Ninth Circuit Oral Argument set for November 4

The Ninth Circuit Oral Argument has been set for November 4, 2010 at 2pm. It will take place in San Francisco, Courtroom 1, 95 7th Street.

Like the 2006 ruling in favor of San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP), the outcome of this case involving the dry cask storage facility at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant has the potential to affect policy for all 104 nuclear facilities in the nation. If Mothers for Peace is successful, the case will set a major new precedent for government accountability with respect to security-related decision-making in the post- 9/11era.

SLOMFP’s objectives are twofold:

  • to force the NRC to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement that thoroughly analyzes the potential environmental effects of attack on the dry cask storage facility;
  • to restore an appropriate balance between the influence of the nuclear industry and the public over the NRC.

After the 9/11 attacks, the increased level of secrecy at the NRC tilted the playing field even more dramatically in favor of the industry, which now has virtually unlimited access to sensitive information while the public has been completely shut out. We believe that our lawsuit could give members of the public a powerful new tool in making the government accountable for its decisions regarding security by allowing access to classified and other sensitive security information in closed hearings. (A closed hearing allows only attorneys and expert witnesses with appropriate security clearances to attend. SLOMFP attorney, Diane Curran, has the necessary clearances.)

More information about SLOMFP’s lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit of the U. S. Court of Appeals is available at

Nuclear plant unit could be down for extended time

From the Scranton Times-Tribune:

Flooding forced PPL to shut down Unit 1 of the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant late Friday afternoon.

An estimated 1 million gallons of Susquehanna river water flowed from an 8-foot-diameter pipe heading to the condenser room - where steam leaving the turbine is cooled - and damaged equipment in the basement of the plant's turbine building.

As a result, the plant could be shut down for a long period.

"We don't have an estimate," PPL spokesman Joe Scopelliti said. "There is no timeline."

Patrick Finney, the plant's senior Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspector, doesn't think the plant will be online any time soon, though.

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Water requirements of nuclear power stations

From the Parliament of Australia, Department of Parliamentary Services:

Per megawatt existing nuclear power stations use and consume more water than power stations using other fuel sources. Depending on the cooling technology utilised, the water requirements for a nuclear power station can vary between 20 to 83 per cent more than for other power stations.

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Tritium levels continue to rise in Pilgrim well

From the Patriot Ledger:

Entergy Corp. has found tritium levels that exceed federal drinking water standards in a monitoring well at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant for the first time since the wells were installed nearly three years ago.

The power plant owner learned on Monday that samples taken on July 7 showed one monitoring well near the Cape Cod Bay shoreline had more than 25,000 picocuries per liter of tritium, a radioactive isotope. The Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum threshold for safe drinking water is 20,000 picocuries per liter.

The elevated levels of tritium are in a monitoring well that was installed in April. Entergy has found elevated levels in that well since May, and the well’s tritium levels previously peaked at just more than 11,000 picocuries per liter last month.

A nearby monitoring well showed elevated levels of tritium, at more than 3,000 picocuries per liter, on July 7. The plant’s 10 other wells, including several that were installed in 2007, showed relatively low amounts of tritium, plant spokesman Dave Tarantino said.

Tarantino said the tritium leak doesn’t pose any threat to drinking water in Plymouth, largely because the groundwater at the plant flows into Cape Cod Bay. A test of Cape Cod Bay waters showed no elevated levels of tritium on July 7, he said.

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Report: Entergy Vermont Yankee Lacks "Questioning Attitude"

From Seven Days:

A key legislative oversight panel is criticizing Entergy Vermont Yankee's for lacking  a "questioning attitude" that has led to a number of system failures at the aging reactor in recent years.

The Vermont Yankee Public Oversight Panel (POP) also concluded that Entergy didn't deliberately mislead a legislative panel or a state consultant when it neglected to inform them last August about underground pipes that carry radionuclides.

The three-member panel includes former Nuclear Regulatory Commission member Peter Bradford, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, and retired nuclear scientist Fred Sears.

Last summer, Gundersen questioned key Entergy engineers about whether there were underground pipes that could potentially be leaking.

The response: No. Case closed.

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Nuclear Coverup: 10 Cool Examples Of Cooling Tower Art

From Web Urbanist:

Cooling towers have come to symbolize power plants – nuclear or not – around the world. Standing hundreds of feet tall with a distinctive hourglass profile, some of these “towers of power” show an unexpected side: they’ve become colossal curvaceous canvases upon which an astonishing variety of art has been displayed.

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VT Public Oversight Panel Supplemental Report

Supplemental Report of the Public Oversight Panel Regarding the Comprehensive Reliability Assessment of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant

July 20, 2010

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Flooding shuts down Unit 1 at nuclear plant

From the Times Leader:

Unit 1 at PPL’s Susquehanna nuclear plant was shut down safely on Friday after about 1 million gallons of river water flooded the basement.

Jeff Helsel, PPL’s Susquehanna power plant manager, described the reason for shutting down the unit.

“(There was) a leak of river water into the turbine building basement,” he said. “The river water entered the basement from a hatch that provides access to part of the unit’s condenser.”

Helsel said the leak could not be resolved without shutting down the unit.

Joe Scopelliti, a PPL spokesman, said the Susquehanna River water is used to cool the steam that is generated by the reactor and comes through the turbine. He said the river water never touches the plant water.

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Manual Scram Due to Unisolable Circulating Water System Leak

Event Number: 46103

"At approximately 1641 EDT on July 16, 2010, Susquehanna Steam Electric Station Unit 1 reactor was manually scrammed due to a large unisolable circulating water system leak in the main condenser area. Attempts to isolate the source of the leakage were unsuccessful. During these attempts, reactor operators lowered reactor power from approximately 90% to about 39%. Based on rising water level in the condenser area and unsuccessful isolation of the source of the leakage, Operations decided to shut down the plant. The reactor operator placed the mode switch in shutdown. All control rods [fully] inserted. Reactor water level lowered to -28 inches causing Level 3 (+13 inches) isolations. The Operations crew subsequently maintained reactor water level at the normal operating band using RCIC. No steam relief valves opened. The main steam isolation valves were manually closed and the circulating water system was shut down. Pressure control was initiated using HPCI in the pressure control mode. All safety systems operated as expected. The reactor is currently stable in Mode 3. Actions to isolate and investigate the cause of the circulating water system leakage are underway. Unit 2 continued power operation."

The licensee has notified the NRC Resident Inspector, and will be issuing a press release.

Tritium leaks challenge nuclear industry

From the Patriot Ledger:

While tritium leaks plagued a number of reactors in recent years, the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth passed its tests without raising any alarms.

Not anymore. Soon after Pilgrim doubled the number of its monitoring wells in April, elevated levels of tritium were found in one of the new wells.

The levels of the radioactive isotope then rose in June, prompting the state Department of Public Health to criticize Pilgrim owner Entergy Corp. By Thursday, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey was involved, with a letter chastising the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for failing to get these leaks under control.

While the levels at Pilgrim are still below federal standards for drinking water, Entergy isn’t leaving anything to chance. An Entergy spokesman says the company has scientists meeting every morning to trace the source of the tritium and respond to concerns raised by state health officials.

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