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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Latest Discovery At Vermont Yankee Becomes Campaign Issue

From Vermont Public Radio:

Yankee was already front and center in this year's gubernatorial contest. As leader of the Senate, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin organized a legislative vote against allowing regulators to extend Yankee's license for another 20 years.

Republican Brian Dubie opposed the Senate vote. He's talked repeatedly about the hundreds of jobs that could be lost if the plant shuts down as scheduled in 2012.

Entergy, security union reach agreement

From Wicked Local Plymouth:

 Security officers at Pilgrim Station Nuclear Power Plant have negotiated a new contract with Entergy Nuclear Operation – just in the nick of time.

The collective bargaining agreement between Entergy and the union expired at midnight Friday, Oct. 1, the same day negotiations took a turn for the better and heads began nodding.

“The fact is, we reached an agreement that was satisfactory to both parties,” Pilgrim Spokesman David Tarantino said this Friday. “We reached an agreement with local #25, the union for security officers, and they were scheduled to ratify it today. Membership has to accept it as well.”

Days prior to reaching an agreement, Jonathan Brain, president of United Government Security Officers of America (UGSOA), Local #25, said the negotiations had not been going well.

“The company refuses to acknowledge the ongoing problems concerning the officers as they relate to safety, harassment and intimidation of employees in the workplace by their managers, poor morale and the chilled environment created by management’s failure to appropriately address problems with their supervisors, and the quality of life of the workers in general,” Brain wrote in an e-mail to the paper.

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Constellation shelves proposal for Calvert Cliffs reactor

From the Washington Post:

Constellation Energy has shelved its proposal to build a new reactor at its Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant, Obama administration officials said Friday, even though the administration had decided to award the project a $7.5 billion loan guarantee.

Senior administration officials said Constellation's decision was "a surprise," but a Constellation Energy spokesman Larry McDonnell said that the administration's loan guarantee terms were "unworkable" and that Constellation had told the Energy Department "we can't move forward."

The decision by Constellation deals a blow to the idea of a U.S. nuclear renaissance. Constellation and French power company Electricite de France are partners in Unistar, a joint venture that had intended to make the new Calvert Cliffs reactor the first of a fleet of identical units around the country. They filed the loan guarantee application in July 2007.

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Met-Ed Files 2011 Generation Prices

Met-Ed has  filed new generation prices that will go into effect on January 1, 2011. The full release is available here.

Nuclear renaissance (what renaissance?) continues to crash and burn

From Beyond Nuclear:

Anti-nuclear activists can be forgiven for launching into a chorus of "na na hey hey" today as another new U.S. reactor project bites the dust. The latest Nuclear Retreat comes from Constellation Energy which has ditched plans for a third reactor in Maryland at the Calvert Cliffs site. Constellation was looking at a $880 million price tag even with a federal loan guarantee from the Obama administration. Constellation's withdrawal is another blow for its French partner, EDF, already struggling with its reactor project on the French Normandy coast which is over-budget, behind schedule and beset with technical problems. It also deals a further blow to Areva whose flagship EPR reactor was destined for Calvert Cliffs. Beyond Nuclear also released a press statement on the Constellation decision.

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Team checking insulation at plant

From Fredericksburg.com:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has dispatched a special inspection team to North Anna Power Station.

The agency announced yesterday that inspectors will be looking at a type of insulation used to wrap large pipes that carry coolant water for the plant's two nuclear reactors.

The inspection at the plant, near Mineral on Lake Anna in Louisa County, began Monday and is expected to last about a week.

Meanwhile, both units are shut down. The problem was first discovered in the containment area of Unit 1, which has been shut down since mid-September for refueling. Unit 2 was shut down last Tuesday after the insulation was discovered on pipes in Unit 1.

The NRC is concerned that if any of the wrapped pipes--which join the reactor vessel to the steam generator--burst, chunks of insulation could clog sump pumps that would carry away the spill.

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My Field Trip to TMI

My Field Trip to TMI
Or Teach Your Children Well

By Holly Angelique

The Community Open House at TMI on September 21, 2010 could be best described as “Nuke the Children Night” at TMI.  There was overflow parking as all the families poured in, with kids in tow, in strollers, etc.  This was the first year that they were packing school busses and driving across the bridge to “The Island.”  Of course, they were just going as far as the parking lot and letting people stand at the base of one of the cooling towers. (I have been there before so I skipped the tour). I know they don’t talk about how they are draining the river, killing the fish, using asbestos, etc. 

They were also letting people into the simulation room.  Again, I have been there so I did not fight the crowds.  I don’t think they were doing actual simulations of emergencies—¬all talk of potential disaster was missing.  Instead, there were ads for job openings.

