Monday, July 26, 2010

2 die in natural gas well explosion in western Pennsylvania

From the Patriot News:
A natural gas well where welders were believed to be working exploded today, killing two people and sparking a fire that spewed black smoke for hours. The blast happened around 9:50 a.m. in a remote, wooded area of Indiana Township, northeast of Pittsburgh, police said. Firefighters doused the resulting fire with foam, and part of the blaze was still burning about three hours after the explosion.

The cause wasn’t yet known, but state officials believe “people were welding at the site and there was an explosion and the well caught fire,” said Helen Humphries, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. “Why they were welding or what caused the explosion, I don’t know yet."

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nuclear Monitor 713

This issues's contents include:
  • 2010 Nuclear-Free Future Awards
  • More and More Questions About the Epr
  • Chernobyl Restrictions for Sheep Consumption Ending in Scotland; Not in Wales
  • Has Sweden Learned to Love Nuclear Power?
  • Kings Cliffe and the Low- Level Waste Crisis in U.K.
  • National U.S. Grassroots Summit on Radwaste Policy
Download PDF

Nuclear plant unit could be down for extended time

From the Scranton Times-Tribune:

Flooding forced PPL to shut down Unit 1 of the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant late Friday afternoon.

An estimated 1 million gallons of Susquehanna river water flowed from an 8-foot-diameter pipe heading to the condenser room - where steam leaving the turbine is cooled - and damaged equipment in the basement of the plant's turbine building.

As a result, the plant could be shut down for a long period.

"We don't have an estimate," PPL spokesman Joe Scopelliti said. "There is no timeline."

Patrick Finney, the plant's senior Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspector, doesn't think the plant will be online any time soon, though.

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Water requirements of nuclear power stations

From the Parliament of Australia, Department of Parliamentary Services:
Per megawatt existing nuclear power stations use and consume more water than power stations using other fuel sources. Depending on the cooling technology utilised, the water requirements for a nuclear power station can vary between 20 to 83 per cent more than for other power stations.
Download PDF

Tritium levels continue to rise in Pilgrim well

From the Patriot Ledger:

Entergy Corp. has found tritium levels that exceed federal drinking water standards in a monitoring well at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant for the first time since the wells were installed nearly three years ago.

The power plant owner learned on Monday that samples taken on July 7 showed one monitoring well near the Cape Cod Bay shoreline had more than 25,000 picocuries per liter of tritium, a radioactive isotope. The Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum threshold for safe drinking water is 20,000 picocuries per liter.

The elevated levels of tritium are in a monitoring well that was installed in April. Entergy has found elevated levels in that well since May, and the well’s tritium levels previously peaked at just more than 11,000 picocuries per liter last month.

A nearby monitoring well showed elevated levels of tritium, at more than 3,000 picocuries per liter, on July 7. The plant’s 10 other wells, including several that were installed in 2007, showed relatively low amounts of tritium, plant spokesman Dave Tarantino said.

Tarantino said the tritium leak doesn’t pose any threat to drinking water in Plymouth, largely because the groundwater at the plant flows into Cape Cod Bay. A test of Cape Cod Bay waters showed no elevated levels of tritium on July 7, he said.

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Report: Entergy Vermont Yankee Lacks "Questioning Attitude"

From Seven Days:
A key legislative oversight panel is criticizing Entergy Vermont Yankee's for lacking a "questioning attitude" that has led to a number of system failures at the aging reactor in recent years. The Vermont Yankee Public Oversight Panel (POP) also concluded that Entergy didn't deliberately mislead a legislative panel or a state consultant when it neglected to inform them last August about underground pipes that carry radionuclides. The three-member panel includes former Nuclear Regulatory Commission member Peter Bradford, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, and retired nuclear scientist Fred Sears. Last summer, Gundersen questioned key Entergy engineers about whether there were underground pipes that could potentially be leaking. The response: No. Case closed.
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Nuclear Coverup: 10 Cool Examples Of Cooling Tower Art

From Web Urbanist:

Cooling towers have come to symbolize power plants – nuclear or not – around the world. Standing hundreds of feet tall with a distinctive hourglass profile, some of these “towers of power” show an unexpected side: they’ve become colossal curvaceous canvases upon which an astonishing variety of art has been displayed.

Read more (and view photos)

VT Public Oversight Panel Supplemental Report

Supplemental Report of the Public Oversight Panel Regarding the Comprehensive Reliability Assessment of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant July 20, 2010
Download PDF

Flooding shuts down Unit 1 at nuclear plant

From the Times Leader:
Unit 1 at PPL’s Susquehanna nuclear plant was shut down safely on Friday after about 1 million gallons of river water flooded the basement.

Jeff Helsel, PPL’s Susquehanna power plant manager, described the reason for shutting down the unit.

“(There was) a leak of river water into the turbine building basement,” he said. “The river water entered the basement from a hatch that provides access to part of the unit’s condenser.”

Helsel said the leak could not be resolved without shutting down the unit.

Joe Scopelliti, a PPL spokesman, said the Susquehanna River water is used to cool the steam that is generated by the reactor and comes through the turbine. He said the river water never touches the plant water.

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Manual Scram Due to Unisolable Circulating Water System Leak

Event Number: 46103 "At approximately 1641 EDT on July 16, 2010, Susquehanna Steam Electric Station Unit 1 reactor was manually scrammed due to a large unisolable circulating water system leak in the main condenser area. Attempts to isolate the source of the leakage were unsuccessful. During these attempts, reactor operators lowered reactor power from approximately 90% to about 39%. Based on rising water level in the condenser area and unsuccessful isolation of the source of the leakage, Operations decided to shut down the plant. The reactor operator placed the mode switch in shutdown. All control rods [fully] inserted. Reactor water level lowered to -28 inches causing Level 3 (+13 inches) isolations. The Operations crew subsequently maintained reactor water level at the normal operating band using RCIC. No steam relief valves opened. The main steam isolation valves were manually closed and the circulating water system was shut down. Pressure control was initiated using HPCI in the pressure control mode. All safety systems operated as expected. The reactor is currently stable in Mode 3. Actions to isolate and investigate the cause of the circulating water system leakage are underway. Unit 2 continued power operation." The licensee has notified the NRC Resident Inspector, and will be issuing a press release.

Tritium leaks challenge nuclear industry

From the Patriot Ledger:

While tritium leaks plagued a number of reactors in recent years, the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth passed its tests without raising any alarms.

Not anymore. Soon after Pilgrim doubled the number of its monitoring wells in April, elevated levels of tritium were found in one of the new wells.

The levels of the radioactive isotope then rose in June, prompting the state Department of Public Health to criticize Pilgrim owner Entergy Corp. By Thursday, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey was involved, with a letter chastising the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for failing to get these leaks under control.

While the levels at Pilgrim are still below federal standards for drinking water, Entergy isn’t leaving anything to chance. An Entergy spokesman says the company has scientists meeting every morning to trace the source of the tritium and respond to concerns raised by state health officials.

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Unit 1 at Susquehanna Nuclear Plant Shuts Down Safely

PPL For Immediate Release

Unit 1 at PPL’s Susquehanna nuclear power plant near Berwick, Luzerne County, Pa., safely shut down late Friday afternoon (7/16).

“Operators made a conservative decision to safely shut down Unit 1 following a leak of river water into the turbine building basement,” said Jeff Helsel, PPL’s Susquehanna plant manager. “The river water entered the basement from a hatch that provides access to part of the unit’s condenser. The condenser uses river water to cool the steam leaving the turbine.”

Following repairs, operators will restore the system and return the unit to service.

