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.
Join the discussion below, or Read more at Boston Herald.
#313 Apr 10, 2013
Repeal Price-Anderson NOW!
by: Sue Prent
Mon Apr 08, 2013
"It's really telling when former Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner, Gregory Jackzo, goes so far as to say that all U.S. nuclear facilities ought to be"phased out" http://www.energyintel.com/Pages/ArticleSumma... because regulators aren't doing their job.
"The next accident is going to be something that no one
predicted. At a certain point you have to review the fundamental
problem...that evaluation tells you you can't rule out a severe accident."
And he is isn't alone in that belief, which is echoed by another former commissioner, Victor Gilinsky, who cites the NRC's recent decisions not to immediately and fully implement the recommendations of ASME,(The American Society of Mechanical Engineers) for reforms in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
Such a vote of non-confidence from people with the inside track should raise general alarm, at least amongst those Americans who live within fifty miles of a nuclear power plant...and that is a considerable number of folks. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/state...
Fifty miles is the currently accepted immediate evacuation radius in the event of a nuclear emergency; but that radius doesn't even begin to cover the longer-term impacts should it not be possible to bring the emergency under full control in a timely manner.
That such a thing can happen is no longer just speculation, as the untenable situation at Fukushima attests.
Contamination continues to flow, http://enformable.com/2013/04/tepco-admits-co... only partially checked, from the crippled facilities and no one honestly knows when or how it will be brought under control.
Compounding all of this regulatory recklessness, and perhaps even encouraging it (since the NRC is historically captive to the industry) is the fact that, thanks to the Price-Anderson Act, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price-Anderson_N... owners of American nuclear power plants enjoy relatively little real liability in the event of disaster.
Enacted in the late 1950's to facilitate development of a fledgling peacetime use for nuclear power, Price-Anderson has long been the invisible financial prop that allowed the industry to claim its product as "affordable."
This is simple corporate welfare of the most egregious kind, since it plays with public safety and does so on the grandest scale.
Surely, the very least lesson the U.S. should have learned from Fukushima is that Price-Anderson must be repealed and the nuclear industry required to secure full liability for even the worst-case scenario. Were that to happen, there is no question that the entire fleet would be retired in short order, because no insurer would take on such a liability."
#314 Apr 11, 2013
What's Fukushima have to do with US reactors? US military reactors are separate from the civilian ones, unlike Japan's dual-purpose devices.
#315 Apr 11, 2013
U.S. nuclear plants similar to Fukushima spark concerns
By Matt Smith, CNN
February 17, 2012
" As the United States prepares to build its first new nuclear power reactors in three decades, concerns about an early generation of plants have resurfaced since last year's disaster in Japan.
The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant -- the subject of a battle between state authorities and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over its continued operation -- uses one of 23 U.S. reactors built with a General Electric-designed containment housing known as the Mark I.
It's the same design that was used at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where three reactors melted down after the station was struck by the tsunami that followed Japan's historic earthquake in March 2011. The disaster resulted in the widespread release of radioactive contamination that forced more than 100,000 people from their homes.
GE says the Mark I design has operated safely for more than 40 years and has been modified periodically to meet changing regulations. No nuclear plant could have avoided a meltdown after being swamped by a tsunami and losing power to cooling systems for an extended period of time, the company says -- and at least one expert CNN spoke to agrees.
But concerns about the Mark I's ability to contain the consequences of a severe accident have been raised for decades, and critics say the Fukushima Daiichi accident shows it can't survive a real-world disaster.
The structure was designed so steam that builds up in an overheating reactor can be diverted into a doughnut-shaped water tank known as the suppression pool, or torus, where it condenses back to water to reduce pressure inside the reactor containment building. That allows utilities to build a much smaller containment structure -- as little as one-sixth the size of those used at some U.S. plants.
Stephen Hanauer, a former top safety official at what was then the Atomic Energy Commission, warned in 1971 that in an accident in which the core slowly loses coolant and overheats, the Mark I containment "would overpressurize. That could lose the torus water source, hence ECCS [emergency core cooling system] as well as leak out fission products."
Read the 1971 Atomic Energy Commission document (PDF) http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2012/images/02/1...
In 1978, the NRC, which replaced the AEC, decided that the design was safe. Hanauer agreed with that decision, which GE and plant operators have pointed out.
But the following year, there was a partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. Three Mile Island used an entirely different design, but the NRC began an extensive safety review after the accident that resulted in several changes to the Mark I.
One of those was a 1989 push for utilities to install a vent system that would release steam from the containment during an emergency. But as critics point out, that also raises the odds that radioactive material will escape the containment -- even with a "hardened" vent, one that tries to filter out the reactor byproducts.
