Connecticut Coalition Against the Millstone Nuclear Power Reactor
CCAM NEWS 2008 part 1
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Two New Reports on the Costs and Risks of Sen. McCain’s “45 New Reactors”
Background: On August 6th, Hiroshima Day, Sen. John McCain visited the Fermi Nuclear Power Plant in Monroe, Michigan and called for the construction of 45 new nuclear power reactors by 2030 – and 100 total by an unspecified date. Sen. Barack Obama has urged that we “safely harness” nuclear power and address the waste problem and has contradicted suggestions by McCain that he opposes nuclear energy.
Neither candidate has addressed – or been asked by the media to address – the costs and risks either of continued reactor operation or expansion. Beyond Nuclear and Environment America address these questions in two new studies: The Beyond Nuclear analysis, posted on the home page of our Web site looks at the cost to American taxpayers of 45 new reactors and also examines the security risks as well as the implications for the existing and still unsolved nuclear waste problem. Download the Beyond Nuclear fact sheet here. (And see the video from Google, also posted on the homepage, a company that has dismissed nuclear energy for cost and security reasons.) Environment America’s report, Sen. McCain's Nuclear Plan: An Economic and Environmental Disaster can be viewed here. Among the notable findings by Environment America is that just a single new permanent job at a nuclear power plant could cost $19 million to create. Environment America also shows a state by state breakdown on the renewable energy jobs that could be created by a $100 billion investment across the U.S.
What You Can Do: The presidential candidates, as well as candidates for U.S. congressional and state offices, will not change their positions unless they hear from their constituents. Be sure to attend candidates’ campaign stops, debates, and speeches in your area; leave postcards, letters and information at your local campaign headquarters; contact the press with your views and write letters to the editor; and, if you have direct access or influence, please use this opportunity to better inform our presidential, congressional, and state office aspirants, as well as your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers in the next two weeks leading up to election day.
And remember, even after the election, this issue will not go away. We must work together to keep our elected officials well-informed – with facts, not nuclear fantasies.
Stop EPR USA Campaign Web page and booklet now available! Please see the Stop EPR USA Web page here where you can also download materials. These include the Stop EPR USA booklet and the French Nuclear Medusa booklet, a compilation of problems with the French nuclear industry. Additional fact sheets are also available on the Stop EPR USA page or on the French Connection page all located on the Beyond Nuclear Web site.
CONNECTICUT SUPREME COURT TO HEAR ARGUMENT
ON APPEAL SEEKING TO DIVEST DEP
OF ITS JURISDICTION OVER MILLSTONE PERMIT
For Immediate Release October 14, 2008
The Connecticut Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Wednesday, October 15, 2008, at 10 A.M. in an appeal which seeks to divest the state’s Department of Environmental Protection of its authority over the Millstone Nuclear Power Station’s Clean Water Act permit.
The appeal raises the “first-impression” issue of whether a court can take over adjudication of a permit proceeding under a state law that gives it the authority to do so where the state agency is not adequately protecting the environment.
The appeal was brought by Nancy Burton, who has served as director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone for the past ten years. The suit names as defendant Regina McCarthy, Commissioner of DEP.
The appeal claims that DEP has wilfully stalled action on the permit that allows Millstone to withdraw more than 2 billion gallons of water a day from the Long Island Sound - and release it back in a thermal plume laced with toxic and radioactive byproducts of nuclear fission.
Burton will argue that a consequence of DEP inaction has been the annual destruction of billions of marinelife at the Millstone intakes and poisoning of public beaches surrounding Millstone with carcinogens routinely released by the nuclear power plant.
The Supreme Court’s summary of the case appears at: http://www.jud.ct.gov/external/supapp/Summaries/Docket/18173.htm
Ms. Burton will be available for a press conference following the one-hour argument.
Beyond Nuclear Bulletin
October 2, 2008
U.S. Energy Secretary: Wall Street “meltdown” could impact reactor expansion
Background: U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman, speaking to reporters during an international energy conference in Paris this week, said that long-term energy projects like building new nuclear plants could be at significant risk and “the most difficult to finance” because of the growing global financial crisis. With the global financial domino effect continuing to fall out of the subprime mortgage collapse, Bodman said a “nuclear renaissance” has the most to lose. In an Associated Press report, Bodman forecasted that a failure of the U.S. to resolve the ongoing financial crisis would have "a significant impact" on energy demand and said “that's what leads to the need to come up with a solution."
Our View: What that “solution” might be is an open question and raises the concern that the Bush financial “rescue effort” could hide federal backing for the high stakes rollers of new atomic power plant projects. A lot of pork can be stampeded through Congress in this $700 billion financial bailout of bad loans of historic proportions. This would be particularly true for a notoriously risky nuclear power industry that cannot attract financing other than unlimited federal taxpayer dollars.
U.S. India nuclear deal passes House and Senate
Background: Following the approval by the House on September 26, the Senate signed off on the U.S.-India nuclear trade deal on Wednesday night by a vote of 83-13. The outcome was not surprising but the implications could be ominous for peace in South Asia. The deal effectively opens up commercial nuclear trade with India for the first time since India tested its atomic bomb in 1974 and despite the fact that India has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It allows India access to US civilian nuclear technology and fuel in return for inspections of its civilian, but not military, nuclear facilities. The deal follows a successful lobbying effort by George Bush to get the International Atomic Energy Association and the Nuclear Suppliers Group to change the rules on India's behalf.
Our View: We agree with the Arms Control Association and others that the agreement is a “non-proliferation” disaster. Unsurprisingly, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, has already demanded a similar deal with the U.S. for his nuclear-armed country. The U.S.-India nuclear deal throws a match onto dry straw in an already volatile region that could explode into an escalated arms race. Studies have shown that India and Pakistan, should they fight a nuclear war with their existing weapons, already have the capacity to cause catastrophic climate changes far across the globe, potentially destroying essential agricultural production in key areas of the world. And, as Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center, wrote this week, it’s all about profits, not peace: “Russian and French firms will reap most of the benefits of these rule changes because they have very little U.S. competition . . .The net consequences of these rule changes are not hard to predict: If and when India resumes nuclear testing, Russia and France will argue that fuel supplies (and profits) must continue to keep Indian power plants under safeguards. Profit taking is likely to trump nonproliferation, despite the clear legislative intent of the U.S. Congress, which, in passing the Hyde Act, set conditions designed to make it harder for India to resume nuclear testing.”
EPA Chooses to Condemn Future Generations to Radiation Exposure
Background: Sixteen years after Congress ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set radiation release regulations for the proposed high-level radioactive waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, the agency has finalized it standards just a month before the presidential elections. EPA's proposed 100 millirem per year "allowable" radiation dose rate for persons living downstream from Yucca 10,000 to one million years from now is four times the amount of radioactivity allowed under comparable international standards. It is also six to seven times more radioactivity than EPA would allow in the first 10,000 years following waste burial at Yucca.
Our View: Given that all human generations are of equal importance and moral worth, EPA's regulations are a violation of inter-generational equity, and an ethical outrage. They seem designed to accommodate a geologically unsuitable site that is guaranteed to leak huge quantities of radioactivity into the drinking water supply below over time. For more, see the Yucca Mountain page on our Web site.
