Category Archives: Environment

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

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Last week & the week ahead: Tales of a toxic, old nuke plant

So, where are we now, my friends?

Vermont Yankee is leaking radioactive materialsWell, over a month has passed since the leak of radioactive tritium was discovered at Vermont Yankee in Vernon, Vermont. They first reported the issue on January 7th.  And they still can’t seem to locate it. That’s 44 days and counting that radioactive materials have been leaking into the groundwater at Vermont Yankee.

They were doing some excavating to try to find it, but they ran into a few snags there, so they had to suspend that project last Wednesday. Apparently in all their careful planning, they didn’t account for irregularly shaped concrete forms in the foundation and structure of the advanced off gas pipe tunnel. Whoops. Yeah, and then there are those large rocks they are trying to figure out how to remove. I’m NOT kidding. I wish I was.

[Evacuation of pipes still on hold at Vermont Yankee, 02/20/10:
http://www.reformer.com/ci_14438160]

The radioactive tritium has reached the Connecticut River. And as I drove by the plant this morning, I noted a dozen or more ice fishermen within the same line of sight. Are they eating the fish they catch? I hope not.

[Vt. Health Chief: Tritium May in Connecticut River, 02/09/10:
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/02/09/business/AP-US-Vermont-Yankee.html]

This week, it was disclosed that trace amounts of Cobalt-60 were also discovered in the pipe tunnel. Although Cobalt-60 has a shorter half-life — 5.27 years — than tritium, it is a gamma emitter, rather than a weak beta emitter like tritium, said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC.

Not to focus too much on the health risks of exposure to radiation, it is worthwhile to note that those exposed to a gamma emitter such as cobalt-60 are at significant risk, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

[Trace amounts of cobalt-60 found, 02/19/10:
http://www.reformer.com/localnews/ci_14430975]

And these jokers are still trying to create a new “shell corporation” called Enexus to transfer ownership (AND LIABILITY) of 6 of these old, toxic plants. Hmmmm… why would they do a thing like that? And why would any seemingly intelligent government official entertain – for even a moment – that this might be a good idea? Give me a break, fellas. I’m no contract lawyer, but that sure smells of manure to me!

[Legislative Leaders Say Administration Should Oppose Enexus, 1/25-26/10:
http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/87002/]

And here’s the icing on the cake. Entergy Nuclear still wants to continue operation of the toxic nightmare that is Vermont Yankee for another 20 years. I heard a pathetic lobbying ad on the radio on my drive home today, paid for by Vermont Yankee, urging Vermonters to call their senators in support of extending the license for this old plant to protect the supposed 1,300 jobs they provide and all that mountain of tax revenue received from the plant and its employees. Is there really even one person who can look me in the eyes and tell me that it is worth extending the license of a nuke plant that is currently leaking radioactive materials for an additional twenty years beyond what it was designed for? I couldn’t see the justification if the whole damn state worked at the plant! If you’re all dying of cancer, would it be worth keeping your jobs?

And so now we come to the week ahead.

Wednesday, February 24, has been decided as the date that the Vermont senate will vote on whether to give the Public Service Board the go-ahead to rule on the plant’s request to operate for another 20 years. As far as the wishy-washy governor is concerned, the vote means nothing. Yet a NO vote could delay another relicensing vote for up to a year, and send an appropriately strong message to Entergy that their business practices are unacceptable with regard to public safety and basic corporate responsibility. Senators, VOTE NO.

[Senate panel sets up Yankee vote, 02/19/10:
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20100219/NEWS03/100218041/Senate-panel-sets-up-Yankee-vote
]

So there you have it. This is the pathetic and dangerous situation we currently face. If you see the logic in closing the plant, please let your representatives know it. Their votes should represent your views on Wednesday. But you need to express those views to be represented. Please don’t sit idle… because every day that passes renders these beautiful lands less habitable for you, your kids, and your grandkids… and then some. I love Vermont, and I can’t imagine that Vermonters would allow some greedy corporation from Louisiana to spoil it for lack of caution and care.

