Category Archives: decommissioning

To Fuel or Not to Fuel

Entergy Self-Imposed Deadline for Costly Fuel Decision Looms.
New England Coalition Offers Long-Time Adversary’s Views on Entergy’s Dilemma

In recent hearings of Entergy’s lawsuit against the State of Vermont, Entergy witnesses testified that the multi-billion dollar Louisiana-based corporation would have to decide if it was going to buy nuclear fuel for its projected November refueling outage by July 23, 2011. Entergy was seeking a preliminary injunction that would permit the company to operate free of state interference beyond Vermont Yankee’s license original expiration date of March 2012 and until Entergy’s question of whether the state has any right to regulate the plant in any way is finally resolved through the Federal District Court and (presumably) the federal appeals process.

On July18th, Judge Garvan Murtha of the Vermont District Federal Court denied the injunction; ordering Entergy and the State to prepare for trial on the main issues in September.

So, now what will Entergy do?

“No one, probably not even Entergy knows,” says New England Coalition technical Advisor, Raymond Shadis, “ We do know that in the end it will be a business decision , driven by considerations of financial risk. The fuel cost is more than $65 million, which will be little more than half recovered by March. The cost of this decision as well as the cost of the preemption litigation are just the costs of doing business in the manner in which Entergy does business.” Shadis , who worked closely with Entergy managers for more than seven years of the Maine Yankee shutdown and decommissioning, says he knows the Entergy management style to be risk-taking and aggressive, “They are used to a pliant NRC and used to bullying their way past concerned citizens and regulators wherever they do business, but that just doesn’t work in New England with its speak-up democratic traditions,” he said, “Bucking public sensibilities here costs money, lots of money, pure-and-simple.”

“Whichever way it plays out in federal court” said Ned Childs, NEC President, “ This may be the last big ticket financial decision that Entergy may ever make for an operating Vermont Yankee plant. Vermont Yankee hasn’t met its allocated maintenance costs, meaning it hasn’t turned a profit for the last three years. One more unanticipated large expense such as a new steam dryer, or modifications resulting from a Fukushima accident inquest, is likely to sink the ship. I can see no rational business reason for Entergy to persist; they should cut their losses and walk. “Know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em,” is the way the country music classic has it.”

Shadis agrees, “Closing VY before another twenty years elapses is no longer a question of if, but when and how. Entergy has placed itself in the untenable position of trying to operate an antiquated, aging reactor beyond its design capacity and design life in an alienated and increasingly hostile political and regulatory environment. It’s simply unsupportable. Refueling it now is simply letting stubborn wishful thinking get the better of common sense.”

Clay Turnbull, NEC’s Director of Public Outreach, said that NEC has recently joined national nuclear safety advocate’s initiatives calling upon NRC to close all Fukushima-type US boiling water reactors, such as Vermont Yankee.


NEC, organized and founded in 1971, is the region’s sole advocate for environmental and nuclear safety with intervenor status in the Entergy Vermont Yankee federal relicensing process, and is an intervenor in two open dockets before the Vermont Public Service Board Docket 7440 – Shall Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee receive a CPG for an additional years of operation and less widely reported Docket 7600 –  re: underground pipes and groundwater contamination.

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Associated Press reports, “Vermont Yankee has been hampered by problems this year.”

In frighteningly Onion-esque fashion (www.theonion.com), the Associated Press states one of the most obvious facts in current news (original article here). Yes, Vermont Yankee has been hampered by problems this year. This is due to the simple fact that Vermont Yankee was only built to serve up to this point.

Vermont Yankee was built on the specification that it would be shut down in 2012. To be fair, those guys did a pretty decent job building the plant based on those parameters.  I mean, other than the transformer fire in 2004 and the leaking underground pipes this year, there haven’t been any major issues.

But facts are facts. No matter how much energy is produced by the plant… and no matter how many jobs will be lost in the process, this plant was only designed to last this long. We know it’s not right to fool with Mother Nature. Well, it’s downright STUPID to fool with a nuke plant which has reached its expiration date. Any reasonable person knows this, right?

Entergy Nuclear must think we are pretty stupid, though. They tried to extend the operating life of the plant for another twenty years. Thankfully, some of the leaders in Vermont were strong and vocal enough to prevent this. But now they are talking about selling the plant? You have got to be kidding me!

Wake up, people. A new leak of radioactive materials sprung this weekend. Entergy’s spokesperson says it’s not harmful. Last I checked, radioactive materials were indeed harmful, even in small doses.

This is a pathetically typical example of a corporation’s attempt to cash out right as their investment is reaching maturity. Don’t let them abandon their responsibilities. Make sure they close Vermont Yankee as was the plan from the very beginning. Please.

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NEC continues to take Vermont Yankee to task

Anti-nuke coalition counters Vermont Yankee filing on preemption

From The Rutland Herald
http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20100912/NEWS02/709129871/1003/NEWS02

By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer – Published: September 12, 2010

MONTPELIER — The issue of federal preemption at the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor over last winter’s radioactive tritium leak continues to simmer.