The Susquehanna plant, located in Luzerne County about seven miles north of Berwick, is owned jointly by PPL Susquehanna LLC and Allegheny Electric Cooperative Inc. and is operated by PPL Susquehanna.

PPL Susquehanna is one of PPL Corporation’s generating facilities. Headquartered in Allentown, Pa., PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL) controls or owns nearly 12,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the United States, sells energy in key U.S. markets and delivers electricity to about 4 million customers in Pennsylvania and the United Kingdom.

All 3 units at TVA Ala. Browns Ferry reactor reduced

From Reuters:
* All units reduced to maintain cooler river temperatures * Plants at reduced power until river temperatures moderate (Adds details on power reduction) NEW YORK, July 16 (Reuters) - All three units at the Tennessee Valley Authority Browns Ferry nuclear power station in Alabama were reduced by early Friday, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in its power reactor status report. A spokesman for TVA said all three units were reduced to "maintain river temperature permit with the state of Alabama." There is a 90 degree, 24-hour downstream permit that the plants are not allowed to exceed, said spokesman Jason Huffine. The units were at about 65 percent of capacity early Friday, after being reduced to about half power overnight, and all three were expected to remain at reduced power until the river temperatures moderate, Huffine added. The Browns Ferry nuclear power plant consists of the 1,065-megawatt Unit 1, the 1,104-MW Unit 2 and the 1,105-MW Unit 3. One MW powers about 500 homes in Alabama. ------------------------------------------------------------ PLANT BACKGROUND/TIMELINE STATE: Alabama COUNTY: Limestone TOWN: Decatur on the Wheeler Reservoir about 170 miles (273 km) north of Montgomery, the state capital OPERATOR: TVA OWNER(S): TVA UNIT(S): 1 - 1,065-MW General Electric boiling water reactor 2 - 1,104-MW GE boiling water reactor 3 - 1,105-MW GE boiling water reactor FUEL: Nuclear DISPATCH: Baseload COST: $7 billion total capital cost as of end of fiscal 2009 TIMELINE: 1966 - TVA gets approval to build plant and starts construction 1973 - Unit 1 enters commercial service 1974 - Unit 2 enters commercial service 1975 - Unit 1 shut for a year due to fire damage 1976 - Unit 3 enters commercial service 1985 - TVA shuts plant due operational and management issues 1991 - Unit 2 returns to service 1995 - Unit 3 returns to service 2002 - TVA starts $1.8 billion project to restore Unit 1 to service 2006 - NRC extends original 40-year operating license for an additional 20 years 2007 - Unit 1 returns to service 2033 - Unit 1 license to expire 2034 - Unit 2 license to expire 2036 - Unit 3 license to expire (Reporting by Eileen Moustakis; Editing by John Picinich)

Markey: Latest Potential Pipe Leak at Nuclear Plant Highlights Need for Reform

Congressman Ed Markey For Immediate Release In letter to NRC, Markey renews call for improved oversight of buried piping systems. WASHINGTON, D.C. –Representative Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee released a letter today he sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reiterating his concerns over the process for inspecting buried piping systems at our nation's nuclear power plants in light of media reports of another potential tritium leak. Recently, the Boston Globe reported that a groundwater monitoring well located between Plymouth’s Pilgrim Nuclear Station and the Atlantic Ocean detected elevated concentrations of tritium. Identification of this radioactive isotope is often the first sign of leaking buried pipes at nuclear power stations. The NRC has already identified at least 32 separate incidents of such leaks, most recently at the Vermont Yankee plant. “This report is yet another disturbing reminder of the dangers lurking in the miles and miles of buried pipes within nuclear reactors that have never been inspected and will likely never be inspected,” said Markey. “This is simply unacceptable and cannot possibly be sufficient to ensure the safety of both the public and the plant.” In the letter, Chairman Markey urged the NRC to pay additional attention to the issue of the inspection, maintenance and oversight of buried piping systems. “The possibility that there are buried pipes leaking tritium at Pilgrim is not surprising. After all, the plant is almost 40 years old and located in a corrosive near-shore environment,” Markey wrote in the letter. “The current inspection regime for buried pipes – physical inspections conducted only in those rare instances when pipes are dug out for other purposes – is incapable of ensuring the integrity of decades-old piping systems.” “Other industries have figured out how to inspect their buried pipes in a proactive and comprehensive fashion. How many more failures do the nuclear industry and the NRC need before they admit that aging buried systems need additional attention?” Full text of the letter can be found here

SC nuke officials: We missed chances to fix issues

From the State:
Nuclear power plant officials in South Carolina admit they missed opportunities to discover issues that led to blockages in the plant's emergency water lines.

But the Greenville News reports that Oconee Nuclear Station officials told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Atlanta on Tuesday the missed observations shouldn't lead to more oversight.

One of Oconee's reactors lost power and cooling for two seconds during a scheduled maintenance outage in April 2008.

Peach Bottom: Non-Acceptance of License Amendment Request

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Units 2 and 3: Non-Acceptance of License Amendment Request Related to Extending Completion Time for Technical Specification 3.1.7, "Standby Liquid Control system" (TAC Nos. ME3598 and ME3599) Download ML101450154

Water leak shuts down nuclear reactor in Surry

From the Newport Daily Press:
One of Dominion Virginia Power's two nuclear reactors in Surry County is currently shut down because of a leak in a pipe that carries river water to cool the steam in a condensor. Jim Norvelle, spokesman for Dominion, said the Surry 2 reactor was shut down on Sunday night after the leak was detected in a pipe, 8 feet in diameter, used to pass water from the James River through the condensor. Norvelle said the leak, which was "less than 100 gallons per minute," did not pose any danger and was not disrupting the service for any Dominion customers. He said the leak could not be repaired while the reactor was operating. There was no immediate estimate on how long the reactor would be down.
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Tritium detected at Pilgrim Station Nuclear plant

From Wicked Local Plymouth:
Elevated levels of the radioactive isotope tritium have been detected in one of the new groundwater monitoring wells at Pilgrim Station Nuclear Power Plant.

The release, issued Thursday by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of test results taken from a sample of one of the 12 monitoring wells by Pilgrim staff June 21, states that the level falls within federal drinking water limits and does not require public notification but the information is being released because it’s an issue of public interest.

Six of the 12 monitoring wells were added in May. The monitoring well where the tritium was detected at 11,072 picocuries per liter is located near the condensate storage tank that stores water for use in the nuclear reactor. The Environmental Protection Agency’s safe drinking water limit for tritium is 20,000 picocuries per liter.

Pilgrim spokesman David Tarantino, representing Pilgrim owner Entergy Nuclear Operations, said despite identifying increased levels of tritium in samples taken May 17, June 11 and June 21, there’s no threat to public drinking water. He said there’s no contact with drinking water.

