Category Archives: energy

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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What more than Fukushima do you need to wake up?

I kept saying, “What’s it gonna take folks, a meltdown?”

I didn’t want a meltdown. I just wanted to make the point that it would be STUPID to wait until something catastrophic happened before you thought, “Wow. She’s right. It’s really NOT worth it.”

I AM RIGHT. And we have had the meltdown. So what the hell is the problem?

There is NO justification any of you can make that is worth the potential risk of nuclear power. There is NO financial justification. Remove government subsidies and include the inevitable cost of security and storage of spent nuclear fuel and your argument is already moot. Add to that the cost of clean-up or recovery from the inevitable leaks and failures of plants operating well beyond the lifespan they were built for, and then tell show me the bottom line.

The only argument I’ve heard for years from the nuclear industry itself is that the environmental impact of carbon emissions from our return to coal would be cataclysmic. But who the hell says we will revert back to dirty coal to replace nuclear power? Seriously, what is the basis of that assumption?

What the hell happened to Yankee ingenuity? There are BRILLIANT MINDS working on alternative energy solutions now. There is no single solution to replace the power lost from the inevitable end of nuclear. But there are many options that with the appropriate resources allocated could – together – provide a suitable replacement. This is not a fast and easy solution. But it is a viable option that can be developed and improved to eventually surpass the capacity and eliminate the risk of nuclear.

This, too, is the option that can and will eventually eliminate dependency on foreign oil.

Do you doubt that America has the ability to evolve these technologies? Have you visited M.I.T. lately? CalTech? If we re-allocated subsidies for nuclear power into investment funds for research and development, we’d get there soon enough.

Stop limiting our options. Stop doubting our capabilities. Remember what it felt like to have pride in our country… not just for bravery, but for innovation. Think about the Internet and how rapidly technology evolved in so short a time.

Fukushima was the last screaming alarm after far too many taps on the snooze button. Do not go back to sleep. Wake the hell up… BELIEVE it is possible… and support the innovation that will put an end to nuclear power before it is too late.

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NRC asked to take a breather

On Friday, April 15, 2011, the good Bob Audette, staff reporter for the Brattleboro Reformer, reported that “forty-five groups and individuals either opposed to or in support of increased safety measures at nuclear power plants around the nation submitted a petition Thursday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission asking it suspend all re-licensing activities of existing plants and all licensing activities of proposed plants.” in order to give the NRC the opportunity to determine what lessons can be learned from the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. (http://www.reformer.com/ci_17851311)

One spokesperson, attorney Diane Curran, who specializes in nuclear safety and security, has gone so far as to state that the NRC has violated the law in granting the 20-year license extension to Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee within days of the damage done to reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

It seems quite reasonable that the NRC — whose role is to REGULATE nuclear power plants — would want to wait and see and carefully consider the events at Fukushima before granting a twenty year license extension to a leaking plant at the end of the lifespan it was designed for. Remember that Vermont Yankee is a boiling water reactor, the same type as the plant in Fukushima.

Japanese nuclear regulators declared this week that the severity of the disaster at Fukushima has been classified a Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, putting it on par with the 1986 accident at Chernobyl. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/france-wants-nato-to-fight-harder-against-gaddafis-forces/2011/04/12/AFxrFEND_story.html and http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/04/16/japan.nuclear.reactors/?hpt=T2)

The license extension for Vermont Yankee is one of 21 proposed nuclear reactor projects in 15 states that would be placed on hold until the post-crisis analysis can be completed. There was a year and a half hold on nuclear projects after the accident at Three Mile Island. It is good common sense to step back now and learn everything possible about the events in Japan so that we can carefully assess our risk potential in light of this new and quite tangible information.

I wish to extend my thanks to the organizations like the New England Coalition and Pilgrim Watch — and the many individuals who comprise them — for their continued efforts to enforce common sense through legal channels, especially when the regulatory body we rely on does not appear to have the best interests of the public as their foremost priority.

Now is the time for continued damage control, thorough assessment, and thoughtful conclusions so that all current and future nuclear projects can be reviewed with greater clarity and accuracy.

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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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Former nuclear industry insider joins New England Coalition litigation team

FORMER NUCLEAR INDUSTRY INSIDER JOINS THE NEC LITIGATION TEAM.  PAUL M BLANCH TO REVIEW ENVY PIPE LEAK DATA, AND  PROVIDE EXPERT TESTIMONY TO VERMONT PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD.
Here is another piece of good news from the New England Coalition in their fight against Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee:

New England Coalition is proud to announce that Paul M. Blanch of West Hartford, Connecticut has agreed to serve as a pro bono consultant to NEC and as NEC’s expert witness before the Vermont Public Service Board in matters related to recent reactor Off Gas pipe system failures and radionuclide contamination at the Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee site.  Mr. Blanch is a veteran of the US Nuclear Navy; retired from a distinguished 40 year career in the nuclear industry, and currently serving as a nuclear safety consultant.

