Thursday, August 25, 2011


From the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

This year has seen a dramatic increase in a question people regularly ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission: “What magnitude earthquakes are U.S. nuclear power plants designed to withstand?” The answer, however, does not include a specific “magnitude.”

The NRC requires U.S. reactors to withstand a predicted level of ground motion, or acceleration, specific to a given site. Ground acceleration is measured in relation to “g,” the acceleration caused by Earth’s gravity.

An earthquake’s magnitude, often described on the Richter scale, is an expression of how much energy the quake released. It’s not possible to transform a given magnitude alone to ground acceleration at a site. Several important factors affect the relationship between an earthquake’s magnitude and associated ground acceleration, including the distance from the earthquake, the depth of the quake and the site’s local geology (i.e., hard rock or soil). A small earthquake close to a site could therefore generate the same peak ground acceleration as a large earthquake farther away.

The NRC’s requirements call for a nuclear power plant’s design to account for ground acceleration that is appropriate for its location, given the possible earthquake sources that may affect the site and the makeup of nearby faults, etc. Existing U.S. plants were designed on a “deterministic” or “scenario earthquake” basis. In other words, examination of an area’s seismological history provides an understanding of the largest earthquake and associated ground acceleration expected at a plant site.

Later this year, the agency expects to provide existing plants a seismic analysis tool based on work related to applications for new plants, along with the latest information on earthquake sources, so that the plants can perform an updated review. Applications for new nuclear power plants have taken a “probabilistic” approach to determining seismic hazards, looking at a wide range of possible quakes from sources that could affect a given site. The NRC has spent several years examining how these newer techniques can be used to re-evaluate existing nuclear power plant sites.


From NRC News:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will present information during the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) fifth committee meeting on the NRC-sponsored study, “Analysis of Cancer Risks in Populations Near Nuclear Facilities: Phase 1.” The meeting’s public session will run from 1:20 p.m. 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 29, at the Pew Charitable Trusts Conference Center, 901 E St., NW in Washington, D.C.

The NRC will outline potential next steps for the study and describe the agency’s public outreach and communications efforts. NRC staff will also be available to answer committee member questions. The Environmental Protection Agency will also present information to the committee. The public is welcome to attend and will have the opportunity to comment prior to the end of the meeting. The NAS asks members of the public to register for the meeting, and the NAS website has additional details, although they are subject to change. General questions on the study can be sent via e-mail to:

The NAS project will update the 1990 U.S. National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute (NCI) report, “Cancer in Populations Living Near Nuclear Facilities.” The NRC uses the 1990 NCI report as a primary resource when communicating with the public about cancer mortality risk in counties that contain or are adjacent to nuclear power facilities. In the new study, the NRC is asking the NAS to evaluate cancer diagnosis rates, in addition to mortality risk, for populations living near decommissioned, operating and proposed NRC-licensed nuclear facilities. Phase 1 of the NAS study will determine whether a technically defensible approach to meet the goals of the study request is feasible and if so, the approach will be developed using scientifically sound processes for evaluating cancer risk that could be associated with nuclear facilities.

All Four Exelon Nuclear Mid-Atlantic Plants Operating Safely Following Regional Seismic Activity

Exelon Nuclear


KENNETT SQUARE, PA. (August 23, 2011) - None of Exelon Nuclear's four Mid-Atlantic nuclear energy stations was affected by this afternoon’s seismic activity in Virginia, and all continue to operate safely at this time. An “Unusual Event” was declared at each of the stations following the seismic activity, in accordance with plant procedures: Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Three Mile Island Generating Station and Limerick Generating Station in Pennsylvania, and Oyster Creek Generating Station in New Jersey.

Plant equipment continued to function normally at each of the Exelon Nuclear stations. Operators are currently performing "walk-downs" to identify any potential affects from the seismic activity, but no damage to equipment or plant operations has been identified at this time. Each plant continued to operate at normal power level throughout the event and no evacuations or additional safety measures were required.

Nuclear energy plants are designed specifically to withstand the impact of earthquakes and other severe acts of nature. The earthquake, reported to be at a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter Scale, did not challenge the engineered design of the Exelon facilities.

An “Unusual Event” is the lowest level emergency classifications as determined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

TMI: Relocation of Equipment Load List (ML112150486)

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 – Issuance of Amendment Re: Relocation of Equipment Load List From Technical Specifications to Updated Final Safety Analysis Report (TAC No. ME4732) Download ML112150486

New Data Supports Previous Fairewinds Analysis, as Contamination Spreads in Japan and Worldwide

New Data Supports Previous Fairewinds Analysis, as Contamination Spreads in Japan and Worldwide from Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.

Fukushima Evacuation Zone areas uninhabitable, PM to apologize

From Majirox News:

Parts of the 20-kilometer (12.42 mile) Evacuation Zone around the radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are close to being declared uninhabitable and the ban on entering the area maintained, possibly for decades, according to the Yomiuri newspaper on Aug. 21.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan is poised to explain the situation to local government leaders from the affected leaders and apologize for evacuation from the area becoming long-term rather than temporary.

Excess radiation dozens of times greater than the acceptable annual safety level in parts of the zone is behind the moves, which thwart national government plans to reopen the area by January next year upon achieving a cold shutdown of the plant, which went into meltdown after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that hit the Tohoku Region.

Read more

June 2011 Susquehanna River Basin Commission Meeting Minutes

To Whom It May Concern: Attached are the Minutes of the June 23, 2011 Susquehanna River Basin Commission meeting. Please let me know if you have any problems opening the document, or wish to be removed from this email list. Thank you for your interest. Ava A. Stoops

Download PDF

Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommends further review of Beyond Nuclear petition for emergency enforcement actions at Fukushima-style US reactors



CONTACT: Linda Gunter, Beyond Nuclear, 301.455.5655

Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommends further review of Beyond Nuclear petition for emergency enforcement actions at Fukushima-style US reactors

[Takoma Park, MD] The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has accepted several emergency actions for further agency review that were requested in a petition filed by Beyond Nuclear on April 13, 2011. The Beyond Nuclear petition seeks to suspend the operation of the dangerous and seriously flawed General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors, 23 of which still operate around the U.S. and which are almost identical to the Fukushima reactors that melted down in Japan. The petition was co-signed by national and regional anti-nuclear groups as well as more than 5,000 individuals.

The Beyond Nuclear petition to the NRC asks that the Mark I reactors cease operations until several emergency actions are taken. The actions accepted by the federal agency for the further review include; 1) the NRC revoke the 1989 prior approval for all GE Mark I operators to “voluntarily” install the same experimental hardened vent systems on flawed containment structures that the Fukushima catastrophe demonstrates to have a 100% failure rate and; 2) that the agency immediately issue Orders requiring all U.S. Mark I operators to promptly install dedicated emergency back-up electrical power to ensure reliable cooling systems for the densely packed spent fuel pools. The GE BWR fuel pools are located at the top of the reactor building and currently do not have backup power if offsite and on-site electrical power were lost simultaneously.

“Fukushima demonstrates that a nuclear catastrophe can result from these same fundamental flaws in the Mark I reactors operating in the United States,” said Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight Project at Beyond Nuclear. “We are spotlighting these dangerous reactors to test the NRCs’ willingness to take enforcement action to protect public safety rather than protect the nuclear industry bottom line,” he said.

On July 19, 2011, NRC released its own “Near-Term Task Force Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Accident.” While the Task Force addresses the same two action items found in the Beyond Nuclear petition that were accepted by the review board, the Task Force’s conclusions are considerably weaker.

First, where NRC task force recommendation 5 states that the agency consider issuing an Order to Mark I operators to upgrade hardened vent systems on the containment, the public petitioners have requested the agency revoke all prior approval of the “voluntary” installation of the controversial venting system. The vents were seen to fail at Fukushima and are only in place to save the containment which is too weak to withstand a severe accident. The containments were retrofitted in the 1990’s to instead temporarily vent explosive gas, steam pressure and radioactivity to the outside atmosphere to save the containment component.

“Given the catastrophic failure demonstrated at Fukushima, these same designs should not be allowed to operate with experimental vents on containment,” said Gunter, “The GE reactor was originally licensed with the claim of a ‘leak tight’ containment so this after-thought of installing a vent for accident conditions is in fact a violation of that same license,” he said.