"A hardened vent is just a way of saying we're going to uncontain the containment," said Ken Bergeron, a former physicist at the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico, who took part in the NRC review. "The question comes up now -- and this is a really important question -- can the Mark I containment be made better?"" ...
read the rest: http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/17/us/us-nuclear-r...
#316 Apr 11, 2013
Concerns over aging nuclear plants
CNN|Added on February 15, 2012
#317 Apr 13, 2013
Actually, if Japan would not have insisted on maintaining the dual-purpose reactors in place and came out with a declared military nuclear programme this fiasco would have been avoided.
... As proven by the Fukushima Dai-Ni nuclear plant which withstood the very same tsunami as Fukushima Da-Ichi.
No you cannot do half assed energy policy - bad coal, bad hydro, or bad "nukular" are all very dangerous.
#318 Apr 16, 2013
NRC is a joke, where is you oh-so-funny raydee-ayshun fearmongering now, chum?
#319 Apr 23, 2013
Fukushima nuclear plant cleanup may take more than 40 years: IAEA
"A U.N. nuclear watchdog team said Japan may need longer than the projected 40 years to decommission the Fukushima power plant and urged Tepco to improve stability at the facility.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency team, Juan Carlos Lentijo, said Monday that damage at the nuclear plant is so complex that it is impossible to predict how long the cleanup may last.
“As for the duration of the decommissioning project, this is something that you can define in your plans. But in my view, it will be nearly impossible to ensure the time for decommissioning such a complex facility in less than 30 to 40 years as it is currently established in the road map,” Lentijo said.
The government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. have predicted the cleanup would take up to 40 years. They still have to develop technology and equipment that can operate under fatally high radiation levels to locate and remove melted fuel. The reactors must be kept cool and the plant must stay safe and stable, and those efforts to ensure safety could slow the process down.
The plant still runs on makeshift equipment and frequently suffers glitches.
Just over the past few weeks, the plant suffered nearly a dozen problems ranging from extensive power outages to leaks of highly radioactive water from underground water pools. On Monday, Tepco had to stop the cooling system for one of the fuel storage pools for safety checks after finding two dead rats inside a transformer box.
Earlier this month, a rat short-circuited a switchboard, causing an extensive outage and cooling loss for up to 30 hours.
Lentijo said water management is “probably the most challenging” task for the plant for now.
The problems have raised concerns about whether the plant, crippled by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, can stay intact throughout a decommissioning process. The problems have prompted officials to compile risk-reduction measures and review decommissioning plans.
Lentijo, an expert on nuclear fuel cycles and waste technology, warned of more problems to come.
“It is expectable in such a complex site, additional incidents will occur as it happened in the nuclear plants under normal operations,” Lentijo said.“It is important to have a very good capability to identify as promptly as possible failures and to establish compensatory measures.”
He said Tepco’s disclosures have been problematic and urged the utility to take extra steps to regain public trust.
The IAEA team urged the utility to “improve the reliability of essential systems to assess the structural integrity of site facilities, and to enhance protection against external hazards” and promptly replace temporary equipment with a reliable, permanent system."
#320 Apr 23, 2013
Ex-Regulator Says Reactors Are Flawed
By MATTHEW L. WALD
Published: April 8, 2013
"WASHINGTON — All 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Monday. Shutting them all down at once is not practical, he said, but he supports phasing them out rather than trying to extend their lives.
The position of the former chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, is not unusual in that various anti-nuclear groups take the same stance. But it is highly unusual for a former head of the nuclear commission to so bluntly criticize an industry whose safety he was previously in charge of ensuring.
Asked why he did not make these points when he was chairman, Dr. Jaczko said in an interview after his remarks,“I didn’t really come to it until recently.”
“I was just thinking about the issues more, and watching as the industry and the regulators and the whole nuclear safety community continues to try to figure out how to address these very, very difficult problems,” which were made more evident by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, he said.“Continuing to put Band-Aid on Band-Aid is not going to fix the problem.”
Dr. Jaczko made his remarks at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington in a session about the Fukushima accident. Dr. Jaczko said that many American reactors that had received permission from the nuclear commission to operate for 20 years beyond their initial 40-year licenses probably would not last that long. He also rejected as unfeasible changes proposed by the commission that would allow reactor owners to apply for a second 20-year extension, meaning that some reactors would run for a total of 80 years.
Dr. Jaczko cited a well-known characteristic of nuclear reactor fuel to continue to generate copious amounts of heat after a chain reaction is shut down. That “decay heat” is what led to the Fukushima meltdowns." ...
