From the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is monitoring PPL’s response to an “Alert” declared this morning at the Susquehanna nuclear power plant, which is located in Salem Township (Luzerne County), Pa. The Alert – the second-lowest of four emergency classifications used by the NRC – was declared at 9:22 a.m. after toxic gas – believed to be Freon – was identified by workers in the Unit 1 Reactor Building. As a precaution, PPL, which owns and operates the two-reactor plant, has evacuated that building.  No injuries have been reported. 

Freon apparently leaked from a chiller, or air-conditioning, system used to maintain certain temperatures inside the Reactor Building. That structure houses safety systems used to support the operation of the reactor, but those systems have not been impacted by the event.

The NRC has two Resident Inspectors stationed at Susquehanna who are following PPL’s response to the event. In addition, the NRC Region I Office, in King of Prussia, Pa., has activated its Incident Response Center and is closely monitoring the company’s actions from there.

PPL is seeking to identify the exact source of the Freon leakage and terminate it. Both reactors at the site remain in operation. As of earlier today, Susquehanna 1 was at 100-percent power and Susquehanna 2 was at 94-percent power.

Appropriate federal and state officials have been notified regarding the event.

 

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From WYFF:

Two employees at South Carolina nuclear power plant could be fired for bringing a weapon to work, an official confirmed Wednesday.

Oconee Nuclear Station security officers found the weapons on two employees over the past couple of weeks as they entered the Duke Energy plant, company representative Sandra Magee saidThe discoveries were not believed to be related.Magee said she didn't know what type of weapons were found. Duke Energy officials are interviewing the workers who broke company rules, Magee said.

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From Beyond Nuclear:

The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) adopted a resolution at its International Council meeting on Sunday in Basel, Switzerland, calling for a ban on uranium mining and the production of yellowcake (uranium oxide). The resolution described both processes as “irresponsible” and “a grave threat to health and to the environment”.

The resolution also describes uranium mining and yellowcake production as a “violation of human rights”. The right to life, liberty and security, to physical integrity, self-determination, the protection of human dignity, the right to clean water are just some of the rights that are afflicted by uranium mining and its processes, say the doctors.

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From the Huffington Post:

As campaign season heats up in my home state of Vermont, environmentally conscious voters have been remarking on the similarity between media ads on local TV by Entergy, owner of the radiation-leaking Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, and BP, responsible for the worst environmental catastrophe in American history.

Both Louisiana-based giants are trying to assure the public that the worst is past, that they are responsible corporate citizens cleaning up their respective messes, and the public has nothing to fear. But like the proverbial Pinocchio whose nose gets longer every lie, their respective PR teams have made their mutual cover-ups even more obvious.

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From Beyond Nuclear:

Please watch our newest short video production, ActNow! A nuclear disaster – potentially even worse than the Gulf tragedy – could be inevitable if we do not take the necessary steps to prevent one. We have already witnessed major nuclear accidents – at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Church Rock and elsewhere. Please ActNow! Call the White House and Congress and please sign our petition today.

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THREE MILE ISLAND UNIT 2: - REVISED POWER REACTOR SECURITY RULE

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From the Guardian:

Forest wardens today stepped up patrols in the Chernobyl fallout zone as a leading ecologist warned that fires could send radioactive particles as far as Moscow.

Around 160,000 emergency personnel are battling 600 wildfires across Russia, 290 of which ignited in the last 24 hours.

Greenpeace said at least 20 fires – three of them in a highly contaminated forest area – had broken out in the Bryansk region, bordering northern Ukraine, in recent days.

Bryansk was part of the zone sprayed with a plume of radioactive isotopes caesium-137 and strontium-90 when the Chernobyl power plant's fourth reactor exploded in 1986.

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San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace
P.O. Box 3608
San Luis Obispo, CA 93403
www.mothersforpeace.org

NEWS RELEASE
 
For Immediate Release

August 4, 2010

Today a 3-judge panel of the  U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) handed down a decision to accept four of the five Contentions filed by the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP) in opposition to Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E’s) application for license renewal of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. Although the current operating licenses for the two reactors do not expire until 2024/2025, PG&E is asking for permission to operate the units an additional 20 years, until 2044/2045.
 
In its decision, the ASLB narrowed down some of the Contentions by ruling out some points of law while allowing others to remain. The next step within the legal process is a hearing in which evidence will be heard in support of the four Contentions of the SLOMFP accepted by the ASLB.
 
According to SLOMFP spokesperson Jane Swanson, “Since 1973 our all-volunteer, local group has used legal processes to force the federal regulators of nuclear plants to better enforce federal laws designed to protect the environment and citizens. Our goal, with the services of our attorney in Washington D.C., Diane Curran, is to ensure that safety issues pertaining to both the reactors and the radioactive wastes at Diablo Canyon are fully studied before the NRC considers PG&E’s application for license renewal.”
 
