Mar 21, 2011 | Posted by: roboblogger | Full story: Boston Herald
ONTPELIER, Vt. - Federal regulators today gave the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant a 20-year license renewal, despite calls for reconsideration following the nuclear disaster in Japan.
Comments (Page 14)
Video: Reactor No. 1 containment filled with smoke or steam —“What destroyed the inside like this? Earthquake? Explosion?
"Analysis of video by EXSKF:
Video of Inside the Smoke/Steam-Filled Reactor 1 Containment Vessel [...] The camera gets inserted at about 2 minutes into the video [...] The inside seems to be filled with whitish smoke or steam [...] At 5 minutes, a rust-colored wall starts to appear on the left side of the screen. At about 18 minutes, the camera focuses better, and you start to see what looks like metal and concrete (? it may be mangled metal) debris.What destroyed the inside like this? Earthquake? Explosion?”"
“Very Unexpected”: Large debris filmed in Fukushima Unit 1 shows something explosive happened inside containment (VIDEO)
Published: September 27th, 201
research team provides an analysis of the newly released footage from inside the Unit 1 containment vessel at Fukushima Daiichi:
They took a brief look inside containment and found some rather unexpected large debris inside.
This was very unexpected as the containment inspections of unit 2′s containment showed no big debris, just bubbled paint and some small flakes of unknown origin.
These debris pieces were found in unit 1 containment above the 1st floor grate and appear to partially consist of metal that has a shiny appearance. The hydrogen explosions in the reactor buildings are assumed to have happened outside of the containment structure in the reactor buildings. TEPCO has claimed the hydrogen leaked back into the refueling floor during the venting attempt. This large debris inside the containment of unit 1 shows something explosive happened inside containment at some point.
The conditions inside the unit 2 containment and torus room and also the unit 3 torus room show a completely different set of conditions compared to unit 1. Exactly what this means is not clear at this time. As we know more or determine what may have happened at unit 1 we will release a new report.
Fortunately, unlike so many refinery and oil hydrocarbon leaks that lead to massive explosions and great loss of life, no lives were lost in these explosions.
But to cut it short:
Nukular eeveel, hydrocarbon good, etc ad nauseam to infinity and beyond!
By BOB AUDETTE October 25, 2012
" If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was to expand the emergency preparedness zone around America's nuclear power plants from 10 to 50 miles, all of those plants would be forced to close down.
That's according to Dr. Ira Helfand, a board member of the Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Vice President of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.
As the accident at Fukushima unfolded, the NRC recommended that Americans within a 50-mile radius of the power plant complex evacuate. "Which means we need a 50-mile evacuation plan," said Helfand, who was longtime chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass., and now works at the Family Care Medical Center in Springfield, Mass.
But that's not going to happen, he said, because it's impossible to conduct a wide-ranging evacuation at plants such as Indian Point, in the Hudson Valley, and Diablo Canyon, in California, which are both within 50 miles of heavily populated metropolitan areas. In all, nearly 103 million Americans live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant.
"If you had to create a 50-mile evacuation zone," said Helfand, "the only answer would be to shut down the power
Ed Lyman, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, agrees with Helfand.
"Indian Point is the poster child for not doing enough," said Lyman. It's 44 miles from Indian Point, in Buchannan, N.Y., to Central Park, in New York City.
"We are talking about people that are well outside of the 10-mile evacuation zone," said Lyman, and people who live outside of the EPZ "are not party to any of the requirements of planning. All they hear is a radioactive plume is heading their way.
Even though Windham County, which is home to Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, doesn't have the population density of the area around Indian Point, those who live outside of the evacuation zone are also uninformed about the Radiological Emergency Response Plan (RERP) and what to do if there was an accident at the power plant in Vernon.
"The tunnel vision about how bad an accident can be and how extensive emergency planning measures need to be is a major issue," said Lyman. "If the accident is worse than planners have prepared for or anticipated, how do you make changes ad hoc and still have an effective evacuation?"
