Connecticut Coalition Against the Millstone Nuclear Power Reactor

 

CCAM NEWS 2007 part 1

 

Legislators to tour radioactive waste landfill in S.C.
By Seanna Adcox, Associated Press Writer | February 28, 2007
COLUMBIA, S.C. --South Carolina legislators hoping to find out more about what goes on at a low-level radioactive waste landfill in rural Barnwell County were to board a bus Wednesday at the Statehouse and head south to see the 235-acre site first hand.
The dumping ground, known as Chem-Nuclear, is scheduled next year to close to all but three states: South Carolina, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Lawmakers are considering whether to keep open the facility to states nationwide, allowing them to continue to ship nuclear power plant debris and items such as radioactive hospital clothing to the site, where it is buried.
A bill by Rep. Billy Witherspoon, R-Conway, would allow the facility to continue accepting the material through 2023, but some environmentalists oppose the plan.
EnergySolutions, a Utah-based company that operates the site owned by the state, invited an 18-member House committee to tour the facility Wednesday. At first, the company denied a request by an environmentalist to attend, which raised questions about whether the trip violated the state's Freedom of Information Act. Eventually it was opened to the public.
The site is financially important to the local economy and surrounding schools, and some have argued its closure to most of the nation would throw the county into an economic crisis.
A portion of the disposal fees also helps fund school building projects statewide. © Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company


 

Greenpeace Activists Block Nuclear Submarine February 23, 2007

Several Greenpeace boats and the Arctic Sunrise have blocked the Trident nuclear submarine at its Scottish base in response to Tony Blair's determination to start building the next generation of nuclear weapons.
Tony Blair is rushing through a vote in the Brittish parliament next month to build a replacement for Trident - a new generation of nuclear weapons. The outcome of the vote will have severe implications not just for the UK, but also for the rest of the world.
That's why peace campaigners from around the world gathered aboard our flotilla to prevent the HMS Vigilant from leaving the Faslane naval base. There's been mayhem in the Gareloch while our boats tried to get close to the pontoon that protects the Trident submarine. One person managed to get on to the pontoon; he held up a banner reading NO NEW NUKES before being arrested.
Besides renewing Trident, Blair is also in talks with President Bush to allow bases in the UK to be used as part of the Star Wars system, a policy that will encourage non-nuclear countries to engage in a new international arms race.
Watch the highlights from today's blockade:

Building new nuclear weapons is against international law, and politically sends a clear message to other countries that they also need them. Not only will it undermine international disarmament treaties, it comes with a massive price tag, diverting funds away from other issues for decades to come.
The government white paper on Trident replacement stated that the new nuclear weapons would cost £15-£20($29-$39) billion to manufacture, but ignored the running costs. We believe total manufacturing, maintenance and operating costs for a new UK nuclear weapons system will be more like £76($149) billion.
Greenpeace campaigner Louise Edge, who is onboard the Arctic Sunrise, said: "We're blockading the base because these nuclear arms submarines pose a threat to the security of the world, by encouraging other countries to go nuclear in the future. Tony Blair is playing a dangerous game by saying to countries like North Korea that nuclear weapons are necessary for national defense, that the UK doesn't care about its international legal obligations, and that nuclear proliferation is the way forward. He is sending a message to the world that might be welcomed in the capitals of North Korea and Iran, but will be widely condemned by people who want to end nuclear proliferation."
Read our weblog with updates from the scene outside Faslane
See photos from the action on Flickr
Or visit our moblog with photos and images sent by mobile phone throughout the day
Opposition is growing around the world at the determination of the U.S. and the UK to undermine global security. The UN's nuclear watchdog, Mohammed El-Baradei, said earlier this week that Britain cannot 'modernize its Trident submarines and then tell everyone else that nuclear weapons are not needed in the future.' He added, 'We need to treat nuclear weapons the way we treat slavery or genocide. There needs to be a taboo over possessing them.'
UPDATE: Twenty military police stormed the ship and smashed their way onto the bridge of the Arctic Sunrise shortly after 5pm following the day-long stand-off. The military police cut the anchor chain and towed the ship into the nuclear base. All onboard were arrested for being in a restricted area, and held in custody before being released this morning. A motion congratulating the Greenpeace action has been lodged by MSPs in the Scottish Parliament


CONNWECTICUT COALITION AGAINST MILLSTONE
www.MothballMillstone.org
Dear Members of the Environment, Energy & Technology, Public Health and Public Safety & Security Committees:

Today the Vermont State Legislature is meeting for a briefing it requested with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to discuss the draft environmental impact statement the NRC prepared to support Vermont Yankee’s proposed license renewal.
Presently, the State of New Hampshire is preparing its objections to Vermont Yankee relicensing as a party in the proceedings.
On Friday, March 2, state legislators and Congressmen in New York are meeting with technical experts in a public meeting to discuss consequences of radioactive leaks from the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant close to the Connecticut border.
Presently, the State of Massachusetts through its Attorney General is mounting a legal challenge to the deliberate failure of the NRC to consider the vulnerability of spent nuclear waste at Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant from acts of malice and terrorism.
In Connecticut, our legislators are doing . . . nothing to protect the public from unnecessary impacts from operations of the Millstone Nuclear Power Station.
We request that the Energy & Technology Committee, the Environment Committee, the Public Health Committee and the Public Safety & Security Committee schedule a joint public hearing devoted exclusively to critical issues concerning Millstone.
Please await our submission shortly of specific urgent legislative proposals together with a statement of the circumstances which compel legislative action.
Sincerely,
Nancy Burton
Director
147 Cross Highway
Redding Ridge CT 06876
Tel. 203-938-3952


Impact of Radioactive Leaks at Indian Point to be Examined
Roundtable, Town Meeting Set for Friday, March 2 at Pace University


PLEASANTVILLE—Elected leaders, public officials and nationally-renowned scientists will gather on Friday, March 2 at Pace University’s Pleasantville campus to examine the implications of ongoing radioactive leaks at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.

Sponsored by Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc, Pace Academy for the Environment and the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (IPSEC), the technical briefing and a later town meeting are free and open to the public, which is encouraged to attend to learn more about the radioactive leaks and their potential impacts upon groundwater, the Hudson River, and public health.

Federal, state and local officials from all levels of government are expected to participate, including members of New York’s Congressional delegation, representatives from 11 lower Hudson Valley counties, relevant state agencies, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and local municipal leaders. This month members of the New York Congressional Delegation re-introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that, if passed, would require an Independent Safety Assessment (ISA) at the Indian Point nuclear power plant, including in-depth review of Indian Point’s safety and mechanical systems, spent fuel pools, and radiological emergency evacuation plans. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York) recently proposed similar legislation in the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Representative John Hall (D-Dover), a co-sponsor of the House bill calling for an independent safety assessment at Indian Point, is expected to participate in the March 2 roundtable discussion. "Indian Point is the nation's most problematic power plant in the nation's most densely populated corridor," said Hall, in a Feb. 16 article appearing in the Westport News. "With 8 percent of the population of the United States within a 50-mile radius of the plant, our bill forces the NRC to give this plant the special attention it requires. This bill will force Entergy to do what it takes to run Indian Point safely or they won't be able to run it at all."

Experts in hydrology, geology, public health, ecology and regulatory issues will explain the most current information available concerning Strontium 90 and other radioactive isotopes discovered leaking from the aging nuclear power plant located in Buchanan, New York and operated by the Entergy corporation. What was initially described as a “slightly radioactive leak” amounting to “less than a pint a day,” when it was first discovered in September, 2005, has since grown to an “underground area [of] contaminated water that is 50 to 60 feet deep. There is also another area, or underground plume, that is about 30 feet wide by 350 feet long,” according to Don Mayer, director of special projects for Entergy, quoted in an Oct. 9, 2006 New York Daily News article. “One area is predominantly leaking tritium and the other Strontium-90," Mayer said.

Questions arise about drinking water supplies, both for nearby groundwater supplies and for municipalities in the lower Hudson that take their drinking water from the Hudson River. “Tens of thousands of gallons of water are leaching out into the ground, …most of it is going into the river. It's a serious problem," said Phillip Musegaas, a policy analyst with the Riverkeeper.

"Understandably, people are wondering what effect radioactive isotopes found in the groundwater under the plant may or may not have on their drinking water. Additionally, Clearwater wants to know what, if any, potential impacts the leaks may be having on fish and other aquatic species living in the River. That's why we are bringing together elected officials with experts who can provide the best scientific information available for a well-rounded and informative discussion," said Manna Jo Greene, environmental director at Clearwater, who will facilitate the roundtable discussion.

Mark Jacobs of the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition stressed the need for the public, as well as elected officials, to attend in order to explore and understand the intricacies involved. “Come find out what can and should be done about the unceasing leaks coming from Indian Point. An unknown number of leaks, leaking for an unknown period of time, polluting unknown locations in unknown quantities is just too many unknowns,” said Jacobs.

The session will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Wilcox Gymnasium of Pace University’s Pleasantville campus with a technical briefing and roundtable discussion that is scheduled to last until 5 p.m. An evening roundtable panel and town meeting will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for members of the public who may be unable to attend the earlier meeting. Although there is no cost to attend, advanced registration is strongly encouraged via e-mail: katy@clearwater.org or by calling: 845-454-7673 x116.