In a filing Friday with the Vermont Public Service Board, the New England Coalition, a nonprofit anti-nuclear organization, said that Entergy Nuclear’s attempt to re-examine the issue of preemption is unnecessary and the company has failed to offer any valid reasons for another bite at the legal apple.

Vermont has every right to investigate and protect its groundwater, the coalition argued, and there is well-established evidence that such radiological leaks ultimately increase the costs of decommissioning.

The Vermont Public Service Board opened an investigation into the tritium leak at Vermont Yankee in February, to determine whether the leak had environmental or economic ramifications, particularly in the area of the ultimate decommissioning of the power facility and the contamination of groundwater.

The issue of federal preemption has ramifications beyond the board’s investigation, since Entergy Nuclear’s license extension request is still pending before the board. The Vermont Senate failed to endorse a license extension for Vermont Yankee in February, effectively putting the Public Service Board’s review of the license in limbo.

In earlier filings, Entergy Nuclear had challenged the board’s right to investigate the tritium leak, which is still being cleaned up. The leak, which was a result of several problems with the advanced off-gas drainage system, leaked more than tritium into the groundwater and ground at Vermont Yankee in Vernon.

The New England Coalition’s reply brief to legal documents filed in the case last month strongly criticized legal arguments raised by both Entergy and the attorney for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which has about 180 union members working at the reactor. The IBEW had not raised any independent issues and was essentially echoing any legal arguments raised by Entergy, said the coalition’s attorney, Jared Margolis of Jericho.

Margolis said that Entergy “continues to confuse and misuse the applicable Supreme Court precedent” on the issue of nuclear preemption.

“Entergy has attempted, without valid support and through misusing the language of the Supreme Court, to alter the well-settled precedent creating dual jurisdiction over nuclear power general,” Margolis wrote in his brief.

Margolis noted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that only the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has control over radiological safety levels, and was not something sought by the Vermont Public Service Board.

Robert Williams, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear, couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday.

Clay Turnbull of Townshend, a spokesman for the New England Coalition, said Saturday that Entergy continued to raise the preemption issue “that was settled a long time ago” rather than move forward with the Public Service Board’s investigation of the tritium leak.

The coalition believes that the leak, as well as the leak of other, more dangerous radiological materials such as strontium-90, cesium 137 and cobalt-60, will increase the costs of decommissioning Vermont Yankee and returning the Vernon site to the original 1968 promise of a “green field” after the plant shut down. Vermont Yankee’s federal license to operate and its state certificate of public good both expire in 2012.

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Cease operating? Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.

From http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/blog/politics/2010/03/on-tap-for-vermont-yankee.html

On tap for Vermont Yankee

Can a week go by without something happening that involves Vermont Yankee?

Not this week, at least.

Wednesday afternoon, the Public Service Board will hold a hearing on whether Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee should cease operating the nuclear plant until it finds and fixes the tritium leak.

The hearing will also consider whether there is cause to revoke the plant’s certificate of public good and whether the company should be penalized for the radioactive leaks.

Meanwhile, down at the plant, a “remotely operated vehicle” continues its probe of a tunnel and drainpipes that have been found to leak.

According to Monday’s dispatch from Entergy, “The inspection will allow engineers to determine the source for the small amount of leakage remaining internal to the tunnel and develop additional remediation steps that can be taken to completely eliminate the leak. As previously reported, water coming from the pipe is not reaching the environment. The water is being collected in a sump for processing through plant systems as designed.”

Does it help Yankee’s case before the board that there’s been progress in identifying the cause of the leak?

— Nancy Remsen

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Personally, I think they should just shut it the hell down.

Good morning, people! No one’s buying Enexus plot

I keep hearing the voice of Grace Slick at Woodstock (“Good morning, people!”) when I think about the reaction to Entergy’s attempt to spin-off their oldest, most toxic five plants into a separate company called Enexus. Dear God, I think we’re actually awake and aware and NOT going to allow this greedy shyster of a corporation to get away with dumping the debt that they committed to when they bought these old plants.

Whatever their strategy was to make a profit by buying a bunch of nuclear power plants nearing retirement age, they’re not likely to get away with it. As one of several recent signs of alarm clocks screaming from coast to coast, I am reassured and inspired.

Congratulations to the good people of the New York State Public Service Commission. They saw what just happened in Vermont and decided to take a “Wait and see” approach — at least until month’s end — as to how Entergy handles the mess it’s made at Vermont Yankee with the tritium leak… and the misleading testimony they gave a year earlier about whether their old, underground pipes were carrying radioactive materials, before they consider granting approval on the questionable Enexus plan.

Vermont Public Radio published an inspiring story yesterday entitled, “Troubles At Yankee Affecting Industry Elsewhere.” [http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/87399/] in which it was reported, “Entergy had tried to bolster its case by promising to reduce the new company’s debt by $500 million. The New York commission staff said that move did not go far enough, and that the deal was not in the public interest.”

Your humble reporter is quite pleased that they agree.

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Related Stories:

NY PSC staff still against Entergy Enexus plan

NEW YORK, March 4 (Reuters) – The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) staff said on Thursday it still did not think Entergy Corp’s (ETR.N) plan to spinoff its non-regulated nuclear power plants was in the public interest.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0415412620100304?type=marketsNews

N.Y.: Enexus shouldn’t include Vt. Yankee

By BOB AUDETTE
Friday March 5, 2010

BRATTLEBORO — Take Vermont Yankee out of the deal and we’ll think about it.

