San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace
P.O. Box 3608
San Luis Obispo, CA 93403

For Immediate Release

August 4, 2010

Today a 3-judge panel of the  U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) handed down a decision to accept four of the five Contentions filed by the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP) in opposition to Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E’s) application for license renewal of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. Although the current operating licenses for the two reactors do not expire until 2024/2025, PG&E is asking for permission to operate the units an additional 20 years, until 2044/2045.
In its decision, the ASLB narrowed down some of the Contentions by ruling out some points of law while allowing others to remain. The next step within the legal process is a hearing in which evidence will be heard in support of the four Contentions of the SLOMFP accepted by the ASLB.
According to SLOMFP spokesperson Jane Swanson, “Since 1973 our all-volunteer, local group has used legal processes to force the federal regulators of nuclear plants to better enforce federal laws designed to protect the environment and citizens. Our goal, with the services of our attorney in Washington D.C., Diane Curran, is to ensure that safety issues pertaining to both the reactors and the radioactive wastes at Diablo Canyon are fully studied before the NRC considers PG&E’s application for license renewal.”
A summary of the four Contentions accepted by the ASLB follows:

  • PG&E has failed to demonstrate the ability to safely manage the aging plant, which was designed in the 1960’s, and constructed between the late 1960’s and the early 1980’s. NRC inspection reports document an “adverse trend” of chronic errors in the management of safety equipment at Diablo Canyon.  SLOMFP is concerned that PG&E’s inability to identify and correct current problems in a timely and effective way will be repeated in the license renewal term, when detecting aging effects like corrosion and degradation will be even more challenging.
  •  PG&E ‘s application lacks crucial information on the seismic risks to Diablo, given that studies of the Shoreline Fault, identified in 2008, are incomplete.  Seismic studies of the newly discovered fault and its potential interaction with the Hosgri fault will not be completed until 2013. SLOMFP contends that PG&E and the NRC should wait for the study results before reaching any conclusions about the risks posed by severe earthquakes.
  • PG&E has failed to address the airborne environmental impacts of a reasonably foreseeable spectrum of spent fuel pool accidents, including accidents caused by earthquakes, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.
  • PG&E’s  application lacks a required  discussion of the cost-effectiveness of measures to mitigate the environmental impacts of an attack on the Diablo Canyon reactor during the license renewal term.

The one Contention not admitted was SLOMFP’s assertion that PG&E has failed to evaluate the environmental impacts of a terrorist  attack on the Diablo Canyon spent fuel pool during the proposed 20-year license extension terms.
The date of the evidentiary hearing is not yet scheduled.
The ASLB decision is not yet posted on the NRC website as this press release is being sent, although some media in the San Luis Obispo area may have received a copy directly from the NRC. Please contact Jane Swanson at the email address above to request the 119-page decision as an email attachment.


From the Citizen's Voice:

PPL brought Unit 1 of the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant back on line Wednesday after flooding forced the utility to shut it down for roughly 20 days.

An estimated 950,000 gallons of Susquehanna River water flooded the basement of the plant's turbine building on July 16. The water flowed from hatches that allow access to the unit's condenser - where the river water cools steam leaving the turbine.

During the shutdown, PPL repaired the circulating water system and assessed equipment in the turbine building, plant manager Jeff Helsel said in a news release. The damage forced PPL to bring in extra help to dry and repair equipment shortly after the flood.

In addition, all the flood water was stored in tanks and tested several times for radiological and industrial contaminants.

Read more


DCS No.:   0500038708042010
Date:         August 4, 2010
Susquehanna Steam Electric Station
PPL, Susquehanna, LLC.
Berwick, PA
Docket:  50-387
Licensee Emergency Classification: Not Applicable
At 4:41 p.m. on July 16, 2010, Susquehanna Unit 1 operators manually scrammed the reactor due to a non-isolable circulating water leak in the main condenser bay.  On August 2nd Susquehanna Unit 1 was restarted and at 6:09 am on August 4, the operators synchronized Unit 1 to the electrical grid.
PPL Engineering personnel identified the source of the circulating water system leak to be from two large gasketed manway hatches.  The ‘B’ and ‘D’ inlet water box access manway gaskets were found to have been dislodged and significantly extruded from the manway joints.  The main condenser access manways consist of a 20” diameter pipe (manway) that is sealed with a bolted metal hatch secured by four large bolts. To ensure a watertight seal, a gasket is installed on the manway.  Tension on the bolts that secure the hatch ensures the gasket forms a water-tight seal.  In addition, an epoxy coating applied on the manway overlapped onto the gasket seating surface in several locations.
PPL management concluded that the smooth and non-uniform coat of epoxy on the gasket seating surface, as well as insufficient tightening of the manway bolts, allowed the gaskets to dislodge and leak when a system pressure spike was experienced.  Cleaning of the cooling tower intake screen was in process during this event and may have caused a pressure spike in these two inlet water boxes.  Corrective actions taken included: 1) replacing the manway gaskets on all of the water boxes; 2) increasing the torque applied to the manway bolts; 3) roughening the epoxy coating on the manway where it contacts the gasket; and 4) conducting additional pre-installation inspections recommended by the gasket vendor.
PPL personnel inspected and repaired, as necessary, equipment impacted by this internal flooding event.   Approximately a million gallons of river water have been removed from the main condenser bay.  The water was processed, tested, and discharged in accordance with plant procedures ensuring all NRC regulatory limits were met.
The NRC inspectors onsite observed PPL’s troubleshooting and repair actions; attended plant restart readiness meetings; monitored PPL’s dewatering and plant discharge activities; and observed plant startup events.  The NRC’s inspection results will be documented in the next quarterly integrated inspection report.
The information presented herein has been discussed with the Susquehanna Plant Manager and is current as of August 4, 2010, at 9:00 a.m.
Region I Public Affairs is prepared to respond to media inquires.
ADAMS Accession Number:  ML102160675              
CONTACT:  Paul Krohn at (610) 337-5120 or Andrew Rosebrook at (610) 337-5199        


