Thursday, January 27, 2011

Susquehanna: Manual Reactor Scram Due to an Unisolable Extraction Steam System Leak

Event Number: 46569 Event Date: 01/25/2011 Facility: SUSQUEHANNA

MANUAL REACTOR SCRAM DUE TO AN UNISOLABLE EXTRACTION STEAM SYSTEM LEAK "At 0610 EST hours on January 25, 2011, Susquehanna Steam Electric Station Unit 1 reactor was manually scrammed due to an unisolable extraction steam system leak in the 1C Feed Water Heater Bay area. "At 0517 EST reactor operators commenced lowering reactor power from 98.4% to 65%. Attempts to isolate the source of the leakage were unsuccessful. Based on continued indications of unisolated steam leakage, operations decided to shut down the plant. The reactor operator placed the mode switch in shutdown. All control rods inserted. Reactor water level lowered to -31 inches causing Level 3 (+ 13 inches) isolation and RCIC initiation. The operations crew subsequently maintained reactor water level at the normal operating band using FW [feedwater]. No steam relief valves opened. All safety systems operated as expected. RCIC automatically initiated on a -30 inch level signal and was manually secured. "The reactor is currently stable in Mode 3. Investigation into the cause of the extraction steam system leakage is underway. "The NRC Resident Inspector was notified. A voluntary notification to PEMA and press release will occur." The steam leak was isolated after the turbine was tripped. The plant is stable at normal temperature and pressure. Decay heat is being removed via the condenser steam dumps to the main condenser. The electrical lineup is in a normal configuration. Estimated time to restart is not known.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Berwick nuclear reactor shut down after steam leak

From the Scranton Times Tribune:

The Susquehanna 1 nuclear power plant was manually shut down this morning due to a steam leak, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Susquehanna 2 power plant was not affected and continues to operate normally, the NRC said.

The shutdown came at 6:10 a.m., after operators decided steam from the boiling water reactor could not be contained "without impacting other systems," the NRC said. All plant safety systems operated as expected during the shutdown, the NRC said.

An NRC inspector was sent to the scene, and PPL Corp., which operates the power plant, is investigating the cause of the leak, the NRC said. No injuries or releases of radioactivity to the environment were reported.

Why nuclear energy is on hold for Alaska

From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

Nuclear energy isn’t a good fit for Alaska right now but could be within a decade or two. If a new generation of small, user-friendly reactors hits the market, nuclear power could actually be a viable energy source for Fairbanks, according to a report coming soon by University of Alaska researchers. But it would take even higher energy prices and years of product testing and development before the chain reaction were initiated in Alaska.

“This has possible applications in Alaska, there’s no question about that,” said Gwen Holdmann, director of the UA Alaska Center for Energy and Power in Fairbanks. “But we have some time here.”

Nuclear energy doesn’t make sense now because current gigawatt-sized reactors are too big for Alaska’s power needs. But a renewed push for nuclear power by the federal government and industry could be clearing the way for new technology. Now smaller-scale, modular reactors are approaching the permitting process that could redefine the look and usefulness of nuclear power.

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Are You There, God? It's Me, Fake-Rob Williams

From Fake Rob Williams:
It's so cool. You know, one of the things that people don't really appreciate about Vermont Yankee is how much fun we have around here forgiving each other for our blunders and mistakes. It's really a "peace, man" and "no worries" kind of place. Another very cool fact about us: Our employees are happy, picturesque people with good singing voices.
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Pa. Supreme Court sides with developer in Chester County case

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

A state law designed to shield people from lawsuits when they try to protect the environment suffered a blow Wednesday when the state Supreme Court ruled in a long-running case involving a Chester County development.

The court ruled, in part, that the Environmental Immunity Act does not shield parties who may have already reached a court-approved agreement on an issue.

"It looks like, environmentally, we took one on the chin," said State Rep. Camille "Bud" George (D., Clearfield), who led the effort to pass the Environmental Immunity Act in 2001.

