From the Star Tribune:

Workers in rubber boots chip at the frozen ground, scraping until they've removed the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of radioactive soil from the yard of a single home. Total amount of waste gathered: roughly 60 tons.

One down, tens of thousands to go. And since wind and rain spread radiation easily, even this yard may need to be dug up again.

The work is part of a monumental task: a costly and uncertain effort by Japan to try to make radiation-contaminated communities inhabitable again. Some contractors are experimenting with chemicals; others stick with shovels and high-pressure water. One government expert says it's mostly trial and error.

Read article

Type: 

From bloomberg.com:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission released transcripts that officials said supported Chairman Gregory Jaczko’s recommendation last year to evacuate Americans from within 50 miles of Japan’s crippled reactor.

“If this happened in the U.S., we would go out to 50 miles,” Bill Borchardt, the NRC’s executive director for operations, told Jaczko in a conversation on March 16, five days into the crisis, included among 3,000 pages of documents released today by the agency. “That would be the appropriate guidance to give the ambassador to pass on at this point.”

Republicans in Congress have criticized Jaczko’s leadership during the 2011 disaster, and Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican, in May questioned why Jaczko recommended a 50-mile (80-kilometer) evacuation zone when Japan’s government cleared 12 miles. Jaczko has said his response was consistent with what the NRC would propose in a similar U.S. crisis.

Read article

Type: 

From the Huffington Post:

In a quiet shift from the past two years, President Barack Obama's 2013 budget includes no new money for the Department of Energy loan guarantee program, the same program that House Republicans have scrutinized for losing more than $500 million in taxpayer dollars to the now-defunct solar power company, Solyndra.

Obama has regularly included huge increases to the program's loan guarantee authority in his budget, though Congress has not approved his proposals. He provided a $36 billion increase for nuclear reactors in his 2011 budget, and again in his 2012 budget. He also included $200 million in credit subsidies for renewable and energy efficiency projects in his 2012 budget. This year, he provided nothing.

Meg Reilly, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, said in an email that Obama opted not to put new money toward the loan guarantee program this time because the administration is waiting on the results of an evaluation of the Energy Department's loan portfolio. Reilly also said the program still has "a significant amount of remaining resources" from prior years and that the focus will be on putting those funds to use. There's about $10 billion in its reserves.

Read article

Type: 

From the Press and Journal:

Nuclear watchdog groups, including Three Mile Island Alert, are asking the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to vastly expand the emergency evacuation zones around commercial nuclear reactors from 10 miles to 25.

The petition also seeks changes in emergency planning, and more scrutiny for food contamination.

In the wake of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant in Japan last March, a 10-mile emergency zone is not large enough to protect public health and safety, the groups said.

“The accident at Fukushima, added to the experience of the Chernobyl disaster, demonstrates that ... severe accidents are clearly more likely than any government previously has estimated ... ,” said the petition, spearheaded by the anti-nuclear Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and signed by 37 clean energy groups.

Read article

Type: 

by Scott Portzline

The new steam generators at Three Mile Island have an unexpected flaw which is yet to be understood by Areva, the twice financially rescued French company (last year by US tax dollars) which built them, or by the engineers in the US nuclear industry. Fortunately, the engineers at TMI correctly determined that abnormal wear was occurring at unexpected locations on 257 steam generator tubes. Their observation caused Arkansas Nuclear to re-evaluate data which it had glossed-over indicating that the same thing was occurring at their reactor site.

These new "enhanced" steam generators were supposed to save money by decreasing maintenance and by increasing the amount of electrical power generated. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was so confident in the new metal alloys used in the steam generators that they would automatically extend inspection cycles to any licensee which requested it. But, now the NRC should mandate that the inspection of these new steam generators be more thorough and occur during each refueling outage. TMI will do this voluntarily.

The problem will probably be blamed on a design flaw which allowed steam tubes to bang against each other. Either the proximity of the tubes to each other, or inadequate stiffness can be blamed for the unexpected wear. The high temperatures of the pressurized water running through (and around) these tubes cause the tubes to expand and to bow sideways.

There are concerns that under abnormal conditions, when the temperatures can double or triple, additional tubes will bow even farther and then additional tubes may be compromised. Add to that the vibrations and shock waves caused by steam voids (which happened at TMI in 1979) and you have a large break loss of coolant accident on your hands as numerous tubes fail.

At the moment, there is still enough safety margin at TMI during normal conditions. Exelon claims that a "large break loss of coolant accident evaluation also demonstrates significant margin" as far as the steam generator tubes are concerned. Their report allows for tripled pressure differentials to support their analysis. However, there is no discussion of the temperature differences which allow the tubes to bow. During the 1979 emergency, temperatures in the reactor rose ten-fold. Steam generator "A" tore its guts apart.

The NRC's Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, which conducted a review in 2001 stated that, "The NRC staff does not currently have a technically defensible analysis of how steam generator tubes, which may be flawed, will behave under severe accident conditions in which the reactor coolant system remains pressurized."