Scott Portzline, security consultant to Three Mile Island Alert, Harrisburg PA said, ”The NRC’s Task Force on Fukushima has also recommended that the Mark II design reactors, like the one at Limerick PA, also be ordered to change over to a reliable vent system. The Peach Bottom Reactors would be affected by such an order since they are of Mark I design.”

In its petition, Beyond Nuclear additionally asked that the NRC then provide the public with full hearing rights to first independently review any further experimental modifications to the acknowledged weaker and substandard Mark I containment system.

Secondly, where NRC task force recommendation 7 states that emergency back-up power should be provided to ensure make-up for water boiled off of overheated spent fuel pools following loss of offsite power, the petitioners’ request that reliable back-up power be provide to assure reliable cooling to prevent the pools from boiling off. The petitioners remain concerned about the unintended consequences of condensation from a spent fuel pool boil off affecting safety-related systems like electrical circuits and sump systems.

The NRC review board further recommended that the agency “reject” in part Beyond Nuclear’s requested actions for any further review to include; 1) “Immediately suspend operating licenses of all GE BWR Mark I units pending full NRC review with independent expert and public participation from the affected emergency planning zone communities,” and; 2) “Conduct public meetings within each of the ten-mile emergency planning zone for each GE BWR site for the purpose of receiving public comment and independent expert testimony regarding the reliability of hardened vent system or direct torus vent system.”

Beyond Nuclear and the co-petitioners will be provided an additional public meeting before the NRC’s Petition Review to present supplemental material and challenge agency recommendations to reject requested emergency actions. The date for that meeting has not been established.


Markey Statement on NRC Vote To Act On Fukushima Task Force Recommendations

For Immediate Release Contact: Giselle Barry 202-225-2836 August 19, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee and a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released the following statement after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) directed its staff to complete several actions within the next 45 days in response to recommendations from the NRC’s Near-Term Task Force. “I am encouraged that all the NRC Commissioners have agreed with Chairman Greg Jaczko to act within 90 days on 11 of the 12 safety recommendations of the Near Term Task Force. It is urgent that the NRC address vulnerabilities to America's nuclear fleet that were starkly revealed by the Fukushima meltdowns. “Unfortunately, Commissioners Magwood, Svinicki, and Ostendorff did not agree even to a prompt up-or-down vote on the very first, common-sense recommendation of the Task Force - to replace the current patchwork of safety regulations with a logical, systematic, and coherent regulatory framework. Now is not the time for 18 additional months of redundant study of the first recommendation, which was made by a Task Force with 135 years of collective experience at the NRC and with full access to NRC staff. “The Task Force’s recommendations, if adopted, would go a long way towards ensuring the safety of America’s 104 nuclear reactors if the rest of the Commissioners also agree to support Chairman Jaczko on the substance of all 12 recommendations of the Task Force. I urge them to do so.”

Peach Bottom: Document Access (ML111860054)

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Unit 3 – Individual Notice of Consideration of Issuance of Amendment to Facility Operating License, Proposed No Significant Hazards Consideration Determination and Opportunity for Hearing and Order Imposing Procedures for Document Access to Sensitive Unclassified Non-Safeguards Information (TAC No. ME6391) Download ML111860054

TMI: Weld Overlay of the Pressurizer Spray Nozzle (ML112140397)

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 – Proposed Alternative RR-10-02 Regarding Weld Overlay of the Pressurizer Spray Nozzle to Safe-End and Safe-End to Elbow Dissimilar Metal Welds (TAC No. ME4795) Download ML112140397

Japan eyes global nuclear compensation treaty: report

From Reuters:

Japan is considering joining a U.S.-led global nuclear compensation treaty in a bid to fend off excessive overseas damage claims related to nuclear accidents, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Sunday, without citing sources. The U.S., Morocco, Romania and Argentina have agreed to the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, but the treaty needs at least five countries in order to go into effect. The newspaper said Japan would start discussions with the United States in the coming week over the pact, which defines the rules for trials for damage claims in countries where accidents happen.

Read more

Peach Bottom: Safety Limit Minimum Critical Power Ratio Change (ML111860025)


Download ML111860025

US Blue Ribbon Commission goes on tour

The US government’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) will be hosting public meetings to solicit feedback on the draft commission report, in association with state regional groups that work on high-level radioactive waste policy. Whilst much of the testimony to the BRC was given in Washington, DC, now the BRC is going on tour with a series of one-day meetings to present the draft BRC report (issued on July 29, 2011), and to hear feedback. The current schedule is:
  • September 13, 2011: Denver, CO (Embassy Suites, 1420 Stout Street)
  • October 12, 2011: Boston, MA (Harvard Medical School Conference Center, 77 Louis Pasteur, Longwood Harvard University, Cambridge)
  • October 18, 2011: Atlanta, GA (Marriot Marquis, 265 Peachtree Center Avenue)
  • October 20, 2011: Washington, DC (Hilton Garden Inn, 815 14th Street NW)
  • October 28, 2011: Minneapolis, MN (Hyatt Regency, 1300 Nicollet Mall)
  • Other dates and locations are to be determined.
The meetings will begin with a briefing from Commission staff on the draft report, followed by comments from elected and appointed state and regional representatives. The latter portion of the meeting will be devoted to a facilitated and interactive breakout opportunity for all who attend, and will conclude with a public comment period. All public are welcome to attend. Pre-registration will be strongly encouraged but not required. Transcripts (not webcasts) of the meetings will be made available on the website, along with all written comments anyone chooses to offer. The draft full commission report has been published for comments (see file attachment) until 31 October 2011. Directions on how to comment are contained in the document. The draft commission report , commission activity details, and pre-registration details are available at WWW.BRC.GOV

TMI: Exelon Cyber Security Plan (ML111861341)


Download ML111861341

Nuclear Waste Piles Up—in Budget Deficit

From the Wall Street Journal:

Imagine a football field packed 20 feet high with highly radioactive nuclear waste. That's about the volume of the 65,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel stranded at dozens of nuclear sites across the U.S.

It isn't just a potential public health hazard, as Japan's recent nuclear disaster showed, but a growing burden on the federal government's groaning finances.

A decades-old promise to dispose of the waste has become another unfunded liability, starting with a $25 billion ratepayer fund gone astray and $16 billion or more in estimated legal judgments to compensate utilities for their storage expenses. The costs of the ultimate disposal project also are sure to rise, with no plan in sight to replace the now-canceled plan to entomb the waste at Nevada's Yucca Mountain.

Read more

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 - Proposed Alternative Regarding Control Rod Drive Housing Examinations

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 - Proposed Alternative Regarding Control Rod Drive Housing Examinations

Download ML112061711

Lethal Levels of Radiation at Fukushima: What Are the Implications?

Lethal Levels of Radiation at Fukushima: What Are the Implications? from Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.

TMI & Susquehanna: Updates

Three Mile Island

July 20 – The NRC granted requests from TMI operator Exelon for relief and allowed it to use alternative procedures to certain requirements for in-service examination of components and steam pressure tests conducted during 10-year intervals. The requests were part of the fourth 10-year inspection that began on April 20, 2011 and ends no later than April 19, 2022.

The NRC staff concluded that that the proposed alternatives for some of the requirements “provide an acceptable level of quality and safety” as outlined by Exelon.

The staff also noted that Exelon had “demonstrated that it is impractical to comply with the specified” American Society of Mechanical Engineers code requirements for one issue and “that the proposed alternative testing will provide reasonable assurance of leak tightness of the subject components.”

July 27 - The NRC staff issued a letter on its inspection of TMI for the quarter running from April through June 2011. The staff said no findings of significance were identified.

The report added that inspectors determined “that corrective actions to address configuration control performance deficiencies from the first half of 2010 and transient material control deficiencies from all of calendar year 2010 continued to be effective.” It added that the number of configuration control deficiencies identified in the first half of 2011 “were notably reduced from the first half of 2010.”

But the report noted that inspectors “identified several instances for which corrective action timelines was not commensurate with potential significance of degraded equipment conditions.” It added, “Station management acknowledged the issues, verified they were captured in the corrective action program, and initiated several significant station-wide actions to reemphasize worker performance fundamentals. The inspectors determined these correction actions were appropriate and observed improved worker fundamental performance through the end of June 2011.”

