From the Brattleboro Reformer:
A nuclear decommissioning expert says estimates to dismantle the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant are too old and don’t reflect the current state of the economy.
According to study released Thursday from Fairewinds Associates, a consultancy hired by the state Legislature to analyze the decommissioning fund, the documents created in 2006 are "technically and economically outdated."
New technology has been developed "which may dramatically decrease the cost of decommissioning, and those options have not been analyzed for their application to the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee," the report states.
All decommissioning options need to be explored, Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer for Fairewinds Associates, said.
During the previous decommissioning fund update of the nuclear plant in Vernon, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviewed the plan and required Entergy to provide a $40 million parent company guarantee to address a shortfall, Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC, wrote in an e-mail to the Reformer.
"Looking ahead, nuclear power plant owners will be required to submit new updates on their decommissioning trust funds in March, providing us with another opportunity to scrutinize them," he wrote.
Press Conference: 11 a.m., Monday, January 10, 2011
Nuclear Containment Failures and Ramifications for the AP1000 Containment Design
Dial: 1-800-860-2442 and ask for the AP1000 call
Hosted by: AP1000 Oversight Group, represented by Attorney John Runkle and Expert Witness Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer Fairewinds Associates, Inc
Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 – Issuance of Amendment Re: Request to Relocate Surveillance Frequencies to a Licensee-Controlled Program (TAC No. ME3587)
ADAMS Accession No.: ML103120069 (Download PDF)
From the Federal Register:
Although the proposed updates to the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule did not consider some of these recent developments, the Commission has assumed, for the purposes of these updates, that YM would not be built. Even so, the new YM developments are pertinent. The Commission believes that the updates to the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule reflect the uncertainty regarding the timing of the availability of a geologic repository for SNF and HLW. The Commission, as a separate action, has directed the staff to develop a plan for a longer-term rulemaking and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to assess the environmental impacts and safety of long-term SNF and HLW storage beyond 120 years (SRM-SECY-09-0090; ADAMS Accession Number ML102580229). This analysis will go well beyond the current analysis that supports at least 60 years of post-licensed life storage with eventual disposal in a deep geologic repository. The Commission believes that a more expansive analysis is appropriate because it will provide additional information (beyond the reasonable assurance the Commission is recognizing in the current rulemaking) on whether spent fuel can be safely stored for a longer time, if necessary. This analysis could reduce the frequency with which the Commission must, as a practical matter, consider waste storage capabilities. The staff's new review will require an analysis and, to some extent, a forecast of the safety and environmental impacts of storage for extended periods of time beyond that currently recognized in 10 CFR 51.23 and the Waste Confidence Decision. While storage of spent fuel for 60 years beyond licensed life has been shown through experience or analyses to be safe and not to have a significant environmental impact, the proposed technical analysis will go well beyond the time frame of existing requirements.
Even though the Commission has not determined whether this particular analysis will result in a different conclusion concerning the environmental impacts of extended spent fuel storage, the Commission believes that this unprecedented long-term review should be accompanied by an EIS. Preparing an EIS will ensure that the agency considers these longer-term storage issues from an appropriate perspective. The Commission has therefore decided to exercise its discretionary authority under 10 CFR 51.20(a)(2) and is directing the staff to prepare a draft EIS to accompany the proposed rule developed as a result of this longer-term analysis. The updates to the Waste Confidence Decision in this document and the final rule published in this issue of the Federal Register rely on the best information currently available to the Commission and therefore are separate from this long-term initiative. The updates to the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule are not dependent upon the staff completing any action outside the scope of these revisions to the Waste Confidence Decision and Rule.
From the Associated Press:
Vermont's piece of the nuclear age, launched four decades ago, seems to be coming to a close, even as advocates push for a renaissance of nuclear power in the United States.
The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant's initial 40-year license expires March 21, 2012, less than 15 months from now. And despite a safety and performance record no worse than many of the other 61 reactors that have won 20-year license extensions from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Vernon power plant's future looks short.
That's largely because it's located in the only state in the country with a law saying both houses of its legislature have to give their approval before Vermont regulators can issue a state license for the plant to continue operating.
The Vermont Senate voted 26-4 last February against letting the Public Service Board issue the new state license. That vote came a month after it was revealed that Vermont Yankee was leaking tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, into soil and groundwater surrounding the reactor on the banks of the Connecticut River. It also followed revelations that senior plant personnel had misled state officials about whether Vermont Yankee had the sort of underground pipes that carried radioactive tritium.
From the Times Leader:
Engineering workers at the nuclear power plant near Berwick detected a design flaw in a temperature control system that could have shut down the two reactors, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported.
The reactors remain in operation, and officials at the PPL’s Susquehanna Steam Electric Station are working to correct the problem that has existed since the plant came on line in the 1980s, said Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman.
The plant is jointly owned by PPL Susquehanna LLC and Allegheny Electric Cooperative Inc.