Larry Crist, the regional executive for the Vermont & New Hampshire Red Cross, which is tasked with finding shelter for up to 6,000 Vermonters in the 10-mile EPZ around Yankee, has also raised concerns about how prepared the region is in case of a serious accident at the plant.
"If you look at a real-world perspective and the lessons we learned from Fukushima and Irene, there is no such thing as an orderly evacuation," said Crist.
What could make matters worse for people living within the 10-mile EPZ, said Lyman, is what is called "a shadow evacuation."
"People who live outside of the evacuation zone might spontaneously evacuate and that could interfere with the ability of people closer to the plant to evacuate," he said. "A shadow evacuation has to be analyzed and predicted for specific regions. Without any kind of coordinated or coherent planning, you are asking for trouble."
"In a populated area such as that around Indian Point there would be gridlock," said Helfand.
To overcome that deficiency would require an intensive campaign of education, he said. But if one was to be conducted, people would realize "It's clearly nuts to keep this plant open." "
read the rest:
Nukular eeveel, hydrocarbon good! Nukular eeveel, hydrocarbon!
Nukular eeveel, hydrocarbon good, etc ad nauseam to infinity and beyond!
The NRC evaluates such incidents together. Miller is a posturing liar.
No, that is not all that they hear. They also hear Lyman continually lie about the dangers of nuclear power, along with a small band of other Luddites who want more humans to die to protect bugs and bunnies. So-called environmentals have repeatedly called for massive reductions in the human population and some of them have even suggested plagues that might be a good way to accomplish their wishes.
Salem Nuclear Plant Still Offline, Broken Water Pumps
November 1st, 2012
"We reported last night that the Salem nuclear plant didn’t just suffer water intakes clogged with debris from Hurricane Sandy but a wave also took out 5 of the 6 critical water pumps. These pumps pull water from the river to cool the reactor. Five pumps were damaged, the operator was in the process of repairing those pumps. The NRC has not reported this incident to the public and there has been no update from the initial report that Salem had an emergency shut down. The NRC only mentioned the clogged intakes.
As of November 1st there has been no unusual event declared and the NRC has not informed the public of the broken water pumps that feed water to cool the reactor. Salem is still operating on emergency cooling systems. The Platts report is the only mention of what is going on at the plant. The plant operator has not given the public this information, only industry insiders like Platts have had this knowledge.
This is not the first time Salem has had a problem with losing reactor cooling due to the river water intakes being blocked or damaged. The NRC has known about this problem since 1989 yet it is still a regular problem at Salem. In April of 2011 the plant had another emergency shutdown when grass clogged the water intake system. In June of 2012 Salem was cited by the NRC for not properly maintaining the intake strainer system. Salem also had the same problem during hurricane Irene last year where the intakes clogged with debris. The plant was put under increased oversight in 2004. This found a long list of failing equipment http://enformable.com/2011/09/normal-operatio...
and employees afraid to speak up out of fear the employer would retaliate.
PSEG ran Salem unit 1 at 100% power as Sandy hit knowing full well that it was a sure thing that the intakes would be clogged requiring the reactor to go into emergency shutdown. instead of reducing power as some of the other nearby reactors did, PSEG chose the far riskier option of running at full power and play a game of chicken with a hurricane. An emergency shutdown is problematic as it causes a number of difficult and unstable conditions for the reactor operators. These conditions have to be handled simultaneous by the reactor operators creating conditions where something can easily go wrong. Public safety compromised as the power company chose profits over safety and the NRC has not even informed the public of the pump damage.
More on intake systems:
The issue with clogged intakes is well known. All Things Nuclear has a good write up on how this happens. http://allthingsnuclear.org/fission-stories-1... Simple things like grass, clams or jellyfish can take out a nuclear plant."
read the rest:
Inspections Reveal New Risks at Oyster Creek: Governor, Feds Urged to Enforce Safety Measures Before Nuke Plant Re-Opens
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
"Concerned local citizens and national experts announced today they filed formal, emergency legal proceedings with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) late yesterday, and have made a personal appeal to Governor Christie, to intervene and ensure that the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station (OCGNS), currently offline, remains so until major flaws in emergency procedures and safety concerns revealed during the outage and/or caused by Sandy are adequately addressed to avoid a Fukushima-like catastrophe at the Jersey Shore.
