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Retired Millstone worker alleges safety compromises at Millstone, NRC

From the Day:

Federal regulators are investigating allegations by a retired Millstone Power Station worker that plant owner Dominion puts profits ahead of safety and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not thoroughly managing safety issues.

David Collins of Old Lyme, a pro-nuclear retiree who took a company buyout in March, says the way Dominion has handled staffing cuts in key areas at the nuclear complex, along with an electrical mishap that forced a manual shutdown at the plant and the monitoring of fire doors, contribute to a "cover-up culture" that could compromise public safety just the way it was compromised in the late 1990s at the Waterford plant and in 2002 at the Davis-Besse reactor in Ohio.

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Power plants face closures

From San Diego Union-Tribune:

Three power plants on the San Diego County coastline face major changes — from shuttering operations to building new cooling towers — in the wake of a landmark ruling by California’s water-quality officials to protect sea life.

The State Water Resources Control Board last week decided to phase out once-through cooling for seaside power plants because the process kills more than 2.6 million fish and 19 billion fish larvae annually, according to the agency. The policy may be contested by energy companies concerned about the cost of compliance, including fitting new infrastructure into existing facilities.

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Peach Bottom: NRC Integrated Inspection Report

Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station - NRC Integrated Inspection Report 05-277/2010002 and 05-278/2010002

ADAMS Accession No. ML101320455

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Power politics

From the Boston Globe:

On February 24, Randy Brock, a Republican state senator in Vermont, did something he never expected to do. He voted to close Vermont Yankee, the state’s only nuclear power plant. A longtime supporter of the plant, Brock did not want to vote this way. He considers nuclear power safe, environmentally friendly, and reliable and wants the plant to stay open. But a series of problems at Vermont Yankee forced his hand. “If their board of directors and its management had been thoroughly infiltrated by anti-nuclear activists,” he says, “they could not have done a better job destroying their own case.” Vermonters – including the senator – were fed up with the way the plant was being run, so he voted no.

The Vermont vote, coming just a week after President Barack Obama announced $8.33 billion in federal loan guarantees for companies building two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, would seem to show a New England stuck in the no-nukes 1980s, out of step with the nuclear fever sweeping the rest of the country. In March, Gallup reported that support for nuclear power as “one of the ways to provide electricity” had climbed to a new high of 62 percent. In the same poll, 28 percent of Americans said they “strongly favor” nuclear power, the highest Gallup has measured since it first asked the question in 1994.

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So, You Want to Invest in Nukes

From the Wall Street Journal:

Investors who want to participate in a nuclear-power revival, take note: It's not for the faint of heart.

That's because the nuclear industry is subject to greater risks than other parts of the power sector. Nuclear plants are extremely costly and take years to build. Most new reactor designs are still awaiting certification by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and no utility in the U.S. has received the commission's permission to build and operate a new plant.

On top of that, the entire power sector is suffering because of depressed demand for electricity caused by the global recession and growing energy-conservation efforts. Low natural-gas prices also mean that nuclear plants look more expensive when compared with plants powered by fossil fuels.

Nevertheless, many investors believe nuclear power will make a comeback because reactors can produce huge amounts of electricity and could substitute for coal-powered plants, cutting pollution. Dozens of new plants are planned for South Korea, China, India, the U.K. and other nations. In the U.S., the Obama administration has proposed up to $54 billion in loan guarantees to jump-start new construction, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is processing applications for nearly two dozen proposed reactors.

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Finland’s 100,000-Year Plan to Banish Its Nuclear Waste

From the New York Times:

On a wooded island more than a hundred miles northwest of Helsinki, in the town of Eurajoki, Finnish engineers are digging a tunnel. When it is done 10 years from now, it will corkscrew three miles in and 1,600 feet down into crystalline gneiss bedrock that has been the foundation of Finland for 1.8 billion years.

And there, in a darkness that is still being created, the used fuel rods from Finland’s nuclear reactors — full of radioactive elements from the periodic table as dreamed up by Lord Voldemort, spitting neutrons and gamma rays — are to be sealed away forever, or at least 100,000 years.

The place is called Onkalo (Finnish for “hidden”) and it is the subject of “Into Eternity,” a new documentary by Mr. Madsen.

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Tainted nuke plant water reaches major NJ aquifer

From MSNBC:

Radioactive water that leaked from the nation's oldest nuclear power plant has now reached a major underground aquifer that supplies drinking water to much of southern New Jersey, the state's environmental chief said Friday.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station to halt the spread of contaminated water underground, even as it said there was no imminent threat to drinking water supplies.

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Critic: NRC inspectors are ‘too cozy’ with Entergy

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has failed the public, said a pair of anti-nuclear activists during a teleconference with the NRC's petition review board (PRB) Wednesday morning.

The review board heard arguments from Thomas Saporito, of endangeredplanetearth.blogspot.com, and Ray Shadis, of the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution, who have been contending that Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon should be shut down until a number of maintenance issues are resolved, including the remediation of tritium-contaminated groundwater.

Saporito said the NRC's resident inspectors at Vermont Yankee are "too cozy" with plant personnel and because of that, violations and unsafe conditions are not being detected in a timely manner.

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Al Qaeda’s Nuclear Plant

From the New York Times:

But perhaps we ought to be concerned a bit less with Mr. Shahzad, a failed terrorist now in custody, and significantly more with Sharif Mobley — a New Jersey native, a former high school wrestler and, until shortly before he moved to Yemen to allegedly join Al Qaeda, a maintenance worker at five nuclear power plants along the East Coast.

Since his arrest by Yemeni security forces in March, American law enforcement officials have taken pains to emphasize that Mr. Mobley’s low security clearance makes it unlikely that he passed crucial details about American nuclear-plant security to Al Qaeda.

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