BERWICK, Pa., Aug. 4 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Unit 1 at PPL's Susquehanna nuclear plant in Luzerne County, Pa., returned to service Wednesday (8/4).

Operators at the plant had safely shut down the Unit 1 reactor July 16 after river water entered the turbine building basement from hatches that provide access to part of the unit's condenser. The condenser uses river water to cool the steam leaving the turbine.

"While the unit was shut down, we made repairs to the circulating water system and assessed the equipment in the turbine building basement," said Jeff Helsel, PPL's Susquehanna plant manager. "The equipment was repaired as needed and thoroughly tested to ensure that the unit is ready to run safely and reliably."

All of the water removed from the turbine building basement was processed according to approved plant procedures.

The Susquehanna plant, located in Luzerne County about seven miles north of Berwick, is owned jointly by PPL Susquehanna LLC and Allegheny Electric Cooperative Inc. and is operated by PPL Susquehanna.

PPL Susquehanna is one of PPL Corporation's generating facilities. Headquartered in Allentown, Pa., PPL Corporation (NYSE:PPL) controls or owns nearly 12,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the United States, sells energy in key U.S. markets and delivers electricity to about 4 million customers in Pennsylvania and the United Kingdom. More information is available .


From Mother Jones:

A new split over climate policy is brewing within the ranks of the US Chamber of Commerce as a breakaway group of local chambers is getting ready to publicly split with the business lobby's hardline stance against climate legislation. The new climate coalition, known as the Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy (CICE), will press Congress to take stronger action on climate and energy issues. It has already signed up about a dozen chambers and will officially launch later this year.

The US Chamber is already working behind the scenes to discredit the new group. After it caught wind of the effort last month, it fired off a letter to local chamber leaders, discouraging them from joining CICE, which it claimed was "established by the Natural Resources Defense Council." The letter, written by US Chamber board member Winthrop Hallett, the president of Alabama's Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, states that the new group's "indirect purpose appears to be undermining the U.S. Chamber's and the business community's leadership on" climate issues.

Read more


From BBC News:

The largest wildlife census of its kind conducted in Chernobyl has revealed that mammals are declining in the exclusion zone surrounding the nuclear power plant.

The study aimed to establish the most reliable way to measure the impact on wildlife of contamination in the zone.

It was based on almost four years of counting and studying animals there.

Read more


From Bloomsburg Businessweek:

Recently there's been much talk of a nuclear renaissance in the U.S. And that's all it is right now: talk. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is acting. More than 50 new nuclear plants are under construction around the world, including 24 in China alone. In the U.S. is just one.

Today nuclear power supplies roughly one-fifth of U.S. electricity needs—safely, reliably, and cheaply. It can continue to do so in the future and perhaps even expand its share, but only with sensible policies in place.

We must begin by acknowledging the threat from climate change. While the science of climate change will never be settled to the satisfaction of every observer, we know enough to say there is a significant risk that global warming will cause dire consequences. Confronted with risk, prudent individuals—and prudent societies—take out insurance policies to protect against potentially catastrophic losses.

What form should this insurance take? One school of thought says we can achieve all of the greenhouse gas reductions necessary through renewable energy and the increased efficiency of our homes and offices. "While nuclear power undergoes yet another face-lift, energy efficiency and renewable technologies will continue to provide the best opportunity to slow climate change," says Greenpeace on its "No New Nukes!" blog. As the chief executive of the nation's largest producer of renewable energy from wind and solar power, I wish that were true. But the simple fact is that there is no way renewables and energy efficiency alone will get us where we need to go.

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From the Maryland Daily Record:

Shares of Constellation Energy Group fell nearly 5 percent Wednesday after the company cast doubt on its plan to build a new nuclear power reactor in Maryland.

Constellation CEO Mayo A. Shattuck III warned that delays securing a federal nuclear loan guarantee jeopardized the company’s plan to build a third nuclear power reactor at Calvert Cliffs in Lusby, putting hundreds of potential jobs on the line.

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From Scientific American

A new era for nuclear power is taking shape as third-generation reactors, designed to be simpler and safer, inch through the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) design certification process. Much of nuclear's revival hinges on the ability of new reactors to outshine those of yore in terms of safety, economics, construction time and life span.

Of the 26 new reactor applications under current NRC scrutiny, 14 are for Westinghouse Electric Co.'s AP1000 pressurized water reactor. What sets the reactor apart is its modular design and passive safety system: Instead of relying on an operator or electronic feedback to shut down the reactor should it overheat, it employs the natural forces of gravity, convection and air circulation.

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Event Number: 46135


A licensed operator was determined to have violated the licensee's Fitness for Duty Policy related to self-reporting a legal action. The employee's access to the Protected Area has been revoked. Contact the Headquarters Operations Officer for additional details.