Beyond Nuclear In the News
Kevin Kamps quoted in Joe Hebert’s Associated Press story, in Discover Magazine, in the Las Vegas Review Journal and on the Censored News blog about EPA’s radiation exposure rules for Yucca Mountain.
The French Nuclear Medusa: Is there anywhere left on the planet where France/Areva is not selling nuclear reactors? The French were the first to jump at the chance to seal nuclear reactor contracts with India this week, even before the U.S. Senate voted its predictable approval. But Venezuela is also on this week’s client list. French president and nuclear proponent, Nicolas Sarkozy’s nuclear travel list has already included: Algeria, China, Egypt, Jordan, India, Lybia, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Tunisia.
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Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abandon both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic. Beyond Nuclear staff can be reached at: 301.270.2209. Or view our Web site at: www.beyondnuclear.org
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New Friends of the Earth Ad Ties Nuclear Loan Guarantees to Bush Bailout
Loan guarantees sought by nuclear industry for reactor construction amount to ‘preemptive bailout,’ with expected default rate of 50 percent or higher
WASHINGTON, D.C.—A new ad from Friends of the Earth accuses nuclear industry lobbyists of seeking a “preemptive bailout” from Congress in the form of risky, taxpayer-backed loan guarantees from Congress.
“First the government bails out the banks, now all20of Wall Street, at a cost of over 1 trillion dollars. So why would taxpayers ever risk billions to build nuclear power plants?” the ad asks. “With cheaper, safer alternatives, why is Congress even considering a preemptive bailout for nuclear power?”
Nuclear industry executives admit that nuclear power is so financially risky that federal loan guarantees are the only way new plants will get built. For example, Michael J. Wallace, the co-chief executive of UniStar Nuclear, told the New York Times last year that “without loan guarantees we will not build nuclear power plants.” Unfortunately, the Congressional Research Service says such guarantees could leave taxpayers with “potentially large losses.” The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the risk of default on a nuclear loan guarantee is “very high—well above 50 percent.”
“The fact that we’re already looking at a trillion-dollar bailout for the financial services industry ought to take an additional bailout for the nuclear industry off the table,” Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder said. “There are cleaner, safer, more affordable ways to address the energy crisis. A multibillion-dollar preemptive bailout for the nuclear industry in the form of risky loan guarantees is not the answer.”
Friends of the Earth is encouraging Americans who don’t want billions of their tax dollars to be spent bailing out the nuclear industry to join our campaign at http://www.foe.org.
The ad can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK_cOCu1hrQ
Courtesy of Friends of the Earth (foe.org), the U.S. voice of the world’s largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 70 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.
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Millstone Clean Water Act Permit Public Hearing
Scheduled in December in Old Lyme
The Department of Environmental Protection is scheduling a public hearing in December on the renewal of the Millstone Clean Water Act permit which allows Dominion to discharge a thermal plume laced with toxic chemicals and radioactive waste byproducts into the Long Island Sound.
DEP initially intended to conduct the public hearing in Hartford at night.
However, at a conference in Hartford on September 29, 2008, Nancy Burton, director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, persuaded DEP to convene the hearing instead closer to Millstone and the affected community. The public hearing will take place in December in Old Lyme at the DEP's Marine Fisheries office located on the Connecticut River. The date will be set shortly.
Should there be an overflow crowd, DEP will continue the hearing in Hartford.
The Connecticut Supreme Court has scheduled oral argument in October on the appeal Burton brought challenging DEP's commitment to protect the public interest in the Millstone case. DEP has allowed Dominion to operate on a permit that expired in 1997 without mandating technology improvements to minmize environmental impacts, including massive fish kills and toxic discharges.
Read articles in the Hartford Court and The New London Day concerning recent developments in the permit proceeding. Stay posted here for further comment and news of other developments.
The Senate's "Drill Drill Drill" bill hides nuke power mega-theft
September 18, 2008
The McCain/Palin push for endless oil drilling is being used as a smokescreen to gouge a half-trillion or more taxpayer dollars in subsidies and loan guarantees to build new atomic reactors. The mega-theft could be approved by the US Senate this week. Green activists throughout the nation are calling their Senators, as should you.
The atomic power industry can’t get private financing to build new reactors. So while Wall Street plummets into catastrophe, it is using the “drill drill drill” mantra to hide this latest raid on the depleted federal treasury.
The new Senate bill authorizes the oil industry to drill for oil virtually anywhere it wants, without meaningful environmental restraint. The enormous profits would stay in the hands of the petro-barons.
Hidden in the bill is a limitless blank check for loan guarantees to build new reactors. A year ago the industry tried to slip $50 billion in guarantees into a bill sponsored by Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), nuke power’s chief Congressional pusher. A national grassroots campaign, sparked in part by NukeFree.org and other national green groups, helped beat the bill. Not a single major environmental organization supported the reactor industry.
Now desperate reactor builders have upped the ante, demanding a wide range of financial give-aways and regulatory favors to jump-start a technology defined by fifty years of proven failure. The centerpiece is a loan guarantee plan to stick taxpayers with 100% of the liability for failed reactor construction projects. The GOP McCain/Palin ticket wants at least 45 new reactors for the US, with a price tag that could easily exceed $500 billion, all of which would be guaranteed by this bill.
On Tuesday, September 16, the House passed a bill engineered by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that limits new drilling to no less than 50 miles offshore. State approval is required, but all profits would go to a federal fund to promote renewable energy. There are no subsidies for nuke power. George W. Bush has threatened a veto.
Neither existing nor proposed reactors can get private insurance, so taxpayers are already liable for disasters by terror or error. The industry wants the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to license its proposed high-level radioactive waste dump at Yucca Mountain despite overwhelming opposition from the people of Nevada. Current cost estimates are in the $100 billion range.
Reactor pushers in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and elsewhere are now in the process of forcing ratepayers to fork over billions in higher electric bills to pay for new reactors while they are being built.
But the McCain/Palin blank check in the Senate’s “Drill Drill Drill” bill would put hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on the line for a new generation of radioactive time bombs, deployed on our soil, guaranteed to fail.
The time to stop this is now. Call your Senator immediately.
Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.solartopia.org. He helped found Musicians United for Safe Energy, and edits the nukefree.org web site.
GANG OF 10 BILL:
BIGGEST GIVEAWAY TO NUCLEAR POWER INDUSTRY EVER
NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY: WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17
This is it. In the mainstream media, the Gang of 10 (actually, now it's the Gang of 20) energy bill is all about offshore oil drilling. And, to be sure, there's lots of that in the bill, which is expected to come up in the Senate late next week. But the bill would also be the biggest giveaway to the nuclear power industry ever.
Unlimited loan guarantees for construction of new atomic reactors. That's right, unlimited. As much money-hundreds of billions of dollars--as everyone in the nuclear industry wants, when it wants, for as long as it wants.
I'm sure I don't need to tell you how that would absolutely destroy our ability to effectively address the climate crisis and what a disaster that would be for our economy, for our nation, for our planet.