That was the response from the advisory staff of the New York Public Service Commission to an offer by Entergy to change the details of a proposed spin off of three nuclear reactors in the Empire State into a new company.

http://www.reformer.com/localnews/ci_14516778

NY regulators defer decision on Entergy spinoff

The Associated Press  March 4, 2010, 5:31PM ET

ALBANY, N.Y.

New York regulators have delayed a decision on Entergy Corp.’s plan to spin off its six nuclear plants, saying they’ll take comment on a set of potential conditions before ruling.

Public Service Commission staff recommended against approving the deal last month, primarily because the resulting company — Enexus Energy Corp. — could be financially shaky.

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9E839E00.htm

Shadis tells it like it is: Entergy, NRC failures

NEC: Leak means other problems

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

By BOB AUDETTE

Thursday March 4, 2010

BRATTLEBORO — The discovery of a leak of tritiated water at Vermont Yankee is just one more sign that Entergy has mismanaged the nuclear power plant in Vernon, said Ray Shadis, technical consultant for the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution.

NEC is asking the NRC to force Yankee to cease operations until the source of the leak is found. On Wednesday, Shadis spoke before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Petition Review Board to explain in more detail the coalition’s request.

“It’s our view that the tritium leak is indicative of deeper issues at the plant,” he said. “During the tenure of Entergy Corporation at Vermont Yankee, there have been several high-profile events.”

Those included a transformer fire in 2004 and a cooling tower fan cell collapse in 2007.

The reason those incidents happened, said Shadis, is because Entergy has been deferring important maintenance tasks and has not been applying lessons learned from other power plant operators.

In the case of the transformer fire, he said, “The warning had been out there about the degradation of that particular item for 10 or 12 years prior, but Entergy … decided to ignore it,” despite the increased demand of a power uprate granted in 2003.

And Entergy could have prevented the cooling tower collapse if it had learned the lessons of similar incidents at other electricity generating facilities, said Shadis.

Entergy has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the operating license of Yankee for another 20 years, from 2012 to 2032. As part of its license renewal application, Entergy must detail its plan for how it intends to maintain the power plant’s systems, structures and components, including its pipes.

“The leak is proof positive that the aging management program that Entergy is proposing will not be adequate to protect against further leaks, primarily because the … program depends on a 10-year interval of surveillance and such opportunistic inspections that may occur when excavating for other purposes,” said Shadis.

Shadis was also concerned that there have been “failures of communication” between departments at Yankee. One reason for that is because each department has its own quality control team rather than one quality control department for the whole operation, he said.

Instituting that change “was a mistake, demonstrated by the many failures in quality control,” said Shadis.

Following 900 hours of inspections performed by an NRC engineering team in 2004, he said, 14 items of concern were identified.

“More than half of those items related directly to poor quality control,” said Shadis.

And now, he said, poor work practices might be the root cause for the leak of tritiated water.

The NRC issued a “demand for information” last week to review operations at the plant over the past five years. The NRC also wants to know how recent suspensions and reprimands may affect operations at the plant and whether testimony submitted by the five suspended employees in Yankee’s license renewal application is correct.

The coalition is also concerned about what effect the remediation on the contamination might have on decommissioning costs, especially, said Shadis, “When the licensee is only marginally able to meet NRC requirements in terms of the accumulation decommissioning funds.”

To prevent further contamination of the groundwater, which could drive up clean-up costs at the plant, the plant should be placed into cold shutdown and all systems be depressurized until the source of the leak is found, he said.

“They are adding to the (cost) every single minute that the leak continues,” said Shadis.

Paul Blanch, a former nuclear engineer and whistleblower who revealed major safety lapses at Connecticut’s Millstone plant in the late 1980s and early 1990s, said that Entergy’s rationale for keeping Yankee running while it looks for the leak is simply an excuse “to get to the finish line.”

Yankee will shut down this spring for its 18-month refueling outage and is on track to set a record run.

“The claim that we need to continue operating to identify the leak has no engineering basis whatsoever … it is an exaggeration,” said Blanch. “If the plant were shut down, the leak may or may not stop but the leak rate would be significantly reduced.”

Leak testing can be done after shutdown by pressurizing different systems of the plant, he said.

Shadis did not restrict his criticism to Entergy’s management of the plant. He was also critical of the NRC’s reactor oversight process, which he said has not been adequately addressing negative trends at nuclear power plants.

If the process was operating properly, he said, the NRC would have seen that Entergy’s maintenance has not been up to snuff, that its quality controls have repeatedly failed and communications between departments have not been all they could be.

The end result is structural, mechanical and human performance failures, said Shadis.

“Even supplemental inspections have failed to pick up on the full extent of operational and maintenance failures at Yankee,” he said.