“We’ve just been through a heart wrenching catastrophe with Sandy. So many have lost their homes, been displaced, been made physically ill by the aftermath of the devastation that to add the greater risk of a Fukushima radioactive event to the mix would simply be inhuman,” said Janet Tauro, chair of the Board of Directors of the NJ Environmental Federation and a founder of the local group, GRAMMES (Grandmothers, Mothers, & More for Energy Safety).
The federal petition seeks to keep OCGNS, which was shut just before Sandy for routine safety inspections and refueling, offline until several safety measures are implemented to address the new problems, not the least of which was Sandy weakening OCGNS’s already flawed evacuation plan.
The safety advocates have also reached out repeatedly to the Christie Administration through various means, including a letter to the Governor sent 2 days ago
to ensure greater protections but have not gotten any response, even an acknowledgement of the concerns as of yet.
“I dare any public official to look me in the eye post-Sandy and say with absolute certainty that the risk of major problems at Oyster Creek isn’t significantly greater after Sandy and therefore that greater precaution isn’t needed. Tell me, is putting Oyster Creek online for the little bit of power it supplies to the grid worth the risk?” Are the corporate profits worth risking putting us through more trauma than we’ve just faced? Look a mother straight in the face and explain it,” added Tauro.
The petition to the NRC cites an unworkable evacuation plan in light of the damage Sandy wrought, and a possible violation of NRC regulations by plant owner Exelon to notify the federal agency if there are significant changes that would compromise the evacuation plan. Nuclear power plants cannot operate without an approved evacuation plan.
Richard Webster of the Environmental Enforcement Project at Public Justice in Washington, D.C., counsel to GRAMMES, NJEF, and Beyond Nuclear, filed the petition yesterday outlining reasons Oyster Creek should remain offline, including Exelon’s, the plant’s owner, failing to notify federal regulators of the grave consequences of Sandy to the evacuation plan.
“It is entirely possible Exelon is in violation of federal regulations. Further, an inadequate design from the start, containment degradation, metal fatigue, climate change causing more violent storms, and one of the most loaded radioactive pools of waste in the world makes it pretty clear that we’ve just been lucky for 43 years. It’s time to be reasonable, get smart, and shut down Oyster Creek,” said Webster, the first attorney in the United States to win a hearing for his clients before the Atomic Safety Licensing Board. To do so, applicants must prove their “contention” is a threat to public safety, and, has scientific and analytical merit." ...
..."While not well-publicized and some not yet publicly disclosed, the new safety concerns concerning Oyster Creek discovered during the outage, some caused by Sandy, include:
* The intake canal was inches away from totally flooding pumps key to the cooling system;
* The pre-Sandy evacuation plan fails to address the post-Sandy reality of new population centers in evacuation shelters and other places, clogged streets with debris and construction vehicles, and displaced emergency responders;
* Sandy proved the design basis (how strong a storm the plant can withstand) inadequate;
* The barrier island’s natural physical defenses are now weaker and make OC more vulnerable than before Sandy;
* Inspections during the outage revealed new cracks or precursors to cracks in and/or around the reactor vessel and control rods; and 33 of 43 emergency sirens were inoperable at the height of Sandy.
In light of these new concerns, the safety advocates are calling on Governor Christie and NRC to ensure Oyster Creek does not restart until five conditions are met:
The evacuation plan is updated to reflect the new reality post-Sandy;
The design storm for flood defense purposes is updated to reflect the recent spate of storms and climate change and, additional flood protection is put in place as appropriate;
The “indications”(cracks or their precursors) are investigated and the public assured through release of additional data and analysis they pose no additional risk of a nuclear catastrophe;
Exelon reviews whether the indications were predicted by its modeling and whether it can predict that no problematic indications will develop before the next inspection cycle and proof of ability to predict fatigue accurately is released to the public; and NRC and NJDEP’s Oyster Creek Safety Advisory Panel hold public meetings which satisfactorily answer the public's concerns.
