Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station deals with helium leak

From the York Dispatch:

Engineers at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station are working with a vendor to repair a helium leak from a system designed to stabilize radioactive waste inside a large cask.

No radiation has been released, and the amount of escaped helium is inconsequential, said plant officials and the federal agency that oversees security at the plant.

Plant spokesman David Tillman said there are 49 casks on site at Peach Bottom. Each unit -- inside of which radioactive waste or "spent fuel" from the plant is stored -- is 115 tons of steel equipped with a pressurization monitoring system.

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New NRC chief says he urged Entergy to be more open

From the Rutland Herald:

The new regional administrator for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday he is urging Entergy Nuclear to be more “open and transparent” with the people of Vermont about the problems at Vermont Yankee.

William Dean, a 25-year NRC veteran of the federal agency, also said the NRC had no information about the repeated rumored sale of Vermont Yankee, whose license to operate expires in March 2012.

Over the weekend, a British business website, SGAM, citing sources, said Entergy Nuclear had hired the Morgan Stanley investment firm to handle the potential sale. In August, Energy Daily, an e-newsletter, again citing anonymous sources, had said the plant was for sale.

Dean said usually such developments are kept very quiet in the corporate world, noting that the recent failure of the deal between a French firm to build a new reactor at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant took the agency completely by surprise.

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Oyster Creek's solution to tritium leak: Water it down

From the Press of Atlantic City:

The Oyster Creek nuclear power plant will use an age-old method to clean up a radioactive water spill: For this plant and others like it, the solution to pollution is dilution.

Oyster Creek will soon begin pumping 25 to 50 gallons per minute from the Cape May and Cohansey aquifers to remove water contaminated with the radioactive material tritium. That amount is a trickle compared with the 115,000 to 460,000 gallons per minute that flows through the Ocean County plant to cool its radioactive core, owner Exelon Corp. said.

Exelon discovered on April 15, 2009, that an estimated 180,000 gallons of tritium-laced water had leaked from a pipe, seeping beneath the ground into two aquifers that supply drinking water to more than 1 million New Jersey residents.

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Peach Bottom: Cask Leakage Rate Greater than Specification

Facility: PEACH BOTTOM
Event Date: 10/22/2010

SPENT FUEL STORAGE RELATED DEFECT - CASK LEAKAGE RATE GREATER THAN TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION

"On 10/22/10, at 1058 EDT, a troubleshooting of Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) Cask TN-50-A indicated that a leak existed in the cask lid sealing area at a rate greater than allowed by ISFSI Cask Technical Specification (TS) Section 3.1.3, Cask Helium Leak Rate. TS 3.1.3 limits the Cask Helium Leak Rate to 1.0 E-05 ref-cc/sec. The cask is currently in unloading operations and is located within the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station Unit 3 containment building. Preliminary review indicates that a leak exists at the weld plug that provides sealing of the drilled interseal passageway associated with the drain port penetration of the cask lid. This leak effectively provides a bypass of the main lid outer confinement seal.

"This report if being submitted pursuant to 10CFR72.75(c)(1) as a result of a material defect in a weld in the cask main lid. This report is also being submitted pursuant to 10CFR72.75 ® (2) as a result of a resolution in the effectiveness of the cask confinement system.

"The Certificate of Compliance for this cask is 1027 (Amendment 1).

"The NRC Resident Inspector has been informed of this notification."
 

Alabama’s financial risk in utility bonds

From examiner.com:

A first-ever report on the hidden financial risk for investors who buy the water and electric utility bonds that finance much of the country's vast water and power infrastructure was released October 22, 2010, by Ceres and Water Asset Management.

The report, The Ripple Effect: Water Risk in the Municipal Bond Market, evaluates and ranks water scarcity risks for public water and power utilities in some of the country's most water-stressed regions.

"Water scarcity is a growing risk to many public utilities across the country and investors owning utility bonds don't even know it," said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, which authored the report. "Utilities rely on water to repay their bond debts. If water supplies run short, utility revenues potentially fall, which means less money to pay off their bonds. Our report makes clear that this risk scenario is a distinct possibility for utilities in water-stressed regions and bond investors should be aware of it."

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“Standards: An Integral Part of Regulating for Safety

Prepared Remarks for The Honorable Gregory B. Jaczko Chairman, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

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In-Ground Wall to Filter Water at NY Nuke Site

From WGRZ:

Contaminated water inching through the ground at a New York nuclear cleanup site is about to hit a wall.

And if all goes as planned, it will seep through and come out clean on the other side.

Crews at the West Valley Demonstration Project in western New York are digging a three-foot wide trench as deep as 30 feet and filling it with volcanic material called zeolite.

The in-ground zeolite wall is meant to decontaminate groundwater as it filters through.

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Suspicious Package Found at Nuke Plant Near Phoenix

From Fox News:

Maricopa County Sheriff's spokesman Brian Lee says security officers at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station called them at about 5 a.m. after they found the suspicious package. A second call initially led to confusion that a second device may have been found, but that was quickly discounted.

Lee says a sheriff's bomb squad is investigating.

A spokesman for plant operator Arizona Public Service Co. says security guards
found the suspicious package during a search of a vehicle at a checkpoint about a mile from the plant.

The plant is operating normally, but traffic in and out is stopped.

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Who rules Yankee?

From Vtdigger.org:

Last week’s discovery of tritium in a well that until last February supplied drinking water to a building at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant is again raising questions about who has authority to oversee the plant’s safety and reliability.

Vermont’s two candidates for governor have staked out starkly different positions on the plant’s continued operation beyond its 2012 scheduled closing date. Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie supports relicensure by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Sen. Peter Shumlin, the Democrat, spearheaded a vote in the state Senate last spring to deny Yankee an opportunity to seek a 20-year extension of its license.

Despite news reports to the contrary, those basic positions haven’t changed since last week’s new revelations that extremely low-level amounts of tritium have been found in a well connected to a “fractured” bedrock aquifer that flows toward the river, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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Shumlin, Dubie weigh in on Vermont Yankee

From the Brattleboro Reformer:
Vermont’s top two gubernatorial candidates weighed in on an already controversial issue this election cycle when Republican Brian Dubie and Democrat Peter Shumlin both released statements regarding the recent detection of tritium in a decommissioned drinking water well at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
Dubie, the state’s incumbent lieutenant governor from Essex Junction, said he was troubled by the latest reports at the Vernon-based facility after state health officials reported a sample taken from a former drinking water well was contaminated with tritium on Friday.
Earlier this year, engineers at the plant traced tritium leaks to an old system of pipes. No tritium -- a radioactive byproduct of nuclear power as well as a naturally-occurring isotope -- was detected at the deepest range of the closed well, however.
Yankee opponents have deemed the nuclear plant unsafe with the radioactive material findings while advocates consider the tritium issue over-politicized because the concentration detected is relatively low when compared to Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards.
"I’ve always said that the health and safety of Vermonters comes first. [Friday’s] discovery demonstrates the plant has much more work to do in order to regain the trust and confidence of Vermonters," Dubie said last week in a release. "I am calling on plant management to be open and forthright with information about the latest discovery. Questions must be answered. Trust must be rebuilt."
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