Contacts: Stephen Kent: 845-758-0097; cell 914-589-5988; skent@kentcom.com
Steve Densmore: 845-234-8713; stevied423@hotmail.com
Scott Cullen: 631-428-0034; scullen@gracelinks.org
Manna Jo Greene: 845-454-7673 x 113; cell 845-807-1270 mannajo@clearwater.org


New Jersey's State Nuclear Engineer Calls for Shutdown of Oyster Creek Nuke
Top nuclear engineer favors closing of Oyster Creek plant

BY NICK CLUNN STAFF WRITER Asbury Park Press 02/25/07
The state's top nuclear engineer, who has inspected the Oyster Creek nuclear
power plant numerous times and has reviewed classified documents about its
operation, says the Lacey plant should close after its operating license
expires in two years.
The plant's obsolete design, its vulnerability to a 9/11-style attack, and
the chaos that would ensue if the public near the plant had to evacuate from
a radioactive release top Dennis Zannoni's list of reasons - even if they've
been heard before.
Citizen activists and environmental groups have championed those concerns
for years, but Zannoni is not your everyday renewal opponent.
In addition to his special clearances, Zannoni has 20 years of experience
with the state Department of Environmental Protection and four-year degrees
in nuclear engineering and mathematics from the University of Maryland.
Zannoni said he has also tracked the plant through a federal review it must
pass to have its license renewed for an additional 20 years, though he was
ordered to stop that work on Jan. 31 after being reassigned pending an
investigation of a complaint against him.
The performance of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission during that
review bolstered Zannoni's negative stance on the future of Oyster Creek.
But regulators say they've taken a serious look at the plant, and have
placed dozens of conditions on the renewal - in the form of additional
inspections and tests - if the renewal is approved.
Zannoni said his once-productive relationship with the NRC began to sour
after the agency launched the renewal assessment two years ago.
Three months into the nearly three-year review, Zannoni called the NRC to
complain about how some of its officials had " "berated" members of the
public during a contentious renewal meeting at the Lacey Municipal Building.
NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said he would not comment on that accusation, but
said that the agency expects its staff to treat members of the public with
respect. If that does not happen, he said, citizens are encouraged to notify
NRC management, or the agency's inspector general.
Zannoni said he complained again in May 2006 after the NRC barred two state
nuclear engineers from participating in important meetings related to the
plant's drywell liner, a steel radiation barrier that rusted and became
thinner some 25 years ago.
State engineers, he said, were "specifically being excluded from all
activity and documentation related to the drywell, which completely blew us
away."
After receiving a telephone call from one of the state engineers who was
barred from the meetings at Oyster Creek, Zannoni drove there from his
office in Ewing to ask that his engineers be included.
Zannoni said NRC officials acknowledged they had made a mistake, and allowed
the state engineers to participate, though several days of meetings had
already passed.
They were included just in time for the inspection of the drywell, in which
water was found where it wasn't supposed to be.
AmerGen had not checked several jugs meant to catch water leaking from an
upper portion of the plant, as it had promised.
The NRC told AmerGen that the oversight raised doubts about AmerGen's
ability to meet commitments, but said the water did not pose a safety
threat.
Sheehan said the NRC would not comment on what Zannoni said about the
drywell meetings.


Ode to Dr. 'Sham' Moore
By HARVEY WASSERMAN

Brattleboro Reformer
Saturday, February 24
Vermont was recently disgraced by an industry-sponsored visit from Patrick Moore, who claims to be a "founder" of Greenpeace, and who is out selling nuclear power as a "green" technology.
The two claims are roughly equal in the baldness of their falsehood.
But the impacts of the lies about Vermont Yankee are far more serious. Vermont is now at a crossroads in its energy and environmental future. The reactor is old and infirm. Every day it operates heightens the odds on a major accident.
In a world beset by terror, there is no more vulnerable target than an aged reactor like Vermont Yankee. Its core is laden with builtup radiation accumulated over the decades. Its environs are stacked with supremely radioactive spent fuel. Its elderly core and containment are among the most fragile that exist.
Despite industry claims, VY's high-level nuke waste is going nowhere. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Edward McGaffigan has told the New York Times he believes the Yucca Mountain waste repository cannot open for at least another 17-20 years, if ever. At current production levels, it will by then require yet another repository at least that size to handle the spent fuel that will by then be stacked at reactors like VY. In short: the dry casks stacked at Vermont Yankee comprise what amounts to a permanent high level nuke dump, on the shores of the Connecticut River.
The Better Business Bureau recently recommended that the Nuclear Energy Institute pull its advertising that claims atomic reactors are clean and nonpolluting. The NEI is an industry front group. The BBB says that reactors cause thermal pollution in their outtake pipes and cooling towers, and also create substantial amounts of greenhouse gases in uranium production. In short, the Better Business Bureau has punctured the industry's claim the Vermont Yankee and other reactors are any kind of solution for climate chaos. The idea that VY is a "green" facility is utter nonsense.
Indeed, all nuclear power plants produce huge quantities of global warming gases as they are wrapped up in the mining of the uranium ore that goes into the fuel, and in the milling of that ore into fuel rods. The American West is littered with gargantuan piles of mill tailings that pour thousands of curies of radioactive radon into the atmosphere.
Fabricating fuel rods is one of the most electricity-intensive industries on earth, consuming millions of tons of coal in the process, emitting untold quantities of greenhouse gases. The radioactive emissions from the plants themselves also unbalance the atmosphere, and the heat they dump into the air and water directly heats the planet.
The alleged "renaissance" of nuclear power is nothing more than heavily funded industry hype. Wall Street financiers are not lining up to invest in these dinosaurs, and numerous utility executives have publicly doubted the wisdom of building them.
One reason is the explosive take-off of the renewable energy industry. Wind power is now very substantially cheaper than nukes. The production of photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight directly to electricity, can barely meet demand. Investments in biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are soaring, as are those in the cheapest form of recovered energy, increased efficiency. Shutting VY would open Vermont to the revolution that is reshaping the future. Keeping it open locks Vermont into a sorry past.
Nuclear power is a 50-year experiment that has failed. Extending the operations of Vermont Yankee will only leave the state with more radioactive waste, a Connecticut River increasingly threatened by heat and radioactive emissions, and an increasingly radioactive relic despoiling the region. Nukes cannot compete in the market, and would all cease to operate overnight if the huge subsidy of federal liability insurance was removed.
It is fitting, therefore, that the industry has insulted Vermont by sending in a spokesman of the caliber of Patrick Moore. Moore has claimed for years to be a founder of Greenpeace, an exaggeration of his actual role. Moore sailed on the first Greenpeace campaign, but he did not actually found the organization. According to Dorothy Stowe, an American Quaker, who immigrated to Canada in 1966 and founded Greenpeace with her husband Irving Stowe and other Canadian pacifists and ecologists, "Technically, Patrick Moore cannot be described as a founder of Greenpeace. He was there in early stages with a lot of others. But what he is doing now is unconscionable."
In "Greenpeace: How a Group of Ecologists, Journalists, and Visionaries Changed the World," author Rex Weyler writes "Greenpeace was founded by Quakers Dorothy and Irving Stowe, Marie and Jim Bohlen, and journalists Ben Metcalfe, Dorothy Metcalfe, and Bob Hunter. This group organized the first campaign to sail a boat into the U.S. nuclear test zone on Amchitka Island in the Bering Sea.
"Canadian ecologist and carpenter Bill Darnell coined the name "Greenpeace" in February 1970. A year later, Moore wrote to the organization, applying for a crew position on the boat and was accepted."
Moore wrote his letter on March 16, 1971, two years after the group was founded, describing himself as a graduate student "in the field of resource ecology." Clearly, then, Moore was not a founder of Greenpeace. Founders don't write letters applying to join. After the Stowes, Metcalfes and Bob Hunter left the organization, Moore briefly served as president, from 1977 to 1979. Former members recall that his bullyism nearly scuttled Greenpeace. He launched an internal lawsuit against his rivals in other Greenpeace offices, was replaced as president in 1979, and eventually drummed out of the organization as a troublemaker.
According to Steve Sawyer, who still works with Greenpeace in Amsterdam, "Moore harbored hopes of regaining his throne. Those hopes were dashed when he was chucked off the board in 1985." Moore started a fish farm, but did not succeed. He then did public relations for the Canadian forestry industry, absurdly defending massive clearcuts as an ecologically viable logging practice.
In a newspaper column in 1993, authentic Greenpeace founder Bob Hunter, called Moore "The Judas of the ecology movement." According to Hunter, Moore "burned off his old buddies because of his hubris. He was always a Green Tory at heart."
Moore says he is the "head scientist" of his public relations firm, but has never published a peer-reviewed scientific study. Moore exaggerates his role in Greenpeace and his credentials as a scientist to serve as a public relations hack for hire.
Moore now gets big money defending the indefensible, posing as a reformed environmentalist who has seen the light ... any light he is paid to see. He has hyped genetically modified crops, PVCs, and brominated flame retardants. He has soft-pedaled dioxins and toxic mine tailings dumped by Newmont mines into Indonesia bays.
Now he wants to sell Vermont on its nuke power plant. In exchange for a paycheck, he portrays Three Mile Island as a "success story." But if a melt-down turned Vermont Yankee into a TMI-type, billion-dollar liability, would he pitch in his pitch man's paychecks to help you underwrite this "success?"
Years ago, when he worked for Greenpeace, Moore wrote: "Nuclear power plants are, next to nuclear warheads themselves, the most dangerous devices that man has ever created. Their construction and proliferation is the most irresponsible, in fact the most criminal, act ever to have taken place on this planet."
Greenpeace agrees. The "revival" of nuke power is a hype being perpetrated by phony experts. Wall Street is not exactly lining up to invest in a failed technology with fifty years of proven failure. Vermont Yankee must be shut, dismantled and buried. Closing it now will narrow the burden of its permanent waste dump and open the door on the booming revolution in the real energy of the future: renewables and efficiency.
Harvey Wasserman, senior advisor to Greenpeace USA since 1990, is author of "Solartopia: Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030," (available at www.solartopia.org/). This article was written with research help from past and current Greenpeace associates.


