News

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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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."

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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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From the Arizona Republic:

Nuclear reactors' hefty price tag is the biggest obstacle to building more, the nation's top nuclear regulator said Monday.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said that permitting new reactors could take four years or more, and that storing the waste is not a pressing concern, but that paying for the new reactors remains a significant concern for most utilities.

The best estimate for a new reactor's price tag is about $10 billion, he said.

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Sustainable Energy Fund

ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania (February 1, 2010) Eric Epstein of Harrisburg, a statewide consumer advocate and Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) successfully challenged PPL’s proposed Time of Use Tariff.

Mr. Epstein and Sustainable Energy Fund intervened independently on behalf of electric customers last fall alleging among other things that PPL’s proposed Time of Use program unjustly enriched electric generation suppliers like PPL Energy Plus, shifted costs to non participating customers, unfairly excluded low income customers from the program, promoted unfair competitive practices and lacked real economic benefit for PPL ratepayers. Although the Public Utility Commission voted 5-0 on Thursday to allow PPL’s voluntary Time of Use Program, it also approved a motion by Chairman Cawley that among other things prohibits PPL from recovering more than $4,000,000 in proposed expenses for administration and advertising from customers who purchase their electricity from a competitive electricity supplier.

“This action taken by the Commission directly addressed our concerns with the cost effectiveness of this program, the unfair competitive practices and exclusion of certain customer groups like low income and renewable energy”, stated John Costlow, Director of Technical Services for Sustainable Energy Fund.

Epstein stated “The PUC correctly halted PPL’s discriminatory plan that unfairly excluded customers, penalized hostage ratepayers and cross subsidized PPL Energy Plus.” He welcomed the decision as a victory for rate payers and hailed the PUC’s decision as a landmark and potential precedent, stating “The PUC made it clear that it will not allow ratepayers to finance and brand ill conceived marketing schemes.”

The motion stated in part that “PPL has provided inadequate information on the magnitude of the Company’s ‘educational’ expenditures proposed under the Consumer Education Plan, failed to incorporate the costs related to the proposed EE&C advertisement plan, and failed to provide relevant information on other TOU program costs, consistent with our default service policy statement.” The motion also stated that “While this Commission does not apply the TRC test at the plan level, the Commission has rejected and will continue to reject, component program or measure level parts of EE&C plans that are clearly uneconomic so as to encourage utilities to refocus resources on more cost effective measures.”

Mr. Costlow stated “It is unusual for the SEF to oppose a plan that is supposed to decrease peak energy consumption as we have spent the last decade promoting energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy but this is another bad plan by PPL, funded by the ratepayer. PPL needs to be accountable; they need to do the right thing for rate payers.”

Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) is a private nonprofit 501(C)(3) organization focused on reducing financial, educational and regulatory barriers to a sustainable energy future. SEFs educational programs such as the award winning Solar Scholars® create an understanding and passion for sustainable energy in leaders of today and tomorrow. To overcome traditional financial barriers the organization provides specialized loans and leases for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

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From the Boston

Globe

:

The nuclear industry, once an environmental pariah, is recasting itself as green as it attempts to extend the life of many power plants and build new ones. But a leak of radioactive water at Vermont Yankee, along with similar incidents at more than 20 other US nuclear plants in recent years, has kindled doubts about the reliability, durability, and maintenance of the nation’s aging nuclear installations.

Vermont health officials say the leak, while deeply worrisome, is not a threat to drinking water supplies or the Connecticut River, which flows beside the 38-year-old plant, nor is it endangering public health. But the controversy is threatening to derail the nuclear plant’s bid, now at a critical juncture, for state approvals to extend its operating life by 20 years when its license expires in two years. Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors, Vermont Yankee’s owners, and state officials are tracing the source of the radioactivity and searching for other leaks in the labyrinth of below-surface pipes on the plants’ property about 10 miles from the Massachusetts border.

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From CommonDreams.org:

Amidst utter chaos in the atomic reactor industry, Team Obama is poised to vastly expand a bitterly contested loan guarantee program that may cost far more than expected, both financially and politically.

The long-stalled, much-hyped "Renaissance" in atomic power has failed to find private financing. New construction projects are opposed for financial reasons by fiscal conservatives such as the Heritage Foundation and National Taxpayers Union, and by a national grassroots safe energy campaign that has already beaten such loan guarantees three times.

New reactor designs are being challenged by regulators in both the US and Europe. Key projects, new and old, are engulfed in political/financial uproars in Florida, Texas, Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey and elsewhere.

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From the NRC (ML100260293):

By letter dated August 7, 2008,1 as supplemented by letter dated May 7, 2009,2 Exelon Generation Company, LLC (Exelon) applied for an amendment to the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Units 2 and 3, Facility Operating License Nos. DPR-44 and DPR-56. The proposed amendment consisted of several changes including the incorporation of Technical Specification Task Force (TSTF) Traveler 363, Revision 0, "Revise Topical Report References in ITS [Improved Technical Specifications] 5.6.5, COLR [Core Operating Limits Report]." TSTF Traveler 363, Revision 0, would amend the Technical Specifications (TSs) to relocate Topical Report revisions and date citations from the TSs to the COLR. The license amendment request submitted by Exelon was consistent with TSTF Traveler 363, Revision 0, which had been accepted by the NRC staff for use in licensing applications.

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