News

From the New York Times:

As Southern Company and its partners, armed with federal loan guarantees of $8.3 billion, move toward construction of two new reactors at a site near Augusta, Ga., opponents are taking aim at the design details.

The reactor, the Westinghouse AP 1000, is also planned for several other locations, but has not yet been fully approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It is intended to be far safer than existing plants, ensuring that there will be no fuel melting in an accident by relying for its cooling on forces like gravity and natural heat flow instead of pumps, pipes and valves. That concept gives the AP 1000 its name, for Advanced Passive. (The 1,000 refers to the power rating in megawatts, although the actual power output is a less picturesque 1,154.)

A critical feature of the design is an unusual containment structure. One part is a free-standing steel dome, 130 feet high, surrounded by a concrete shield building and topped with a tank of emergency water.

The commission has raised concerns about whether a shield building would be strong enough to survive an earthquake. Westinghouse submitted a detailed report last month and plans another in May to demonstrate that the building is adequate.

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Three Mile Island Station, Unit 1 - NRC Integrated Inspection Report 05-289/2010002

ADAMS Accession No. ML101130236
 

Download PDF

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From the Mercury:

Protesting nuclear bombs was one thing. Protesting at a local business that just happened to be a nuclear power plant, that was something else altogether.

So it was that plans to house walkers protesting nuclear weapons and power overnight at The Hill School were scotched at the last minute.

Rest assured, there was no blame to be found.

Protestor Jon Blickenstaff of Cincinnati, Ohio, said he did not blame The Hill School for its change of heart and Hill School spokeswoman Cathy Skitko emphasized that the decision was mutual.

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From the Press and Journal:

Three Mile Island’s Unit 1 reactor operated safely last year, despite a low-level radiation release in November caused by a vacuum cleaner that exposed 145 workers to insignificant doses, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

The workers were exposed because the vacuum, used to clean coolant system pipes inside the reactor, was not equipped with a HEPA filter, sending radioactive particles airborne inside the reactor’s containment building, the NRC said.
Radioactivity was released through an opening cut into the building to replace the reactor’s steam generators from Nov. 12 to 21, when “appropriate controls’’  were made to stop the release, the NRC said.

Radiation, albeit in almost immeasurable levels, was detected more than a mile away in Conoy Twp., Lancaster County, but the incident did not pose a threat to public health or the workers’ safety, the NRC said.

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June 4-6, Chicago, IL

The FORUM:  “A People’s History of Radioactive Waste” will teach the public about Radioactive Waste Problems and what can be done about them. It will convene at 12:30 on Saturday June 5 – and run through a Keynote event (TBA) that evening.

The SUMMIT will bring together activists and experts in this field to form the “Peoples Green Ribbon
Commission on America’s Nuclear Waste Future” which will (in the next year) issue our report on the
topic...well, in fact that group will name itself – so this is a “place holder name!” This event will convene on Friday June 4 and run through Sunday afternoon June 6, including The Forum.

June 4, 5, 6 – CHICAGO -- Location: Loyola University, Lake Shore Campus
(Note: Loyola is not a sponsor of this event)

Registration Fee: $30 Summit and Forum; $15 Forum only; $10 Special Saturday night program
Print and fill out the attached pdf registration form and return to NEIS at 3411 W. Diversey, #16, Chicago, IL 60647.
Please make your reservations early to guarantee your room (and get a good flight price). No refunds after May 3rd.
Do NOT send credit card information by fax or e-mail; use secure online payment; or mail checks.

Lodging will be available on campus – likely cost is $90 for 2 nights double room OR $120 for 2 nights single room, plus tax  – also an option to stay in town – limited home stays available.
Meals will not be provided – many eateries nearby

THE FORUM:
The People’s History of Radioactive Waste FORUM -- open to all:
Starts Saturday noon 6/5 – runs through a Keynote Address Saturday evening
Proposed workshops and speakers on all aspects of the radioactive waste challenge for survival including:
**Uranium mining and processing
**Military and Civilian waste sources and current policy challenges
**So-called “low-level” waste generation, processing, storage, disposal and “release”
**High-Level waste – on-site, transport issues, storage (on and off site), “recycling” and disposal
**Plutonium policy
– more details soon
If you are interested in offering a workshop during the FORUM – contact Kevin Kamps:
Kevin@beyondnuclear.org or 240-462-3216

THE SUMMIT:
America’s Nuclear Waste Future GRASSROOTS SUMMIT – open for those already active in
radioactive waste and responsible energy policy work, and those who are ready to get significantly
involved. The Summit will have three parts –
**Friday afternoon, June 4, — set priorities for the Saturday morning and Sunday sessions.
**Saturday morning June 5 – meet in small groups by topics and nominate members for the Green
Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Waste Future
** Sunday morning and afternoon June 6 – complete small group work, discuss and confirm our strategy and timeline, and elect Commission members.
For more information on the SUMMIT contact Mary Olson at NIRS – maryo@nirs.org or 828-252-8409 or
Alfred Meyer Alfred.c.meyer@gmail.com, 202-215-8208.