Cheap solar power poised to undercut oil and gas by half
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
18/02/2007
Within five years, solar power will be cheap enough to compete with
carbon-generated electricity, even in Britain, Scandinavia or upper Siberia.
In a decade, the cost may have fallen so dramatically that solar cells could
undercut oil, gas, coal and nuclear power by up to half. Technology is
leaping ahead of a stale political debate about fossil fuels.
Anil Sethi, the chief executive of the Swiss start-up company Flisom, says
he looks forward to the day - not so far off - when entire cities in America
and Europe generate their heating, lighting and air-conditioning needs from
solar films on buildings with enough left over to feed a surplus back into
the grid.
The secret? Mr Sethi lovingly cradles a piece of dark polymer foil, as thin
a sheet of paper. It is 200 times lighter than the normal glass-based solar
materials, which require expensive substrates and roof support. Indeed, it
is so light it can be stuck to the sides of buildings.
advertisementRather than being manufactured laboriously piece by piece, it
can be mass-produced in cheap rolls like packaging - in any colour.
The "tipping point" will arrive when the capital cost of solar power falls
below $1 (51p) per watt, roughly the cost of carbon power. We are not there
yet. The best options today vary from $3 to $4 per watt - down from $100 in
the late 1970s.
Mr Sethi believes his product will cut the cost to 80 cents per watt within
five years, and 50 cents in a decade.
It is based on a CIGS (CuInGaSe2) semiconductor compound that absorbs light
by freeing electrons. This is then embedded on the polymer base. It will be
ready commercially in late 2009.
"It'll even work on a cold, grey, cloudy day in England, which still
produces 25pc to 30pc of the optimal light level. That is enough, if you
cover half the roof," he said.
"We don't need subsidies, we just need governments to get out of the way and
do no harm. They've spent $170bn subsidising nuclear power over the last
thirty years," he said.
His ultra-light technology, based on a copper indium compound, can power
mobile phones and laptop computers with a sliver of foil.
"You won't have to get down on your knees ever again to hunt for plug
socket," he said
Michael Rogol, a solar expert at Credit Lyonnais, expects the solar industry
to grow from $7bn in 2004 to nearer $40bn by 2010, with operating earnings
of $3bn.
The sector is poised to outstrip wind power. It is a remarkable boom for a
technology long dismissed by experts as hopelessly unviable.
Mr Rogol said he was struck by the way solar use had increased dramatically
in Japan and above all Germany, where Berlin's green energy law passed in
2004 forces the grid to buy surplus electricity from households at a fat
premium. (In Britain, utilities may refuse to buy the surplus. They
typically pay half the customer price of electricity.)
The change in Germany's law catapulted the share price of the German
flagship company SolarWorld from €1.38 (67p) in February 2004 to over €60 by
early 2006.
The tipping point in Germany and Japan came once households twigged that
they could undercut their unloved utilities. Credit Lyonnais believes the
rest of the world will soon join the stampede.
Mike Splinter, chief executive of the US semiconductor group Applied
Materials, told me his company is two years away from a solar product that
reaches the magic level of $1 a watt.
Cell conversion efficiency and economies of scale are galloping ahead so
fast that the cost will be down to 70 US cents by 2010, with a target of 30
or 40 cents in a decade.
"We think solar power can provide 20pc of all the incremental energy needed
worldwide by 2040," he said.
"This is a very powerful technology and we're seeing dramatic improvements
all the time. It can be used across the entire range from small houses to
big buildings and power plants," he said.
"The beauty of this is that you can use it in rural areas of India without
having to lay down power lines or truck in fuel."
Villages across Asia and Africa that have never seen electricity may soon
leapfrog directly into the solar age, replicating the jump to mobile phones
seen in countries that never had a network of fixed lines. As a by-product,
India's rural poor will stop blanketing the subcontinent with soot from tens
of millions of open stoves.
Applied Materials is betting on both of the two rival solar technologies:
thin film panels best used where there is plenty of room and the traditional
crystalline (c-Si) wafer-based cells, which are not as cheap but produce a
higher yield - better for tight spaces.
Needless to say, electricity utilities are watching the solar revolution
with horror. Companies in Japan and Germany have already seen an erosion of
profits because of an effect known "peak shaving". In essence, the peak
wattage of solar cells overlaps with hours of peak demand and peak prices
for electricity in the middle of the day, crunching margins.
As for the oil companies, they are still treating solar power as a fringe
curiosity. "There is no silver bullet," said Jeroen Van der Veer, Shell's
chief executive.
"We have invested a bit in all forms of renewable energy ourselves and maybe
we'll find a winner one day. But the reality is that in twenty years time
we'll still be using more oil than now," he said.
Might he be wrong?


Indian Point: Cracked fuel rod discovered; no danger to public
By Greg Clary
The Journal News
February 23, 2007
BUCHANAN - Indian Point workers discovered a cracked fuel rod in the spent fuel pool of Indian Point 2 this morning, causing them to stop a routine inspection so they could determine the extent of the damage and what repairs are needed.
The action did not necessitate the shutdown of the nuclear power plant.
A spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns and operates Indian Point, said there was no rise in radiological dose levels around the rod and no danger to the public.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission resident inspectors are monitoring the pool and the repair. The agency also said there was no evidence of a radiological release in the spent fuel pool area.
The broken pieces stayed underwater, which is how the old fuel is normally shielded from workers.
nyjournalnews.com


WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW
www.katharinehamnett.com

I have been campaigning on many environmental issues for the last 20 years, including for a worldwide nuclear ban. Suddenly, the British Government, wants to build a new generation of nuclear power stations, despite advice against doing so for economic and environmental reasons. The results of this would affect Britain for the next million years. Here is an explanation of why this is not advisable and what to do if you want to stop it.
WHY NO TO NUCLEAR?
One aim of the Government´s 2003 Energy White Paper was:
"To put ourselves on a path to cut the UK´s CO2 emissions by some 60% by about 2050, with real progress by 2020". It also made clear that whole the issue of nuclear waste and the inherent inability of nuclear power to compete in a liberalised electricity market without public subsidy remained unresolved, nuclear power would stay in the wilderness.
Despite this, the Government in 2006 has launched a new energy review, which plans a large increase in British nuclear power stations.
So what has happened since 2003 to make the Government announce a new energy review and reopen the door to new nuclear power stations? (Greenpeace)
Could it be because the government for over a year has been secretly working with the Americans on a replacement for Trident nuclear warheads? This is in material breach of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty according to Matrix Chambers, the law firm for which Cherie Blair works. The proliferation of nuclear weapons is inextricably linked to nuclear power by a shared need for enriched uranium, and through the generation of plutonium as a by-product of spent nuclear fuel. The two industries have been linked since the very beginning and a nuclear weapons free world requires a non-nuclear energy policy. (CND)
A majority of people in Britain would accept new nuclear power stations if they helped fight climate change, a poll suggests. But it doesn´t. (Some 54% said they would accept new stations being built for this reason, the Mori survey of 1,500 people for the University of East Anglia found).(BBC 17/1/06)
Why nuclear energy does not help fight climate change
Doubling nuclear power in the UK would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8% (CND)
Nuclear power is not carbon emission free. The whole nuclear cycle from uranium mining onwards produces more greenhouse gases than most renewable energy sources with up to 50% more emissions than wind power. Doubling nuclear power in the UK would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8% because the electricity sector accounts for a quarter to a third of all carbon emissions (transport and industry account for most of the rest). (CND)
Nuclear power is dirty and dangerous
A major study conducted by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) into the dangers of low-energy, low-dose ionizing radiation concluded that there appears to be no safe radiation exposure level.
Meanwhile, Sellafield nuclear power station is discharging 2 million gallons of radioactive waste water into the Irish sea every day.
Downs Syndrome births amongst ex-pupils from a school in Dundalk, on the Irish sea, were found to be 89 times higher than the national average.
Incidences of leukaemia are higher than normal near nuclear power stations and atomic research establishments.
No safe solution has been found for dealing with the problem of nuclear waste
Radioactive waste from nuclear power stations remains dangerous for thousands of years. Britain has 2.3 million cubic metres of nuclear waste stored around the country (click here to see the sites http://www.corwm.org.uk/content-659). It will cost £85 billion to clear up. THORP, BNFL´s re-processing plant at Sellafield has been unable to vitrify (safely dispose of) the amount of nuclear waste it was designed to deal with, and is due to close in 2010. BNFL posted losses of £1 billion for the year ending 2003.
Nuclear energy does not make economic sense
It cannot exist without huge public subsidy
The £56 billion of taxpayers' money being used to fund the clean up of the UK´s current nuclear sites (run by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority), could instead buy 50 GW of installed wind capacity, equivalent to 20% of the UK´s electricity needs. (Greenpeace)
British Energy, the UK´s only private nuclear operator, avoided bankruptcy in 2003 via a multimillion pound Government loan and a public bailout package worth £4bn.
In March 2006, the Sustainable Development Commission, the government´s advisory body on sustainable energy development, published a new report that concluded that investing in nuclear power was not the answer to climate change or energy supply.
Read the report: http://www.sdcommission.org.uk/pages/060306.html
The Government has failed to support its commitments to renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements.
The Government´s main support mechanism for renewable energy, The Renewables Obligation, has failed to offer any significant support to less developed renewable generation technologies, particularly smaller scale renewable energy sources. (Greenpeace)
On wave and tidal energy, the Government pledged £50 million for research and development, but so far nothing has been done to encourage these potentially crucial technologies into the market place. (Greenpeace)
A report by accountants Ernst & Young of 7/2/06 said that the UK was falling behind in its attempt to meet its renewables target. (The Guardian website 8/2/06)
As for alternatives to nuclear power, "The UK has Europe's best wind, wave and tidal resources yet it continues to miss out on its economic potential," said Jonathan Johns, head of renewable energy at Ernst & Young. (The Guardian website 8/2/06)
The current Government support programme for solar energy is to be wound down six years early, despite attracting major private sector investment in solar PV manufacturing.
The program spent just £31million of the £150million that was committed in 2002.
In the same week that Blair urged China and India to invest more in zero and low carbon technologies, he cut the UK´s Low Carbon Buildings Program support for micro-renewables from an average of £11.25 million to £9.5 million per annum.
The UK has a mere 7.8 MW of installed solar PV capacity compared to Germany´s 794 MW and the Netherlands 48 MW. (Greenpeace)
Nuclear power is not sustainable
There are only 50 years´ worth left of high-grade uranium ores. If the whole world were to run on nuclear, there is only enough uranium left to power it for 12 years.
Nuclear power is accident-prone
Nuclear power is prone to accidents due to human error and carelessness, and there have been several major accidents. In the last 2 years alone there have been two major radioactive leaks in the UK. One major leak at THORP, Sellafield remained undiscovered for 8 months and has been classified as a level 3 nuclear incident (the 1986 Chernobyl disaster listed as a level 7 incident, and the 1979 Three Mile island incident as a level 5) (INES).
What to do about it
Act now
The government is in the process of an energy review whereby it will decide whether to invest in a future of nuclear power as a major source of energy in the UK. This review is due for completion in summer 2006. You have the opportunity to have your say as an individual or an organisation by 14th April by going to: http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/review
Tell them you think nuclear power is unsafe, uneconomic and unnecessary. Tell them you want the Government to stick to the commitments in the 2003 White Paper, and put in place the policy and regulatory framework that will enable renewable energy and energy efficiency to deliver the deep emissions cuts needed.
They need to restore the promised funding for alternatives and give tax breaks to individuals and organisations who cut their carbon emissions and use sustainable energy.
We need the government to publish a Decentralised Energy White Paper, setting out all the necessary steps for a coherent and rapid transition to a sustainable and decentralised system.
Write to Tony Blair and Malcolm Wicks, the Energy Minister, or Ian McCartney, chairman of the Labour party telling them the same thing, and saying that you won´t vote Labour at the next election if they don´t do this.