There was an information room/propaganda room.  One table had lots of NRC “fact” sheets—I took some of everything, but the NRC stuff was straight from the web-site.  There were a few other “desk-top” publications that I had not seen.  One is the NRC’s 2010-2011 Information Digest with a table of contents that covers (1) U.S. and worldwide nuclear energy, (2) nuclear reactors, (3) nuclear materials, (4) radioactive waste, (5) security and emergency preparedness.  There was also a nice, glossy pamphlet called, Reactor License Renewal: Preparing for Tomorrow’s Safety Today.  And then there was the newsletter, Inside Exelon: The Green Issue [okay, maybe the theme was not about the children, but simply “Lies”-but that is always a theme isn’t it?]

In addition to attractive displays to lure the children, they were giving away t-shirts, with a picture of the large phallis (I mean steam generator) on the back, advertising on one side, “Exelon” and on the other “Areva.”  I simply have to laugh that they actually advertise our dependence on the French government!  They also gave out foam light bulbs (to prove how “green they are” I guess), wrist-bands and a lovely re-usable grocery bag with the TMI logo on it.  Quite fittingly, the bag was jet black, symbolizing the dystopian future that they are bent on giving us!  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the Exelon color crayons and plastic Exelon cups that make drinks look radioactive when you add ice (I guess kids are never too young to get “hooked on nukes.”)

In another room there was food, so I decided to have dinner.  I spoke with TMI spokesman Ralph Desantis (do you know that his degree is in social studies teaching?) I told him it was time to come back to our side.  Instead he introduced me to the Senior VP in charge of Mid-Atlantic Operations at Exelon Nuclear, Joe Grimes.  I told him that I was decidedly anti-nuclear, but he thought he could win me over to the “bright side” as he called it.  I asked about risk.  I think he said that was a worthwhile discussion to have—at a later date of course.  I asked about the logic behind building new plants in draught-prone areas like GA.  He said he was just there and they hadn’t had a drought in years.  I asked about the cost and he “assured” me that nuclear costs far less than most other forms of energy!  I said that this could be seriously debated but he was steadfast.  (Perhaps no one has told him about the $50 billion in taxpayer backed loan guarantees!).  I told him I was not going to interrupt his “party” with that debate but that he should call me when nuclear is “too cheap to meter!”  He did concede that, “they don’t always get it right!”

I looked for media and although there was a local Fox news van in the parking lot, I saw no real media presence (no reporters, etc.).  I would have loved to talk with someone from the media.  But after getting the “facts,” some souvenirs, dinner and an enlightening conversation with Joe, I decided it was time to head home.

I have not been able to get the faces of the innocent children of Middletown out of my mind.  So, let me end on a serious note, paraphrasing Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.  Let’s hope that our children “never ask us why?” because it truly “made me want to cry” as I looked around and all I could do was “sigh” and hope that one day they realize how hard we fought to end this nuclear power proliferation that they will surely inherit because “we love them.”
 

NRC stalls key repairs for 32 years

From the Toledo Blade:

The NRC has reaffirmed several times since then that sumps at certain plants have been at risk of becoming overwhelmed by paint chips, insulation, and other free-floating debris that would form if an accident occurred. If those sumps fail, there wouldn’t be anything recirculating water to cool the reactors.

NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko acknowledged Wednesday the agency “has been grappling with this issue for quite some time now.”

That’s an understatement. More than 18 years elapsed before regulators finally showed signs of getting serious about it in September of 1996. Then, they began drawing up plans for what’s known as Generic Safety Issue 191, an industrywide requirement to make the long-overdue sump fixes.

Since then, it’s been another 14 years of talking.

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Beaver Valley: Residual Heat Removal System Piping Leak

Event Number: 46304
Facility: BEAVER VALLEY
Event Date: 10/02/2010

RESIDUAL HEAT REMOVAL SYSTEM PIPING LEAK

"Approximately five hours after Beaver Valley Power Station Unit No. 1 was shutdown at 0011 hours [EDT] to enter a scheduled refueling outage, an approximate 5 drops per minute leak was identified from a drain valve on the Residual Heat Removal (RHR) System inside containment. This leak is downstream of the two series RHR isolation valves on a pipe which connects to both trains of RHR. The actual location of the leak on the valve was not immediately evident. An evaluation was requested. At 1011 hours, the evaluation reported a 270 degree circumferential crack in the socket weld on the RHR side of the valve. Without reasonable assurance of RHR System operability, both trains of RHR were declared inoperable. Both trains of the RHR System are currently in service, along with three steam generators/condenser remaining available for decay heat removal. Actions to address this condition are being pursued.

"This is being reported as a condition that at the time of discovery could have prevented the fulfillment of the safety function of systems needed to remove decay heat pursuant to 10 CFR 50.72(b)(3)(v)(B) since both trains of RHR were declared inoperable.

"Beaver Valley Power Station Unit No. 2 is unaffected by this event and remains at 100 percent power.

"The NRC Resident Inspector has been notified."

T.S. Action 3.4.7 requires that efforts be immediately initiated to restore RHR as soon as possible.

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