“It’s clear Oyster Creek should stay off line until the evacuation plan is updated to reflect the new post-Sandy reality”, said Kerry Butch, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.
“Sandy has shown that Oyster Creek, the oldest nuclear plant in the United States, needs a complete reevaluation of the assumptions it was designed to back in 1962. Sandy was too close a call for Oyster Creek to be allowed to start up without a reevaluation,” added Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates and an internationally respected expert on the ongoing events at Fukushima and Mark I Boiling Water Reactors, the designs as Oyster Creek and Fukushima. Gundersen was brought in to the catastrophe at Three Mile Island to assist in avoiding a meltdown.
"You only need to think about adding radioactive contamination to the devastation and permanent relocation for the Jersey shore to conclude that restarting Oyster Creek is not worth the risk," said Paul Gunter, Director of Reactor Oversight at Beyond Nuclear, Takoma Park, MD, who disclosed the containment corrosion at Oyster Creek and authored the contention that was heard before the Atomic Safety Licensing Board. He has been following the General Electric Mark I controversy surrounding containment degradation and vulnerability before and after the Fukushima disaster.
“Sandy was catastrophic on many levels, but it could have been worse. Fortunately, Oyster Creek was off line when Sandy hit. It needs to stay so until the problems exposed during the outage and caused by Sandy are adequately addressed. The Governor, NRC and Exelon need to make it so,” concluded David Pringle, Campaign Director of the NJ Environmental Federation, the Garden State Chapter of Clean Water Action."
And obviously (what was known since Fukushima), 2nd generation reactors have high margins of safety.
SO I look to the Oyster Creek reactors to be replaced with brand new ones in the not-so-far future.
Zombie World of Vermont Yankee
by: Sue Prent
Wed Dec 12, 2012
"All those arguments about how Vermont "needs" Vermont Yankee? Not even Entergy can make that claim with a straight face now.
According to Reuters:
"Entergy Corp's Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is no longer needed to maintain power reliability in New England because local electric companies have bolstered the region's transmission infrastructure, the region's power grid said"
Ignoring the odd phrasing for a moment; the point is that the ISO has agreed to delist Vermont Yankee from the annual forward-capacity power auctions for 2013-2016...because it simply isn't needed.
This development comes on top of the Public Service Board's refusal to grant Entergy a delay in its requirement that a new certificate of public good be obtained for the relicensed plant to continue operating.
The PSB is expected to rule on the question of Public Good in August of next year. Meanwhile, the New England Coalition is asking the Vermont Supreme Court to simply shut VY down, once and for all.
So much storm und angst; just because Entergy wants to continue its game of "hot potato" long enough to wring a little more value from VY, and perhaps slide out from under its liability for decomissioning.
In the year and a half since Fukushima briefly brought the nuclear debate front and center here at home, U.S energy consumers may have left that lesson largely unattended while focussing on political dramas; but other nations are actively pursuing ways to extract themselves from dependence upon an aging nuclear energy "fleet" that looks more and more threadbare every day.
Japanese consumers in particular have learned how corrupt and irresponsible have been the very agencies and individuals that were entrusted with regulation of that nations' nuclear grid.
There are indications that our own Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in what appears to be a long established effort to diminish public anxiety, has been considerably less than candid and has deliberately dampened the lessons from Fukushima.
We learn, for example, from internal NRC memos, that even back on March 17, of 2011 they knew that not all spent fuel pools at U.S. reactor sites had been built to withstand the rigors of earth tremors:
Some US spent fuel pools are simply not 'seismically qualified.'
And speaking of spent fuel pools in seismically active regions, Fairewinds Associateshas issued a new educational podcast http://fairewinds.org/content/what-are-conseq...
that explains the consequences of locating nuclear reactors in seismically active areas, and takes a look at the issues associated with moving spent fuel from the damaged reactors at Fukushima.
