Monday, October 30, 2023




Sunday, October 29, 2023

Environmental Protection Agency sued over Oak Ridge landfill for radioactive waste – Tennessee Lookout

This is a foot in the door to deal with the real issue waste!

Environmental Protection Agency sued over Oak Ridge landfill for radioactive waste
Suit by environmental alleges toxic runoff could infiltrate waterways

BY:  - OCTOBER 27, 2023

A worker at K-25 Plant Oak Ridge Tennessee in 1945. (Photo: Ed Wescott, U.S. Department of Energy/National Park Service)

 A worker at K-25 Plant Oak Ridge Tennessee in 1945. (Photo: Ed Wescott, U.S. Department of Energy/National Park Service)

The Environmental Protection Agency is illegally withholding records that could shed light on why it approved plans to build a radioactive waste landfill in Oak Ridge over the objections of senior government officials, an environmental group claims.

The landfill serves as a receptacle for remnants of decades-old low-level radioactive waste from  the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb. Its debris comes from demolished structures from the Y-12 National Security Complex and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The landfill’s location – on a Superfund site near scenic local waterways – raised contamination concerns among officials within the EPA and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

Former EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler nevertheless approved the plan, which required waiving Clean Water Act rules, in the waning days of the Trump Administration — a decision upheld by his Biden Administration successor, Michael Regan.

Now, according to the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) advocacy group, holdover EPA officials from the prior administration are responsible for illegally denying its Freedom of Information Act requests related to Wheeler’s decision for nearly a year.

Superfund aims to clean up toxic hot spots, not create more of them. The core issue is that Superfund cleanups must be done in accordance with, not in violation of, the Clean Water Act.

– Tim Whitehouse, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

The agency is “frustrating (PEER’s) efforts to adequately understand and educate the public regarding EPA actions and policies” that guided the landfill decision, a federal lawsuit filed earlier this month in the District of Columbia said. The suit is seeking a court order releasing thousands of records related to the Oak Ridge landfill.

An EPA spokesperson said Thursday that the agency does not comment on pending litigation. The Department of Energy did not respond to questions from the Tennessee Lookout.

The decision to create a landfill that could leak potentially toxic runoff into northeast Tennessee streams and creeks has raised broader concerns.

The Department of Energy, which operates the Oak Ridge site, has indicated they intend to pursue similar waivers of the Clean Water Act at a Superfund site in Paducah, Kentucky.

“Superfund aims to clean up toxic hot spots, not create more of them,” said Tim Whitehouse, a former senior EPA enforcement attorney who now serves as PEER’s director. “The core issue is that Superfund cleanups must be done in accordance with, not in violation of, the Clean Water Act.”

The EPA division housing Superfund has not had a leader under the Biden Administration because the Senate has not confirmed one, “leaving the program in the hands of holdover staff,” he said. 

EPA staff who prepared briefing material for Regan, the Biden Administration chief who upheld his predecessor’s decision to green-light the landfill, suspect that the concerns they raised did not make it through those holdover senior staff, the advocacy group said. 

Clarification: This story has been updated to note the landfill takes in debris from the Y-12 National Security Complex as well as Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 - Regulatory Audit Plan in Support of Relief Request 5RR-02 (EPID L-2023-LLR-0027)

Subject: Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 - Regulatory Audit Plan in Support of Relief Request 5RR-02 (EPID L-2023-LLR-0027) 

ADAMS Accession No.:  ML23290A262
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Friday, October 27, 2023

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

FRN on Radiological Survey to Support License Termination

FRN on Radiological Survey and Dose Modeling of the Subsurface to Support License Termination

Document Title:Federal Register Notice on Draft Interim Staff Guidance: Radiological Survey and Dose Modeling of the Subsurface to Support License Termination

Document Type:
Federal Register Notice

Document Date:

As nuclear fuel plant opens in Ohio, can small reactors compete?

As nuclear fuel plant opens in Ohio, can small reactors compete?