A summary of the four Contentions accepted by the ASLB follows:
 

  • PG&E has failed to demonstrate the ability to safely manage the aging plant, which was designed in the 1960’s, and constructed between the late 1960’s and the early 1980’s. NRC inspection reports document an “adverse trend” of chronic errors in the management of safety equipment at Diablo Canyon.  SLOMFP is concerned that PG&E’s inability to identify and correct current problems in a timely and effective way will be repeated in the license renewal term, when detecting aging effects like corrosion and degradation will be even more challenging.
  •  PG&E ‘s application lacks crucial information on the seismic risks to Diablo, given that studies of the Shoreline Fault, identified in 2008, are incomplete.  Seismic studies of the newly discovered fault and its potential interaction with the Hosgri fault will not be completed until 2013. SLOMFP contends that PG&E and the NRC should wait for the study results before reaching any conclusions about the risks posed by severe earthquakes.
  • PG&E has failed to address the airborne environmental impacts of a reasonably foreseeable spectrum of spent fuel pool accidents, including accidents caused by earthquakes, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.
  • PG&E’s  application lacks a required  discussion of the cost-effectiveness of measures to mitigate the environmental impacts of an attack on the Diablo Canyon reactor during the license renewal term.

The one Contention not admitted was SLOMFP’s assertion that PG&E has failed to evaluate the environmental impacts of a terrorist  attack on the Diablo Canyon spent fuel pool during the proposed 20-year license extension terms.
 
The date of the evidentiary hearing is not yet scheduled.
 
The ASLB decision is not yet posted on the NRC website as this press release is being sent, although some media in the San Luis Obispo area may have received a copy directly from the NRC. Please contact Jane Swanson at the email address above to request the 119-page decision as an email attachment.

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From the Citizen's Voice:

PPL brought Unit 1 of the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant back on line Wednesday after flooding forced the utility to shut it down for roughly 20 days.

An estimated 950,000 gallons of Susquehanna River water flooded the basement of the plant's turbine building on July 16. The water flowed from hatches that allow access to the unit's condenser - where the river water cools steam leaving the turbine.

During the shutdown, PPL repaired the circulating water system and assessed equipment in the turbine building, plant manager Jeff Helsel said in a news release. The damage forced PPL to bring in extra help to dry and repair equipment shortly after the flood.

In addition, all the flood water was stored in tanks and tested several times for radiological and industrial contaminants.

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DCS No.:   0500038708042010
Date:         August 4, 2010
 
PRELIMINARY NOTIFICATION OF EVENT OR UNUSUAL OCCURRENCE -- PNO-I-10-004A
 
Facility
Susquehanna Steam Electric Station
PPL, Susquehanna, LLC.
Berwick, PA
Docket:  50-387
Licensee Emergency Classification: Not Applicable
 
 
SUBJECT:      (UPDATE) SUSQUEHANNA UNIT 1 MANUAL SCRAM AND SHUTDOWN GREATER THAN 72 HOURS DUE TO AN INTERNAL FLOODING EVENT
 
 
At 4:41 p.m. on July 16, 2010, Susquehanna Unit 1 operators manually scrammed the reactor due to a non-isolable circulating water leak in the main condenser bay.  On August 2nd Susquehanna Unit 1 was restarted and at 6:09 am on August 4, the operators synchronized Unit 1 to the electrical grid.
 
PPL Engineering personnel identified the source of the circulating water system leak to be from two large gasketed manway hatches.  The ‘B’ and ‘D’ inlet water box access manway gaskets were found to have been dislodged and significantly extruded from the manway joints.  The main condenser access manways consist of a 20” diameter pipe (manway) that is sealed with a bolted metal hatch secured by four large bolts. To ensure a watertight seal, a gasket is installed on the manway.  Tension on the bolts that secure the hatch ensures the gasket forms a water-tight seal.  In addition, an epoxy coating applied on the manway overlapped onto the gasket seating surface in several locations.
 
PPL management concluded that the smooth and non-uniform coat of epoxy on the gasket seating surface, as well as insufficient tightening of the manway bolts, allowed the gaskets to dislodge and leak when a system pressure spike was experienced.  Cleaning of the cooling tower intake screen was in process during this event and may have caused a pressure spike in these two inlet water boxes.  Corrective actions taken included: 1) replacing the manway gaskets on all of the water boxes; 2) increasing the torque applied to the manway bolts; 3) roughening the epoxy coating on the manway where it contacts the gasket; and 4) conducting additional pre-installation inspections recommended by the gasket vendor.
 
PPL personnel inspected and repaired, as necessary, equipment impacted by this internal flooding event.   Approximately a million gallons of river water have been removed from the main condenser bay.  The water was processed, tested, and discharged in accordance with plant procedures ensuring all NRC regulatory limits were met.
 
The NRC inspectors onsite observed PPL’s troubleshooting and repair actions; attended plant restart readiness meetings; monitored PPL’s dewatering and plant discharge activities; and observed plant startup events.  The NRC’s inspection results will be documented in the next quarterly integrated inspection report.
 
The information presented herein has been discussed with the Susquehanna Plant Manager and is current as of August 4, 2010, at 9:00 a.m.
 
Region I Public Affairs is prepared to respond to media inquires.
 
ADAMS Accession Number:  ML102160675              
 
CONTACT:  Paul Krohn at (610) 337-5120 or Andrew Rosebrook at (610) 337-5199        

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