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Tritium detected at Pilgrim Station Nuclear plant

From Wicked Local Plymouth:

Elevated levels of the radioactive isotope tritium have been detected in one of the new groundwater monitoring wells at Pilgrim Station Nuclear Power Plant.

The release, issued Thursday by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of test results taken from a sample of one of the 12 monitoring wells by Pilgrim staff June 21, states that the level falls within federal drinking water limits and does not require public notification but the information is being released because it’s an issue of public interest.

Six of the 12 monitoring wells were added in May. The monitoring well where the tritium was detected at 11,072 picocuries per liter is located near the condensate storage tank that stores water for use in the nuclear reactor. The Environmental Protection Agency’s safe drinking water limit for tritium is 20,000 picocuries per liter.

Pilgrim spokesman David Tarantino, representing Pilgrim owner Entergy Nuclear Operations, said despite identifying increased levels of tritium in samples taken May 17, June 11 and June 21, there’s no threat to public drinking water. He said there’s no contact with drinking water.

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Susquehanna Steam Update

Susquehanna Steam Electric Station (Berwick)

The NRC issued a report on May 12, 2010, covering a three-month inspection ending on March 31, 2010. The NRC said no findings of significance were identified; however, a licensee-identified violation was determined to be of very low safety significance.

That violation determined that an individual had falsified entries in a weld rod oven temperature log. It was determined that the weld rod oven temperatures logs were deliberately falsified for four dates from Jan. 29, 2008 through Feb. 1, 2008.

The NRC said it considered issuing a notification of violation on this issue. However, it noted that even though the violation was willful, a non-cited violation was appropriate in this case because plant owner PPL identified the violation, the violation involved acts of a non-supervisory individual, the violation resulted from the isolated actions of a single individual without management involvement, and PPL took significant remedial action that the NRC does not detail in its report.

The report also discusses the previously discussed failure of two senior reactor operators to meet specific medical requirements for performing their duties. PPL submitted a written response on Dec. 10, 2009 describing its action to restore compliance and prevent recurrence. The NRC said it again reviewed PPL’s plan of action and determined that “PPL’s response and corrective actions were reasonable and appropriate” to address the notice of violation and it “does not require any additional information for these issues and considered these issues to be closed.” (Details of this issue are contained in prior reports from the NRC.)

On May 27, 2010, the NRC issued a letter regarding a staff review regarding allegations of discrimination made by a senior reactor operator during a refueling outage in March 2008. The allegations were made against an assistant operations manager.

In the letter, the NRC said, “After careful consideration of the available evidence in this case, and significant internal NRC deliberations, the NRC concluded that the action did not constitute discrimination.” However, the NRC added that the “circumstances in this act reflect poor performance that created negative perceptions which adversely affected the work environment at the facility.”

On Jan. 28, 2009, the NRC issued a potential chilling effect letter to PPL as a result of negative perceptions associated with this case and others.

The event occurred on March 26, 2008, during a refueling outage. Based on interviews with workers assigned to the control room and other places during the refueling outage, the NRC concluded that the assistant operations manager’s behavior that day was “not conducive to a healthy safety conscious work environment (SCWE) at Susquehanna, and could have given the perception that schedule pressure over safety was part of his motivation. The NRC considered this behavior to be an additional example of the decline in SCWE that the NRC had already been evaluating in 2008.”

TMI update

Three Mile Island

On April 23, 2010, the NRC issued a report of an inspection on Unit 1 covering a three-month period ending March 31, 2010. It said no findings of significance were identified.

The NRC also issued a report in late May 2010 on Unit 2, which is in permanent shutdown after the accident on March 28, 1979. The safety inspections were conducted on Feb. 22, 2010 and April 20-22, 2010. It said, “No safety concerns or violations were identified.”

In the report on Unit 2, the NRC noted that the licensee “maintained an adequate audit program  and effectively utilized the established correction action program to self-identify, evaluate and correct issues and problems.” It also said that the licensee “provided adequate controls to limit exposures of workers to external sources of radiation.”