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Susquehanna Steam Update

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station (Berwick) The NRC issued a report on May 12, 2010, covering a three-month inspection ending on March 31, 2010. The NRC said no findings of significance were identified; however, a licensee-identified violation was determined to be of very low safety significance. That violation determined that an individual had falsified entries in a weld rod oven temperature log. It was determined that the weld rod oven temperatures logs were deliberately falsified for four dates from Jan. 29, 2008 through Feb. 1, 2008. The NRC said it considered issuing a notification of violation on this issue. However, it noted that even though the violation was willful, a non-cited violation was appropriate in this case because plant owner PPL identified the violation, the violation involved acts of a non-supervisory individual, the violation resulted from the isolated actions of a single individual without management involvement, and PPL took significant remedial action that the NRC does not detail in its report. The report also discusses the previously discussed failure of two senior reactor operators to meet specific medical requirements for performing their duties. PPL submitted a written response on Dec. 10, 2009 describing its action to restore compliance and prevent recurrence. The NRC said it again reviewed PPL’s plan of action and determined that “PPL’s response and corrective actions were reasonable and appropriate” to address the notice of violation and it “does not require any additional information for these issues and considered these issues to be closed.” (Details of this issue are contained in prior reports from the NRC.) On May 27, 2010, the NRC issued a letter regarding a staff review regarding allegations of discrimination made by a senior reactor operator during a refueling outage in March 2008. The allegations were made against an assistant operations manager. In the letter, the NRC said, “After careful consideration of the available evidence in this case, and significant internal NRC deliberations, the NRC concluded that the action did not constitute discrimination.” However, the NRC added that the “circumstances in this act reflect poor performance that created negative perceptions which adversely affected the work environment at the facility.” On Jan. 28, 2009, the NRC issued a potential chilling effect letter to PPL as a result of negative perceptions associated with this case and others. The event occurred on March 26, 2008, during a refueling outage. Based on interviews with workers assigned to the control room and other places during the refueling outage, the NRC concluded that the assistant operations manager’s behavior that day was “not conducive to a healthy safety conscious work environment (SCWE) at Susquehanna, and could have given the perception that schedule pressure over safety was part of his motivation. The NRC considered this behavior to be an additional example of the decline in SCWE that the NRC had already been evaluating in 2008.”

TMI update

Three Mile Island On April 23, 2010, the NRC issued a report of an inspection on Unit 1 covering a three-month period ending March 31, 2010. It said no findings of significance were identified. The NRC also issued a report in late May 2010 on Unit 2, which is in permanent shutdown after the accident on March 28, 1979. The safety inspections were conducted on Feb. 22, 2010 and April 20-22, 2010. It said, “No safety concerns or violations were identified.” In the report on Unit 2, the NRC noted that the licensee “maintained an adequate audit program and effectively utilized the established correction action program to self-identify, evaluate and correct issues and problems.” It also said that the licensee “provided adequate controls to limit exposures of workers to external sources of radiation.”

Peach Bottom update

Peach Bottom On April 28, 2010, the NRC issued a report of an inspection covering a two-week period to evaluate changes, tests or experiments and permanent plant modifications. The inspection, completed March 19, 2010, dealt with activities relating to safety and compliance with the NRC’s rules and regulations and with conditions of the plant operator’s license. No findings of significance were identified, the NRC said. The NRC issued a report on May 12, 2010, covering the three-month period ending March 31, 2010. The report said a self-revealed finding of very low safety significance was identified, and a licensee-identified violation was determined to be of very low safety significance. The self-revealed matter involved the identification of 21 slow control rods during a Unit 2 scram time testing conducted from Jan. 30 to Jan. 31, 2010. Positioning of control rods helps change reactor power and can help shut down the reactor. In the report, the NRC said there was planned power curtailment at Unit 2 on Jan. 29, 2010. A performance review of control rods was conducted, resulting in the identification of 21 slow rods, or 11 percent, of the 185 tested. The NRC said the 21 rods contained “1995-vintage SSPV diaphragms of the Viton-A material type.” The NRC said issues with these components had been found at other boiling water reactors plants, and they were to be regularly monitored. The NRC said Peach Bottom officials determined that the “performance monitoring and trending of the scram times was not being performed as required by Exelon (the licensee) procedure.” The NRC noted that the 21 slow control rods were promptly repaired with a Viton-AB diaphragm made available in 1997 by the vendor as a warranty exchange for the Viton-A diaphragms. The NRC said the repaired control rods were re-tested satisfactorily and returned to service. The licensee-identified violation involved preventive maintenance practices for the MSIV oil dashpot needle control valve. “There were no actual safety consequence associated with this event” discovered in September 2009, the NRC said..

Pickering nuclear plant ordered to quit killing fish

From the Toronoto Star:

The Pickering nuclear power plant is killing fish by the millions.

Close to one million fish and 62 million fish eggs and larvae die each year when they’re sucked into the water intake channel in Lake Ontario, which the plant uses to cool steam condensers.

The fish, which include alewife, northern pike, Chinook salmon and rainbow smelt, are killed when they’re trapped on intake screens or suffer cold water shock after leaving warmer water that’s discharged into the lake.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has told Ontario Power Generation, which operates the plant, to reduce fish mortality by 80 per cent. And in renewing Pickering A station’s operating licence last month, the nuclear regulator asked for annual public reports on fish mortality and the effectiveness of steps OPG is taking to reduce rates.

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Persons Living Within 10 Miles of Nuclear Power Plants

This map displays the number of persons within 10 miles of nuclear power plants. Download PDF

TMI: Request for Additional Information

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 – Request for Additional Information Regarding License Amendment Request to Adopt TSTF-425, Relocation of Surveillance Frequencies to a Licensee Controlled Program (TAC No. ME3587) Download ML101680647

Peach Bottom: Request for Additional Information Regarding License Amendment Request

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Unit 2 - Request for Additional Information Regarding License Amendment Request for Safety Limit Minimum Critical Power Ratio change (TAC No. ME3994) Download ML101790406

Ruling keeps Yucca Mountain alive

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste plan was kept alive Tuesday when a panel of judges ruled the Obama administration does not have the authority to withdraw the project without permission from Congress.

Federal law requires the Department of Energy to apply for a waste repository license and for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to evaluate the application and rule on its merits unless lawmakers decide otherwise, according to a three-judge board that hears commission licensing matters.

"We deny DOE's motion to withdraw the application," the judges said at the outset of a 53-page ruling. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which was passed in 1982, "does not give the secretary (of energy) the discretion to substitute his policy for the one established by Congress."

The decision is a setback for the Obama administration, which has been moving to shut down the Nevada project in fulfillment of a campaign pledge to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., a longtime Yucca foe.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

TMI: Request for Exemption

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1: Request for Exemption From Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 50, Appendix R Requirements (TAC No. ME0771) Download ML101310113

Water Scarcity: Nuclear Power's Achilles' Heel

From the Huffington Post:

Scientists, researchers and other experts warn that the United States is entering an era of water scarcity. Back in 2003, the US General Accounting Office (now known as the US Government Accountability Office or GAO) projected that 36 states, under normal conditions, could face water shortages by 2013. However, those shortages were realized in 2008 -- five years sooner than predicted. Current forecasts suggest that climate change will only exacerbate the challenges of managing and protecting water resources.

Water scarcity has widespread implications for our nation. As a recent New York Times (Global Edition) article notes, water scarcity is increasingly a major constraint for the production of electricity. But what, in particular, does this mean for the nation's fleet of nuclear power plants?

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Is a New Reactor Rust-Prone?

From the New York Times:

Approval of the design for the Westinghouse AP 1000 reactor is slowly moving forward at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as are financial arrangements for building the nation’s first one, near Augusta, Ga. Yet the argument about whether its design is safer than past models is advancing, too. On June 18, the Southern Company, the utility holding company that is building it, and the Department of Energy announced that they had come to final terms on a federal loan guarantee that would allow the project to go forward. The guarantee is for 70 percent of the company’s costs, not to exceed $3.4 billion. (Georgia Power, the Southern subsidiary building the plant, owns 45.7 percent of it; other partners also got loan guarantees.) Lots of details have yet to be agreed upon, though. One is that the reactor is surrounded by a shield building meant to protect it from hazards like crashing airplanes, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not convinced that the shield building would survive earthquakes and other natural hazards. Westinghouse, a subsidiary of Toshiba, is doing new analytical work to try to convince the commission staff of its safety.

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Indian Point Unit 1 and Unit 2 Spent Fuel Pool Leaks - Empty Unit 2 SFP.