We don't really know how Vermont Yankee would fare if a significant seismic event had its epicenter near that facility. Despite known design flaws and an age approaching the outer limits of its original life-expectancy, the NRC rushed to approve a twenty-year license extension of the aging VY facility before the dust had even settled at Fukushima. Following NRC practice, a physical inspection of VY was not even required for relicensing!
I still find that pretty unbelievable.
Even the NRC seems to have partially gotten the point (although too late for VY), and as of August 2012, has suspended all new licensing of nuclear facilities until it puts together new regulatory conditions in response to a court ruling on spent fuel storage.
Unfortunately, the half-life of Vermont Yankee goes on and on."
Unfortunately, political shortsightednes and public imbecility made REPLACING the old creaky reactors very difficult.
This suits BigOil just fine, as it has plenty of hydrocarbon to replace nuclear power. Obviously, at a price "to be determined later".
Fission Stories #131: You Can’t Fix Stupid
February 26, 2013
... "In the early 1970s, Westinghouse sent a report to all its customers about a problem observed at the Beznau Unit 1 pressurized water reactor in Switzerland. Borated water had leaked through a seal weld on a control rod drive mechanism (CRDM). The borated water dripped onto the reactor vessel head. The water evaporated, leaving behind boric acid crystals. Boric acid is very corrosive to the metal of the reactor vessel head. After removing the boric acid, workers found a 2-inch long, 1-inch deep crescent-shaped indentation caused by boric acid corrosion. Westinghouse alerted its customers about this incident and cautioned them to eliminate any accumulation of boric acid on metal components of the reactor coolant system.
The reactor resides in the lower portion of the reactor vessel. The reactor vessel is made of carbon steel with walls six to seven inches thick. The inside surface of the reactor vessel is coated with a thin layer of stainless steel for protection against the corrosive borated water. Stainless steel is far more resistant to boric acid than carbon steel. The outside surface of the reactor vessel lacks such protection.
The systems used to regulate the power level of the reactor core include control rods. When fully inserted, the control rods prevent a nuclear chain reaction and the reactor remains shut down. Control rods are withdrawn from the reactor core to increase the nuclear chain reaction rate and increase the reactor’s power level. The motors that raise (withdraw) and lower (insert) control rods are located directly above the reactor vessel head. Metal poles connect each control rod to its motor. These poles pass through four-inch diameter holes, called nozzles, cut through the reactor vessel head. Just above the reactor vessel head, flanges (shown in the red circle in the figure) allow the nozzles to be connected to the motor units. For increased protection, these connections at Beznau were welded together in an attempt to prevent any leakage of borated water through the nozzle to the outside surface of the reactor vessel head. But it happened, anyway.
Westinghouse’s warning did not prevent more leaks and more damage. On St. Patrick’s Day in 1988, the NRC sent a more stern advisory to owners of U.S. pressurized water reactors. The NRC reported that borated water had leaked through a seal weld on a control rod drive mechanism at the Salem Unit 2 pressurized water reactor resulting in corrosion up to 0.36 inches deep in its reactor vessel head. This incident was very similar to the one in Westinghouse’s alert, except that the reactor was in New Jersey instead of Switzerland.
The NRC also described other problems at U.S. reactor from leaking borated water causing boric acid corrosion:
Boric acid corrosion up to a depth of 0.25 inches damaged three of the bolts holding the reactor vessel at the Turkey Point Unit 4 pressurized water reactor together.
Boric acid corrosion damaged a valve in a reactor cooling system at the San Onofre Unit 2 pressurized water reactor, allowing approximately 18,000 gallons of water to drain from the reactor vessel into the containment building.
Boric acid corroded the nozzle of the high pressure emergency makeup system at the Arkansas Nuclear One Unit 1 pressurized water reactor. The maximum corrosion depth was 0.5 inches in a pipe with walls only 0.75 inches thick.