How do these Senators think they can get away with this? Because they're not hearing from enough of us, often enough. They think this is a popular stand. We all need to stand up now and be counted.
That's why NIRS, Physicians for Social Responsibility and other national groups are putting out the word for a National Call-In Day to the Senate on Wednesday, September 17. We need at least 10,000 phone calls to the Senate on Wednesday. We need the phones there to be ringing non-stop from dawn to dusk. Will you help?
Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121
*Please call both of your Senators that day with a very simple message: Take taxpayer loan guarantees for nuclear power out of the Gang of 20 energy bill. (note: the bill does not yet have a number. It's called the New Energy Reform Act of 2008, but everyone will know what you are talking about if you just say "Gang of 20 energy bill.")
- Courtesy Michael Marriotte, www.nirs.org
'It feels like a sci-fi film' - accidents tarnish nuclear dream
French nuclear companies are hoping to play a central role in the government's plan to build a new generation of reactors. At home, however, the industry has been buffeted by a series of mishaps. Angelique Chrisafis reports from Bollène The Guardian, Saturday July 26 2008
A field of sunflowers in front of the Areva Tricastin nuclear plant in in Bollene, in the south of France. Photograph: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty images
Sylvie Eymard's Provence farmhouse kitchen should be the picture of French rural calm. But the stockpiles of bottled water, disinfectant rinse and disposable paper plates hint at something strange.
For the past two weeks, Eymard, 41, and her children, 13 and seven, have had a phobia of taps. To wash up, they go out to the yard and fill a bowl from a specially delivered plastic tank of purified water on a fork-lift tractor. They carry the water up to the bathroom to wash. Even the dog drinks bottled water, and it is left out for the birds.
"I feel as if everything's constantly dirty," Eymard said, her hands deep in soapy lather scrubbing plates.
The view from the house over the fields is dominated by the nearby cooling towers of the Tricastin site, a nuclear power plant run by EDF, the company which is poised to buy British Energy and take control of most UK nuclear stations.
Next to the plant is a nuclear treatment centre run by a subsidiary of Areva, the nuclear group which hopes to design many of the new British reactors. Last month an accident at the treatment centre during a draining operation saw liquid containing untreated uranium overflow out of a faulty tank. About 75kg of uranium seeped into the ground and into the Gaffiere and Lauzon rivers which flow into the Rhone. Eymard's house is 100 metres from one of these streams.
Like a handful of rural homes near the nuclear site, hers is plumbed into the local groundwater from wells. For 20 years she has drunk from the tap. But after the incident there was a ban on drinking the groundwater, using it to water fields - as all local farmers do - or swimming or fishing in local lakes and streams. Since then, Eymard feels like she is in an episode of The Simpsons, in a Springfield where people's trust has been abused by haphazard mistakes. "It feels like a science fiction film where experts constantly come to examine and film the people who've been exposed."
At the centre for adults with learning disabilities where she works, some have seen her on the TV news and innocently asked for her autograph. At 10.30am on the dot, two men in green overalls from the nuclear site appear at her door to collect the daily sample of water from her tap to analyse it for uranium. Levels have fluctuated daily.
Even after the official ban was lifted this week and the families' urine samples tested normal, Eymard won't drink from the tap. "I always trusted that nuclear was totally secure. But now I wonder, have there been other accidents in the past we haven't been told about?"
The nuclear site at Bollène sits in a picturesque corner of Provence between the lavender fields and cypress trees that stretch north to the nougat capital of Montélimar and to the historic town of Avignon 30 miles to the south, which was hosting its famous theatre festival when the spillage occurred.
Until now most locals have accepted the plant as a risk-free part of everyday life in nuclear-dependent France. More than 80% of France's electricity is generated by the country's 58 nuclear reactors - the world's highest ratio. But the leak has shaken French trust in nuclear safety and embarrassed Nicolas Sarkozy as he crusades for a French-led world renaissance in atomic power.
The president wants to export French nuclear know-how around the world, including to Britain where nuclear power supplies 19% of electricity, and London and Paris are to cooperate on a new generation of nuclear power plants. Areva, 90% state-owned, is at the heart of foreign cooperation agreements not just with Europe but countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Libya. Last year it clinched the biggest commercial nuclear power contract on record, worth €8bn (£6.3bn), to supply China with two reactors and provide nuclear fuel for nearly two decades.
Areva has been criticised by France's nuclear safety watchdog over the Tricastin leak for not adequately informing local authorities and for unsatisfactory measures and operational procedures. The leak rated at level one of the seven-stage scale of nuclear incidents.
It was detected on the night of July 7 but the town hall and locals who continued to drink water contaminated with uranium were not informed until the following afternoon. Areva's chief executive, Anne Lauvergeon, called the leak an "anomaly" which posed no danger to humans or the environment. The treatment plant has been shut and the subsidiary's director removed.
But in recent days there have been other, lesser incidents at nuclear sites. In Romans-sur-Isère, north of Tricastin, at another site run by an Areva subsidiary, officials discovered a burst underground pipe which had been broken for years and did not meet safety standards. A tiny amount of lightly enriched uranium leaked but not beyond the plant. This week, about 100 staff at Tricastin's nuclear reactor number four were contaminated by radioactive particles that escaped from a pipe. EDF described the contamination as "slight".
The French government has now ordered tests on the groundwater around all nuclear sites in France. The environment minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, said there were 86 level-one nuclear incidents in France last year and 114 in 2006.
People living near the Tricastin plant remain concerned. In basil and coriander fields farmed by the extended Eymard family not far from the nuclear site, part of the crop was ruined after wilting during the ban on using contaminated water. The herbs, which are sold to make frozen seasoning, have been tested for radioactivity and cleared.
Roger Eymard, 69, a retired farmer, now washes by pouring purified water into the shower fitting of his camper van parked in a stable. "Nuclear was progress and we wanted that. We thought people were competent. Now we ask, were there previous incidents we weren't told about?"
France's IRSN nuclear safety institute has pinpointed high levels of uranium in the groundwater that it said could not have been caused by the recent leak alone. A separate commission raised the possibility that this contamination could be linked to military nuclear waste at the Tricastin plant from 1964 to 1976.
The area's image has been so dented that the nearby Rhône Valley wine makers whose label is Coteaux du Tricastin want to change their name. In nearby Bollène, sales of bottled water have soared despite assurances that the tap water is unaffected. Some people have even asked chemists for iodine tablets, recommended for a nuclear emergency.
Not far from the nuclear site, Emilie Dubois, 61, sat by her luxury swimming pool framed by fig trees, poolside bar, shower and designer outdoor kitchen. But for two weeks the cover has been on as the family ordered tests on radioactivity levels in the pool water.
The day the emergency water ban was announced, more than 50 people swimming in a local lake were ordered out and fled. "It was as if there was a shark attack," one said.
Dubois was in her pool with her grandchildren when a town hall official arrived to tell her of a ban on watering with groundwater. He said he had orders not to give an explanation. She assumed it was a drought warning and got back in the pool. Only from television that night did the family learn of the leak. The pool, filled with local groundwater, was a potential contamination zone. It has now tested safe to swim in.