From the Professional Reactor Operator Society:

The NRC issued an Inspection Report dated May 2008 and noted (from previous reports also) that a small amount of contaminated water was leaking from the Unit 2 spent fuel pool and subsequent additional subsrface groundwater contamination emanating from the Unit 1 spent fuel pool system. At that time Entergy committed to remove and transfer all spent fuel from Unit 1 Spent Fuel Pool to Indian Point's Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation, and drain the spent fule pool by Dec 31, 2008.

Entergy is seeking a license amendment request to authorize the transfer of spent fuel from the spent fuel pool at Indian Point Nuclear Generating Unit NO.3 (IP3) to the spent fuel pool at Indian Point Nuclear Generating Unit No.2 (IP2) using a newly designed transfer canister. From there, Entergy intends to transfer the spent fuel to the independent spent fuel storage installation which already exists at the site.

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PSB Rejects Entergy Spinoff Proposal

From Vermont Public Radio:

(Host) Vermont utility regulators will not allow the proposed spin-off of Vermont Yankee into a new company.

The Public Service Board said the corporate restructuring was financially risky, and was not good for the public.

As VPR's John Dillon reports, the ruling appears to close the books on the deal.

(Dillon) For several years, Entergy tried to convince regulators and lawmakers that it made sense to borrow $4 billion dollars to create a new company called Enexus. The debt-heavy company would own Vermont Yankee and five other aging nuclear plants.

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Peach Bottom: Request for withholding Information From Public Disclosure

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Unit Nos. 2 and 3: Request for withholding Information From Public Disclosure (TAC Nos. MD9154 and MD9155) Download ML101600702

Peach Bottom: Acceptance of Requested Licensing Action to change Safety Limit Minimum Critical Power Ratios

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Unit No. 2: Acceptance of Requested Licensing Action to change Safety Limit Minimum Critical Power Ratios (TAC No. ME3994) Download ML101680426

The website is now live. "The purpose of this site is to provide energy users with 'plain english' information about PPL's proposed rate increase."

FirstEnergy to replace lid on Davis-Besse nuclear power plant


FirstEnergy Corp. said Monday it has purchased a replacement lid for the Davis-Besse reactor near Toledo and wants to install it in 2011.

Davis-Besse has been shut down since Feb. 28 for extensive work to repair cracks in the lid that sprouted unexpectedly in critical components. Such cracks can allow radioactive coolant into the reactor's containment building -- or worse. Federal rules require an immediate shutdown if leaks are detected.

The cracks are similar to fissures that opened up in the late 1990s in parts of Davis-Besse's original lid and led to a pineapple-sized corrosion hole in that lid before it was discovered in 2002.

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PPL Proposes $114,676,490 Annual Rate Increase

On Friday, February 26, 2010 PPL increased its dividend to shareholders then the following Monday March 1, 2010 PPL issued a media release titled "PPL Electric Utilities to request modest distribution rate increases for 2011." To conclude the statement of reasons for the increase PPL stated, "PPL Electric's proposed distribution rate increase is just and reasonable and should be approved by the Commission."

PPL states it is modest, just, and reasonable to:

  • Increase its rates $114,676,490 annually
  • Increase residential customer service charges 82%
  • Increase PPL's portion of the average residential bill 27%
  • Require residential customers to pay 100% of the increase
  • Request a rate increase every few years
  • Implement a rate structure that provides the greatest increase to smallest users

PPL believes that its proposed rate increase is modest, just, and reasonable; do you? The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission has ordered an investigation into the lawfulness, justness, and reasonableness of PPL's rates, rules, and regulations. Sustainable Energy Fund encourages all consumers affected by the proposed rate increase to come to the hearings.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010



Commonwealth Keystone Building 2nd Floor Hearing Room, 400 North St. Harrisburg, PA 17120

"We have concluded that the best policy for electric distribution companies, such as PPL Electric Utilities, is to charge a flat monthly fee for electricity delivery services, rather than fees based on the kilowatt-hours used" said John Sipics, PPL's former President, concerning PPL's 2005 rate increase.

Upcoming Public Meeting on Proposed Changes to NUREG-0654/FEMA-REP-1, Supplement 3

In response to feedback and requests from stakeholders, the NRC and FEMA will be holding an additional public meeting on the proposed changes to NUREG-0654/FEMA-REP-1, Supplement 3. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 in Tampa, FL from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm EDT. Teleconferencing and web conferencing will be available for those individuals who wish to participate remotely. To participate remotely, interested individuals should contact Sara Mroz or Annette Stang via email at by July 15, 2010. The meeting notice and details can be found online at:^PBNTAD01&ID=101720248

Pending Applications for Power Uprates

The following power uprates are currently under review by the NRC. The licensees for the following plants have not been authorized by the NRC to operate the plants at power levels that reflect the following increases. Download PDF

EPA Announces a Schedule of Public Meetings on Hydraulic Fracturing Research Study

The Environmental Protection Agency FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hosting four public information meetings on the proposed study of the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and its potential impacts on drinking water. Hydraulic fracturing is a process that helps production of natural gas or oil from shale and other geological formations. By pumping fracturing fluids (water and chemical additives) and sand or other similar materials into rock formations, fractures are created that allow natural gas or oil to flow from the rock through the fractures to a production well for extraction. The meetings will provide public information about the proposed study scope and design. EPA will solicit public comments on the draft study plan. The public meetings will be held on:
  • July 8 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. CDT at the Hilton Fort Worth in Fort Worth, Texas
  • July 13 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. MDT at the Marriot Tech Center’s Rocky Mountain Events Center in Denver, Colo.
  • July 22 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. EDT at the Hilton Garden Inn in Canonsburg, Pa.
  • August 12 at the Anderson Performing Arts Center at Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y. for 3 sessions - 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. EDT
Natural gas plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future and hydraulic fracturing is one way of accessing this vital resource. However, serious concerns have been raised about hydraulic fracturing’s potential impact on drinking water, human health and the environment. To address these concerns, EPA announced in March that it will study the potential adverse impact that hydraulic fracturing may have on drinking water. To support the initial planning phase and guide the development of the study plan, the agency sought suggestions and comments from the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB)—an independent, external federal advisory committee. The agency will use this advice and extensive stakeholder input to guide the design of the study. Stakeholders are requested to pre-register for the meetings at least 72 hours before each meeting. More information on the meetings:

Task force: NRC response to tritium leaks appropriate

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

The NRC is meeting its mission of protecting public health, safety, and the environment ..." stated the Groundwater Task Force.A report issued by a Nuclear Regulatory Commission task force concluded the NRC has responded appropriately to the radioactive contamination of groundwater and soil at the nation's nuclear power plants.

The task force was made up of a number of NRC staffers, which issued its report on June 11.

It conducted several months of evaluations of the agency's past, current and planned actions regarding radioactive contamination of groundwater and soil.