Centrus’ new Piketon plant is the first U.S. commercial plant to make fuel for advanced nuclear reactors that need high-assay, low-enriched uranium.

by Kathiann M. Kowalski  October 23, 2023
As an Ohio uranium enrichment plant opened this month, yet another study questioned whether nuclear power from small modular reactors can compete with other types of electricity generation. 

Centrus Energy’s new plant in Piketon produces high-assay, low-enriched uranium, or HALEU. The fuel will contain between 5% and 20% fissile uranium, or U-235, which is the range needed for various types of small modular reactors, or SMRs. The current fleet of large nuclear reactors uses fuel with up to 5% U-235.

Large nuclear plants have had problems competing with other types of electricity generation in recent years. Ohio’s House Bill 6 would have mandated ratepayer spending of more than $1 billion to subsidize the 894-megawatt Davis-Besse plant and 3,758-megawatt Perry plant in Ohio, for example. Lawmakers repealed that law’s nuclear subsidies after alleged corruption came to light.

Now the question is whether small modular reactors designed to produce up to 300 MW of electricity can compete better.

Huge gigawatt-scale nuclear plants can have economies of scale because their power output grows faster than increases in capital and operating expenditures.

“However, the extensive customization of many of the currently deployed reactors undercuts much of that economy,” said William Madia, a nuclear chemist and emeritus professor at Stanford University who is now a member of Centrus’ board of directors.

The lack of a standard design also makes it harder for large reactors to get replacement parts when needed. “Things like large-scale forgings are in short supply globally,” Madia noted.

In contrast, small modular reactors can be built in indoor factories and then sent to where they’ll be used. That avoids site-by-site mobilization costs, as well as weather problems that might interrupt construction. 

“But the real driver is standardized design,” Madia said. So eventually, production can take place on assembly lines. And that should produce its own economies.

All in all, “the capital cost for SMRs is much lower than GW-scale machines,” Madia said. Also, if the choice is between lower-cost modular reactors and huge ones, “many, many more utilities can afford a few billion dollars on their balance sheets. Very few can handle $10-plus billion.”

Facing competition

No small modular reactors are operating commercially in the United States yet.  

“Right now, if you’re looking to spend money on bringing new generation online, you have tech that you know works with wind and solar and storage,” said Neil Waggoner, federal deputy director for energy campaigns at the Sierra Club.

An analysis published this month by the journal Energy estimated the levelized cost of electricity, or LCOE, for different types of small modular reactors. The LCOE basically reflects the average costs for producing a unit of power over the course of a generation source’s lifetime. 

Small modular reactors “seem to be non-competitive when compared to current costs for generating electricity from renewable energy sources,” the Energy study found.

Comparing intermittent resources like wind and solar to “dispatchable resources with small land footprints is a flawed exercise,” said Diane Hughes, vice president of marketing and communications for NuScale Power. Nuclear energy from small reactors requires little new transmission infrastructure, she added. So, “the cost per plant is comprehensive in a way that one solar array or wind farm is not.”

Yet the Energy study found renewables would still be more competitive even with added system integration costs that would roughly double the levelized cost of electricity.

“These costs can stem from batteries, but there are also many other means of flexibility that can be used,” said Jens Weibezahn, one of the study’s corresponding authors and an economist at the Copenhagen Business School’s School of Energy Infrastructure.

Weibezahn’s group got similar results when they compared the projected market value for energy from small modular reactors with the weighted market value for renewable electricity at the time of generation. Costs for dealing with radioactive waste “will add a significant additional economic burden” on nuclear technologies, he added.

March 2023 study by Colorado State University researchers suggested the economics for SMRs wouldn’t be dramatically better than those for large reactors. The researchers also found the levelized costs of electricity for different types of small modular reactors would be substantially higher than that for natural gas power plants without carbon capture.

However, “natural gas plants release tremendous amounts of greenhouse gases which engender societal and environmental costs,” said the paper in Applied Energy. Adding in carbon capture increased the estimated levelized cost of energy for the natural gas plants to the general range for the small modular reactors.

Commercial methane-fired power plants with carbon capture are not yet running at scale. The American Petroleum Association has objected to proposed rules that might effectively require such equipment.

