From the Boston Globe:
AFTER AN earthquake and tsunami rocked a nuclear power plant in Japan, the industry worked hard to equate fallout from massive radiation leaks with benign X-rays.
That’s nice, but there are still tough questions about safety and emergency plans at US plants — and the answers should come fast and straight from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Historically, that’s not the way it works, said Senate President Therese Murray, whose district covers the Pilgrim Nuclear Station on Manomet shore. “We’ve been dealing with the NRC for years and never get any kind of response. It’s usually a stone wall,’’ said Murray. When the agency does reply, she asks a lawyer “to figure out what they’re telling us.’’
From New York Times:
In the fall of 2007, workers at the Byron nuclear power plant in Illinois were using a wire brush to clean a badly corroded steel pipe — one in a series that circulate cooling water to essential emergency equipment — when something unexpected happened: the brush poked through.
The resulting leak caused a 12-day shutdown of the two reactors for repairs.
The plant’s owner, the Exelon Corporation, had long known that corrosion was thinning most of these pipes. But rather than fix them, it repeatedly lowered the minimum thickness it deemed safe. By the time the pipe broke, Exelon had declared that pipe walls just three-hundredths of an inch thick — less than one-tenth the original minimum thickness — would be good enough.
Though no radioactive material was released, safety experts say that if enough pipes had ruptured during a reactor accident, the result could easily have been a nuclear catastrophe at a plant just 100 miles west of Chicago.
Exelon’s risky decisions occurred under the noses of on-site inspectors from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. No documented inspection of the pipes was made by anyone from the N.R.C. for at least the eight years preceding the leak, and the agency also failed to notice that Exelon kept lowering the acceptable standard, according to a subsequent investigation by the commission’s inspector general.
A report from the Japanese Nuclear Safety Commission Ex-Secretariat, Dr. Saji, credits the current status of the accident to "luck". Gundersen discusses what could have happened if the wind had been blowing inland.
I was just sent the New England Journal of Medicine piece entitled: "Short-term and Long-term Health Risks of Nuclear-Power-Plant Accidents." (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1103676?query=featured_home). You are listed as one of the authors.
Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station - NRC Integrated Inspection Report 05000277/2011002 and 05000278/2011002
ADAMS Accession No. ML111260700 (PDF)
A month after a devastating earthquake sent a wall of water across the Japanese landscape, the global terrain of the atomic power industry has been forever altered.
The ongoing drama at the power plant in Fukushima -- a name now ranked alongside Three Mile Island and Chernobyl as history's worst nuclear accidents -- has erased the momentum the nuclear industry has seen in recent years.
The growth in the emerging world, such as China and India, fueled increased demand in planned reactors. Oil-rich regions like the United Arab Emirates and smaller nations like Vietnam announced plans to build nuclear reactors in the past year. Once the bane of environmentalists, the nuclear industry enjoyed newfound "green" credentials as a cleaner alternative to coal-fired plants that belch greenhouse gases to produce electricity.
Before Fukushima, a "nuclear renaissance" -- as it was termed in the press -- seemed well underway, except for this point: Nuclear power, as a total of world energy supply, has been in steady decline for the past decade.
From 2000 to 2008, nuclear energy dropped from 16.7% to 13.5% of global energy production, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2009. The 2010-11 preliminary report, expected to be released Wednesday, will show the downward trend has continued, according to study author Mycle Schneider. While nuclear energy production has steadily increased, its piece of the global electricity pie is shrinking compared to traditional sources such as coal and alternatives like wind and solar power.
FORTHCOMING MEETING WITH EXELON NUCLEAR REGARDING PROPOSED AMENDMENT REQUEST TO MODIFY SPENT FUEL POOL STORAGE RACKS AT PEACH BOTTOM ATOMIC POWER STATION, UNITS 2 AND 3
The German affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War has published a report on the health effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 25 years after the accident. The authors conclude that the genetic defects caused by Chernobyl will continue to trouble the world for a long time to come - with most of the effects not becoming apparent until the second or third generation.
To read the full report, click here.
Join us on Wednesday, May 4
Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg, Valentine Hall 206
7:00 Gettysburg Area DFA Annual Meeting and Election of Officers
7:15 Gettysburg Conversation - Bring your questions and comments!
What is the Future of Nuclear Power After Fukushima?
Eric Epstein, Chairman of Three Mile Island Alert
Pat Naugle, nuclear engineer, advisor to Susquehanna River Basin Commission
Moderated by Elaine Jones, Gettysburg DFA Chair
- We have 104 nuclear power reactors in the US today. What impact should Fukushima have on our nuclear power industry?
- What are the environmental consequences of NOT using nuclear power? How does nuclear power compare to coal and other sources of electricity?
- Where is the radioactive waste stored now? Have we really solved this problem?
We are honored to have two very knowledgeable guests who will begin our conversation.
Eric Epstein, Chairman of Three Mile Island Alert, Inc., (tmia.com), a safe-energy organization based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was founded in 1977. TMIA monitors Peach Bottom, Susquehanna, and Three Mile Island nuclear generating stations.
Eric is the coordinator of the EFMR Monitoring, Inc., a nonpartisan community based organization established in 1992. EFMR monitors radiation levels at Peach Bottom and Three Mile Island nuclear generating stations, invests in community development, and sponsors remote robotics research. The group has also intervened at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to protect the economic interests of Pennsylvania rate payers.
Eric is a board member of the Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern Pennsylvania which supports and finances renewable energy development, green building, energy efficiency, and alternative fuels.
Pat Naugle graduated from Lafayette College in 1970 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and received an MBA from Widener University in 1982. Pat worked for Philadelphia Electric Company (now Exelon) for 28 years before retiring in 1998. Since his retirement he has taught economics and finance at Eastern University, and is presently working on contract to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission reviewing water withdrawal requests for Bell Bend Nuclear Power Plant.
During most of his career, he worked in construction of substations and power plants. From 1974 to 1989 he worked on Limerick Generating Station, Units 1 and 2. The Limerick units are GE designed boiling water reactors (BWR) similar to the Fukushima nuclear plants in Japan. Early in his career, he worked on Peach Bottom units 2 and 3, which are BWRs and are the same basic design as the Fukushima plants.
Pat is a registered professional engineer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but spends most of his time as a volunteer. He is now the President of the Land Conservancy of Adams County, was the past president of the Watershed Alliance of Adams County, and is on the Boards of Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve and the Adams County Conservation District.
PEACH BOTTOM ATOMIC POWER STATION, UNITS 2 AND 3 WITHDRAWAL OF AN AMENDMENT REQUEST (TAC NOS. ME3598 AND ME3599)