NRC Hit Hard By Government Shutdown
by Eric Epstein, Chairman
Three Mile Island Alert

The government shutdown hit the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday October
10, 2013. The NRC furloughed 3,600 employees. Approximately 300 “essential” workers
have remained on the job as well as 150 resident inspectors.

The mission of the NRC is to focus on the oversight of nuclear power plants. The
Commission also monitors the transport of radioactive materials and the disposal of nuclear

What does this mean?

The NRC is now operating at "skeleton staffing" levels due to insufficient funding. The
Commission has halted inspections relating to radiation and reactor safety and emergency

How does this impact Three Mile Island?

Resident inspectors will remain in place. However, the furloughs put a dent in staffing
levels at plants that are under heightened oversight like TMI Unit-1 and Susquehanna Unit-1.

So what happens if there is an emergency at a plant?

According to Neil Sheehan of the NRC, “employees could be called out of their furlough
status. After this situation was resolved, the workers would go into the furlough status until
the shutdown ends.”

When will this end?

Until Congress authorizes the funding, the nuclear industry will essentially be monitoring


No: 13-073    September 6, 2013 CONTACT: David McIntyre, 301-415-8200

NRC Issues Mid-Cycle Assessments for Nation’s Nuclear Plants

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued mid-cycle assessment letters to the nation’s commercial nuclear power plants regarding their performance through the first half of 2013. The mid- cycle assessment period concluded on June 30, with 92 of 102 plants in the two highest performance categories.

“These periodic assessments are part of our efforts to ensure the appropriate regulatory oversight of nuclear power plants and to keep the public informed about our safety oversight activities,” said Ho Nieh, director of the Division of Inspection and Regional Support in the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.

Of the 92 highest-performing reactors, 75 fully met all safety and security performance objectives and were inspected by the NRC using the normal inspection program. Seventeen reactors were assessed as needing to resolve one or two items of low safety significance. For this performance level, regulatory oversight includes additional inspection and attention to follow up on corrective actions.

These plants requiring additional inspection are: Beaver Valley 1 and 2 (Pa.); Browns Ferry 3 (Ala.); Davis Besse (Ohio); Dresden 2 and 3 (Ill.); Fermi 2 (Mich.); FitzPatrick (N.Y.); Grand Gulf (Miss.); LaSalle 2 (Ill.); Nine Mile Point 1 (N.Y.); Point Beach 2 (Wis.); Prairie Island 1 and 2 (Minn.); Susquehanna 2 (Pa.); Three Mile Island 1 (Pa.); and Turkey Point 3 (Fla.). Beaver Valley 1 and 2 and Fermi 2 have resolved their issues since the reporting period ended and have transitioned to the highest performing level.

Eight nuclear reactors were in the third performance category with a degraded level of performance. For this category, regulatory oversight includes more NRC inspections, senior management attention and oversight focused on the cause of the degraded performance. These plants were Browns Ferry 2 (Ala.); Monticello (Minn.); Perry 1 (Ohio); Point Beach 1 (Wis.); Sequoyah 1 and 2 (Tenn.); Watts Bar 1 (Tenn.); and Wolf Creek (Kan.). Perry 1 and Wolf Creek resolved all the outstanding issues and have since transitioned to the highest performance level.

One reactor, Browns Ferry 1 in Alabama, is in the fourth performance category and requires increased oversight because of a safety finding of high significance. Increased oversight for this category includes additional inspections to confirm the plant’s performance issues are being addressed.

Fort Calhoun plant in Nebraska is in an extended shutdown with significant performance issues and is currently under a special NRC oversight program distinct from the normal performance levels. Therefore, the plant will not receive a mid-cycle assessment letter.

The Crystal River 3 and Kewaunee nuclear plants entered decommissioning during the first half of this year and are no longer considered operating reactors, so they did not receive mid-cycle assessments.

Near the end of this reporting period, Southern California Edison announced that it would decommission the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Units 1 and 2 in California. The plant began transitioning to the decommissioning process in July, so it did receive a mid-cycle assessment for the period ending June 30.

The NRC routinely updates information on each plant’s current performance and posts the latest information as it becomes available to the action matrix summary. Every six months each plant receives either a mid-cycle or annual assessment letter along with an NRC inspection plan. These letters are available through the NRC’s webpage on the Reactor Oversight Process. Annual construction assessments for new reactors at the Vogtle and Summer sites and at Watts Bar 2 are also on the NRC website.