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TMI: Environmental Assessment Regarding the Request for Exemption

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1: Environmental Assessment Regarding the Request for Exemption From Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 50, Appendix R Requirements (TAC No. ME0771) Download ML100880077

Susquehanna: Request for Alternative No. RR-07 Main Steam Safety Relief Valve Test Interval Extension


Governor Rendell Praises Regulatory Panel Vote Protecting PA’s Stream, Rivers from Drilling Wastewater

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA Dept. of Environmental Protection Commonwealth News Bureau Room 308, Main Capitol Building Harrisburg PA., 17120 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE IRRC Also Votes to Enhance Erosion and Sediment Control, Stormwater Regulations HARRISBURG -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today praised two votes by members of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission that he said will protect Pennsylvania’s streams and drinking water supplies against total dissolved solids pollution from Marcellus Shade drilling wells and other sources from stormwater runoff. The new total dissolved solids, or TDS, rules the commission approved today will ensure that rivers and streams in Pennsylvania do not exceed the safe drinking water standard of 500 milligrams per liter, the Governor said. The rules also will protect businesses by grandfathering all existing discharges and allowing businesses to use a stream’s ability to absorb those discharges while not exceeding drinking water standards. “Today’s IRRC vote is a great step forward in our efforts to protect one of the state’s greatest natural and economic assets—our waterways,” said Governor Rendell. “Millions of Pennsylvanians rely on the state’s rivers and streams for drinking water; countless numbers of our residents and visitors from out-of-state come here to fish these waters or use them for recreation; and some of our largest industrial employers wouldn’t be able to operate here if not for the clean, reliable supply of water they offer. So, we cannot allow new, heavily polluted sources of wastewater to contaminate them. “That’s why these regulations are so important,” added the Governor, who noted the approved regulations now await review from the environmental resources and energy committees in the state house and senate. “As the natural gas industry expands to access the Marcellus Shale reserves in Pennsylvania, the volume of wastewater returned to our streams could increase exponentially, and the only way to protect our water resources is to implement new wastewater treatment standards for the drilling industry,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger. “The National Association of Water Companies and many other individuals and groups across the state strongly support the adoption of this rule and I commend the Independent Regulatory Review Commission for taking this action. All other industries are responsible for the waste they generate and the drilling industry should be no exception.” Hanger noted that drilling wastewater contains very high levels of total dissolved solids – chlorides and sulfides – that must be removed before discharging into surface waters. High TDS levels have damaged industrial equipment, caused drinking water companies to issue drinking water advisories and even led to a massive fish kill on Dunkard Creek. Some of Pennsylvania’s rivers are near their capacity to absorb and dilute additional levels of TDS. The proposed regulations will require drillers to treat drilling wastewater to 500 mg/l or to drinking water quality at the discharge pipe if they choose to return drilling wastewater to rivers and streams. Drillers have several options to dispose of wastewater in Pennsylvania, including: reuse or recycling; disposal in deep caverns when permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; or full treatment to the 500 mg/l for TDS standard. The last option will only work if polluted water is properly treated to reduce high TDS levels. Several states, including Texas, Oklahoma, New York, Iowa, Virginia, Arkansas and Tennessee, prohibit returning any drilling wastewater to streams. The panel also approved new regulations to enhance existing rules governing erosion, sediment control and stormwater to protect streams from the effects of new development, reduce localized flooding during heavy storms, and cut sediment and nutrient pollution. The new rules, which also include an updated permit fee structure, bring Pennsylvania into compliance with federal requirements for: • Erosion and sedimentation controls and post-construction stormwater runoff; • Creating mandatory requirements for establishing and protecting existing streamside and riverside buffers in high quality and exceptional value watersheds; and • Enhancing agricultural stormwater management provisions beyond plowing and tilling to include animal-heavy use areas. For more information, visit

Let's end expansion of nuclear power

By John DeCock Guest columnist Updated: June 14, 2010 11:53 a.m. According to current nuclear industry proposals, over two dozen new nuclear reactors would be constructed in the United States, the vast majority in the Southeast and Texas. President Obama recently offered $8.3 billion worth of taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to two of them in Georgia, which could be the first to be built in the U.S. in nearly four decades. Wall Street isn’t interested in investing in these expensive and risky projects, so these guarantees promise that taxpayers will pay back the nuclear industry’s loans if the project fails. In addition to the high cost and risks, new reactors create another problem, one that is rarely mentioned: they put enormous pressure on water resources. Nuclear reactors require huge amounts of cooling water to operate; without adequate water, they cannot produce electricity. (According to the industry’s Electric Power Research Institute, nuclear reactors can consume between 400 and 720 gallons per megawatt hour while coal consumes about 300 gallons and natural gas, less than 250 gallons.) So, the U.S. is pinning its energy future on a power source that is the most vulnerable to weather extremes and that stresses the water resources on which we rely for healthy people and strong economies. As we all have seen in recent years, weather patterns can be wildly erratic, producing floods as well as droughts. Does anybody remember the drought that hit the Southeastern U.S. in 2007? During that summer and fall, one of the worst dry spells in over a century triggered water wars, forced power stations – including reactors – to reduce operations, and saw rivers and lakes reach their lowest levels in memory. Water had to be trucked into communities and rationing was widespread. In many areas, daily life was heavily disrupted. Scientists say that warmer temperatures from climate change will mean a less dependable supply of water. This should be of special concern to residents of the southeastern United States, which is seeing its energy demand grow – and its water resources become increasingly stressed. In the Southeast, electric power production accounts for nearly two-thirds of all freshwater withdrawals, or nearly 40 billion gallons daily. (That’s as much as all public-water supply customers use in the U.S. each day.) During a 2006 heat wave, reactors in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Minnesota were either forced to cut output or shut down entirely because there was not enough cooling water. During a 2003 heat wave in France, air temperatures at nuclear reactors came within two degrees of requiring an emergency shutdown. Employees were forced to use garden hoses to spray cold water on the exterior walls of the reactors to keep them from overheating. Concerns about adequate cooling water have been raised in the context of Exelon Corporation’s plans to build two reactors in Victoria County, Texas. Those reactors would use water from the Guadalupe River, which during a 2009 drought dropped so low it could no longer supply drinking water to the community. On March 25, Exelon withdrew its application for a construction and operating license for the site, and has applied for an “early site permit” that must examine the water issue. The water supply question isn’t an arcane one to be thrashed out quietly among engineers working for utility companies. Taxpayers have a multi-billion-dollar stake in this question. They are guaranteeing the loans to build these reactors. If they aren’t economical and reliable, then the utility could default, leaving U.S. taxpayers to bail them out. The Obama administration has proposed tripling loan guarantees for additional reactors. Some in Congress even support a “permanent financing platform” in the form of risky loan guarantees to underwrite all new reactors. So, as investors in these projects, taxpayers have every right to ask: Will these multi-billion-dollar reactors be rendered useless each summer as rivers and lakes dry up and the region scrambles to meet basic water needs? Will this expensive and risky power source be able to help us curb our global warming pollution? We need to make smart choices for our energy future – choices that are economical and protective of public health and natural resources. Nuclear power falls short in both categories. Decock is the president of Clean Water Action Jonathan A. Scott Director of Corporate Relations & Legacy Gifts Clean Water Action

New Jersey activists taking PPL transmission line plan to court

From the Hazleton Standard Speaker:

A coalition of environmental groups has appealed a New Jersey utility commission ruling in an effort to halt construction of a controversial, high-power electrical line that would run through this region.

The suit, filed in New Jersey Superior Court, alleges the state's Board of Public Utilities erred in April by approving Public Service Electric & Gas' application to construct its part of the $1.2 billion Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in April affirmed a ruling allowing Allentown-based PPL Electric Utilities to begin construction of its part of the Susquehanna-Roseland project, a 500-kilovolt line running 100 miles through parts of Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties. PPL plans to use the line to deliver power from its nuclear plant near Berwick to other markets in the Mid-Atlantic.

The New Jersey appeal states that the utility board failed to consider the need for or alternatives to the power line, its potential environmental effects and costs to ratepayers.

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Nuclear Watchdog Groups Raise Reactor Safety Concerns over the Gulf Oil Spill

Nuclear power watchdog groups are calling for an across-the-board and transparent analysis of all critical actions which will be necessary to prevent damage to coastal reactors posed by the threat of contaminated water. In a letter to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the US Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, the watchdog groups ask for assurances that comprehensive guidance from federal agencies is being provided to reactor licensees. They are also calling for the constant monitoring of the oil plumes.