Take Vermont back, Vermonters. Now’s your chance.

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.

30 Years Later, Three Mile Island’s Alarms Are Heard

Three Mile Island radiation leak investigated

Three Mile Island nuclear plant, seen in March 1979, was the site of the worst U.S. nuclear accident.

(CNN) — Authorities at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island nuclear plant were investigating what caused a weekend radiation leak that resulted in 150 workers being sent home, officials said Sunday.

An airborne radiological contamination alarm sounded about 4 p.m. Saturday in the Unit 1 containment building, according to a statement from Exelon Nuclear, which operates the Three Mile Island plant near Middletown, Pennsylvania. The unit had been shut down since October 26 for refueling, maintenance and steam generator replacement, the company said.

“A monitor at the temporary opening cut into the containment building wall to allow the new steam generators to be moved inside showed a slight increase in a reading and then returned to normal,” the company said. “Two other monitors displayed normal readings.”

Three Mile Island was the scene of the worst U.S. nuclear accident, a partial meltdown in 1979 that resulted in the plant’s second reactor being shut down permanently.

Read the entire article >

Nuclear Power Is Not The Answer

Nuclear Power Is Not The Answer

The NRC is taking a closer look at the leaky old pipes

“A small leak can sink a great ship.”

– Benjamin Franklin

The good Bob Audette of the Brattleboro Reformer reports that the NRC has asked its technical staff to take a good look at how it oversees the maintenance and management of underground pipes.

From http://www.reformer.com/localnews/ci_13304214

“Although they have not jeopardized public health and safety, leaks from buried pipes continue to occur and we need to assess the NRC’s and licensee’s efforts to prevent them,” said Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko. “The agency’s handling of these events has focused on each incident as it occurs, but we need to look at what we’re doing on a generic level to determine what additional actions may be necessary.”

Thanks again, Bob Audette, for keeping the good folks of the evacuation zone apprised of what’s happening with the nuke plant down the lane.

And to those of you in the evacuation zone… wake up and stay awake. Make sure you raise your voice and your awareness to be sure that if Entergy is gonna run that ol’ nuke plant for twenty years beyond what it was built to sustain, you have every protection in place that you deserve. Those tax breaks won’t mean shit if that land is contaminated for 20,000 years. Nor will you ever forgive yourself if your kids and their kids and your great-grandkids are genetically doomed from exposure. You won’t have anyone listening if they get their approval. Stand up and be heard NOW, while you can.

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)

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

Entergy would like you to believe this is unrelated to an aging plant

Nuclear reactor malfunctions, shuts down at Indian Point.

Breakdown is second problem in two weeks
Indian Point nuclear power plant
Times Herald-Record
Posted: May 28, 2009 – 10:39 AM

BUCHANAN – A nuclear reactor at the Indian Point power plant in Buchanan automatically shut down this morning due to a malfunction. This is the site’s third unplanned break-down in three months.

According to officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the problem occurred around 5:30 a.m., when “a high vibration condition was detected on a main feedwater pump” in reactor Unit 3. The malfunction triggered a “high-level alarm,” then a turbine trip, then the reactor trip, said the NRC, in a statement.

This is the second time in two months that Unit 3 has malfunctioned. Plant operators manually tripped the reactor on May 15 after a main feedwater regulating valve in a steam generator failed, resulting in rising coolant levels that could not be controlled.

Read the rest of the story: http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090528/NEWS/90528021

Nuclear power is NOT a safe answer to America’s energy future. It is expensive, dangerous, and an immoral burden to leave on our children.

the nuclear plants are old and failing

Indian Point is apparently aging, too

From The Journal News,http://lohud.com/article/20090515/UPDATE/90515003/-1/SPORTS

Valve problem shuts Indian Point

May 15, 2009

A reactor at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan has been shut down because of a valve problem.

Entergy Nuclear says Indian Point 3 was safely turned off at 1:53 a.m. Friday with no release of radiation.

The issue centered on a valve that controls the flow of water into a steam generator.