The NRC required owners to develop and maintain boric acid corrosion control programs to specifically look for signs of borated water leaks and formally evaluate any boric acid residue found on vulnerable metal parts of the reactor coolant system." ...
... "The NRC had warned the owners about the boric acid corrosion hazard five separate times in the prior eight years These warnings had not effectively resolved this recurring problem, prompting the NRC to mandate specific boric acid corrosion control programs be instituted.
A few years later, a valve at the Davis-Besse pressurized water reactor began leaking borated water. Workers attempting to stop the leak noticed that two of the nuts for the eight bolts holding the valve together were missing. The original bolts and nuts were made of stainless steel – the workers replaced the nuts with ones made of carbon steel.
Boric acid corroded the nuts as boric acid as been known to do to carbon steel for three decades. In August 1999, the NRC considered imposing a $55,000 fine on Davis-Besse’s owner for this breakdown in its boric acid corrosion control program but waived it based on the company’s volunteering to upgrade its boric acid corrosion control program and train its workers on it. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections...
In April 2000, an NRC inspector at Davis-Besse was handed the above photograph. It shows rivers of red rust and white boric acid crystals running down the outside surface of the carbon steel reactor vessel head from two inspection ports. The NRC inspector filed the photograph away without conducting any examinations or asking any questions of the plant’s owner.
In March 2002, workers were “shocked” to discover that boric acid had eaten entirely through the carbon steel reactor vessel. The only thing that kept the reactor cooling water inside the reactor vessel was the thin veneer of stainless steel (the silverfish area in the photograph) applied to the inside surface – and it was bulging outward and cracked under the pressure).
The control rod drive mechanisms had been leaking borated water for many years. Contrary to its boric acid corrosion control program, workers at Davis-Besse never removed all the boric acid residue and formally evaluated the carbon steel underneath for damage. Instead, they ignored warning after warning.
At the request of the NRC, researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory answered the “what if” question – what if the damage had not been found during the refueling outage in 2002 and Davis-Besse restarted? The Oak Ridge scientists concluded that based on the rate borated water was leaking and the associated corrosion rate was enlargening the hole, the stainless steel layer would have burst in two to eleven more months of reactor operation. Davis-Besse operated 18 to 24 months between refueling outages – had it restarted with the leak unfixed, the reactor would likely have experienced a very serious loss of coolant accident when the hole in its head fully opened up. Coupled with other safety impairments that existed at the time (such as the high pressure injection pump), this accident would very likely have been worse than Three Mile Island but not as bad as Chernobyl." ...
read the rest:
The agitators must be getting desperate?
"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted earlier this week to push back safety improvements for the General Electric-designed Mark 1 and 2 nuclear reactors, recommendations made by their own staff after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, two years ago.
The five-member commission was heavily lobbied by the nuclear industry to not adopt the recommendation for filters on reactor vents on the Mark 1 and 2 boiling water reactors, saying they were an expensive response that wouldn’t guarantee additional protection in the event of a nuclear emergency. The filters were estimated to cost between $15 million to $60 million per reactor.
Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC’s Region One, said earlier this week that the commission instead ordered the staff to further study the filtered vent issue by means of the NRC rule-making process.
Thirty-one U.S. nuclear reactors share the same design as the failed reactors in Fukushima, raising questions in this country about the Mark 1 and 2 designs’ ability to withstand a serious incident.
Sheehan said that by going the route of the NRC’s rule-making process, there will be a chance for public input into the changes.
“The staff is to evaluate not only filtration systems but a performance-based approach to preventing radioactive releases from Mark 1 and 2 boiling water reactors like Vermont Yankee, following a severe accident,” Sheehan said.
But according to The Hill, the congressional newspaper, the NRC has been facing “blowback” for its decision to delay the additional safety requirement.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, told The Hill that the 3-2 vote was unacceptable.
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission should never cut corners when it comes to safety, especially after Fukushima,” Boxer said.“We should accept the recommendations of safety experts and not just accept a partial fix.”