Contact Tony Blair by visiting http://www.pm.gov.uk/output/Page821.asp or writing to;
Rt Hon Tony Blair, Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London
SW1 2AA
Contact Malcolm Wicks by emailing wicksm@parliament.uk, or writing to;
Malcolm Wicks MP
84 High Street
Thornton Heath
Surrey
CR7 8LF
Contact Ian McCartney by emailing info@new.labour.org.uk marking it to the attention of Ian McCartney, or writing to;
Ian McCartney
Labour Party
39 Victoria Street
London
SW1H OEU
You could also write to your local MP, for whom contact details can be found at www.locata.co.uk/commons

PRESS:
Caroline Gautier
Surgery PR
3rd Floor 15-16 Margaret Street
London
W1W 8RW
Tel. +44 (0) 207 436 3037
Fax +44 (0) 207 436 8011
caroline@ surgerypr.com
pr@ katharinehamnett.com


 

New International Symbol Launched to Warn Public About Radiation Dangers

The International Atomic Energy Agency - which promotes nuclear energy from its base in Vienna, Austria, while pretending to inhibit nuclear weapons proliferation at the same time - has adopted a new cross-cultural symbol for radiation hazards.

The unwritten message: ionizing radiation exposure causes cancer, genetic defects, birth defects, suppressed immune systems and death from radiation sickness.

So: RUN IF YOU CAN!!!!!

From the IAEA’s press release (February 15, 2007):

With radiating waves, a skull and crossbones and a running person, a new ionizing radiation warning symbol is being introduced to supplement the traditional international symbol for radiation, the three cornered trefoil.

The new symbol is being launched today by the IAEA and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to help reduce needless deaths and serious injuries from accidental exposure to large radioactive sources. It will serve as a supplementary warning to the trefoil, which has no intuitive meaning and little recognition beyond those educated in its significance.

"I believe the international recognition of the specific expertise of both organizations will ensure that the new standard will be accepted and applied by governments and industry to improve the safety of nuclear applications, protection of people and the environment," said Ms. Eliana Amaral, Director, Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety, IAEA.

The new symbol is aimed at alerting anyone, anywhere to the potential dangers of being close to a large source of ionizing radiation, the result of a five-year project conducted in 11 countries around the world. The symbol was tested with different population groups - mixed ages, varying educational backgrounds, male and female - to ensure that its message of "danger - stay away" was crystal clear and understood by all.

"We can´t teach the world about radiation," said Carolyn Mac Kenzie, an IAEA radiation specialist who helped develop the symbol, "but we can warn people about dangerous sources for the price of a sticker."

The new symbol, developed by human factor experts, graphic artists, and radiation protection experts, was tested by the Gallup Institute on a total of 1 650 individuals in Brazil, Mexico, Morocco, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, China, India, Thailand, Poland, Ukraine and the United States.

The symbol is intended for IAEA Category 1, 2 and 3 sources defined as dangerous sources capable of death or serious injury, including food irradiators, teletherapy machines for cancer treatment and industrial radiography units. The symbol is to be placed on the device housing the source, as a warning not to dismantle the device or to get any closer. It will not be visible under normal use, only if someone attempts to disassemble the device. The symbol will not be located on building access doors, transportation packages or containers.

"The new ionizing radiation warning symbol (ISO 21482) is the latest successful result of long-standing cooperation between the IAEA and ISO. We encourage the symbol´s rapid adoption by the international community," said ISO Secretary-General Alan Bryden.

Many source manufacturers plan to use the symbol on new large sources. Strategies to apply the symbol on existing large sources are being developed by the IAEA.


Radioactive Money: How Entergy Gets Its Way at Indian Point January 28 / 29, 2006

