UCS presentation to NRC Commission on PWR containment sump problem resolution options

Good Day:
 
UCS has been invited to participate in a briefing of the Commission on the proposed closeout options for Generic Safety Issue 191, the PWR containment sump problem. The briefing is scheduled to begin this Wednesday, September 29th, at 1pm eastern time at the NRC's headquarters in Rockville, MD. The meeting is scheduled to be webcast. See online info at http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/public-meetings/webcast-live.html
 
The slides prepared by UCS, industry representatives, an ACRS representative, and the NRC staff are available from this webpage by clicking on the slides link.
 
The UCS slides are attached.
 
As our title slide indicates, Wednesday will mark 5,132 days (a mere 14 years) since the NRC staff initiated GSI-191 back in September 1996. The NRC staff determined that the problem made it "VERY LIKELY" (their label) that the emergency core cooling systems (ECCSs) would not work at 25 of the nation's 69 pressurized water reactors (PWRs) in event of an accident. The NRC staff determined that the ECCSs would probably not work at another 12 PWRs.
 
About half of the 69 PWRs have taken steps to fully address the problem. The rest have taken some steps,  but the NRC staff cannot accept that work to date.
 
On Wednesday, the Commission will hear the industry's pleas for "close enough" and to forego any further work at the lagging PWRs. The NRC will hear the NRC staff outline a two-phase approach to resolve the remaining issues. The NRC will hear ACRS and UCS essentially endorse the NRC staff's approach.
 
UCS qualified its endorsement. All of the options, save for the industry's "do absolutely nothing else to resolve this serious safety problem" one, entail many more years. UCS recommends that the NRC staff factor in known risk factors -- such as GSI-191 being unresolved at certain plants -- when it makes risk-informed safety decisions.
 
Thanks,
Dave Lochbaum

 
David Lochbaum
Director, Nuclear Safety Project
Union of Concerned Scientists
PO Box 15316
Chattanooga, TN 37415

Are American homes more energy efficient? Not exactly.

From the Washington Post:

The amount of energy that the average American requires at home has changed little since the early 1970s -- despite advances in technology that have made many home appliances far more energy efficient.

Dishwashers use 45 percent less energy than they did two decades ago, according to industry data. Refrigerators use 51 percent less.

But on a per-capita basis, Americans still require about 70 million British thermal units a year to heat, cool and power their homes, just as they did in 1971. (One BTU is the energy required to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.)

A key reason, experts say, is that American homes are getting bigger, which means more space to heat and cool. And consumers are buying more and more power-sucking gadgets -- meaning that kilowatts saved by dishwashers and refrigerators are often used up by flat-screen televisions, computers and digital video recorders.

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Electronic warfare emerges around Iranian nuke

From Beyond Nuclear:

Iran has charged that an extremely dangerous “foreign-made” computer worm, “Stuxnet”, has infected tens of thousands of its industrial computer systems. According to international computer security experts, the computer worm targets electricity facilities using Siemens control systems including Iran’s nearly operational Bushehr nuclear power plant in what is being called the first case of cyber-sabotage of an industrial system.

The still mutating computer worm is designed to reprogram critical functions however researchers do not yet know what types of systems are targeted or how the sabotage is executed. The Islamic Republic News Agency reports that the virus is not stable and since cleanup efforts began three new versions of the infection have been spreading.

The computer worm is reported to have first been discovered in June when researchers found about 45,000 infected computers in various countries including Indonesia and India. However, leading cyber-security analysts have concluded that a system in Iran was the focus of the attack.  The Washington Post quotes a researcher with the security firm Symantec, “We have never seen anything like this before. It is very dangerous.” 

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Peach Bottom: Storage of Low Level Radioactive Waste Generated Off-Site

PEACH BOTTOM ATOMIC POWER STATION (PBAPS), UNITS 2 AND 3­ REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION RELATED TO LICENSE AMENDMENT REQUEST TO ALLOW RECEIPT AND STORAGE OF LOW­ LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE GENERATED OFF-SITE

Download ML102580915 (PDF)

Water Use in Southwest Heads for a Day of Reckoning

From the New York Times:

A once-unthinkable day is looming on the Colorado River.

Barring a sudden end to the Southwest’s 11-year drought, the distribution of the river’s dwindling bounty is likely to be reordered as early as next year because the flow of water cannot keep pace with the region’s demands.

For the first time, federal estimates issued in August indicate that Lake Mead, the heart of the lower Colorado basin’s water system — irrigating lettuce, onions and wheat in reclaimed corners of the Sonoran Desert, and lawns and golf courses from Las Vegas to Los Angeles — could drop below a crucial demarcation line of 1,075 feet.

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Former N.J. Gov. Christie Whitman ‘comfortable’ as a nuclear advocate

From the Press of Atlantic City:

Former New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman, once a top political and environmental figure, is now an ambassador for nuclear power.