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station in Berwick

July 20, 2011 – The NRC issued a letter on the completion of its triennial (every three years) fire inspection of Units 1 and 2 at the plant.

Based on the inspection, two findings of very low safety significance were identified. The NRC said it would treat the findings as non-cited violations because they were entered into the plant’s corrective action program and they were of very low safety significance.

One of the violations involved the failure of plant operator PPL to adequately implement “a fire water supply system with two redundant 100 percent capacity fire water pumps and three sources of supply water.”

“Design flow rates could not be achieved and maintained by a single fire water pump for all required sprinkler systems,” the report said. “PPL performed an operability evaluation and determined the affected sprinkler systems were capable of performing their intended functions at lower flow rates and for a shorter duration than originally specified by plant design. In addition, the Unit 2 cooling tower basin was determined to be inoperable as a sole source of supply water for the fire water system.”

“From initial plant conduction until present,” the report added, “PPL failed to provide two redundant fire water pumps that could be supplied from any of three separate water sources.” The NRC said the issue was entered into PPL’s corrective action program.

The other finding involved the failure to implement all provisions of the approved fire protection program. “Specifically, PPL established acceptance criteria in the fire pump performance tests that were non-conservative compared to design basis requirements and the test acceptance criteria were insufficient to demonstrate that the fire pumps could provide sufficient pump pressure to satisfy required sprinkler system hydraulic needs.”

The report added, “PPL’s corrective actions program required fire protection deficiencies be identified and corrected. The team determined that PPL had not adequately implemented the required quality assurance criteria for fire pump testing, in that the combined tests did not demonstrate that pump performance conformed to design requirements or would perform satisfactorily in service.”

U.S. nuclear waste: where to now?

From Smart Planet:

Radioactive waste has been accumulating at sites across the United States for decades. The 75,000-metric-ton problem isn’t going away (well, not for a million years or so). And as of now, it’s not going to Nevada’s Yucca Mountain either. Tasked with finding long-term solutions to this disposal issue, the Blue Ribbon Commission released a draft report on Friday.

Critical of the government’s handing of the issue thus far, the almost 200-page report asks for a new federal organization, separate from the Department of Energy, that would deal with transporting, storing and disposing of nuclear wastes of various kinds and radioactivity levels.

Read more

Fairewinds examines the fundamental advantages and disadvantages of splitting atoms to boil water

Nuclear Power 101: Fairewinds examines the fundamental advantages and disadvantages of splitting atoms to boil water. from Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.

N.R.C. Lowers Estimate of How Many Would Die in Meltdown

From the New York Times:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is approaching completion of an ambitious study that concludes that a meltdown at a typical American reactor would lead to far fewer deaths than previously assumed.

The conclusion, to be published in April after six years of work, is based largely on a radical revision of projections of how much and how quickly cesium 137, a radioactive material that is created when uranium is split, could escape from a nuclear plant after a core meltdown. In past studies, researchers estimated that 60 percent of a reactor core’s cesium inventory could escape; the new estimate is only 1 to 2 percent.

A draft version of the report was provided to The New York Times by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nuclear watchdog group that has long been critical of the commission’s risk assessments and obtained it through a Freedom of Information Act request. Since the recent triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, such groups have been arguing that the commission urgently needs to tighten safeguards for new and aging plants in the United States.

Read more

Peach Bottom: Request for Withholding Information From Public Disclosure (ML11860036)

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Unit No. 3: Request for Withholding Information From Public Disclosure (TAC No. ME6391)

Download ML111860036

Susquehanna: Correction Letter (ML112070068)

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 - Correction Letter Re: Replacement Pages for Issued Amendment Nos. 255 and 235 for Cyber Security Plan (TAC Nos. ME4420 and ME4421)

Download ML112070068

TMI: Third Inservice Inspection Interval Relif Requests (ML111990112)

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 – Request for Additional Information Regarding Third Inservice Inspection Interval Relief Requests RR-11-01 and RR-11-02 (TAC Nos. ME5670 and ME5671)

Download ML111990112

Whistleblowers Say Nuclear Regulatory Commission Watchdog Is Losing Its Bite

From the Scientific American:

When he retired after 26 years as an investigator with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Office of the Inspector General, George Mulley thought his final report was one of his best.

Mulley had spent months looking into why a pipe carrying cooling water at the Byron nuclear plant in Illinois had rusted so badly that it burst. His report cited lapses by a parade of NRC inspectors over six years and systemic weaknesses in the way the NRC monitors corrosion.

But rather than accept Mulley's findings, the inspector general's office rewrote them. The revised report shifted much of the blame to the plant's owner, Exelon, instead of NRC procedures. And instead of designating it a public report and delivering it to Congress, as is the norm, the office put it off-limits. A reporter obtained it only after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

Read more

The Value of a Life

To the Editor [of the New York Times]: Your article about the value of human life that federal agencies use in cost-benefit analyses reported that the Office of Management and Budget “recently warned agencies that it would be difficult to justify the use of numbers under $5 million” (“A Life’s Value? It May Depend on the Agency,” front page, Feb. 17). Someone should tell the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The N.R.C. has been using the same value — $3 million — since 1995. If the agency were to increase that value to the $5 million to $9 million per life that other agencies use, it would have a major effect on nuclear plant license renewals and new reactor approvals. Plant owners would have to add safety features that the N.R.C. now considers too expensive because it lowballs the value of the lives that could be saved. N.R.C. calculations need to be brought in line with those of other agencies. Edwin Lyman Senior Scientist Union of Concerned Scientists Washington, Feb. 17, 2011

Susquehanna: NRC Triennial Fire Protection Inspection Report (ML112010427)


Download ML112010427

Susquehanna: Issuance Ammendment (ML11152A009)

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 – Issuance of Amendment Re: Approval of the PPL Susquehanna, LLC Cyber Security Plan (TAC Nos. ME4420 and ME4421) Download ML11152A009

TMI: Fourth Inservice Inspection Interval Relief Requests (ML111730475)


Download ML111730475

Pictures—Ten Oldest U.S. Nuclear Plants: Post-Japan Risks

From National Geographic:

The world's largest nuclear energy producer, the United States, Tuesday aired its first detailed public examination of whether stronger safety standards are needed in light of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Although the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) task force concluded that the sequence of events that caused Japan's crisis was unlikely to recur in the United States, the panel has urged a new focus on preparing for the unexpected.

Read more

Update on the Cooling Water Intake Structures Proposed Rule

CONTACT: Enesta Jones 202-564-7873 202-564-4355 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 19, 2011

WASHINGTON – In response to requests from stakeholders and to encourage additional public comment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is extending the public comment period by 30 days for the cooling water intake structures proposed rule. This change will not affect EPA’s schedule for issuing a final rule by July 27, 2012. This proposed rule, based on Section 316 (b) of the Clean Water Act, aims to protect billions of fish and other aquatic organisms drawn each year into cooling water systems at large power plants and factories. The original 90-day public comment period was originally set to expire on July 19, 2011. EPA will publish a notice of this 30-day extension in the Federal Register. More information:


News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman From: Emily Arsenault FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 15, 2011 New York City Press Office / 212-416-8060 Albany Press Office / 518-473-5525 nyag.pressoffice @ Twitter: @AGSchneiderman A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN WINS FED RULING ON INDIAN POINT, IMPACTING RELICENSING Indian Point Cannot Ignore Severe Accident Measures & Licenses Cannot Be Renewed Before Review Of Upgrades Completed Any Decision Not To Upgrade Severe Accident Measures Must Be Explained In Full Latest Success In AG’s Work To Improve Nuclear Regulation & Enforcement NEW YORK – New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a significant federal ruling in ongoing efforts to improve Indian Point’s accident preparedness, and ensure the protection of public health and the environment of the surrounding region. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board issued a decision, agreeing with New York that Indian Point cannot be relicensed without completing the legally-required analyses of its severe accident mitigation measures. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) must require Indian Point’s owner, Entergy to either adopt cost-effective upgrades that would improve responses and control the impact of a severe accident, or provide a compelling reason why it will not do so. “Severe accidents cannot be treated as impossibilities, and this critical ruling confirms that Indian Point must follow regulations to protect the public and control the effects of a potentially severe nuclear accident,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “We will not permit the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Entergy to procrastinate or limit the relicensing review with the hope that full responsibility for protective measures can be avoided. My office will continue to take the action necessary to ensure Indian Point complies with all applicable laws and regulations, and that the surrounding communities are protected.” As part of the relicensing proceeding, nuclear power plants are required to identify the environmental impacts that could be caused by a severe accident and provide analyses of upgrades that facilities could make to protect the public if one were to occur. The measures include plant upgrades -- such as improvements in equipment, training or procedures that could help limit or contain the impacts that could result from a severe accident. In its environmental review, Entergy identified 20 such measures at Indian Point Units 2 and 3, including flood protection and auxiliary power improvements. Despite its responsibility, the NRC did not require Entergy to complete analyses of those measures, or to require that the measures be adopted - thereby violating NRC’s own regulations, as well as those of the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Administration Procedure Act. Despite an obligation to conduct a full review, both Entergy and the NRC sought to limit the severe accident analyses to a narrow set of components. The Board rejected this logic as uninformed, and wrote: “The NRC is bound to take a hard look, consistent with [applicable law] at all [severe accident mitigation alternatives] … before deciding whether to grant a license renewal application.” The full decision is available here, and the Attorney General’s original motion is available here. The ruling marks the first successful motion of its kind filed by an intervenor in such a proceeding and confirms the Attorney General’s argument that the NRC’s environmental review violated the law. It is the Attorney General’s latest success raising such issues. Earlier this week, the NRC accepted New York’s petition for fire safety enforcement at Indian Point. Attorney General Schneiderman has taken several actions that would improve regulations and safety at Indian Point, and that could impact plants nationwide. In February, he sued the NRC for authorizing the storage of radioactive waste at nuclear power facilities for at least 60 years after they close – without first conducting the necessary environmental, public health and safety studies. The lawsuit was filed just one month before spent fuel threatened emergency response efforts at the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan. Recently, Schneiderman joined a petition urging the NRC to reexamine operating limitations at the aging Indian Point reactors and lower the reactors’ operating temperatures to increase safety and reduce the risk of meltdown in the event of an accident. The Attorney General has also called upon the NRC to undertake a comprehensive, transparent and fair review of seismic risk before completing the Indian Point relicensing proceeding. The initiative is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General John Sipos, Janice Dean, Lisa Feiner and Adam Dobson of the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau under the supervision of Bureau Chief for Environmental Protection Lemuel M. Srolovic and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Janet Sabel. # # # Emily Arsenault Director of Intergovernmental and Community Affairs Office of the NYS Attorney General (212) 416-8579 __._,_.___
Peter Crane / 6545 27th Ave. NW / Seattle, WA 98117 / / 206-783-8485 (home), 206-819-2661 (cell) July 18, 2011 MEMORANDUM FOR: Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko Commissioner Kristine L. Svinicki Commissioner George Apostolakis Commissioner William D. Magwood, IV Commissioner William C. Ostendorff FROM: Peter Crane Counsel for Special Projects, USNRC (retired) On July 13, the NRC issued press announcements on two unrelated matters: the public release of the report of the NRC staff’s Task Force on the Fukushima accident (news release No. 11-127), and the Commission’s directive to the staff “to examine feasibility and need of study on radiation doses to public from nuclear medicine” (news release No. 11-128). The Task Force report touches on, though only very minimally, the use of potassium iodide (KI) as a thyroid blocking agent; the directive on nuclear medicine relates directly to the issue of the release of patients with high doses of radioactive iodine-131 in their systems. Both as an NRC employee and as a retiree, I have been involved with these two subjects for many years – nearly 30 years, in the case of KI, and almost 20 years, with respect to radioactive patients – and I have considerable institutional knowledge in these areas.1 I feel obligated to the current Commissioners, the agency, and the public, to share some of this history with them, and explain why the July 13 issuances are problematic. Since I see that the schedule calls for the Task Force to brief the Commission on July 19, I will in the interest of time deal with the first today and the second in a memorandum to be submitted in the near future. The charter of the NRC staff Task Force on Fukushima was set forth in a March 23, 2011, tasking memorandum from Chairman Jaczko to R. W. Borchardt, the Executive Director for Operations (Appendix B to the report, p. 77), and the March 30, 2011, memorandum from Mr. Borchardt to Martin Virgilio and Charles Miller (Appendix C to the report, p. 79). The Task Force was given the specific task of considering, among other things, “Emergency preparedness (e.g. emergency communications, radiological protection, emergency planning zones, dose projections and modeling, protective actions).” [Emphasis added.] Protective actions include, as the report acknowledges, potassium iodide. The following seem like obvious questions: How widely was potassium iodide distributed in Japan? How far away from Fukushima did radioactive iodine show up in foodstuffs, water, and air? What kind of radiation doses to the thyroid were received by Japanese citizens, especially children, and at what distances from the reactors? What does this suggest about the need for KI beyond the 10 mile radius in which the NRC now offers it? These are all questions that can be answered, to a greater or lesser extent, by any informed citizen who reads the newspapers and has access to a computer, but anyone whose only source of information is the NRC Task Force, which was in theory addressing such issues, would be out of luck. Indeed, such a person would not even realize that these issues existed, for the Task Force has tiptoed around them. The Task Force must surely be aware that the NRC has come under sharp criticism for its role in preventing the implementation of a law, Section 127 of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, which would have extended the availability of KI out to a 20-mile radius. A January 2008 decision by the President’s Science Advisor, Dr. John H. Marburger III, declined to implement that portion of the Act. The Task Force must also know that a bipartisan group of some 30 Members of Congress, including Rep. Ed Markey, the law’s sponsor, has called on the President to revisit that decision and authorize the broader stockpiling and distribution of the drug, and that this issue is under reconsideration by the Administration. But no reader of this report would realize any of that, or find a scintilla of information that might shed light on the question of whether current policy needs revision. What is more, an Associated Press story on March 31, 2011, quoted Patricia Milligan, the NRC’s senior expert on KI matters, as saying that the NRC was “absolutely confident” that the 10 mile radius for stockpiling of KI was sufficient. Considering that the accident was still unfolding rapidly at that time, this was highly premature. It was only on March 23, after all, that Chairman Jaczko had directed the staff to examine, among other things, “emergency planning zones” and “protective actions.” If the staff had completed its review of the KI issue in the intervening eight days, this was quick work indeed.2 The Marburger decision and the NRC’s role in it deserve further discussion here. As the Commission is probably aware, the legislation authorizing the expansion of KI distribution from 10 to 20 miles from nuclear power plants was passed by an overwhelming margin in 2002 and signed into law by President Bush. The White House, in a 2002 statement, hailed the result, saying that henceforth, KI, which it called “crucial” and “critical,” would be available