From ScienceInsider:

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada won reelection yesterday in a race with major ramifications for nuclear power politics.

Reid's victory over Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle not only helped the Democrats retain their majority—allowing him to retain his position as Majority Leader but also lets the Obama Administration continue moving forward with its plan to abandon a proposed nuclear waste-disposal project at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

One of Reid's big promises to Nevada voters was that this waste site would never be developed on his watch. The Obama Administration has cooperated closely with Reid in closing down the 20-year-old project. And despite efforts by Republicans to embarrass the Department of Energy (DOE) over its apparent deference to Reid in pulling its application for a license, DOE seems likely to stay the course. As a Reid spokesperson commented to the Las Vegas Review-Journal a few weeks before the election: "As long as Senator Reid is majority leader, there will not be a Yucca Mountain. …Yucca Mountain will be dead."

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From the York Daily Record:

Soon, workers at the nuclear-powered plant will unload more than 60 spent fuel assemblies from a 18-foot cask into the grid-like racks of the power station's spent fuel storage pool, said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The assemblies are bundled fuel rods that have been removed from the reactor and replaced with fresh alternates.

Last month, workers found a small amount of the inert gas had leaked from the system on the cask, which is designed to prevent helium inside the 115-ton container from escaping.

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From boston.com:

Entergy Corp. will announce this week that it plans to sell the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, confirming months of speculation and perhaps beginning a new chapter in the contentious relationship between the plant and the state, according to a top Vermont utility regulator.

David O'Brien, commissioner of the Department of Public Service, said Entergy Corp. officials told him they planned to announce that they were seeking a buyer for the 650-megawatt reactor.

"My understanding is that there is an impending announcement that they are in fact pursuing a sale of the plant," O'Brien said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

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From WTKR:

Dominion Virginia Power said Monday it is seeking the source of low-level groundwater radiation detected by one of its monitoring stations at its twin-reactor nuclear power plant in North Anna.

The utility said the elevated levels did not pose a health hazard to plant workers or residents, according to a filing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The elevated reading was detected in April by one of eight monitoring stations and has since returned to acceptable levels.

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Three Mile Island Station, Unit 1 - NRC Integrated Inspection Report 5000289-2010004

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Release date: 11/01/2010

Contact Information: Stacy Kika Kika.stacy@epa.gov 202-564-0906 202-564-4355 Cathy Milbourn Milbourn.cathy@epa.gov 202-564-7849 202-564-4355

 

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing its list of the top 50 organizations using the most renewable electricity. The Green Power Partnership’s top purchasers use more than 12 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually, equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electricity use of more than 1 million average American homes. Green power is generated from renewable resources such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, and low-impact hydropower.

The Intel Corporation tops the list as the Partnership’s largest single purchaser of green power and was recently honored with a 2010 EPA Green Power Leadership Award for green power purchasing. The company uses more than 1.4 billion kWh annually, equivalent to avoiding the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of nearly 125,000 average American homes. Both Kohl’s Department Stores and Whole Foods Market received the 2010 EPA Green Power Partner of the Year Awards, and came in as second and third this quarter in purchasing green power. Reaching the top five for the first time, Starbucks (No. 4) more than doubled its annual green power purchase to more than 573 million kWh of green power equivalent to avoiding the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of nearly 50,000 average American homes annually. Also in the top five is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which increased its green power purchase to 500 million kWh of green power annually. Rounding out the top 10 are the City of Houston, Dell Inc., Johnson & Johnson, the U.S. Air Force, and the City of Dallas.

EPA’s Green Power Partnership works with nearly 1,300 partner organizations to voluntarily purchase green power to reduce the environmental impacts of conventional electricity use. Overall, EPA’s Green Power Partners are using nearly 18 billion kWh of green power annually, equivalent to avoiding the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of more than 1.5 million average American homes.

Green power resources produce electricity with an environmental profile superior to conventional power technologies and produce no net increase to greenhouse gas emissions. Purchases of green power also help accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide.

More information on the top 50 list:
http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/toplists/top50.htm

More information on EPA’s Green Power Partnership:
http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/

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From the Burlington Free Press:

The Democratic Governors Association, in a letter sent to representatives of the nuclear industry last month, said the party group’s funding of ads detailing problems at the Vermont Yankee facility in Vernon does not mean it opposes nuclear power.

"I understand that our sponsorship of these ads could have given the impression that we are against nuclear power," Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, wrote in a letter dated Sept. 10. "I want to assure you that this is not the case."

"These ads are meant to be statements about the candidates we oppose, not about the use of nuclear power in general," Daschle’s letter continued. "It is not our practice to adopt policy positions, but as you know many of our governors are ardent supporters of nuclear energy."

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From the Brattleboro Reformer:

Entergy came one step closer to receiving its approved license renewal for Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant on Thursday when the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rejected an appeal from the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution.

The contention dealt with NEC's assertion that Entergy did not have an adequate aging management program in place to deal with the effects of moist or wet environments on buried, below-grade, underground or hard-to reach safety-related electrical cables.

The submittal cited an NRC inspection finding from last May that dealt with this issue.