Her husband is a retired engineer from the plant and her sons work in the industry. "I've never questioned the safety of nuclear," she said. She has resumed watering her vegetable patch and ate freshly picked salad for lunch. "It's organic but it's been watered with the groundwater after the leak. Why would I eat anyone else's tomatoes that weren't organic? Although there are thoughts at the back of my mind as I'm eating."
Sarkozy recently announced that France will build a second new-generation nuclear reactor, a European pressurised water reactor or EPR. He said nuclear power was France's best answer to soaring energy prices and global warming. The Green party attacked the EPR as "useless, dangerous and expensive", saying: "France is becoming a nuclear showroom for Sarkozy the sales rep and Areva."
Not far from the stream that was contaminated from the Tricastin leak, Joel Bernard sat in his farmhouse tallying the loss to his carrots, radishes, turnips and cherries which couldn't be watered during the ban. "Until last week, it was paradise here," he said. "I don't want to return to the rural past. But something like this creates a kind of suspicion."
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008
"Nuclear Regulatory Commission Deals Devastating Blow to Nuclear Power
Industry - New Nukes Not Ready for Prime Time", July 25, 2008
By HARVEY WASSERMAN
A devastating blow to the much-hyped revival of atomic power has been
delivered by an unlikely source---the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The NRC
says the "standardized" designs on which the entire premise of returning
nuclear power to center stage is based have massive holes in them, and may
not be ready for approval for years to come.
Delivered by one of America's most notoriously docile agencies, the NRC's
warning essentially says: that all cost estimates for new nuclear
reactors---and all licensing and construction schedules---are completely up
for grabs, and have no reliable basis in fact. Thus any comparisons between
future atomic reactors and renewable technologies are moot at best. And any
"hard number" basis for independent financing for future nukes may not be
available for years to come, if ever.
These key points have been raised in searing testimony before state
regulators by Jim Warren of the North Carolina Waste and Awareness Reduction
Network and Tom Clements of the South Carolina Friends of the Earth, and by
others now challenging proposed state-based financing for new Westinghouse
AP-1000 reactors. The NRC gave conditional "certification" to this
"standardized" design in 2004, allowing design work to continue. But as
recently as June 27, the NRC has issued written warnings that hundreds of
key design components remain without official approval. Indeed, Westinghouse
has been forced to actually withdraw numerous key designs, throwing the
entire permitting process into chaos.
The catastrophic outcome of similar problems has already become tangible.
After two years under construction, the first "new generation" French
reactor being built in Finland is already more than two years behind
schedule, and more than $2.5 billion over budget. The scenario is
reminiscent of the economic disaster that hit scores of "first generation"
reactors, which came in massively over budget and, in many cases, decades
behind promised completion dates.
In North and South Carolina, public interest groups are demanding the
revocation of some $230 million in pre-construction costs already approved
by state regulators for two proposed Duke Energy reactors. In both those
states, as well as in Florida, Alabama and Georgia, Westinghouse AP-1000
reactors have been presented to regulatory commissions to be financed by
ratepayers as they are being built.
This astounding pro-utility scheme forces electric consumers to pay billions
of dollars for nuclear plants that may never operate, and whose costs are
indeterminate. Sometimes called Construction Work in Progress, it lets
utilities raise rates to pay for site clearing, project planning, and down
payments on large equipment and heavy reactor components, such as pressure
vessels, pumps and generators, that can involve hundreds of millions of
dollars, even before the projects get final federal approval. The process in
essence gives utilities an incentive to drive up construction costs as much
as they can. It allows them to force ratepayers to cover legal fees incurred
by the utilities to defend themselves against lawsuits by those very
ratepayers. And the public is stuck with the bill for whatever is spent,
even if the reactor never opens---or if it melts down before it recoups its
construction costs, as did Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island Unit Two in
1979, which self-destructed after just three months of operation.
According to Warren and Clements, Duke Energy and its cohorts have "filed
some 6,500 pages of Westinghouse's technical design documents as the major
component of applications" to build new reactors. "Of the 172 interconnected
Westinghouse documents," say NCWARN and FOE, "only 21 have been certified."
And most of what has been certified, they add, rely on systems that are
unapproved, and that are key to the guts of the reactor, including such
major components as the "reactor building, control room, cooling system,
engineering designs, plant-wide alarm systems, piping and conduit."
In other words, despite millions of dollars of high-priced hype, the "new
generation" of "standardized design" power plants actually does not exist.
The plans for these reactors have not been finalized by the builders
themselves, nor have they been approved by the regulators. There is no
operating prototype of a Westinghouse AP-1000 from which to draw actual data
about how safely these plants might actually operate, what their
environmental impact might be, or what they might cost to build or run.
In fact, as the NRC's June 27 letter notes, Westinghouse has been forced to
withdraw key technical documents from the regulatory process. The NRC says
this means design approval for the AP-1000 might not come until 2012.
The problem extends to other designs. According to Michael Mariotte of the
Nuclear Information & Resource Service, the "Evolutionary Power Reactor"
proposed for Calvert Cliffs, Maryland, "is way behind in certification"
causing delays in the licensing process. Similar problems have arisen with
the "Economic Simplified Boiling War Reactor" design proposed for North
Anna, Virginia and Fermi, Michigan. "All of these utilities seem to want
standardization for the other guy, not for themselves, so most of them are
making changes to the 'standardized' designs, says Mariotte. "Even the
ABWR," being planned for a site in south Texas, which has actually been
built before, "has design issues" that have caused delays.
The problem, says Mariotte, "is that the NRC is still trying to go ahead and
do licensing even with the designs not certified. This is going to lead to a
big mess later on."
But in the meantime, Public Service Commissions like the one in Florida,
have given preliminary approval to reactor proposals whose projected costs
have more than doubled in just one year. Florida Power & Light's two
proposed reactors at Turkey Point, on the border of the Everglades National
Park, are listed as costing somewhere between $6 billion and $9 billion.
FP&L refuses to commit to a firm price, and is demanding south Florida
ratepayers foot an unknowable bill for gargantuan projects whose costs are
virtually certain to skyrocket long before the NRC approves the actual
reactor designs. By contrast, the "huge" preliminary deal just reached
between Florida, environmentalists and U.S. Sugar to buy some 180,000 acres
of land to save the Everglades is now estimated at less than $2 billion,
less than one-sixth the minimum estimated cost of the two reactors proposed
for Turkey Point.
In the larger picture, the depth of this scam is staggering. With no
finalized design, and no firm price tag, a second generation of nuclear
power plants is now being put on the tab of southeastern citizens whose
rates have already begun to skyrocket. These reactor projects cannot get
private financing, and cannot proceed without either massive federal
subsidies and loan guarantees, or a flood of these state-based give-aways.
They also cannot get private insurance against future melt-downs, and have
no solution for their radioactive waste problem. Current estimates for
finishing the proposed Yucca Mountain national waste repository, also yet to
be licensed, are soaring toward $100 billion, even though it, too, may never
By contrast, firm costs for proposed wind farms, solar panels, increased
efficiency and other green sources are proven and reliable. These projects
are easily financed by private investors lining up to become involved. Some
$6 billion in new wind farms are under construction or on order in the
United States alone. They are established and profitable, and can in many
cases can be up and running in less than a year.
