two buildings at Vermont's lone nuclear plant has been the focal point as engineers have used a high-pressure stream of water to dig around underground pipes and expose a concrete pipe tunnel. The result now is a trench, 15 to 17 feet deep and crowded with pipes.The tool that produces that high-pressure water stream is called a hydro-excavator."Because of the sensitivity of buried pipes and not disrupting any of the pipes, some of which include fuel oil lines, air supply lines, delicate piping that's underground," Vermont Yankee spokesman Larry Smith said as he leaned on a railing and gazed down into the hole.
Race, LLC / Studsvik to Pay $650,000 to Settle EEOC Racial Harassment & Retaliation Suit
A Memphis radioactive waste processing company will pay $650,000 to 23 African American employees and provide other relief to settle a race and retaliation discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.According to the EEOC’s suit against Race, LLC, doing business as Studsvik, LLC (Civil Action No. 2:07-cv-2620, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division), Courtney Britton, who worked as a lead worker in the shop for Studsvik, and other African American employees, were subjected to racially offensive comments by their white supervisor. Further, the complaint alleged that Britton’s supervisor regularly referred to him and other African American employees with the N-word and other derogatory slurs, such as “boy.”In addition, the EEOC said, white managers subjected Britton and other African American employees to excessive radiation exposure, more than their white co-workers. The EEOC also charged that Britton was suspended for 15 days and then laid off in retaliation for complaining about the racial harassment.
Nuclear plants likely to slow development
The head of an energy trade group said Thursday he expects the development of nuclear power plants to be pushed back by two or three years as the industry waits for energy demand to return."The recession has decreased demand of electricity everywhere," Nuclear Energy Institute chief Marvin Fertel said in an interview with The Associated Press. "You're seeing a natural movement" away from early completion dates.Fertel didn't identify any specific plant that would be delayed. But nuclear power plants with projected completion dates of 2017 or 2018 probably "are 2020 projects now," he said.According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there are 13 applications for nuclear reactors currently under review by the federal government. Of that number, eight are on track to come online between 2017 to 2018, NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said.
Nuclear plants need real security
Several weeks ago, President Obama announced that $8 billion in government-loan guarantees would be made available to Southern Co. to begin construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia.If built, it would be the first nuclear power plant constructed in the United States in almost 30 years. More importantly, this would be the first of what is expected to be many such projects initiated in coming years.I am a big believer in the necessity for energy independence. I accept that we will all have to make some compromises in achieving that goal. I am willing to consider that nuclear power may have to be one piece of the plan we put together for how to break ourselves free from our dependence on foreign oil.I would submit, however, that before we start building reactors we need to address another urgent matter. We need to make current reactors secure.
Public Utility Commission Finds PPL’s Proposed Time of Use Tariff Unjust and Unreasonable
Exelon settles over tritium violations
A $1 million agreement between Exelon, the Illinois Attorney General and the State's Attorneys of Will, Ogle and Grundy Counties has officially resolved the environmental consequences of radioactive tritium leaks into the groundwater beneath the Braidwood, Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants. Just about half of that is already earmarked for environmental projects in and around the areas of the affected plants.Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan made the announcement late last week, stating that Exelon will pay more than $1 million to resolve three separate civil complaints that she and the State's Attorneys filed jointly, including civil penalties totaling $628,000 and $548,000 to fund several Supplemental Environmental Projects in and around the communities where the power plants are located."It is imperative that Illinois' nuclear power plants are operated in a manner that does not endanger public health or the environment," Madigan said. "I appreciate the involvement and assistance of State's Attorneys Glasgow, Roe and Sobol in reaching these successful settlements. Through these actions, we are working to ensure that proper clean up has occurred and to put in place protections to prevent tritium leaks in the future."
EPA Initiates Hydraulic Fracturing Study
Nuclear industry probes worker tied to al-Qaeda
Sharif Mobley was an unskilled laborer when he was hired at Three Mile Island, along with hundreds of other temporary workers, during a planned maintenance and refueling outage.The New Jersey man, now a suspected member of the Islamist group al-Qaeda, was arrested last week in Yemen where he allegedly killed a guard while trying to escape from a hospital.Mobley’s history of working at not one, but several commercial nuclear power plants in the U.S., is raising concerns within the industry about its vulnerability to terror attacks. Mobley worked at TMI sometime between 2002 and 2007, according to sources at Exelon Nuclear, the owner of TMI, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He also worked at Exelon’sPeach Bottom plant in York County and Limerick in Montgomery County.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Public Utility Commission Finds PPL’s Proposed Time of Use Tariff Unjust and Unreasonable
ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania (March 9, 2010) Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) successfully challenged PPL’s proposed Time of Use Tariff. Sustainable Energy Fund intervened on behalf of electric customers last fall alleging that PPL’s proposed Time of Use (TOU) program unjustly enriched electric generation suppliers like PPL Energy Plus, shifted program costs to non participating customers, unfairly excluded low income customers, promoted unfair competitive practices and lacked real economic benefit for PPL ratepayers. In its filing, PPL proposed to charge non‐participating customers to fund the discount received by customers switching loads to off‐peak periods. PPL’s proposed Time of Use program offers higher rates for electricity consumed during “on‐ peak” periods and lower rates for electricity used during “off‐peak” periods. Essentially, customers who shift usage from “on‐peak” periods when it cost more to generate electricity to “off‐peak” periods when it cost less would reduce their bill. For example, a homeowner could set the dishwasher to run at bedtime instead of during the mid‐afternoon peak period. “We are supportive of Time of Use Rates where the savings result from electricity generators providing time varying rates” stated John Costlow, Director of Technical Services for SEF. “PPL’s proposal asked for non participating customers to foot the bill. It is like the grocer giving the customer