The former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spends her days promoting an industry largely opposed by environmentalists.

Whitman, a Republican from Somerset County, works for the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, a national group formed to promote nuclear power. In this role, she has been giving speeches and leading discussions in New Jersey and elsewhere touting the benefits of atomic energy. Whitman was a guest speaker earlier this year at Richard Stockton College’s Hughes Center for Public Policy in Atlantic City.

She has taken on this public role at a time when critical issues affecting nuclear plants and the public are being debated in southern New Jersey.

Read more

Peach Bottom: Response to Confirmatory Order

Peach Bottom Response to Confirmatory Order - NRC Investigation Report Nos. I-2008-023, I-2008-004

Download ML102700185 (PDF)

PPL Electric Utilities Corp. Universal Services and Energy Conservation Plan for 2011-2013

Eric Epstein
4100 Hillsdale Road
Harrisburg PA 17112

To Whom It May Concern:

This is to advice you that the Commission in the Public Meeting on September 23, 2010 adopted an Order in the above entitled proceeding.

An Order has been enclosed for your records.

Very truly yours,

 

Rosemary Chiavetta
Secretary

Download PDF of Order

Three Mile Island Alert testifies to Veteran Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee

Three Mile Island Alert
Harrisburg PA
For Release on September 27, 2010
Contact Scott Portzline 717 232-8863

Three Mile Island Alert’s security consultant Scott D. Portzline presented written testimony today to the PA Senate hearing on the intelligence bulletin contract. Portzline provided actual events of retaliation against activists which exemplify what could occur from the unnecessary publication of the names of activists.

“The price of activism can be quite high in terms of time, effort and money. But when the government includes your name on a list that makes you a suspect, the costs then threaten your patriotism, your good citizenship and your moral obligation to get involved,” said Scott Portzline of Harrisburg PA.

Ironically, while Portzline has received letters of appreciation from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency for his “assessments, concerns and suggestions,” Three Mile Island Alert is considered to be an anti-nuclear group rather than a nuclear watchdog group and therefore would have fit the profile of the intelligence bulletin’s groups which could cause trouble.

Mr. Portzline also noted that the overly broad-blanket approach to gathering and disseminating intelligence has distracted the government from containing actual threats to the nation’s infrastructure like the Stuxnet virus. The virus has currently infected approximately 3000 industrial plants in the United States.

In fact, Mr. Portzline reported his concerns to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the week of September 20, 2010, and found the agency's responses to be inadequate. Portzline, who was instrumental in exposing security weaknesses in the NRC's website in 2004, the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory web site in 2007, and the Department of Energy and Department of Commerce websites earlier this year. Portzline compares the NRC's actions against cyber threats to “hitting the snooze button until someone else wakes you up.”

TMI Alert believes that the recent revelations in Pennsylvania serve as a good example of the quest for security over-reaching its moral balance. The government is to be commended for correcting this practice albeit too late for many.

PPL reaches agreement to sell certain non-core generating assets

PPL Corporation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL) said Thursday (9/9) it has reached agreement to sell interests in certain non-core generating stations to LS Power Equity Advisors, an affiliate of LS Power.

The transaction will include the 244-megawatt PPL Wallingford Energy plant, a natural gas-fired facility located in the Town of Wallingford, Conn.; the 585-megawatt PPL University Park plant, a natural gas-fired facility located in University Park, Ill.; and PPL’s one-third share in Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation, owner of the 421-megawatt Safe Harbor Hydroelectric Station on the Susquehanna River in Conestoga, Pa.

The transaction, for approximately $381 million in cash, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2010, pending receipt of necessary regulatory approvals and third- party consents. The transaction is expected to result in an after-tax special item charge against PPL’s third-quarter earnings of $65 million to $80 million.  

Following the closing of the sale, PPL will continue to operate a diverse mix of competitive-market generating plants in Pennsylvania and Montana, with a combined capacity of nearly 11,000 megawatts.

Credit Suisse and BofA Merrill Lynch served as PPL’s financial advisors in this transaction.

PPL Corporation, headquartered in Allentown, Pa., owns or controls generating capacity in the United States, sells energy in key U.S. markets and delivers electricity to about 4 million customers in Pennsylvania and the United Kingdom. More information is available at www.pplweb.com.

LS Power is a power generation and transmission group with a proven track record of successful development activities, operations management and commercial execution. LS Power has been involved in the development, construction, or operations of over 20,000 MW of power generation throughout the United States. LS Power is actively developing both power generation and transmission infrastructure to serve the need for new generation and improve the aging transmission system. Highly regarded in the financial community, LS Power has raised over $13 billion to support investment in energy infrastructure since 2005. For more information, visit www.LSPower.com.

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