The high-profile campaign to paint atomic energy as some kind of answer to
America's energy problems has hit the iceberg of its economic
impossibilities. The atomic "renaissance" has no tangible approved design,
and no firm construction or operating costs to present. There are no
reliable new reactor construction schedules, except to know that it will be
at least ten years before the first one could conceivably come on line, and
that its price tag is unknowable.
In short, the "nuclear renaissance" is perched atop a gigantic technical and
economic chasm that looms larger every day, and that could soon swallow the
entire idea of building more reactors.
Harvey Wasserman, a co-founder of Musicians United for Safe Energy, is
editing the nukefree.org web site. He is the author of SOLARTOPIA! Our
Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, is at www.solartopia.org. He can be reached
at: Windhw@ aol.com
Replacing Nukes with Windpower:
Germany Did It: Why Not US?
German gov't. has approved enough
wind parks to replace nuclear power plants
The German government has approved plans to build 24 offshore wind parks with a capacity of up to 24,000 megawatts, enough to replace all 17 German nuclear power plants, Focus magazine said, citing the German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). In an excerpt of an article to be published on Monday, the magazine also said the BSH, which is the federal authority responsible for the approval of offshore activities, has received filings for an additional 50 projects.
[Note: This 24,000 megawatts of offshore wind is in addition to the more than
20,000 megawatts of onshore wind, and 2,200 megawatts of solar electricity,
already installed in Germany. G.E.]
Courtesy of the Nuclear Energy Information Service, www.neis.org
Celebrating East Lyme Day!
The Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone celebrated East Lyme Day on July 19, 2008 with a booth on Main Street, Niantic.
Here are some of the day’s highlights:
• We signed up twelve breastfeeding mothers from all over southeastern Connecticut to share their milk for sampling and testing for radioactivity.
• Sadly, we added to our growing database of community cancer incidences, including identification of new cancer cluster zones in Waterford and East Lyme.
• We accepted the thanks of an area pediatrician for our work in calling attention to Millstone’s health impacts on young children.
• We met the dynamic young director who is helping put on the acclaimed Studs Terkel Broadway musical, “Working,” at East Lyme High School on July 25, 26 and 27 as a benefit for the Tommy Fund for Childhood Cancer, a charity currently helping families of 35 children with childhood cancer in southeastern Connecticut. Go! Support the Tommy Fund! Enjoy great community theatre! Check out http://www.flanderscommunitytheater.org.
• We discovered the Town of East Lyme does not inform young lifeguards of the hazards of swimming and working at town beaches on Niantic Bay -which Dominion calls its “mixing zone” for its radioactive and toxic waste discharges. We recommend the Town of East Lyme review its liability insurance policies.
• We educated nuclear Navy submariners about Dominion’s profit-seeking practices which put greed above safety.
• We met hundreds of residents of southeastern Connecticut who expressed their concerns about their health and safety living near Millstone’s two aging and trouble-plagued nuclear reactors.
• We collected signatures on a petition to Attorney General Richard S. Blumenthal asking him to intervene before the NRC to block Dominion’s plans to increase power generation at Millstone Unit 3 by 7+ per cent. Dominion admits it will release 7+ per cent more radiation into our air and water and 7+ per cent hotter wastewater into the Long Island Sound if the proposal is granted. Since Millstone Unit 3's containment is already taxed to the maximum, the uprate would clearly substantially increase safety risks during routine operations and during an emergency.
• We learned from the wife of a former Millstone construction worker that one of the Millstone nuclear reactors was built on a foundation of rocks bolted together. She saw them herself at an “open house.” She related other information about substandard practices in pouring foundation concrete.
• We met Dan Reale, a candidate for Congress in the 2d District on the Libertarian Party line. Dan’s position on Millstone is: If Dominion has caused harm to the environment or human health, he expects Dominion to repair the harm and pay money damages to the families of those who have been harmed. Check out www.realedealfor congress.com.
THANKS TO ALL FOR MAKING THE DAY A HUGE SUCCESS!
River use banned after French uranium leak
Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
Thursday July 10, 2008
Residents in the Vaucluse, a popular southern French tourist destination, were banned yesterday from drinking well-water or swimming or fishing in two rivers after a uranium leak from one of France's nuclear power plants.
Nuclear officials yesterday revised down the amount of untreated liquid uranium that spilled from the Tricastin nuclear power centre in Bollene, saying it was limited to 75kg and ranked grade one on the one-to-seven scale of nuclear accidents. But the spillage of waste material containing uranium in the picturesque area of Provence, 30 miles from Avignon, which is currently hosting an arts festival, embarrassed the government.
Nicolas Sarkozy has prioritised exporting nuclear expertise worldwide, including to Britain. Nuclear power comprises 87% of France's electricity production, but yesterday anti-nuclear groups renewed their criticisms of the nuclear power policy.
The leak occurred when a tank was being cleaned between Monday night and Tuesday morning but was not detected until yesterday. Around 30 cubic metres of liquid containing uranium, which was not enriched, leaked out of a tank. Of this, 18 cubic metres poured on to the ground and into the nearby Gaffiere and Lauzon rivers, which flow into the Rhone. The plant has been operational since 1975.
Vaucluse authorities banned drinking well-water, fishing and eating fish from the rivers as well as swimming and water sports and irrigating crops with potentially contaminated water. One swimmer among 100 bathers asked to immediately vacate a local lake said it was as if there had been sharks in it.
Officials from the Socatri safety agency, a subsidiary of nuclear giant Areva, said groundwater, wells and rivers had shown no effects yesterday. The nuclear safety authority said radioactive levels detected in rivers and lakes in the region were decreasing.
The prefecture of Vaucluse said the leaked uranium should only be found in very small quantities and the risk was low but the ban on drinking, fishing and swimming would continue.
Germany's Social Democrat environment minister, Michael Müller, whose party is opposed to nuclear energy, said yesterday that the incident should not be taken lightly. "It's no trifle when active uranium penetrates the soil," he told Agence France Presse.
The French environmental group, the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity, said that the radioactivity released into the environment was at least 100 times higher than the fixed limit for that site for the entire year.
Greenpeace International nuclear campaigner, Aslihan Tumer, said: "Given the restrictions on the consumption and use of water in the area, it is clear that the leak poses a risk to the local population and to the environment."
Connecticut Supreme Court Transfers Important Millstone Appeal To Itself
On June 25, 2008, Connecticut's highest court announced that it had transferred the case of Nancy Burton v. Commissioner of Environmental Protection to itself from the lower Appellate Court.
Although the Supreme Court gave no reason for transferring the appeal to itself, the Supreme Court customarily transfers important cases with statewide significance which involve important factual and legal issues.
Burton v. Commissioner presents a novel issue: whether Connecticut's Environmental Protection Act (General Statutes Section 22a-20) empowers a Superior Court judge to oust DEP from adjudicating a Clean Water Act permit and assume the authority to do so on his/her own.
"The clear language of the statute gives a trial court this power - although it has never been exercised in the 30 years the law has been in effect," said Burton, director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone.