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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.

Why the focus on nuclear? Ten years and $645 MILLION in lobbying might explain it

I came across this enlightening piece from Harvey Wasserman last week. It scares me to think that our government can be bought… but I know I am naive and overly optimistic in this regard. Perhaps I shall start a “Buy a Senator” campaign and lay these cards plainly on the table. Care to make a donation?

$645 MILLION in Lipstick for a Dead Radioactive Pig

Submitted by BuzzFlash on Wed, 02/24/2010

The mystery has been solved.

Where is this “new reactor renaissance” coming from?

There has been no deep, thoughtful re-making or re-evaluation of atomic technology. No solution to the nuke waste problem. No making reactors economically sound. No private insurance against radioactive disasters by terror or error. No grassroots citizens now desperate to live near fragile containment domes and outtake pipes spewing radioactive tritium at 27 US reactors.

No, nothing about atomic energy has really changed.

Except this: $645 MILLION for lobbying Congress and the White House over the past ten years.

As reported by Judy Pasternak and a team of reporters at American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop, filings with the Senate Office of Public Records show that members of the Nuclear Energy Institute and other reactor owner/operators admit spending that money on issues that “include legislation to promote construction of new nuclear power plants.”

Money has also gone to “other nuclear-related priorities” including “energy policy, Yucca Mountain and nuclear waste disposal, plant decommissioning costs, uranium issues, such as tariffs, re-enrichment and mining, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission funding.” But even that may not fully account for money spent on coal and other energy sources, or on media campaigning.

In short: think $64.5 million, EVERY YEAR since the coming of George W. Bush.

That’s $1 million per every US Senator and Representative, plus another, say $100 million for the White House, courts and media.

“I think that’s understated,” says Journalism Professor Karl Grossman of the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. The “torrent of lies” from General Electric and Westinghouse, the “Coke and Pepsi” of the nuclear industry, “has made the tobacco industry look like a piker.

Their past, present and/or future media mouthpieces, says Grossman, span CBS, NBC and a global phalanx of interlocking radio-TV-print directorates.

All are geared, adds MediaChannel.org’s Rory O’Connor, to flood the globe with “Nukespeak,” the Orwellian lingo that sells atomic power while rehtorically air brushing its costs and dangers.

Thus Noam Chomsky’s “manufacturing consent” has become an “outright purchase.”

Thus National Public Radio is now the Nuclear Proliferation Redux. Disgraced ex-Greenpeacer Patrick Moore (who also sells clear-cut forests and genetically modified food) is portrayed as an “environmentalist” rather than an industry employee.

That’s not to say all reactor advocates do it for the money. Certainly some have grown on their own to like nuke power.

But $645 million—SIX HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE MILLION—can buy a lot of opinion going one way, and suppresses a lot going the other. Op eds, air time, “independent” reports, phony claims that “green” nukes can solve global warming…not to mention campaign “donations,” fact-finding junkets, political fundraisers, K-Street dinners…all can be had for a trifling drip from the mega-slush fund.

The latest payback is Barack Obama’s $8.33 billion in promised loan guarantees for two new nukes proposed in Georgia. Two old ones came in at 3000% over budget at a site where the Nuclear Regulatory Commission warns the proposed new ones might crumble in an earthquake or hurricane.

As Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! points out, Team Obama has taken VERY goodly chunks of that $645 million from Chicago’s nuke-loving Exelon. Despite his campaign hype for a green revolution, Obama’s first two named advisors, David Axelrod and Rahm Emmanuel, were proud Exelon “associates.”

Now Obama wants taxpayers to pony up $36 billion MORE in loan guarantees. (John McCain wants a mere trillion).

All this BEFORE the US Supreme Court ruled that corporations are “persons” who can spend without limit to buy Congress and the media. The cash pouring into the pockets of politicians voting for still more taxpayer money to build still more reactors will parallel the gusher of radiation that poured from Chernobyl.

But does this mean the flood of new reactors is inevitable?

NO!

Despite that cash tsunami, grassroots activists stopped $50 billion in loan guarantees three times since 2007. No new US reactor construction has started since the 1970s, when public opinion was over 70% in favor of atomic power, and Richard Nixon promised 1000 US reactors by the year 2000.

With green jobs advocate Van Jones ditched and Obama now openly in the nuclear camp, atomic energy is still a loser.

It can’t solve its waste problems, can’t operate without leaking radiation, can’t pay for itself and can’t get private insurance against terror or error.

