From the Los Angeles Times:
A small amount of radioactive material was found in a test of groundwater wells at the Vermont Yankee nuclear facility, the plant confirmed Thursday.
The problem at the 38-year-old reactor is similar to those cropping up at nuclear plants around the country, with the discovery of a radioactive isotope called tritium in a monitoring well.
Vermont Yankee spokesman Robert Williams said Thursday the plant confirmed a report provided a day earlier by an independent testing laboratory hired to check samples from 32 groundwater monitoring wells on the site.
Williams said it was the first time a groundwater sample at the plant had tested positive for tritium.
Both Williams and William Irwin, radiological health chief for the Vermont Department of Health, said there was no threat to the public health and safety from the level of tritium reported. They said the 17,000 picocuries of radioactivity per liter of water measured at Vermont Yankee was 3,000 less than the 20,000 picocurie safety limit set for drinking water by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
But Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry engineer who has consulted with the Legislature on issues related to Vermont Yankee, on Thursday called the discovery of tritium on the plant site "a big deal."
"It's a sign that there's a pipe or a tank leaking somewhere" at the plant, Gundersen said. "It's highly unlikely that the highest concentration in the ground would happen to be at the monitoring well," he added.
From the Brattleboro Reformer:
Entergy, which owns and operates Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it has executed a parent company guarantee of $40 million to ensure the site’s clean-up fund meets NRC requirements.
The guarantee was offered on Dec. 31, 2009, said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC.
"We are still awaiting written documentation on this," said Sheehan. "We will conduct independent verification to ensure it was properly carried out and meets our requirements."
Entergy will be working with the NRC to make sure its expectations concerning the decommissioning fund are met, said Rob Williams, spokesman for Yankee.
"The goal of the guarantee we have implemented is to be responsive to NRC’s request for further financial assurance to ensure the adequacy of the decommissioning fund," he said.
From E Magazine:
Congress and the Obama administration are on a course to provide the nation’s nuclear industry an unprecedented financial package—one that could dwarf the combined expenditures of last year’s bailout programs. And the legislative package comes with restrictions that would block the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from completely examining untried nuclear power systems.
The extensive support for the development of nuclear power is incorporated in the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act moving separately through the Environment and Public Works and the Energy and Natural Resources committees. The House version of the bill passed in June.
If enacted, the legislation would create a special “bank” affiliated with the Department of Energy (DOE) called the Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA), which could potentially provide underwriting for 187 new nuclear power projects—at an estimated cost of $10 to $14 billion each—and assume responsibility for cost overruns and delays.
If the Senate version is approved, there would be unlimited funding for nuclear power projects throughout the country, instead of just in the three states (Florida, Georgia and South Carolina) that allow utilities to bill consumers in advance for the cost of constructing nuclear power plants. Federal investment in nuclear energy would replace that from the Wall Street investment community, which has been loathe to invest in these expensive capital projects.
We do not share copies of Condition Reports or issue reports with the public. On occasion, the NRC reviews these reports at the plants but we do not typically submit them to the agency. However, the answers to your other questions are provided in blue after each question.
We have some follow up questions based on your press release of December 18, 2009.
If the TMI containment was open for the steam generator replacement, we are trying to determine if cobalt was released and detected by Exelon’s monitors off the Island to the southeast. We know Cobalt 60 is an activation product - not a fission product - so it does not indicate a fuel failure. Nevertheless, the release(s) did come from
inside the reactor.
1) Was cobalt released during the event November 21, 2009?
Yes, Cobalt was identified in the samples.
2) If so, did Exelon or the NRC attempt to correlate the C0-60 to where the wind was blowing on the day of the release?
Yes, the wind was blowing in the Southeast direction that afternoon/evening.
3) Is Exelon or the NRC looking for other depositions or the centerline of the plume? If so, Cobalt-60 has a hard gamma and
is easy to find.
Exelon has analyzed samples in adjacent sectors. All but the ones identified in the press release indicated less than detectable levels of activity.
There is an assumption in the press release that Exelon measured the worst case scenario which may be wrong since this was a ground level release, and building wake effects would keep the plume on the ground and near the plant.
4) Did Exelon check for beta emitters at the sample locations?
Yes, the analysis performed at the off-site lab checks for Beta emitters per our program requirements.
5) Also, a Condition Report has been written up on this event. That is disclosable under FOIA. Can you share a copy?
The sample results were entered into our Corrective Action Program and will be included in our normal Report.