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Diablo Canyon and PG&E deal with water-cooling mandate

From the San Luis Obispo:

It’s hard to miss Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant when passing it by air or sea. One immediately sees the hulking containment domes that house and protect the plant’s two nuclear reactors rising above the squat, brown generator building.

Attention is soon drawn to another sight — a massive plume of whitewater cascading from the plant’s cooling water system. When operating at full power, Diablo Canyon uses 2.5 billion gallons of seawater a day to condense steam after it has passed through the two electrical generators.

On May 4, the state Water Resources Control Board adopted a new policy that declared these once-through cooling systems used at Diablo Canyon and 18 other coastal power plants in California to be antiquated. The board gave the utilities that own those plants deadlines for installing less environmentally damaging cooling systems.

Once-through cooling damages the environment because it kills adult and larval fish. The flood of warmer discharge water also alters the marine ecosystem around the plant.

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Nuclear Monitor 710

This issue's contents:

  • Introduction
  • The Emergence and Development of Nuclear Medicine
  • Medical Radioisotopes & Applications
  • Reactor-based Radioisotopes Produced by Cyclotrons?
  • Recent Developments and Prospects in Radioisotopes Production
  • Discussion, Conclusions and Recommendations

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Nuclear Monitor 709

This issue's contents:
  • Argentina: Court Halts Open-Pit Uranium Mine
  • European Support for Nuclear Power As a Solution to Climate Change Plummets
  • Florida Levy Reactors: More Delays and Rising Costs
  • Consultation for a New Euratom Directive on Radioactive Waste
  • China: Us-India Deal Justification for Selling Reactors to Pakistan
  • Operations of Nuclear Giant Areva Put Lives at Risk in Niger
  • USA: Groups Urge Nrc to Suspend Nuclear Licensing Ap1000
  • Iter: Costs Overruns, Again
  • Eia Mochovce 3,4 Accepted – Gp Will Go to Court
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Nuclear Monitor 708

This issue's contents:
  • Chernobyl: Commemoration and Anti-Nuclear Struggle
  • Australia: Aboriginal Landowners Oppose Radwaste Storage
  • U.S.: National Grassroots Summit & Forum on Radwaste Policy
  • West Valley: Doe Delays 10 More Years on Reprocessing Waste Cleanup
  • Completion of Khmelnitska 3 & 4 Too Expensive Gamble
  • Belarusian Npp Plan Fails to Convince at Public Hearing in Kyiv
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Three Power Transformers Travelling to Peach Bottom Next Week

Exelon Nuclear

For Immediate Release

Three Power Transformers Travelling to Peach Bottom Next Week, Part of Exelon’s $87 Million Plan for Continued Electricity Reliability Exelon representatives working closely with state, local officials to notify public, minimize traffic disruptions along nighttime route from Havre de Grace, Md. to Delta, Pa.

Delta, Pa. (June 2, 2010) – Next week Exelon will be working closely with state and local officials in Maryland and Pennsylvania to safely and effectively transport three main power transformers from Havre de Grace, Md. to Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in Delta, Pa. The project is part of Exelon’s $87 million plan to replace all six of Peach Bottom’s main power transformers and improve long-term service. The transformers were recently shipped from Korea to Philadelphia and barged to Havre de Grace. Each unit weighs approximately 481,000 lbs. and stands 35 feet high and 28 feet wide. On June 7, Hake Rigging Company will begin transporting the transformers along a predetermined route through Harford and southern York County. The transporters will move approximately three to five miles per hour and most of the travel will take place at night to avoid as many traffic problems as possible. The units are scheduled to arrive at Peach Bottom on Thursday, June 10. For the past 6 months, Exelon has been working with Hake Rigging as well as state and local school, emergency response and transportation officials to coordinate the effort. Detours and road closures will be clearly marked in advance and a coordinated outreach plan was designed to notify residents and businesses along the travel route. Exelon has also created a 24-hour “Transport Tracker” hotline to provide travelers with up to date information on the transformer’s location. The number is 717-456-4932. “This is one the many ways that Exelon is investing in the future of Peach Bottom and our ability to provide safe and reliable power for two million customers,” said Peach Bottom Site Vice President Tom Dougherty. “I am grateful to the many state and local officials from Maryland and Pennsylvania who have been working closely with us to make this trip as safe and event-free as possible.”

Exelon Announces EVP Betsy Moler to Retire

David Brown, Joseph Dominguez to take on expanded leadership roles in D.C. Washington, D.C. – Exelon Corporation today announced several changes to its Washington, D.C., office, including the retirement of Elizabeth A. “Betsy” Moler. Moler, currently Exelon executive vice president of government affairs and public policy, intends to retire from the company effective July 1, 2010. Moler has led Exelon’s Washington, D.C., office since January 2000. Prior to joining the company, she served as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy and the Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). She will remain an advisor to the company through the end of the year. “I truly appreciate the decade of leadership Betsy has provided to Exelon. Her contributions, both to Exelon and the energy industry, have been invaluable. While it saddens me to see her leave, I understand how much she’s looking forward to this transition and the chance to spend more time with her family. I will miss Betsy as a colleague, and will always consider her a friend,” said Exelon chairman and CEO John W. Rowe. Exelon also announced that David C. Brown has been promoted to senior vice president, federal government affairs and public policy, leading the company’s Washington, D.C., office. Brown has led Exelon’s federal legislative affairs in Washington since 2000. Prior to that, he served in a similar leadership capacity for PECO from 1990-2000, prior to the merger with Unicom that created Exelon. Upon Moler’s retirement, Brown will report to William A. Von Hoene, Jr., executive vice president of finance and legal. In addition, Joseph Dominguez, currently senior vice president of communications and public affairs, will then become Exelon’s senior vice president of federal regulatory affairs, also reporting to Von Hoene. In Dominguez’s new capacity, he will lead Exelon’s federal regulatory affairs, communications and public policy, as well as Exelon Generation’s state regulatory affairs. Reporting to Dominguez will be Steve Naumann, vice president of wholesale market development and Karen Hill, vice president and director of federal regulatory affairs and policy. James Firth, senior vice president of communications, public policy and state government affairs, will continue to report to Dominguez. Dominguez will also continue in his role as general counsel of Exelon Generation, reporting in that capacity to Andrea Zopp, Exelon executive vice president and general counsel. Exelon Corporation is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities with approximately $17 billion in annual revenues. The company has one of the industry’s largest portfolios of electricity generation capacity, with a nationwide reach and strong positions in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. Exelon distributes electricity to approximately 5.4 million customers in northern Illinois and southeastern Pennsylvania and natural gas to approximately 485,000 customers in the Philadelphia area. Exelon is headquartered in Chicago and trades on the NYSE under the ticker EXC. Paul Elsberg Exelon Corporate Communications 312.394.7417

Entergy official leaves company

From the Rutland Herald:

One of Entergy's top-ranking officials who tried to salvage Vermont Yankee's reputation in the state after a series of environmental and public relations blunders has left the company.

Curt Hebert, executive vice president of external affairs for Entergy, stepped down recently from his position with Entergy Corp. in New Orleans. He was the public face of the company for nearly a decade.

The reasons for his departure – which came one day after the Vermont Public Service Board fined Entergy for making false statements under oath – were not known Tuesday. Entergy on Tuesday would only say that Hebert was no longer an employee.

