ALLOWS DOMINION TO KEEP ITS RADIATION MONITORING OUTAGES SECRET!
Things just got a whole lot riskier for folks living in the shadow of Millstone – residents of southeastern Connecticut and Long Island’s East End in particular – with no advance notice, no opportunity for public comment and no stand-in for the public communicating its outrage.
Millstone has the worst record of all U.S. nuclear reactors in the frequency of reported radiation monitor outages over the past year, according to the NRC. (Dominion, “the licensee for the Millstone nuclear power company does report radiation monitors out of service more frequently than at other nuclear power plants in the United States via a 10 CFR 50.72 report.” NRC letter to Union of Concerned Scientists October 8, 2014.)
Unlike most other plants, Millstone does not have redundant devices for some of their radiation monitors, particularly [the main station stack and long-range monitors, the most critical ones],” NRC’s letter states. It goes on:
“Therefore, anytime one of these radiation monitors is out of service for more than 15 minutes for any reason and if compensatory measures cannot be completed within 15 minutes, then the licensee for Millstone is required to report this to the NRC in accordance with 10 CFR 50.72(b)(3)(xiii).
Millstone does take compensatory measures for grab sampling and analysis in the event that radiation monitors are out of service, however it takes more than 15 minutes to complete the compensatory measures, and therefore, a 50.72 report is still required.”
This week, the NRC revealed its amazing solution to Millstone’s singular problem, which has had concerned citizens worrying: the NRC’s now excusing Dominion from having to report the loss of radiation monitoring operability for reasons of “planned maintenance” unless the loss persists for 24 hours.
This magical solution came three weeks after concerned citizens demanded to know why radiation monitor outages were recurring frequently at Millstone, a fact known to them only because Dominion was required to report the loss to the NRC and the NRC posted the report on its website, NRC.org.
What it means: Dominion will now be able to operate Millstone at full power for up to 24 hours with its main radiation monitors deliberately disabled without prior notice to the public, where the previous standard was 15 minutes.
Dominion now has free rein to belch dirty radioactive air at “unusual” levels for 24 hours straight while its main radiation monitors are down, as long as the blast coincides with “pre-planned maintenance.”
Here’s the obvious question:
What’s to stop Dominion from venting its dirtiest releases – those containing the highest concentrations of radionuclides – during “pre-planned maintenance” over 24-hour periods, making it impossible for the public to ever know the levels to which they and their children and grandchildren were exposed?
The NRC has an easy answer: Nothing!
Shockingly, under existing regulation, Dominion is allowed to disgorge built-up “batches” of its dirtiest radioactive air from the containment, where the nuclear reactor is located, and radioactive processing systems, even when its major radiation monitors are shut down.
All that Dominion need do in such circumstances is apply its “best efforts” (Dominion’s term, approved by the NRC) to repair the monitors and carry out additional sampling and analysis.
The Union of Concerned Scientists asked the NRC if it could say whether Dominion had its workers actually carry out these “compensatory measures.”
Once again, the NRC had an easy answer: “This level of detailed information is not required to be submitted to the NRC.”
This issue is of greater concern during the month of October 2014 because of the scheduled refueling of Unit 3 when Dominion projects it will have the biggest, dirtiest radiation releases to the atmosphere of the entire year.
Posted October 13, 2014