By DANIEL WOLFF counterpunch.org
Entergy Corporation -- owners of the two Indian Point nuclear power plants in New York's Westchester County has annual revenues of over $10 billion. It owns ten nuclear plants, five in the Northeast, and, in fiscal 2004, its profits once again increased by over 10%.
Entergy's publicity slogan for Indian Point is "safe, secure, vital," but a series of events over the past year seemed to contradict that. Difficulties ranged from control rods not loading to radioactive water leaks to repeated failures of the warning system. A National Academy of Science report concluded that spent fuel pools at nuclear plants were a potentially high risk target for terrorists, and three out of four of Indian Point's neighboring counties refused for the third consecutive year to certify that there was a workable emergency evacuation plan.
How did Entergy counter this negative publicity? Along with extensive advertising (including heavy buys during radio broadcasts of New York Yankee games), the corporation continued its policy of making widespread donations to politicians. In the 2004 election alone, it spent more than $1.2 million with federal candidates; for the upcoming 2006 election cycle, it's already topped $400,000.
As well as giving money to candidates for federal office, Entergy also works on the local level. In a little over a year -- from December 2004 through early January, 2006 the company's New York political action committee (ENPAC) contributed almost $75,000 to a wide range of elected officials, candidates, and committees: all potentially involved in decisions effecting the Indian Point plants.
Elliot Spitzer, New York State attorney general and candidate for governor, was a prime recipient. ENPAC ended 2004 by writing "Spitzer 2006" a check for $1000; it started 2005 by writing another for the same amount; and it celebrated Halloween 2005 by writing Spitzer two checks: both dated October 31, both for $1000, bringing the total Elliot Spitzer received from the owners of Indian Point to $4000. (In January, 2005, Spitzer declared his support for closing Indian Point, "when and as soon as we have alternate energy sources to substitute for the power that is currently being generated.")
Meanwhile, New York Senator Hillary Clinton continued her record of receiving regular contributions from ENPAC. In 2005, "Friends of Hillary" cashed checks totaling $1420. (Senator Clinton has raised safety concerns but has not called for the closing of Indian Point.)
Entergy believes in making political donations on both sides of the aisle, though not always equally. Over the past year, the New York State Democratic Committee received $10,500 from ENPAC, where the Republican Committee took in only $1500. On the other hand, the Westchester County Republican Committee received its own $10,500 and the New York Senate Republic Committee got $3,000.
ENPAC gives money to politicians across New York and New Jersey. On the state level, since December 2004, it's provided State Comptroller Alan Hevesi with $750, the Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno with $1000, and the chairman of the State Senate's Committee on Energy and Transportation, Jim Wright, with $2500.
On a local level, small contributions can make a big difference. In the immediate area surrounding the Indian Point plants, ENPAC's major funding includes two contributions totaling $1500 to James Gary Pretlow, assemblyman from Mt. Vernon and Yonkers, two contributions totaling $1175 to George Oros, minority leader of the Westchester County legislature, and two contributions totaling $1140 to Ed Diana, county executive of Orange County. The mayor of White Plains, Joe Delfino, received $750; the mayor of Peekskill, Joe Testa, got $250, as did the town clerk of Cortlandt, Jo-Ann Dyckman.
The following selective list of ENPAC's contributions to local politicians offers a glimpse of how a national corporation operates in a small market: spreading relatively modest amounts widely, making sure to touch many towns and various levels of government. Not included here are dollars spent at the federal level, in other areas of the state, or the thousands given to politicians in New York City (within 50 miles of the Indian Point disaster zone).
BENNETT, DON (Peekskill Common Council) $250
BRUNO, JOSEPH (State Senator) $1000
CALHOUN, NANCY (State Assemblywoman, Washingtonville) $375
DELFINO, JOSEPH (Mayor White Plains) $500 + $250 = $750
DIANA, ED (Orange County Executive) $190 + $950 = $1140
D'ONFRIO, JOE (Mayor Highland Falls) $250
DYCKMAN, JO-ANN (Town Clerk, Cortlandt) $250
HASSELL-THOMPSON, RUTH (State Senator Bronx & Westchester) $300 + $250 = $550
HEVESI, ALAN (State Comptroller) $500 + $250 = $750
LEIBELL, VINCENT (New York State Senator, West., Putnam & Dutchess) $250
McDOW, PAT (City Council candidate, Yonkers) $297
NEVELOFF, RAND (candidate for Westchester legislator) $500
OROS, GEORGE (Minority leader, Westchester legislature) $1000 + $175 = $1175
PIRRO, JEANINE (Westchester DA, state candidate) $250
PRETLOW, JAMES GARY (Mt. Vernon and Yonker assemblyman) $1000 + $500 = $1500
TESTA, JOHN (Mayor Peekskill) $250
WESTCHESTER BUSINESS COUNCIL $500
WRIGHT, JIM (State Senator) $500 + $2000 = $2500
YOUNG, CLINTON (Westchester legislator, Mt. Vernon) $500
As it tries to control the political climate through donations, Entergy also works to control the economic climate through its policy of pre-selling power and cutting jobs. At the end of 2004, it had already contracted out for 95% of the energy that would be produced by its Northeast plants in the coming year, had sold almost 90% of what they would produce in 2006 and nearly 70% of 2007. With its income locked in, Entergy then proceeded to lower its costs by eliminating workers.
The Nuclear Energy Institute reported that Entergy employed 1683 people at Indian Point back in 2002, including 302 from Westchester, 646 from Dutchess, and 249 from Putnam County. The report cited these jobs as evidence that Indian Point was "an integral part of the local economy." By 2005, the plant employed 1300 people: a loss of 346 jobs in three years. That number might decline further, a spokesperson declared, explaining: "You always look for efficiencies in how you own and operate a plant."
Finally, as it reduced its workforce by 20%, Entergy received permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to increase its generating capacity at each Indian Point plant by 5%. It was, as the company's annual report put it, a year of "solid progress."
Daniel Wolff is a poet and author of the excellent biography of the great Sam Cooke, You Send Me, as well as the recent collection of Ernest Withers' photographs The Memphis Blues Again. Wolff's Grammy-nominated essay on Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers is one of the highlights of CounterPunch's collection on art, music and sex: Serpents in the Garden. Most recently, Wolff wrote the text for the collection of Ernest Wither's photographs in Negro League Baseball. His latest book is 4th of July/Asbury Park: A History of the Promised Land (Bloomsbury USA) He can be reached at: ziwolff@optonline.net - Visit: Counterpunch.org


Combating Global Climate Change:
The Case Against Nuclear Power
Harvard International Review

