Siren Problems at Three Mile Island

2001-2011

  • From October 5-9, 2001, “Licensee sirens in Lancaster County were inoperable October 5 through October 9, 2001, due to a radio transmitter being deenergized at the county facility. The transmitter is part of the siren actuation system. This issue is unresolved pending further investigation into the lines of ownership and maintenance of the actuation system.” (IR 50-289/01-07).
  • On January 11, 2002 , Siren testing at TMI encountered numerous problems: all sirens failed in York County and one siren failed in Lancaster County. AmerGen attributed to computer malfunctions.
  • On March 3, 2002, a siren malfunctioned in York County again. During TMI’s annual test on on January 30, 2002, all 34 sirens in York County, located within ten-miles of the plant, failed to activate.
  • On June 25, 2002, “...station emergency preparedness personnel discovered that the emergency planning siren base station at the site, was unable to communicate with the off site sirens, due to external radio frequency noise in the area.” (IR-50-277/02-05; 50-278/02- 05)
  • On December 12, 2002, TMI sirens malfunctioned in Cumberland and York counties. In Dauphin County, 28 sirens malfunctioned due to the “inadvertent” discharge of the “space bar” by a computer operator (Refer to June 22, August 15 and October 5-9, 2001 and January 11, March 3 2002, for related problems.)
  • On July 28, 2010, the NRC issued a report of an inspection at the Three Mile Island plant for the quarterly period ending June 30.
    The NRC said it found no findings of significance. However, it noted that the TMI plant operator identified a violation that was determined to be of very low safety significance. The NRC said it would treat the violation as a non-cited violation.
    The issued stemmed from the TMI Emergency Plan and the plant paging system. The report said that plant operator Exelon began testing its on-site speakers in March 2010. A total of 301 out of 405 speakers were tested, and of those tested, 108 had identified deficiencies, the report said. “Contrary to the TMI Emergency Plan, the 108 speakers would not provide immediate warning and instruction to on-site personnel during an emergency,” the report said. “Upon discovery, Exelon issued a standing order to issue blow horns to operations and security staff to notify people in areas that would need to be evacuated during an emergency.“ The report added, “The finding is of very low safety significance because prompt compensatory measures were taken upon discovery.”
  • June 23, 2011, Three Mile Island's emergency sirens sounded at 12:15 p.m. Thursday as part of an annual test -- but it didn't work everywhere. The 96 sirens, which cover five counties and are within a 10- mile radius of TMI, were set to sound for three minutes. They sounded everywhere except in Lancaster County.
    Officials ran another test, this time just in Lancaster County, at 1:15 p.m. At that time, the sirens did work in Lancaster County. (WGAL)
    A Lancaster County EMA official said Lancaster County and another county pressed the siren test button simultaneously and the system did not register the Lancaster County test.
  • July 14, 2011, A Three Mile Island warning siren sounded accidentally on Thursday afternoon, according to Dauphin County officials.
    The TMI siren at 2nd and Hanover streets in Hummelstown inadvertently sounded at 1:19 p.m. It lasted for fewer than 30 seconds, according to Stephen Libhart, Director of the Dauphin County EMA.
    Libhart says Exelon will repair or replace any components of the siren if necessary. (WGAL)

 

U.S. Nuclear Power After Fukushima

The Union of Concerned Scientists on U.S. Nuclear Power after Fukushima:

Summary of Report

Full Recomendations

NRC’s Japan Task Force Recommends Changes To Defense In Depth Measures At Nuclear Plants; Cites Station Blackout, Seismic, Flooding And Spent Fuel Pools As Areas For Improvement

From the NRC Report:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Japan Task Force has proposed improvements in areas ranging from loss of power to earthquakes, flooding, spent fuel pools, venting and preparedness, and said a “patchwork of regulatory requirements” developed “piece-by-piece over the decades” should be replaced with a “logical, systematic and coherent regulatory framework” to further bolster reactor safety in the United States.

The report has been given to the five members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who are responsible for making decisions regarding the Task Force’s recommendations.

While declaring that “a sequence of events like the Fukushima accident is unlikely to occur in the United States” and that plants can be operated safely, the Task Force also recognized that “an accident involving core damage and uncontrolled release of radioactivity to the environment, even one without significant health consequences, is inherently unacceptable.” Thus, the Task Force developed a comprehensive set of 12 recommendations – many with both short and long term elements – to increase safety and redefine what level of protection of public health is regarded as adequate. It also recommended additional study of some issues.