Once hyped as “too cheap to meter,” Warren Buffett, the National Taxpayers Union, the Heritage Foundation and the CATO Institute are among those joining the Congressional Budget Office in warning that atomic energy is really “too expensive to matter.”

With all those hundreds of millions to spend, the reactor backers are still selling a technological corpse. With licensing and construction and the inevitable unforeseen, not one new US reactor can come on line in less than seven years.

Meanwhile, renewable/efficiency prices will continue to plummet. And grassroots opposition will not stop, as in Vermont and wherever else reactors operate or are proposed.

As Abe Lincoln reminds us: you can’t buy all the people all the time. And the ones that can’t be bought CAN be damn powerful.

Those loan guarantees, all that hype about a new nuclear age…they are NOT a done deal. They still must withstand a Solartopian revolution in green technology that’s left atomic power in its economic dust…and a human species whose core instincts DEMAND economic and ecological survival.

So when you hear some hired gun selling nukes, remember: even $645 million can buy only so much green lipstick for a dead radioactive pig.

And when Nature bats last, the final score is not about cash.

Original article: http://blog.buzzflash.com/contributors/3019

A surprisingly clear perspective from Alec Baldwin on nuclear power

I have often argued that one can not compare nuclear power to other options in a simple way. There are too many costs left un-calculated in the assessments that I’ve seen. Remove the government subsidies and loan guarantees. Factor in the cost of long term storage and security. THEN try to make your argument that nuclear power is the solution to our energy future.  I was pleased to come across Baldwin’s article, posted on the Huffington Post on February 23, 2010.

The Hidden Costs of Nuclear Power

Sitting in Bill Richardson’s office while he was Secretary of Energy under President Clinton was an opportunity that my colleagues and I from Standing for Truth About Radiation had worked hard to obtain. We wanted Richardson to not only close the research reactor at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, but also to shut down the Millstone plant in Waterford, Connecticut, which we asserted had been killing enormous amounts of fish with its water intake system for cooling. Local groups had been charging Millstone with destroying millions of pounds of local fish and with pumping superheated water back into the Long Island Sound, the temperatures of which had negatively impacted fish and shellfish habitat for decades.

Richardson, like any DOE Secretary before or after him, wasn’t all that interested in closing Millstone. Everywhere we went, government officials like Richardson invoked the figure “20 percent.” Twenty percent of domestic power in the US is derived from nuclear energy. The clean and safe source of power.

Often when discussing the advent of a new era in nuclear power generation, advocates for nukes, like Stewart Brand, who I referenced in my previous post, tread lightly over certain subjects, such as waste disposal and security issues. Other problems inherent in nuclear power generation, they simply ignore completely. One such issue is the impact of mining and processing radioactive materials into actual fuel. The mining and processing of material like uranium is one of the most carbon intensive processes used in creating energy. To mine, mill and refine uranium and to then submit the material to the enrichment, or gaseous diffusion, process takes vast amounts of energy. In sites around the US, massive coal burning plants pollute the air while providing the energy for uranium enrichment. Add to that the power needed to fabricate the enriched UF6 into fuel rods, and the resources needed to store the byproduct, reduced or depleted UF6. You begin to see that everything that leads up to a utility reactor going on line is anything but clean.

Another issue that nuke advocates sidestep is calculation of the true cost of bringing nuclear power plants on line. Just as oil, and thus gasoline, actually costs astronomically more than what we pay at the pump, due to the cost of US military interventions in the oil-rich areas of the world ( not to mention the costs in human lives, US and foreign), nuclear power has its own menu of hidden costs that are now, or one day will be, inherited by our children. Waste storage is the primary issue here. But the actual decommissioning and decontamination of reactors themselves will soon come to pass. Even with current licenses being foolishly extended and, thus, pushing the operational lives of these units years, even decades, beyond their original design, these units will eventually expire. The cost of closing them safely in current dollars is staggering. In the future, that will only get worse.

Scott Simon never asked Stewart Brand about Price Anderson. Even as utility operators put hundreds of millions into the Price Anderson fund respectively and billions collectively, one accident at, say, Indian Point, adjacent to New York City, would mean potentially many billions in costs. Who pays that? US taxpayers do, while Entergy, a private energy company, profits from the operation of the plant. Insuring these plants, over a hundred of them in the US, all aging, falls largely to US taxpayers. Another hidden cost. At least hidden in so far as most US citizens are concerned.

The original article can be found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alec-baldwin/the-hidden-costs-of-nucle_b_473585.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


							

No Dirty Power for Jobs: VY Attempts Last Minute Bribe

Vermont Yankee makes cut rate power offer on eve of Senate vote

Hodes calls for plant shutdown until tritium leak is fixed

The Associated Press

//
MONTPELIER – The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is offering cut-rate power to help the state build jobs – and to try to preserve its own operations.

