Officials say tritium likely from “buried” pipe carrying radioactive waste

From vtdigger.org:

Low levels of the radioactive isotope tritium have been found in two monitoring wells on the Vermont Yankee compound over the last two weeks.

Though the source of the contaminated water has not yet been identified, officials say it could be coming from a new leak, possibly from pipes buried in soil near the radioactive waste treatment building, where radioactive fluids are treated and stored. As part of the new probe, an Entergy hydrogeologist will be sharing data with experts from New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Feb. 10.

The two monitoring wells that have tested positive for very low concentrations of tritium (between 1,000 and 9,000 picocuries per liter, well below the EPA standard of 20,000 pc/L) are located 200 feet and 100 feet, respectively, from tritium contamination that was discovered at the nuclear power plant a little more than a year ago.

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Cancelled Meeting Notice: Exelon

Cancelled Meeting Notice: Forthcoming Meeting with Exelon Nuclear Regarding License Amendment Request to Store Low Level Radioactive Waste Generated Off-site at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station (TAC Nos. ME 3092 and ME3093)
 
ADAMS Accession No.: ML110310173 (Downlaod PDF)

Upton Signals Congressional Focus on NRC, Licensing Progress

From Nuclear Townhall:

The first indication that the 112th Congress will give a high priority to nuclear energy has come from the new Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, who knocked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in a statement for taking five years to decide on license renewals.

"Today marks an unfortunate milestone for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as the timeline for the reactor renewal process has now doubled without explanation,” said the chairman. He noted that the renewal applications for the Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee reactors “eclips[ed] 60 months with no end in sight. “Gone are the days of reasonable expectations for a stable and predictable regulatory process," continued Upton. "This uncertainty and lack of transparency in the process is needlessly putting plants and thousands of jobs at risk.” 

According to the NRC’s own website, “License renewal is expected to take about 30 months, including the time to conduct an adjudicatory hearing, if necessary, or 22 months without a hearing.”

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Consultants say VY decomm study flawed

From the Rutland Herald:

Vermont needs to launch a new study on the decommissioning of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant because the most recent one is flawed, outdated and has a conflict of interest at its core, nuclear consultants for the Legislature told a House committee Wednesday.

The most recent study on the complicated process of decommissioning the Vernon power plant was written by a company that is owned by Entergy, which also owns Vermont Yankee, the consultants, Arnie and Maggie Gunderson, told the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

“When the company that owns the reactor is also telling you how much it’s going to cost to dismantle it, there’s at least the appearance of a conflict of interest,” said Arnie Gunderson. “I would suggest more than that: There is a conflict of interest.”

The Gundersons, who own the nuclear consulting company Fairewinds Associates, said widely diverging estimates of the cost of decommissioning are the major reason that an independent contractor should perform a new study.

Those decommissioning estimates were based on studies performed by the Entergy-owned TLG Services Inc. and ranged from a low of $500 million to a high of nearly $1 billion.

Despite the Gundersons’ calls for a new study, Rep. Tony Klein, an East Montpelier Democrat who heads the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, said he doesn’t think there will be one.

Klein said he and other legislators already believe there is a huge gap between the $465 million in the decommissioning fund and the actual cost of dismantling the plant.

“And a new study is not going to tell us anything different than that,” Klein said.

In addition, it would be hard to find the money to pay for the study, Klein said, though he didn’t know how much a new analysis would cost. The state can’t afford it, Klein said, and Entergy — which funded past decommissioning studies — no longer has an incentive to pay.

“The only leverage we were holding over Entergy was they were hoping against hope they would be able to talk us into letting them operate,” Klein said.

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Susquehanna: Manual Reactor Scram Due to an Unisolable Extraction Steam System Leak

Event Number: 46569
Event Date: 01/25/2011
Facility: SUSQUEHANNA

MANUAL REACTOR SCRAM DUE TO AN UNISOLABLE EXTRACTION STEAM SYSTEM LEAK

"At 0610 EST hours on January 25, 2011, Susquehanna Steam Electric Station Unit 1 reactor was manually scrammed due to an unisolable extraction steam system leak in the 1C Feed Water Heater Bay area.

"At 0517 EST reactor operators commenced lowering reactor power from 98.4% to 65%. Attempts to isolate the source of the leakage were unsuccessful. Based on continued indications of unisolated steam leakage, operations decided to shut down the plant. The reactor operator placed the mode switch in shutdown. All control rods inserted. Reactor water level lowered to -31 inches causing Level 3 (+ 13 inches) isolation and RCIC initiation. The operations crew subsequently maintained reactor water level at the normal operating band using FW [feedwater]. No steam relief valves opened. All safety systems operated as expected. RCIC automatically initiated on a -30 inch level signal and was manually secured.