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Energy Subsidies Black, Not Green

A study released by the Environmental Law Institute, a nonpartisan research and policy organization, shows that the federal government has provided substantially larger subsidies to fossil fuels than to renewables. Subsidies to fossil fuels totaled approxi- mately $72 billion over the seven-year study period, while subsidies for renewable fuels totaled $29 billion over the same period. The vast majority of subsidies support energy sources that emit high levels of greenhouse gases when used as fuel. Moreover, just a handful of tax breaks make up the largest portion of subsidies for fossil fuels, with the most significant of these, the Foreign Tax Credit, supporting the overseas production of oil. More than half of the subsidies for renewables are attributable to corn-based ethanol, the use of which, while decreasing American reliance on foreign oil, has generated concern about climate effects.These figures raise the question of whether scarce government funds might be better allocated to move the United States towards a low-carbon economy.

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The Curies, Seen Through an Artist's Eyes

From the New York Times:

Described simply, “Radioactive” is an illustrated biography of Marie Curie, the Polish-born French physicist famous for her work on radioactivity — she was the first person to win the Nobel Prize twice — and her equally accomplished husband, Pierre. It lays bare their childhoods, their headlong love story, their scientific collaboration and the way their toxic discoveries, which included radium and polonium, poisoned them in slow motion.

Described less simply, it’s a deeply unusual and forceful thing to have in your hands. Ms. Redniss’s text is long, literate and supple. She catches Marie Curie’s “delicate and grave” manner as a young student, new to Paris; she notes the “luminous goulash” of radium and zinc that one chemist prepares; she observes with pleasure another man’s “thriving mustache.” She has a firm command of, but an easy way with, the written word.

The electricity in “Radioactive,” however, derives from the friction between Ms. Redniss’s text and her ambitious and spooky art. Her text runs across and over these freewheeling pages, the boundaries between word and image constantly blurring. Her drawings are both vivid and ethereal. Her people have elongated faces and pale forms; they’re etiolated Modiglianis. They populate a Paris that’s become a dream city.

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France plans underwater nuclear reactor


Plans to build underwater civilian nuclear reactors are in the works in France, with a prototype expected to be rolled out in 2016, officials said.

DCNS, the French state-controlled naval company, said it will work in partnership with French companies Areva, EDF, and the French Atomic Energy Commission to build small- and medium-sized underwater reactors to provide electricity to consumers on land, Radio France Internationale reported Wednesday.

The company said its Flexblue project, expected to enter the building phase in 2013, is in response to global energy challenges and renewed interest in nuclear power.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

FirstEnergy Corp. reports electrical fire at construction site of an auxiliary building


FirstEnergy Corp. reported to federal regulators today that a small electrical fire erupted overnight at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Toledo.

An apparent short about 2:30 a.m. in 480-volt temporary power cable running on the ground to a building under construction sparked the blaze in plastic and rubber material covering the cable.

A plant fire brigade put the fire out in 10 minutes, using two dry powder fire extinguishers. There were no injuries and operations at the power plant were not disrupted.

"We are investigating the cause and will be meeting with the contractor," said Todd Schneider, company spokesman.

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Davis Besse: Notification Of Unusual Event Due To A Fire And Explosions In The Protected Area