“Indian Point Unit 3’s operators manually tripped the reactor after the main feedwater regulating valve for the 33 (one 3 designating Unit 3, the other 3 the third steam generator for 33) steam generator experienced a failure (failed open), resulting in rising coolant levels in the steam generator that could not be corrected,” wrote the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in a statement.

Read the full story >

the nuclear plants are old and failing

America imports nuclear waste from other countries

Do you know this? Do you think it is wise to allow PRIVATE CORPORATIONS to import RADIOACTIVE NUCLEAR WASTE into the U.S.? One more question… Who the hell is going to pay to safely and securely store highly volatile spent fuel rods when this private corporation goes out of business?

Now, I don’t yet know much of anything about this EnergySolutions… YET.

But I will.

They’ve got a dumptruck full of federal money heading their way (in the form of stimulus contracts)… and the path is being cleared as I write for them to begin importing nuclear waste from Italy. I’m sorry… but what the hell is going on here? Who are they related to?

Why would we do something so stupid?

The reasoning, as stated, is that EnergySolutions “needs to dispose of foreign waste here so it can develop relationships with foreign countries, and ultimately, build disposal facilities abroad.”

I’m sorry, folks, but I could give a DAMN about your corporate objectives abroad. And I certainly don’t think it’s the least bit reasonable, or logical, or practical to risk you royally screwing this up — or even moderately screwing this up — so that you can pursue your dreams of storing toxic waste around the globe. It seems more than likely that you will make some quick cash and disappear while America is left footing the bill for dealing with Europe’s toxic waste in addition to our own!

And… forgive me if I’m wrong, but didn’t our President just make it impossible to continue development of the federal facility we were promised in Yucca Mountain? Yeah, I thought so. So, why would we even consider a proposal like this from a private corporation? I have no idea. But I know for fact that if every American was aware of this bullshit, it would NEVER be permitted.

So what’s a girl to do but everything she can to spread the word?

THIS IS LUNACY, PEOPLE. WAKE THE HELL UP!

Judge Lets Utah Accept Foreign Nuclear Waste

From Courthouse News (http://www.courthousenews.com/2009/05/19/Judge_Lets_Utah_Accept_Foreign_Nuclear_Waste.htm)
05/19/09
By SUZANNE ASHE

(CN) – A federal judge in Utah has ruled that EnergySolutions can dispose of foreign nuclear waste at its facility in the western part of the state.

EnergySolutions claimed that the Northwest Compact – which consists of representatives from Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming – had unlawfully banned importation of low-level radioactive waste  from international sources. Specifically, EnergySolutions argued that Northwest had tried to exercise greater authority over the disposal of the waste than is allowed under current law.

EnergySolutions sought clarification from the district court in Utah in May 2008.

U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart agreed with EnergySolution’s interpretation of the law that Northwest was overreaching its scope. This ruling paves the way for EnergySolutions to bring low-level radioactive waste from Italy to its facility in Clive, Utah.

The Clive facility has been safely disposing of low-level material for more than 20 years and has been disposing of residuals from internationally generated material for about eight years.

Judge says Utah can accept foreign nuclear waste

From the Miami Herald (http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation/AP/story/1051933.html)
5/16/09
By BROCK VERGAKIS
Associated Press Writer

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has ruled that a Utah company can dispose of foreign nuclear waste at its facility in the western Utah desert.

EnergySolutions Inc. wants to import up to 20,000 tons of low-level radioactive waste from Italy. After processing in Tennessee, about 1,600 tons would be disposed of in Utah.

If approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the waste would be imported through the ports of Charleston, S.C. or New Orleans.

EnergySolutions contends it needs to dispose of foreign waste here so it can develop relationships with foreign countries, and ultimately, build disposal facilities abroad.

EnergySolutions has pledged to limit the amount of international waste disposed at its Utah facility to 5 percent of its remaining capacity.