wherever needed, not just within what it termed the “artificial ten-mile barrier.” The Department of Health and Human Services was given the task of implementing the law, which NRC had opposed. But to begin distribution of KI, which HHS was eager to do, for it saw a plain need to improve protection for America’s children, it was required to publish guidelines. Opponents of the law prevailed on the Office of Management and Budget to withhold its approval of those guidelines, and thereby delay implementation of the law, to the great frustration of HHS. The same law directed the National Academies of Science to perform a study of KI. Published in 2004 under the title Distribution and Administration of Potassium Iodide in the Event of a Nuclear Incident, it made clear, inter alia, that “children are most likely to benefit from KI prophylaxis” (p. 4); that thyroids are at risk in a nuclear incident from “inhalation of contaminated air or ingestion of contaminated food or milk” (p. 3); that “KI should be available to infants, children, and pregnant and lactating women” (p. 5); that though KI distribution to date focused only on the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone utilized by the NRC, the variation from site to site meant that “no single best solution exists,” and that a specific incident might require KI “beyond the EPZ as well” (p. 161); and that as a result, “KI distribution programs should consider predistribution, local stockpiling outside the emergency planning zone (EPZ), and national stockpiles and distribution capacity.” (p. 160, emphasis in the original) In a November 1, 2005, letter to HHS, the NRC brazenly misrepresented the findings of the NAS report. Writing to Dr. Robert Claypool of HHS, William F. Kane, NRC Deputy Executive Director for Reactor and Preparedness Programs, asserted – purportedly on the basis of the NAS report – that the only pathway of concern beyond the 10-mile radius would be ingestion, which could be controlled by interdiction of foodstuffs, and, in a particularly egregious distortion, declared that “the Academy raised questions about the usefulness of expanded distribution of KI.”3 HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt responded with a letter to NRC Chairman Nils Diaz4, dated March 27, 2006, which though couched in superficially civil terms was an acid rebuke that made clear that NRC had quoted snippets of the NAS report out of context to produce a misleading impression. He quoted the actual words of the NAS report back to Diaz: “A specific incident might call for protective actions to be restricted to a small part of the EPZ or require that they be implemented beyond the EPZ as well,” boldfacing the last 11 words for emphasis.5 Secretary Leavitt’s letter plainly did not faze the NRC, however, which in an April 10, 2006, letter to Senator George Voinovich, responding to questions arising from a recent oversight hearing, repeated the assertion that the NAS supported the NRC position on the undesirability of stockpiling KI beyond ten miles, and attached the Kane letter.6 (The answer came in response to a question from Sen. Isakson.) By now, there was no excuse for inaccuracy. If the staff had somehow contrived to misread the NAS report at the time it wrote to Dr. Claypool in November 2005, any such misunderstanding had been cleared up by Secretary Leavitt, in his letter of March 27, 2006. With his declared intention of implementing the law and providing KI in the 10 to 20- mile radius, Secretary Leavitt was on a collision course with the NRC and the nuclear industry. The White House was persuaded to forget or ignore what it had said in 2002 about eliminating the “artificial 10 mile barrier” to the distribution of this “crucial” and “critical” drug. On July 2, 2007, President Bush signed an order that stripped Leavitt of his authority over the law and transferred it to the NRC and to his own Science Advisor, Dr. Marburger, who would have the final say on whether to implement the law. At Marburger’s request, a technical evaluation paper on KI was prepared by the Potassium Iodide (KI) Subcommittee of the Federal Radiological Preparedness Coordinating Committee (FRPCC), an interagency group. On October 23, 2007, FRPCC Chair Vanessa Quinn, of FEMA, transmitted the paper to Marburger, with a cover letter that made plain the leading role of the NRC staff in the effort.7 Marburger’s decision, issued on January 22, 2008, predictably found no need to implement the 2002 law. This is not the place to get into the legal question of whether his refusal to do so was consistent with Congressional intent and a proper reading of the statute, though I have strong views on that point; I would like instead to stay with the technical and policy bases for his decision. Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the Marburger decision was that the President’s Science Advisor felt able to issue a 13-page decision on a drug for the prevention of cancer without ever using the word “cancer.” Instead, he referred euphemistically to “adverse thyroid conditions.” From the chief scientist in the United States Government, this defies comprehension. Is it conceivable that any Government official would issue a decision on the use of Sabin vaccine without ever employing the word “polio”? Of course not. But when the subject is KI and thyroid cancer, this happens again and again.8 Let us now look at the important question of what exactly Marburger was relying on. At p. 12 of his decision, he wrote: Some concerned citizens groups criticize meteorological analyses that assume a wind that blows constantly in a single direction, suggesting that variable trajectory models would better account for complex wind patterns, leading to accident consequences extending beyond current projections. In fact the opposite is true. The NRC and FEMA outline their strategies for emergency planning in the 2002 study Assessment of the Use of Potassium Iodide (KI) as a Supplemental Public Protective Action during Severe Reactor Accidents (NUREG 1633)fn, which addresses the effect of meteorology on accident consequences, specifically its effect on where the offsite release goes.... The footnote included a citation to this document, which states on its cover page that it was “Prepared by P. A. Milligan/NRR.”9 What Marburger evidently did not know was that officially, this document was in the dumpster. In November 2002, the Commission had decided, on a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Dicus the lone dissenter, that it was unfit for publication, and that no more resources should be spent on bringing it up to standard. Commissioners’ comments on it were not gentle. Commissioner McGaffigan noted that although it was the 9/11 attacks that had spurred states’ interest in KI stockpiling, “the draft NUREG is silent on the subject.” Commissioner Diaz wrote: The draft NUREG now before us is the third version we have been asked to review since mid1998. (The first version was withdrawn by the Commission and we disapproved the second one.) ... In my opinion, it’s time to pull the plug.10 I do not know where Dr. Marburger got his copy of the draft NUREG – perhaps it was not from the NRC at all – but surely he could and should have been warned by his NRC advisor that the document had been rejected by the Commissioners and therefore had no place in his decision. Relying as it did on an invalid document, Marburger’s decision must therefore be considered at least partially tainted. Its pernicious effects, moreover, have extended far beyond the question of implementing the 2002 law. After its issuance, the interagency group that maintains the Strategic National Stockpile removed KI from the arsenal of protective drugs that comprise that stockpile, to which it had been added after 9/11.11 I am told that the group felt that it had no choice, in light of the Marburger decision. At a time at which in every other sphere of life, America is increasing its preparedness against terrorism, the NRC has thus been instrumental in diminishing our country’s preparedness to deal with acts of nuclear terrorism or other nuclear catastrophes. It must be borne in mind what the consequences of insufficient preparedness will be, if such a disaster occurs: an increased incidence of thyroid cancer, especially in children who were very young, or still in the womb, at the time of exposure.12 I would be the last person to argue that KI is a panacea for protection against radiological disasters. Indeed, in the early days of the Fukushima accident, I went on television in Seattle to say that it would “irresponsible scaremongering” to suggest that anyone in the U.S. should now be taking KI to protect against the releases from Japan. But it is likewise irresponsible in the extreme not to have adequate supplies on hand in this country, for accidents or acts of terrorism occurring here, and of all the possible reasons for failing to stockpile it, protecting the public image of the nuclear power industry is surely the rock-bottom worst.13 The real question is whether KI would be useful in the event of a major release, for if not, there is no point in having it, regardless of its low cost. The opponents of KI stockpiling have long maintained that KI is unnecessary, because the whole problem of thyroid protection can be solved by instructing people to refrain from drinking milk after a major nuclear release. For example, in the early days of the Fukushima accident, a March 13 article in the New York Times quoted a radiation expert at Columbia, Dr. David Brenner: Dr. Brenner said the iodine pills were protective, but were “a bit of a myth” because their use is based on the belief that the risk is from inhaling radioactive iodine. Actually, he said, 98 percent of people’s exposure comes from milk and other dairy products. “The way radioactive iodine gets into human beings is an indirect route,” he said. “It falls to the ground, cows eat it and make milk with radioactive iodine, and you get it from drinking the milk. You get very little from inhaling it. The way to prevent it is just to stop people from drinking the milk.” He said that the epidemic of thyroid cancer around Chernobyl could have been prevented if the government had immediately stopped people from drinking milk. I have no idea where Dr. Brenner got this 98% figure; most sources I