How things will shake out in the future is unclear, said Jason Quinn, who heads the sustainability laboratory at Colorado State University and is the corresponding author for the March study. But, he added, “typically decisions are driven on economics, and current SMR estimates show them not to be a commercially viable solution as compared to other technologies.” 

The row of white columns are centrifuges that began running this month to produce HALEU at the new Centrus plant in Piketon, Ohio. Open space in the plant can hold hundreds more centrifuges when commercial production ramps up. Credit: Centrus Energy Corp. / Courtesy

SMRs coming to Ohio

For now, initial production at the Centrus HALEU plant will meet a commitment to the Department of Energy. Centrus expects the plant will employ up to 500 direct employees when it moves to full-scale commercial production, said Larry Cutlip, vice president for field operations. Supporting industries will provide work for another 1,000 to 1,300 people. And all those workers could stimulate economic activity for roughly eight times as many jobs, he added.

Centrus already plans to supply HALEU fuel to TerraPower and Oklo, Inc. Each company has its own individual SMR design and is working with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission toward having the designs certified. 

Oklo plans to build two sodium-cooled fast reactors in Piketon near the Centrus’s HALEU production plant. Each of the SMRs could supply up to 15 MW of electricity and more than 25 MW of clean heating, said spokesperson Bonita Chester.

Plans call for the SMRs to supply some carbon-free electricity for the Centrus facility. Other possible customers for electricity include commercial, industrial or municipal entities. 

“As for the clean heating output, we envisage potential industrial partners and applications for district heating systems,” Chester said. 

The ability to sell or otherwise use the heat as well as electricity could potentially lower the average costs.

“We are committed to ensuring that our electricity and heating output remain competitive with other forms of energy generation,” Chester added. “Our technology benefits from simplified design and cost-effective materials, making it an economically effective option.”

NuScale plans to deploy a dozen 77-megawatt small modular reactors in Ohio and another dozen in Pennsylvania for Standard Power data center projects by 2029. Those pressurized water reactors can use low-enriched uranium and won’t need HALEU, Hughes noted.

Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk expects HALEU and small nuclear reactors that rely on it will be competitive.

“People appreciate the importance of baseload power, and I think that will be even more important as we further decarbonize the electricity economy,” Turk said. That will appropriately include more wind and solar energy, “but it’s good to have that baseload power to make it all work in the end.”

Electricity from SMRs will be “a real source of energy security and energy resilience,” Turk added. “You need diversification, but you need to have a variety of different inputs going into the system.”

“Nuclear certainly can provide baseload, but it does this at a cost significantly higher than an integrated renewables-based system,” Weibezahn said.

A bigger question may be whether there will be enough carbon-free electricity. 

The Department of Energy estimates the United States will need to triple nuclear energy production to about 300 GW by 2050. That growth will be driven by advanced nuclear technologies, much of which will use HALEU.

“If we want to meet our climate goals and meaningfully reduce carbon emissions, we need all sources of clean energy, including wind, solar and nuclear energy,” said Jess Gehin, associate lab director for nuclear science and technology at Idaho National Laboratory. “Current projections show that we cannot meet our climate goals without nuclear energy.”


August 11, 2023

October 20, 2021

June 6, 2023

Saturday, October 21, 2023

U.S. Plan to Put Weapons-Grade Uranium in a Civilian Reactor Is Dangerous and Unnecessary - Scientific American

U.S. Plan to Put Weapons-Grade Uranium in a Civilian Reactor Is Dangerous and Unnecessary

The Biden administration’s intention to use dozens of bombs’ worth of highly enriched uranium as fuel in a new civilian reactor sets a dangerous precedent, one that could help our foes get nuclear weapons

Credit: Bim/Getty Images

Perhaps the easiest path to making a nuclear weapon, for a country or terrorist seeking one, is to extract a sufficient amount of weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium (HEU) from the nominally peaceful fuel in a research reactor, the small type operating in dozens of countries, including many that lack larger nuclear power plants. According to the late Manhattan Project physicist Luis Alvarez, even high school students “would have a good chance of setting off a high-yield explosion simply by dropping one half of the material onto the other half.” That is why the U.S. nearly half a century ago initiated a program to gradually eliminate such dangerous fuel from these facilities. Now, however, in a stunning reversal, the U.S. Energy Department is actually increasing the likelihood of that deadly scenario by supplying a new research reactor with enough weapons-grade uranium for a sizable nuclear arsenal.