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New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution

New England Coalition FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE On June 7, 2010, New England Coalition submitted a 10 CFR 2.206 petition, asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to lower Vermont Yankee’s licensing basis maximum fuel rod temperature, in order to provide a necessary margin of safety—to help prevent a partial or complete meltdown—in the event of a loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA). In the event of a LOCA, at Vermont Yankee, the pressurized core would partly or almost completely lose water and the temperature of the Zircaloy clad fuel rods in the core would rapidly increase. Vermont Yankee’s emergency core cooling system is designed to prevent a meltdown if there is a LOCA, by injecting water into the core to prevent the fuel rods from overheating. At Vermont Yankee’s current licensed power level, in the event of a LOCA, the predicted maximum temperature the fuel rods would reach is 1960°F (the licensing basis maximum fuel rod temperature), before being quenched by water injected into the core. New England Coalition has submitted its 2.206 petition, because there is a preponderance of certified experimental data that supports the need to lower Vermont Yankee’s licensing basis maximum fuel rod temperature of 1960°F by more than one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. In the event of a LOCA, if the fuel rods (in a local area) were to approach current calculated maximum fuel rod temperatures, it is probable that their Zircaloy cladding would begin to rapidly oxidize, like a fire, causing a temperature excursion—termed “runaway oxidation”—that would lead to a partial or complete meltdown. At its current licensed power level Vermont Yankee lacks a necessary margin of safety to help prevent runaway oxidation, in the event of a LOCA. NRC is presently a considering an NEC 2,206 petition regarding leaking underground piping at Vermont Yankee and the adequacy of NRC oversight at the incident-ridden plant. In addition New England Coalition is the sole intervenor in Vermont Yankee’s license renewal application, now in its 57th month of litigation. (more) A complete copy of the petition (90+ pages/ 1+ Mb) may be had on request. The following is the Petition Cover Letter, which summarizes NEC’s concerns. R. William Borchardt Executive Director for Operations U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Washington D.C. 20555-0001 Subject: 10 C.F.R. § 2.206 Request to Lower the Licensing Basis Peak Cladding Temperature of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (Docket-50-271) in Order to Provide a Necessary Margin of Safety—to Help Prevent a Meltdown—in the Event of a Loss-of-Coolant Accident Dear Mr. Borchardt: The enclosed 10 C.F.R. § 2.206 petition is submitted on behalf of New England Coalition of Brattleboro, Vermont by Mark Edward Leyse. 10 C.F.R. § 2.206(a) states that "[a]ny person may file a request to institute a proceeding pursuant to § 2.202 to modify, suspend, or revoke a license, or for any other action as may be proper." New England Coalition requests that the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission ("NRC") order the licensee of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station ("VYNPS") to lower the licensing, basis peak cladding temperature ("LBPCT") of VYNPS in order to provide a necessary margin of safety—to help prevent a partial or complete meltdown— in the event of a loss-of-coolant accident ("LOCA"). Experimental data indicates that VYNPS's LBPCT of 1960°F' does not provide a necessary margin of safety—to help prevent a partial or complete meltdown—in the event of a LOCA. Such data indicates that VYNPS's LBPCT must be decreased to a temperature lower than 1832°F in order to provide a necessary margin of safety. To uphold its congressional mandate to protect the lives, property, and environment of the people of Vermont and locations within proximity of VYNPS, the NRC must not allow VYNPS's LBPCT to remain at an elevated temperature that would not provide a necessary margin of safety, in the event of LOCA. If implemented, the enforcement action proposed in this petition would help improve public and plant worker safety. New England Coalition respectfully submits that—although revisions to the 10 C.F.R. § 50.46(b)(1) peak cladding temperature limit criterion have been proposed in a rulemaking petition—this petition is separately and appropriately brought under 10 C.F.R. § 2.206, because the concerns brought forward are plant specific, brought by a local, affected party, and have immediate bearing on safety margins at VYNPS, currently operating at its maximum permissible extended power uprate level. Furthermore, the concerns raised Entergy, "VYNPS 10 C.F.R. § 50.46(a)(3)(ii) Annual Report for 2009," January 14, 2010, located at:, Electronic Reading Room, ADAMS Documents, Accession Number: ML100260386, p. 2. in the enclosed 10 C.F.R. § 2.206 petition are of an immediate nature that require prompt NRC review and action, which are available to the petitioners only through the 10 C.F.R. § 2.206 process. New England Coalition looks forward to providing any additional information or clarification as may be required by your office or by a petition review board. Respectfully submitted, Mark Edward Leyse

Monday, July 19, 2010

TMI: NRC Evaluation of Changes, Tests, and Experiments and Modifications

Three Mile Island Station, Unit 1 - NRC Evaluation of Changes, Tests, and Experiments and Permanent Modifications Team Inspection Report 05000289/2010006

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DEP Orders EOG Resources to Halt All Natural Gas Drilling Activities in PA

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA Dept. of Environmental Protection Commonwealth News Bureau Room 308, Main Capitol Building Harrisburg PA., 17120


HARRISBURG -- The Department of Environmental Protection today ordered EOG Resources Inc. to suspend its natural gas well drilling activities in Pennsylvania after a June 3 blowout at one of the company’s Clearfield County wells sent natural gas and at least 35,000 gallons of drilling wastewater into the sky and over the ground for 16 hours.

DEP Secretary John Hanger said that while the order bans all drilling and hydrofracturing, or fracking, operations for specified periods of time, the suspension will remain in effect until DEP has completed a comprehensive investigation into the leak and the company has implemented any needed changes.

“DEP staff, along with an independent expert, will conduct a detailed investigation of not just the incident that occurred last week in Clearfield County, but of EOG Resources’ drilling operations, as a whole, here in Pennsylvania,” said Hanger. “The Clearfield County incident presented a serious threat to life and property. We are working with the company to review its Pennsylvania drilling operations fully from beginning to end to ensure an incident of this nature does not happen again.”

The order prohibits EOG Resources from drilling activities up to seven days; from engaging in fracking operations up to 14 days; and from completing or initiating post-fracking operations for 30 days in any wells throughout the state. These actions and operations cannot resume until the department agrees that the investigation has been fully completed.

The results of the investigation will also help determine whether DEP should take additional enforcement action against the company, such as fines or penalties.

Hanger added that EOG Resources has been fully cooperative and in agreement with the department’s ongoing investigation and order.

The leak began at approximately 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 3, when the well’s operators lost control of it while preparing to extract gas after fracking the shale. As a result, natural gas and flowback frack fluid was released uncontrollably onto the ground and 75 feet into the air. The well was capped at around noon on June 4. The EOG well pad is located in a rural area near the Penfield/Route 153 exit of Interstate 80 in northwestern Clearfield County, near Moshannon State Forest.

The department’s Emergency Response and Oil and Gas programs responded to the incident, along with the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, and local fire and police departments.

PEMA elevated its activation level to coordinate resources among multiple state agencies and worked with PennDOT and the Federal Aviation Administration to institute a temporary airspace restriction above the well. The restriction was lifted at approximately 1:45 p.m. on June 4.

“Fortunately, the well did not ignite and explode, and there were no injuries to the well crew or emergency responders,” said Hanger. “Our preliminary assessment is that the environmental damage was modest as the frack fluid was contained and did not appear to reach any streams, but DEP is continuing its monitoring efforts because sometimes the impacts of a spill like this are delayed. We have noted that a spring in the area has shown a spike in conductivity and that discharge is being collected by EOG for proper disposal.”

The secretary noted that the company expects to have a more accurate estimate of the amount of fracking water that was leaked after it finishes draining the pits and waterboxes it deployed to collect the fluids. As of June 7, initial estimates totaled 35,000 gallons, although more was certainly released and the company believes this accounts for a majority of the leaked water.

DEP’s preliminary investigation has determined that a blowout preventer on the well failed, but the agency does not yet know if that failure was the main cause of the incident. The blowout preventer has been secured and will be one piece of the investigation.

