Beaver Valley Unit 1 among reactors most vulnerable to quake damage

From the Beaver County Times:

While new Nuclear Regulatory Commission research puts the Beaver Valley Unit 1 nuclear reactor in Shippingport among the nation's most vulnerable to earthquake damage, First Energy officials say their site has adequate protection.

NRC "seismic hazard estimates" were revised in 2010 and obtained by MSNBC for a report that was made public following the recent catastrophic earthquake that damaged nuclear reactors in Japan.

The Beaver Valley site, according to the NRC numbers, was listed fifth among sites in earthquake damage probability. The report said Beaver Valley Unit 1 has a 1 in 21,739 chance of suffering core damage from an earthquake each year.

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What's the most at-risk U.S. nuclear power plant?

From CBS News:

Indian Point, located in Buchanan, N.Y., has the highest risk of core damage in the event of an earthquake, according to NRC estimates reported by MSNBC. At a 1 in 10,000 chance of core breach, that's right on the verge of what the NRC calls "immediate concern regarding adequate protection."

The East Coast comes off much worse than other parts of the country. The second plant on the list is Pilgrim 1 in Massachusetts. Number three is in Pennsylvania. The only West Coast plant is Diablo Canyon in California at number nine.

What explains it?

The government's list considered how close the plants were to major fault lines and how well they were designed to handle an earthquake. Back in the 1960s and 70s, when most of the plants were built, the government knew about earthquake risks on the West Coast. Those plants were designed to withstand them. But new surveying technology has revealed fault lines in the central and eastern states where plants were not designed for the serious stresses of a large quake.

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Nuclear paranoia

Vt. Nuclear Engineer Becomes International Star


As the world sits glued to the coverage of Japan's nuclear crisis, they will likely see Vermonter Arnie Gundersen among that coverage, speaking as an expert on nuclear energy.

Gundersen has done interviews nonstop since Monday, including 18 Tuesday alone. On Wednesday, a Japanese news crew flew in from New York City to interview Gundersen and hours later, he did a Skype interview with a Russian TV station out of Moscow.

"It's neat to be recognized, but what caused the recognition is the worst industrial accident in the history of the world," Gundersen said.

Gundersen has been outspoken about his belief that the nuclear crisis surpasses that of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, perhaps accounting for the extreme media attention he has gotten.

"I don't think the (Japanese) government is lying. I do think the government is not telling everything it knows," Gundersen said in one interview Wednesday.

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Experts Had Long Criticized Potential Weakness in Design of Stricken Reactor

From the New York Times:

The warnings were stark and issued repeatedly as far back as 1972: If the cooling systems ever failed at a “Mark 1” nuclear reactor, the primary containment vessel surrounding the reactor would probably burst as the fuel rods inside overheated. Dangerous radiation would spew into the environment.

Now, with one Mark 1 containment vessel damaged at the embattled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and other vessels there under severe strain, the weaknesses of the design — developed in the 1960s by General Electric — could be contributing to the unfolding catastrophe.

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Delay in Transmittal of Director's Decision


Your petition dated September 30, 2010 addressed to Stephen Burns, Office of the General Counsel, is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff pursuant to 10 CFR 2.206 of the Commission's Regulations. This letter is to inform you that the due date for the final Director's Decision has been delayed from March 11, 2011, to May 13, 2011. The delay is necessary to complete the technical review and accommodate the required Petitioner/licensee draft Director's Decision review. NRC expects to provide you, and the licensee, the proposed Director's Decision by April 8, 2011, for your review and comment.

Please feel free to contact John Buckley at 301-415-6607 to discuss any questions related to this petition.


Larry W. Camper, Director
Division of Waste Management and Environmental Protection
Office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management Programs

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Susquehanna: Fire Protection Baseline Inspection


Download ML110740422 (PDF)

Peach Bottom: NRC Examination Report


Download ML110740322 (PDF)

Persons Living Within 10 Miles of Nuclear Power Plants

EFMR: Radiation Monitoring Stations

The EFMR Monitoring Group is installing continuous radiation monitors at several locations around the Three Mile Island nuclear power station.  The monitors are connected by telephone to a central computer, which downloads the data and displays it.  The monitors can be set to record data at preset intervals varying from minutes to hours and can store 1500 data points.  The data is downloaded via a dedicated telephone line at preset polling intervals.  If the radiation level exceeds a preset alarm level the data is automatically downloaded to the central computer and a polling of all stations is initiated.  The software allows the data to be displayed as tables, graphs or readings on a diagram or map.


The monitoring station consists of a Thermo Eberline ESM Model FHZ 621 G-L4 wide range detector in a weatherproof housing.  The housing also contains an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and DC power supply, which operates the detector, the RS232 interface adapter, and a telephone modem.  The battery in the UPS will operate the monitor and modem for several hours after loss of AC power.  The detector is capable of measuring dose equivalent rates from background to 10 rem/hour.  The detector also has a feature that uses the difference in radiation energy between natural background radiation and reactor fission product radiation to determine whether small radiation increases are from natural or man-made sources.  The chart below shows data from one of the monitors during a 48-hour test.  The peak is from a 137Cs calibration source.

Five monitoring stations have been purchased and the electrical and telephone installations have been completed for 3 stations as of 27 Mar 03.  The other two stations are being used for testing and will be installed when the computer programming and testing is complete.


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