List of buried piping released

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

Two weeks ago, Yankee revealed a test well on site showed elevated levels of tritium in groundwater. The monitoring well showed levels of tritium ranging between 14,000 and 28,100 picocuries.

The source of the tritium has not yet been determined, but it was during the initial investigation that regulators learned there was in fact buried piping in use at the power plant.

Last week, during a search for the source, Yankee engineers discovered more than 200 gallons of contaminated water in a 40-foot-long pipe trench in the plant’s radiation waste building.

The water was found to be contaminated with up to 2 million picocuries per liter of tritium, 13,000 picocuries per liter of cobalt-60 and 2,460 picocuries per liter of zinc-65.

The Environmental Protections Agency’s drinking water limit for cobalt-60 is 100 picocuries per liter and for zinc-65 is 300 picocuries per liter.

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Upcoming Public Meeting on Proposed Enhancements to the Force-on-Force Inspection Program

Good afternoon!

In case you're interested, NRC's Office of Nuclear Security & Incident Response is hosting a public meeting on proposed enhancements to the Force-on-Force Inspection Program and Significance Determination Process on February 10, 2010 from 10 am to 4 pm.

For this meeting, we will be using Microsoft Live Meeting, the same web conferencing technology used during the emergency preparedness rulemaking meetings last summer and fall. Stakeholders interested in participating via the web or over the phone should contact F. Paul Peduzzi or Raymond Gibson (contact information below) no later than February 8.

Meeting Contacts:

F. Paul Peduzzi, NSIR/DSO
301-415-5734, NSIRContact.Resource@nrc.gov
Raymond Gibson, NSIR/DSO
301-415-7801, NSIRContact.Resource@nrc.gov

Thank you!

Sara K. (Sahm) Mroz
Communications and Outreach
Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
301-415-1692 (direct)

Tritium leaks a problem at many plants

From the Burlington Free Press:

At least 20 nuclear power plants around the country have reported tritium soil or water contamination, based on a Free Press examination of Nuclear Regulatory Commission documents and information gleaned from interviews with advocates and critics of nuclear power.

Among the 20 plants are six boiling-water reactors owned by Entergy Nuclear, the Louisiana-based firm that has owned Vermont Yankee since 2002 and is seeking to have Vermont Yankee’s operating license for the 650-megawatt facility in Vernon extended for another 20 years.

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Announcing the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Safety Culture Workshop February 2-4, 2010

Hello Sir/Madam:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is announcing a meeting with stakeholder’s regarding reaching alignment on a high-level definition for safety culture and traits to be used for all NRC licensed activities. The attached meeting notice provides the specifics regarding this meeting scheduled February 2-4, 2010, near NRC headquarters in Rockville, MD. You are receiving this notice since in the past you have been involved and/or participated in NRC safety culture initiatives or may have expressed interest in this topic. Interested individuals may participate in the workshop in person or teleconferencing or through the use of a computer and the internet. If you plan on participating in this workshop, I encourage you to contact one of the NRC contacts on the meeting notice. Information regarding the NRC's effort on safety culture can be found at the safety culture website.

Thank you for your time and we hope that you will participate in this effort.

Respectfully,

Alex Sapountzis
Enforcement Specialist
Office of Enforcement
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
11555 Rockville Pike
Mail Stop O-4A15A
Rockville, MD 20852
Phone: 301-415-7822

Study: Nuclear plant radiation may be to blame for cancer spike

From the Hazleton Standard Speaker:

Thyroid cancer rates in Pennsylvania soared in recent decades and radiation from nuclear power plants may be the cause, a study released Thursday said.

Joseph Mangano, who authored the study which appeared in the International Journal of Health Services and is executive director for the Radiation and Public Health Project, called the growth in the number of cases "an epidemic."

Pennsylvania's incidence of thyroid cancer in the mid-1980s was 40 percent below the national rate, and now the rate is 44 percent above the national rate, he said.

"Something occurred to change Pennsylvania's rate from low to high, and one of these possible factors is radiation from reactors," Mangano said.

Some of the highest thyroid cancer rates occur in eastern Pennsylvania, which has the nation's largest concentration of nuclear reactors, including the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station in Salem Township, he said.

