Tag Archives: nuclear power

To Fuel or Not to Fuel

Entergy Self-Imposed Deadline for Costly Fuel Decision Looms.
New England Coalition Offers Long-Time Adversary’s Views on Entergy’s Dilemma

In recent hearings of Entergy’s lawsuit against the State of Vermont, Entergy witnesses testified that the multi-billion dollar Louisiana-based corporation would have to decide if it was going to buy nuclear fuel for its projected November refueling outage by July 23, 2011. Entergy was seeking a preliminary injunction that would permit the company to operate free of state interference beyond Vermont Yankee’s license original expiration date of March 2012 and until Entergy’s question of whether the state has any right to regulate the plant in any way is finally resolved through the Federal District Court and (presumably) the federal appeals process.

On July18th, Judge Garvan Murtha of the Vermont District Federal Court denied the injunction; ordering Entergy and the State to prepare for trial on the main issues in September.

So, now what will Entergy do?

“No one, probably not even Entergy knows,” says New England Coalition technical Advisor, Raymond Shadis, “ We do know that in the end it will be a business decision , driven by considerations of financial risk. The fuel cost is more than $65 million, which will be little more than half recovered by March. The cost of this decision as well as the cost of the preemption litigation are just the costs of doing business in the manner in which Entergy does business.” Shadis , who worked closely with Entergy managers for more than seven years of the Maine Yankee shutdown and decommissioning, says he knows the Entergy management style to be risk-taking and aggressive, “They are used to a pliant NRC and used to bullying their way past concerned citizens and regulators wherever they do business, but that just doesn’t work in New England with its speak-up democratic traditions,” he said, “Bucking public sensibilities here costs money, lots of money, pure-and-simple.”

“Whichever way it plays out in federal court” said Ned Childs, NEC President, “ This may be the last big ticket financial decision that Entergy may ever make for an operating Vermont Yankee plant. Vermont Yankee hasn’t met its allocated maintenance costs, meaning it hasn’t turned a profit for the last three years. One more unanticipated large expense such as a new steam dryer, or modifications resulting from a Fukushima accident inquest, is likely to sink the ship. I can see no rational business reason for Entergy to persist; they should cut their losses and walk. “Know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em,” is the way the country music classic has it.”

Shadis agrees, “Closing VY before another twenty years elapses is no longer a question of if, but when and how. Entergy has placed itself in the untenable position of trying to operate an antiquated, aging reactor beyond its design capacity and design life in an alienated and increasingly hostile political and regulatory environment. It’s simply unsupportable. Refueling it now is simply letting stubborn wishful thinking get the better of common sense.”

Clay Turnbull, NEC’s Director of Public Outreach, said that NEC has recently joined national nuclear safety advocate’s initiatives calling upon NRC to close all Fukushima-type US boiling water reactors, such as Vermont Yankee.


NEC, organized and founded in 1971, is the region’s sole advocate for environmental and nuclear safety with intervenor status in the Entergy Vermont Yankee federal relicensing process, and is an intervenor in two open dockets before the Vermont Public Service Board Docket 7440 – Shall Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee receive a CPG for an additional years of operation and less widely reported Docket 7600 –  re: underground pipes and groundwater contamination.

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Spent nuclear fuel is but one of the problems with nuclear power

NY Times reporter Matthew Wald looks at the temporary storage of nuclear fuel rods in dry cask storage. Why? Because since the disaster at Fukushima, it is public knowledge that storing rods in pools is vulnerable to natural disasters. But this is nothing more than a band-aid for the next few decades.

And then what?

Will our children have better answers? Is it right to leave this to them?

Can you justify creating any more nuclear waste? No. I didn’t think so.

I invite you to watch the video here.

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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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Rolling Stone takes on “America’s Nuclear Nightmare”

There are a few things I love about Rolling Stone. Writer Rob Sheffield is at the top of that list. And while I could do without the far-too-frequent bimbo covers (my reason for dumping the subscription when my daughters were tweens), yet every once in a while they publish something bold and brave that gives me hope that modern day journalism has not completely lost its backbone.