"The reactor is currently stable in Mode 3. Investigation into the cause of the extraction steam system leakage is underway.

"The NRC Resident Inspector was notified. A voluntary notification to PEMA and press release will occur."

The steam leak was isolated after the turbine was tripped. The plant is stable at normal temperature and pressure. Decay heat is being removed via the condenser steam dumps to the main condenser. The electrical lineup is in a normal configuration. Estimated time to restart is not known.

Berwick nuclear reactor shut down after steam leak

From the Scranton Times Tribune:

The Susquehanna 1 nuclear power plant was manually shut down this morning due to a steam leak, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Susquehanna 2 power plant was not affected and continues to operate normally, the NRC said.

The shutdown came at 6:10 a.m., after operators decided steam from the boiling water reactor could not be contained "without impacting other systems," the NRC said. All plant safety systems operated as expected during the shutdown, the NRC said.

An NRC inspector was sent to the scene, and PPL Corp., which operates the power plant, is investigating the cause of the leak, the NRC said. No injuries or releases of radioactivity to the environment were reported.

Why nuclear energy is on hold for Alaska

From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

Nuclear energy isn’t a good fit for Alaska right now but could be within a decade or two. If a new generation of small, user-friendly reactors hits the market, nuclear power could actually be a viable energy source for Fairbanks, according to a report coming soon by University of Alaska researchers. But it would take even higher energy prices and years of product testing and development before the chain reaction were initiated in Alaska.

“This has possible applications in Alaska, there’s no question about that,” said Gwen Holdmann, director of the UA Alaska Center for Energy and Power in Fairbanks. “But we have some time here.”

Nuclear energy doesn’t make sense now because current gigawatt-sized reactors are too big for Alaska’s power needs. But a renewed push for nuclear power by the federal government and industry could be clearing the way for new technology. Now smaller-scale, modular reactors are approaching the permitting process that could redefine the look and usefulness of nuclear power.

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Footprints for Peace Events

Dear Friends,
We here at Footprints for Peace would like to wish everyone a happy and peaceful 2011.  Our first event starts in less than a month and we have a lot planned for this year with something that should appeal to everyone.  So our 2011 schedule is:
Walk to Stop Mountain Top Removal
Walking for a Sustainable Future
CLEAN AIR, CLEAN WATER & RESTORE JOBS
Prestonsburg, KY to Frankfort, KY for I Love Mountains Day hosted by KFTC
February 2nd - February 14th
 
Run for Freedom
For Leonard Peltier and all Prisoners Of Conscience
Covington, KY to Washington DC via Lewisburg, PA
June 26th through July 8th

Bikes not Bombs
Carbon Free - Nuclear Free - Self Sufficient
Cincinnati, OH to Oak Ridge, TN
July 31st - August 6th

Walk For A Nuclear Free Future
Australia
Wiluna to Perth
August 21st to October 30th

We would like to invite you all to come out and participate with us on any of these events for a step, a day or the whole event.  Please call 513-843-1205 or visit our website for information about how to participate.
What can you do to help?

  • Plan an overnight for us; we don't require much just a place to put down a bedroll and restrooms.  Schedules are on the website.
  • Help organize a pot luck dinner and a meeting with the community.
  • Help distribute information on the event and about FootPrints for Peace.
  • Also please consider making a modest donation by writing a check to FootPrints for Peace (in the memo write which event you would like to donate to) and sending it to 1225 North Bend Rd, Cincinnati, Ohio 45224, USA.
  • Or by making a credit card donation through PayPal

Hope to see you on the road.
Peace and love,
Jim, Larry, Jon, KA, and Marcus
 
Phone: 513-843-1205
For more information on FootPrints for Peace please visit our web site. click here

Are You There, God? It's Me, Fake-Rob Williams

From Fake Rob Williams:

It's so cool. You know, one of the things that people don't really appreciate about Vermont Yankee is how much fun we have around here forgiving each other for our blunders and mistakes. It's really a "peace, man" and "no worries" kind of place. Another very cool fact about us: Our employees are happy, picturesque people with good singing voices.

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Pa. Supreme Court sides with developer in Chester County case

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

A state law designed to shield people from lawsuits when they try to protect the environment suffered a blow Wednesday when the state Supreme Court ruled in a long-running case involving a Chester County development.

The court ruled, in part, that the Environmental Immunity Act does not shield parties who may have already reached a court-approved agreement on an issue.

"It looks like, environmentally, we took one on the chin," said State Rep. Camille "Bud" George (D., Clearfield), who led the effort to pass the Environmental Immunity Act in 2001.

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