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Entergy scrambling to split off old nuke plants

Entergy has attempted another “special-of-the-day” offer to woo lawmakers into allowing one of their questionable business objectives to gain approval. On the eve of a discussion by New York’s Public Service Commission regarding Entergy’s devious plan to spin off its oldest, leaking nuclear power plants into a new and heavily debt-laden company (Enexus), Entergy offered  to reduce the amount of the new company’s initial debt load from $3.5 billion to a mere $3 billion. What a deal! With $500 million less debt, Entergy appears to be hoping that enough suckers will believe that this might cover the currenly-unknown costs of decommissioning a half-dozen toxic, old nuke plants before the corporation gets stuck paying their own bill.

Hey Entergy! Haven’t you heard? There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

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As Katarzyna Klimasinska reports in BusinessWeek:

March 03, 2010

Entergy Offers Spinoff Debt Cut for N.Y. Approval

March 3 (Bloomberg) — Entergy Corp., owner of the second- largest group of U.S. nuclear power plants, proposed reducing long-term debt for a unit it plans to spin off, as it seeks New York’s approval for the transaction.

The New York State Public Service Commission is scheduled to discuss at a meeting in Albany tomorrow Entergy’s petition to separate six nuclear reactors into a new company.

Entergy, based in New Orleans, said in a filing dated yesterday that it would reduce the debt of the spinoff company to $3 billion from $3.5 billion. It is Entergy’s second offer to lower the unit’s debt since announcing the spinoff in November 2007.

The company, based in New Orleans, also proposed to contribute as much as $300 million to New York’s energy efficiency program, if power prices “exceed certain levels.”

The nuclear unit would own the James A. FitzPatrick and Indian Point power plants in New York as well as the Pilgrim plant in Massachusetts and Vermont Yankee reactor in Vermont.

Original article: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-03-03/entergy-offers-spinoff-debt-cut-for-n-y-approval-update1-.html.

Bye Bye VY!

Bye Bye Vermont Yankee

Vermont Senate Rejects Extension For Entergy Plant

By Mark Peters
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–The Vermont Senate overwhelmingly rejected extending the life of the state’s sole nuclear power plant, dealing a blow to Entergy Corp.’s (ETR) plan to run the reactor for an additional 20 years.

The New Orleans-based utility and power generator has been pushing to operate the reactor past March 2012, but has faced growing opposition amid concerns over the safety and operation of the plant. The vote runs counter to growing national interest in expanding nuclear generation by extending the operation of existing plants and restarting new reactor development for the first time in decades.

The state until recently had appeared split over the future of Vermont Yankee, which is scheduled to shut in March 2012. But the discovery of increased levels of tritium, a radioactive material that increases cancer risk, in test wells on the plant’s site fueled growing opposition. The safety concerns have been coupled with accusations Entergy misled state officials on the existence of underground piping potentially causing the leak.

“Don’t do business with someone you can’t trust,” said Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, speaking on the Senate floor before the vote.

Entergy said earlier Wednesday an internal investigation found employees didn’t intentionally mislead state officials, but the statements of employees “led to misunderstandings and, taken out of that context, the responses were incomplete and misleading.” The results of the review led the company to place five senior employees on administrative leave and reprimand six additional managers, including Entergy’s top official at the plant.

Vermont has the authority, rare among states, to decide on extending the operation of a nuclear power plant, which is typically left up to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Both the Vermont Senate and House of Representatives must back extending the plant’s life. The NRC also must rule on the proposed license extension, but hasn’t to date. The Vermont House hasn’t yet taken up the matter.

Entergy in a statement said efforts to win a license extension are “far from over.” The company is determined to keep working in the state legislature to make its case for the plant as a safe and reliable source of power. In the meantime, the company said it continues to focus “on winning back the confidence and trust of the citizens of Vermont.”

Read the entire article: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100224-717594.html


							

Expert details Yankee leak: Says quickest way to stop tritium is to shut down

http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20100211/NEWS02/2110388/1003/NEWS02

By DANIEL BARLOW Vermont Press Bureau – Published: February 11, 2010

MONTPELIER – The plume of tritium leaking from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is suspected of being 35 feet deep, 200 feet wide and 400 feet long, according to the Legislature’s nuclear expert.

Arnie Gundersen, a member of the Vermont Legislature’s Public Oversight Panel for Vermont Yankee, told lawmakers Wednesday morning the quickest way to stop the tritium leak before finding its origin would be for the reactor to shut down.

Gundersen said that move would likely cost Entergy, the company that owns Vermont Yankee, about $1 million a day in electricity sales.

“If the plant shuts down, the tritium leak stops,” Gunderson told members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee at the Statehouse Wednesday. “It would take years for the tritium to move off-site, but you would not be adding anything to it if the plant shut down.”

Entergy officials have been struggling for weeks to find the cause of the tritium in nearby groundwater, believed to be caused by leaking underground pipes at the Vernon reactor. State officials now say they believe that tritium has leaked into the nearby Connecticut River.

Rob Williams, spokesperson for Vermont Yankee, said the plant’s continued operation helps them locate the source of the leak. He added that they would “shut down if it was necessary to protect public or worker health and safety or if it could aid the investigation.”

The revelation that the plant is leaking the radioactive isotope – coupled with allegations that Entergy officials misled the state about the existence of those underground pipes – has threatened the plant’s long-term future.

“It’s obvious that tritium is now in the river,” Gundersen told lawmakers, adding that testing for levels in that water is difficult right now because of the winter weather.

