Next door to nukes

From the York Daily Record

Citing the 20 years since the last comprehensive national study of its kind and information technology advances since then, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requesting a new study on potential health effects posed by nuclear power plants.

The request was made to the National Academy of Sciences, which will oversee the study.

Findings from a previous study from the National Cancer Institute were published in 1991 and did not find a connection between living next to a plant and cancer-related deaths.

The question of possible health effects comes up frequently from the public, said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC.

"It's an appropriate time now," he said. "It's been two decades since this kind of national study."

Also, the previous study looked only at data on the county level to look for possible problems, Sheehan said, which might not have been refined enough.

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U.S. DOE says $13 bln needed in nuclear loan help

From Reuters:

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Wednesday that the Energy Department would need an additional $13 billion in authority from Congress to provide loan guarantees for building three new nuclear plants.

The department in February awarded $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to help build the first U.S. nuclear power plant in nearly three decades.

Chu told a Senate subcommittee that the $12 billion the department had left in loan guarantee authority would be enough to cover one more nuclear plant project that is seeking government help.

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Peach Bottom: NRC Evaluation of Changes, Tests and Experiments and Permanent Modifications

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Units 2 and 3:  NRC Evaluation of Changes, Tests and Experiments and Permanent Modifications Team Inspection Report 05000277/2010006 and 05000278/2010006

ADAMS ACCESSION NO. ML101180465

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U.S. DOE pulls doc flagged by TMI-A

From the Press and Journal:

Nearly 20 years before 9/11, federal researchers studied the effects of an airplane crashing into a nuclear reactor. Their 1982 report is considered “sensitive’’ and kept from the public.

But a member of Three Mile Island-Alert, a grassroots watchdog of TMI and nuclear power, discovered the report on two federal websites recently. A microfiche version of the report was offered for sale for $40.

Scott Portz-line, a security consultant for TMI-Alert, notified the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security about the report. The DOE removed it from its website.

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Group will re-visit study on cancer risk for people living near TMI, other nuclear facilities

From the Patriot News:

The National Academy of Sciences, acknowledging that a study 20 years ago was flawed, is organizing an analysis of cancer risk for people living near the nation’s nuclear facilities, including Three Mile Island, site of the nation’s worst nuclear accident in March 1979.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission formally requested the study Monday at a meeting of the academy’s Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board.

The study done in 1990 considered only children who died of cancer near nuclear plants. The intent of the new study is to track those around nuclear plants who contracted the disease but didn’t die. The old study also looked at countywide populations; this next study is to target residents of communities near nuclear plants, such as Royalton and Middletown near TMI.

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Three Mile Island Alert's Questions on the NRC’s Annual Assessment of the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station

The NRC staff completed its performance review on Feb. 16, 2010, for the fourth quarter and all of 2009. In a letter dated March 3, 2010, the NRC said that Susquehanna Units 1 and 2 “operated in a manner that preserved public health and safety and fully met all cornerstone objectives.”

The letter discussed the previously reported matter when a potential chilling effect letter was issued in January 2009 over safety work environment issues. The letter noted that plant owner PPL has taken reasonable actions to improve the safety conscious work environment (SCWE) at the site. “Specifically,” the NRC letter said, “the staff determined that you recognized the issue impacted multiple areas across the site; took appropriate and timely actions to address it; and completed a range of corrective actions which have been implemented and are judged, at this time, to have been effective in addressing the underlying issues.” The NRC said that cross cutting issues do not exist at this time.

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'Into Eternity' Examines Nuclear Waste Dilemma

From NPR:

Nevada's Yucca Mountain is no longer an option for long-term storage of nuclear waste. But construction of a similar project is under way in Finland. In his film Into Eternity, director Michael Madsen questions the feasibility of safely storing waste for hundreds of thousands of years.

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U.S. pulls guide on nuclear plant air attacks

From the Patriot News:

A document on federal websites since June 2008 that served as a virtual how-to manual for attacking a nuclear plant with an airplane has been removed from the sites at the request of Three Mile Island Alert, a midstate watchdog group.

Scott Portzline, an unpaid security consultant to TMI Alert, said that while researching sabotage and terrorism targeting nuclear plants in March, he found a document available for download on the Department of Energy website titled “Evaluation of Air Craft Crash Hazards Analyses for Nuclear Power Plants.”

The document showed the areas that a plane could hit at a reactor with maximum effect, and it cited buildings or targets that a plane could strike and cause radioactive release, Portzline said.

Energy Department officials said the report was posted by mistake as part of an effort to make the public aware of the department’s scientific work.

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Pilgrim Station not my choice for a neighbor

From the Doxbury Reporter:

Like Ryan Boehm, whose op-ed piece, Pilgrim Station: a good neighbor, a nuclear future, was in the April 16, 2010, Duxbury Reporter, I too look out at the reactor from my home. I have not had the opportunity to take Pilgrim’s public relations tour; my husband and I signed up for a tour with the MIT Alumni Association a few years ago, but we were then “disinvited.”

I have, however, spent much of the last 25 years learning about nuclear power plants in general and Pilgrim Station in particular from independent experts, and Pilgrim is not my choice for a neighbor.

Health: Nuclear reactors release radiation into the water and air on a daily basis. The question is how much, and the answer is that no one really knows for sure because of antiquated and inadequate monitoring systems and lack of oversight by regulators.

Pilgrim Watch has been in litigation for four years in the license renewal adjudication process. We have made it publicly known that we would settle this dispute if Entergy would install a “real” onsite groundwater monitoring system, and a “real” air monitoring system located in offsite communities to record continuous weather data and radiation, linked to the Commonwealth and local emergency operations centers with public reports. This would be far cheaper than what Entergy has spent on lawyers. We can only conclude that Entergy fears what real monitoring systems might show.

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Beyond Nuclear report on leaking reactors finds regulator ignoring oversight

From Beyond Nuclear:

A new report released today by Beyond Nuclear - Leak First, Fix Later: Uncontrolled and Unmonitored Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants - looks at the epidemic of reactors leaking tritium into groundwater. The report finds that the federal regulator – the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission -  is ignoring its oversight and enforcement responsibilities at the nation’s increasingly leaky, uninspected and unmaintained nuclear power plants.  The report shows that despite agency efforts initiated in 1979 to prevent uncontrolled radioactive releases to groundwater, the NRC is capitulating to an industry decision to take almost three more years before announcing an action plan.

Instead of mandating compliance with established license requirements for the control and monitoring of buried pipe systems carrying radioactive effluent, the NRC cedes responsibility to industry voluntary initiatives that will add years onto the resolution of a decades-old environmental and public health issue.

Of further concern, the agency and the industry continue to downplay and trivialize the health risks of prolonged exposure to tritium, a known carcinogen which is shown to cause cancer, genetic mutations and birth defects.

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