News

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Vt. health chief: Tritium may in Connecticut River

From the Republican:

Radioactive tritium that is leaking from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon is now believed to have reached the Connecticut River, and calls are growing for the plant to be closed down while the leak is located and repaired.

The owner of the 38-year-old plant, Louisiana-based Entergy Corp., is seeking to extend the plant's license 20 years beyond the scheduled 2012 expiration. However, in November, radioactive contamination was first detected in monitoring wells on the property, suspected of being from leaks in underground piping at the plant, which is by located alongside the Connecticut River.

Since then, the levels of contamination found in some wells has risen dramatically. The federal safety standard for tritium in drinking water is 20,000 picocuries per liter, but water from one monitoring well measured nearly 2.6 million picocuries per liter.

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2 wells at Oconee Nuclear Station exceed tritium standards

From GreenvilleOnline.com:

Samples from two adjacent groundwater monitoring wells at Oconee Nuclear Station exceeded state, federal and industry standards for tritium, a radioactive material, Duke Energy said Tuesday.

Elevated levels of tritium were found in two of 54 monitoring wells at the nuclear station on Lake Keowee, but there's no danger to the public, Duke and Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials said.

“The samples were taken from two monitoring wells — not drinking water wells. There is no health risk to the public or plant employees or a violation of EPA standards since this water is not for consumption,” said Dave Baxter, Oconee site vice president.

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Peach Bottom: NRC integrated inspection report 05000277/2009005 and 05000278/2009005

From the NRC:

On December 31, 2009, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) completed an integrated inspection at your Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station (PBAPS), Units 2 and 3. The enclosed integrated inspection report documents the inspection results, which were discussed on January 15, 2010, with Mr. William Maguire and other members of your staff.

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Unexpected reaction

From the Economist:

The nuclear industry got an unexpected boost from Barack Obama in his State of the Union address last month. The president pledged to build a “new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants”. On February 1st he followed that up in his proposed budget for 2011 by tripling to $54 billion the value of loans for new nuclear plants the government is offering to guarantee. Elsewhere, too, prospects for the business look good: the United Arab Emirates (UAE) completed a tender for four nuclear plants in December, Vietnam is planning a similar deal this year and many other countries, from Italy to Indonesia, are hoping to build new reactors soon.

Yet the $40 billion contract in the UAE, won by a consortium led by Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), South Korea’s largely state-owned electricity monopoly, has caused consternation among the six big firms that have dominated the industry for decades: GE and Westinghouse of America, Areva of France, and Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan. Russian and Chinese firms hope to follow the Koreans’ lead. Suddenly the incumbents are confronted by emerging-market “national champions” with the full backing of their governments—an invaluable asset in a high-liability business like nuclear power.

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Straight Answers

From the Rutland Herald:

The Douglas administration has been forced to take a tough line on false statements coming from the owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and on the problems arising from the underground pipes now leaking radioactive tritium into the groundwater in Vernon.

Entergy Nuclear, the owner of Yankee, responded to the furor last week by removing Jay Thayer from his post as vice president of operations for Vermont Yankee. Thayer is the Entergy executive who told the Legislature that Vermont Yankee did not have underground pipes. His statements were part of what Vermont regulators call a pattern of deceit practiced by Entergy about the plant.

But removing Thayer is not enough, said Vermont officials. Getting rid of one person is "tokenism," according to Public Service Commissioner David O'Brien. The company must do more to get its act together before Vermonters can trust what it says.

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KI Tablets Available

The winter snow storm that occurred on February 7-8, 2010, prompted numerous inquires to the EFMR office about the
availability of KI (Potassium Iodide) in the event of a nuclear evacuation. EFMR has recently secured additional stocks of KI
tablets. If you’re interested in receiving KI tablets, please contact EFMR directly at #717-541-1101 or e-mail a request to lechambon@comcast.net

Entergy finds huge radiation jump

From the Times Argus:

The Department of Health said late Friday that Entergy Nuclear workers found the highest concentrations yet of the radioactive isotope tritium at Vermont Yankee, this time in a drainage pit close to a highly contaminated groundwater monitoring well.

William Irwin, radiological health chief for the Department of Health, said the pit tested positive for 2.7 million picocuries per liter of tritium.

While the radioactive water was not in groundwater and was inside the reactor complex, Irwin said the high tritium levels were almost identical to the levels of tritium found in reactor cooling water, indicating a leak.

Irwin said it was possible the underground piping that drains into the pit or moves the water to a system for treatment could be leaking.

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Rebuilding trust at Yankee

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

Does Entergy really think that reassigning Vermont Yankee site vice president Jay Thayer to another position in the company is enough to restore people’s trust? Even Department of Public Service Commissioner David O’Brien on Wednesday called the move "tokenism."

Electric rate cap expiration to impact economy

From the Daily American:

Pennsylvania electricity rates are anticipated to increase when rate caps come off in January, which has raised some concerns.

Gene Stilp, the director for Harrisburg-based Taxpayers and Ratepayers United, said the increases could cause job losses and economic hardship for residents across the state.

“The economic impact hasn’t been factored in,” Stilp said.

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