The danger is not just hypothetical. In 1990, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein secretly ordered a crash program to extract HEU from his foreign-supplied research reactor fuel to make an atomic bomb—after his invasion of neighboring Kuwait—but a U.N. intervention fortunately evicted his troops and interrupted the plot before it could succeed.

To prevent such grave risks, the U.S. government since the 1970s has spearheaded an international collaboration to eliminate HEU from research reactors by substituting low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, the type used in nuclear power plants that is unsuitable for nuclear weapons. (LEU is enriched below 20 percent in the chain-reacting isotope uranium-235, making it unsuitable for nuclear weapons, whereas HEU fuel in research reactors typically is enriched to 93 percent, the same as in U.S. nuclear weapons.) The U.S.-led program has helped contain nuclear proliferation and prevent nuclear terrorism by converting 71 reactors in the U.S. and abroad from HEU to LEU fuel, even tiny ones containing only one kilogram of HEU. The U.S. has not built an HEU-fueled civilian reactor since the 1970s, and no other country has done so since the 1990s.

However the Biden administration intends to violate this nonproliferation policy by supplying over 600 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium—enough for dozens of nuclear weapons—to a privately owned experimental research reactor that would be largely funded by the U.S. government. If the project proceeds, other countries will insist on violating the policy too, refusing to accept a double standard. Whether they import HEU from the United States, purchase it from Russia or build their own enrichment plants, the risks of nuclear proliferation and terrorism will grow again.

The U.S. government is providing $90 million of the $113 million cost to build the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE), which aims to research the potential for a commercial version known as the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor. Although no such power plants exist, they would in theory employ a loop of liquid fuel—uranium dissolved in hot salt—to both sustain the fission reaction and transport the resulting heat. Advocates claim that using liquid fuel, instead of the solid fuel now used in all nuclear power plants, would be a more efficient way to produce electricity and heat for industrial uses. This is not an entirely new concept. In the 1960s, a similar Molten Salt Reactor Experiment was tried but largely failed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory—partly in consequence of the corrosive combination of salt, high temperature and radiation—and it left a particularly nasty radioactive waste problem that still persists. Six decades later, the Energy Department has decided to throw good money after bad.

The technical tweak of the MCRE is to utilize “fast” (high-energy) neutrons rather than the “thermal” (lower-energy) neutrons used in all U.S. nuclear power plants and the 1960s experiment. Fast neutrons facilitate the fission of some radioactive, human-made elements produced in reactors and so can reduce slightly the long-lived radioactivity of the nuclear waste created. But fast neutrons are much less able to induce fission in uranium-235, which is essential for the chain reaction to power the reactor. So, the fuel needs a larger percentage of this isotope, entailing higher uranium-235 enrichment than the 4 percent enriched LEU typically used in nuclear power plants.

However, molten salt fast reactors such as the proposed MCRE do not require HEU. This fact is undisputed because both the Biden administration and its private partners acknowledge that a commercial version, if ever built, would use LEU fuel.

So, if the reactor could use LEU fuel, why is the Biden administration funding an HEU version that would violate U.S. nonproliferation policy?

The last time that shortsighted U.S. officials planned to build an HEU-fueled research reactor, in the early 1990s, “opposition to the use of highly-enriched uranium in the reactor's core led to its cancellation” by President Bill Clinton. The only question is whether Joe Biden will again demonstrate such U.S. leadership, or gratuitously undermine one of the world’s most successful nuclear nonproliferation programs.

This is an opinion and analysis article, and the views expressed by the author or authors are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Alan J. Kuperman is associate professor and coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, and author of a history of HEU minimization policy.

