From the Times Union:

The private company behind the troubled radioactive cleanup at Knolls Atomic Power Labs has hired another firm to take over the stalled project, the Department of Energy said.

In addition, the cost of the project, originally set at $75 million, is now expected to top out at $145 million because of a slower, more conservative approach designed to avoid further escapes of radioactivity, the department admitted Tuesday. There were three incidents last fall.

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Peach Bottom: Forthcoming Meeting with Exelon Nuclear Regarding Proposed Elimination of Containment Accident Pressure Credit for Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Units 2 and 3

Download ML110350627 (PDF)


Community Starts Here

TOMORROW: Harrisburg Hope Community Forum I
Harrisburg – Harrisburg Hope, a grassroots political organization that seeks to empower all voices within our community, will tomorrow be hosting the first in a series of community forums to talk about Harrisburg's future. All Harrisburg area residents are invited to join Harrisburg Hope on Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 5:30 p.m. at the Kline Library for the first community forum. Harrisburg Hope Community Forum I: Priorities, will feature a discussion of Harrisburg's priorities. Free and open to the public. More information on Harrisburg Hope available at

Harrisburg Hope Community Forum I: Priorities
Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011 / 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
Kline Library, 530 S. 29th Street, Harrisburg, PA 17104

Harrisburg Hope Community Forum II: Dealing with Debt, Creating Jobs
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 / 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
Midtown Scholar Bookstore, 1302 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102

RSVP (or just show up):
Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, Harrisburg Hope; 717-433-5488

Thanks for your support!


From the Wall Street Journal:

Concerns over the 650-megawatt Vermont Yankee plant and its operator have heightened over the past year after groundwater tests showed increased levels of tritium, which regulators say can increase the risk of cancer. Entergy has been accused of misleading the public by stating in prior years that no radioactive material was transported through underground pipes, where leaks were eventually found.

Last November, Entergy said it was considering selling the plant located near the state's southern border amid state resistance--led by Shumlin, who at the time was president of the Vermont Senate--to extending the aging reactor's operations for 20 years. The operating license expires in 2012. The announcement came days before the company reported another leak caused by a crack in a pipe that was part of a system feeding water into the reactor, causing the power plant to go offline for a few days.

"I am deeply concerned with Vermont Yankee's lack of transparency about serious problems that continue to be discovered around the plant," Shumlin said in a statement. He expressed concern over a weeks-long delay in testing samples, which showed new tritium hits.

Vermont Yankee spokesman Larry Smith said the plant is "working quickly to determine the source of the newly detected tritium," but noted the cases pose no threat to public health or safety. No traces have been found in drinking water, and the cause is being investigated.

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Radiating Posters: A collection of posters from the global anti-nuclear power movement is available for pre-order.


MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin, citing the on-going discovery of tritium leaks at the plant, instructed the Vermont Department of Public Service to appoint a Vermont Yankee Reliability Oversight Committee.

“I've asked the Department of Public Service to organize a Reliability Oversight Committee to provide, in these coming critical months, additional expertise on oversight of Vermont Yankee issues within the state's jurisdiction,” Gov. Shumlin said. “I am deeply concerned with Vermont Yankee’s lack of transparency about serious problems that continue to be discovered around the plant.”
Shumlin continued, “I learned two weeks ago about another well with a tritium hit, and this one is not near the plume we already knew about, but 150 feet away. Then, last Friday, I was told that yet another well had a tritium hit. Vermont Yankee had the samples pulled that showed the new tritium hits, but didn't test those samples for a few weeks because a piece of equipment was broken.”
Gov. Shumlin noted that no investigation occurred during those weeks, while tritium levels rose. Plant officials participated in hearings at the Public Service Board about the leaks the Shumlin administration learned about in January of last year, while the samples showing new tritium hits were sitting untested, unknown to anyone at the state, the Governor said.
In addition, the Governor has asked Yankee officials to disclose an investigation plan to ensure they are taking adequate steps to deal with the escalating situation.
In a related announcement, the Governor has appointed Montpelier attorney Richard Saudek and Vermont Law School professor Peter Bradford to the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission.