EOG Resources, formerly known as Enron Oil & Gas Co., operates approximately 265 active wells in Pennsylvania, 117 of which are in the Marcellus Shale formation.

For more information, visit

A Nuclear Gamble on the Not-So-Distant Horizon

Form Common Dreams:

Much like Captain Renault in Casablanca, the White House is suddenly shocked, shocked to find that oil rigs can explode, destroying ecosystems and livelihoods. The Obama administration has backed away from its offshore oil expansion policy in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe as the long-term environmental and economical consequences unfold in the Gulf States. Headlines are clamoring for the criminal investigations of BP, TransOcean, Halliburton and ultimately, the federal regulator, Mineral Management Services (MMS). Rather paradoxically, President Obama is using the oil spill to call for more nuclear power.

Yet, with the exception of a handful of insightful political cartoonists, the obvious parallel between the regulatory delinquency of MMS and that of its nuclear equivalent - the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) - and the potential for an equally catastrophic accident in the nuclear sector, has not been drawn. As with the MMS debacle, the NRC is gambling with inevitable disaster with the same spin of the wheel of misfortune and with potentially even higher stakes.

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Boycotting Anti-Nuclear Activist Companies & Celebrities

From the energy collective:

You don’t have to look very hard to find celebrities or companies who are actively working against the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. There was a time in my life that going to the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream shop was a ritual. The company opened one of their first retail stores in a renovated gas station about a block from my apartment in Saratoga Springs, NY where I lived when I worked at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory. As the company grew and the profits rolled in their founders began to become politically active in Vermont. Unfortunately they jumped on the anti-nuclear bandwagon and began to support groups like Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility who advocate shutting down the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. I made the decision not to buy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream because every scoop I ate was helping to fund activist efforts to shut down Vermont’s only nuclear plant. It’s too bad Ben & Jerry’s fails to understand that without Vermont Yankee the electricity used to manufacture their ice cream would necessarily come from fossil fuels, and would contribute to air pollution and climate change. They are probably unaware that Vermont is one of the only states to continue burning oil to generate electricity. Their anti-nuclear campaign is in effect supporting the continued use of oil and other fossil fuels. Fortunately for me there are plenty of ice cream alternatives!

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In Gulf, It Was Unclear Who Was in Charge of Oil Rig

From the New York Times:
Over six days in May, far from the familiar choreography of Washington hearings, federal investigators grilled workers involved in the Deepwater Horizon disaster in a chilly, sterile conference room at a hotel near the airport here. The six-member panel of Coast Guard and Minerals Management Service officials pressed for answers about what occurred on the rig on April 20 before it exploded. They wanted to know who was in charge, and heard conflicting answers. They pushed for more insight into an argument on the rig that day between a manager for BP, the well’s owner, and one for Transocean, the rig’s owner, and asked Curt R. Kuchta, the rig’s captain, how the crew knew who was in charge.
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The Next Drilling Disaster?

From The Nation:
A tour of Dimock, Pennsylvania, with Victoria Switzer is a bumpy ride over torn-up roads, around parking lots filled with heavy machinery and storage tanks, and past well pads that not long ago were forests. The winter here was quiet, but with the thawing ground came the return of the rigs, the trucks, the constant noise and lights of a twenty-four-hour-a-day gas drilling operation. "It's a modern-day Deadwood out here," Switzer says, likening the activity to the gold rush. "No rules, no regs, just rigs." The "occupation," as she calls it, hasn't just transformed Dimock into an industrial hub; it has also damaged the local water supply and put residents' health at risk. After a stray drill bit banged four wells in 2008, Switzer says, weird things started happening to people's water: some flushed black, some orange, some turned bubbly. One well exploded, the result of methane migration, and residents say elevated metal and toluene levels have ruined twelve others. Then, in September 2009, about 8,000 gallons of hazardous drilling fluids spilled into nearby fields and creeks. The contamination and related health problems have prompted fifteen families to file suit against Cabot Oil and Gas, the primary leaseholder in the area, alleging fraud and contract violation and seeking to stop the damage from spreading.
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Davis-Besse ready to go

From the Sandusky Register:

FirstEnergy officials said Thursday that nozzle cracks discovered months ago in the reactor at Davis-Besse nuclear power plant were caused primarily by hot temperatures and weaknesses in manufactured material.

Officials from the energy giant said they've fixed the problem -- discovered during a routine shutdown this past spring -- and are ready to start producing power again.

The company's leaders met Thursday with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at a public meeting.

NRC officials said they'll make an independent decision about whether the 1970s-era nuclear plant is ready to power up.

During the hour-long presentation, which drew 100 area residents, First Energy officials said they determined "primary water stress corrosion cracking" was the likely cause of cracking in nozzle welds in the reactor.

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DEP Plans Thorough Investigation in to Marcellus Shale Well Blowout in Clearfield County

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA Dept. of Environmental Protection Commonwealth News Bureau Room 308, Main Capitol Building Harrisburg PA., 17120

EOG Resources Well Released Fracking Fluid, Natural Gas for 16 Hours

HARRISBURG -- Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said today that his agency intends to investigate aggressively the circumstances surrounding a blowout at a Marcellus Shale natural gas well in Lawrence Township, Clearfield County, and take the appropriate enforcement action.

At approximately 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 3, the operators of the well, which is owned by EOG Resources, Inc., lost control of it while preparing to extract gas after hydrofracturing the shale. As a result, the well released natural gas and flowback frack fluid onto the ground and 75 feet into the air. The well was eventually capped around noon on June 4.

“The event at the well site could have been a catastrophic incident that endangered life and property,” said Hanger. “This was not a minor accident, but a serious incident that will be fully investigated by this agency with the appropriate and necessary actions taken quickly.

“When we arrived on scene, natural gas and frack fluid was flowing off the well pad and heading toward tributaries to Little Laurel Run and gas was shooting into the sky, creating a significant fire hazard. That’s why emergency responders acted quickly to cut off electric service to the area.

“Right now, we’re focused on limiting any further environmental damage, but once that work is complete, we plan to aggressively look at this situation and see where things went wrong and what enforcement action is necessary. If mistakes were made, we will be certain to take steps to prevent similar errors from happening again.”

DEP learned of the leak at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Friday after it was informed by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. DEP immediately dispatched its Emergency Response and Oil and Gas program staff to the site.

PEMA, which elevated its activation level to coordinate resources among multiple state agencies, also worked with PennDOT to initiate an airspace restriction above the well, which the Federal Aviation Administration authorized on a temporary basis earlier today. The restriction prohibits flights at and below 1,000 feet of ground level within a three nautical mile radius of the well site. The restriction is in effect until further notice.

The EOG well pad is located in a rural area near the Penfield/Route 153 exit of Interstate 80 in northwestern Clearfield County. Three other wells on the same pad that have been drilled and fractured remain plugged and are not in danger.

EOG Resources, formerly known as Enron Oil & Gas Co., operates approximately 265 active wells in Pennsylvania, 117 of which are in the Marcellus Shale formation.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

UCS weekly blog series

Good Day: Today marks the first in a series of weekly postings to the UCS blog at: The series is called "Fission Stories" and features short summaries of nuclear near-misses, miscues, and follies. A link from each weekly post explains what this series is all about. The inaugural post is titled "Surf's Up!" and discusses the leakage of some 100,000 gallons of water INTO the containment building for the Unit 2 reactor at Indian Point some 30 years. In recent years, Indian Point is known for radioactive water leaking out of the plant as well as more water leaking into containment. This initial post will be followed by a few other accounts of problems caused by water leaking into nuclear power plants. Thanks, David Lochbaum Director, Nuclear Safety Project Union of Concerned Scientists