———————-

Lastly, here’s the gigantic red flag i saw waving tonight…

EnergySolutions wins big with stimulus contracts

Utah » 12 cleanup projects will ship material to Clive

By Judy Fahys
The Salt Lake Tribune
05/16/2009

Utahns rejoiced a few weeks ago when Washington announced stimulus money would be used to speed the removal of a massive pile of uranium-contaminated mill tailings near Moab.

What wasn’t publicized at the time is that still more of the $6 billion in Energy Department Recovery Act funds will come to Utah in the form of low-level radioactive waste.

Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions Inc. is specifically named in more than half of the project proposals for the Energy Department stimulus money. And trainloads of waste contaminated with low-level radioactive and hazardous waste will be coming to Utah under the two dozen cleanup projects.

Company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Creamer recently told investors that his nuclear waste company campaigned to be included.

“We have a full team that’s doing nothing but working on the stimulus package,” Creamer said in a May 7 conference call.

He told investors his staff is helping contractors figure out how to spend the money.

“We’re pleased with it,” he added, “and we think it’s a very positive thing for the company.”

EnergySolutions has long touted the value of the Utah disposal site, a mile-square facility that offers the only commercial disposal available for waste from 36 states.

Its federal contracts with the departments of Defense and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency used to account for about half of the waste going to the 20-year-old company, which had rates so low that even government-owned and -operated disposal sites could not compete.

But the volumes headed for EnergySolutions have fallen off in the last couple of years, and the company has turned to such proposals as accepting waste from foreign nations.

The stimulus money projects that specifically mention the Utah company include the large government cleanups of the nation’s nuclear-weapons complex in Hanford, Wash., Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Savannah River, S.C.

But the specifics of many stimulus projects still haven’t been worked out, said Energy Department spokeswoman Jen Stutsman.

“…[T]here is not yet detailed waste forecast information on the incremental volumes of low-level and mixed low-level waste that may be suitable for disposal at the Clive facility in Utah,” she said.

But, even before the stimulus bonanza, EnergySolutions was counting on lots of waste from the Energy Department sites nationwide — about 52,000 cubic feet this year and 26,000 cubic feet in the next two years, according to Stutsman.

Stimulus-funded projects will add to that volume, but there is no way of saying how much, she said.

The additional cleanup funding is also good news for the cleanups.

At the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, an infusion of $42 million will allow the demolition of buildings associated with a nuclear research reactor and the removal of contaminated soil and pipes. About 6,000 cubic yards of waste — including contaminated soil, concrete and debris — will come to Utah by rail, according to Brookhaven spokeswoman Mona Rowe.

At the Savannah River Project, an additional $1.6 billion from the stimulus is slated for cleanup, including the disposal of 16,000 containers of depleted uranium oxide. And, while the Savannah River cleanup sent 5,500 containers of depleted uranium to Utah last fall, spokeswoman Paivi M. Nettamo said where the remaining thousands of containers will go is not certain.

“We will ensure all shipments of depleted uranium oxide or any other radioactive material from [the cleanup] meet all applicable state and federal regulations,” she said.

Depleted uranium has become controversial in Utah recently because of the radioactive metal’s unusual quality of becoming more hazardous over time. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is looking at the issue but isn’t expected to finish its study until after the stimulus money is spent.

—————————

Did you read that last line? Please… Read it once more…

Depleted uranium has become controversial in Utah recently because of the radioactive metal’s unusual quality of becoming more hazardous over time. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is looking at the issue but isn’t expected to finish its study until after the stimulus money is spent.

For everything that is good and right about America… PLEASE, please, pretty please… SEE HOW WRONG THIS IS AND LEND YOUR VOICE, YOUR ENERGY, YOUR VOTE to prevent this shit from happening.

ATTENTION

If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. Please pay attention.