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TMI Unit 2: Electrical Rotor and Stator Shipments Talking Points

  • First Energy, the owner of Three Mile Island Unit 2, has sold the TMI-2 electrical rotor and stator to Siemens Power Group. Siemens has sold them to Progress Energy in North Carolina and has hired Biggie Power Constructors to ship them.
  • The TMI-2 rotor and stator are not contaminated.
  • The rotor and stator will be shipped to North Carolina in two separate shipments. Biggie Power Constructors is the shipper.
  • The first shipment will be the rotor in early February and it will go from TMI by truck to a rail siding about two miles north of the plant near Royalton. From there the rotor will be shipped by rail to North Carolina. This rotor weighs about 170 tons.
  • The stator is scheduled to be shipped sometime in early to mid-March and will travel from TMI to Havre de Grace in Maryland on a large multi-axel transporter. The stator weighs 460 tons and will take five days to reach Havre de Grace. Biggie Power Constructors is working with Penn DOT to secure all the required permits. The stator shipment to Havre de Grace will involve crossing the Rt. 30 bridge and Interstate 95.
  • Exelon Nuclear is making notifications to local stakeholders as part of our outreach program. For more information about the shipments you can contact the following point of contact at Biggie Power Constructors:

Mr. Roger Simpson
Operations/Project Manager
Biggie Power Constructors
510-918-4608 (mobile)

For questions about how these parts (rotor and stator) will be used or about Progress Energy, please contact:

Julia Milstead
Progress Energy
Harris Nuclear Plant
Corporate Communications
Office: (919) 362-2160
Cell: 919-522-6467

Left out in the cold: Pennsylvania utility shutoffs are on the rise

From the Patriot News:

Five years ago, Chapter 14 went into effect making it easier for companies to shut off customers’ utilities when they get behind in payments, scuttling protections that had been in place through the Public Utility Commission.

Reports from the PUC show that shutoffs have increased dramatically since the law was passed, and that has meant families making dangerous decisions on how to heat their homes.

The Legislature erred five years ago and should make changes to the law to give the PUC — not private companies — once again more flexibility as the final arbiter on consumers’ utility shutoffs and reconnections.

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DEP Missing Nuclear Gauge Recovered Radioactive Materials Intact

From the DEP:

The Department of Environmental Protection said today that officials in Economy, Beaver County, located the nuclear density gauge that was reported missing last week by Coraopolis-based Jeff Zell Consultants Inc.

A member of Economy’s road crew discovered the device intact and in its transportation case along Cooney Hollow Road and immediately reported it to police.

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Beyond Nuclear Bulletin

From Beyond Nuclear:

Background: Despite assuring the State of Vermont for more than a year that it had no buried pipes carrying radioactivity, Entergy Nuclear’s Vermont Yankee reactor has revealed it is leaking radioactive tritium, almost certainly from underground pipes that it now admits do exist. In fact, Vermont Yankee has even announced the discovery of “highly radioactive water,” 50 times more radioactive than would be allowed in drinking water by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen has made clear that Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee has indeed lied about the existence of buried pipes over the course of many months.

Our View: Entergy Nuclear has betrayed the trust of the lawmakers, regulators, and citizens of Vermont. Simultaneous with its revelation of radioactivity leaks on site, Vermont Yankee spokespeople engaged in a predictable campaign to downplay the health and safety risks of tritium. However, tritium can impact the human body right down to the DNA level, and can cross the placenta from mother to fragile fetus. At such intimate levels, tritium can and does damage human health, leading to cancer, genetic damage, birth defects, and other maladies. The National Academy of Science has reported consistently over the decades that any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how low the dose, still carries a health risk. As reactors age – and Vermont Yankee is nearly 40 years old – its systems, structures and components degrade, worsening tritium leaks from buried piping. Vermont Yankee’s license should not be extended 20 additional years.

What You Can Do: If you live outside Vermont, contact Vermont’s Governor, Jim Douglas, and let him know that the safety, security, health and environmental risks of Vermont Yankee could carry with them radioactive stigma effects, impacting Vermont’s tourism industry and agricultural products. If you live inside Vermont, contact your legislators and urge that they vote against the 20 year license extension at Vermont Yankee when the issue comes up for legislative action in the next few months.

Much Higher Tritium Level Found at Nuclear Plant

From ABC News:

State officials said Wednesday more radioactive tritium had been found at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant — at levels more than 90 times higher than found in a test well nearly two weeks ago.

William Irwin, the state's radiological health chief, said readings of 1 million to 2 million picocuries per liter of the isotope were found in a concrete trench several hundred feet from the test well where tritium was first reported Jan. 7. A spokesman for the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission put the number at "about 2 million."

That previous high reading turned up a sample of 22,300 picocuries per liter of tritium at a test well Tuesday, officials at Vermont Yankee said. But they downgraded that reading to 19,500 on Wednesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency safety standard for tritium in drinking water is 20,000 picocuries per liter.

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