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Dear Ms. Vietti -Cook,

Attached is a letter from Greenpeace, Beyond Nuclear, Eastern Environmental Law Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, Riverkeeper and the Union of Concerned Scientists to Chairman Jaczko and the Commissioners  regarding groundwater contamination and preemption.  Accompanying our letter as an attachment  is a July 5, 2006 letter from NRC's OGC to the Illinois Attorney General.

Please forward these on to Chairman Jacko and the Commission. Several of us will be meeting with the Chairman and other commissioners the June 10 and will be addressing this issue.

Sincerely,

Jim Riccio
Greenpeace
 

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From the Burlington Free Press:

Vermont Yankee reported Friday afternoon that the radioactive isotope strontium has been located in the soil near where tritium had been discovered leaking at the Vernon nuclear power plant in January.

Strontium-90 was discovered in soil that had been excavated from the area of the leak, Vermont Yankee spokesman Larry Smith said. It was noted in an analysis the company received Monday from a soil sample taken March 17, he said. The state Health Department and Nuclear Regulatory Commission were notified Thursday, he said.

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From Environmental Health Perspectives:

Since the first report of increased childhood leukemia rates around Britain’s Sellafield nuclear power plant (NPP) in 1983, controversy has surrounded the possible link between the disease and proximity to nuclear reactors. Twenty‐five years later the debate rages on, with different studies yielding seemingly contradictory findings. A public sensitized to the dangers of nuclear power might well ask the question: why aren’t we sure by now?

“The many studies that have been performed are difficult to compare because of differences in their methodology,” explains John Bithell, honorary visiting fellow at the Childhood Cancer Research Group, University of Oxford. These differences include the age groups studied, the geographical areas considered, and potential confounding factors such as socioeconomic status.

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From the U.S. Energy Information Administration

The nuclear industry has expressed strong interest in continuing the operation of existing nuclear facilities, and no particular technical issues have been identified that would impede their continued operation. Recent AEOs had assumed that existing nuclear units would be retired after 60 years of operation (the initial 40-year license plus one 20-year license renewal). Maintaining the same assumption in AEO2010, with the projection horizon extended to 2035, would result in the retirement of more than one-third of existing U.S. nuclear capacity between 2029 and 2035. Given the uncertainty about when existing nuclear capacity actually will be retired, EIA revisited the assumption for the development of AEO2010 and modified it to allow the continued operation of all existing U.S. nuclear power plants through 2035 in the Reference case.

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From Wired:

"Conventional wisdom holds that nuclear power stations don't leak enough radiation to create malformed organisms. But in some locations, Hesse-Honegger discovered mutations — curtailed feelers, misshapen legs, asymmetrical wings — in as many as 30 percent of the bugs she gathered. That's 10 times the overall rate of about 3 percent for insects found in the wild. "For me, the mutated bugs were like prototypes of a future nature," she says. A selection of Hesse-Honegger's work will be shown this fall in Berlin."

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From Blurt:

After a string of good luck, it seems Entergy Vermont Yankee has landed right back into its old bad habits of introducing Vermonters to a leak of the week.

This past Friday marked two straight weeks in which ENVY released bad news (and radioactive isotopes) to the Vermont media after regular business hours.

Late Friday Saturday, ENVY's top communications director Larry Smith issued a press statement (see below) claiming that a "new leak" had been found Friday at Vermont Yankee. And, as luck would have it, the leak is right near that pesky Advanced Off Gas (AOG)  system that was the subject of a months-long investigation into a massive leak of tritiated water that dumped tritium, cesium and strontium-90 into the nearby soils, groundwater and likely the Connecticut River.

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''If a Secretary of Agriculture endorsed better meat inspection, you wouldn't have a debate of near religious fervor about whether that person was pro- or anti-meat, whether he had sold out to the vegetarians.

You'd debate whether the stricter regulations made sense. It's somehow unique to nuclear power that, when one refuses to have nuclear power on the industry's terms, one gets chucked into a bin labeled 'anti-nuclear.' ''

-Peter A. Bradford, former Commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 3/9/82

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From Beyond Nuclear:

In a May 25, 2010 joint letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from Beyond Nuclear, Eastern Environmental Law Center, Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council, Riverkeeper and Union of Concerned Scientists, the environmental groups ask the federal safety regulator “to confirm in writing that the NRC recognizes that it is both legal and appropriate for the States to take legal action against licensees when drinking water is under threat.”

The groups’ request follows disclosure at the April 20, 2010 NRC public meeting regarding on-going groundwater contamination from nuclear power plants of a July 5, 2006 letter from the NRC Office of General Counsel (OGC) to the State of Illinois. The NRC attorneys threatened federal preemption if the State Attorney General pursued a lawsuit against Exelon Corporation’s for uncontrolled and unmonitored radioactive leaks from its nuclear power plants in the state that had polluted groundwater.  The groups admonished the NRC that since the agency “has chosen not to enforce its mandate to protect human health and safety with respect to multiple groundwater contamination issues, we strongly urge the NRC to cease any attempts to preempt state governments from exercising their authority to protect important economic and environmental resources within their borders.”

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From the Scranton Times-Tribune:

To avoid future pollution cleanup problems, a bipartisan consensus is emerging that Pennsylvania needs to significantly increase the bond amounts drillers post to cover the cost of plugging or closing natural gas wells.

Policymakers have yet to decide on a specific course of action.

The current bond requirements date to 1984, when the state tightened oil and gas laws in response to a short-lived drilling boom for shallow gas deposits in northwestern Pennsylvania. At that time, the technology wasn't available to reach the deep gas pockets of what is now called the Marcellus Shale formation underlying Northeast Pennsylvania and other regions.

Drillers are required to post a $2,500 bond for a single well and $25,000 blanket bond to cover any number of wells. The bonds are regarded as a financial incentive to ensure a driller will act responsibly and address any problems.

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