NRC's approval of VY inches forward

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

Entergy came one step closer to receiving its approved license renewal for Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant on Thursday when the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rejected an appeal from the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution.

The contention dealt with NEC's assertion that Entergy did not have an adequate aging management program in place to deal with the effects of moist or wet environments on buried, below-grade, underground or hard-to reach safety-related electrical cables.

The submittal cited an NRC inspection finding from last May that dealt with this issue.

The ASLB based its denial on three factors: The motion was not timely because the issue of submergence of electrical cables at nuclear power plants has been known for years and could have been questioned in a contention before this past August; the motion does not address a "significant" safety or environmental issue; and because NEC was unable to demonstrate that a materially different result would be or would have been "likely" had the newly proffered evidence been considered initially.

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Offsite Notification Due to Sodium Hypochlorite Leak from Underground Piping

Event Number: 46374
Facility: PERRY
Event Date: 10/28/2010

OFFSITE NOTIFICATION DUE TO SODIUM HYPOCHLORITE LEAK FROM UNDERGROUND PIPING

"On October 28, 2010, at 1740 hours, the plant entered the Off-Normal Instruction for spills and unauthorized discharges. At 1751 hours, notification of a sodium hypochlorite spill was made to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Response Center. At the time of the event, the plant was in Mode 1 at 100% power. The sodium hypochlorite spill is believed to be the result of a leak in an underground piping supply line to the Emergency Service Water pump house. The leak is estimated to be approximately 130 gallons of a 12.5% Sodium Hypochlorite (Bleach) solution (80 gallons in a 24 hour period is the reportable quantity). The associated chlorination systems have been isolated, and current storage tank level is stable, indicating no more leakage in progress.

"Additionally, the Ohio EPA: State Emergency Response Commission, Perry Township Fire Department, Lake County Emergency Planning Committee, and the U.S. Coast Guard were notified in accordance with plant procedures. This event is also being reported in accordance with the Operating License, Appendix B, Environment Protection Plan, which states in part, 'Any occurrence of an unusual or important event that indicates or could result in significant environmental impact causally related to plant operation shall be recorded and reported to the NRC within 24 hours followed by a written report ..' Specifically, ' ..unanticipated or emergency discharge of waste water or chemical substances.' The NRC Resident Inspector has been notified."

Op-ed: Thanks to U.S. Senator Casey for protecting the Great Lakes from radioactive waste shipping risks

Dear Erie Times-News Editorial Department,

U.S. Senator Robert Casey, Jr. deserves the thanks of those who love and cherish Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes. He recently joined an effort, along with six other U.S. Senators from around the Great Lakes, to put the brakes on a risky radioactive waste shipment that would traverse Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, and the rivers and waterways that connect them. By doing so, Sen. Casey has challenged this precedent-setting shipment that could lead to even more risky high-level radioactive waste shipments on the Great Lakes.

Sen. Casey, joined by Sens. Feingold (D-WI), Durbin (D-IL), Levin (D-MI), Stabenow (D-MI), Schumer (D-NY), and Gillibrand (D-NY), has challenged the proposal by Bruce nuclear power plant on Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada to ship 16 school bus-sized, 100 ton radioactive steam generators on a single boat across the Atlantic to Sweden for so-called “recycling.” The seven Senators fired off letters last month to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), urging that the highest level environmental assessments be performed before this shipment is allowed to enter U.S. territorial waters.

The Senators’ concerns are well founded. Bruce Nuclear’s CEO has admitted that there is no emergency plan in place if the ship were to sink, flippantly adding that there would be plenty of time to figure out what to do once the ship sank. CNSC’s staff has done a shoddy job analyzing the risks, initially excluding consideration of Plutonium-241, an ultra-hazardous isotope whose inclusion nearly doubled the radioactivity content of the shipment. CNSC has even admitted that the welds sealing shut the radioactive steam generators are only good to a depth of 800 feet below water, the very depth of Lake Ontario, meaning there is no safety margin.

It is important Sen. Casey hold PHMSA’s feet to the fire. Recent U.S. House hearings shined a spotlight on PHMSA’s incompetence in light of the recent, disastrous oil pipeline leaks into rivers in Illinois and Michigan – threatening the Great Lakes downstream – as well as deadly natural gas pipeline explosions, and the agency’s cozy connections to the very companies it is supposed to regulate.

Sen. Casey has also questioned the risks of “recycling” radioactive metal. Radioactive consumer products could be re-imported to the U.S., exposing unsuspecting American families to radiation hazards.

This radioactive waste shipment could set a bad precedent for worse to come on the Great Lakes. In 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy proposed 453 barge shipments of high-level radioactive waste on Lake Michigan as part of the plan for moving irradiated nuclear fuel to Yucca Mountain, Nevada for burial. This raises serious safety and security concerns. If such a shipment sank, there is enough fissile Uranium-235 and Plutonium-239 in the irradiated nuclear fuel that a chain reaction could be sparked on the bottom of the Great Lakes. This would make emergency response a suicide mission, and result in catastrophic radioactivity releases. President Obama, to his credit, has cancelled the Yucca dump and such risky shipment plans. But any away-from-reactor proposals, such as reprocessing or centralized interim storage, could again raise the specter of radioactive waste shipments on the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes represent 20% of the surface fresh water on the planet. They supply drinking water to 40 million people, and are the engine for one of the world’s biggest regional economies. Sen. Casey deserves our thanks for protecting them from the risks of radioactive waste transport.

Sincerely,
 
Kevin Kamps
--
Kevin Kamps
Radioactive Waste Watchdog
Beyond Nuclear
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 400
Takoma Park, Maryland 20912
Office: (301) 270-2209 ext. 1
Cell: (240) 462-3216
Fax: (301) 270-4000
kevin@beyondnuclear.org
www.beyondnuclear.org

TMI: Notification of Conduct of Triennial Fire Protection Baseline Inspection

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station Unit 1:  Notification of Conduct of a Triennial Fire Protection Baseline Inspection

Download ML103010015

Cook Nuclear Unit 2 Refueling Extended for Emergent Repairs

From PRNewsWire:

The refueling outage for Cook Nuclear Plant Unit 2 will be extended by two to three weeks for repairs to internal components of the reactor vessel. The plant, owned and operated by Indiana Michigan Power, a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE:  AEP), had an initial projected return-to-service date of Nov. 6.

Routine inspections following removal of the fuel assemblies identified damaged bolts from the reactor vessel's baffle plates. The baffle plates direct water flow through the fuel assemblies in the reactor. Similar bolt failures have occurred and been repaired previously in the industry. There are existing safety analyses and specialized repair tools being used to resolve the issue.

The 18 damaged baffle bolts are grouped on one baffle plate. Those bolts are being removed and analyzed. Determining the root cause of the failure is ongoing. Data and analyses from those 18 bolts will determine final repair plans. In keeping with its conservative operating philosophy, I&M plans to perform all necessary repairs during this refueling outage to ensure the problem is bounded and repairs support long-term reliable operation.

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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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