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Pending Applications for Power Uprates

The following power uprates are currently under review by the NRC.  The licensees for the following plants have not been authorized by the NRC to operate the plants at power levels that reflect the following increases.

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EPA Announces a Schedule of Public Meetings on Hydraulic Fracturing Research Study

The Environmental Protection Agency
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hosting four public information meetings on the proposed study of the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and its potential impacts on drinking water. Hydraulic fracturing is a process that helps production of natural gas or oil from shale and other geological formations. By pumping fracturing fluids (water and chemical additives) and sand or other similar materials into rock formations, fractures are created that allow natural gas or oil to flow from the rock through the fractures to a production well for extraction. The meetings will provide public information about the proposed study scope and design. EPA will solicit public comments on the draft study plan.

The public meetings will be held on:

  • July 8 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. CDT at the Hilton Fort Worth in Fort Worth, Texas
  • July 13 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. MDT at the Marriot Tech Center’s Rocky Mountain Events Center in Denver, Colo.
  • July 22 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. EDT at the Hilton Garden Inn in Canonsburg, Pa.
  • August 12 at the Anderson Performing Arts Center at Binghamton University in Binghamton, N.Y. for 3 sessions - 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. EDT

Natural gas plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future and hydraulic fracturing is one way of accessing this vital resource. However, serious concerns have been raised about hydraulic fracturing’s potential impact on drinking water, human health and the environment. To address these concerns, EPA announced in March that it will study the potential adverse impact that hydraulic fracturing may have on drinking water.

To support the initial planning phase and guide the development of the study plan, the agency sought suggestions and comments from the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB)—an independent, external federal advisory committee. The agency will use this advice and extensive stakeholder input to guide the design of the study.

Stakeholders are requested to pre-register for the meetings at least 72 hours before each meeting.

More information on the meetings:

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/uic/wells_hydrofrac.html

Task force: NRC response to tritium leaks appropriate

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

The NRC is meeting its mission of protecting public health, safety, and the environment ..." stated the Groundwater Task Force.A report issued by a Nuclear Regulatory Commission task force concluded the NRC has responded appropriately to the radioactive contamination of groundwater and soil at the nation's nuclear power plants.

The task force was made up of a number of NRC staffers, which issued its report on June 11.

It conducted several months of evaluations of the agency's past, current and planned actions regarding radioactive contamination of groundwater and soil.

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TMI: Environmental Assessment Regarding the Request for Exemption

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

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Susquehanna: Request for Alternative No. RR-07 Main Steam Safety Relief Valve Test Interval Extension

SUSQUEHANNA STEAM ELECTRIC STATION, UNIT NO.2 - REQUEST FOR ALTERNATIVE NO. RR-07 MAIN STEAM SAFETY RELIEF VALVE TEST INTERVAL EXTENSION (TAC NO. ME3320)

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Governor Rendell Praises Regulatory Panel Vote Protecting PA’s Stream, Rivers from Drilling Wastewater

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA

Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

IRRC Also Votes to Enhance Erosion and Sediment Control, Stormwater Regulations

HARRISBURG -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today praised two votes by members of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission that he said will protect Pennsylvania’s streams and drinking water supplies against total dissolved solids pollution from Marcellus Shade drilling wells and other sources from stormwater runoff.

The new total dissolved solids, or TDS, rules the commission approved today will ensure that rivers and streams in Pennsylvania do not exceed the safe drinking water standard of 500 milligrams per liter, the Governor said. The rules also will protect businesses by grandfathering all existing discharges and allowing businesses to use a stream’s ability to absorb those discharges while not exceeding drinking water standards.

“Today’s IRRC vote is a great step forward in our efforts to protect one of the state’s greatest natural and economic assets—our waterways,” said Governor Rendell. “Millions of Pennsylvanians rely on the state’s rivers and streams for drinking water; countless numbers of our residents and visitors from out-of-state come here to fish these waters or use them for recreation; and some of our largest industrial employers wouldn’t be able to operate here if not for the clean, reliable supply of water they offer. So, we cannot allow new, heavily polluted sources of wastewater to contaminate them.

