From Reuters:

One of the reactors at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has a hole in its main vessel following a meltdown of fuel rods, leading to a leakage of radioactive water, its operator said on Thursday.

The disclosure by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) (9501.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is the latest indication that the disaster was worse than previously disclosed, making it more difficult to stabilize the plant.

The discovery of the leak provides new insight into the sequence of events that triggered a partial meltdown of the uranium fuel in the No. 1 reactor at Fukushima after the plant was struck by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, officials said.

The battle to bring Fukushima under control has been complicated by repeated leaks of radioactive water, threatening both the Pacific Ocean and nearby groundwater.

Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have been pumping water into at least three of the six reactors on the site to bring their nuclear fuel rods to a "cold shutdown" state by January.

But after repairing a gauge in the No. 1 reactor earlier this week, TEPCO discovered that the water level in the pressure vessel that contains its uranium fuel rods had dropped about 5 metres (16 ft) below the targeted level to cover the fuel under normal operating conditions.

"There must be a large leak," Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at the utility told a news conference.

"The fuel pellets likely melted and fell, and in the process may have damaged...the pressure vessel itself and created a hole," he added.

Read article

Type: 

From FAS:

Regardless of the outcome of the ongoing debate about the proposed Yucca Mountain geologicwaste repository in Nevada, the storage of spent nuclear fuel (SNF)—also referred to as “highlevelnuclear waste”—will continue to be needed and the issue will continue to be debated. Theneed for SNF storage, even after the first repository is opened, will continue for a few reasons.First, the Obama Administration terminated work on the only planned permanent geologicrepository at Yucca Mountain, which was intended to provide a destination for most of the storedSNF. Also, the Yucca Mountain project was not funded by Congress in FY2011 and FY2012, andnot included in the Administration’s budget request for FY2013. Second, even if the plannedrepository had been completed, the quantity of SNF and other high-level waste in storageawaiting final disposal now exceeds the legal limit for the first repository under the NuclearWaste Policy Act (NWPA). Third, the expected rate of shipment of SNF to the repository wouldrequire decades to remove existing SNF from interim storage. Accordingly, the U.S. NuclearRegulatory Commission (NRC) and reactor operators are considering extended SNF storagelasting for more than 100 years.

The debate about SNF typically involves where and how it is stored, as well as what strategiesand institutions should govern SNF storage. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and resultingdamage to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, caused some in Congress and NRC toconsider the adequacy of protective measures at U.S. reactors. The NRC Near-Term Task Forceon the disaster concluded it has “not identified any issues that undermine our confidence in thecontinued safety and emergency planning of U.S. plants.” Nonetheless, NRC has accepted anumber of staff recommendations on near-term safety enhancement, including requirementsaffecting spent fuel storage and prevention and coping with station blackout. NRC is notrequiring accelerated transfer of SNF from wet pools to dry casks, but the SNF storage data fromthe last several years indicate that accelerated transfer has already been occurring.

As of December 2011, more than 67,000 metric tons of SNF, in more than 174,000 assemblies, isstored at 77 sites (including 4 Department of Energy (DOE) facilities) in the United States locatedin 35 states (see Table 1 and Figure 5), and increases at a rate of roughly 2,000 metric tons peryear. Approximately 80% of commercial SNF is stored east of the Mississippi River. At 9commercial SNF storage sites there are no operating nuclear reactors (so-called “stranded” SNF),and at the 4 DOE sites reactor operations largely ceased in the 1980s, but DOE-owned and somecommercial SNF continues to be stored at DOE facilities. In the United States, SNF is storedlargely at nuclear reactor sites where it was generated. Of the 104 operating nuclear reactors inthe United States, all necessarily have wet storage pools for storing SNF (wet pools are requiredto allow for a safe “cooling off” period of 1 to 5 years after discharge of SNF from a reactor). Wetstorage pools are used for storage of approximately 73% (49,338 out of 67,450 metric tons ofuranium, or MTU) of the current commercial SNF inventory, whereas the remaining 27% (18,112MTU) of commercial SNF is stored in dry casks on concrete pads or in vaults. As wet storagepools become filled to capacity using “dense packing” storage methods, dry storage isincreasingly being used, although there are 27 sites with 36 wet storage pools with no dry caskstorage capabilities.

This report focuses on the current situation with spent nuclear fuel storage in the United States. Itdoes not address all of the issues associated with permanent disposal of SNF, but rather focuseson the SNF storage situation, primarily at current and former reactor facilities for the potentiallyforeseeable future.

Read article

Type: 

Prioritization of Response Due Dates for Request for Information Pursuant to Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations 50.54(f) Regarding Flooding Hazard Reevaluations for Recommendation 2.1 of the Near-Term Task Force Review of Insights From the Fukush

Download: ML12097A509

Type: 

Opportunity to participate by phone - NRC Public Meeting Post-Fukushima Orders Re: response to extreme natural events- hardened vents, spent fuel pool instrumentation

Download: PDF of Announcement

Type: 

BRAIDWOOD STATION, UNITS 1 AND 2; BYRON STATION, UNIT NOS.