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Power Reactor


Event Number: 49413


Region: 1 State: PA

Unit: [1] [ ] [ ]

RX Type: [1] W-3-LP,[2] W-3-LP



Notification Date: 10/05/2013

Notification Time: 01:19 [ET]

Event Date: 10/04/2013

Event Time: 23:24 [EDT]

Last Update Date: 10/05/2013

Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY

10 CFR Section: 

50.72(b)(3)(ii)(A) - DEGRADED CONDITION

Person (Organization): 










Initial PWR


Initial RX Mode


Current PWR


Current RX Mode
















Event Text




"On October 4, 2013, during the Beaver Valley Unit 1 refueling outage, a planned visual examination of the interior containment liner and coatings was being performed. The containment design consists of an interior steel liner that is surrounded by reinforced concrete. An area approximately 0.4 inches by 0.28 inches was discovered that penetrated through the containment steel liner plate. 


"With the plant currently shut down and in Mode 6 the containment as specified in Technical Specification 3.6.1 is not required to be operable. The cause of this discrepancy is currently being evaluated.

"This is reportable pursuant to 10 CFR 50.72(b)(3)(ii)(A). 


"The Site Resident Inspector has been notified."


NRC INVESTIGATION REPORT NOS. 1-2012-012, 1-2012-043, 1-2011-030, AND NRC INSPECTION REPORT NO. 05000387;388/2013013; AND NOTICE OF VIOLATION

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High Repair Costs and Lower Power Prices Drive Nuclear Retirements:
U.S. Energy Information Administration, September 23, 2013


Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Units 2 and 3 - Request for Additional Information Regarding License Amendment Request for Extended Power Uprate (TAC Nos. ME9631 and ME9632)

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Lawmakers in the California state legislature granted their final approval to a package of energy legislation. The bill, AB 327, will now head to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. It passed the state Senate September 9 with a vote of 33-5 after passing the Assembly in May by wide margins.

The bill's centerpiece would essentially remove the "cap" from California's renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS), which is already one of the most aggressive in the nation.

California state law requires power companies to generate 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. AB 327, once signed into law, will empower the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to raise that percentage without the need for legislative action.

"This is a banner day in California. Once again, state lawmakers have set the bar high when it comes to the adoption of renewable energy.  AB 327 provides a clear pathway for the continued growth of solar generation in California, which ranks No. 1 in the nation in total installed solar capacity with 3,761 MW," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The bill allows for adjustments to the state's net metering program, which lets customers who generate their own electricity via rooftop solar to be compensated for energy that flows back onto the grid from such distributed generation sources.

The bill would allow the CPUC to redesign utility billing rates, potentially cutting monthly bills for end users living in the hotter interior parts of California. Large investor-owned utilities, such as Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) would collectively bargain among themselves for sought-after billing changes.

The assembly also passed SB 4, a law that would require energy companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracking, as well as require permits for fracking as well as acidizing — techniques used to extract oil from shale rock deposits like California's Montgomery Shale reserves.

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PJM Sets Record Sept. Peak Power Use
Weather and Local Grid Conditions Require Load Reductions PJM Monitoring Grid Closely Today as Power Supplies Remain Tight

(Valley Forge, Pa. – Sept. 11, 2013) – Due to unseasonably hot weather, PJM Interconnection, the electricity grid operator for 13 states and the District of Columbia, set a new record for September peak power use yesterday by meeting the demand for 144,370 megawatts. By comparison, the 2012 September peak demand was 129, 959 MW, and the PJM peak demand in July of this year was 157,509 MW. The hot weather continues in many areas today and electricity supplies remain tight.

PJM is responsible for keeping the grid running safely and reliably. Tuesday’s unusual, extreme heat combined with local equipment problems to create emergency conditions in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. PJM was forced to direct local utilities in those areas to immediately and temporarily cut electricity to some customers to avoid the possibility of an uncontrolled blackout over a larger area that would have affected many more people. Continued heat in some areas today will require load reductions through demand response, but PJM and its members are working to prevent additional emergency customer curtailments.

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Destroyed unit 3 reactor building of Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is seen in Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, Monday, Feb. 20, 2012. Japan next month marks one year since the March 11 tsunami and earthquake, which triggered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. (AP Photo/Issei Kato, Pool)

WASHINGTON -- Newly obtained government documents are prompting concern among critics that Environmental Protection Agency officials are seeking to use the organization’s new guide for nuclear-incident response to relax public health standards, but the agency is denying the claim.

Douglas P. Guarino
Senior Reporter
National Journal Group
Global Security Newswire

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