Gundersen again said he believes the source of the tritium leak is Vermont Yankee’s off-gas system – underground pipes that use steam from the reactor to carry out hydrogen and oxygen molecules that were separated in the plant’s condenser.

He said that steam would contain tritium, although he added that “we won’t know for sure until we find the leak.” But he stressed that officials should push Entergy to clean-up the tritium contamination from its own funds and not the decommissioning trust fund.

Gundersen estimated that it would cost about $10 million to clean up a contaminated area that is the size of a single football field and about 10 feet deep. It now appears that the contamination at Vermont Yankee is larger than that.

“This should not a decommissioning cost,” he told lawmakers. “This should come from the operating budget. The decommissioning funds are for the dismantling of the plant.”

Sen. Margaret “Peg” Flory, R-Rutland, questioned why no one realized sooner that Vermont Yankee did have underground radioactive pipes. Any blueprints of the plant from when it was constructed in 1972 should show these pipes, she said.

“What I’ve been struggling with is if these are essential parts of a nuclear power plant it would seem to be obvious that everyone knew there had to be something somewhere,” she said.

Gundersen said the Oversight Panel was shut out from directly interviewing Vermont Yankee officials and had to rely on information collected by the consulting firm hired by the Douglas administration. Those consultants and the Vermont Department of Public Service stressed that they had asked about the pipes and were told they didn’t exist, he said.

Gundersen said he does not want to attach a motive to why Entergy officials gave the state bad information. But he said it is clear there were more than just one or two bad apples in the company, noting that at least 12 officials with Entergy supplied wrong information in what he called an “organizational cancer.”

He also faulted the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for allowing nuclear power plants to voluntarily start tritium monitoring programs after the radioactive isotope began showing up at other plants across the country. If it wasn’t for this leak at Vermont Yankee, only one of these underground pipes would be tested before 2012, he said.

“Entergy is no better or worse than the rest of the industry,” Gundersen said. “They just don’t have their act together when it comes to these underground pipes.”

Massachusetts residents living downstream from Vermont Yankee tell Douglas to shut down the plant now

From: http://vtdigger.org/2010/02/11/massachusetts-residents-living-downstream-from-vermont-yankee-tell-douglas-to-shut-down-the-plant-now/

February 11, 2010

Dear Governor Douglas:

I believe the tritium leak at ENVY is a greater environmental disaster than you realize. Just one gram of tritium contaminates 500 billion liters of water up to the fed. limit of 20,000pCi/L. The leak has been allowed to continue at full speed for over one month. The level of tritiated water found in groundwater monitoring wells is now at 2.7 million pCi/L, near the level of the reactor water itself.  This represents a breach of containment, understood as the systems in the reactor and powerplant intended to isolate radioactive contamination from the public.

The groundwater belongs to the public, not to ENVY. ENVY’s leak has polluted our groundwater to the second highest level of all tritium leaks from reactors in the country. NRC rules have allowed contamination of groundwater resources at 27 leaking nuclear reactors. This is illegal in Vermont. Your agencies can stop the leak by shutting down the reactor, but they are waiting for you to give the nod. You must protect public trust resources. Please instruct your agencies (DPS, ANR, VDH) to act swiftly to turn off the reactor water that is contaminating the groundwater by shutting down the reactor.

It is not necessary to run the reactor at overpressure levels to find the leak. Drilling wells just maps the toxicity and extent of the plume, it does not find the leak. All power plants have design drawings, sophisticated gauges and flow meters on their pipes and engineers who can do mass balance calculations to detect leaks.  This has gone on far too long, is based on industry lies and incompetence and NRC tolerance of groundwater pollution, and MUST BE STOPPED IMMEDIATELY. Please do the right thing and act.

Thank you for your rapid consideration of my concerns.

Sally Shaw

Gill, Mass.

An 11th generation Vermonter and mother, living in the EPZ.

A letter from Sally Shaw’s husband, Bart Bales, follows.

Leak detection in plant systems with regard to the VT Yankee tritium leak.

By Bart Bales, P.E., M.S.M.E

February 9, 2010

This is an evaluation of the facts surrounding the VT Yankee tritium leak as reported in the press and to the public through the VT Dept. of Health’s website. It is the opinion of a registered mechanical engineer with twenty-five years of professional experience in energy engineering. It provides approaches to leak detection in power plant piping systems in general, and evaluates the approach being employed, according to public information, to find the tritium leak at VT Yankee.

1.    A plant operator should have up-to-date schematics for all piping and the expected pressures and flow rates throughout the piping network.

2.    Design pipe layouts and as-built pipe layouts are necessary elements for responsible operation and maintenance of a power plant.

3.    Use of design and as-built drawings and specifications along with gauge and instrumentation operating parameters should provide information sufficient to determine expected flow rates and pressures in the piping networks.

4.    The design documents at VT Yankee should enable plant personnel to identify a limited number of pipes that could contain tritiated water.

5.    Plant personnel should determine actual flows through and between elements and components of those piping networks that contain tritium, and determine quantities in various storage vessels by a mass balance calculation.