Additionally, there is a special manner in which tube failure can cause what is known at a guillotine rupture accident. If a high temperature jet rushes from a failed tube and cuts through an adjacent tube, the process can repeat itself in a rapidly cascading failure. A report on experiments by the Rockwell International states "[Damage] occurred on the surrounding tubes due to the high temperature reaction."

Knowing this, and despite the chances of its occurrence being very low, the NRC should address this as a Safety Issue. A spokesman for TMI stated that the newly found flaws are not considered a safety issue.

The problem reminds me of a fatal flaw that existed during the Apollo Moon Program. The original Saturn rockets had a vibration problem called "pogo." Liquid fuel slammed against the bottom of the fuel tank and then slammed against the top. The forces threatened to tear apart the rocket. Designers solved the problem by installing baffles to prevent the sloshing of the fuel.

Now back to nuclear thinking: For years the industry compared itself to "rocket science" and that ordinary citizens were unable to understand the complexities involved. Therefore citizens who worried about nuclear safety were viewed as ignorant, over-emotional pests. As the years went on and citizens became very sophisticated with their knowledge and familiarity of the regulatory process, citizens were accused of wanting to over-regulate the industry. New cries went up from the industry and even from the NRC's chairman Nils Diaz, "This is not rocket science."

The steam generator concerns are on the level of rocket science. These are new materials, higher pressures and temperatures may be involved, and new operational conditions and data; just like rocket science. No one should forget that experiments are still being thrust on the public in this nuclear realm.

 

Type: 

From the Huffington Post:

In a quiet shift from the past two years, President Barack Obama's 2013 budget includes no new money for the Department of Energy loan guarantee program, the same program that House Republicans have scrutinized for losing more than $500 million in taxpayer dollars to the now-defunct solar power company, Solyndra.

Obama has regularly included huge increases to the program's loan guarantee authority in his budget, though Congress has not approved his proposals. He provided a $36 billion increase for nuclear reactors in his 2011 budget, and again in his 2012 budget. He also included $200 million in credit subsidies for renewable and energy efficiency projects in his 2012 budget. This year, he provided nothing.

Read article

Type: 

 

NEWS FROM NIRS
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Michael Mariotte or Dominique French February 15, 2012 301-270-6477
 
CLEAN ENERGY GROUPS SUBMIT FORMAL PETITION TO NRC TO INCORPORATE LESSONS OF FUKUSHIMA: EXPAND EVACUATION ZONES, IMPROVE EMERGENCY PLANNING AROUND U.S. NUCLEAR REACTORS
 
Thirty-seven clean energy groups today submitted a formal petition for rulemaking to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeking adoption of new regulations to expand emergency evacuation zones and improve emergency response planning around U.S. nuclear reactors.
 
Calling on the NRC to incorporate the real-world lessons of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the proposed rules would expand existing emergency evacuation zones from 10 to 25 miles around nuclear reactors and establish a new zone from 25-50 miles around reactors for which utilities would have to identify and publicize potential evacuation routes. Another improvement would require utilities and state and local governments to practice emergency drills that includes a natural disaster that either initiates or occurs concurrently to a nuclear meltdown. Currently, utilities do not have to show the capability to conduct an evacuation during a natural disaster— even though, as seen at Fukushima, natural disasters can cause nuclear meltdowns. The petition would also expand the “ingestion pathway zone,” which monitors food, milk and water, from 50 miles to 100 miles around reactors.
 
“80% of the airborne radiation released from Fukushima went directly over the Pacific Ocean,” explained Michael Mariotte, executive director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, which initiated the petition. “Even so, the Fukushima evacuation zone extended more than 25 miles to the northwest of the site, and the NRC and U.S. State Department both recommended that U.S. citizens within 50 miles of Fukushima evacuate. Such evacuations could not be effectively conducted in the U.S. under current emergency planning regulations. We need to be better prepared and we can’t rely on favorable wind patterns to protect the American people.”
 
Dominique French, who is leading NIRS’ campaign to improve emergency response planning, added, “The NRC has relied primarily on the 1979 Three Mile Island accident and subsequent computerized accident simulations to support its emergency planning rules. But first at Chernobyl in 1986, and now at Fukushima, the real world has trumped any possible simulation.
 
The fact is that far too many Americans live near nuclear reactors, but outside existing emergency planning zones. Based on real-life experience, these people need better protection.”
 
“There is no invisible lead curtain surrounding nuclear power plants. We need to incorporate lessons learned from previous nuclear disasters. At the very least, we should stop pretending that emergency evacuation zones of 10 miles are adequate, and expand planning to include residents living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant,” said Eric Epstein of Three Mile Island Alert in Pennsylvania. “On Friday, March 30, 1979--while school was in session--Governor Thornburgh recommended a ‘precautionary evacuation’ for preschool children and pregnant women living within five miles of Three Mile Island. The targeted population was estimated at 5,000, but more than 144,000 central Pennsylvanians from 50 miles away fled the area--further proof that a radiological disaster is not a controlled field trip."
 
"Indian Point, 24 miles from New York City, sits at the epicenter of the most demographically dense area of any nuclear reactor in the nation. Even under normal conditions, traffic is congested and regional infrastructure is highly stressed. During the severe snow, rain and wind storms of the past few years, large swaths of the region have been brought to a near standstill. And yet the NRC ignores all these realities, preferring to play with its computer models. This is a dangerous game,” said Michel Lee, Steering Committee, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition.
 