Saudek, who is a partner in the law firm of Cheney, Brock & Saudek, P.C., has advised legislative committees on issues involving Vermont Yankee and its owner, Entergy Corp. Saudek has also served as Chair of the Vermont Department of Public Service, and as Vermont’s first Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service.

Bradford is an adjunct professor at Vermont Law School, where he teaches ‘Nuclear Power and Public Policy.’ He also teaches utility regulation, restructuring, nuclear power and energy policy. Bradford served on the Public Oversight Panel for the Comprehensive Vertical Assessment of Vermont Yankee, and has served as an expert witness on investment in new nuclear power.



Low levels of the radioactive isotope tritium have been found in two monitoring wells on the Vermont Yankee compound over the last two weeks.

Though the source of the contaminated water has not yet been identified, officials say it could be coming from a new leak, possibly from pipes buried in soil near the radioactive waste treatment building, where radioactive fluids are treated and stored. As part of the new probe, an Entergy hydrogeologist will be sharing data with experts from New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Feb. 10.

The two monitoring wells that have tested positive for very low concentrations of tritium (between 1,000 and 9,000 picocuries per liter, well below the EPA standard of 20,000 pc/L) are located 200 feet and 100 feet, respectively, from tritium contamination that was discovered at the nuclear power plant a little more than a year ago.

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Cancelled Meeting Notice: Forthcoming Meeting with Exelon Nuclear Regarding License Amendment Request to Store Low Level Radioactive Waste Generated Off-site at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station (TAC Nos. ME 3092 and ME3093)
ADAMS Accession No.: ML110310173 (Downlaod PDF)


From Nuclear Townhall:

The first indication that the 112th Congress will give a high priority to nuclear energy has come from the new Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, who knocked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in a statement for taking five years to decide on license renewals.

"Today marks an unfortunate milestone for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as the timeline for the reactor renewal process has now doubled without explanation,” said the chairman. He noted that the renewal applications for the Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee reactors “eclips[ed] 60 months with no end in sight. “Gone are the days of reasonable expectations for a stable and predictable regulatory process," continued Upton. "This uncertainty and lack of transparency in the process is needlessly putting plants and thousands of jobs at risk.” 

According to the NRC’s own website, “License renewal is expected to take about 30 months, including the time to conduct an adjudicatory hearing, if necessary, or 22 months without a hearing.”

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From the Rutland Herald:

Vermont needs to launch a new study on the decommissioning of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant because the most recent one is flawed, outdated and has a conflict of interest at its core, nuclear consultants for the Legislature told a House committee Wednesday.

The most recent study on the complicated process of decommissioning the Vernon power plant was written by a company that is owned by Entergy, which also owns Vermont Yankee, the consultants, Arnie and Maggie Gunderson, told the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

“When the company that owns the reactor is also telling you how much it’s going to cost to dismantle it, there’s at least the appearance of a conflict of interest,” said Arnie Gunderson. “I would suggest more than that: There is a conflict of interest.”

The Gundersons, who own the nuclear consulting company Fairewinds Associates, said widely diverging estimates of the cost of decommissioning are the major reason that an independent contractor should perform a new study.

Those decommissioning estimates were based on studies performed by the Entergy-owned TLG Services Inc. and ranged from a low of $500 million to a high of nearly $1 billion.

Despite the Gundersons’ calls for a new study, Rep. Tony Klein, an East Montpelier Democrat who heads the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, said he doesn’t think there will be one.

Klein said he and other legislators already believe there is a huge gap between the $465 million in the decommissioning fund and the actual cost of dismantling the plant.

“And a new study is not going to tell us anything different than that,” Klein said.

In addition, it would be hard to find the money to pay for the study, Klein said, though he didn’t know how much a new analysis would cost. The state can’t afford it, Klein said, and Entergy — which funded past decommissioning studies — no longer has an incentive to pay.

“The only leverage we were holding over Entergy was they were hoping against hope they would be able to talk us into letting them operate,” Klein said.

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