have seen think that 70 or 80 percent of the Chernobyl exposures came from the milk pathway, not more. At any rate, once I-131 began showing up in Tokyo’s tap water, I wrote a letter to the New York Times, published on March 26, that was implicitly a slap at Dr. Brenner and the reporter who had so uncritically relied on him.14 Whether for that reason or some other, Dr. Brenner’s public position on KI changed almost instantaneously. On the afternoon of the same day, March 26, a glowing profile of him, “Countering Fears With Just the Facts,” was posted on the New York Times website (it appeared in print on March 29), which included the following: Potassium iodide pills are widely recommended to protect the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine, but Dr. Brenner said it was better just to stop drinking milk until the threat had passed. His message changed, however, when radioactive iodine turned up in tap water in Tokyo. Though the public was advised that babies, children and pregnant women should not drink the water, Dr. Brenner conceded that some exposure might still be hard to avoid, and that using potassium iodide was a reasonable precaution. “I’ve been maybe a little overstrong in saying that potassium iodide doesn’t have a role to play,” he said. “But usually the problem is milk. To me, the levels in water came as a surprise.” But is it really a “myth,” as Dr. Brenner suggested in the earlier article, that inhalation of I-131 after a radiological release is a danger? Nearly 20 years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a “Manual of Protective Action Guides and Protective Actions for Nuclear Incidents,” EPA 400-R-92-001 (May 1992)15, that included the following, at p. 5-20: “If a major release of radioiodine or respirable particulate materials occurs, inhalation dose will be the controlling pathway.” [Emphasis added.] It recommended, among other things, consideration of the use of KI. It made the point that though evacuation in an emergency is the ideal option, you can get a radiation dose while evacuating, and that automobiles offer only about 10% shielding. The Food and Drug Administration issued guidance on KI in 2001.16 At p. 8, after noting that the post-Chernobyl exposures to radioiodines came “largely” from the milk pathway, it said: In this or similar accidents, for those residing in the immediate area of the accident or otherwise directly exposed to the radioactive plume, inhalation of radioiodines may be a significant contributor to individual and population exposures. ... The risk depends on factors such as the magnitude and rate of the radioiodine release, wind direction and other atmospheric conditions, and thus may affect people both near and far from the accident site. [Emphasis added.] There was also a useful report from the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2002.17 At p. 52, the joint IAEA/WHO committee that prepared it makes the point that “iodine prophylaxis is intended primarily as a protective action against inhalation,” in the short term, and suggests amending the International Basic Safety Standards to reflect this. [Emphasis added.] In 2003, the Medical Preparedness and Response Sub-Group of the Department of Homeland Security Working Group on Radiological Dispersal Device Preparedness prepared a report saying that if terrorists detonated a radiological dispersal device containing radioiodine or a 10-kiloton improvised nuclear weapon, millions of doses of KI might be needed to deal with the fallout. It said, at p. 62: “Urgent consideration for giving KI to pregnant women (especially 2nd and 3rd trimesters) and children is appropriate.”18 On June 30, 2011, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the NRC placed a large number of documents relating to the Fukushima accident onto the ADAMS system.19 They include a March 25, 2011, email from Elmo Collins, Regional Administrator in NRC’s Region IV, to Linda Howell, as he prepared to leave for Japan. The subject line is “Japan,” and it reads, in its entirety, as follows: “I’ll need to pick up some KI and make sure I have my dosimetry as needed – what dose meter would be good for me to take? Thanks, Elmo.” Of course Mr. Collins provided himself with KI, and rightly so. NRC personnel are not reckless when it comes to their own safety or that of their children, nor should they be.20 But if ever there is a nuclear catastrophe in this country, whether caused by terrorism or an accident, and Americans living more than 10 miles from a nuclear power plant discover that their children have been inadequately protected against radioactive iodine owing to the NRC’s unremitting, no-holds-barred battle to prevent or limit KI stockpiling – a battle that has included misrepresenting, including to Congress, the findings of a Congressionally mandated study of the issue by the National Academies of Science, and working to ensure that the sensible recommendations of the NAS were rejected by the President – the consequences would be devastating, not only for the affected children, but also for the NRC. What would the country say when it learned that KI had been removed from the Strategic National Stockpile, with the result that we are less well prepared to cope with the medical effects of a nuclear disaster than we were a few years ago? The NRC Chairman and Commissioners would probably find themselves having to explain their actions not only to Congressional committees but to grand juries. Under those circumstances, it is hard to imagine that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would even survive for long, at least under that name.21 More likely, it would be abolished and replaced by some new regulatory body, as is currently happening in Japan.22 Press reports indicate that radioiodine from Fukushima has turned up in air, water, and foodstuffs far from the damaged nuclear plants.23To continue to insist that KI stockpiling in this country be limited to a 10 mile radius around nuclear plants, and then only in states which request the drug, would be irresponsible beyond measure. The sooner the NRC faces up to this reality, the better, and not only for the American public, but also for its own sake. The Task Force should be told to address the KI issue thoroughly and promptly. In addition, the Inspector General should be asked to investigate the staff’s handling of KI matters in recent years, including, but not limited to, the appearance of NUREG-1633 in the Marburger decision, the accuracy of the 2005 Kane letter to HHS, and the 2006 response to Senator Voinovich.24 What I have described in this memorandum are facts as I understand them, as informed by nearly 30 years of observing the NRC’s handling of the KI issue. It has been prepared in a spirit of trying to be of service both to the American people and to the NRC. In this case, dealing as it does with a medication, a quotation from Gotthold Lessing’s 18th Century play “Nathan the Wise” is particularly apposite: “It is medicine, not poison, that I am handing you.” /s/ Peter Crane, Counsel for Special Projects (retired) cc: Senator George Voinovich Senator Johnny Isakson Senator Thomas Carper Representative Ed Markey Representative Henry Waxman Appendix -- My Service with NRC For the benefit of Commissioners who do not know me, I joined the NRC in early 1975, when it was 10 weeks old, and spent 27 years serving the agency in various capacities. I had been hired as a legal assistant, GS-12, by Commissioner (later Chairman) Marcus A. Rowden. In those days, it was standard for Commissioners to have two assistants, one technical and one legal, and two secretaries. (The Chairman at the time had a staff of seven: one technical assistant for reactors, another for materials, a legal assistant, an executive assistant, and three secretaries.) For the first year I was there, however, Commissioner Rowden made do with just a single assistant, me, until he added Hugh Thompson as a technical assistant in 1976. I moved to the Office of General Counsel on the expiration of Chairman Rowden’s term in 1977. Over the next 24 years (there was a one-year break in service, during which I was an administrative judge in Micronesia), I defended the NRC’s actions in court with vigor and conviction. My first case, in the D.C. Circuit, involved the Mark II containment; my last, in the Sixth Circuit, resulted in a decision upholding the NRC regulatory scheme for approving the design of dry casks for spent fuel storage. In the Ninth Circuit, some 30 years ago, I briefed, argued, and won a case defending the adequacy of the fixes that the NRC ordered in Babcock and Wilcox reactors after the Three Mile Island accident. At one point in the 1980's, I served very briefly as Acting General Counsel, in which capacity I called on the Solicitor General, the late Rex Lee, to ask him to take to the Supreme Court a case which I had briefed, argued, and lost in the D.C. Circuit. It involved the NRC’s refusal to treat the “psychological impacts” of the resumed operation of Three Mile Island Unit 1 as environmental impacts within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act. Lee was fully in accord. He took the case to the Supreme Court, which reversed the D.C. Circuit and upheld the NRC position on a unanimous vote. I was made Counsel for Special Projects in the mid-1980's and retired with that title in 1999. In 2001, I was brought on as a contractor to write speeches for then Chairman Meserve, and I continued in that function under Chairman Diaz until 2005. During my long tenure with NRC, I was privileged, in addition to my usual legal duties, to write speeches, testimony, and/or personal statements for Chairmen Rowden, Palladino, Hendrie, Zech, Jackson, Selin, Meserve, and Diaz, including Senate confirmation testimony for three of those just named. While at NRC, I was invited to speak at a United Nations conference in Moscow in 1997 on responding to man-made disasters. In 1998, in my private capacity, I was a speaker at a conference at Cambridge University in England on the U.S. Government’s handling of the KI issue. The conference was co-sponsored by the university, the European Commission, the National Cancer Institute, and DOE. The paper I presented may be found in published form in the 1999 volume Radiation and Thyroid Cancer, edited by G. Thomas, A. Karaoglou, and E. D. Williams.