“In lieu of the recent activities around nuclear plants both in the United States and in Japan it had become obvious that a new Emergency Planning Zones be implemented. The Shell Bluff Community is asking that the NRC establish new guidelines that would expand the radius to protect the citizens that are in arms ways of these facilities. After all Japan is still experiencing unfolding occurrences that are taking place outside of their projected protected zone. The United States must move to protect her citizens who are in these dangerous pathways,” said Charles N. Utley, community organizer for the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.
 
“Pacific Gas and Electric Company's Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is seen as a poster child by the nuclear industry: it is in a "low population zone", and not visible from any roads. However, families and businesses downwind from the nuclear plant and waste storage site do not consider themselves expendable, nor does invisibility negate the threat from two reactors and the radioactive wastes accumulated since 1984 that are stored on a site surrounded by 13 earthquake faults,” said Jane Swanson of California’s Mothers for Peace.
 
“Emergency plans of local and state government advise residents that in the event of a radiological release from Diablo Canyon nuclear plant there are two choices, depending on which way the winds blow: get in our cars in an attempt to evacuate, or "shelter in place". The former leads to congested traffic on the one freeway serving the central coast of California (Highway 101) as well-founded worries of families overload the freeway and bring it to a halt. Sheltering means using masking tape around doors and windows and turning off all air intakes into our homes for an unspecified time, in the hope that the emergency lasts only a few days rather than the many months as at Fukushima. Emergency plans need to be made effective. If this is not possible, then nuclear plants need to be shut down. Human lives cannot be traded for kilowatt hours,” added Swanson.
 
A third of the population in the U.S., or roughly 120 million people, lives within a 50 mile radius of a nuclear reactor. Current emergency planning rules require utilities to develop and exercise emergency evacuation plans within a 10 mile radius around reactors. The “ingestion pathway” currently consists of an area about 50 miles in radius and focuses on actions appropriate to protect the food ingestion pathway.
At Fukushima, and earlier at Chernobyl, interdiction of contaminated food and liquids has occurred further than 100 miles from the accident sites.
 
Japan is already acting to improve its emergency response capability, in the event nuclear reactors ever are allowed to operate there again. Prior to the disaster at Fukushima, the emergency planning zones for nuclear emergencies in Japan was between 8-10 kilometers (5-6 miles). The zone is now being expanded to 30 kilometers (18 miles). The actual Fukushima evacuation zone was a 20 kilometer (12 mile) radius around the site, although areas to the northwest, where the heaviest radiation on land was measured, were evacuated more than 25 miles away.
 
The initial co-petitioners are: Nuclear Information and Resource Service (national and lead author), Bellefonte Efficiency and Sustainability Team (TN), Beyond Nuclear (national), Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (Southeast), Citizens Action Coalition (IN), Citizen Power (PA), Citizens Awareness Network (Northeast), Citizens Within a 10-Mile Radius (MA), Citizens Environmental Coalition (NY), Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes (Great Lakes), Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff (GA), Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, Council on Intelligent Energy and Conservation Policy (NY), Don’t Waste Arizona, Don’t Waste Michigan, The Ecology Party of Florida, Empire State Consumer Project Inc. (NY), Grandmothers, Mothers, and More for Energy Safety (GRAMMES) (NJ), Greenpeace (national), Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (NY), Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch (NJ), Missourians for Safe Energy, New England Coalition, Nuclear Energy Information Service (IL), NC WARN, (NC), Northwest Environmental Advocates (OR), Not On Our Fault Line (VA), People’s Alliance for Clean Energy (VA), Promoting Health and Sustainable Energy (PHASE) (NY), Public Citizen Energy Program (national), San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (CA), SEED Coalition (TX), Sierra Club of South Carolina, Three Mile Island Alert (PA), Tri-Valley CARE (CA), Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah), Vermont Public Interest Research Group, We The People Inc. (TN). 
 
The full text of the petition is available here: http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/emergency/petitionforrulemaking22012.pdf
Type: 

 

SUMMARY OF JANUARY 26,2012, MEETING WITH EXELON AND ENTERGY TO DISCUSS RECENT ONCE-THROUGH STEAM GENERATOR INSERVICE INSPECTION RESULTS (TAC NOS. ME7700 AND ME7701)

Download ML120270416

Type: 

 

THREE MILE ISLAND NUCLEAR STATION, UNIT 1 - CORRECTION TO SUMMARY OF CONFERENCE CALLS WITH EXELON GENERATION COMPANY, LLC TO DISCUSS 2011 STEAM GENERATOR TUBE INSPECTIONS (TAC NO. ME7229)

Download ML120300547

Type: 

THREE MILE ISLAND NUCLEAR STATION, UNIT 1 - SUMMARY OF CONFERENCE CALLS WITH EXELON GENERATION COMPANY, LLC TO DISCUSS 2011 STEAM GENERATOR TUBE INSPECTIONS
(TAC NO. ME7229)

Download ML113550167

 

Type: 

Pages