Tag Archives: Nuclear Regulatory Commission

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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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.

America imports nuclear waste from other countries

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

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

But I will.

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

Why would we do something so stupid?

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

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

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

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

THIS IS LUNACY, PEOPLE. WAKE THE HELL UP!

Judge Lets Utah Accept Foreign Nuclear Waste

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judge says Utah can accept foreign nuclear waste

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EnergySolutions wins big with stimulus contracts

Utah » 12 cleanup projects will ship material to Clive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ATTENTION

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

NRC 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