Michele Boyd is the legislative director for Public Citizen’s Energy Program. Public Citizen is a 35-year-old public interest organization with more than 100,000 members nationwide.
Climate change is undeniably the most urgent problem facing the world today. The future effects of global warming depend largely upon the energy path we take now. In a last ditch effort, the declining nuclear industry has seized on the public’s legitimate concerns about climate change, deteriorating air quality, and dependence on foreign oil, claiming that nuclear power must be “part of the mix” for solving these serious environmental, public health, and security problems. But as its history has shown, nuclear power is not a solution.
Currently, about 440 nuclear plants are operating worldwide. Experts estimate that about 800 large reactors would have to be built around the world by 2050 just to achieve a significant reduction in the expected increase in carbon dioxide emissions. This would require building as many as one reactor every 18 days for 40 years. Building new reactors requires massive public subsidies, polluting uranium mining, as well as increased proliferation, accident, and terrorism risks. Adding so many new reactors would mean generating five times more highly radioactive nuclear waste than is being generated today, which would require a waste dump the size of the proposed site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada to be created somewhere on earth every three to four years.
Building more nuclear plants will not reduce our dependence on oil or foreign fuel. Less than three percent of oil consumed in the United States is used to fuel electric power plants; the rest is used in the transportation, home heating oil, and industrial manufacturing sectors. Nuclear power is used to produce electricity, but we do not plug our automobiles into the electricity grid. Nuclear power also does not alleviate our dependence on foreign sources of energy, because most of the uranium used to run our nuclear reactors is imported from foreign countries. Moreover, the United States cannot become self-dependent in the future, with only the eighth largest recoverable uranium reserves in the world and increasing local opposition to mining activities.
No country in the world has found a solution for the cost, waste and security problems associated with nuclear power. In contrast, renewable energy sources and efficiency measures are faster, cleaner, and cheaper solutions to climate change that do not entail these burdens.Nuclear Power is Too Expensive
Nuclear power is actually draining resources away from real solutions to climate change. According to a 2000 study by the Renewable Energy Policy Project, from 1947 through 1999, the nuclear industry received more than US$115 billion in direct taxpayer subsidies. This does not include costs related to pollution from uranium mining, risks from nuclear weapons proliferation, or the management of radioactive waste. During this same period, federal subsidies for wind and solar power combined totaled a mere $5.7 billion.
No new nuclear power plants have been licensed in the United States in more than 30 years. The nuclear industry claims it only needs help for the “first several plants”—the same claim that it made fifty years ago. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT), which President Bush signed into law in August last year, authorizes another US$13 billion in “cradle-to-grave” subsidies and tax breaks, as well as other incentives, for the mature and very wealthy nuclear industry. In comparison, EPACT allocates US$3.2 billion for renewable energy tax breaks and US$2.1 billion for energy efficiency vehicles.Is EPACT Enough to Resuscitate Nuclear Power?
Historically, nuclear construction cost estimates in the United States have been notoriously inaccurate. As the Energy Information Administration reports, the estimated construction costs for existing nuclear reactors were frequently wrong by a factor of two or more.
The same is happening again with plants being built in Europe and Asia. The French government-owned company Areva is currently building a 1600 MW reactor in Finland, the same reactor design that the US utility Constellation is considering building in Maryland. Plant construction, which was started in April 2005, is already 18 months behind schedule and has cost the company US$922 million thus far.
To mitigate these high upfront costs, EPACT authorizes “such sums as necessary” for taxpayer-backed loan guarantees covering up to 80 percent of the cost of a range of energy projects, including new reactors. Public Citizen calculated that an 80 percent loan guarantee for six reactors could potentially cost taxpayers US$6 billion, assuming at 50 percent default rate (as the Congressional Budget office has estimated) and an unrealistically low construction cost of US$2.5 billion. EPACT also authorizes US$2 billion in “standby support,” also called “risk insurance,” which pays the industry for delays in construction and operation licensing for six reactors due to the NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) or to litigation. No other source of energy enjoys this magnitude of risk transfer to US taxpayers.
The Price-Anderson Act, which was originally enacted in 1957 as a temporary 10-year measure to support the fledgling nuclear industry, limits the amount of primary insurance that nuclear operators must carry and caps the total liability of nuclear operators in the event of a serious accident or attack. EPACT reauthorized the Price-Anderson Act for 20 years. The cap— US$10.8 billion—falls far short of plausible nuclear accident damages. According to a study by Sandia National Laboratory, a serious nuclear accident could cost more than US$600 billion in 2004 dollars, and taxpayers would be responsible for covering the vast majority of that sum. Price-Anderson could easily bust the federal budget or, as we have seen in the aftermath of Katrina, leave victims unaided.
EPACT also authorizes funding for DOE’s (Department of Energy) Nuclear Power 2010 program, a government/industry cost-share program to license new reactors that will cost taxpayers US$1.1 billion. In comparison, the total fiscal year 2006 budget for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the premier renewable research laboratory in the United States, was only US$209.6 million. As a result of the energy bill’s passage, at least 16 consortia and individual utilities have indicated that they intend to apply for licenses to build as many as 33 new reactors, most of which are slated for the impoverished southeastern states and in Texas.
But even with all of the subsidies in EPACT and the resulting utility interest, credit rating agencies have expressed doubt that nuclear power is economically viable. The credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s concluded in a January 9, 2006 report that “from a credit perspective, these legislative measures may not be substantial enough to sustain credit quality and make this a practical strategy.” In other words, the credit rating of a utility that commits to building a new reactor could be downgraded, thereby making it harder for the utility to borrow money at a manageable rate. In response to these dismal economic indicators, utilities have gone to state and local governments for additional subsidies and tax breaks.Nuclear Power Creates Long-Lasting Radioactive Waste
In addition to being uneconomical, nuclear power also produces nuclear waste that remains dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. After half a century of commercial nuclear power, no country in the world has solved its nuclear waste problem. The US government is currently pursuing three non-solutions: Yucca Mountain, reprocessing, and interim storage.
Although the United States has spent about US$9 billion dollars and more than 20 years studying Yucca Mountain, research has shown that the site is not suitable for safely storing the radioactive waste for the hundreds of thousands of years that it will remain dangerous. A US Senate Committee report argues that Yucca Mountain is “the most studied real estate on the planet”; this claim is a non sequitur. Yucca Mountain is located in an active earthquake zone near volcanos, in porous soil, and atop an aquifer used for drinking water and irrigation. Moreover, DOE’s flawed scientific and quality assurance practices have cast serious doubt on the validity of its work performed at the site.
DOE has yet to even submit a license application to the NRC. In July, DOE announced that it will submit its application in June 2008 and will start accepting waste in 2020. This estimate is highly optimistic because it does not factor in delays due to funding limitations or litigation and ignores the scientific problems with the site. Nor does DOE have a current estimate of how much the project will cost. As the New York Times reports, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman commented in February 2006 that DOE “may never have an accurate prediction of the cost.”
The capacity of the Yucca Mountain repository is legally capped at 77,000 metric tons. Even if licensed, the repository cannot hold all the waste that US nuclear reactors will generate in their licensed lifetimes. The DOE predicts that currently operating commercial reactors alone will generate more than 105,000 metric tons of waste. Once Yucca Mountain is full, DOE has estimated that there will be approximately 42,000 metric tons of commercial irradiated fuel at 63 sites in 31 states. Extending the operating lifetimes of existing reactors and constructing new ones would result in even more waste in excess of the repository’s capacity. Several legislative proposals to “fix Yucca” have been introduced that would, among other things, pop this cap. None, however, address the fundamental problems of the program or the site.
In February 2006, the Bush Administration proposed a new program, called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, to restart reprocessing of nuclear waste in the United States. The program was presented to Congress largely as a research and development program to develop “advanced recycling technologies” and thereby postpone the need to license additional geologic repositories for the nation’s high-level waste until the next century. DOE is now proposing to skip the demonstration facilities using “advanced” technologies, and go straight to building commercial-scale facilities. The key components of a reprocessing and reuse program include reprocessing plants, fuel fabrication facilities, and fast reactors, none of which have proven to be commercially successful technologies in the United States or abroad.
US and international experience clearly shows that reprocessing is not going to solve our nation’s radioactive waste problem. Reprocessing is expensive and polluting, and poses a serious risk to the global non-proliferation regime. More than US$100 billion has been spent globally trying to commercialize plutonium. The results have been failed technologies, contaminated land and water, and 250 metric tons of separated plutonium—equivalent to more than 30,000 nuclear bombs—that remain vulnerable to theft.
Without a permanent repository available in the near-term, attention has turned to dry cask interim storage of spent fuel. Interim storage away from reactor sites will not even temporarily relieve the waste problem, because it would not meaningfully reduce the number of locations where high-level radioactive waste is stored and would unnecessarily increase transport risks to the public. With no additional repositories on the horizon, these sites would become long-term storage for high-level radioactive wastes.
In addition to the waste at the back end of the fuel cycle, the front end requires the mining, milling, and enrichment of uranium for fuel. These processes cause environmental contamination, health impacts, and security threats. For example, uranium milling results in large piles of tailings that are contaminated with radon and are often abandoned aboveground. Twelve million tons of tailings, for instance, are piled along the Colorado River in Utah, threatening communities downstream. Native American communities have been particularly devastated by illnesses that result from uranium mining. The enrichment process also results in large amounts of waste, particularly depleted uranium that should be disposed of in a geologic repository. Moreover, enriched uranium can be used to make nuclear weapons and the spread of this technology remains a global concern, as evidenced by United Nations efforts to prevent Iran from operating its enrichment facility.Nuclear Power Poses Security and Safety Threats
The reactors that industry is proposing to build are called Generation 3.5, which are considered “first of a kind” because they have never been built and tested. They are not so dramatically different from existing reactors , however, that the nuclear industry would be willing to build them without Price-Anderson limited liability in the case of an accident or an attack.
More than five years after 9/11, no nuclear plants are required to be protected against an air attack. The Committee to Bridge the Gap, a California-based organization, petitioned the NRC to require the construction of shields consisting of I-beams and cabling, called Beamhenge, around reactors and fuel pools that would protect them in the event of an aircraft crash. Seven Attorneys General supported the petition. Yet the NRC has rejected this sensible and relatively inexpensive proposal for existing reactors. Instead, the NRC relies on “mitigation” factors (measures taken once the attack has occurred) and on evacuation of the public. Thus far, the NRC has not required security design improvements for new reactor designs that it has licensed or is in the process of licensing, even though a nuclear industry panel made recommendations in 1980 for feasible design improvements that would reduce the risk of air attack.
Spent fuel pools are the most vulnerable part of a reactor. At some sites, these pools are covered only by a corrugated metal shed. At one-third of US reactor sites, the spent fuel pool is located above the reactor outside the primary containment structure. Meanwhile, spent fuel pools have been densely packed. If water is lost from these pools, there could be insufficient ambient air to prevent a fire that would release large quantities of radioactivity. Utilities are moving some of the spent fuel into onsite dry cask storage, essentially big containers on concrete pads. These casks are not designed to resist a terrorist attack. Nor has the NRC analyzed the environmental impacts of a terrorist attack for any of the 42 sites for which it has granted dry cask storage licenses.
In addition to the security threats posed by nuclear reactors, safety failures continue to be discovered at operating nuclear plants. These failures include aging equipment, management that ignores safety concerns raised by workers, under-trained and overworked security guards, poor emergency planning, lack of NRC oversight, and weakening of safety standards by the NRC. For example, Davis-Besse, a relatively young nuclear reactor near Toledo, Ohio, developed a hole in its reactor vessel head, caused by a boric acid leak. Only a 3/8-inch metal cladding was left as protection against a reactor breach. The NRC had specific knowledge of the type of problem that caused the leaks at Davis-Besse more than a year before they were actually discovered in March 2002.
At Shearon Harris in North Carolina, the NRC has allowed the plant to operate for 14 years while in violation of federal fire safety regulations. The three Palo Verde nuclear plants, which together have the largest nuclear generation capacity in the country, have also had serious ongoing and uncorrected safety problems for over a decade. For example, the owner unilaterally changed safety procedures at the site, resulting in an increased probability over a 12 year period that emergency pumps would not work in an accident. More recently, NRC found that workers added excessive amounts of chemicals to the cooling water over the past decade and ignored the resultant clogging of essential safety equipment. The NRC has described the decay of “key safety systems” at the plant as “egregious.”
Radioactive contamination of groundwater is also an ongoing problem. Tritium from nuclear reactors has leaked into groundwater at more than 10 reactor sites—at least one leak goes as far back as 1997. At Indian Point in New York, tritium and strontium are leaking from the
facility and have migrated into the Hudson River. Yet the NRC denied a request by nearly a dozen public interest groups for mandatory reporting on radioactively contaminated water at other sites, and instead has agreed to voluntary reporting by utilities. As of September 12, more than 26 reactors have failed to report to the NRC.
Global warming also poses safety problems for nuclear reactors. During recent heat waves in Europe and the United States, reactors have had to reduce output and some have even been shut down because cooling water in nearby rivers or lakes becomes too hot. As climate change worsens, it is expected that heat waves will become more severe and frequent.Renewables Can Meet Our Energy Needs
Not including hydroelectric power, renewable energy currently provides only 2.3 percent of electricity in the United States. According to a draft analysis by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, it is technically feasible for a diverse mix of existing renewable technologies—including wind, solar, advanced hydroelectric power, and geothermal heat pumps—to completely meet our electricity needs by 2020. As much as 20 percent of US electricity could immediately come from non-hydro renewable energy sources without any negative effects on the stability or reliability of the electrical grid. Despite the vast discrepancy in federal support, wind power, which costs between 4.2 and 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, is already competitive with new nuclear power plants. Over the long term, improvements to the grid can be made, and renewable technologies could supply increasingly higher percentages of our power. Renewable energy and efficiency are viable solutions for climate change, air quality, and energy independence. We cannot afford to waste our time and limited resources on building even a few new reactors.
© 2003-2006 The Harvard International Review. All rights reserved.