Allison Macfarlane, the new chairwoman of the NRC, was in the minority of the 3-2 vote.
Under the schedule adopted by the NRC on Tuesday, the rule-making process for the filters should be in place in four years, March 2017.
Sheehan said that the NRC had earlier asked the Mark 1 and 2 reactors to have reliable “hardened” vents, and had issued an order in March 2012. Vermont Yankee installed hardened vents several years ago, but Entergy Nuclear recently filed its plan for meeting the updated requirements, Sheehan said.
Robert Williams, a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear in Vermont, said that the company was implementing changes at Yankee from “lessons learned” at Fukushima.
“We are currently reviewing the NRC decision which separates the immediate issue of venting from the longer term topic of filtering. On the venting issue, the NRC will be directing the industry to move forward with ensuring that a venting system is in place that will remain functional during severe accident scenarios,” he said.
“The NRC will pursue rule-making on the separate topic of filtering, and will require that a variety of strategies be considered — not just filtered vents,” he added.
The Nuclear Energy Institute, a nuclear industry policy and lobbying group, in a press release said it supported the rule-making process as the “proper approach for consideration of this matter.”"
Finances, panel blow-out at Yankee raise concerns
By Susan Smallheer
"Changes in the energy marketplace have forced Entergy Nuclear to write down the value of Vermont Yankee nuclear plant from $517 million to $162 million, prompting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to ask for the company’s financial projections for the next five years.
The NRC took the unusual step of asking for additional information from Entergy Nuclear about the finances of Yankee, citing a recent Entergy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The NRC on Wednesday released a letter it sent to Entergy about the request for financial information, and noted it had been discussing its concerns with Entergy since at least Feb. 14.
According to the letter, Entergy was forced to write down the “carrying value” of Yankee from $517 million to a “fair value” of $162 million.
But those changes prompted the NRC to ask for what it called “updated pro formas for the operations and maintenance and cash flow for Vermont Yankee” up to 2018.
“The NRC staff requires further information to insure that the licensee is meeting NRC requrements for financial qualifications,” said the letter, signed by Richard Guzman, senior project manager for the NRC.
Entergy, in its November 2012 filing with the SEC, cited pending legal and state regulatory matters, as well as future revenues and expenses, as the reasons behind its financial adjustments.
It said Guzman had been evaluating the plant’s continued operation quarterly since early 2010.James Sinclair, spokesman for Vermont Yankee, refused to answer questions about the NRC’s move and Yankee’s finances.
“We are in receipt of the request for information and will be responding to the NRC,” he said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the NRC also announced that Yankee, which is currently shut down for refueling and maintenance, had a panel in the secondary containment of the reactor building “blow out” early Monday morning because of over-pressurization in the building. There are 40 such panels.
Robert Williams, an Entergy spokesman, said workers had started up the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the reactor building early Monday, but the exhaust fan did not come on, creating what he called a “slight increase” in air pressure in the pressurized building.
“One of the relief panels dislodged, which it is designed to do,” Williams said. The panel are designed to fall away in the face of intense pressure from tornados.
A 6-by-10-foot aluminum panel was blown out and landed dozens of feet away, on top of the turbine building. The panel is supposed to be attached to a wire rope, according to Uldis Vanags, the state nuclear engineer who sent a memo about the problem to members of the Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel.
Both the NRC and Entergy said there was no discernable increase in the release of radiation from the reactor building with the hole. A temporary panel has been put in place.
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said a senior health physicist had done calculations on whether the opening presented a public danger and concluded it did not.
“There are no doses to the public or plant workers because of this,” Sheehan said, adding that Entergy was doing “real-time” air monitoring on the refueling floor as a result.
Sheehan said the missing panel was in the top floor of the reactor building, where workers are preparing to remove spent fuel from the reactor core and transfer it to the spent fuel pool, as well as move new, fresh fuel into the core.
Williams said the temporary panel would not keep the plant from its refueling schedule, nor would it prohibit the plant from re-starting." ...