Check out Jeff Goodell’s article in which he states it plain:

“regulators are ignoring the risks and boosting industry profits”

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/america-s-nuclear-nightmare-20110427

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NRC asked to take a breather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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U.S. Sees Array of New Threats at Japan’s Nuclear Plant

Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Photo: Public Domain

United States government engineers sent to help with the crisis in Japan are warning that the troubled nuclear plant there is facing a wide array of fresh threats that could persist indefinitely, and that in some cases are expected to increase as a result of the very measures being taken to keep the plant stable, according to a confidential assessment prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/06/world/asia/06nuclear.html?_r=1&src=twrhp

NRC petitioned to do their job

Ray Shadis, technical consultant to the New England Coalition, offered the following commentary on yesterday’s article in the Brattleboro Reformer by the good Bob Audette:

“This article captures the gist of an enforcement petition meeting with the NRC’s Petition Review Board.  The PRB has agreed to recommend that NRC take up four of seven issues (regarding Entergy’s management and maintenance failures be and defects in NRC’s Reactor Oversight Process) raised by New England Coalition in its February 8th enforcement petition. The PRB recommended that three issues (regarding omissions and/or inaccuracies about aging management of buried piping  in Entergy VY’s License Renewal Application (LRA) do not meet the criteria for NRC review because these issues can be handled via the licensing hearing. This is a bit of a struggle as the hearing record has been closed for over a year and the hurdles to reopening are high and many. It is our understanding that this portion of the LRA is already under examination by NRC, but without our involvement, we fear a lack of vigor and rigor.  Paul M. Blanch of west Hartford, Connecticut was also on the PRB call and made it plain that the question was not what water quality regulations have been violated, but what regulations pertaining to management and operation. Paul reiterated NEC’s tentative conclusion, based on NEC’s site visit, that there remains inadequate assurance that Entergy has identified all leaks contributing to groundwater contamination. It should also be noted that Entergy VY lead engineer, Jim Divincentis, also attended the PRB meeting, but offered no comment on the petition or petitioners remarks when afforded the opportunity by the PRB. Likewise, NRC legal counsel refused to elaborate when asked on the PRB decision that License Renewal Application issues should be handled via the licensing hearing.”

Thursday May 6, 2010

Critic: NRC inspectors are ‘too cozy’ with Entergy

By BOB AUDETTE / Reformer Staff

BRATTLEBORO — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has failed the public, said a pair of anti-nuclear activists during a teleconference with the NRC’s petition review board (PRB) Wednesday morning.

The review board heard arguments from Thomas Saporito, of endangeredplanetearth.blogspot.com, and Ray Shadis, of the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution, who have been contending that Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon should be shut down until a number of maintenance issues are resolved, including the remediation of tritium-contaminated groundwater.

Saporito said the NRC’s resident inspectors at Vermont Yankee are “too cozy” with plant personnel and because of that, violations and unsafe conditions are not being detected in a timely manner.

He asked that the NRC’s Office of the Inspector General conduct an audit of the resident inspectors’ activities.

“The NRC’s resident inspectors are not doing their jobs to an effective level,” said Saporito, while Entergy has been violating numerous safety margins.

The NRC also failed to tell state agencies that contrary to what Yankee representatives were saying during hearings in Montpelier, the power plant has a number of underground piping systems that carry radionuclides, he said.

The OIG should conduct an additional investigation to determine if the NRC was negligent in not notifying Vermont, said Saporito.

He pointed to a number of issues that could have been prevented if the NRC had been doing its job. They include:

— Not conducting an adequate risk assessment for maintenance activities that affected the availability of the low pressure coolant injection subsystem;

— The failure of Entergy, which owns and operates Vermont Yankee, to initiate corrective actions related to the plant’s cooling towers;

— Entergy’s failure to take timely and appropriate corrective actions to address a repeat functional failure of the reactor’s high pressure coolant injection system, and;

— Entergy’s failure to initiate a condition report related to water accumulating in the turbine building supply fan housing plenum area, which led to the inoperability for four hours of one the plant’s emergency diesel generators; and its failure to perform an engineering analysis of scaffolding installed in the cooling tower meant to shore up safety-related pipe supports.

In its 2009 fourth quarter plant inspection findings, the NRC stated all of the failures were of very low safety significance and that Entergy had taken or was in the process of taking actions to address all those issues.