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Why Fukushima Can Happen Here: What the NRC and Nuclear Industry Dont Want You to Know.

The well-known safety flaws of Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors have gained significant attention in the wake of the four reactor accidents at Fukushima, but a more insidious danger lurks. In this video nuclear engineers Arnie Gundersen and David Lochbaum discuss how the US regulators and regulatory process have left Americans unprotected. They walk, step-by-step, through the events of the Japanese meltdowns and consider how the knowledge gained from Fukushima applies to the nuclear industry worldwide. They discuss "points of vulnerability" in American plants, some of which have been unaddressed by the NRC for three decades. Finally, they concluded that an accident with the consequences of Fukushima could happen in the US.

With more radioactive Cesium in the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant's spent fuel pool than was released by Fukushima, Chernobyl, and all nuclear bomb testing combined, Gundersen and Lockbaum ask why there is not a single procedure in place to deal with a crisis in the fuel pool? These and more safety questions are discussed in this forum presented by the C-10 Foundation at the Boston Public Library. Special thanks to Herb Moyer for the excellent video and Geoff Sutton for the frame-by-frame graphics of the Unit 3 explosion.

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Shale commission report drills deeper

From The Morning Call

The attention of the Capitol's political class is now focused on July 15. That's the day that a special Marcellus Shale study commission, led by Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, is scheduled to vote on recommendations on how to address the local infrastructure and environmental impact of Pennsylvania's booming natural gas industry.

The panel's final report, due to be released a week later on July 22, will presumably answer the one question that's been on the minds of political observers and policy-makers for months: Will the commission, which is top-heavy with industry interests, recommend that lawmakers pass a Marcellus Shale impact fee or severance tax?

Its overall findings — which also are expected to address possible changes to state regulations and local ordinances — will shape the public debate for months to come. But it may be the impact fee question that looms largest.

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Report on status of decommissioning funding for reactors

Braidwood, 1 and 2; Byron, 1 and 2; Clinton, 1; Dresden, 1, 2 and 3; LaSalle, 1 and 2; Limerick, 1 and 2; Oyster Creek, Peach Bottom, 1.2, and 3; Quad, 1 and 2; Salem, 1 and 2; TMI, 1-RAI re:Report on status of decommissioning funding for reactors

ADAMS Accession no. ML111680564

Milestone Passed - Renewable Energy Overtakes Nuclear Power

SUN DAY CAMPAIGN
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite #340; Takoma Park, MD 20912
301-270-6477 x.11
sun-day-campaign@hotmail.com
 
 
News Advisory
 
RENEWABLE ENERGY REACHES MILESTONE
DOMESTIC PRODUCTION SURPASSES NUCLEAR
AND CLOSES IN ON OIL
 
RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY EXPANDS BY 26%
REACHES 13% OF NET U.S. ELECTRICAL GENERATION

For Immediate Release:  Tuesday - July 5, 2011
 
Contact:  Ken Bossong, 301-270-6477 x.11
 
Washington DC – According to the most recent issue of the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy has passed a milestone as domestic production is now greater than that of nuclear power and is closing in on oil.
 
During the first quarter of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind) provided 2.245 quadrillion Btus of energy or 11.73% of U.S. energy production. More significantly, energy production from renewable energy sources in 2011 was 5.65% more than that from nuclear power, which provided 2.125 quadrillion Btus and has remained largely unchanged in recent years. Energy from renewable sources is now 77.15% of that from domestic crude oil production, with the gap closing rapidly.
 
Looking at all energy sectors (e.g., electricity, transportation, thermal), production of renewable energy, including hydropower, has increased by 15.07% compared to the first quarter of 2010, and by 25.07% when compared to the first quarter of 2009. Among the renewable energy sources, biomass/biofuels accounted for 48.06%, hydropower for 35.41%, wind for 12.87%, geothermal for 2.45%, and solar for 1.16%.
 
Looking at just the electricity sector, according to the latest issue of EIA’s "Electric Power Monthly," for the first quarter of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) accounted for 12.94% of net U.S. electrical generation - up from 10.31% during the same period in 2010. Non-hydro renewables accounted for 4.74% of net U.S. electrical generation.
 