But to one longtime Vermont Yankee critic, the missing panel in the reactor building was another indication that the plant was poorly designed to protect the public.
“This incident is a downtime demonstration of the fact that secondary containment, as well as primary containment, is designed for failure of its ostensible purpose of containing radioactive releases in the event of a reactor accident,” said Raymond Shadis, senior technical advisor for the New England Coalition.
Shadis said the NRC’s commissioners were currently considering a mandate that would require rupture disks on primary containment to be backed up by radiation filters.
A relatively small hydrogen burn or a high-energy line break would suffice to blow out over-pressure panels, such as the one blown out in this incident, he said.
“In short, even the most obtuse observer should now understand that Vermont Yankee’s containment safety systems have a very high probability of failure,” Shadis wrote in an email Wednesday.
Shadis also cited the NRC’s request for more financial information from Entergy, and he said he had testified during recent Public Service Board hearings on Yankee’s future relicensing about what Shadis called the “precarious viability” of Vermont Yankee’s future operations.
“Now NRC too has its doubts as to whether VY even meets the financial qualifications for a license,” he added."
NRC Commissioners vote down their staff recommendation for filtered vent on unreliable Mark I and II containment
March 19, 2013
"Nuclear Regulator Majority Vote Disregards Agency Staff Safety Recommendation on Unreliable Mark I and II Containment. Decision requires hardened vent without filter
Takoma Park, MD — The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has voted to disregard a recommendation from its own Japan Lessons Learned Task Force and professional staff that nuclear reactor operators should be ordered to install high-capacity radiation filters at 23 Mark I and 8 Mark II nuclear power reactors in the United States.
“These are inherently dangerous and flawed reactors but radiation filters installed on more robust vent lines would at least provide a significant additional layer to the defense-in-depth,” said Paul Gunter, Director of Reactor Oversight Project for Beyond Nuclear, based in Takoma Park, MD.
“This is fundamentally a Fukushima lesson unlearned,” Gunter added.“We all watched the Fukushima accident in horror as Japanese operators were unable to manage one containment failure after another. This was in large part because TEPCO was not prepared to manage the release of pressure, heat, hydrogen gas and high levels of radioactivity from the damaged fuel cores,” he said.
The NRC staff had recommended the agency issue an Order to require high capacity filters be installed on severe accident capable vents on the Fukushima-design unreliable reactor containment systems by December 31, 2017.
The Commission vote allows for upgrading accident capable vents on the Mark I and II reactors but falls seriously short of the staff recommendation to restore a significant measure of containment integrity by requiring radiation filtration systems as have been installed for many years on most European reactors.
The NRC Commissioners voted 4-1 against installing the filters by Order. Chairwoman Macfarlane supported the filter installation by Order. Commissioners Ostendorf, Magwood, Apostolakis voted in favor of the filter strategy but by a lengthy process of rulemaking that portends years more delay with an uncertain future. Commissioner Svinicki voted against the Order for a filtered vent.
“The Commission’s majority vote potentially ties reactor operators’ hands behind their backs if an accident were to occur in the coming years,” Gunter said.“Venting an accident without a filter will mean fire-hosing downwind communities with massive amounts of radiation.
“While the NRC and industry are spinning the outcome of this vote as a ‘delay’ on a decision on the filtered vent, in fact, it is a flat out denial of public safety in the interest of saving the nuclear industry some money,” Gunter continued.
"The nuclear industry will score financial gains from this decision but the cost should be paid by the loss of NRC's regulatory integrity,” he concluded.
In voting for the filtered vent, NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane was the only Commissioner supporting her technical staff’s judgment and recommendation to move forward with an ORDER to industry. She concluded that “all of the available data suggests that the installation of hardened vents is a prudent and appropriate safety enhancement that is within the NRC’s current regulatory framework.” The Commission vote and notation sheet can be read at:
There are 23 Mark I boiling water reactors in the US and 8 Mark II boiling water reactors that are subject of this Commission vote."
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