6.    These calculations can determine flows from within the plant enclosure to the piping network and storage vessels outside the enclosure and should provide information sufficient to identify the leaking pipe loop.

7.    Differences in flows into and out of parts of the network can help localize the leak as the mass balance will indicate a shortfall in expected values for the piping network containing the leak.

8.    This is a more prudent approach to leak detection that can allow the plant system to be operated at lower and safer pressures and flow rates until the leak is found and repaired.

9.    It is expected that there would be existing flow meters on all the various piping loops, especially those conveying radioactive liquids or gases. These should be calibrated, serviced or replaced and rendered reliably functional to determine flow rates and diagnose leaks.

10.     Maintenance of full pressure ratings throughout the power plant should not be necessary to accomplish leak detection. Maintenance of even moderate pressures in the piping will produce a sufficient gradient for leak detection.

11.     There is no justification for maintaining pressures at uprated or even original design conditions for leak detection.

12.     Fluid flow through holes in the leaking pipes erodes the edges of these holes.  Larger holes result in even higher rates of leakage.

13.     It should be recognized that the higher the pressure the greater the flow through leaks, and the faster the introduction of contaminants into the groundwater.

14.     A higher influx rate into the groundwater increases the rate of migration of the plume into adjacent areas and into the Connecticut River.

15.     A more responsible leak detection protocol would be to shut down the plant, evaluate and model analytically, prioritizing the pipe systems most likely to be leaking tritium, then test each system progressively in order of probability that it is the source of the leak.

16.     This approach to leak detection methods from inside the plant employs existing flow gauges or installation of mechanical measuring gauges, and use of ultrasonic or inflow measurements.

17.     For a plant operator or engineer to lack knowledge of location of piping networks and their contents is an unacceptable situation, especially in the handling of potentially hazardous fluids.

Shut Vermont Yankee Down NOW

Why didn’t you know about the tritium leak at Vermont Yankee? What was more important than learning that the old nuke plant up the road was leaking radioactive materials into your soil and ground water? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

WAKE THE HELL UP, DAMN IT!

I don’t care what your position is on nuclear or any other form of energy right now. While I encourage you to speak your mind and debate until you’re blue in the face, you have to stop screwing around. Believe me, we ain’t got all day.

Vermont Yankee is one of several nuclear plants built in the late 60’s and early 70’s that are now reaching the age of retirement, or so they were designed and built for.

Meanwhile, there are folks in Louisiana, amongst other places, who intend to squeeze ever possible cent out of their questionable recent investments at whatever level of increased risk exposure they can put on us that they can get away with.

And what are we doing? Pissing and moaning about the estimated 600 jobs of individuals who accepted their offer of employment with the full knowledge that the plant was slated to close in 2012. THAT IS THE LIFESPAN IT WAS DESIGNED TO SUSTAIN.

Fires, cooling tower collapses, emergency shut-downs and now toxic leaks, for which they have yet to locate the source of, and after reassuring  us just last year that there were no underground pipes moving radioactive anything, anywhere… honest, there’s not.

And we read the headlines that they didn’t intend to mislead us… Whoops! It must have just been a happy accident, then. Because every day that we are not working towards locating and acquiring the power we will need to replace once the old girl has been put to bed is extending the life support of a dying cause. At what cost? To whom?

The fact that there is even a debate about whether we grant to them (the now-even-more-powerful CORPORATION) the right to expose every one of us to the ever increasing risks for another twenty years is baffling to me. There is simply NO logic in the arguments to extend the license. It’s just not worth the risk. I can prove that from a financial perspective, an environmental perspective, an historical perspective, and probably a few others.

I have not found one argument or line of reasoning that comes close to offsetting the foolish and potentially catastrophic risk of choking another two decades from a power source that was only deemed to be “clean, safe and reliable” for another two years. And from the increasing evidence, it is only a fool that shields his eyes from the threats standing right before him. (Yes, that’s the one… that rabid one… who is currently foaming at the mouth.)

What can you do? I have an idea. You can help pay for the lawyers who are calling Entergy’s bluff. Last week, the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution (www.necnp.org) filed an Enforcement Petition  and Request for Expedited Action to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission “to address conditions trending to degradation of public safety margin at Vermont Yankee Power Station”. This is but one of several legal actions the New England Coalition has initiated for the benefit of all of us to prevent exposure to further risk from this aging plant.

What is the fair value of your grandchildren’s right to live on clean land in southern Vermont? What is the value of your clean drinking water? Do what you can, and do it now. Seriously, there is NO TIME TO LOSE.

Despite new leaks, stupid people may give Vermont Yankee another 20 years

Vermont Yankee Finds Another Leak

August 25, 2009

Vernon, VT – Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee was at 15% reduced power last Monday after discovering a leak in the feed-water system. Apparently the leak — of a mere 3,000 gallons a day — was discovered several weeks ago.

Perhaps not surprisingly, no one at the plant — even after these several weeks have passed — seemed to know how long the repair might take.

I apologize for not having a photo of the current leak. However, this one from August 2007 should serve as a reminder of why it is STUPID, short-sighted, and a HUGE RISK to allow Entergy to operate Vermont Yankee for another 20 years beyond the lifespan it was built for.

