Participate in Nation Academy cancer study meeting

From Beyond Nuclear:

Background: Following the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s announcement that it will ask the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to perform a cancer risk study around nuclear power facilities, the NAS’ Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board (NRSB) has posted a detailed agenda for a Monday, April 26th public meeting. See our April 8 Bulletin article “US NRC asks National Academy of Sciences to perform a cancer study around nuclear reactors” for more background. Invited speakers include Steven Wing, PhD., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Associate Professor; Arjun Makhijani, PhD., President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research; and Ralph Andersen of the Nuclear Energy Institute along with Senator Markey’s policy director, Michal Freedhoff, and Brian Sheron of the NRC. There will be approximately 45-minutes for public comment. Cindy Folkers of Beyond Nuclear will also participate.

Our view: Concerned citizens’ groups sent a letter to NRC expressing strong apprehension over NRC’s conducting or controlling this study. These concerns remain largely unaddressed. While the study venue appears to have changed from Oak Ridge Associated Universities to NAS in response to our concerns, the NRC can still have a great deal of input in study design. Additionally, the current chair of NRSB is Richard Meserve, former chair of the NRC. His presence and possible participation in parts of this study process raises serious concerns about its independence.

What you can do: It is imperative that you weigh in at the beginning of this process to attempt to make it transparent and legitimate. If you are near the Washington, DC area on Monday April 26, please try to attend this meeting. There is NO call-in participation. You can submit written comments before the meeting, or Beyond Nuclear can submit written comments for you during the meeting if you are unable to attend. We strongly recommend you place your name on the NRSB list by contacting: nrsb@nas.edu if you wish to speak during the comment period. NRSB also recommends you have a written version of your comments for the record.  For location, contact information, and specific times, please see the agenda. Contact cindy@beyondnuclear.org if you have additional questions.

MET ED Rate Caps to Expire on Dec 31. Rates to go up 30-45%

Debate Sponsored by Citizens' Caucus

The following question will be debated at a breakfast meeting on April 24:

“Resolved: That electricity restructuring has or will provide significant befits to consumers.”

Debating affirmative: Terry Fitzpatrick, Esq. President and CEO of Energy Association of PA,  Former Chairman Pennsylvania PUC.

Debating negative:  Herb Braden, P.E. Retired Mechanical Engineer;  40-year career in design and development of power projects.

The public is invited to attend.

Time and place: April 24, 8:00 A.M, Mt. Gretna Fire Hall, Boulevard Street, Mt. Gretna, Pa...

Admission (includes meal) $10.00 Members; $12.00 non-members...

For reservations:  Call 717-964-1802 or visit our web site at citizenscaucus.org.

Ohio, NY Nuclear Plants Not Up To Snuff

From SustainableBusiness.com:

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) on Monday asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to keep the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ohio shut until its owners implement measures to prevent recurring violations of federal health and safety regulations.

In 2002, and again earlier this year, plant workers discovered that Davis-Besse had been operating for extended periods with cooling water leaking through cracks in the metal tubes that penetrate the lid of the vessel housing the reactor core. Federal regulations require that reactors be immediately shut down whenever such leakage occurs because leaking cracks are warning signs of a catastrophic rupture of piping carrying cooling water, or worse, vessel failure.

“Davis-Besse has to kick its crack problem and operate within federal regulations--or not at all,” said David Lochbaum, director of the nuclear safety project at UCS. “It was more luck than skill that no one was harmed by Davis-Besse’s past transgressions. Ohioans deserve better protection before Davis-Besse’s luck runs out.”

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The echoes of Three Mile Island, 31 years later

Editor of the Brattleboro Reformer:

The following quotes come from "Three Mile Island: In Their Shoes 3/28/1979:"

"I stepped outside into the heat and rain. Soon after, my skin became red and itchy as if badly sunburned. About three weeks later, my hair turned white and began falling out. Not long after, my left kidney ‘just dried up and disappeared. ‘" -- Trimmer family, Lisburn, Pa.

