Category Archives: Vermont

NRC hearing on Vermont Yankee set for Wednesday

Officials from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be on hand for a public hearing this week on the agency’s annual review of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

The NRC gave the Vernon reactors good marks in a review issued in March, and now is inviting public comment at a session set for this Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Brattleboro Union High School.

The session will feature presentations by officials from the NRC, followed by a period devoted to comments from the public.

Source: Boston.com http://bo.st/keyocd

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New England Coalition urges in-depth review of Vermont Yankee

On May 19th, NEC joined the Maryland-based national organization, Beyond Nuclear, and an unknown number of regional organizations, in an enforcement petition with the NRC that would have that agency undertake a precautionary shutdown of 24 US “boiling water” nuclear reactors, including in New England, Entergy Pilgrim and Entergy Vermont Yankee, until basic design flaws that became evident at Fukushima are fixed and the remedies independently verified as technically sound and workable.

According to NEC’s technical issues advisor, Raymond Shadis, “one truly problematic feature of the boiling water reactors is their compact and complicated containment system. Industry calls it a ‘suppression system’ because it is designed to handle steam overpressure in an accident by directing steam into a ‘suppression water pool’ where the steam is condensed. However, the system is complicated by pumps, valves, return lines, suppression pool cooling systems, pressure and water level balance procedures, and more. Most of this apparently went wrong at Fukushima and believe it or not this complicated rig was chosen as a cost-saving measure as compared to the large robust reinforced concrete domes we picture as typical of pressure water reactors. I call it the ‘econo-containment’ and I really can’t think of a fix but I do believe in light of the Japanese reactor failures that NRC and the industry owe it to a vulnerable public to at least try.”

Earlier on April 15th, NEC joined 45 national and regional environmental, safety, and sustainable energy advocacy organizations, coast-to-coast, in an emergency petition, directly to the NRC’s five Commissioners, to hold all license renewal and new power plant licensing actions until equipment and operational failures at the Fukushima, Japan nuclear power plant disaster are analyzed and lessons learned from those failures are applied to U.S. reactors. Although the petition came too late to be filed in the license renewal proceeding for Entergy Vermont Yankee, which was terminated over NEC objections the day before the earthquake and tsunami triggered the nuclear meltdowns and fires at Fukushima, it has been filed in the license renewal case of Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, a close twin to Entergy Vermont Yankee. NEC believes the implications of any new requirements for Pilgrim would be implicit for Vermont Yankee. The petition was also filed in the Seabrook Nuclear Generating Station license renewal proceeding where NEC and the Maine-based, Friends of the Coast, are co-intervenor.

A public meeting (teleconference) with NRC petition review board (PRB) has been scheduled on June 8, 2011, from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM to regarding this petition. Dial-in information:             800-772-3842      , Pin 2206 followed by # . Members of the public may listen in but may not be able to offer comments.

About the New England Coalition

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 – opened as a result of Entergy’s misinformation in Docket 7440, re: underground pipes and groundwater contamination.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tritium could affect VY cleanup costs

From the good Bob Audette of the Brattleboro Reformer:

Monday March 15, 2010

BRATTLEBORO — The possible remediation costs of contaminated groundwater at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon due to a leak of tritiated water is dependent on a number of conditions, said a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The tritium decay rate is just one of those factors, said Neil Sheehan. Tritium has a half-life of 12.3 years, which means it will have lost half of its radioactivity during that period of time.

Other factors include groundwater flows, whether pumping contaminated water out of the ground could actually spread the plume and calculations used to determine the maximum amount of radioactive exposure that members of the public could experience as a result of the contamination.

“Entergy is still developing that information,” said Sheehan, adding the NRC will review any and all remediation plans once they are completed.

Entergy, which owns and operates the power plant, has indicated it plans to place Yankee into SAFSTOR for several decades following shutdown, whenever that occurs, he said.

SAFSTOR is an NRC-approved method of mothballing a plant until much of the radioactive contamination at a plant has decayed and to allow a decommissioning fund to grow to the level sufficient to pay for cleanup.

Entergy has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the operating license of Yankee for another 20 years, from 2012 to 2032.

In 2008, Entergy told the NRC

that it has estimated there is 135,000 cubic feet of contaminated soil that would have to be removed at Vermont Yankee during decommissioning, with an estimated cost of $76 per cubic foot.

The total cost for that remediation would be $10,260,000, in 2008 dollars.

The 2008 report did not specify where the contamination came from, said Sheehan.

“The cost reported for soil remediation is based upon a preliminary assessment of the potential for contamination in the soil around the plant, based upon historical evidence,” stated the report. “A detailed site characterization was not performed. This allowance will be confirmed and/or modified based upon more detailed analyses to be performed in conjunction with the formulation of a license termination plan.”

How the tritium leak might affect cleanup costs is not known at this point, said Sheehan.

Read the entire article: http://www.reformer.com/localnews/ci_14677980

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

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

On tap for Vermont Yankee

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

Not this week, at least.

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

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

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

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

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

— Nancy Remsen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your humble reporter is quite pleased that they agree.

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Related Stories:

NY PSC staff still against Entergy Enexus plan

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

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

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

By BOB AUDETTE
Friday March 5, 2010

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

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

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

NY regulators defer decision on Entergy spinoff

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

ALBANY, N.Y.

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

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

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

Shadis tells it like it is: Entergy, NRC failures

NEC: Leak means other problems

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

By BOB AUDETTE

Thursday March 4, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 11, 2010

Dear Governor Douglas:

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

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

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

Thank you for your rapid consideration of my concerns.

Sally Shaw

Gill, Mass.

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

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

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

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

February 9, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shut Vermont Yankee Down NOW

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

WAKE THE HELL UP, DAMN IT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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