#321 Apr 24, 2013
"All 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States ... should be REPLACED with newer technology, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Monday."
So, where is this new reactor built to replace Vermont Yankee's electricity production?
#322 Apr 28, 2013
Entergy claims 'surprise' over Red Cross funding request
By BOB AUDETTE April 27, 2013
"The Senate Government Operations Committee on Wednesday voted to recommend Entergy be required to pay more than $770,000 to fund an updated evacuation plan as presented by the Red Cross. The Senate Appropriations Committee then approved the plan, but instead of asking for the full payment over two years as recommended by Department of Public Safety staffers, it changed it to a four-year plan.
A lobbyist for Vermont Yankee told the Reformer on Friday that while everyone knew that Red Cross was asking for a $727,000, late last year the House Appropriations Committee approved a $53,000 allocation.
"In the first week of April we saw the governor's proposal and it was a huge surprise," said Gerry Morris. "It went from $53,000 to $770,000."
After spending more than six months reviewing the Red Cross proposal, the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security approved the request, but increased it by nearly $50,000.
Morris said he "had no clue" that EMHS was continuing to review the Red Cross request.
"It was a surprise to not only me, but also to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee," said Morris. "It came out of nowhere."
Appropriations Committee members Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, and Sen. Rich Westman, R-Lamoille, were tasked with reviewing the proposal and came back with the four-year plan. They also recommended that the entire amount be set aside and allocated over the four
years whether or not the plant continues to operate.
Sears had no comment on who knew what and when.
In the first year of the plan as approved by the Appropriations Committee, Entergy is required to make a payment of $200,000 to the Red Cross.
"We oppose the $200,000 obligation in fiscal year 2014 and we would ask the committee to stick with the House-passed amount of $53,000," said Morris.
Joe Flynn, the director of EMHS, said the $770,000 number should not have come as a surprise to anyone.
"The House did pass out the budget as recommended in January," said Flynn. "At that time we had recommended about $53,000. However, what I had been telling Appropriations, there would likely be an increase. We would be seeking an adjustment, but we didn't know the exact number. So, they voted on what they had."
Larry Crist, the regional executive director of the Vermont and New Hampshire Valley Red Cross, presented the proposal in August 2012 and discussed it at a Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel in September.
He told VSNAP more than $727,000 was needed to fund Red Cross's role in the plan, which includes finding shelter for up to 6,000 people who live in the emergency preparedness zone around Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, which is located in Vernon.
"Entergy has spent the last few days trying to convince senators that the Red Cross request has come as a complete surprise and as such, should not be approved but rather sent to a study committee over the summer and fall," Crist told the Reformer on Friday.
Following Crist's presentation to VSNAP, Flynn and his staff went through the Red Cross' list of needs line by line and concluded Entergy should be required to fork over $344,375 in fiscal year 2014 and $426,743 in fiscal year 2015.
In total, the division recommended Entergy, which owns and operates the plant, pony up $2.4 million for the emergency response plan for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1. That money is distributed to emergency responders in the Vermont towns in the 10-mile emergency preparedness zone around the plant." ...
#323 Apr 28, 2013
..."Gov. Peter Shumlin's office approved the two-year request and forwarded it to the State House, where Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, the chairwoman of the Government Operations Committee brought it up for review and a vote before forwarding it to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has the final say.
White also said Entergy has known "for a long time this has been going on and they've seen the numbers and knew it was a real possibility the administration would put this in the budget."
"And I sat face to face with Entergy in October," said Flynn. "They were aware of the Red Cross request."
Sen. Mark MacDonald, D-Orange, a member of VSNAP, said Entergy's claim it had no knowledge of the request was disingenuous.
"The suggestion that this is a surprise is preposterous," he said, adding the Red Cross request has been a topic of discussion at several meetings since then.
"Entergy has been religiously faithful in attending all meetings to do with Vermont Yankee," said MacDonald. "I have never attended a meeting where there weren't any Yankee officials. I can't imagine that anybody who runs a nuclear facility would miss a warned meeting taking place several hundred yards from the plant. They always attend. They're the first to arrive and the last to leave."
And in November, Flynn's office received a letter from Michael McKenney, Yankee's emergency planning manager, in which Entergy objected to the Red Cross proposal.
McKenney stated that the approval process wasn't open and systematic, didn't allow for a peer review, and didn't allow for Entergy to "review and validate" the request. Entergy also objected to basing the proposal on "worst case assumptions."
McKenney wrote that some of Red Cross's line items "seem inconsistent with a realistic assessment of what is needed ...."
The letter itemizes several of those items, including staff vehicles and administrative positions.