Friday, October 20, 2023

"Nuclear executive sentenced"

Westinghouse executive gets off light after cooperating in Summer nuclear fraud case

October 18, 2023


Carl Churchman, the former Westinghouse executive manager of the abandoned Virgil C. Summer nuclear power construction project in South Carolina, was sentenced in federal court on October 17, 2023 for his role the colossal nuclear financial scandal. Churchman had entered a plea of “guilty” in June 2021 for lying to the FBI investigators in an effort to cover up the nearly $10 billion fraud committed by SCANA Corporation on the South Carolina Public Service Commission and the state’s electricity ratepayers. Mr. Church was facing a five-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine before he decided to instead cooperate and turn over evidence to federal prosecutors. As a result of Mr. Churchman’s cooperation, his October 17th sentencing was reduced to one year of probation and 15-months under monitored home detention.

Two senior executive officers with SCANA Corp, Kevin Marsh, former Chief Executive Officer and Stephen Byrne, former Senior Vice President, were both indicted on fraud charges in connection to the V.C. Summer nuclear project by the United States Department of Justice, District of South Carolina.  Mr. Marsh was found “guilty” of “intentionally” defrauding the state and its ratepayers of billions of dollars and sentenced in 2021 to two years in federal prison.  An apologetic Mr. Byrne was also found “guilty” of fraud and sentenced  in 2023 to 15 months in federal prison.

Another Westinghouse Electric executive, Jeffrey Benjamin, a former Senior Vice President for the Westinghouse Electric Corps’ two-unit AP1000 advanced pressurized water reactor project was also indicted on in 2021 by the US Department of Justice District of South Carolina on 16 counts of conspiracy and fraud charges following the financial collapse of the Westinghouse AP1000 construction project at the Summer nuclear power construction project. Mr. Benjamin pleaded “not guilty” to all federal charges and on August 3, 2023, a federal judge dismissed all chargesbecause electric ratepayers of the utility that lost billions of dollars on the project were improperly allowed on the grand jury that indicted Benjamin. While the federal judge ruled in the Benjamin case  that prosecutors could file a new indictment against Benjamin, no new indictment has yet been pressed by the government. 

PPL Electric looks to receive $49.5M grant for infrastructure project

PPL Electric looks to receive $49.5M grant for infrastructure project

Cris Collingwood // October 19, 2023 

PPL Electric Utilities could receive $49.5 million in federal funding for its $99 million Grid of the Future infrastructure project. 

The Allentown-based utility said today that its project application was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to potentially receive the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funds. It was selected through the nationally competitive Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) program.  

The Grid of the Future project includes a combination of hardware and software components that work together to deliver grid flexibility to the transmission and distribution systems and provide customer benefits, including increased reliability and resiliency while advancing an affordable clean energy transition, PPL Electric said. 

Over the next several months, PPL Electric said it will work with the DOE Grid Deployment Office on the terms of its plan to secure the pending grant. 

“The Grid of the Future project builds on over a decade of success in self-healing smart grid innovation,” said President of PPL Electric Utilities Christine Martin. “This funding will allow us to accommodate a rapidly evolving electric grid balancing strong resiliency, low customer costs, and high reliability, all while embracing two-way power flow from distributed energy resources.”   

PPL Electric’s Grid of the Future project recommended by the DOE will:  
  • Prevent and shorten power outages through the addition of intelligent grid devices, sensors and automation on single-phase and underground networks. 
  • Improve system reliability and reduce maintenance costs through predictive failure monitoring technology. 
  • Provide real-time visibility into the grid to identify outages, changes in customer demand and fluctuations in distributed energy resources to automatically reroute power and safely balance the flow of power on the grid.
  • Enable increased connections of distributed energy resources and electric vehicle adoption on the grid through IT enhancements using artificial intelligence and machine learning.  
“Across PPL, we’re focused on creating utilities of the future that are agile, innovative and technology-enabled to drive additional value for customers and shareowners and support a reliable, affordable clean energy transition,” said PPL President and Chief Executive Officer Vincent Sorgi. “As we execute our vision, we’re pleased to take advantage of this unique funding opportunity to create savings for our customers and strengthen grid resiliency.”