Event Number: 46551 Event Date: 01/19/2011 Facility: DAVIS BESSE

NOTIFICATION OF UNUSUAL EVENT DUE TO A FIRE AND EXPLOSIONS IN THE PROTECTED AREA "An electrical fire and explosions were reported near the Containment Access Facility construction area. An Unusual Event was declared based on HU4. Temporary electrical power at service disconnect DSLM3-3 was isolated. The fire was out at 0243 EST. The fire was extinguished using dry chemical. The fire was reported at 0232 EST on 1/19/11. The cause of the fire has not been determined at this time." The fire and explosions were initially reported by site security personnel. The licensee declared the NOUE at 0243 EST based on criteria HU4. The licensee initially called for offsite assistance in putting out the fire, however, the fire was extinguished by plant personnel and the offsite assistance was turned back. The licensee posted a reflash watch. The fire reportedly involved temporary cables and possibly a transformer supplying power to the construction area which is located inside the protected area outside the auxiliary building. The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector. * * * UPDATE FROM TOM PHILLIPS TO DONALD NORWOOD AT 0405 EST ON 1/19/2011 * * * The licensee terminated the Notification of Unusual Event at 0358 EST. No additional information is available at this time. Notified R3DO (Bloomer), NRR EO (Skeen), IRD (Gott), DHS (Stringfield), and FEMA (Casto).

Report: Decom. costs not clear

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

A nuclear decommissioning expert says estimates to dismantle the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant are too old and don’t reflect the current state of the economy.

According to study released Thursday from Fairewinds Associates, a consultancy hired by the state Legislature to analyze the decommissioning fund, the documents created in 2006 are "technically and economically outdated."

New technology has been developed "which may dramatically decrease the cost of decommissioning, and those options have not been analyzed for their application to the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee," the report states.

All decommissioning options need to be explored, Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer for Fairewinds Associates, said.

During the previous decommissioning fund update of the nuclear plant in Vernon, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviewed the plan and required Entergy to provide a $40 million parent company guarantee to address a shortfall, Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC, wrote in an e-mail to the Reformer.

"Looking ahead, nuclear power plant owners will be required to submit new updates on their decommissioning trust funds in March, providing us with another opportunity to scrutinize them," he wrote.

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Nuclear Containment Failures and Ramifications for the AP1000 Containment Design

Press Conference: 11 a.m., Monday, January 10, 2011 Nuclear Containment Failures and Ramifications for the AP1000 Containment Design Dial: 1-800-860-2442 and ask for the AP1000 call

Hosted by: AP1000 Oversight Group, represented by Attorney John Runkle and Expert Witness Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer Fairewinds Associates, Inc

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Download AP1000 Supplemental Report (filed 12-21-2010)

TMI: Ammendment to Relocation of Surveillance Frequencies

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 – Issuance of Amendment Re: Request to Relocate Surveillance Frequencies to a Licensee-Controlled Program (TAC No. ME3587) ADAMS Accession No.: ML103120069 (Download PDF)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Waste Confidence Decision Update

From the Federal Register:

Although the proposed updates to the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule did not consider some of these recent developments, the Commission has assumed, for the purposes of these updates, that YM would not be built. Even so, the new YM developments are pertinent. The Commission believes that the updates to the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule reflect the uncertainty regarding the timing of the availability of a geologic repository for SNF and HLW. The Commission, as a separate action, has directed the staff to develop a plan for a longer-term rulemaking and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to assess the environmental impacts and safety of long-term SNF and HLW storage beyond 120 years (SRM-SECY-09-0090; ADAMS Accession Number ML102580229). This analysis will go well beyond the current analysis that supports at least 60 years of post-licensed life storage with eventual disposal in a deep geologic repository. The Commission believes that a more expansive analysis is appropriate because it will provide additional information (beyond the reasonable assurance the Commission is recognizing in the current rulemaking) on whether spent fuel can be safely stored for a longer time, if necessary. This analysis could reduce the frequency with which the Commission must, as a practical matter, consider waste storage capabilities. The staff's new review will require an analysis and, to some extent, a forecast of the safety and environmental impacts of storage for extended periods of time beyond that currently recognized in 10 CFR 51.23 and the Waste Confidence Decision. While storage of spent fuel for 60 years beyond licensed life has been shown through experience or analyses to be safe and not to have a significant environmental impact, the proposed technical analysis will go well beyond the time frame of existing requirements.