The appeal alleges that DEP has utterly failed to carry out its statutory obligations with regard to the Millstone Clean Water Act permit and its decisionmaking is riddled with collusion with Millstone's owner, Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc., and corruption of the public trust. The appeal also alleges actual harm to the marine environment from Millstone's once-through cooling system.
DEP continues to permit Dominion to operate on a Clean Water Act permit which was issued in 1992 for a five-year term, although the permit expired in 1997, eleven years ago.
DEP has also illegally allowed major modifications to the 1992 permit - including huge increases in thermal discharges and the discharge of hydrazine, a carcinogen, into the Long Island Sound - at the request of Millstone's owner without public notice or hearing, in violation of the Clean Water Act, the suit alleges.
Oral argument before the Connecticut Supreme Court will likely take place in the fall.
Debate on the Senate climate change bill (now numbered S. 3036) began on Monday and has continued through Tuesday. Voting on amendments—including amendments to give billions more taxpayer dollars to the nuclear power industry—will begin as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, June 4.Your calls to your Senators are needed now more than ever!
Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121If you already have called your Senators, call again to remind them that no nuclear amendments are acceptable, and that nuclear power has no place in the necessary effort to address the climate crisis. Renewable energy and energy efficiency are faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner ways to reduce carbon emissions and meet our electricity needs.And ask your parents, kids, grandchildren, the guy at the gas station, the woman at the bank, the person in the next cubicle, and everyone else you know, meet and run into, to call as well. We don’t have huge budgets and hundreds of lobbyists running all over Capitol Hill—we rely on people power.Your calls ARE effective and CAN make a real difference. Call even if you think your Senators are hopeless—part of what we need to do is create a real buzz on Capitol Hill that millions of Americans believe this is an important issue.The message to your Senators is simple: Vote against any and all nuclear amendments to the climate bill. The wealthy nuclear industry does not deserve any more taxpayer dollars. Our resources need to be spent on energy efficiency, solar and wind power, distributed energy and smart grids.
Please call now, and please send us a quick e-mail letting us know you called. As always, let us know if we can help in any way.
- Courtesy, Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Vote for your city's best dining and nightlife. City's Best 2008.
Petition the NRC for a Hearing!
On June 4, the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board denied the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone's request for a hearing to challenge Dominion's proposed 7 per cent Millstone Unit 3 uprate.
The ASLB decision was in clear error and completly disregarded the sworn statements of two experts, including a highly respected nuclear engineer who worked at Millstone Unit 3.
This means that the public will have NO SAY in whether Millstone Unit 3 should be allowed to increase its radiation releases to the environment by 7 per cent or more - to a community which is already suffering some of the highest cancer rates in the state.
This means that the public will have NO SAY in whether Millstone Unit 3 should be allowed to increase the temperature of its thermal plume by 7 per cent or more - when the Long Island Sound and its marinelike are already suffering from overheating.
This means that the public will have NO SAY in whether Millstone's under-designed and already overstressed Unit 3 containment and aging pipes and valves can handle increased rates of pressure, temperature, corrosion and velocity of coolant water.
The Coalition must file an appeal to the NRC by Monday, June 16.
Support the Coalition's appeal by signing your name to our online petition.
Or download the petition and circulate it among your familes, friends and neighbors.
We are the guinea pigs in Millstone's Great Nuclear Experiment.
Demand your rights: No uprate without a hearing!
Read Dominion's Supplemental Environmental Report. Go to www.nrc.gov Go to "Public Reading Room." Go to "ADAMS." Type in "ML072000391."
To sign: Click Here, select petition below, copy, paste into email, fill out info, and send.
To the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
We petition the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to reverse the decision of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board issued on June 4, 2008 denying the public a hearing on the Millstone Unit 3 power uprate.
As residents of Connecticut, we object to any decision granting the uprate without a hearing on the effects of 7 per cent or more increases in radiation releases to the air, 7 per cent or more increases in the thermal plume temperature released to the Long Island Sound and without a full and comprehensive analysis - subject to expert challenge - of the effects of such an uprate on Millstone Unit 3's already-stressed concrete containment.
Name --------------------------------------------------Town-------------------------------------------------------------- Date-----------
It was the battle cry in a successful anti-nuclear movement Ralph Nader led in the 1970s.
Now, nuclear power is resurgent.
Because politicians like McCain, Obama and Clinton all want to keep nuclear power on the table.
All three support legislation that would provide government taxpayer subsidies and guarantees to power companies to build nuclear power plants.
Nader/Gonzalez take nuclear power off the table.
Nader/Gonzalez oppose government subsidies and guarantees to the nuclear industry.
The billions are far safer and better spent supporting energy efficiency and solar energy projects than building these nuclear national security risk boondoggles.
Tomorrow (Thursday, May 29, 2008, 12 noon) Ralph Nader and the Nader/Gonzalez team will be outside the nuclear power lobby's headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. to call for a halt to the head-long rush to nuclear power.
Once again, we will be saying loud and clear - No Nukes.
One. There's no safe place to put the waste. The waste from nuclear power plants will be toxic to humans for several hundred thousand years. Where will it go? Not Nevada. Any other ideas?
Two. Accidents. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Browns Ferry, Fermi.
Three. National security. Nuclear reactors present an attractive target for terrorists.
Four. Costs. The average nuclear power plant will cost a average of $10 billion to $18 billion - before the inevitable cost overruns - guaranteed by the taxpayers. Because of safety, security and environmental concerns, the industry can't find investors to build them, so it is turning to Washington for corporate welfare in the form of subsidies, guarantees and insurance. As the Nuclear Energy Institute puts it "100 percent loan coverage [by taxpayers] is essential ... because the capital markets are unwilling, now and for the foreseeable future, to provide the financing necessary" for new nuclear power plants.
Four strikes and you're out.
McCain/Clinton/Obama want to keep nuclear power on the table and support legislation to subsidize the building of nuclear power plants.
Nader/Gonzalez would keep nuclear power off the table, oppose subsidies, and would instead invest to transform our centralized fossil fuel economy into a decentralized solar energy and energy conservation economy.
Once again, the choice is as clear as night and day.
Bring on the sun.
Stop the waste.
The protest tomorrow at the nuclear industry lobby is the fourth in our series of protests inside corporate occupied territory.
If you are in the neighborhood of corporate occupied territory (read: our nation's capital), tomorrow, please come out and join with us in saying no to nuclear power and yes to a stepped up transformation to a solar energy, energy conservation economy.
If not, please donate now to help put Nader/Gonzalez' No Nukes platform on as many state ballots as possible.
Thank you for your steadfast dedication and support.
The Nader Team
Baby teeth study to begin
By Robert Kelly ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH Wednesday, May. 28 2008
Thousands of baby teeth, almost all collected from St. Louis-area residents in
the 1950s and 1960s, will finally be used in a comprehensive study aimed at
learning whether fallout from atomic bomb tests increased the cancer risk for
Americans born in those Cold War years.