Goals of the Summit will be to identify common ground (geographically and in terms of challenges,
concerns and goals) and bottom lines. We will work in small groups and as a spokescouncil in addition to sharing time all together. In addition, a Green Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Waste Future will be elected and charged to produce a report which will provide an alternative plan from that of the federal Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. In order to set the outlines of the debate, we will issue the Green Ribbon Commission Report before the federal Blue Ribbon Commission issues its report over the next 18 – 24 months.

Note: the Summit is not open to those who promote the ongoing production of new radioactive waste, or work for the nuclear industry.

This event is the next step in a dialog that has been on-going since the first pile of nuclear waste was generated by the Manhattan Project – most irradiated fuel is still sitting on the reactor sites where it was made. The cancellation of Yucca Mountain creates an enormous new set of questions and challenges for the nuclear industry and the public interest. Similarly, the restriction of waste allowed at the Barnwell, South Carolina so-called “low-level” waste dump in 2008, leaves nuclear power plants (the primary generators of this waste in the civilian sector) in more than 30 states with no place to bury this enormous, and often highly radioactive waste category; similar challenges exist in the military waste world. The new plan to expand both the civilian reactor fleet and the nuclear weapons production complex threaten our heart-felt goal to see the end to more radioactive waste production. Come join this discussion!

This event is flowing from a group of activists who have been meeting by phone over the last 8
months. The summit planning group is below – we will have a website up, but for more
information at this point contact any of us:

Mary Olson, NIRS Southeast 828-252-8409 maryo@nirs.org
Judy Triechel, Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force 702-248-1127 judynwtf@aol.com
Dave Kraft, Nuclear Energy Information Service (773)342-7650 neis@neis.org
Linda Lewison, NEIS (773)342-7650 ljlewison@gmail.com
Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear 240-462-3216 kevin@beyondnuclear.org
Alfred Meyer 202-215-8208 alfred.c.meyer@gmail.com

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From the Beyond Nuclear Bulletin:

Background: Beyond Nuclear released its report "Leak First, Fix Later: Uncontrolled and Unmonitored Radioactive Leaks from Nuclear Power Plants," at the April 20, 2010, public meeting convened by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that focused on the radioactive contamination of groundwater from a growing number of leaking buried pipes under nuclear power plants across the country. A webcast of the NRC "Groundwater Contamination Workshop" can be viewed from the agencys website.

Our View: "Leak First, Fix Later" documents the increasing threat to ground- and surface water primarily from radioactive hydrogen - tritium - leaking from aging and deteriorating nuclear power plants. The report raises further concern that the NRC has turned over its regulatory authority to an industry that now plans to stall corrective actions for this already decades-old radioactive contamination problem for years to come. "Leak First, Fix Later" delves into the tritium contamination problem and several high profile radioactive leaks that have occurred in Illinois, Michigan, New York, New Jersey and Vermont. The report provides links to extensive background resources and documentation illuminating the nature of the uncontrolled release of tritium and other radioactive isotopes escaping from reactors. The report documents why the nuclear industry cannot be trusted to self-regulate for the protection of public health and the prevention of more serious leaks from occurring. 

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NRC issues inspection report on TMI-1 "contamination event"
“The contamination of 145 workers is significant and was avoidable.
This challenge to public health and safety was caused and aggravated
by poor housekeeping, inattention to detail, and delayed response
times.”

Eric Epstein, Chairman of TMI-Alert

Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued its
inspection report on the worker contamination event at the Three
Mile Island 1 nuclear power plant on Nov. 21, 2009.

A copy is attached.

The NRC has identified three "green" (very low safety significance)
inspection findings after reviewing Exelon's handling of the event,
which occurred during a refueling and maintenance outage at the
plant. They are:

* Exelon did not use process or other engineering controls, to the
extent practicable, to control the concentration of radioactive materials
in the air during the vacuuming of reactor coolant system piping.
Specifically, the vacuum used was not equipped with a
high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter and allowed the dispersal
of airborne radioactive particulate contamination inside the plant's
containment building, the massive steel-reinforced concrete structure
which surrounds the reactor. This led to the alarming of airborne
radioactivity monitors and prompted the evacuation of about 175
workers from the building. The radioactivity event resulted in 145
workers sustaining external and/or internal contamination, though
none sustained any radiation dose approaching regulatory limits.
Only one worker sustained an internal exposure that met internal
company recording requirements.