"The day after, we, like most area residents, were unaware of what was unfolding nearby, as we worked in our garage with the doors open. Then we developed what we thought was a bad sunburn. We also experienced burning in our throats and tasted what seemed to be metal in the air. That same metallic taste is commonly reported in cancer patients receiving radiation therapy. I soon developed diarrhea and nausea, blisters on my lips and inside my nose, and a burning feeling in my chest." -- Peters family, Etters, Pa., four miles away from TMI.

"Seventeen years old, I was out playing tennis with a friend. I heard the sirens and ignored them. Likely it was a drill of some sort. My folks came to get me an hour later. It was hot out. We drove away. Now 31 years later, I have had cancer 3+ times. I have been there for many friends as they had stillbirths, children born deformed, as they have been sick. What a nightmare." -- Coble family, Lancaster Pa., 15-20 miles from TMI.

The nuclear industry claims no one was hurt or injured. I guess I am no one. I guess all my friends with the metallic taste, the burning in the throat, the hair loss, the erythema, the diarrhea, the burning in the chest, the nausea, the blisters on our nose and lips, the burned white eyes on our dead pets, I guess we are all no one.

Or maybe Arnie Gundersen is right once again. He states that the exposure at Three Mile Island Unit 2 was underestimated by a factor of 100 to 1,000.

The nuclear industry did not tell the truth 30 years ago. They continued lying about Three Mile Island for 30 years. Thus many affected neighbors died before settling.

Gary Sachs,

Brattleboro, March 24

Race, LLC / Studsvik to Pay $650,000 to Settle EEOC Racial Harassment & Retaliation Suit

From the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

A Memphis radioactive waste processing company will pay $650,000 to 23 African American employees and provide other relief to settle a race and retaliation discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit against Race, LLC, doing business as Studsvik, LLC (Civil Action No. 2:07-cv-2620, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division), Courtney Britton, who worked as a lead worker in the shop for Studsvik, and other African American employees, were subjected to racially offensive comments by their white supervisor. Further, the complaint alleged that Britton’s supervisor regularly referred to him and other African American employees with the N-word and other derogatory slurs, such as “boy.”

In addition, the EEOC said, white managers subjected Britton and other African American employees to excessive radiation exposure, more than their white co-workers. The EEOC also charged that Britton was suspended for 15 days and then laid off in retaliation for complaining about the racial harassment.

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Public Utility Commission Finds PPL’s Proposed Time of Use Tariff Unjust and Unreasonable

Sustianable Energy Fund

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania (March 9, 2010) Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) successfully challenged PPL’s proposed Time of Use Tariff.

Sustainable Energy Fund intervened on behalf of electric customers last fall alleging that PPL’s proposed Time of Use (TOU) program unjustly enriched electric generation suppliers like PPL Energy Plus, shifted program costs to non participating customers, unfairly excluded low income customers, promoted unfair competitive practices and lacked real economic benefit for PPL ratepayers. In its filing, PPL proposed to charge non‐participating customers to fund the discount received by customers switching loads to off‐peak periods.

PPL’s proposed Time of Use program offers higher rates for electricity consumed during “on‐ peak” periods and lower rates for electricity used during “off‐peak” periods. Essentially, customers who shift usage from “on‐peak” periods when it cost more to generate electricity to “off‐peak” periods when it cost less would reduce their bill. For example, a homeowner could set the dishwasher to run at bedtime instead of during the mid‐afternoon peak period.

“We are supportive of Time of Use Rates where the savings result from electricity generators providing time varying rates” stated John Costlow, Director of Technical Services for SEF. “PPL’s proposal asked for non participating customers to foot the bill. It is like the grocer giving the customer in front of you a dollar off then adding that dollar to your bill.”

In its final order and opinion issued on March 9, 2010 the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission found PPL’s proposal “unjust and unreasonable.” The order directed PPL to modify the program to allow participation by renewable energy, “On‐Track” and net metering customers it previously excluded; questioned the cost‐effectiveness of the program; and prohibited PPL from collecting more than $4 million dollars it proposed to spend for education and marketing costs. In addition, the PUC directed PPL to “absorb any costs of the TOU program that are the result of lost or decreased revenues due to reduced or shifted demand.”