Irrational Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant Engineer
Strangles His Wife and His 14-Year-Old Daughter, Kills Himself

MURDER-SUICIDE: Father was placed on leave for irrational behavior
By Greg Clary The Journal News

BUCHANAN - Steven Lessard, the killer in the Putnam murder-suicide case, first showed some irrational behavior at his Indian Point job on Feb. 8, when co-workers noticed that he seemed to be unusually upset about his car getting a flat tire.
The normally quiet 51-year-old U.S. Naval Academy graduate didn't routinely generate much notice among his co-workers, said a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns and operates the plant.
But that day, he was visibly upset about what he had to do to get his car back on the road, and it triggered the other members of his 12-employee project management group to notify their supervisor, Michael Rutkoske.
"We're trained and required to do that," said Entergy spokesman Jim Steets. "It was a relatively minor personal issue, so after talking to his supervisor, the two of them went up to speak to the fitness for duty coordinator."
Sharon Quinn, a registered nurse, spent 90 minutes with Lessard and Rutkoske and they all agreed that Lessard should go home until he felt better. Steets said he continued to be paid during his time off.
"She offered him help through our employee assistance program, but he declined," Steets said. "He said he was seeing a doctor. She even asked him if he were comfortable with that doctor and he said he was."
Lessard was due today to speak to Entergy officials about returning to work, a day after authorities discovered that he had strangled his wife, Kathy Lessard, 48, and their 14-year-old daughter Linda, and then killed himself in their family home in Putnam Valley.
Indian Point officials said Lessard had been transferred at his own request from an engineering job at Indian Point 2 to a project management position that served the entire nuclear site.
At the time of his leave, he was working on a piping upgrade to serve Indian Point 2 and Indian Point 3. He did not operate any equipment or deal with any safety-related procedures, officials said.
Rutkoske said early this afternoon that Lessard was "a very dedicated worker" who had come under Rutkoske's supervision in October.
"He was relatively quiet," Rutkoske said. "Very much interested in following proper processes and procedures."
When the flat tire problem upset Lessard so much, Rutkoske said he knew it had something under it that was the real cause of his agitation.
"It just meant to me that there were other things going on, if a car tire was getting him upset," the supervisor said.
Rutkoske said Lessard wasn't the kind of guy who mixed a lot with co-workers and ate his lunch alone most of the time. He said he hadn't heard anything about possible domestic troubles.
Lessard's co-workers were concerned enough about him that they took up a collection and sent him a basket of fruit while he was on medical leave. His wife even called up to thank the workers for their thoughtfulness and said he was doing better, company officials said.
"He had no performance issues, and when they asked him about lightening his load, he didn't want to do that because he didn't want to burden his co-workers," Steets said. "The feeling was that he was very hard on himself. But he was considered a 'valuable contributor,' which is a category of employee rating that the company uses."
Lessard had come to the site in 1995 as an employee of General Physics, an engineering contractor. He was given a routine psychiatric evaluation and background check at the time. The background check was updated as required in 2003, with no visible problems, Steets said. He had been hired full time by Con Edison in 2001, right before the plants were sold to Entergy.
"The background check can often turn up outside stresses, such as financial," he said. "But none showed up."
Steets said the company would review all of Lessard's work, "given what's occurred," but didn't expect to find any problems.
"There's no reason to think there would be anything wrong with his work," Steets said. "And he wasn't working on any critical things."


John Hall Announces Bill Requiring Indian Point Indy Safety Assessment

Read More>>>

U. S. Representative John Hall New York – 19th Congressional District

Hall Announcing Bill Requiring Indian Point ISA or Face Shut Down in 2013
Strict Standards for IP Re-Licensing in Bill Co-Sponsored by Lowey, Engel, Hinchey and Shays

1/9/2007 Congressman John Hall will announce on Monday morning his first piece of House legislation—a bill requiring a tough new Independent Safety Assessment for the Indian Point Nuclear Facility in Buchanan, NY.
Hall will make the announcement in the parking lot of the Annsville Creek Paddlesport Center just north of Peekskill, NY. He’ll be joined by members of the New York congressional delegation, other elected officials and environmental leaders.
When:
MONDAY, February 12 at 10:30 a.m.
Where:
Annsville Creek Paddlesport Center Bayview Road
(off Rte. 6 / 202 just west of Annsville Circle)
Town of Cortlandt, NY
Contact:
Arthur Harris / Communications Director
arthur.harris@mail.house.gov
202-225-0415
202-744-0707 cell
Tom Staudter / Press Secretary
staudter@verizon.net
914-762-0097
914-419-5221 cell


Governor Rell Nixes Tooth Fairy Pledge


Before the election, Governor Jodi Rell promised to fund the Tooth Fairy Project in Connecticut. The study by the Radiation and Public Health Project would collect baby teeth from children with cancer and healthy children to assess the link between Millstone strontium-90 releases and the high rate of childhood cancer near Millstone.

This week, Rell releases her new budget to great fanfare. Oops! Forgot the Tooth Fairy Project - and any other study of the health consequences of exposures to Millstone's continuous radiation releases.

Read the email sent from Rell's office on February 9:

Dear Ms. Burton:

The Office of the Governor (the “Office”) received your e-mail dated February 8, 2006, in which you asked “if Governor Rell included funding for the "Tooth Fairy Project" (strontium-90 concentrations in baby teeth) in her new budget. Please be advised that is a request pursuant to the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act for a copy of any reference in the Governor's new budget to the Tooth Fairy Project, Radiation & Public Health Project or any other funding to study the relation between Millstone Nuclear Power Station emissions and public health and the high incidence of cancer among children living near Millstone.”

The Office treated your e-mail as a request under the Freedom of Information Act (the “Act”) and performed a diligent searching of its records.

A review of the budget presented on February 7, 2007, indicates that no funding was tied specifically to the named projects in your e-mail. A full copy of the budget can be found at http://www.opm.state.ct.us/budget/20082009BudgetBooks/BudgetHome.htm . If you would like a full paper copy of the 2008-2009 budget mailed to you please let me know.

This e-mail fulfills your request and this Office’s obligations under the Act.


Philip Dukes
Office of Governor M. Jodi Rell
Counsel for Policy and Legislative Affairs
(860)524-7340


 

Problem-prone Swedish nuclear reactor shut down
Feb 3, 2007
A Swedish nuclear reactor has been shut down after a fault was found in rubber pannels in the reactor's housing.
Forsmark 1 was shut down after a sample taken from one of three rubber pannels in the reactor's outer housing was found to have lost its required elasticity, a spokesman for Forsmark's operator FKA told AFP.

"The rubber had become stiff ... it needs to be elastic," Claes-Inge Andersson said Saturday.
Further tests were to be carried out on the reactor located on Sweden's east coast.
Forsmark 1's sister reactor, Forsmark 2, was also being inspected for the same problem although a shutdown at the younger reactor was not envisaged.
It was not known when Forsmark 1 would resume power production, Andersson said.
The shutdown follows the emergence earlier in the week of a damning internal report into safety standards at Forsmark, made public six months after a serious incident at the plant.
The report blamed lax security on a series of "potentially fatal accidents". including a nitrogen gas leak, employees handling live electrical wires, falls in the workplace and employees sent home for failing sobriety tests.
An electricity failure at the facility on July 25, 2006, led to the immediate shutdown of Forsmark 1 after two of four backup generators, which supply power to the reactor's cooling system, malfunctioned for about 20 minutes.
Some experts have suggested that a catastrophic reactor meltdown was narrowly avoided.
The incident prompted authorities to temporarily shut down five of Sweden's 10 reactors for security checks and maintenance. Some of the reactors remained shut down for several months.
The Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate has asked prosecutors to investigate whether FKA broke the law in its response to the malfunction at Forsmark.
On Friday a prosecutor announced the launch of a preliminary investigation into FKA's handling of the incident.
Nuclear power accounts for nearly half of Sweden's electricity production.
The country has shut two of its 12 nuclear reactors since 1999 as part of a plan to phase out nuclear power over the next 30 or so years, or when the reactors' lifespan expires.


 

MILLSTONE 3 SHUT DOWN WITH RADIOACTIVE LEAK

Millstone Unit 3 was shut down on Sunday January 28 and remained shut down on Monday with a radioactive leak allowing radiated coolant to escape from the reactor.

Workers assigned to investigate and repair the leaking valve were exposed to high levels of radiation.

Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc., Millstone's Virginia-based owner, denied that any radiation leaked into the environment.

On April 17, 2005, steam cascaded from Millstone for a 10-hour period during a Dominion-declared Class II emergency involving valve failures, operator error, defective instrumentation and a "tin whisker." Throughout the incident, Dominion denied radiation leakage to the environment. Subsequently, officials of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, under questioning by the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, admitted the steam contained unusual levels of radioactive krypton, which quickly decays to strontium-90, a deadly radioisotope which causes bone cancer and leukemia. The NRC admitted it lied to the public about radiation releases which occurred during the emergency to avoid a public panic.

The Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone will investigate this incident.


Stop King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nuclear, Gas) - Go GCR: GREEN CLEAN RENEWABLE!

FIGHT THE HIKE – INCONVENIENT FACTS
JAN. 2007
FIGHT THE HIKE is a citizen/consumer coalition that has come together to
fight the recent huge electric rate increases in CT. We believe that these
massive increases are unjustified, having come about as a direct result of
the recent deregulation of the electrical utilities.
Deregulation was supposed to result in new companies starting up, which
would keep prices down by offering competition. Initially this did happen,
but, predictably, these new companies largely failed, so that now we have
neither regulation nor competition. And now come the rate hikes:
United Illuminating has been granted a 50% hike, 24% starting this month,
and 26% in mid-2007; and CT Light & Power has been given a 22% hike last
summer followed by a 7.7% increase this month, a total of 29.7%.
OUR DEMANDS
1.) The rate hikes must be RESCINDED immediately,
2.) The state legislature must pass RE-REGULATION LEGISLATION, and
3.) The DPUC members, who have approved the hikes, must RESIGN for failure
to uphold the public interest.
Re-regulation legislation must:
-support the public's need for reasonable utility rates,
-promote conservation, and
-allow for transparency and full public accountability. SOME OF THE INCONVENIENT FACTS
-CT now has the highest electric rates in the continental United States.
-UI's earnings are up: their 3rd quarter 2006 earnings alone were almost
equal to their total earnings in 2005. In addition, the CEO compensation at
both UI and CL&P are in excess of $1,000,000 each.
-The five municipally owned Utility Districts in CT, such as Wallingford,
are able to provide electricity at much lower rates.
-The social and economic effects of these huge increases will be devastating
to those on fixed incomes, the poor, and small businesses.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
JOIN US on JAN 31st, 10am, to LOBBY the GOVERNOR and the LEGISLATORS, and at
11:30 am for a RALLY
JOIN FIGHT THE HIKE: For more info, call Allan Brison 203-782-6808
Or Frank Panzarella at 203-562-2798

Radiation Alert: Beware You Who Live and Breathe Near Millstone!