In terms of actual production, renewable electrical output increased by 25.82% in the first three months of 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2010. Solar-generated electricity increased by 104.8%, wind-generated electricity rose by 40.3%, hydropower output expanded by 28.7%, and geothermal electrical generation rose by 5.8%. Only electricity from biomass sources dropped - by 4.8%. By comparison, natural gas electrical output rose by 1.8% and nuclear-generated electricity increased by only 0.4% while coal-generated electricity dropped by 5.7%.
 
“Notwithstanding the recent nuclear accident in Japan, among many others, and the rapid growth in energy and electricity from renewable sources, congressional Republicans continue to press for more nuclear energy funding while seeking deep cuts in renewable energy investments,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “One has to wonder ‘what are these people thinking?’”
 

# # # # # # # #

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released its most recent "Monthly Energy Review" on June 28, 2011.  It can be found at:  http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/monthly.  The relevant charts from which the data above are extrapolated are Tables 1.2 and 10.1.  EIA released its most recent "Electric Power Monthly" on June 9, 2011; see:  http://www.eia.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/epm_sum.html. The relevant charts are Tables ES1.B, and 1.1.A.

SRBC's Water Resources Program for Fiscal Years 2012-2013

TO:  Susquehanna River Basin Stakeholders
 
FROM:  Paul O. Swartz, Executive Director, Susquehanna River Basin Commission
 
RE:  SRBC's Water Resources Program for Fiscal Years 2012-2013
 
 
I am pleased to present the Susquehanna River Basin Commission's Water Resources Program for Fiscal Years 2012-2013 at http://www.srbc.net/planning/water-resources2012_and_2013.htm .
 
SRBC is required by the Susquehanna River Basin Compact to produce a Water Resources Program annually and distribute it to the public.  The Water Resources Program lists projects and facilities to be undertaken by SRBC and other governmental and non-governmental interests to meet the water resource needs of the Susquehanna River Basin.
 
If you have any questions, please contact Mr. David Heicher of my staff at dheicher@srbc.net or (717) 238-0423, ext. 110.

 

Ava Stoops
Administrative Specialist
Susquehanna River Basin Commission
1721 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102
Phone: (717) 238-0423 ext. 302
Fax: (717) 238-2436
http://www.srbc.net/

Transcript NRC Mark 1 petition, Beyond Nuclear

MR. LINGAM: I am Siva Lingam. I am the Petition Manager for this. I would like to thank everyone for attending this meeting. We are here today to allow the Petitioners from Beyond Nuclear, represented by Mr. Paul Gunter and Mr. Kevin Kamps; and Co-petitioners from Pilgrim Watch, represented by Ms. Mary Lampert; New England Coalition represented by Mr. Raymond Shadis; GE Stockholders' Alliance represented by Ms. Patricia Birnie; and Nuclear Energy Information Service, represented by Mr. David Kraft, to address the NRC Petition Review Board, also referred to as the PRB, regarding the 2.206 petition dated April 13, 2011, and the co-petitions dated May 14, 2011, May 18, 2011, May 27, 2011, and May 31, 2011, respectively. I am the Petition Manager for this petition, and Mr. Robert Nelson is the Petition Review Board Chairman.

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Markey on Nebraska Nuke Floods, New Mexico Wildfires: Regulations Inadequate to Prevent Nuclear Disasters from Extreme Weather

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NRC Commissioners Recently Voted to Reduce Safety, Including Nixing “Near-site” Disaster Command Centers and Increasing Risk from Heightened Reactor Activity

WASHINGTON (June 29, 2011) – The risks to nuclear power plants in Nebraska due to flooding and the wild-fires in the southwest highlight the inadequacy of current regulations and risk assumptions in the face of extreme weather events that may be exacerbated by climate change, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) asserted today. These incidents, coupled with an unusually active series of tornadoes earlier this spring, highlight the potential for severe weather to cause disasters at nuclear reactors, and the need to update risk assessments and safety regulations following the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan. Rep. Markey also said that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had taken steps over the last two years to decrease safety at nuclear plants.

The Los Alamos fires that threaten 30,000 barrels of stored plutonium fuel also highlight the need for the Department of Energy, which owns the facility, to consider updating their safety requirements at nuclear labs and other nuclear facilities.

