Hello Sir/Madam:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is announcing a meeting with stakeholder’s regarding reaching alignment on a high-level definition for safety culture and traits to be used for all NRC licensed activities. The attached meeting notice provides the specifics regarding this meeting scheduled February 2-4, 2010, near NRC headquarters in Rockville, MD. You are receiving this notice since in the past you have been involved and/or participated in NRC safety culture initiatives or may have expressed interest in this topic. Interested individuals may participate in the workshop in person or teleconferencing or through the use of a computer and the internet. If you plan on participating in this workshop, I encourage you to contact one of the NRC contacts on the meeting notice. Information regarding the NRC's effort on safety culture can be found at the safety culture website.

Thank you for your time and we hope that you will participate in this effort.

Respectfully,

Alex Sapountzis
Enforcement Specialist
Office of Enforcement
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
11555 Rockville Pike
Mail Stop O-4A15A
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: 301-415-7822

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From the Hazleton Standard Speaker:

Thyroid cancer rates in Pennsylvania soared in recent decades and radiation from nuclear power plants may be the cause, a study released Thursday said.

Joseph Mangano, who authored the study which appeared in the International Journal of Health Services and is executive director for the Radiation and Public Health Project, called the growth in the number of cases "an epidemic."

Pennsylvania's incidence of thyroid cancer in the mid-1980s was 40 percent below the national rate, and now the rate is 44 percent above the national rate, he said.

"Something occurred to change Pennsylvania's rate from low to high, and one of these possible factors is radiation from reactors," Mangano said.

Some of the highest thyroid cancer rates occur in eastern Pennsylvania, which has the nation's largest concentration of nuclear reactors, including the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station in Salem Township, he said.

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  • First Energy, the owner of Three Mile Island Unit 2, has sold the TMI-2 electrical rotor and stator to Siemens Power Group. Siemens has sold them to Progress Energy in North Carolina and has hired Biggie Power Constructors to ship them.
  • The TMI-2 rotor and stator are not contaminated.
  • The rotor and stator will be shipped to North Carolina in two separate shipments. Biggie Power Constructors is the shipper.
  • The first shipment will be the rotor in early February and it will go from TMI by truck to a rail siding about two miles north of the plant near Royalton. From there the rotor will be shipped by rail to North Carolina. This rotor weighs about 170 tons.
  • The stator is scheduled to be shipped sometime in early to mid-March and will travel from TMI to Havre de Grace in Maryland on a large multi-axel transporter. The stator weighs 460 tons and will take five days to reach Havre de Grace. Biggie Power Constructors is working with Penn DOT to secure all the required permits. The stator shipment to Havre de Grace will involve crossing the Rt. 30 bridge and Interstate 95.
  • Exelon Nuclear is making notifications to local stakeholders as part of our outreach program. For more information about the shipments you can contact the following point of contact at Biggie Power Constructors:

Mr. Roger Simpson
Operations/Project Manager
Biggie Power Constructors
510-918-4608 (mobile)

For questions about how these parts (rotor and stator) will be used or about Progress Energy, please contact:

Julia Milstead
Progress Energy
Harris Nuclear Plant
Corporate Communications
Office: (919) 362-2160
Cell: 919-522-6467

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From the Patriot News:

Five years ago, Chapter 14 went into effect making it easier for companies to shut off customers’ utilities when they get behind in payments, scuttling protections that had been in place through the Public Utility Commission.

Reports from the PUC show that shutoffs have increased dramatically since the law was passed, and that has meant families making dangerous decisions on how to heat their homes.

The Legislature erred five years ago and should make changes to the law to give the PUC — not private companies — once again more flexibility as the final arbiter on consumers’ utility shutoffs and reconnections.

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From the DEP:

The Department of Environmental Protection said today that officials in Economy, Beaver County, located the nuclear density gauge that was reported missing last week by Coraopolis-based Jeff Zell Consultants Inc.

A member of Economy’s road crew discovered the device intact and in its transportation case along Cooney Hollow Road and immediately reported it to police.

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From Beyond Nuclear:

Background: Despite assuring the State of Vermont for more than a year that it had no buried pipes carrying radioactivity, Entergy Nuclear’s Vermont Yankee reactor has revealed it is leaking radioactive tritium, almost certainly from underground pipes that it now admits do exist. In fact, Vermont Yankee has even announced the discovery of “highly radioactive water,” 50 times more radioactive than would be allowed in drinking water by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen has made clear that Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee has indeed lied about the existence of buried pipes over the course of many months.

