Leaks imperil nuclear industry

From the Boston



The nuclear industry, once an environmental pariah, is recasting itself as green as it attempts to extend the life of many power plants and build new ones. But a leak of radioactive water at Vermont Yankee, along with similar incidents at more than 20 other US nuclear plants in recent years, has kindled doubts about the reliability, durability, and maintenance of the nation’s aging nuclear installations.

Vermont health officials say the leak, while deeply worrisome, is not a threat to drinking water supplies or the Connecticut River, which flows beside the 38-year-old plant, nor is it endangering public health. But the controversy is threatening to derail the nuclear plant’s bid, now at a critical juncture, for state approvals to extend its operating life by 20 years when its license expires in two years. Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors, Vermont Yankee’s owners, and state officials are tracing the source of the radioactivity and searching for other leaks in the labyrinth of below-surface pipes on the plants’ property about 10 miles from the Massachusetts border.

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Will Obama Guarantee a New Reactor War?

From CommonDreams.org:

Amidst utter chaos in the atomic reactor industry, Team Obama is poised to vastly expand a bitterly contested loan guarantee program that may cost far more than expected, both financially and politically.

The long-stalled, much-hyped "Renaissance" in atomic power has failed to find private financing. New construction projects are opposed for financial reasons by fiscal conservatives such as the Heritage Foundation and National Taxpayers Union, and by a national grassroots safe energy campaign that has already beaten such loan guarantees three times.

New reactor designs are being challenged by regulators in both the US and Europe. Key projects, new and old, are engulfed in political/financial uproars in Florida, Texas, Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey and elsewhere.

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Peach Bottom: Withdrawal of an Amendment Request

From the NRC (ML100260293):

By letter dated August 7, 2008,1 as supplemented by letter dated May 7, 2009,2 Exelon Generation Company, LLC (Exelon) applied for an amendment to the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Units 2 and 3, Facility Operating License Nos. DPR-44 and DPR-56. The proposed amendment consisted of several changes including the incorporation of Technical Specification Task Force (TSTF) Traveler 363, Revision 0, "Revise Topical Report References in ITS [Improved Technical Specifications] 5.6.5, COLR [Core Operating Limits Report]." TSTF Traveler 363, Revision 0, would amend the Technical Specifications (TSs) to relocate Topical Report revisions and date citations from the TSs to the COLR. The license amendment request submitted by Exelon was consistent with TSTF Traveler 363, Revision 0, which had been accepted by the NRC staff for use in licensing applications.

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Remarks Of NRC Chairman Jaczko At Program Briefing From NRC Office Of Nuclear Reactor Regulation

From Nuclear Street:

Even as the agency considers new licensing applications, the NRC must stay focused on its core mission of ensuring the safety and security of existing reactors. No one – not the Commission, the staff or the licensees – can afford to be lulled into a sense of complacency about these issues. It was precisely this concern that motivated the Commission to create the Office of New Reactors, so that NRR could maintain a single-minded focus on the safety of the current operating fleet.

We have a lot of work ahead of us. NRR faces some long-standing challenges and some really difficult issues. Those include buried piping, submerged cables, containment sump performance, and, of course, fire protection. These issues won’t be resolved overnight. They undoubtedly will require the sustained focus of both the Commission and the staff. But we must continue to work towards closure of these issues.

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Nuclear energy lobby working hard to win support

From Investigative Reporting Workshop:

The Obama administration may soon guarantee as much as $18.5 billion in loans to build new nuclear reactors to generate electricity, and Congress is considering whether to add billions more to support an expansion of nuclear power.

These actions come after an extensive decade-long campaign in which companies and unions related to the industry have spent more than $600 million on lobbying and nearly $63 million on campaign contributions, according to an analysis by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University.

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Susquehanna: Notice of Violation

From the NRC (ML100280714):

This refers to the inspection completed on September 30, 2009, at Susquehanna Steam Electric Station Units 1 and 2 (Susquehanna). The purpose of the inspection was to examine activities complted under your license as they relate to safety and compliance with the Commission's rules and regulations and with the conditions of your license. During the inspection, the NRC reviewed two instances ofa failure by PPL Susquehanna, LLC (PPL) to obtain NRC approval for two senior reactor operators (SROs) to continue to conduct NRC-licensed activities after each SRO did not meet a specific medical prerequisite for performing the duties of a licensed operator, as required by 10 CFR 55.3. These faiulres, which were identified by your staff, were discussed during an exit meeting that Mr. Paul Krohn and the Susquehanna resident inspectors held with your staff on October 9, 2009. The apparent violation was described in detail in the subject NRC inspection report dated November 13, 2009.

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PSB sees Entergy pattern of deception

From the Rutland Herald:

The Vermont Public Service Board said Wednesday Entergy Nuclear may have provided false information to state utility regulators and the Legislature "for an extended period of time," and said the issue is "broader" than just buried radioactive pipes at Vermont Yankee.

Douglas fed up with Vermont Yankee

From the Burlington Free Press:

“Like many Vermonters, I have lost trust in the current management team, and I have been disappointed that changes have not already been made,” Douglas said during a news conference Wednesday, shifting from his long-standing support of the plant.

Douglas said long-term decisions about the plant cannot be made until the company re-establishes the public’s trust following revelations this month that the radioactive isotope tritium is leaking from the plant, and that company officials misled the state about the presence of pipes that might be involved in the leak, the source of which remains unknown.

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Consider the Source

From Seven Days:

John Dillon spelled it out last week on Vermont Public Radio: Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen alerted the Public Service Department last summer that Entergy had likely lied to a special legislative oversight panel and state regulators about the existence of underground pipes — pipes that could be the source of previously undisclosed contamination.

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Exelon wants to store nuclear waste at Peach Bottom plant

From LancasterOnline.com:

Exelon Energy wants to begin sending low-level radioactive waste from its Limerick nuclear plant to the Peach Bottom nuclear plant in York County.

Exelon has applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to amend its operating license so that each year it can send one or two truckloads of the waste from the Montgomery County plant to Peach Bottom, where it would be stored.

For decades, most low-level radioactive waste generated at nuclear plants in the East has been sent to a licensed low-level radioactive waste facility near Barnwell, S.C.

But in July 2008 the facility stopped accepting waste from all but three states.

The on-site storage facility at Limerick is filling up, but 98 percent of the storage capacity at Peach Bottom is available for use, said Rochelle Benson, an Exelon spokeswoman at Peach Bottom.

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