"ARC's apparent use of (state statutes) as a pathway to provide raises to staffers or to create full time staff positions with vaguely defined position descriptions and seemingly overlapping responsibilities is at the very least questionable and deserves additional scrutiny."
McKenney noted that "ARC's questionable assumptions" resulted in a highly inflated monetary request" and greatly exceeded previous requests.
Rob Williams, spokesman for Yankee, told the Reformer in early April the Red Cross' request for additional funding appeared to have no basis.
"It would be unlike any other state and far exceeds the funding necessary to meet the responsibilities of the Red Cross for radiological emergency planning," said Williams. "
#324 Apr 29, 2013
We cannot simply starve and be poor just because Oil Barrons and Petroshaikhs want it! We should update the nuclear reactor fleet, but the puniness of the US nuclear reactor fleet allowed the Oil Lords and the petroshaikh to exact 100 USD and up for a barrel of petroshaikh oily goo.
The spending on pacifying the Oily Middle East (for the profit of their Lordships Mega-Oil operations British Petroleum and Anglo Royal Shell) did not help either.
We don't have the money for a new reactor fleet, but we need one. A much bigger one. How are we going to navigate this conundrum, I don't know, but it will get worse before it gets better.
#325 Apr 29, 2013
I admire Dr. Jaczko,
He was willing to put aside his preconceptions and work to make US Nuclear Energy work - which got him fired, because that's NOT what the oil-friendly operators intended when they placed him there. They wanted someone to wrecker the nuclear reactor fleet.
But oil-funded antinukular propagandists don't want nuclear power to continue improving safety and reliability. They want the oil to be the only game in town, and our eternal (well, for the foreseeable future) enslavement to Riyadh-London Big Oil Alliance.
#326 Apr 30, 2013
How can the NRC grant license renewals when the plants are not up to safety standards in the first place? What happens when the next natural disaster hits a reactor that has a safety problem? The NRC is supposed to be "protecting the people and the environment".
#328 May 6, 2013
Groups to tell NRC that Entergy’s financial problems are a nuclear emergency
May 5, 2013
..."Concerned residents of New York, Vermont and Massachusetts will testify in front of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission Petition Review Board about their petition for emergency enforcement action against Entergy Nuclear Operations and its subsidiaries. The petitioners will present the case that Entergy is in violation of NRC regulations by operating two Northeast Reactors at a financial loss. They will make the case that the company’s economic problems increase the likelihood of major nuclear accidents at the James A FitzPatrick plant in Oswego, New York and Vermont Yankee plant in Vernon, Vermont, and that the NRC must suspend operations at these reactors. They will also request that the NRC investigate the Pilgrim nuclear reactor in Plymouth, Massachusetts to see if it, too, is in violation of the NRC’s financial qualifications requirements.
Where: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, One White Flint, HQ-OWFN-16B4, Rockville. Maryland
Video and audio available remotely:
When: Tuesday. May 7,2013, 1 :00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.(Eastern Standard Time)
Background: NRC regulations require nuclear companies to be “financially qualified” to operate and maintain nuclear reactors safely. Recent analyses by the financial services company UBS have stated that Entergy is will be operating FitzPatrick and Vermont Yankee reactors at a financial loss for the foreseeable future. UBS additionally reports that Pilgrim may also be losing money. Citizens Awareness Network (Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York), Alliance for a Green Economy (New York), Pilgrim Watch (Massachusetts), and Vermont Citizens Action Network (Vermont) filed a joint emergency enforcement petition on March 18, 2013 challenging Entergy’s financial qualifications to operate the three reactors based on the UBS analyses.
The petition points to the inherent conflict between nuclear safety and Entergy’s short-term bottom line at its economically troubled reactors. Entergy is likely reluctant to spend money on equipment maintenance and replacement as well as safety improvements. It points to a string of recent equipment failures and emergency shutdowns at the plants and asks the NRC to determine whether there is a connection between these failures and Entergy’s economic issues."
For more background and the full petition, see:
#329 May 7, 2013
The Bankster Oil-Barron collusion in plain sight, huh?
First banksters manipulate nuclear electricity producers' borrowing rates, then oil-sponsored "concerned citizens" backed by the finest in accountancy engineering attempt to force the regulatory garotting of nuclear electricity producers.
One admires the effrontery, despite being mindful of the damage inflicted by this game on ones' pocket.
#330 May 7, 2013
UBS financial services, the company that started the subprime-mortgage crisis?
We should destroy our nuclear energy industry based on THEIR say so?
Are U kidding me? UB bleeping S?!?
#331 May 7, 2013
UBS, the company that LOST 50 billion USD from 2007 to 2009?
UBS, the tax evaders?