Saporito contended that all of Entergy’s maintenance activities related to those issues were the result of a “systemic and pervasive” failure by the licensee to properly identify and resolve the deficiencies and were contrary to NRC regulations demanding timely resolution.

Because of that, it was a failure on the part of the NRC to protect the health and safety of the general public and the environment, he said.

Shadis told the review board that the coalition had identified several examples where it believed there was not enough follow through on maintenance issues and where the reactor oversight process had “apparently failed to track maintenance and management issues from one event to the next.”

The NRC should take time to review all documents related to accidents and equipment and maintenance failures at Yankee since Entergy bought the plant in 2002, said Shadis.

Then the NRC should ask itself if it has the appropriate “questioning attitude” and ability to posit possible problems to conduct its oversight of nuclear power plants, he said.

Shadis also questioned if enough work has been done to rule out the plant’s condensate storage tank as a source of the leak of tritiated water.

“Everything we saw and heard from the company gave us no confidence that the leaks that have been found represent all the leaks,” he said.

Saporito said because the licensee had lied under oath to the state the NRC had “no reasonable assurance” Entergy was supplying it with correct information related to the leak of tritiated water.

“The NRC can’t be sure the tritium hasn’t entered the environment at some point not captured by the wells,” he said.

Shadis did admit that the levels of tritium detected in the groundwater do not exceed the NRC’s “as low as reasonable achievable” radiation standards or the Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water limits for tritium.

“The groundwater however certainly exceeded the EPA maximum concentration limits by a factor of 100 or more,” he said.

The pair also contended that Entergy doesn’t fully understand the power plant’s design basis and that Yankee’s buried tanks and underground inspection program is inadequate.

Bob Audette can be reached at raudette@reformer.com, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

Original article: http://www.reformer.com/localnews/ci_15027404

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

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

$645 MILLION in Lipstick for a Dead Radioactive Pig

Submitted by BuzzFlash on Wed, 02/24/2010

The mystery has been solved.

Where is this “new reactor renaissance” coming from?

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

No, nothing about atomic energy has really changed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NO!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A surprisingly clear perspective from Alec Baldwin on nuclear power

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

The Hidden Costs of Nuclear Power

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

Bribery will get you nowhere… if people are AWAKE

From the PUTNAM COUNTY NEWS and RECORDER in Cold Spring, NY on 5/20/09:

Entergy Contributes to Fire Hall

Entergy, which operates the Indian Point nuclear generating plant in Buchanan, NY, recently contributed $15,000 to the new North Highlands Fire Department fire hall on Fishkill Rd. The hall would be used for decontamination purposes in the event of an incident at Indian Point.

http://www.pcnr.com/news/2009/0520/general_stories/013.html

NRC taken to task for granting exemptions to nuclear power plant safety requirements without public notice

Indian Point barriers to be subject of Federal appeals court ruling

Wednesday, May 20th 2009, 5:35 AM

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/05/20/2009-05-20_high_court_to_rule_on_barriers_okd_for_indian_point.html

Indian Point nuclear power plant

Indian Point nuclear power plant

A matter of 24 minutes could affect the lives of 20 million people within 30 miles of the Indian Point Nuclear Plant.

That’s the core of an argument awaiting a ruling from a federal appeals court in a case against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for allowing lower-quality fire barriers at the Westchester County plant 24 miles outside of the city.

The case also marks the first time the NRC is challenged to grant so-called exemptions that affect public safety without alerting the public.

The court case comes on the heels of an NRC public meeting Thursday night on safety at Indian Point.

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, 455 South Broadway in Tarrytown, with an informational open house starting at 5:30 p.m. The NRC will address ground-water contamination, radioactive spent fuel storage and emergency planning.

Last week, State Assistant Attorney General John Sipos and Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) told a three-judge panel in Manhattan Federal appeals court that the NRC’s decision drastically compromises the safety of workers at Indian Point and some 20 million others within 30 miles of the nuclear plant.

Last year, the NRC granted a request from Entergy, the plant owners, to use fire safety insulation material that resists fire for only 24 minutes – not enough time to catch and contain a fire with the current hourly inspection schedule, the plaintiffs said.

Sipos and Brodsky also argued in court there would be a danger of fires in electrical junction boxes that control safe, emergency shutdowns, if needed.