The nonprofit Radiation and Public Health Project in New York announced last
week that a $15,000 donation from the Oregon Community Foundation of Portland,
Ore., would allow the yearlong study to begin. The rest of the nearly $37,000
project cost is being covered by other private contributors, project officials
Almost 85,000 baby teeth left from a study conducted in the early 1960s at
Washington University will be used in the new study. They were uncovered in
2001 in an old ammunition bunker at the university's Tyson Research Center.
Each tooth is enclosed in a small envelope and clipped to a 3x5 card with basic
information about the tooth donor. Most of them were born in the late 1950s or
early 1960s and lived in the St. Louis area as children.
They were part of the St. Louis Baby Tooth Survey, in which nearly 300,000 area
children sent their teeth to the Greater St. Louis Citizens Committee for
Scientists used the teeth to determine that children were absorbing radioactive
fallout from nuclear bomb tests. Those findings helped lead to a 1963 treaty
banning atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons.
Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project,
said last week in a telephone interview from New York that his research group
had had possession of the 85,000 teeth since 2001 but lacked the money until
now to begin a full study of the cancer risk posed by the nuclear tests.
Now, he said, the research group will identify 100 tooth donors who later
developed cancer, plus 200 healthy donors. A lab will then test their teeth for
levels of strontium 90, a radioactive chemical found in bomb fallout and
If the teeth of donors with cancer have a higher average strontium 90 level, a
link with the fallout would be suggested. Then the research group would proceed
with a more detailed study, Mangano said. At the end of the one-year project,
the researchers will submit an article to a medical journal for publication, he
"This actually extends the Washington University study," he said. "We now have
much more sophisticated machines to do the study."
The emergence of the Internet also allows the scientists to find many of the
tooth donors from years ago and to question them about their health.
Mangano said it was especially important to focus the study on St. Louis,
calling the city "probably the hardest-hit large American city by bomb
fallout," based on official U.S. Public Health Service measurements of
radiation in milk.
Scientists identified a "milk pathway" by which fallout from nuclear testing in
the 1950s and 1960s contaminated pastures. Anyone who drank milk from cows that
grazed there could have been exposed to radiation.
Mangano said the Washington University study showed there was a rapid decline
in strontium 90 in baby teeth collected after the nuclear test ban went into
effect. But that study did not look at a potential link between cancer rates
and fallout from the atomic bomb tests, he said.
"Our whole point is to try to determine the cancer risk to the baby boomers who
were exposed to fallout," he said. "After 50 years, we still don't know much
Mangano said that strontium 90 decayed over time, but that nearly three-eighths
of the radioactive chemical originally found in the teeth could still be
"For this first year, we will be studying only male tooth donors," he added.
"First, it is much easier to locate males at current addresses, since many
girls donating teeth in the 1960s have changed their names. Second, the death
rate is much higher for males, and may yield a larger sample of donors who are
either living with cancer or have died of the disease. Seven percent of males
and 3 percent of females who were young children in the 1960s are now deceased."
Eric Pickles, 50, of Fenton, recalled donating some of his baby teeth for the
old Washington University study. He works at the Chrysler plant near his home
and said he was in relatively good health.
"I have diabetes now, and it ran in my family," Pickles said.
Although he doesn't think his diabetes is related to radioactive fallout, he
said he was wondering what the new baby tooth study would find about long-term
health effects from the bomb tests. He said he'd be glad to cooperate with the
scientists conducting the new study. "I hope something good comes of it," he
firstname.lastname@example.org | 636-500-4109
The Unit 2 reactor at the Millstone nuclear power plant in Connecticut experienced two power related events in three days. While the final report on why these events happened will be
chronicled in licensee event reports (LERs) submitted by the plant’s owner to the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC) in about 60 days and in the NRC’s own inspection report issued
sometime this summer, this backgrounder explains what happened based on information
provided in NRC daily event report Nos. 44324 and 44328.
At 2:20 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, 2008, Millstone Unit 2 automatically shut down from 100
percent power when the reactor protection system detected an electrical disturbance, possibly
caused a lightning strike on an offsite transmission line. The trip signal caused control rods to
enter the reactor core within seconds to stop the nuclear chain reaction. The reactor trip from full
power meant that the main generator (shown inside the green box in the upper left corner of
figure 2) no longer provided electricity to either the 345 kilovolt switchyard or to in-plant
electrical buses. But while the 345 kilovolt switchyard no longer received electricity from Unit 2,
it provided electricity to Unit 2 via the Reserve Station Service Transformer (shown inside the
yellow box in the upper center of figure 2). The Reserve Station Service Transformer fed this
offsite power to electrical buses throughout the plant for both safety (lower portion of figure 2)
and non-safety (middle portion of figure 2) equipment. The decay heat that continued to be
produced by the shut down reactor core was removed using the normal feedwater and main
steam systems (shown in figure 1 as the “feed pump” in the lower right and the “condenser” in
the right center). Normal systems, with emergency systems available in standby mode if needed,
handled the necessary response for this automatic reactor shut down.
At 9:54 a.m. on Saturday, May 24th, Millstone Unit 2 automatically shut down from about 1
percent power when another electrical disturbance – the failure of the Reserve Station Service
Transformer – triggered another automatic reactor shut down. This time, the reactor’s shut down
was complicated by a loss of offsite power (recall that with the Unit 2 generator offline, the
Normal Station Service Transformer shown inside the green box in the upper left of figure 2 was
not providing electricity to in-plant electrical buses) which required the two emergency diesel
generators (shown inside the red boxes at the bottom of figure 2) to provide power for safety
equipment. The loss of offsite power meant that all of the non-safety equipment shown in the
middle of figure 2 (e.g., the circulating water pumps, the reactor coolant pumps, the condensate
pumps, etc.) was not available. Instead of these normal systems, the reactor core was cooled
using the auxiliary feedwater system and the atmospheric dump valves (shown in figure 1 as the
“auxiliary feed pump” in the lower right and the “relief valve” in the upper right). The
emergency diesel generators provided the electricity, the auxiliary feedwater system provided the
cooling water, and the atmospheric dump valves provided the pressure control needed following
this automatic reactor shut down because the normal systems were unavailable. About 72
minutes after the event began, workers cross-connected a power supply from Unit 3 to Unit 2 to
back-up the electricity supplied by the emergency diesel generators. By 12:30 p.m., the Reserve
Station Service Transformer had been re-energized and both emergency diesel generators were
May 27, 2008
From available reports, Millstone Unit 2 responded as expected to both events. In the May 22nd
event, sensors monitoring the electrical grid and automatically tripped the reactor from 100
percent power upon an indication of grid instability. This response, by design, is a precautionary
measure protecting the unit. Safety and non-safety systems responded as needed to this shut
down. During the May 24th event, an as-yet unexplained failure of the Reserve Station Service
Transformer disconnected the unit from the electrical grid causing an automatic reactor trip.
While it is preferred that offsite power provide electricity to plant equipment following a reactor
trip, the emergency diesel generators are intended to power safety equipment when offsite power
is lost, as they did in this event.