August 21, 2007

August 21, 2007

Entergy can’t be trusted

Big thanks go out to Gary Sachs for stating what so many of us believe… with clarity, logic and passion.

Published: August 6, 2009 by the Rutland Herald

http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20090806/OPINION02/908060304

“Yes officer I was speeding, but it was an oversight.” This tactic generally doesn’t work.

“We measured the temperature but forgot to check the radioactivity,” says the largest radioactive emitter in the state.

“We agreed to a memorandum of understanding and then forgot to implement what we understood,” says the same company.

Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee forgot to measure the radioactivity coming off the dry cask storage installation. It is now August. The 2008 fence line dose monitoring data is still not available.

Entergy wants permission to operate another 20 years.

Entergy wants permission to expand their fence line boundary.

Entergy wants permission to spin off Vermont Yankee and a few other reactors into Enexus.

What is wrong with this picture?

In 1967 the Vermont state Legislature agreed to host an in-state nuclear reactor for 40 years, not 60. In 2006, Entergy won permission to store waste in dry casks as long as the radiation off the casks was measured. They forgot.

Where is the common courtesy, aka, compliance with the state that Entergy promised Chairman Dworkin of the Public Service Board in 2002 during the sale case?

Entergy does not show that they can keep their word to the chair of the regulatory board, and Entergy does not hold up its end of the agreements it signs with the Department of Public Service. Clearly one should not reward these poor behaviors with extended operation. Please encourage your state representative and senator to vote against continued operation beyond 2012.

GARY SACHS
Brattleboro

Entergy reports dry-storage containers were not monitored

NEI SmartBrief | 08/05/2009

Aging plant goes unmonitoredThe Vermont Public Service Board says Entergy Nuclear forgot until six weeks ago that it was supposed to monitor radiation from dry-storage containers at Vermont Yankee. Entergy Nuclear reported Friday that it had not complied with the monitoring requirement in its 2006 state permit “due to an oversight.” “We are a self-critical organization, and we found this could have been prevented with better checking within several departments,” said Entergy spokesman Robert Williams. Rutland Herald (Vt.) (08/04)

New England Coalition for the People – vs – Entergy Nuclear

You go, Ray!

New England Coalition on Nuclear Polution

NEW ENGLAND COALITION ON NUCLEAR POLLUTION

FIGHT FOR THE CENTURY

NEC for the PEOPLE -vs – ENTERGY NUCLEAR

11 DAYS IN THE RING

STARTING ROUND: MAY 18, 2009

VENUE: VERMONT PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD HEARING ROOM- MONTPELIER

THE PRIZE: OUR HEALTH, HOMES, ENVIRONMENT, FARM PRODUCTS, TOURISM AND OUTDOOR SPORTING ACTIVITIES

RINGSIDE SEATS: WATCH THE MATCH IN PERSON OR AT WWW.NECNP.ORG

The sparring started May 18: several weeks of technical hearings (similar to a trial and courtroom) before the Vermont Public Service Board. Entergy is seeking a Certificate of Public Good to operate their reactor until 2032 – 20 years beyond it’s design life and present scheduled closure in 2012. NEC is the sole intervenor challenging Entergy on technical, environmental and safety issues. While others concern themselves only with economics, we are fighting for our (and future generations) health, homes and livelihoods. You are encouraged to show your support for NEC by attending the hearings and bear witness to this historic battle. It’s inspiring to look over a shoulder in the courtroom and see friends like you while Staff Advisor Raymond Shadis and attorney Jared Margolis representing NEC in this docket present our case against Entergy and their lawyers from a 900 attorney law firm.

At this pivotal time your financial contributions are critical to maintaining our stamina in the ring. If you have made a donation recently, Thank You! Secure donations can be made online using PayPal or a credit/dept card or by mailing a check. Thank you for your support.

The People’s Advocate for Safe Energy Since 1971

P.O. Box 545, Brattleboro, VT 05302 802.257.0336

http://www.necnp.org/

Since 1971 NEC has advocated for safe energy in New England and has provided education and resources for alternatives to nuclear power. New England Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All contributions are tax-deductible.

Massachusetts joins NY and CT in appeal of NRC ruling

State appeals NRC ruling

GateHouse News Service
PLYMOUTH — Attorney General Martha Coakley and her counterparts in New York and Connecticut are appealing a Nuclear Regulatory Commission decision that could impact the relicensing of Pilgrim Station Nuclear Power Plant.

Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut officials have filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York challenging the NRC’s ruling that there was no “new and significant information” on the risks of severe accidents in the spent fuel pools at nuclear plants, including Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee, caused by terrorist attack, human error, equipment malfunction, or natural disaster.

In 2006, Massachusetts filed a petition claiming that new and significant information on these risks to Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee, both owned by Entergy Nuclear Operations, and should be part of the relicensing process for each nuclear power plant.

“Our appeal is intended to ensure that the NRC give due consideration, including a meaningful opportunity for public comment, on these important environmental and public safety issues,” Attorney General Coakley said in a press release.