Even though the Commission has not determined whether this particular analysis will result in a different conclusion concerning the environmental impacts of extended spent fuel storage, the Commission believes that this unprecedented long-term review should be accompanied by an EIS. Preparing an EIS will ensure that the agency considers these longer-term storage issues from an appropriate perspective. The Commission has therefore decided to exercise its discretionary authority under 10 CFR 51.20(a)(2) and is directing the staff to prepare a draft EIS to accompany the proposed rule developed as a result of this longer-term analysis. The updates to the Waste Confidence Decision in this document and the final rule published in this issue of the Federal Register rely on the best information currently available to the Commission and therefore are separate from this long-term initiative. The updates to the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule are not dependent upon the staff completing any action outside the scope of these revisions to the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule.

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Vt. nuke fights for future but chances are dimming

From the Associated Press:

Vermont's piece of the nuclear age, launched four decades ago, seems to be coming to a close, even as advocates push for a renaissance of nuclear power in the United States.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant's initial 40-year license expires March 21, 2012, less than 15 months from now. And despite a safety and performance record no worse than many of the other 61 reactors that have won 20-year license extensions from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Vernon power plant's future looks short.

That's largely because it's located in the only state in the country with a law saying both houses of its legislature have to give their approval before Vermont regulators can issue a state license for the plant to continue operating.

The Vermont Senate voted 26-4 last February against letting the Public Service Board issue the new state license. That vote came a month after it was revealed that Vermont Yankee was leaking tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, into soil and groundwater surrounding the reactor on the banks of the Connecticut River. It also followed revelations that senior plant personnel had misled state officials about whether Vermont Yankee had the sort of underground pipes that carried radioactive tritium.

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PPL working to correct problem with system at nuke plant

From the Times Leader:

Engineering workers at the nuclear power plant near Berwick detected a design flaw in a temperature control system that could have shut down the two reactors, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported.

The reactors remain in operation, and officials at the PPL’s Susquehanna Steam Electric Station are working to correct the problem that has existed since the plant came on line in the 1980s, said Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman.

The plant is jointly owned by PPL Susquehanna LLC and Allegheny Electric Cooperative Inc.

The flaw was discovered in house and reported to the NRC on Monday, Sheehan said.

On Thursday, he described it as a “single point of vulnerability.” Besides resulting in a shut down, he said, “this could have impacted some very important safety systems.”

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Three Mile Island On-site Alarms to be Tested on Saturday Jan. 8 at 12:00 p.m.

Exelon Press Release

LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (Jan. 6, 2011) – Operators at Three Mile Island Generating Station will test the plant’s on-site fire and emergency alarms on Saturday, Jan. 8 at 12:00 p.m. The alarm sounds and accompanying page announcements may be heard offsite.

Beginning in February, TMI will conduct this alarm test on the first Saturday of every month at 12:00 p.m. The alarm test uses the in-plant and on-site plant page system. It does not involve the offsite notification siren system.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Susquehanna: Inservice Testing of Safety Relief Valves


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Peach Bottom: Requalification Program Inspection


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DEP, Ag Secretaries With New Federal Guidelines in Place, PA Ready to Help Clean Up Chesapeake Bay

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA Dept. of Environmental Protection Commonwealth News Bureau Room 308, Main Capitol Building Harrisburg PA., 17120 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 12/29/2010 CONTACT: Michael Smith, Department of Environmental Protection 717-787-1323