NRC attorney Robert Rader countered that NRC staff determined there was a “reasonable assurance” fire-protection measures approved by the exemptions would control any credible blaze at the plant.

Rader said the NRC analyzed the requested exemptions in depth and found them adequately protective and were assured that the “underlying purpose of the fire protection rule had been met.”

The NRC said that using lower-quality fire barriers has been allowed at many other plants in the country, and the NRC has granted similar exemptions to certain fire safety standards over the last eight years.

The dispute also involves the NRC’s rules for granting exemptions without requiring public notification or participation.

Rader said the agency’s rules for granting exemptions are spelled out in the Atomic Energy Act as part of the “comprehensive regulatory framework” and the “ongoing review of nuclear power plants located in the United States.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/05/20/2009-05-20_high_court_to_rule_on_barriers_okd_for_indian_point.html#ixzz0G3Sa3JF5&B

New England Coalition for the People – vs – Entergy Nuclear

You go, Ray!

New England Coalition on Nuclear Polution

NEW ENGLAND COALITION ON NUCLEAR POLLUTION

FIGHT FOR THE CENTURY

NEC for the PEOPLE -vs – ENTERGY NUCLEAR

11 DAYS IN THE RING

STARTING ROUND: MAY 18, 2009

VENUE: VERMONT PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD HEARING ROOM- MONTPELIER

THE PRIZE: OUR HEALTH, HOMES, ENVIRONMENT, FARM PRODUCTS, TOURISM AND OUTDOOR SPORTING ACTIVITIES

RINGSIDE SEATS: WATCH THE MATCH IN PERSON OR AT WWW.NECNP.ORG

The sparring started May 18: several weeks of technical hearings (similar to a trial and courtroom) before the Vermont Public Service Board. Entergy is seeking a Certificate of Public Good to operate their reactor until 2032 – 20 years beyond it’s design life and present scheduled closure in 2012. NEC is the sole intervenor challenging Entergy on technical, environmental and safety issues. While others concern themselves only with economics, we are fighting for our (and future generations) health, homes and livelihoods. You are encouraged to show your support for NEC by attending the hearings and bear witness to this historic battle. It’s inspiring to look over a shoulder in the courtroom and see friends like you while Staff Advisor Raymond Shadis and attorney Jared Margolis representing NEC in this docket present our case against Entergy and their lawyers from a 900 attorney law firm.

At this pivotal time your financial contributions are critical to maintaining our stamina in the ring. If you have made a donation recently, Thank You! Secure donations can be made online using PayPal or a credit/dept card or by mailing a check. Thank you for your support.

The People’s Advocate for Safe Energy Since 1971

P.O. Box 545, Brattleboro, VT 05302 802.257.0336

http://www.necnp.org/

Since 1971 NEC has advocated for safe energy in New England and has provided education and resources for alternatives to nuclear power. New England Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All contributions are tax-deductible.

Entergy pushes ahead with Enexus spin-off

By Bob Audette, Brattleboro Reformer Staff

BRATTLEBORO — By the end of July, Entergy Nuclear hopes to have an answer from New York and Vermont on whether the spin-off of six nuclear reactors into a separate holding company will be allowed to go ahead.

“We continue to see value in pursuing a spin-off of Enexus, which will have our non-utility nuclear assets,” said J. Wayne Leonard, Entergy’s chief executive officer, during an earnings call on May 4.

Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, which is owned and operated by Entergy, is one of the six reactors Entergy wants to spin off into a new company called Enexus.

Those six reactors are called “merchant plants” or “standalone assets” because they sell power to the open market.

Other reactors owned by Entergy Nuclear, and which will remain under its umbrella, produce power with a cost that is regulated by a government entity.

Entergy needs a certificate of public good from Vermont’s Public Service Board to include Vermont Yankee in the spin-off. But if the board listens to the Department of Public Service, it won’t get the certificate.

“We do not support the transaction, primarily because Entergy is investment grade and Enexus is not,” said Sarah Hofmann, public advocate for DPS. “Why would we want to go with a lesser company? We don’t believe the transaction would promote the public good.”

Read the full story >http://www.reformer.com/ci_12333053

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)

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!)