“That’s why these regulations are so important,” added the Governor, who noted the approved regulations now await review from the environmental resources and energy committees in the state house and senate.

“As the natural gas industry expands to access the Marcellus Shale reserves in Pennsylvania, the volume of wastewater returned to our streams could increase exponentially, and the only way to protect our water resources is to implement new wastewater treatment standards for the drilling industry,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger. “The National Association of Water Companies and many other individuals and groups across the state strongly support the adoption of this rule and I commend the Independent Regulatory Review Commission for taking this action. All other industries are responsible for the waste they generate and the drilling industry should be no exception.”

Hanger noted that drilling wastewater contains very high levels of total dissolved solids – chlorides and sulfides – that must be removed before discharging into surface waters. High TDS levels have damaged industrial equipment, caused drinking water companies to issue drinking water advisories and even led to a massive fish kill on Dunkard Creek. Some of Pennsylvania’s rivers are near their capacity to absorb and dilute additional levels of TDS.

The proposed regulations will require drillers to treat drilling wastewater to 500 mg/l or to drinking water quality at the discharge pipe if they choose to return drilling wastewater to rivers and streams. Drillers have several options to dispose of wastewater in Pennsylvania, including: reuse or recycling; disposal in deep caverns when permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; or full treatment to the 500 mg/l for TDS standard.

The last option will only work if polluted water is properly treated to reduce high TDS levels. Several states, including Texas, Oklahoma, New York, Iowa, Virginia, Arkansas and Tennessee, prohibit returning any drilling wastewater to streams.

The panel also approved new regulations to enhance existing rules governing erosion, sediment control and stormwater to protect streams from the effects of new development, reduce localized flooding during heavy storms, and cut sediment and nutrient pollution. The new rules, which also include an updated permit fee structure, bring Pennsylvania into compliance with federal requirements for:

• Erosion and sedimentation controls and post-construction stormwater runoff;
• Creating mandatory requirements for establishing and protecting existing streamside and riverside buffers in high quality and exceptional value watersheds; and
• Enhancing agricultural stormwater management provisions beyond plowing and tilling to include animal-heavy use areas.

For more information, visit www.depweb.state.pa.us.

Let's end expansion of nuclear power

By John DeCock
Guest columnist
Updated: June 14, 2010 11:53 a.m.

According to current nuclear industry proposals, over two dozen new nuclear reactors would be constructed in the United States, the vast majority in the Southeast and Texas. President Obama recently offered $8.3 billion worth of taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to two of them in Georgia, which could be the first to be built in the U.S. in nearly four decades.

Wall Street isn’t interested in investing in these expensive and risky projects, so these guarantees promise that taxpayers will pay back the nuclear industry’s loans if the project fails.

In addition to the high cost and risks, new reactors create another problem, one that is rarely mentioned: they put enormous pressure on water resources. Nuclear reactors require huge amounts of cooling water to operate; without adequate water, they cannot produce electricity. (According to the industry’s Electric Power Research Institute, nuclear reactors can consume between 400 and 720 gallons per megawatt hour while coal consumes about 300 gallons and natural gas, less than 250 gallons.)

So, the U.S. is pinning its energy future on a power source that is the most vulnerable to weather extremes and that stresses the water resources on which we rely for healthy people and strong economies. As we all have seen in recent years, weather patterns can be wildly erratic, producing floods as well as droughts. 

Does anybody remember the drought that hit the Southeastern U.S. in 2007? During that summer and fall, one of the worst dry spells in over a century triggered water wars, forced power stations – including reactors – to reduce operations, and saw rivers and lakes reach their lowest levels in memory. Water had to be trucked into communities and rationing was widespread. In many areas, daily life was heavily disrupted.

Scientists say that warmer temperatures from climate change will mean a less dependable supply of water. This should be of special concern to residents of the southeastern United States, which is seeing its energy demand grow –  and its water resources become increasingly stressed. In the Southeast, electric power production accounts for nearly two-thirds of all freshwater withdrawals, or nearly 40 billion gallons daily. (That’s as much as all public-water supply customers use in the U.S. each day.)