* From Nov. 12 to 21, 2009, Exelon did not effectively manage Three
Mile Island 1 containment openings and ventilation system flows in
order to maintain inward airflow and promptly detect and minimize
the release of radioactivity from an opening cut in the containment
building to allow for the replacement of the plant's steam generators.
As a result, an uncontrolled airborne radioactivity release occurred
from the construction opening on Nov. 21, 2009 at about 3:45 p.m.
Airborne radioactivity was also released from the opening liner on
Nov. 12 through the time of the uncontrolled release. The releases
were determined to be low-level and not pose a threat to worker or
public health and safety. The projected dose at the site boundary
was less than quarterly and annual Public Dose As Low As
Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) limits.

* Exelon did not implement timely follow-up and corrective action to
minimize radioactivity released to the environment as required by plant
radiation protection procedures. Specifically, upon discovery on
Nov. 16 of an unplanned, unfiltered radioactive release pathway
from the containment building construction opening to the environment,
plant personnel did not promptly initiate a Condition Report or assign
appropriate significance to the issue. Consequently, an unfiltered
release pathway from the containment building existed until appropriate
controls were reestablished on Nov. 21.

Because the inspection findings are "green," Exelon will have an
opportunity to place them in the Three Mile Island 1 corrective action
programs and take steps to prevent a recurrence. The NRC will follow
up on these actions through our normal inspection process to ensure
the actions have been carried and are effective.

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The 2010 Sustainable Energy Conference will be held July 14 - 16 at Stabler Arena on the Lehigh University Campus in Bethlehem Pennsylvania.
 
This year’s conference and pre-conference Scholar’s Boot Camps will continue to expand on the award winning Solar Scholars® program that began in two-thousand and five with the goal of creating a passion for and understanding of sustainable energy in the leaders of today and tomorrow. This year SEF is in the process of awarding 210 attendance scholarships to professional educators from middle schools, high schools, vocational schools, colleges and universities to attend either a solar, wind or energy efficiency boot camp followed by the larger conference. In addition SEF is providing scholarships to 50 dislocated workers to attend a solar thermal systems boot camp provided by EarthNet Energy in collaboration with the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board. This year’s conference will feature a variety of tracks including renewable energy basics, hands-on training, jobs & economic development, energy policy, sustainable manufacturing, sustainable hospitals, carbon, energy efficiency, utility basics, sustainable energy education, weatherization and energy project financing.
 

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From Beyond Nuclear:

Background: Following the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s announcement that it will ask the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to perform a cancer risk study around nuclear power facilities, the NAS’ Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board (NRSB) has posted a detailed agenda for a Monday, April 26th public meeting. See our April 8 Bulletin article “US NRC asks National Academy of Sciences to perform a cancer study around nuclear reactors” for more background. Invited speakers include Steven Wing, PhD., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Associate Professor; Arjun Makhijani, PhD., President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research; and Ralph Andersen of the Nuclear Energy Institute along with Senator Markey’s policy director, Michal Freedhoff, and Brian Sheron of the NRC. There will be approximately 45-minutes for public comment. Cindy Folkers of Beyond Nuclear will also participate.

Our view: Concerned citizens’ groups sent a letter to NRC expressing strong apprehension over NRC’s conducting or controlling this study. These concerns remain largely unaddressed. While the study venue appears to have changed from Oak Ridge Associated Universities to NAS in response to our concerns, the NRC can still have a great deal of input in study design. Additionally, the current chair of NRSB is Richard Meserve, former chair of the NRC. His presence and possible participation in parts of this study process raises serious concerns about its independence.

What you can do: It is imperative that you weigh in at the beginning of this process to attempt to make it transparent and legitimate. If you are near the Washington, DC area on Monday April 26, please try to attend this meeting. There is NO call-in participation. You can submit written comments before the meeting, or Beyond Nuclear can submit written comments for you during the meeting if you are unable to attend. We strongly recommend you place your name on the NRSB list by contacting: nrsb@nas.edu if you wish to speak during the comment period. NRSB also recommends you have a written version of your comments for the record.  For location, contact information, and specific times, please see the agenda. Contact cindy@beyondnuclear.org if you have additional questions.

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Debate Sponsored by Citizens' Caucus

The following question will be debated at a breakfast meeting on April 24:

“Resolved: That electricity restructuring has or will provide significant befits to consumers.”

Debating affirmative: Terry Fitzpatrick, Esq. President and CEO of Energy Association of PA,  Former Chairman Pennsylvania PUC.

Debating negative:  Herb Braden, P.E. Retired Mechanical Engineer;  40-year career in design and development of power projects.

The public is invited to attend.

Time and place: April 24, 8:00 A.M, Mt. Gretna Fire Hall, Boulevard Street, Mt. Gretna, Pa...

Admission (includes meal) $10.00 Members; $12.00 non-members...

For reservations:  Call 717-964-1802 or visit our web site at citizenscaucus.org.

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