The ASLB based its denial on three factors: The motion was not timely because the issue of submergence of electrical cables at nuclear power plants has been known for years and could have been questioned in a contention before this past August; the motion does not address a "significant" safety or environmental issue; and because NEC was unable to demonstrate that a materially different result would be or would have been "likely" had the newly proffered evidence been considered initially.

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Event Number: 46374
Facility: PERRY
Event Date: 10/28/2010

OFFSITE NOTIFICATION DUE TO SODIUM HYPOCHLORITE LEAK FROM UNDERGROUND PIPING

"On October 28, 2010, at 1740 hours, the plant entered the Off-Normal Instruction for spills and unauthorized discharges. At 1751 hours, notification of a sodium hypochlorite spill was made to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Response Center. At the time of the event, the plant was in Mode 1 at 100% power. The sodium hypochlorite spill is believed to be the result of a leak in an underground piping supply line to the Emergency Service Water pump house. The leak is estimated to be approximately 130 gallons of a 12.5% Sodium Hypochlorite (Bleach) solution (80 gallons in a 24 hour period is the reportable quantity). The associated chlorination systems have been isolated, and current storage tank level is stable, indicating no more leakage in progress.

"Additionally, the Ohio EPA: State Emergency Response Commission, Perry Township Fire Department, Lake County Emergency Planning Committee, and the U.S. Coast Guard were notified in accordance with plant procedures. This event is also being reported in accordance with the Operating License, Appendix B, Environment Protection Plan, which states in part, 'Any occurrence of an unusual or important event that indicates or could result in significant environmental impact causally related to plant operation shall be recorded and reported to the NRC within 24 hours followed by a written report ..' Specifically, ' ..unanticipated or emergency discharge of waste water or chemical substances.' The NRC Resident Inspector has been notified."

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Dear Erie Times-News Editorial Department,

U.S. Senator Robert Casey, Jr. deserves the thanks of those who love and cherish Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes. He recently joined an effort, along with six other U.S. Senators from around the Great Lakes, to put the brakes on a risky radioactive waste shipment that would traverse Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, and the rivers and waterways that connect them. By doing so, Sen. Casey has challenged this precedent-setting shipment that could lead to even more risky high-level radioactive waste shipments on the Great Lakes.

Sen. Casey, joined by Sens. Feingold (D-WI), Durbin (D-IL), Levin (D-MI), Stabenow (D-MI), Schumer (D-NY), and Gillibrand (D-NY), has challenged the proposal by Bruce nuclear power plant on Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada to ship 16 school bus-sized, 100 ton radioactive steam generators on a single boat across the Atlantic to Sweden for so-called “recycling.” The seven Senators fired off letters last month to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), urging that the highest level environmental assessments be performed before this shipment is allowed to enter U.S. territorial waters.

The Senators’ concerns are well founded. Bruce Nuclear’s CEO has admitted that there is no emergency plan in place if the ship were to sink, flippantly adding that there would be plenty of time to figure out what to do once the ship sank. CNSC’s staff has done a shoddy job analyzing the risks, initially excluding consideration of Plutonium-241, an ultra-hazardous isotope whose inclusion nearly doubled the radioactivity content of the shipment. CNSC has even admitted that the welds sealing shut the radioactive steam generators are only good to a depth of 800 feet below water, the very depth of Lake Ontario, meaning there is no safety margin.

It is important Sen. Casey hold PHMSA’s feet to the fire. Recent U.S. House hearings shined a spotlight on PHMSA’s incompetence in light of the recent, disastrous oil pipeline leaks into rivers in Illinois and Michigan – threatening the Great Lakes downstream – as well as deadly natural gas pipeline explosions, and the agency’s cozy connections to the very companies it is supposed to regulate.

Sen. Casey has also questioned the risks of “recycling” radioactive metal. Radioactive consumer products could be re-imported to the U.S., exposing unsuspecting American families to radiation hazards.

This radioactive waste shipment could set a bad precedent for worse to come on the Great Lakes. In 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy proposed 453 barge shipments of high-level radioactive waste on Lake Michigan as part of the plan for moving irradiated nuclear fuel to Yucca Mountain, Nevada for burial. This raises serious safety and security concerns. If such a shipment sank, there is enough fissile Uranium-235 and Plutonium-239 in the irradiated nuclear fuel that a chain reaction could be sparked on the bottom of the Great Lakes. This would make emergency response a suicide mission, and result in catastrophic radioactivity releases. President Obama, to his credit, has cancelled the Yucca dump and such risky shipment plans. But any away-from-reactor proposals, such as reprocessing or centralized interim storage, could again raise the specter of radioactive waste shipments on the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes represent 20% of the surface fresh water on the planet. They supply drinking water to 40 million people, and are the engine for one of the world’s biggest regional economies. Sen. Casey deserves our thanks for protecting them from the risks of radioactive waste transport.

Sincerely,
 
Kevin Kamps
--
Kevin Kamps
Radioactive Waste Watchdog
Beyond Nuclear
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 400
Takoma Park, Maryland 20912
Office: (301) 270-2209 ext. 1
Cell: (240) 462-3216
Fax: (301) 270-4000
kevin@beyondnuclear.org
www.beyondnuclear.org

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