Tag Archives: low-level radiation exposure

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.


Reformer reports radiation levels measured at the fence line of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant were 30 percent higher in 2007 than in 2006

Vermont Yankee fence line dose up 30 percent

BOB AUDETTE, Reformer Staff

Saturday, July 26

BRATTLEBORO — Radiation levels measured at the fence line of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant were 30 percent higher in 2007 than in 2006.Despite the 30 percent increase, the report stated the highest fence line measurement recorded by the Vermont Department of Health was less than 18 millirem.

“At no time has Vermont Yankee posed a measurable risk to public health,” said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis.

Although radiation levels were found to be higher than in previous years, they are still below the health department’s regulatory limit of 20 millirem per year, a limit that is more protective than any other state or federal agency, said Bill Irwin, the chief of radiological health for Vermont’s Department of Health.

“We are talking about very low levels of exposure and dose,” he said. “Public exposure at those levels and the doses that do come from those exposures are unlikely to contribute measurably to risk.”

With a carcinogen such as ionizing radiation, there is no way to eliminate all risk short of not having any exposure at all.

Still, he said, “The amount of risk is very small if it can be measured at all.”

[Blogger’s note: I’m feeling safe and reassured. You? (WAKE THE HELL UP!)]

Read the entire story: http://www.reformer.com/ci_10004731

Settlement Offered to Some Residents Near Pa. Nuke Fuel Plant

I have fielded many questions and accusations from friends, family and colleagues regarding nuclear power, based on their television understanding. I am nowhere near an expert, but does it require more than a few examples like the one below to get the big picture here?

 It seems to me that if people would wake the hell up and start questioning what they’re being fed on the surface, and have a quick look at what’s been slipping by their deficient radar, the overhead light bulbs would glow, cartoon-style. How could they not?


We know that this is true financially. Have a look at NUKEFREE.ORG’s ATOMIC ECONOMICS for details: http://www.nukefree.org/facts/uninsurable.

 We also know that nuclear power’s negative impact on the environment will always outweigh the dubious benefit of not releasing the same air pollutants as traditional energy sources. Check out nuclear power’s “Power Scorecard”: http://www.powerscorecard.org/tech_detail.cfm?resource_id=7

But even if no other reason existed, isn’t it enough to know that radiation exposure… even small doses over a prolonged period of time… will cause cancers that destroy human life… and get passed on in the form of severe birth defects and more cancer?

Photographer Paul Fusco produced a multi-media photo essay and book on the lingering effects of the Chernobyl accident

Isn’t this enough? http://fotomat.cz/chernobyl/index.htm

Isn’t this enough? http://www.magnumphotos.com/Archive/c.aspx?VP=XSpecific_MAG.BookDetail_VPage&pid=2K7O3R18ZXL8

Maybe this will be enough…

i hope so. -tk

February 08, 2008 (Associated Presshttp://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/apwire/47998a270c32014d0ea65af94faaa0a2.htmNEW YORK – Atlantic Richfield Co. has offered $27.5 million to settle claims that pollution from a nuclear fuel processing plant damaged nearby residents’ property and caused cancer and other illnesses.ARCO and plaintiff attorneys asked a federal judge to approve the proposed settlement in a joint motion filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh this week.

The case concerns the former Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp., or NUMEC, which processed uranium and plutonium for nuclear submarines and other purposes at a plant in Apollo borough and another in neighboring Parks Township, about 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. The Apollo plant was built in 1957, and the Parks plant was built a few years later.

Residents say they inhaled white radioactive dust for three decades and that microscopic particles of uranium from the plant caused an unusually high cancer rate. A doctor once testified that 351 of Apollo’s 1,895 residents, or nearly one in five, had been diagnosed with some form of cancer.

Atlantic Richfield Co. bought both plants in 1967 and sold them to Babcock & Wilcox Co. in 1971.

The settlement provides “a fairly nice cash award to each of our clients,” said Frederick M. Baron, a Dallas attorney who also represented Karen Silkwood in her radiation-poisoning case. “But more importantly, they retain their ability to continue against Babcock & Wilcox. They are the most responsible party in our view.”

More than 300 people filed claims that fell into three groups: property damage, personal injury and wrongful death.

Personal injury and wrongful death claims under the proposed settlement are “by and large are in the six-figure area,” Baron said Friday. Property damage claims would be $10,000 or less.

An attorney for ARCO declined to comment Friday.

But in court documents, attorneys for both sides called the proposed settlement fair because it’s not known what, if anything, the plaintiffs might ultimately win from ARCO.

Attorneys for the various companies who ran the nuclear plants have argued that radioactive emissions had been filtered out and that, even if residents had been exposed, radiation levels were too low to cause cancer or other illnesses.

In a 1998 U.S. District Court trial in Pittsburgh, eight test plaintiffs won $36.7 million from ARCO and Babcock & Wilcox. A judge, however, ordered a retrial after determining that she had wrongly allowed some evidence in the case.

The retrial was delayed when Babcock & Wilcox filed bankruptcy, largely because of unrelated asbestos litigation. ARCO opted to settle claims against it before they can be retried.

Earlier this year, former workers at the Apollo site became part of a special compensation class for sick nuclear workers. The fund entitles them to $150,000 each.

To qualify for the compensation, former workers must have worked at the Apollo plant for at least 250 days between 1957 and 1983 and have one of 22 different cancers. Sick workers who do not have one of the 22 cancers may be eligible for compensation, but must meet different criteria.

Atlantic Richfield is owned by BP plc.