Eric Epstein from TMIA stated, “The PUC correctly halted PPL’s discriminatory plan that unfairly excluded customers, penalized hostage ratepayers and cross‐subsidized PPL Energy Plus.” He welcomed the decision as a victory for ratepayers and hailed the PUC’s decision as a landmark that could potentially set a precedent, stating, “The PUC made it clear that it will not allow ratepayers to finance and brand ill‐conceived marketing schemes.”

Mr. Costlow stated, “Local electric customers have supported PPL since the 1920s yet when their customers are hurting the most, PPL proposes a program that will reduce one customer’s bill and increase someone else’s bill.” He continued, “I don’t get PPL; last month PPL increased its dividends for shareholders and then three days later announced it is filing for a rate increase. Where is their corporate conscience?”

Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) is a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization focused on reducing financial, educational and regulatory barriers to a sustainable energy future. SEF’s educational programs such as the award winning Solar Scholars® create an understanding and passion for sustainable energy in leaders of today and tomorrow. To overcome traditional financial barriers the organization provides specialized loans and leases for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

For more information on Sustainable Energy Fund, visit www.thesef.org

Exelon settles over tritium violations

From the Coal City Courant:

A $1 million agreement between Exelon, the Illinois Attorney General and the State's Attorneys of Will, Ogle and Grundy Counties has officially resolved the environmental consequences of radioactive tritium leaks into the groundwater beneath the Braidwood, Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants. Just about half of that is already earmarked for environmental projects in and around the areas of the affected plants.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan made the announcement late last week, stating that Exelon will pay more than $1 million to resolve three separate civil complaints that she and the State's Attorneys filed jointly, including civil penalties totaling $628,000 and $548,000 to fund several Supplemental Environmental Projects in and around the communities where the power plants are located.

"It is imperative that Illinois' nuclear power plants are operated in a manner that does not endanger public health or the environment," Madigan said. "I appreciate the involvement and assistance of State's Attorneys Glasgow, Roe and Sobol in reaching these successful settlements. Through these actions, we are working to ensure that proper clean up has occurred and to put in place protections to prevent tritium leaks in the future."

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Nuclear plants need real security

From CNN:

Several weeks ago, President Obama announced that $8 billion in government-loan guarantees would be made available to Southern Co. to begin construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia.

If built, it would be the first nuclear power plant constructed in the United States in almost 30 years. More importantly, this would be the first of what is expected to be many such projects initiated in coming years.

I am a big believer in the necessity for energy independence. I accept that we will all have to make some compromises in achieving that goal. I am willing to consider that nuclear power may have to be one piece of the plan we put together for how to break ourselves free from our dependence on foreign oil.

I would submit, however, that before we start building reactors we need to address another urgent matter. We need to make current reactors secure.

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State agency lambastes Entergy Corp. in letter

From the Vermont Times Argus:

The controversy over the buried and underground pipes at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant will not go away.

In a sharply-worded letter, the Department of Public Service has criticized Entergy Nuclear's failure to fully disclose the status of its underground pipe system, saying that Entergy still hasn't given the state full information about the underground network, and said its response to date was "flawed and indefensible."

Entergy has not been "sufficiently responsive" to the state, according to a letter sent to Entergy by Sarah Hofmann, director of public advocacy for the department, and Jon Cotter, special counsel hired to aid Hofmann on Yankee's relicensing.

"From a practical perspective, petitioners' response is plain insufficient," Hofmann and Cotter wrote, adding that Entergy had "improperly narrowed the reach" of Act 189, the law passed by the Legislature in 2008, calling for an independent audit of key systems at the troubled plant.

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Terrorism suspect worked at TMI

From the Patriot News:

Terrorism suspect Sharif Mobley apparently raised no red flags when he worked as a temporary laborer at Three Mile Island and five other nuclear plants between 2002 and 2008, said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Sheehan said that the FBI was investigating but that he was "not aware of any security-related concerns or incidents."

As a laborer, Mobley, 26, would not have had access to any sensitive or security-related areas or to radioactive materials, Sheehan said. His job would have been mostly menial tasks.

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