Our View: Entergy Nuclear has betrayed the trust of the lawmakers, regulators, and citizens of Vermont. Simultaneous with its revelation of radioactivity leaks on site, Vermont Yankee spokespeople engaged in a predictable campaign to downplay the health and safety risks of tritium. However, tritium can impact the human body right down to the DNA level, and can cross the placenta from mother to fragile fetus. At such intimate levels, tritium can and does damage human health, leading to cancer, genetic damage, birth defects, and other maladies. The National Academy of Science has reported consistently over the decades that any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how low the dose, still carries a health risk. As reactors age – and Vermont Yankee is nearly 40 years old – its systems, structures and components degrade, worsening tritium leaks from buried piping. Vermont Yankee’s license should not be extended 20 additional years.

What You Can Do: If you live outside Vermont, contact Vermont’s Governor, Jim Douglas, and let him know that the safety, security, health and environmental risks of Vermont Yankee could carry with them radioactive stigma effects, impacting Vermont’s tourism industry and agricultural products. If you live inside Vermont, contact your legislators and urge that they vote against the 20 year license extension at Vermont Yankee when the issue comes up for legislative action in the next few months.

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From ABC News:

State officials said Wednesday more radioactive tritium had been found at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant — at levels more than 90 times higher than found in a test well nearly two weeks ago.

William Irwin, the state's radiological health chief, said readings of 1 million to 2 million picocuries per liter of the isotope were found in a concrete trench several hundred feet from the test well where tritium was first reported Jan. 7. A spokesman for the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission put the number at "about 2 million."

That previous high reading turned up a sample of 22,300 picocuries per liter of tritium at a test well Tuesday, officials at Vermont Yankee said. But they downgraded that reading to 19,500 on Wednesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency safety standard for tritium in drinking water is 20,000 picocuries per liter.

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Alexandra MacLean
Aide to the Senate Pro Tem
Office: 802-828-3806
Fax: 802-828-1040
115 State St
Montpelier, VT 05633
amaclean@leg.state.vt.us
Alexandra Maclean 1/15/2010 12:16 PM >>>
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 15, 2009

 

CONTACT:
Alexandra MacLean, (802) 828-3806
Tom Cheney, (802) 828-2245

Montpelier, Vt – Speaker Shap Smith and Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, today expressed their concerns regarding the fact that Entergy Nuclear misled Vermont’s Department of Public Service and the Legislature’s Oversight Panel.  

The Vermont Yankee Oversight Panel was formed in 2008 in order to conduct a comprehensive reliability assessment of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.  The 19 month assessment concluded in March 2009 with a report delivered to the legislature.  The Department of Public Service has now made it clear that the Panel was repeatedly misinformed by several Entergy sources of the existence of underground piping at the plant.  These misrepresentations call the conclusions of the entire reliability assessment into question.  

“We would like to thank the Department of Public Service for their quick and strong action,” said Speaker Smith.  “The fact that the Department and the Legislature’s Public Oversight Panel have been given inaccurate information is disconcerting and frankly threatens the level of trust that Vermonters can have in Entergy Louisiana.”  

Senator Shumlin and Speaker Smith have asked the Oversight Panel to reconvene and reexamine the conclusions of their March 2009 Report due to the fact that the information provided by Entergy Louisiana can no longer be guaranteed.  The Legislative leaders authorized the Senate Finance and House Natural Resources Committees to assist the panel in their examinations.  

“The breach of the truth by Entergy Louisiana is extremely concerning and we will be taking steps to reexamine all of the information that we have been given by Entergy Louisiana.” said Senator Shumlin.  “In addition, we want to assure Vermonters that we will do everything in our power to make sure that the tritium leak is found and cleaned up as quickly as possible.”  

The legislative leaders have also engaged in conversations with Vermont’s federal delegation about the fact that Entergy Louisiana supplied the Department of Public Service and the Legislature’s Oversight Panel with misinformation.  

“We greatly appreciate the federal delegation’s rapid response and look forward to the conclusions of the NRC’s investigation,” said Speaker Shap Smith.”

Speaker Smith and Senator Shumlin’s letter to their appointed members of the Oversight Panel, Peter Bradford and Arnie Gundersen, is pasted below.

###

January 15, 2009

Dear Peter Bradford and Arnie Gundersen,

You both were notified yesterday by the Department of Public Service that the tritium found several weeks ago in a monitoring well on the Vermont Yankee site may also be present in many unreported radioactive underground pipes.  While the actual source of the leak has yet to be discovered, it now seems clear that either a buried pipe or tank containing radioactive material is leaking.  In your role as members of the Vermont Yankee Public Oversight Panel, you were informed in 2008 by several Entergy sources that there were no such pipes on the Vermont Yankee site.  That misrepresentation calls all of the Panel’s conclusions into question.