in front of you a dollar off then adding that dollar to your bill.” In its final order and opinion issued on March 9, 2010 the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission found PPL’s proposal “unjust and unreasonable.” The order directed PPL to modify the program to allow participation by renewable energy, “On‐Track” and net metering customers it previously excluded; questioned the cost‐effectiveness of the program; and prohibited PPL from collecting more than $4 million dollars it proposed to spend for education and marketing costs. In addition, the PUC directed PPL to “absorb any costs of the TOU program that are the result of lost or decreased revenues due to reduced or shifted demand.” Eric Epstein from TMIA stated, “The PUC correctly halted PPL’s discriminatory plan that unfairly excluded customers, penalized hostage ratepayers and cross‐subsidized PPL Energy Plus.” He welcomed the decision as a victory for ratepayers and hailed the PUC’s decision as a landmark that could potentially set a precedent, stating, “The PUC made it clear that it will not allow ratepayers to finance and brand ill‐conceived marketing schemes.” Mr. Costlow stated, “Local electric customers have supported PPL since the 1920s yet when their customers are hurting the most, PPL proposes a program that will reduce one customer’s bill and increase someone else’s bill.” He continued, “I don’t get PPL; last month PPL increased its dividends for shareholders and then three days later announced it is filing for a rate increase. Where is their corporate conscience?” Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) is a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization focused on reducing financial, educational and regulatory barriers to a sustainable energy future. SEF’s educational programs such as the award winning Solar Scholars® create an understanding and passion for sustainable energy in leaders of today and tomorrow. To overcome traditional financial barriers the organization provides specialized loans and leases for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. For more information on Sustainable Energy Fund, visit www.thesef.org
NRC Proposes Improvements To Reactor Vessel Requirements
Commission is proposing improvements to its rules regarding how pressurized water reactors (PWR) account for some effects of aging on their reactor vessels. The proposal would increase the realism of calculations used to examine a PWR=s susceptibility to a phenomenon known as pressurized thermal shock (PTS). PTS can occur under some scenarios that rapidly cool the reactor vessel while the vessel is pressurized. This would subject the steel to large thermal stresses, which could lead to cracking and even failure of the vessel. The other type of U.S. nuclear power plants, boiling water reactors, is not susceptible to PTS. The proposed rule would allow PWR operators to voluntarily adopt a more realistic technical approach for determining the probability of vessel failure during a PTS event. This revised approach was derived using data from research on three currently operating PWRs that indicate the overall risk of PTS-induced vessel failure after 60 years of reactor operation is much lower than previously estimated. The proposed rule would also require PWR operators to perform detailed analyses on the results of regular reactor vessel inspections. The proposed rule will be available on the NRC=s Web site by entering ML070570283 ML072750659 at this address: http://adamswebsearch.nrc.gov/dologin.htm. Public comments on the proposed rule should be submitted within 75 days of the rule=s publication, expected shortly, in the Federal Register. Comments received after that point will be considered if it is practical to do so. The comments should be addressed to the Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001, Attention: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff. Comments may also be faxed to the Secretary at 301-415-1101 or by e-mail to SECY@nrc.gov. Comments may also be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Please include the number RIN 3150-AI01 in the subject line of the comments. For more information on the rule, contact NRC staff members George Tartal (telephone 301-415-0016, e-mail email@example.com) or Barry Elliot (telephone 301-415-2709, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
Exelon settles over tritium violations
A $1 million agreement between Exelon, the Illinois Attorney General and the State's Attorneys of Will, Ogle and Grundy Counties has officially resolved the environmental consequences of radioactive tritium leaks into the groundwater beneath the Braidwood, Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants. Just about half of that is already earmarked for environmental projects in and around the areas of the affected plants. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan made the announcement late last week, stating that Exelon will pay more than $1 million to resolve three separate civil complaints that she and the State's Attorneys filed jointly, including civil penalties totaling $628,000 and $548,000 to fund several Supplemental Environmental Projects in and around the communities where the power plants are located. "It is imperative that Illinois' nuclear power plants are operated in a manner that does not endanger public health or the environment," Madigan said. "I appreciate the involvement and assistance of State's Attorneys Glasgow, Roe and Sobol in reaching these successful settlements. Through these actions, we are working to ensure that proper clean up has occurred and to put in place protections to prevent tritium leaks in the future."Read more
Remarks Of NRC Chairman Jaczko At Program Briefing From NRC Office Of Nuclear Reactor Regulation
Good morning. Today, the office of Nuclear Regulatory Research will brief the Commission on the status of the important programs under its supervision. The agency’s regulatory research programs advance our mission by providing the advice, tools, and information that we need to identify and resolve safety issues, develop regulations and guidance, and make regulatory decisions.
The Commission and the other program offices benefit greatly from the office’s consistently high-quality analyses and reports. The office provides the critical independent analysis that the agency needs to verify the claims made by licensees and to ensure that they remain in compliance with our safety, security, and environmental regulations. The agency simply could not conduct effective oversight without the office’s work.
I would like to note that this is National Engineers Week – a time to recognize the contributions that engineers make to our society, as well as to take measure of the importance of math, science, and technical skills. These are not things that we overlook around here – this agency and the industry that it regulates would not exist without the historical and continuing contributions of engineers. I am glad that others around the nation are making a special effort this week to acknowledge and honor the hard work, dedication, and vital contributions of our nation’s engineers.Note: Briefing slides for this meeting are available at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/slides/2010/20100218/nrr-staff-slides-100218.pdf. A full transcript of the meeting will be available soon at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/tr/2010/.