Thank you for your patience throughout the holidays. I hope the information is helpful. I read your recent postings on your website and I am looking forward to discussing the changes to your monitoring system. Please let me know if you need clarification or would like to get together soon.
Happy New Year,
For Immediate Release:
Sustainable Energy Fund Introduces New Program To Spur Small Scale Renewable Energy Generation Development.
ALLENTOWN, PA. -Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) today announced its planned acquisition of more than $20 million in environmental attributes to support the development of small scale renewable energy generation resources such as solar, wind or biomass.
“SEF has been monitoring Pennsylvania’s renewable energy credit market and is growing concerned that small generation resources are at a disadvantage in favor of large utility scale projects,” stated Jennifer Hopkins, President, SEF. “PECO recently issued an RFP for purchase of solar RECs that required a minimum of 300 RECs be produce from a single system. The average residential system produces 4 RECs annually.” She continued “The economics and motivation are simple. Large utilities like PPL do not generate transmission and distribution revenues from the average homeowner or small business that generated their own electricity behind the meter.”
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission recently issued a press release seeking comment on addressing barriers to new solar development in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Renewable Energy Credits are one type of Environmental Attribute often used by Pennsylvania’s electric generation suppliers and electric distribution companies to comply with Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard that requires an annually increasing percentage of electricity generation to come from renewable resources such as wind or solar. SEF’s new program seeks to acquire the rights to these credits as well as other attributes such as carbon credits.
“This new program is very exciting as it utilizes SEF’s unique position as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, financial expertise and knowledge of renewable energy markets to support the development of residential and small scale commercial renewable generation,” said Jennifer Hopkins. She continued “We are constantly working to develop new programs that support the development of sustainable energy.”
Informational meetings on SEF’s new program dubbed “Green to Green” will be held on January 6, 7 and 8 in Valley Forge, Harrisburg and the Lehigh Valley respectively. To register, please visit www.thesef.com and click incentives and financing.
Hopkins closed by stating, “The acquisition of these environmental attributes by SEF will not eliminate the unfair practices by the utilities but will help residential and small commercial generators realize value from their investment.”
About Sustainable Energy Fund
SEF is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit that was create as the result of a settlement approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission during electric deregulation proceedings. The organization seeks out, focuses on and invests in economically viable, energy related businesses, projects, and educational initiatives that create innovative, market-based technologies and solutions to enable environmentally sound sustainable energy use in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. SEF assists all types of commercial entities to reduce the consumption of energy from non sustainable sources. These reductions are achieved by reducing or removing financial and/or educational barriers that prevent these organizations from generating energy from renewable resources and implementing improvements in efficiency of energy utilization as well as reducing energy consumption through behavioral change.
For more information on Sustainable Energy Fund, visit www.thesef.org
From the Miami Herald:
``There are the old gauges . . . where . . . a needle that goes around and around,'' Ware testified, saying they were ``not very reliable.'' When operators looked at the indicators daily, ``they'd be stuck.
``So over the years, they developed the habit of pinging them to get them to move. . . . Well, that's not OK in a nuclear plant because you have to have reliable, you know, verification of where those rods are positioned. . . . That's a lesson from Three Mile Island,'' the worst nuclear disaster in American history.
In the hush-hush nuclear world, such insider details rarely, if ever, become public, but now a lawsuit has made public 2,000 pages of testimony that offer a fascinating window into the experiences, thoughts and frustrations of Turkey Point executives, employees and contract workers that reveal myriad problems.
To read the NRC memo related to the TMI operators license exam, open pdf:
December 22, 2009
By Susan Smallheer
STAFF WRITER Rutland Herald
BRATTLEBORO – The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a petition from three Northeast states that sought to have the issue of the safety of spent fuel pools at nuclear power plants considered in any relicensing review.
Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York had all petitioned the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to change its rules to include their safety concerns about the spent fuel contained in nuclear power plant's reactor buildings in any re-licensing review.
The NRC had rejected the states' petitions, and the matter landed in front of the 2nd Circuit, which is based in New York City.
EFMR :Radiation Monitoring Stations
By BOB AUDETTE Brattleboro Reformer
BRATTLEBORO -- If no federal repository for spent nuclear fuel is opened in the next 100 years, the nation’s taxpayers could be on the hook to pay for on-site storage, such as the dry casks at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon.
That cost could run anywhere between $10 billion and $26 billion.