Judi Friedman, who is well known and highly respected as the founder and director of PACE (People's Action for Clean Energy), carried out a science experiment on Thursday, January 18, 2007, with her RadAlerts, which measure alpha, gamma, beta and X-ray radiation.
First she stood near Liberty Park and Main Street in Niantic (across Niantic Bay from Millstone) and turned on two RadAlerts simultaneously for 10 minutes. They gave readings of 12 and 13. These numbers are not unusual.
Judi then went over to Pleasure Beach in Waterford. This public beach is directly across Jordan Cove and directly downwind from Millstone. Judi held the two radiation monitors for 10 minutes simultaneously on the sandy beach. The readings? 20 and 23. These numbers equate with what Judi has recorded at the Nevada test Site, Kiev, Ukraine south of Chernobyl, and Kazakhistan, notorious for rogue nuclear activities.
What conclusion did Judi draw from her experiment?
"Radiation levels were measurably higher downwind of Millstone at Pleasure Beach as compared with Niantic at the time the levels were measured," Judi said.
The radiation routinely released by Millstone is deadly. It correlates with cancer clusters near Pleasure Beach and many other locations in Millstone's shadow.
Register your outrage with key committees of the state legislature that can do something about Millstone's routine poisoning of the community:
Energy & Technology: Steve.Fontana@cga.ct.gov
Environment: Finch@senatedems.ct.gov
Public Health: Handley@senatedems.ct.gov


Rally for Ken Krayeske and Our Civil Liberties!
Tuesday January 30, 8 AM - 8:45 AM
CT Supreme Court, North Stairs, 231 Capitol Avenue, Hartford


Photojournalist Ken Krayeske was arrested by Hartford Police after taking photographs of Gov. Rell's inaugural parade.
He was detained on $75,000 bail for thirteen hours in a police lockup and released after Rell's inaugural ball was over.
Krayeske, who was Green Party gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton's campaign manager last year, had posted a website flier inviting participants to join him in a peaceful protest of the inauguration. Rell had refused to debate Thornton, whose campaign called for closing Millstone, free higher education and drug legalization.
Ken is a pacifist and antiwar activist. He was previously arrested for participating in a civil disobedience event at New London's Nuclear Submarine base.
Ken's arrest - after his photograph was circulated to police by the litttle-known Connecticut Intelligence Center and he was identified as a possible "threat" to Governor Rell - is a disgraceful abuse of Ken's civil rights.
It is also a eye-opener into the dark and evil doings of the Rell Administration.
Following Tuesday's rally, Ken will proceed to the Criminal Court at 101 Lafayette Streeet for a court appearance with his attorney, Norman Pattis, who has vowed to cut off his ponytail if Ken is not exonerated.
Ken was singled out because he is a voice for peace, justice and integrity in government.
Show your commitment to these principles and your love for the Bill of Rights by rallying for Ken!


Rep. Betsy Ritter: Whose Side Are You On?

Rep. Elizabeth ("Betsy") Ritter, whose district includes Waterford, invited her fellow members of the state legislature's Energy & Technology Committee to visit Millstone's above-ground high-level nuclear waste storage facility. Why she did so is not clear from the Committee's minutes. Rep. Ritter should be proposing legislation to disallow above-ground storage of high-level nuclear waste in Connecticut unless it is proven safe from acts of terrorism. Millstone is storing enough high-level nuclear waste above-ground to dwarf the effects of Chernobyl should its security be breached. The legislative clock is ticking, Betsy: Stop being a Millstone booster and do your job for the people!

 

January 26, 2007 - September 11 Five Years Later: Millstone Is More Of a Threat Than Ever

Five years after terrorists flew over the Indian Point nuclear reactors on the Hudson River bound for the World Trade Center...


Dear Members of the Energy & Technology Committee:

We note that Rep. Elizabeth Ritter recently extended an invitation to fellow members of the Energy & Technology Committee to visit Millstone’s dry cask storage installation in Waterford. Please refer to the minutes of your January 4, 2007 and January 11, 2007 meetings.

While we appreciate earnest efforts to inform your Committee about all aspects of Millstone operations, we write to be sure you are aware of the following:

1. Dominion’s application to the Siting Council to site a de facto permanent high-level nuclear waste storage installation is the subject of a legal challenge initiated by the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone; an appeal is now pending before the Appellate Court.

2. The approval defied the Waterford Conservation Commission’s decision and is contrary to Waterford’s zoning regulations, which prohibit permanent nuclear waste storage within the town.

3. The storage units are federally licensed for only 20 years; it is generally acknowledged that there will be no federal repository to take the waste before the licenses expire.

4. The federal regulator, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, did not evaluate the vulnerability of the above-ground, highly visible (see accompanying photograph) nuclear waste storage facility to acts of terrorism. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit recently ruled with regard to a dry cask storage application in California that the NRC erred in failing to take into consideration such vulnerability; the U.S. Supreme Court denied the utility’s pedtition to appeal.

5. Millstone’s above-ground storage installation is highly vulnerable to an airborne terrorist attack. (See photo.)

6. Dominion flagrantly misled the Siting Council when it represented the site is protected by state-of-the art perimeter security. When Dominion, through its lobbyist, Daniel Weekley, made such claim, it was deliberately disabling its perimeter security system because it was generating hundreds of false alarms. Dominion’s security was and is a travesty. These facts have become known through whistleblower disclosures.

7. High-level nuclear waste dry-cask installations in the U.S. have been plagued with defects. Components made in Japan do not meet U.S. quality control standards.

8. The NRC’s approval of Millstone’s high-level nuclear waste storage disallowed any public hearing or other public input.

9. The facility is designed to continuously release high levels of radiation requiring limited worker exposure. Direct unshielded exposure results in a lethal dose of radiation.

10. Millstone’s above-ground and highly visible dry-cask storage facility is located but yards away from Jordan Cove, an active recreational area and estuary of the Long Island Sound, which affords waterborne access.

11. Ex-Governor John G. Rowland’s office facilitated Siting Council approval of the facility, according to DEP records made available under the Freedom of Information Act. Mr. Weekley arranged for Dominion to fly the chairman of the Siting Council, its executive director and a voting member of the Siting Council to out-of-state nuclear facilities to acquaint them with dry-cask storage installations, a fact withheld from the public during the Siting Council’s proceedings. The then-Ethics Commission gave a green light to this arrangement, calling it a “gift to the state.” Current standards of ethics would disallow such an arrangement today.

12. Dominion represented that the dry cask storage facility was needed in order to keep Millstone Unit 2 operating. Unit 2 had filled its wet storage pool to capacity. Unit 2 - which began operations 31 years ago - has been troubled-plagued. Most recently, it was put under special scrutiny by the NRC because of the high number of defective equipment-related unplanned shutdowns. Its operational history was so bleak that the DPUC declared Millstone Unit 2 “no longer used and useful” and removed it from the rate base c. 1998. Millstone Unit 2 is an accident waiting to happen.

Sincerely,

Nancy Burton
147 Cross Highway
Redding Ridge CT 06876
Tel. 203-938-3952


High Court Rejects PG&E on U.S. Assessment of Terrorism Attack
By Greg Stohr 1/16/2007(Bloomberg)
The U.S. Supreme Court left intact a ruling that requires federal regulators to assess the environmental impact of a possible terrorist attack on a new PG&E Corp. storage facility for nuclear waste.The justices, without comment, today turned away an appeal by PG&E, owner of California's largest utility. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in June ordered a Nuclear Regulatory Commission assessment for the new facility, part of PG&E's Diablo Canyon power plant in California.PG&E argued in its appeal that an environmental assessment isn't required under federal law and ``would place an unnecessary and duplicative burden'' on the San Francisco-based company.

The Bush administration backed PG&E in part. The government agreed that the 9th Circuit ruling was wrong, while saying the nation's highest court shouldn't get involved because the impact of the decision isn't yet clear.Radioactive waste at the Diablo Canyon plant currently is being stored in ``wet'' spent fuel pools. The new facility would use dry storage, putting spent fuel inside a steel cylinder bound within a concrete cask. PG&E had planned to begin using the dry- storage casks this November.When the NRC granted a license to PG&E for the facility in 2003, the agency said the possibility of a terrorist attack was too ``speculative'' to warrant consideration. The NRC said any attempts to evaluate the risk of an attack ``are likely to be meaningless and consequently of no use in the agency's decision-making.''San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, a citizens' group, challenged the NRC's decision not to consider the possibility of terrorism. At the Supreme Court, the group said the 9th Circuit court correctly concluded that NRC's stance was contradicted by its efforts in other contexts to prevent and mitigate the impact of an attack.Under federal law, agencies must conduct at least an environmental assessment for any government-approved project. If that review reveals the likelihood of a significant impact, the agency then must prepare a more thorough environmental impact statement.The case is Pacific Gas and Electric v. San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, 06-466.

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