The flaw was discovered in house and reported to the NRC on Monday, Sheehan said.
On Thursday, he described it as a “single point of vulnerability.” Besides resulting in a shut down, he said, “this could have impacted some very important safety systems.”
Exelon Press Release
LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (Jan. 6, 2011) – Operators at Three Mile Island Generating Station will test the plant’s on-site fire and emergency alarms on Saturday, Jan. 8 at 12:00 p.m. The alarm sounds and accompanying page announcements may be heard offsite.
Beginning in February, TMI will conduct this alarm test on the first Saturday of every month at 12:00 p.m. The alarm test uses the in-plant and on-site plant page system. It does not involve the offsite notification siren system.
SUSQUEHANNA STEAM ELECTRIC STATION, UNITS 1 AND 2 RE: RELIEF REQUEST RR-02, REVISION 1 FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE OM CODE RE: INSERVICE TESTING OF SAFETY RELIEF VALVES (TAC NOS. ME4068 AND ME4069)
REQUALIFTCATTON PROGRAM TNSPECTION - (PEACH BOTTOM ATOMIC POWER STATION, UNITS 2 AND 3)
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michael Smith, Department of Environmental Protection
HARRISBURG -- Now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has outlined its final “pollution diet” for states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, Pennsylvania’s top environmental and agriculture officials say the state is ready to do its part to improve water quality.
Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger and Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said Pennsylvania’s plan provides a reasonable assurance that it can clean up the water flowing into the bay while keeping industries in the watershed viable.
Hanger said that while the state has already reduced its nitrogen contributions to the bay by 28 percent, phosphorus by 46 percent, and sediment by between 38 and 46 percent, more work remains to be done.
The total maximum daily load, or TMDL, the EPA imposed today, he added, specifies the additional pollution reductions that are necessary to bring the bay back to good health. The EPA’s final, enforceable allocations call for Pennsylvania to reduce by 2025 annual nitrogen discharges to 76.8 million pounds; phosphorous discharges to 2.7 million pounds; and sediment to between 0.95-1.05 million tons per year.
“Pennsylvania has long been committed to doing its part to restore the bay’s health,” said Hanger. “We’ve reduced the pollution flowing into the Chesapeake from our waters by millions of tons. While wastewater treatment operators, developers and farmers can share some credit for these successes, there’s still work to be done. Our plan makes sure we do it in a way that keeps industries viable in the state, creates new opportunities, and is attainable and measurable.”
Pennsylvania’s plan, referred to as a watershed implementation plan, or WIP, calls for continuing existing programs that have proven effective and, in some cases, improving the capacity to track and expand those efforts; implementing new programs that take advantage of advanced and innovative technologies; and enhancing common sense compliance efforts, particularly for nonpoint sources such as agriculture and stormwater runoff from development.
Hanger noted that the state is not requiring wastewater treatment plants to make further reductions in line with a commitment DEP made in 2006 with its point source strategy. That strategy was incorporated into the state’s WIP.
“Wastewater treatment plants have made considerable investments to upgrade facilities and cut discharges,” said Hanger. “This plan does not place additional expectations on those facilities; it lays out a framework for ensuring other sectors of our economy are making their share of reductions.
“Every sector of our economy that has had a stake in this matter has had a seat at the table in developing this plan. We’re convinced we can achieve what’s expected of us.”
Pennsylvania will improve its ability to track nutrient and sediment reductions made by farmers and other land managers through the plan. Until now, usually only those best management practices, or BMPs, that were associated with a federal or state grant program were reported to the Bay Program, which meant many improvements went unnoticed.
“Many farmers voluntarily install conservation BMPs without state or federal financial assistance simply because they are good management decisions,” said Redding. “It is vitally important that these privately funded BMPs be identified and reported to ensure that the agricultural community’s nutrient and sediment reductions are fully credited.”
Improving communications and cooperation with farmers and partners like county conservation districts will be critical to the success of this effort, Redding added.
DEP recently funded a pilot tracking project in Lancaster and Bradford counties to better assess the type and level of BMPs farmers are implementing, and to explore the effectiveness of various tracking and reporting methods. The results will then be used to develop a uniform reporting tool to better capture the pollution reductions from these previously unreported efforts.
Pennsylvania’s plan also calls for using new and innovative technologies to reduce pollution. The state has proposed creating a $100 million program—funded by the federal government, states within the bay watershed and other key stakeholders—that would finance four to eight manure-to-energy projects, for example, each year. Each project could remove close to 1 million pounds of nitrogen from the Chesapeake Bay.
DEP and the Department of Agriculture have been working with a number of companies to look for ways to install technologies like manure treatment, methane digesters and electrical co-generation equipment on dairy, poultry and hog farms. These technologies can help reduce nutrient pollution while also producing electricity and marketable soil products that create additional revenue streams for farmers and rural communities.
For more information, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us, keyword: Chesapeake Bay.