HARRISBURG -- Now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has outlined its final “pollution diet” for states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Pennsylvania’s top environmental and agriculture officials say the state is ready to do its part to improve water quality. Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger and Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said Pennsylvania’s plan provides a reasonable assurance that it can clean up the water flowing into the bay while keeping industries in the watershed viable. Hanger said that while the state has already reduced its nitrogen contributions to the bay by 28 percent, phosphorus by 46 percent, and sediment by between 38 and 46 percent, more work remains to be done. The total maximum daily load, or TMDL, the EPA imposed today, he added, specifies the additional pollution reductions that are necessary to bring the bay back to good health. The EPA’s final, enforceable allocations call for Pennsylvania to reduce by 2025 annual nitrogen discharges to 76.8 million pounds; phosphorous discharges to 2.7 million pounds; and sediment to between 0.95-1.05 million tons per year. “Pennsylvania has long been committed to doing its part to restore the bay’s health,” said Hanger. “We’ve reduced the pollution flowing into the Chesapeake from our waters by millions of tons. While wastewater treatment operators, developers and farmers can share some credit for these successes, there’s still work to be done. Our plan makes sure we do it in a way that keeps industries viable in the state, creates new opportunities, and is attainable and measurable.” Pennsylvania’s plan, referred to as a watershed implementation plan, or WIP, calls for continuing existing programs that have proven effective and, in some cases, improving the capacity to track and expand those efforts; implementing new programs that take advantage of advanced and innovative technologies; and enhancing common sense compliance efforts, particularly for nonpoint sources such as agriculture and stormwater runoff from development. Hanger noted that the state is not requiring wastewater treatment plants to make further reductions in line with a commitment DEP made in 2006 with its point source strategy. That strategy was incorporated into the state’s WIP. “Wastewater treatment plants have made considerable investments to upgrade facilities and cut discharges,” said Hanger. “This plan does not place additional expectations on those facilities; it lays out a framework for ensuring other sectors of our economy are making their share of reductions. “Every sector of our economy that has had a stake in this matter has had a seat at the table in developing this plan. We’re convinced we can achieve what’s expected of us.” Pennsylvania will improve its ability to track nutrient and sediment reductions made by farmers and other land managers through the plan. Until now, usually only those best management practices, or BMPs, that were associated with a federal or state grant program were reported to the Bay Program, which meant many improvements went unnoticed. “Many farmers voluntarily install conservation BMPs without state or federal financial assistance simply because they are good management decisions,” said Redding. “It is vitally important that these privately funded BMPs be identified and reported to ensure that the agricultural community’s nutrient and sediment reductions are fully credited.” Improving communications and cooperation with farmers and partners like county conservation districts will be critical to the success of this effort, Redding added. DEP recently funded a pilot tracking project in Lancaster and Bradford counties to better assess the type and level of BMPs farmers are implementing, and to explore the effectiveness of various tracking and reporting methods. The results will then be used to develop a uniform reporting tool to better capture the pollution reductions from these previously unreported efforts. Pennsylvania’s plan also calls for using new and innovative technologies to reduce pollution. The state has proposed creating a $100 million program—funded by the federal government, states within the bay watershed and other key stakeholders—that would finance four to eight manure-to-energy projects, for example, each year. Each project could remove close to 1 million pounds of nitrogen from the Chesapeake Bay. DEP and the Department of Agriculture have been working with a number of companies to look for ways to install technologies like manure treatment, methane digesters and electrical co-generation equipment on dairy, poultry and hog farms. These technologies can help reduce nutrient pollution while also producing electricity and marketable soil products that create additional revenue streams for farmers and rural communities. For more information, visit, keyword: Chesapeake Bay.

The Psychology of Climate Change Communication

From Discover:

What the heck is wrong with our minds, such that they prevent so many of us from copping to the evidence about global warming?

Well, I’ve just come across a pretty amazing report that points out many of the problems. The product of Columbia University’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED), it’s called The Psychology of Climate Change Communication–and it covers mental models, confirmation biases, and many other known cognitive effects before going on to lay out a series of recommendations about what to do about them.

What to do? The advice includes knowing your audience, employing framing, using trusted messengers (often local voices), using the power of groupthink in your favor (rather than letting it turn against you), and much else. For more detail, read the report.

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Clinton Power Station: Emergency Action Level Schemes

Clinton Power Station, Unit No. 1, LaSalle County Station, Units 1 and 2, and Peach Bottom, Units 2 and 3 - Request for additional information regarding implementation of Emergency Action Level Schemes developed from NEI 99-01, Revision 5 – ADAMS Accession no. ML103410126

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