Monday, October 16, 2023

MassDEP To Holtec: Stop Evaporating Nuclear Wastewater

MassDEP To Holtec: Stop Evaporating Nuclear Wastewater

By TAO WOOLFE | Oct 13, 2023

Holtec Protest
A button worn during a protest in Plymouth

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has sent a letter warning Holtec International about evaporating radioactive wastewater without a permit.

The letter, which was dated September 25—but not mentioned at a meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Panel that same day—says any such evaporative methods, “may be subject to MassDEP air quality permitting.”

Experts at that meeting talked about the “new” method of eliminating some of the remaining water in the spent fuel pool by using heaters to evaporate the water and vent it into the air.

The amount of radiation released into the atmosphere would be minimal, the experts said.

The warning letter to John Moylan, Holtec’s site vice president, says, however, that Holtec—the company decommissioning the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant—may also be in violation of the federal Clean Air Act and other US Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

The letter was written by Seth Pickering, MassDEP’s deputy regional director for the southeast region.

Mr. Pickering referred media questions to Edmund Coletta, a spokesman for the department. Mr. Coletta said the emissions already released did not trigger any alarms, but that future releases should be discussed with MassDEP.

More specifically, Mr. Coletta said in an email yesterday that “emissions related to the recent use of immersion heaters are not subject MassDEP air permits for the facility and did not trigger any threshold that would have required Holtec to apply for a permit.”

He added, however, that “MassDEP has informed Holtec that prior to implementing any potential plan to dispose of water through evaporation, they need to contact MassDEP to discuss the potential applicability of any air quality permitting requirements.”

Meanwhile, environmentalists following the Holtec decommissioning process said they were pleased to see the DEP letter.

“It’s important that the state is stepping up to protect our environment,” said Diane Turco, founder and director of Cape Cod Downwinders, an environmental watchdog group.

Ms. Turco said she received a copy of Mr. Pickering’s letter on Friday, October 6.

“I don’t know why this was not discussed at the NDCAP meeting, but I’m glad the state is taking a stand,” Ms. Turco said.

Ms. Turco was also the recipient of an anonymous letter in August, apparently from a Holtec employee, that spelled out Holtec’s intention to evaporate the toxic wastes into the atmosphere through the power plant’s ventilation system.

It was reported that Holtec installed nine of the heaters at Pilgrim in March and used them through June to heat the irradiated water to 117 degrees.

Holtec, which has said it has discontinued evaporating wastewater, had previously raised the ire of environmentalists, residents and legislators with its proposal to discharge more that one million gallons of irradiated water into Cape Cod Bay.

Besides discharging the water into the bay or evaporating it, Holtec has two other options: ship the waste offsite to an underground storage facility; or store it in casks at the power plant.

Residents and legislators overwhelmingly prefer the option of shipping the wastes offsite.

Holtec has maintained that it should be allowed to discharge the wastewater into Cape Cod Bay because, the company has said, the radiation levels are too low to cause damage to people or sea life.

The company has also said that discharging wastes into the bay has taken place many times over the years, with no ill effects.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has tentatively denied a discharge permit to Holtec and recently concluded a public comment period soliciting opinion about making the discharge denial permanent.

The department received more than 700 responses and is expected to make a determination in the coming weeks, a spokesman said at the Monday meeting.

The state DEP has focused on the state’s Ocean Sanctuaries Act as the legal basis to deny Holtec’s permit to discharge the nuclear wastewater into the bay.

A legal team hired by the environmental watchdog group, the Association to Protect Cape Cod, found that the Massachusetts Ocean Sanctuaries Act of 1971 prohibits dumping or discharging industrial wastes into protected Massachusetts waters.

Barry Potvin, chairman of the Plymouth Board of Health, was among many who have expressed concern about the release of specific pollutants.

“We’re concerned about tritium, which cannot be removed by any means,” Dr. Potvin has said.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is charged with overseeing nuclear power plant decommissioning, has said the concerns are overblown.