NRC challenged in U.S. Court of Appeals for easing safety requirements at Indian Point

Finally! An autocratic agency with Byzantine regulations is being called to account by the State of New York and Representative Richard Brodsky.   Granting exemptions to existing licensing at the behest of Entergy without public hearings is a violation on the NRC’s charter to protect public health and safety.  The serious matter of fire safety cannot be brushed aside.   This issue strikes to the very heart of the way safety and the public’s right to know has been systematically ignored. Under any reasonable, transparent review process this would have been handled as part of an amendment licensing process and not through a obscure back door out of the public eye.”  – Marilyn Elie, Founding member of Westchester Citizens Awareness NetworkPublic Advocacy Groups and Attorney General to Argue Against Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Unsafe Fire Safety Exemption Granted to Indian Point before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

On Monday, May 11 oral arguments will take place at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Ceremonial Court Room, 9th floor, 500Pearl St., New York City at 10:00 a.m. in a case that has been brought against the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by several public interest groups including the Westchester Citiz en’s Awareness Network (WestCAN), the Rockland County Conservation Association, Inc. (RCCA), the Public Health and Sustainable Energy (PHASE), the Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter, and Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester), and  New York State Attorney’s General Office has filed an amicus brief.  The groups challenge the NRC’s decision to exempt Indian Point Nuclear Facility Unit 3 from fire safety regulations that reduced fire safety standards from one hour to twenty-four minutes.

Under the NRC regulations, a nuclear power facility built prior to 1979 must enclose the cable and equipment necessary for a safe shutdown by using a fire barrier with a one-hour fire rating. According to the exemption Indian Point’s fire rating has been reduced to twenty-four minutes, a 76% reduction fire safety standard.

Since 1993, the NRC has known that the fire barrier utilized at Indian Point does not meet the one-hour duration.  According to the 1993 test, the fire barrier only lasts 23.2 minutes, however the NRC took no action until 2005.  The 2005 test confirmed that the fire barrier failed to perform for one hour and exceeded temperature limits within thirteen to forty-two minutes.

In 2006, the NRC issued a letter to certain nuclear plants requesting that they propose a resolution for the problems associated with the fire barrier.  In response, the owners of Indian Point nuclear facilities, Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., requested an exemption from the one hour fire safety standard.    On August 16, 2008, the request was revised requesting a reduction from one hour to twenty-four minutes for certain areas.  Thirty-four days later the NRC granted the exemption.

The NRC must not prompt any exemptions to regulations which increase the likelihood of catastrophic risks.  The public has been made vulnerable by the NRC’s secretive reduction in fire safety without notice or opportunity for hearings.”  Annie Wilson for Sierra Club – Atlantic Chapter

The result of the NRC’s decision to grant the exemption from one hour to twenty-four minutes means that a single fire must be detected, fire brigade assembled and fully extinguished in less than twenty-four minutes.  Like most operating nuclear reactors, Indian Point Unit 3 contains miles of electrical cables that control and power safety systems, including valves, pumps, motors, and gauges designed to ensure the prompt shutdown of the nuclear reactor.  A fire at Indian Point that damaged those cables could disable the critical systems served by the cables preventing safe shut down and ultimately may lead to a major radiation release that could have a disastrous impact on the health and property of the people of New York.

Petitioners will argue that the NRC improperly granted the “exemption”, lacked authority to grant exemptions, failed to allow required public participation, failed to give proper notice, failed to consider relevant evidence in making its decision, and violated National Environmental Policy Act.  Petitioners will further argue that the NRC created a potentially illegal loophole by permitting mischaracterization of the request as an “exemption” rather than an amendment, thereby violating the Atomic Energy Act.

Entergy is sailing up the river in a boat loaded with non-compliance. They are supposed to protecting the public, not accommodating private industry.”  Maureen Ritter of PHASE (Public Health and Sustainable Energy)

The NRC’s decision drastically compromises the safety of the Indian Point nuclear facilities.  Upwards of twenty million people work, live, or travel within fifty miles of Indian Point.  This case marks the first time the NRC’s right to grant exemptions without notice and hearings has been challenged.

The case will be argued on Monday, May 11 before Honorable John M. Walker, Jr., Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, and Honorable John Clifford Wallace of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky will be arguing for the Petitioners.  Assistant Attorney General John Sipos, Esq. will be arguing on behalf of the New York State Attorney General’s Office.  A representative will be arguing on behalf of the NRC, as well as a representative from  Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc.