Original article: http://www.wickedlocal.com/plymouth/news/x2133272855/State-appeals-NRC-ruling (published May 6, 2009)

Words of fury, despair

Vermont Yankee is old and unsafe

Vermont Yankee is old and unsafe

An editorial published on RutlandHerald.com:

Vermont Yankee produces about 30 tons a year of the most toxic and long-lasting waste known to man, which will stay forever on the banks of the Connecticut River in casks that, over its half-life of 250,000 years, will crack every 100 years or so, leaving this unspeakable waste to thousands of generations of our children (if they live). Ray Shadis called it “the gift that keeps on killing.” Every minute of the day and night it releases radioactive material in the air, none of which is safe, and since children are most vulnerable, they, our children, have been and will continue to be, victims of cancers and leukemias as long as the reactor is rattling along like a broken down old car.

On top of all that there is a sneaky connection between nuclear reactors and the military, with “depleted” uranium (which is making the world for the world’s children a radioactive wasteland) and nuclear bombs, which are all part of the atom-smashing process. Helen Caldecott called Vermont Yankee a “cancer and a bomb factory that must be shut down.”

I understand completely why Sally Shaw placed compost (which she called “good waste”) on the table behind which Entergy’s officials and the NRC sat. Anyone who doesn’t understand, and because of that, not only condemns her, but in the Legislature, might vote to poison us and keep us in constant fear for our children and grandchildren for 20 more years, was never on the side of desperate parents and grandparents anyway, and care nothing about our children.

There are times when I am so tired of feeling sad, hopeless, and cynical in the face of corporate power, that I can hardly find the right words. However, criticism of Sally’s despair and fury, which I share, made me find some.

Thank you, Sally.

JANE NEWTON
South Londonderry

(Thank YOU, Jane. You are NOT alone!)

We don’t need dirty money for our playgrounds

Vermont Yankee needs a “Certificate of Public Good” in order to get the 20-year extention to operate beyond the nuclear power plant’s scheduled closing. In a county of just over 40,000 people, there were approximately 75 who bothered to show up for the latest meeting of Vermont’s public service board to weigh in on whether Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee deserve the required certification.

According to the Brattleboro Reformer’s news story of May 1 (http://www.reformer.com/ci_12270340), the audience appeared evenly split on whether to grant this certificate or not. Reporter Bob Audette notes that those opposed focused on the environmental impact, the potential costs involved, and the negative impact the over-extended plant will have on the Vermont brand.

Those in favor of granting the certificate seemed to focus only on the tens of thousands of dollars that Entergy has “donated” to local non-profits, as if the local towns would suffer harshly without such charity. It seems to me that a rudimentary review of profits reaped by Entergy Nuclear versus their supposedly charitable investment in local towns would render this argument laughable in the face of the financial burden their spent fuel rods will cost to contain and secure once they have divested themselves of the no-longer-viable plant… twenty years beyond when it was scheduled to close… twenty years beyond when it was built to last.

Let us remember that we were promised a national storage facility for spent nuclear fuel rods… the Yucca Mountain fantasy that will never be. Have we considered the financial burden to the state and to the country based on the reality that the facility will never be built? Has any Vermonter looked over to Maine to review the state costs related to the decomissioning of Maine Yankee in light of the lack of federal safe-keeping of their spent fuel rods?

Fuck Entergy’s playgrounds. Who the hell wants a new playground built from the supposed charitable contributions from a corporation who maintains facilities like this?

Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee on August 21, 2007

Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee on August 21, 2007

June 18, 2004 - Fire at Vermont Yankee

June 18, 2004 - Fire at Vermont Yankee

Are your tire swings worth it? Why don’t you show the children these photos and ask them if they think it’s worth it to accept their money for playgrounds or little league? I trust that the children will know better. In fact, I already know that they do know better.

A “Certificate of Public Good”? You must be JOKING. Where is the public good in this equation? It DOES NOT EXIST.

Wake up, Vermont. These Louisiana folks are not your friends… and no amount of playground building changes the fact that they want to squeeze as much profit out of a dangerously aging nuclear power plant as they are able to, without regard for the potential short- and long-term financial burdens placed on the state and its residents.

Do not sit idle while your playgrounds are glowing. WAKE UP. Please.

CRACK IS WHACK

Engineers find more cracks in VY steam dryer

Reformer Staff

Friday, November 21

BRATTLEBORO — During a recheck of the results of Vermont Yankee’s steam dryer inspection, engineers found that the number of additional hairline cracks in the dryer was actually 18, and not 16, as previously reported.”These two additional ones were also likely created in the early years of plant operations and are not a result of metal fatigue that had been seen in some other boiling water reactors that had been through a power uprate,” stated Rob Williams, spokesman for Yankee, in an e-mail to the media.

The steam dryer inspection was conducted during a recent refueling outage at the nuclear power plant in Vernon. The inspection was the second of three required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission following the approval of a 20 percent power uprate.

In addition to the dryer inspection, Yankee technicians conducted more than 5,000 tasks including inspections and parts replacements.

[The following content added by blogger]

Let Us Not Forget!

This is Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee in August of 2007. WAKE UP!

Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee on August 21, 2007

Just Say No to Aging Nuclear Power Plants

Boston.com posted a piece in their BUSINESS IN BRIEF section:

Ruling appealed as Pilgrim nears license extension