“All reactors have spent fuel pools. The releases happen, they are pretty much unavoidable,” Harold W. Anagnostopoulos, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s lead decommissioning inspector at Pilgrim said at a recent public forum.

“The amount of tritium and other nuclear particles released would be “insignificant,” Mr. Anagnostopoulos said.

Other experts have said that the evaporation method is especially dangerous because the discharge is difficult to measure and there is no filtration system used.

“Even very low doses can cause lifelong damage and increase the risk of cancer over a lifetime,” said Dr. Brita Lundberg, speaking on behalf of the members of the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, an organization that monitors public health risks.

Patrick O’Brien, Holtec’s director of government affairs and communications, said Holtec has not responded to MassDEP’s letter.

Mr. O’Brien has said, however, that evaporation of wastewater is routine.

“Evaporative releases are monitored and part of our annual environmental reporting and have occurred continuously since the plant began operations in 1972,” Mr O’Brien said last month.

MassDEP has not yet determined whether Holtec’s discharge permit should be permanently prohibited, Mr. Coletta said, and no date for the decision has been announced.

The state department of public health continues to monitor samples taken from Pilgrim during the decommissioning process, Mr. Coletta said.

Saturday, October 14, 2023

October 14, 2023 Vogtle Unit 4 startup date pushed back after motor fault discovered in reactor coolant pump

Vogtle Unit 4 startup date pushed back after motor fault discovered in reactor coolant pump

The in-service date for Plant Vogtle Unit 4 is being pushed back to 2024 due to a motor fault in one of four reactor coolant pumps, Georgia Power said in a filing to the SEC.

The Oct. 6 filing noted that Southern Nuclear has started the process of replacing the faulty reactor coolant pump (RCP) with an onsite spare one from inventory. The new in-service timeframe is projected for the first quarter of 2024.

The filing said since Unit 3’s four RCPs operated as designed, Southern Nuclear believes that the motor fault in this case is an isolated event. Vogtle Unit 3 entered commercial operation on July 31, 2023.

Utility officials said the projected schedule for Unit 4 primarily depends on the “continued progression of pre-operational testing and start-up, which may be impacted by further equipment, component, and/or other operational challenges.”

They added future challenges could also include management of contractors and related cost increases.

Further updates will be provided in connection with Southern Company’s earnings call in November 2023.

Vogtle Units 3 and 4, representing 2,200 MW, are the first nuclear units to be built in the U.S. in more than three decades. But the journey hasn’t been easy: Cost overruns and construction problems have delayed the project. Project partners have disputed over rising construction costs and their stake in the venture.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2023







Wednesday, October 4, 2023

New events, C-PACE Counties & Projects at SEF

Sustainable Energy Fund


PA C-PACE Counties Are Growing!

In August, both Lancaster and Clinton Counties approved and adopted the C-PACE expansion program. That means there are now a total of 27 pa counties with the financing program.

Does your county have an active C-PACE program?


$5,000,000 in Financing Secured by City Developer: 

Jemal’s CCT, LLC, the owner of Centre City Tower in downtown Pittsburgh received half a million dollars in financing last month. Its projected savings is valued at $74,000 in the first year alone! The 315,585 square foot, multi-tenant office facility sits on a single parcel in Pittsburgh and required some clean energy enhancements including the installation of new HVAC risers, HVAC units, lighting, sealing measures, and elevator and plumbing upgrades.

Read more about the latest Allegheny County C-PACE project.


Renewable Fuel Oil: An Invaluable Introduction:

DATE: 10/26/23 
TIME: 10:30 am - 2:00 pm 
LOCATION:SEF Net Zero Building 

Hear from Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF), Ensyn, and the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium (PERC) about a revolutionary opportunity taking shape. Learn how a simple fuel switch could be the key to ensuring PA colleges and universities achieve their ambitious climate goals.

Distilling C-PACE for Stakeholders:

DATE: 10/27/2023
TIME: 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
LOCATION: Innovation Hall, Energy Innovation Center, 1435 Bedford Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Join Sustainable Energy Fund for an informative networking event! Meet SEF staff and learn how you can use C-PACE to finance your next project!