Plant officials on Tuesday announced the Power for Jobs package that would reserve 25 megawatts of power from the Vernon plant that would be made available for economic development projects in Vermont at 4 cents per kilowatt hour.

The offer comes a day before the Vermont Senate was due to hold a vote on whether to allow the Vernon reactor to continue operating beyond the expiration of its current license in 2012.

The aging plant has been beset with problems in recent months. Since the beginning of the year, engineers have been searching for the leak of radioactive tritium from pipes on the grounds of the plant.

Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin says he expects the 25-megawatt offer from Vermont Yankee owner Entergy Corp. will have no effect on the Senate debate set for Wednesday.

Also Tuesday, New Hampshire Congressman Paul Hodes called Vermont Yankee to be shut down immediately until the tritium leak is fixed.

Hodes, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, said that “reckless behavior, deliberate cover-ups and unfruitful internal investigations” by plant officials have undermined the trust of New Hampshire citizens who live near the plant.

Read the entire article: http://www.reformer.com/ci_14455061

Enough cover-ups: Shut Vermont Yankee Down Now

NRC: Tritium Leaked From Vt. Yankee In 2005

NH Lawmakers Call For Federal Investigation

POSTED: 11:34 pm EST February 22, 2010
UPDATED: 12:00 am EST February 23, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire lawmakers are calling for a federal investigation after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission confirmed Monday a leak of the radioactive substance tritium that took place years before the leak currently under investigation at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.Last week, a whistleblower brought a 2005 tritium leak to the attention of investigators, and now, the NRC said it happened and it’s under investigation along with another tritium leak reported in the recent months.

Read the entire article at http://www.wmur.com/news/22640191/detail.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.”

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.

NY Public Service Commission Judges Apprehensive of Finanial Viability; Shelve Enexus to Fiscal 2010

Staying Neutral on Entergy as Spinoff Is Delayed

http://seekingalpha.com/article/163802-staying-neutral-on-entergy-as-spinoff-is-delayed

Entergy Corp.’s (ETR – Analyst Report) proposed spin-off of its Non-utility Nuclear power business has been relegated to fiscal 2010.

Recently, the New York Public Service Commission’s two administrative law judges in a ruling stated their apprehension regarding the new company having the financial viability to operate three units located in the state of New York. Of this, two units are located in the Indian Point Energy Center in Westchester County and a reactor at the James A. Fitzpatrick station in Oswego County.

The New York Public Service Commission expressed its apprehension that the $3.5 billion worth of long-term unsecured bonds that Entergy plans to issue for the spin-off will drag down the bond rating of the new company, affecting its financial capacity. The Commission has also relegated its next hearing to December 2009 followed by a final decision on the spin-off in January 2010.

Read the entire article >

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

Vermont Yankee: Safe, Clean, Reliable… and Drunk

Vermont Yankee supervisor fails alcohol test

By Sam Hemingway, Free Press Staff Report • September 2, 2009

A supervisor on duty at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon tested positive for alcohol Monday and has had his access to the facility revoked, according to a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear, the plant’s operator.
Advertisement

The incident was made public in a posting on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Web site Tuesday morning.

Larry Smith, the Entergy spokesman, said the employee was a supervisor in the maintenance department for the facility. The 100-person department handles maintenance of the plant’s electrical and instrument-control equipment and other duties.

“He was not a licensed operator,” Smith said. A licensed operator is someone who works in the plant’s control room.

Read the entire article:

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20090902/NEWS02/909020308

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)

Safe, Clean, Reliable? Yeah, right.

Algae hampers Yankee cooling system

By Susan Smallheer STAFF WRITER – Published: July 9, 2009

BRATTLEBORO – The algae problem at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant that is affecting the plant’s ability to cool itself will probably mean the plant will reduce power for a couple of hours several days a week for the rest of the summer.

But Entergy Nuclear workers recently discovered a reduced efficiency in the chlorination system that has been tracked to an “underperforming chlorine injection system,” said Entergy Nuclear spokesman Robert Williams.

He said the system had been repaired and plant efficiency was improving.

The nuclear reactor uses water from the Connecticut River to cool key plant components, but the buildup of algae lessens the effectiveness of the heat transfer and the algae must be removed by chlorination, Williams noted.

“The biofouling continues to be normal slime-producing algae – the same familiar aquatic growth that clings to rocks in the rivers,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Williams said because the plant is now producing 20 percent more power, and as a result 20 percent more steam, the plant’s cooling towers can’t do all the cooling, so the reactor must reduce power to facilitate the chlorination, he said.

Read the entire article: http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20090709/NEWS02/907090381/1003/NEWS02