Peach Bottom update

Peach Bottom

On April 28, 2010, the NRC issued a report of an inspection covering a two-week period to evaluate changes, tests or experiments and permanent plant modifications. The inspection, completed March 19, 2010, dealt with activities relating to safety and compliance with the NRC’s rules and regulations and with conditions of the plant operator’s license. No findings of significance were identified, the NRC said.

The NRC issued a report on May 12, 2010, covering the three-month period ending March 31, 2010. The report said a self-revealed finding of very low safety significance was identified, and a licensee-identified violation was determined to be of very low safety significance.

The self-revealed matter involved the identification of 21 slow control rods during a Unit 2 scram time testing conducted from Jan. 30 to Jan. 31, 2010. Positioning of control rods helps change reactor power and can help shut down the reactor.

In the report, the NRC said there was planned power curtailment at Unit 2 on Jan. 29, 2010. A performance review of control rods was conducted, resulting in the identification of 21 slow rods, or 11 percent, of the 185 tested. The NRC said the 21 rods contained “1995-vintage SSPV diaphragms of the Viton-A material type.” The NRC said issues with these components had been found at other boiling water reactors plants, and they were to be regularly monitored. The NRC said Peach Bottom officials determined that the “performance monitoring and trending of the scram times was not being performed as required by Exelon (the licensee) procedure.”

The NRC noted that the 21 slow control rods were promptly repaired with a Viton-AB diaphragm made available in 1997 by the vendor as a warranty exchange for the Viton-A diaphragms. The NRC said the repaired control rods were re-tested satisfactorily and returned to service.

The licensee-identified violation involved preventive maintenance practices for the MSIV oil dashpot needle control valve. “There were no actual safety consequence associated with this event” discovered in September 2009, the NRC said..

Pickering nuclear plant ordered to quit killing fish

From the Toronoto Star:

The Pickering nuclear power plant is killing fish by the millions.

Close to one million fish and 62 million fish eggs and larvae die each year when they’re sucked into the water intake channel in Lake Ontario, which the plant uses to cool steam condensers.

The fish, which include alewife, northern pike, Chinook salmon and rainbow smelt, are killed when they’re trapped on intake screens or suffer cold water shock after leaving warmer water that’s discharged into the lake.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has told Ontario Power Generation, which operates the plant, to reduce fish mortality by 80 per cent. And in renewing Pickering A station’s operating licence last month, the nuclear regulator asked for annual public reports on fish mortality and the effectiveness of steps OPG is taking to reduce rates.

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Persons Living Within 10 Miles of Nuclear Power Plants

This map displays the number of persons within 10 miles of nuclear power plants.

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TMI: Request for Additional Information

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 – Request for Additional Information Regarding License Amendment Request to Adopt TSTF-425, Relocation of Surveillance Frequencies to a Licensee Controlled Program (TAC No. ME3587)

Download ML101680647

Peach Bottom: Request for Additional Information Regarding License Amendment Request

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Unit 2 - Request for Additional Information Regarding License Amendment Request for Safety Limit Minimum Critical Power Ratio change (TAC No. ME3994)

Download ML101790406

Ruling keeps Yucca Mountain alive

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste plan was kept alive Tuesday when a panel of judges ruled the Obama administration does not have the authority to withdraw the project without permission from Congress.

Federal law requires the Department of Energy to apply for a waste repository license and for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to evaluate the application and rule on its merits unless lawmakers decide otherwise, according to a three-judge board that hears commission licensing matters.

"We deny DOE's motion to withdraw the application," the judges said at the outset of a 53-page ruling. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which was passed in 1982, "does not give the secretary (of energy) the discretion to substitute his policy for the one established by Congress."

The decision is a setback for the Obama administration, which has been moving to shut down the Nevada project in fulfillment of a campaign pledge to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., a longtime Yucca foe.

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TMI: Request for Exemption

Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1: Request for Exemption From Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 50, Appendix R Requirements (TAC No. ME0771)

Download ML101310113

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