During a 2006 heat wave, reactors in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Minnesota were either forced to cut output or shut down entirely because there was not enough cooling water.

During a 2003 heat wave in France, air temperatures at nuclear reactors came within two degrees of requiring an emergency shutdown. Employees were forced to use garden hoses to spray cold water on the exterior walls of the reactors to keep them from overheating. 

Concerns about adequate cooling water have been raised in the context of Exelon Corporation’s plans to build two reactors in Victoria County, Texas. Those reactors would use water from the Guadalupe River, which during a 2009 drought dropped so low it could no longer supply drinking water to the community. 

On March 25, Exelon withdrew its application for a construction and operating license for the site, and has applied for an “early site permit” that must examine the water issue.
The water supply question isn’t an arcane one to be thrashed out quietly among engineers working for utility companies. Taxpayers have a multi-billion-dollar stake in this question. They are guaranteeing the loans to build these reactors. If they aren’t economical and reliable, then the utility could default, leaving U.S. taxpayers to bail them out.

The Obama administration has proposed tripling loan guarantees for additional reactors. Some in Congress even support a “permanent financing platform” in the form of risky loan guarantees to underwrite all new reactors.

So, as investors in these projects, taxpayers have every right to ask: Will these multi-billion-dollar reactors be rendered useless each summer as rivers and lakes dry up and the region scrambles to meet basic water needs? Will this expensive and risky power source be able to help us curb our global warming pollution?

We need to make smart choices for our energy future – choices that are economical and protective of public health and natural resources. Nuclear power falls short in both categories.

 Decock is the president of Clean Water Action

Jonathan A. Scott
Director of Corporate Relations & Legacy Gifts
Clean Water Action
www.cleanwateraction.org

New Jersey activists taking PPL transmission line plan to court

From the Hazleton Standard Speaker:

A coalition of environmental groups has appealed a New Jersey utility commission ruling in an effort to halt construction of a controversial, high-power electrical line that would run through this region.

The suit, filed in New Jersey Superior Court, alleges the state's Board of Public Utilities erred in April by approving Public Service Electric & Gas' application to construct its part of the $1.2 billion Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in April affirmed a ruling allowing Allentown-based PPL Electric Utilities to begin construction of its part of the Susquehanna-Roseland project, a 500-kilovolt line running 100 miles through parts of Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties. PPL plans to use the line to deliver power from its nuclear plant near Berwick to other markets in the Mid-Atlantic.

The New Jersey appeal states that the utility board failed to consider the need for or alternatives to the power line, its potential environmental effects and costs to ratepayers.

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Nuclear Watchdog Groups Raise Reactor Safety Concerns over the Gulf Oil Spill

Nuclear power watchdog groups are calling for an across-the-board and transparent analysis of all critical actions which will be necessary to prevent damage to coastal reactors posed by the threat of contaminated water. In a letter to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the US Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, the watchdog groups ask for assurances that comprehensive guidance from federal agencies is being provided to reactor licensees. They are also calling for the constant monitoring of the oil plumes.

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Diablo Canyon and PG&E deal with water-cooling mandate

From the San Luis Obispo:

It’s hard to miss Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant when passing it by air or sea. One immediately sees the hulking containment domes that house and protect the plant’s two nuclear reactors rising above the squat, brown generator building.

Attention is soon drawn to another sight — a massive plume of whitewater cascading from the plant’s cooling water system. When operating at full power, Diablo Canyon uses 2.5 billion gallons of seawater a day to condense steam after it has passed through the two electrical generators.

On May 4, the state Water Resources Control Board adopted a new policy that declared these once-through cooling systems used at Diablo Canyon and 18 other coastal power plants in California to be antiquated. The board gave the utilities that own those plants deadlines for installing less environmentally damaging cooling systems.

Once-through cooling damages the environment because it kills adult and larval fish. The flood of warmer discharge water also alters the marine ecosystem around the plant.

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