News

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Consider the Source

From Seven Days:

John Dillon spelled it out last week on Vermont Public Radio: Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen alerted the Public Service Department last summer that Entergy had likely lied to a special legislative oversight panel and state regulators about the existence of underground pipes — pipes that could be the source of previously undisclosed contamination.

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Exelon wants to store nuclear waste at Peach Bottom plant

From LancasterOnline.com:

Exelon Energy wants to begin sending low-level radioactive waste from its Limerick nuclear plant to the Peach Bottom nuclear plant in York County.

Exelon has applied to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to amend its operating license so that each year it can send one or two truckloads of the waste from the Montgomery County plant to Peach Bottom, where it would be stored.

For decades, most low-level radioactive waste generated at nuclear plants in the East has been sent to a licensed low-level radioactive waste facility near Barnwell, S.C.

But in July 2008 the facility stopped accepting waste from all but three states.

The on-site storage facility at Limerick is filling up, but 98 percent of the storage capacity at Peach Bottom is available for use, said Rochelle Benson, an Exelon spokeswoman at Peach Bottom.

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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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