'Colossal blunder' on radioactive cattle feed / Govt officials admit responsibility for foul-up that let tainted beef enter nation's food supply

From the Daily Yomiuri Online:

Officials of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry have admitted they did not consider the possibility of cattle ingesting straw contaminated by radioactive substances emitted from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

"This is nothing less than a colossal blunder by our ministry. It was beyond our expectations that straw would become a source of radioactive contamination," a ministry official said.

A total of 143 beef cattle suspected of being contaminated with radioactive cesium after ingesting straw that was stored outdoors have been shipped from Fukushima Prefecture and distributed to wholesalers, retailers and consumers in various prefectures.

Livestock farmers and others in the meat industry have attacked the government for its failure to prevent the problem.

Read more

84 more Fukushima cows found shipped

From the Japan Times:

A further 84 cows shipped from five beef cattle farms in Fukushima Prefecture were fed with hay containing high levels of radioactive cesium, the prefectural government said Saturday.

The cows were shipped between March 28 and July 13 to slaughterhouses in five prefectures — Miyagi, Fukushima, Yamagata, Saitama and Tokyo — and the Fukushima Prefectural Government has asked municipalities to check whether that meat has been distributed.

Fifty-three of the cows were sent to Tokyo, 19 to Fukushima Prefecture, eight to Kawaguchi in Saitama Prefecture, two to Yamagata Prefecture and two to Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture.

Read more

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Siren Problems at Three Mile Island

  • From October 5-9, 2001, “Licensee sirens in Lancaster County were inoperable October 5 through October 9, 2001, due to a radio transmitter being deenergized at the county facility. The transmitter is part of the siren actuation system. This issue is unresolved pending further investigation into the lines of ownership and maintenance of the actuation system.” (IR 50-289/01-07).
  • On January 11, 2002 , Siren testing at TMI encountered numerous problems: all sirens failed in York County and one siren failed in Lancaster County. AmerGen attributed to computer malfunctions.
  • On March 3, 2002, a siren malfunctioned in York County again. During TMI’s annual test on on January 30, 2002, all 34 sirens in York County, located within ten-miles of the plant, failed to activate.
  • On June 25, 2002, “...station emergency preparedness personnel discovered that the emergency planning siren base station at the site, was unable to communicate with the off site sirens, due to external radio frequency noise in the area.” (IR-50-277/02-05; 50-278/02- 05)
  • On December 12, 2002, TMI sirens malfunctioned in Cumberland and York counties. In Dauphin County, 28 sirens malfunctioned due to the “inadvertent” discharge of the “space bar” by a computer operator (Refer to June 22, August 15 and October 5-9, 2001 and January 11, March 3 2002, for related problems.)
  • On July 28, 2010, the NRC issued a report of an inspection at the Three Mile Island plant for the quarterly period ending June 30. The NRC said it found no findings of significance. However, it noted that the TMI plant operator identified a violation that was determined to be of very low safety significance. The NRC said it would treat the violation as a non-cited violation. The issued stemmed from the TMI Emergency Plan and the plant paging system. The report said that plant operator Exelon began testing its on-site speakers in March 2010. A total of 301 out of 405 speakers were tested, and of those tested, 108 had identified deficiencies, the report said. “Contrary to the TMI Emergency Plan, the 108 speakers would not provide immediate warning and instruction to on-site personnel during an emergency,” the report said. “Upon discovery, Exelon issued a standing order to issue blow horns to operations and security staff to notify people in areas that would need to be evacuated during an emergency.“ The report added, “The finding is of very low safety significance because prompt compensatory measures were taken upon discovery.”
  • June 23, 2011, Three Mile Island's emergency sirens sounded at 12:15 p.m. Thursday as part of an annual test -- but it didn't work everywhere. The 96 sirens, which cover five counties and are within a 10- mile radius of TMI, were set to sound for three minutes. They sounded everywhere except in Lancaster County. Officials ran another test, this time just in Lancaster County, at 1:15 p.m. At that time, the sirens did work in Lancaster County. (WGAL) A Lancaster County EMA official said Lancaster County and another county pressed the siren test button simultaneously and the system did not register the Lancaster County test.
  • July 14, 2011, A Three Mile Island warning siren sounded accidentally on Thursday afternoon, according to Dauphin County officials. The TMI siren at 2nd and Hanover streets in Hummelstown inadvertently sounded at 1:19 p.m. It lasted for fewer than 30 seconds, according to Stephen Libhart, Director of the Dauphin County EMA. Libhart says Exelon will repair or replace any components of the siren if necessary. (WGAL)

U.S. Nuclear Power After Fukushima

The Union of Concerned Scientists on U.S. Nuclear Power after Fukushima:

Summary of Report

Full Recomendations

NRC’s Japan Task Force Recommends Changes To Defense In Depth Measures At Nuclear Plants; Cites Station Blackout, Seismic, Flooding And Spent Fuel Poo

From the NRC Report:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Japan Task Force has proposed improvements in areas ranging from loss of power to earthquakes, flooding, spent fuel pools, venting and preparedness, and said a “patchwork of regulatory requirements” developed “piece-by-piece over the decades” should be replaced with a “logical, systematic and coherent regulatory framework” to further bolster reactor safety in the United States. The report has been given to the five members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who are responsible for making decisions regarding the Task Force’s recommendations. While declaring that “a sequence of events like the Fukushima accident is unlikely to occur in the United States” and that plants can be operated safely, the Task Force also recognized that “an accident involving core damage and uncontrolled release of radioactivity to the environment, even one without significant health consequences, is inherently unacceptable.” Thus, the Task Force developed a comprehensive set of 12 recommendations – many with both short and long term elements – to increase safety and redefine what level of protection of public health is regarded as adequate. It also recommended additional study of some issues.

Download PDF

Why Fukushima Can Happen Here: What the NRC and Nuclear Industry Dont Want You to Know.

The well-known safety flaws of Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors have gained significant attention in the wake of the four reactor accidents at Fukushima, but a more insidious danger lurks. In this video nuclear engineers Arnie Gundersen and David Lochbaum discuss how the US regulators and regulatory process have left Americans unprotected. They walk, step-by-step, through the events of the Japanese meltdowns and consider how the knowledge gained from Fukushima applies to the nuclear industry worldwide. They discuss "points of vulnerability" in American plants, some of which have been unaddressed by the NRC for three decades. Finally, they concluded that an accident with the consequences of Fukushima could happen in the US. With more radioactive Cesium in the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant's spent fuel pool than was released by Fukushima, Chernobyl, and all nuclear bomb testing combined, Gundersen and Lockbaum ask why there is not a single procedure in place to deal with a crisis in the fuel pool? These and more safety questions are discussed in this forum presented by the C-10 Foundation at the Boston Public Library. Special thanks to Herb Moyer for the excellent video and Geoff Sutton for the frame-by-frame graphics of the Unit 3 explosion. Watch Video

Shale commission report drills deeper

From The Morning Call:

The attention of the Capitol's political class is now focused on July 15. That's the day that a special Marcellus Shale study commission, led by Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, is scheduled to vote on recommendations on how to address the local infrastructure and environmental impact of Pennsylvania's booming natural gas industry.

The panel's final report, due to be released a week later on July 22, will presumably answer the one question that's been on the minds of political observers and policy-makers for months: Will the commission, which is top-heavy with industry interests, recommend that lawmakers pass a Marcellus Shale impact fee or severance tax?

Its overall findings — which also are expected to address possible changes to state regulations and local ordinances — will shape the public debate for months to come. But it may be the impact fee question that looms largest.

Read more

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Report on status of decommissioning funding for reactors

Braidwood, 1 and 2; Byron, 1 and 2; Clinton, 1; Dresden, 1, 2 and 3; LaSalle, 1 and 2; Limerick, 1 and 2; Oyster Creek, Peach Bottom, 1.2, and 3; Quad, 1 and 2; Salem, 1 and 2; TMI, 1-RAI re:Report on status of decommissioning funding for reactors ADAMS Accession no. ML111680564

Milestone Passed - Renewable Energy Overtakes Nuclear Power


For Immediate Release: Tuesday - July 5, 2011 Contact: Ken Bossong, 301-270-6477 x.11 Washington DC – According to the most recent issue of the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy has passed a milestone as domestic production is now greater than that of nuclear power and is closing in on oil. During the first quarter of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind) provided 2.245 quadrillion Btus of energy or 11.73% of U.S. energy production. More significantly, energy production from renewable energy sources in 2011 was 5.65% more than that from nuclear power, which provided 2.125 quadrillion Btus and has remained largely unchanged in recent years. Energy from renewable sources is now 77.15% of that from domestic crude oil production, with the gap closing rapidly. Looking at all energy sectors (e.g., electricity, transportation, thermal), production of renewable energy, including hydropower, has increased by 15.07% compared to the first quarter of 2010, and by 25.07% when compared to the first quarter of 2009. Among the renewable energy sources, biomass/biofuels accounted for 48.06%, hydropower for 35.41%, wind for 12.87%, geothermal for 2.45%, and solar for 1.16%. Looking at just the electricity sector, according to the latest issue of EIA’s "Electric Power Monthly," for the first quarter of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) accounted for 12.94% of net U.S. electrical generation - up from 10.31% during the same period in 2010. Non-hydro renewables accounted for 4.74% of net U.S. electrical generation. In terms of actual production, renewable electrical output increased by 25.82% in the first three months of 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2010. Solar-generated electricity increased by 104.8%, wind-generated electricity rose by 40.3%, hydropower output expanded by 28.7%, and geothermal electrical generation rose by 5.8%. Only electricity from biomass sources dropped - by 4.8%. By comparison, natural gas electrical output rose by 1.8% and nuclear-generated electricity increased by only 0.4% while coal-generated electricity dropped by 5.7%. “Notwithstanding the recent nuclear accident in Japan, among many others, and the rapid growth in energy and electricity from renewable sources, congressional Republicans continue to press for more nuclear energy funding while seeking deep cuts in renewable energy investments,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “One has to wonder ‘what are these people thinking?’”

