Tag Archives: radiation

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

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

The Rutland Herald also reports: Legislators want rewrite for plant radiation rules

November 14, 2008

Associated Press

MONTPELIER — Vermont lawmakers want the state Department of Health to rewrite a rule about how radiation from Vermont Yankee is measured.

And the special legislative panel wants to be sure the public has a chance to comment on it.

Opponents of the nuclear plant have said the Health Department reinterpreted a rule on how it calculates radiation releases, allowing radiation at the edge of the plant’s property to exceed state limits.

On Wednesday, a special legislative panel voted unanimously to declare that part of the rule was unclear.

Lawmakers say changes made to the rule never went through a formal rule-making process.

Health Commissioner Wendy Davis plans to review the committee’s findings.

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

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