Type: 

From Pilgrim Coalition:

Entergy is seeking to extend its operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the Pilgrim nuclear station for another 20 years. The current 40-year license expires June 8, 2012. In late April, the NRC's staff recommended that the new license be issued even though there were safety and environmental challenges raised by local residents and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. The staff wanted the new license issued by May 8. This attempt to trample the rights of the public to have their issues resolved before relicensing caused an outcry. Federal and state politicians wrote to the NRC in support of the citizen's concerns. The May 8 date passed without an NRC decision, and Pilgrim Coalition and its members are continuing to spread the word that they want their concerns addressed before relicensing.

Read article

Type: 

From Media Co-op:

Safety Light sits on the shore of the Susquehanna River just outside of Bloomsburg, PA. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the US, Safety Light Corporation holds an expired license, formerly for the manufacture of tritium exit signs, and for site characterization and decommissioning activities.

Contamination at the site includes H3 (Tritium), Ra-226 (Radium), Cs-137 (Cesium), Sr-90 (Strontium), and Am-241 (Americium). "Radioactive waste was disposed on site in three primary locations: silos, lagoons, and a waste dump."

David, an employee of the Prana Juice Bar and Namaste Cafe in downtown Bloomsburg, told the Toronto Media Co-op that "very few people know about it and are informed of these issues".

The NRC estimates the cost of remediating the site to be up to $120million. Up to $120 million dollars is for the clean up alone, health affects to local populations are not quantifiable.

William E. Lynch Jr., the owner of Safety Light, Isolite, and Shield Source (Peterborough Ontario) told CHEX News' Pamela Vanmeer that "Safety Light does not have the resources to pay for clean up and that most of the contamination was from previous owners of the company."

Read article

Type: 

From Rep. Markey:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today released a letter from the staff of Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Region IV (which is based in Arlington, TX) that alleges retaliation by an NRC manager against staff members for calling attention to safety concerns with management. In releasing the letter, Rep. Markey also called upon the NRC to initiate an independent and public investigation of the allegations. In addition, Rep. Markey asked for more information on what appears to be a system of reward for senior management who don’t undertake rigorous nuclear safety oversight in the region.

Allegations by NRC staff against the Deputy Division Director of the Division of Reactor Projects include alteration of safety findings in inspection reports, intimidation of staff for raising safety issues, downgrading performance appraisals for staff who identified violations, and attempting to interfere with safety findings at the Fort Calhoun Station in Nebraska. Yet despite complaints about the individual to more senior NRC personnel, no steps have been taken to remedy the situation.

“Too often those who report serious safety violations end up risking their jobs, and unfortunately in this case, possibly the well-being of Americans living near nuclear power plants,” said Rep. Markey, senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and a strong advocate for increased nuclear safety. “If these allegations prove to be true, it will be an appalling indictment of a culture of open disregard for safety recommendations of NRC’s technical staff and a disempowerment of staff to come forward when safety issues arise. NRC needs to immediately engage an independent investigation of this situation and ensure that remedies are being implemented if these allegations are proven true.”

In the letter to Chairman Greg Jaczko, Rep. Markey requests documents relating to the allegations raised by the NRC staffers and also wrote, “I have long been concerned by the Commission’s voting record on safety matters, especially on the post-Fukushima measures recommended by NRC’s technical staff” noting the frequency with which the Chairman is outvoted on safety measures. “I have been concerned for the last several months that if NRC managers do not believe the Commission is committed to following the safety recommendations of its top technical staff, they may similarly feel empowered to reject the recommendations made by their inspectors, dismiss safety concerns, and retaliate against those who are making then,” wrote Rep. Markey.

A copy of Rep. Markey’s letter to the NRC can be found HERE. A copy of the letter from staff of Region IV to Rep. Markey can be found HERE.

This is not the first time Rep. Markey has been made aware of concerns related to whistleblower retaliation in NRC’s Region IV office. In 2001, Rep. Markey wrote the first of several letters to the NRC about Mr. Ron Bath, an NRC contract employee who had been terminated by a Region IV NRC employee after he made reports of illegal activities on the part of other Region IV employees. Although those employees were eventually found guilty of the alleged activities, and Mr. Bath was found to have been retaliated against, NRC refused to remedy the situation because the whistleblower laws in effect at the time did not cover NRC contractors. In 2003, Rep. Markey, along with Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and then-Rep. Billy Tauzin (D-La.), wrote language ensuring that this statutory loophole was closed as part of that year’s energy bill. The language was enacted into law in 2005.

Read article

Type: 

Before this Licensing Board are the petitions of Pilgrim Watch, joined in separate petitions by Beyond Nuclear, seeking a hearing with regard to two orders entered by the NRC Staff in the wake of the March 11, 2011 catastrophic accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan. The first order is addressed to all operating boiling water reactor licensees with Mark I and Mark II containments and modifies, effective immediately, their licenses with regard to reliable hardened containment vents.1 The second is addressed to all…

Type: 

NRC To Discuss Emergency Response Rulemaking May 23 in Rockville, MD.

Download: PDF of Announcement

Type: 

Pages