# # # # # # # #

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released its most recent "Monthly Energy Review" on June 28, 2011. It can be found at: The relevant charts from which the data above are extrapolated are Tables 1.2 and 10.1. EIA released its most recent "Electric Power Monthly" on June 9, 2011; see: The relevant charts are Tables ES1.B, and 1.1.A.

SRBC's Water Resources Program for Fiscal Years 2012-2013

TO: Susquehanna River Basin Stakeholders FROM: Paul O. Swartz, Executive Director, Susquehanna River Basin Commission RE: SRBC's Water Resources Program for Fiscal Years 2012-2013 I am pleased to present the Susquehanna River Basin Commission's Water Resources Program for Fiscal Years 2012-2013 at . SRBC is required by the Susquehanna River Basin Compact to produce a Water Resources Program annually and distribute it to the public. The Water Resources Program lists projects and facilities to be undertaken by SRBC and other governmental and non-governmental interests to meet the water resource needs of the Susquehanna River Basin. If you have any questions, please contact Mr. David Heicher of my staff at or (717) 238-0423, ext. 110.

Ava Stoops Administrative Specialist Susquehanna River Basin Commission 1721 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102 Phone: (717) 238-0423 ext. 302 Fax: (717) 238-2436

Transcript NRC Mark 1 petition, Beyond Nuclear

MR. LINGAM: I am Siva Lingam. I am the Petition Manager for this. I would like to thank everyone for attending this meeting. We are here today to allow the Petitioners from Beyond Nuclear, represented by Mr. Paul Gunter and Mr. Kevin Kamps; and Co-petitioners from Pilgrim Watch, represented by Ms. Mary Lampert; New England Coalition represented by Mr. Raymond Shadis; GE Stockholders' Alliance represented by Ms. Patricia Birnie; and Nuclear Energy Information Service, represented by Mr. David Kraft, to address the NRC Petition Review Board, also referred to as the PRB, regarding the 2.206 petition dated April 13, 2011, and the co-petitions dated May 14, 2011, May 18, 2011, May 27, 2011, and May 31, 2011, respectively. I am the Petition Manager for this petition, and Mr. Robert Nelson is the Petition Review Board Chairman.

Download full transcript

Markey on Nebraska Nuke Floods, New Mexico Wildfires: Regulations Inadequate to Prevent Nuclear Disasters from Extreme Weather


NRC Commissioners Recently Voted to Reduce Safety, Including Nixing “Near-site” Disaster Command Centers and Increasing Risk from Heightened Reactor Activity

WASHINGTON (June 29, 2011) – The risks to nuclear power plants in Nebraska due to flooding and the wild-fires in the southwest highlight the inadequacy of current regulations and risk assumptions in the face of extreme weather events that may be exacerbated by climate change, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) asserted today. These incidents, coupled with an unusually active series of tornadoes earlier this spring, highlight the potential for severe weather to cause disasters at nuclear reactors, and the need to update risk assessments and safety regulations following the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan. Rep. Markey also said that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had taken steps over the last two years to decrease safety at nuclear plants.

The Los Alamos fires that threaten 30,000 barrels of stored plutonium fuel also highlight the need for the Department of Energy, which owns the facility, to consider updating their safety requirements at nuclear labs and other nuclear facilities.

“The floods, fires and tornadoes that have ravaged America this year demonstrate the need to update our nuclear safety regulations, even before the events at Fukushima are considered,” said Rep. Markey, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee. “The steps taken by nuclear regulators at Fort Calhoun show that increased vigilance is the necessary price of safety, but much more must be done to account for the increasingly wild weather that has recalibrated our collective understanding of potential risk. The prudent steps NRC had taken at Fort Calhoun have prevented any serious harm from occurring thus far. They should continue those efforts at facilities nationwide.”

In March 2010, following earlier correspondence with the NRC in which then-chairman Dale Klein dismissed Rep. Markey’s concerns related to the ability of nuclear reactors to prepare for the potential impacts of global warming, Rep. Markey sent a letter to GAO requesting a comprehensive investigation into the adequacy of NRC regulations, including NRC actions taken to prepare for earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes and tornadoes, and other effects of global warming. Many of these effects relate to the loss of off-site electricity, the failure of emergency backup power supplies, and the loss of cooling capabilities, all of which led to the meltdowns and explosions at the nuclear reactors in Japan.

Rep. Markey also released a report in May detailing the regulatory loopholes that have left U.S. nuclear facilities ill-prepared to respond to a catastrophic event involving a loss of off-site power, which include:

  • Widespread malfunctions and inoperability of emergency diesel generators at nuclear power plants.
  • The absence of emergency back-up power requirements at some spent fuel pools.
  • The absence of requirements to prevent hydrogen explosions at reactors and spent fuel pools.
  • Outdated seismic safety requirements, even as applications for new licenses and license extensions for many nuclear reactors continue to be processed by the NRC.

Yet, despite the existence of these loopholes, the NRC has continued to approve applications to extend the licenses of several nuclear power plants without first incorporating the lessons of Fukushima into their requirements, and without following the environmental law that requires any “new and significant” information regarding the environmental consequences of operating the nuclear reactor be included in the application.

Additionally, the Obama administration has yet to implement Rep. Markey’s 2002 law to require the distribution of potassium iodide, an inexpensive medication that has been found to protect individuals, especially children, from the cancer-causing releases of radioactive iodine, to those located within 20 miles of all operating nuclear reactors. A recent Associated Press analysis showed that populations around nuclear power plants have swelled by as much as four and a half times since 1980, highlighting the need to revisit the emergency evacuation plans and 10 mile emergency planning zones that are currently in place at these facilities.

Moreover, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has recently voted 4-1 (with Chairman Jaczko as the dissenting vote) to weaken nuclear reactor safety:

“Near-site” Emergency Operations Facilities are supposed to be command and control centers for nuclear reactor accidents. In 2004, then-Commissioners Jaczko and McGaffigan voted against a request by Southern Company to put one of these facilities more than 200 miles away from each of the reactors it would serve and require coordination between as many as four different states. But in September of 2010, the NRC voted 4-1 to stop separately considering nuclear reactor licensees’ requests to be exempted from the requirement to locate their emergency facilities near the nuclear reactors where the facilities would be needed.

The NRC has approved “power up-rates” for twenty-two nuclear reactors to produce more electricity. But “power up-rates” also means more radioactive materials, hotter reactor cores, and higher pressures, all of which can make a meltdown more likely in the case of an accident. On February 17, 2011, the NRC’s Advisory Commission on Reactor Safeguards said that the NRC shouldn’t just assume that safety measures to address these riskier conditions were in place and would work. But on March 15, 2011 – 4 days after the Japanese earthquake - the NRC announced a 4-1 Commission vote to ignore its technical advisory group, even though in his dissenting vote, NRC Chairman Jaczko noted the need for a risk analysis that includes the possibility of fires and earthquakes that breach the containment of the reactors.

“With floods, fires and storms that now approach biblical proportions, the NRC should be voting to upgrade safety and improve emergency response capabilities,” said Rep. Markey. “Instead, it appears that a majority of Commissioners are turning a blind eye to the risks these reactors face.”

Markey also noted that recent press reports have raised concerns about whether the Las Conchas wildfire burning in New Mexico could adversely affect nuclear waste and hazardous materials stored at the Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory, saying “Energy Secretary Chu needs to ensure that this wildfire does not result in any release of radioactive or hazardous materials.”