“The floods, fires and tornadoes that have ravaged America this year demonstrate the need to update our nuclear safety regulations, even before the events at Fukushima are considered,” said Rep. Markey, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee. “The steps taken by nuclear regulators at Fort Calhoun show that increased vigilance is the necessary price of safety, but much more must be done to account for the increasingly wild weather that has recalibrated our collective understanding of potential risk. The prudent steps NRC had taken at Fort Calhoun have prevented any serious harm from occurring thus far. They should continue those efforts at facilities nationwide.”

In March 2010, following earlier correspondence with the NRC in which then-chairman Dale Klein dismissed Rep. Markey’s concerns related to the ability of nuclear reactors to prepare for the potential impacts of global warming, Rep. Markey sent a letter to GAO requesting a comprehensive investigation into the adequacy of NRC regulations, including NRC actions taken to prepare for earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes and tornadoes, and other effects of global warming. Many of these effects relate to the loss of off-site electricity, the failure of emergency backup power supplies, and the loss of cooling capabilities, all of which led to the meltdowns and explosions at the nuclear reactors in Japan.

Rep. Markey also released a report in May detailing the regulatory loopholes that have left U.S. nuclear facilities ill-prepared to respond to a catastrophic event involving a loss of off-site power, which include:

  • Widespread malfunctions and inoperability of emergency diesel generators at nuclear power plants.
  • The absence of emergency back-up power requirements at some spent fuel pools.
  • The absence of requirements to prevent hydrogen explosions at reactors and spent fuel pools.
  • Outdated seismic safety requirements, even as applications for new licenses and license extensions for many nuclear reactors continue to be processed by the NRC.

Yet, despite the existence of these loopholes, the NRC has continued to approve applications to extend the licenses of several nuclear power plants without first incorporating the lessons of Fukushima into their requirements, and without following the environmental law that requires any “new and significant” information regarding the environmental consequences of operating the nuclear reactor be included in the application.

Additionally, the Obama administration has yet to implement Rep. Markey’s 2002 law to require the distribution of potassium iodide, an inexpensive medication that has been found to protect individuals, especially children, from the cancer-causing releases of radioactive iodine, to those located within 20 miles of all operating nuclear reactors. A recent Associated Press analysis showed that populations around nuclear power plants have swelled by as much as four and a half times since 1980, highlighting the need to revisit the emergency evacuation plans and 10 mile emergency planning zones that are currently in place at these facilities.

Moreover, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has recently voted 4-1 (with Chairman Jaczko as the dissenting vote) to weaken nuclear reactor safety:

“Near-site” Emergency Operations Facilities are supposed to be command and control centers for nuclear reactor accidents. In 2004, then-Commissioners Jaczko and McGaffigan voted against a request by Southern Company to put one of these facilities more than 200 miles away from each of the reactors it would serve and require coordination between as many as four different states.  But in September of 2010, the NRC voted 4-1 to stop separately considering nuclear reactor licensees’ requests to be exempted from the requirement to locate their emergency facilities near the nuclear reactors where the facilities would be needed.

The NRC has approved “power up-rates” for twenty-two nuclear reactors to produce more electricity.  But “power up-rates” also means more radioactive materials, hotter reactor cores, and higher pressures, all of which can make a meltdown more likely in the case of an accident.  On February 17, 2011, the NRC’s Advisory Commission on Reactor Safeguards said that the NRC shouldn’t just assume that safety measures to address these riskier conditions were in place and would work.  But on March 15, 2011 – 4 days after the Japanese earthquake - the NRC announced a 4-1 Commission vote to ignore its technical advisory group, even though in his dissenting vote, NRC Chairman Jaczko noted the need for a risk analysis that includes the possibility of fires and earthquakes that breach the containment of the reactors.

“With floods, fires and storms that now approach biblical proportions, the NRC should be voting to upgrade safety and improve emergency response capabilities,” said Rep. Markey. “Instead, it appears that a majority of Commissioners are turning a blind eye to the risks these reactors face.”

Markey also noted that recent press reports have raised concerns about whether the Las Conchas wildfire burning in New Mexico could adversely affect nuclear waste and hazardous materials stored at the Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory, saying “Energy Secretary Chu needs to ensure that this wildfire does not result in any release of radioactive or hazardous materials.”
 

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