UBS of Adoboli 2.3 billion USD embezzlement fame?
Really, this gang of incompetent and disreputed speculators is going stand in judgement of USofA companies that actually PRODUCE something?
#332 May 8, 2013
As Vermont moves to green power, VY won’t be missed
Gary Sachs, Brattleboro
"RE:“If Vermont Yankee closes, Windham County will get poorer”[Letters, May 1]:
Entergy and first Vermont Yankee had a legal agreement with the state to operate the atomic reactor only until March 21, 2012.
I do know Entergy has hired a number of PR firms to spin how fantastically needed VY is to the Vermont economy. It is not. Studies done by the Department of Public Service show that as we transition to renewable, sustainable, environmentally friendly sources of power generation, available jobs exceed the few high-skilled jobs at the atomic reactor using outdated technology in Vernon.
It is not news to anyone that Entergy management has done a poor job at this formerly locally owned and run reactor. Not one of the workers has told me that the reactor is a better place to work under Entergy management.
I and others appreciate the professional job the local workers have done preventing catastrophe here at the Vernon reactor. I wonder: Do the local workers believe that Entergy has their best interests in mind, or the bottom line for the shareholders? Just wondering.
Sure, the issue is how long will the company put up with a cash-loser of a reactor in a hostile environment. My opinion is that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should not be proud of having awarded VY its extended license to operate within a week of Fukushima, which continues to pour radiation into the Pacific Ocean.
The reason the recent NRC meeting was so poorly attended [“Protestors disrupt annual NRC hearing,” News, May 1] is that the commission of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not listen to the staff (who recommended filtered hardened vents of primary containment post-Fukushima).
If the commission doesn’t listen to its own employees, why should the local stakeholders bother speaking to these same impotent staffers?
Gary Sachs, Brattleboro"
#333 May 8, 2013
Audience members chastise NRC officials at Vermont Yankee hearing
By Kyle Jarvis May 1, 2013
BRATTLEBORO — The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant got a good grade on its safety assessment this year, but that didn’t stop most audience members at a hearing Tuesday from calling for the plant’s closure.
The annual hearing held by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission follows the agency’s yearly report on the plant’s safety performance from the prior year, and gives the public a chance to ask questions.
And while some at Brattleboro Union High School asked questions, most were there to encourage or demand that NRC officials close the Vernon, Vt., plant immediately.
The start of the hearing was delayed as nine members of the Shut It Down Affinity Group lined up behind the NRC panelists, donning tie-dye shirts with anti-nuclear messages while wearing masks depicting the face of Gregory Jaczko, the former NRC chairman and now critic of the agency.
The moderator pleaded with the group to stop reading its statement so the hearing could begin, but was ignored, as members said in unison that they “hereby indict the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for criminal negligence in their willful disregard for the health and safety of all living things.”
Police eventually escorted the group to seats in the front row, and the hearing began about 15 minutes late.
The tone had been set.
Brattleboro resident Lissa Weinmann said she’s concerned about the amount of spent fuel stored on-site, saying that “was not something we bargained for when the plant opened.”
Weinmann referred to the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, saying that “the culture that existed between industry and government led to decisions that worsened the situation, and I’m concerned that the NRC here is prone to many of the same problems.”
Ulrike Von Moltke of Sharon, Vt., also criticized the agency for allowing the 41-year-old plant to continue operating.
“Knowing what we know about the countless mishaps during the past year, we have to assume that you either want to deceive us with your assertions that things are just fine, or that you are deceiving yourselves,” she said.“Maybe you can afford to do that, but we cannot.”
Ned Childs, president of the board of trustees for the New England Coalition, a nuclear watchdog group, ripped the agency for not ordering the plant to decommission.
“If you really are in control, which I don’t believe you are, you would order,‘Thou shalt (decommission), we’re going to shut you down,’” he said.“Why don’t you order it? Try it, see what happens, grow a backbone. Until you do start ordering the industry around, you really do in fact look as if you are toothless toadies of the NRC.”
Some were there to praise the NRC, including Vernon Selectboard Chairwoman Patricia O’Donnell.
“I want to take a second to thank you, because your job is thankless,” she said.“Vermont Yankee is a good place, and you are doing an excellent job. It’s not always easy dealing with NRC regulators, because you’re tough, and you need to be tough.”
O’Donnell added that although her son is in Afghanistan “fighting for our right to have free speech,” that “there’s a difference between free speech and rudeness. As a member of my community, I apologize for way you’ve been treated.”
But O’Donnell was in the minority, as most who spoke begged agency officials to close the plant, or at least expand the 10-mile evacuation zone to 50 miles or more."...
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