We are reconstituting the Vermont Yankee Public Oversight Panel to reexamine the conclusions of their March 2009 Report due to the fact that we can no longer guarantee the accuracy of information provided to the Legislature.  

The Legislature has been tasked with evaluating the reliability of Entergy’s Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant.  As legislators, we cannot make a correct assessment if we have the wrong information.  We request that you examine the root cause of the misleading information provided to the Public Oversight Panel and the Legislature, look at whether other information may also be incorrect and present your findings to the Legislature no later then February 16, 2010.  We also request that the Public Oversight Panel be actively involved in discussions with the Department of Public Service, Nuclear Safety Associates and Vermont Yankee including requesting your own interviews and personal analysis of reports and drawings as you see appropriate.

Your active involvement in this process is appreciated.  Thank you for your work.  

Sincerely,

Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin             Speaker
Shap Smith

Alexandra MacLean
Aide to the Senate Pro Tem
Office: 802-828-3806
Fax: 802-828-1040
115 State St
Montpelier, VT 05633
amaclean@leg.state.vt.us

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From the Burlington Free Press:

The Douglas administration blasted Vermont Yankee on Thursday, saying the company repeatedly denied last year that the Vernont nuclear power plant had underground pipes that contain radioactive fluid.

This week -- in revelations that prompted a call Thursday for a federal investigation -- it became clear the plant had such pipes after a leak of radioactive tritium was traced to them.

"For us, this is a real problem," said Public Service Commissioner David O'Brien. "The governor feels this has been a breach of trust."

Vermont Yankee owner Entergy Corp. revealed last week that elevated levels of radioactive tritium were found in a groundwater monitoring well at the plant and confirmed this week that underground piping was among the possible sources of the contamination. Officials initially reported the level of tritium released was not a health threat, but they continue to monitor whether the leak has spread.

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For Immediate Release
January 14, 2010
http://markey.house.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.), and Rep. John Adler (D-N.J.) sent a letter yesterday to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an investigation into the integrity, safety, inspection, maintenance, regulations and enforcement issues surrounding buried piping at our nation’s nuclear power plants. These pipes serve critical functions within power plants.  In some cases, these buried pipes carry the water which would cool the reactor core in the event of an unexpected plant shut-down.  In other cases, the pipes carry diesel fuel to emergency generators. Despite the critical importance of these pipes, most have never been inspected. After decades underground, neither the NRC nor the plant operators can be absolutely certain that the pipes are intact.

The letter to the GAO was prompted by a rash of recent failures in the buried piping systems of nuclear reactors.  For example, just one week after the 40-year-old Oyster Creek (NJ) reactor’s license was extended for another 20 years, plant workers discovered standing water in an on-site cable vault.  This water, apparently leaking from two different buried pipes, was contaminated with the radioactive isotope tritium.

A similar leak at the Indian Point (NY) reactor occurred last February in pipes that are part of the primary backup cooling system, which cools the reactor during any unexpected shutdown.  The pipes at the Indian Point reactor had not been inspected since 1973 – when the plant was built.  These cases are not isolated incidents.  Other known or suspected leaky buried piping systems at our nation’s nuclear power plants were found in Ohio, California and Illinois.

“Under current regulations, miles and miles of buried pipes within nuclear reactors have never been inspected and will likely never be inspected,” said Markey. “This is simply unacceptable.  As it stands, the NRC requires – at most – a single, spot inspection of the buried piping systems no more than once every 10 years. This cannot possibly be sufficient to ensure the safety of both the public and the plant.”

"Recent leaks at Indian Point indicate a serious potential for disaster that must be understood and sufficiently monitored to prevent problems," said Rep. Hall, whose Congressional District includes Indian Point. "The aging buried infrastructure at Indian Point should not be ignored and needs to be a major consideration in Indian Point's re-licensing process. With eight percent of the U.S. population living within 50 miles of Indian Point, any breakdown there would be catastrophic."

In their GAO request, the Congressmen lay out their questions about the NRC’s buried pipe inspection processes, current relevant regulations, and whether they are both adequate and enforced in a manner that is sufficiently protective of reactor and public safety.

A copy of the letter can be found here http://markey.house.gov/docs/gao_buried_pipes.pdf

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