Tag Archives: nuclear accident

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.

Advertisements

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

Is there any amount of radioactive material too small to pose a health risk?

Nuclear Plant Logs 3rd Radiation Leak

Published: July 20, 2007

KASHIWAZAKI, Japan, July 19 — Troubles at a Japanese nuclear power plant damaged by an earthquake on Monday continued Thursday when the plant’s operator reported that it had detected a third radiation leak.

In a statement, Tokyo Electric Power, the operator, said that it had found tiny amounts of radioactive material in an exhaust filter at the plant, which was shut down Monday during a magnitude-6.8 earthquake near this city in northwestern Japan. The material was detected Wednesday, meaning it might have leaked a day or two after the earthquake, Tokyo Electric said.

The company said the amount of radioactive material was too small to pose a health risk. Still, the discovery is sure to add to criticism of Tokyo Electric, which has repeatedly apologized for delays and mistakes in reporting the extent of damage at the plant.

The company said the force of the earthquake set off a string of accidents, including a spill of slightly radioactive water and an earlier leak of radioactive material into an exhaust filter.

We left behind a glowing reminder on our visit to Japan

U.S. Sub May Have Leaked Radiation While in Japan

Published: August 3, 2008

TOKYO — An American nuclear-powered submarine may have leaked a small amount of radiation as it stopped by Japan in the spring and was then deployed throughout the Pacific Ocean, the Japanese government said Saturday.

The Japanese government said that it was informed Friday by the United States Navy that the submarine, the Houston, might have discharged an amount of radiation that was too small to be considered harmful.

The chief government spokesman, Nobutaka Machimura, said in a news conference that the radioactive amount — estimated at less than half a microcurie — was too insignificant to “affect the human body or the environment.”

The submarine spent a week in March in Sasebo, in western Japan, before cruising to Guam and then Hawaii, where the leak was discovered during an inspection late last month, the Japanese government said.

The Japanese government and American military have been trying to ease public resistance to the stationing in September of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the George Washington, in Yokokusa, southwest of Tokyo. The scheduled arrival of the George Washington, which will replace the diesel-powered aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, has caused protests in Japan, the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons.

The announcement also was an embarrassment for the government of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who shuffled his cabinet on Friday in a bid to raise his low approval ratings. Government officials learned of the leak Saturday from television reports even though the United States Navy had informed the Japanese Foreign Ministry a day earlier.

“I, too, came to know about it this morning on television,” the foreign minister, Masahiko Komura, said at a news conference on Saturday.

Last winter, a Japanese warship collided with a fishing boat early one morning, killing the boat’s two passengers. But naval officials were criticized for taking more than an hour to inform the defense minister at the time.

The original article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/world/asia/03japan.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company