Fires are recognized as one of the most significant safety hazards at nuclear power plants, they are not uncommon. The NRC’s reckless willingness to dramatically reduce the safety margins to 24 minutes is an egress abdication of is responsibility.    The regulations that were exempted are critical safety regulations related to the electrical cables and where enacted in response to the Brown’s Ferry fire.   Brown’s Ferry fire started in the insulation of electrical cable trays, it raged for nearly 7 hours, burnt and reactors were out of control for almost two days.” Michel Lee, Board member of Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS) and Chair on Council on Conservation & Intelligent Energy Policy (CCIP)

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.

Psst… America, it’s me again. Wake the hell up!

A rational, well-researched and progressive report was issued on April 20, 2009 by the Center for American Progress:

We Must Seize the Energy Opportunity or Slip Further Behind

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/04/global_competition.html

Subtitled

A Primer on Global Competition in Green Technology Investments

, it is a clear and concise explanation of why we need to wake up and shake off the apathy with regard to our energy sources. NOW is the time; NOT LATER.

image from MoveOn's recent email

image from MoveOn's recent email

Giving thanks… and 4-claw lobster

In this season of giving thanks, I give thanks to WordPress and this little blog they’ve allowed me to create.

There was a period of time, not too long ago, when I worried that I’d end up as one of those mad folk who plaster their walls in news clippings… and rant about the state of the world. Thank goodness, I found an outlet for my shock and awe that did not include wallpaper paste or scotch tape!

While taking a short break from packing boxes – perhaps one too many boxes – of books that I’ve hauled from home to home over the last many years, my urge to scan today’s Globe was too much to resist. I am, admittedly, addicted to the Boston Globe. Lucky for me that (despite the obvious advantages it would have had in the midst of preparing to move to simply recycle the damn thing) I chose to do so or I might have missed this little gem:

NEWPORT, R.I.
4-claw lobster caught and released

A lady lobster with four claws was pulled from the deep this week in the waters off Newport. With a large crusher claw and three pincher claws – instead of the usual one – the crustacean was unlike anything lobsterman Patrick Marks, 39, had ever seen in his 14 years catching the creatures. All of the lobster’s excess appendages worked. Marks, of Portsmouth, trapped the mutated animal about 60 miles south of Newport and hauled her up Monday. Marks told the Newport Daily News he sometimes lets lobsters go out of guilt when they look at him funny. So after showing off the multiclawed lobster for most of the day, he let her go. She weighed 1.5 pounds and could have sold for $7.50 retail. (AP)

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

NRC definitely having “issues” dealing with New England

Nuclear Regulatory Commission under fire over fire

Rep. Markey looking for answers from regulators on Pilgrim safety oversight


The Patriot Ledger
Posted Nov 05, 2008 @ 05:30 AM

QUINCY —

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey is using a fire last week at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth to turn up the heat on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Markey sent a letter to the federal agency on Friday, posing a long list of questions about the Oct. 29 fire in an outbuilding at the plant property that the plant operator says was contained to one room.

The Malden Democrat, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce committee, has longstanding concerns about the NRC’s oversight of its fire safety rules. Markey believes that the agency isn’t doing enough to ensure that nuclear plant operators meet or exceed the agency’s fire safety standards.

“I have yet to be persuaded that the NRC is on a path to do the right thing and require the nation’s plants to be brought (into) compliance with NRC’s fire protection regulations,” Markey wrote in the letter to NRC Chairman Dale Klein. “This latest event only heightens my concern and my interest in assuring that all appropriate measures are undertaken to protect these facilities against dangerous fires.”

Diane Screnci, a spokeswoman for the nuclear agency, said the two NRC inspectors assigned to the plant are investigating the fire’s cause and reviewing plant owner Entergy Corp.’s steps to ensure such a fire doesn’t happen again. Screnci said the agency received Markey’s letter and will respond as quickly as possible to the congressman.

Read the entire story >