The causes of these two events have not yet been publicly disclosed. By federal regulations, the
plant’s owner must provide licensee event reports to the NRC on the two unplanned reactor trips
within 60 days. By practice, the NRC will record its review of the events in an upcoming
While both events were triggered by electrical disturbances, it is not yet clear if coincidence or
connection is responsible. A media account quoted plant spokesperson Pete Hyde as saying,
“We’re still trying to ascertain what this is all about. We have a team investigating.” NRC
Generic Letter 83-28, “Required Action Based on Generic Implications of Salem ATWS Events”
dated July 8, 1983, explicitly requires plant owners to do the following:
Post-Trip Review – This action addresses the program, procedures and data collection
capability to assure that the causes for unscheduled reactor shutdowns, as well as the
response of safety-related equipment, are fully understood prior to plant restart.
UCS hopes that the NRC makes very sure that the plant owner fully satisfied the NRC’s
requirement to have “fully understood” the “causes for [both] unscheduled reactor shutdowns.”
All too often, the NRC establishes the safety bar at the right height only to have plant owners
limbo beneath it. The NRC must make sure there’s been no limbo involved in either of these two
unplanned reactor shut downs.
Prepared by: David Lochbaum
Director, Nuclear Safety Project
Union of Concerned Scientists
May 27, 2008
Washington Office: 1707 H Street NW Suite 600 • Washington DC 20006-3919 • 202-223-6133 • FAX: 202-223-6162
Cambridge Headquarters: Two Brattle Square • Cambridge MA 02238-9105 • 617-547-5552 • FAX: 617-864-9405
California Office: 2397 Shattuck Avenue Suite 203 • Berkeley CA 94704-1567 • 510-843-1872 • FAX: 510-843-3785
Millstone Unit 2 Suffers Second Scram in Three Days
Class I Emergency Declared
Likelihood of Radioactive Releases to the Environment
A Class I Emergency was declared at Millstone Unit 2 on Saturday, May 24, 2008, when the 33-year-old nuclear reactor suffered its second “scram” - emergency shutdown - in three days, according to the Associated Press.
The first scram occurred on Thursday, when a lightning bolt struck a transformer and the reactor automatically shut down.
Any scram at a nuclear reactor creates emergency conditions during which safety systems are put to the ultimate test; a scram is usually accompanied by a sudden venting of radioactive gases to the air. The gases typically include the radioisotope krypton, which rapidly decays to strontium-90, a deadly carcinogen which falls back to earth in precipitation.
Millstone Unit 2 has an unusually high record of unplanned shutdowns and recurring mechanical deficiencies.
In 1998, the Department of Public Utility Control declared Millstone Unit 2 “no longer used and useful,” a category evoked to remove the trouble-plagued Unit 2 nuclear reactor from the rate base - and exclude its costs from ratepayer assessments under the then-regulated energy protocols.
Millstone Unit 2 was recently given a life extension when Attorney General Richard S. Blumenthal championed Dominion's application to the Connecticut Siting Council to transfer Unit 2's high-level nuclear waste from its nearly filled spent fuel pool to an onsite nuclear graveyard. Without the ability to store newly generated high-level nuclear waste, Millstone Unit 2 would have had to shut down.
The two scrams-in-three days events follow a refueling outage during which Dominion - Millstone’s owner - performed maintenance throughout the plant which had been deferred during the previous 18 months of operations, mostly at full power.
In April 2007, Millstone 3 lost offsite power while it was shut down during a refueling outage. A Class I emergency was declared. At the time, the NRC declared that there were “no safety implications and no release of radioactivity” because the reactor was shut down.
The NRC’s reassurances were faulty.
According to David Lochbaum, nuclear safety engineer for the Union of Concerned Scientists, when a nuclear reactor loses offsite power while it is in a refueling outage, conditions may be especially harardous.
Indeed, according to an NRC survey released in August 2000, nuclear reactors suffering loss of offsite power during a refueling outage accumulated the equivalent of about 10 per cent of their annual at-power risk in essentially one day of “midloop” operation.
The reason that midloop operation involves such high risk is that the
operators deliberately drain cooling water from the reactor system.
During midloop operation, the reactor has minimal cooling water. If
cooling is interrupted or water is lost due to a pipe break, the operators have the least amount of time to respond in order to prevent meltdown.
The State of Connecticut lacks the services of an independent monitor qualified in nuclear engineering and operations to serve as a government watchdog over Millstone’s operations. Many states engage nuclear specialists to oversee operations of nuclear power plants.
As a consequence, details of emergency conditions at Millstone are often withheld from the public. Details of emergency conditions at Millstone are frequently withheld for months at a time and not disclosed to the public until the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission releases annual assessment reports.
STOP $544 billion for nuclear energy!
CALL SEN. DODD TODAY
KEEP NUKE SUBSIDIES OUT OF THE CLIMATE BILL
May 21, 2008
The latest news on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill (S. 2191), scheduled to be debated by the U.S. Senate the week of June 2, is that Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has prepared a substitute that will likely be the actual legislative vehicle. While we have not yet seen the full text of the substitute, it appears that the implicit funding for nuclear power through the bill's carbon cap-and-trade system has been decreased, and funding for renewables and energy efficiency has been increased. These are positive, though insufficient, steps.
However, it now appears certain that two pro-nuclear amendments will be introduced when the bill reaches the Senate floor. One is likely to be introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) and the other will be introduced by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA). We are not likely to see the text of either amendment until shortly before it is formally introduced; however, the Lieberman amendment is being portrayed as a "moderate" amendment-meaning that it will give "only" billions of taxpayer dollars to the nuclear industry, while the Isakson amendment will be the nuclear industry's Christmas-in-June present to itself.
Neither amendment is acceptable. Both would promote nuclear power and set back genuine efforts to address the climate crisis. Both amendments should be defeated.
You can help by calling Senator Christopher Dodd (202-224-2823, fax: 202-224-1083) who can and should vote against these amendments. The more calls he receives, the more likely he is to realize the public does not want still more taxpayer dollars going to wealthy nuclear utilities.
Please call Senator Dodd today, and ask your friends to call too.
Courtesy of Nuclear Information Resource Service
Lightning Strike Shuts Millstone Unit 2
On Thursday, May 22, 2008, lightning struck the main transformer for Millstone Unit 2, shutting down the aging, 38-year-old reactor in an event which Dominion reported to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission was a "non-emergency."
Millstone Unit 2 had just resumed power operation following a refueling outage.
A day after the lightning strike, Dominion said the lightning had not struck a transformer at the Millstone site but a transformer 2 1/2 miles away.
Dominion and the NRC are mystified that a lightning bolt 2 1/2 miles away affected power lines serving Millstone Units 2 and 3. At Unit 3, breakers opened but then shut automatically, enabling Unit 3 to continue to operate at full power.
The automatic shutdown was the latest in Millstone Unit 2's trouble-plagued operational history.
Connecticut lost its clear opportunity to close this dangerous reactor when Attorney General Blumenthal championed the case of keeping Unit 2 open by allowing overflowing high-level nuclear waste to be "temporarily" stored in an above-ground onsite nuclear graveyard.
Federal authorities should shut Millstone Units 2 and 3 until the mysteries of the lightning bolt are solved.
Time to call your U.S. Senators and Congresspeople, Gov. Rell, Attorney General Blumenthal and other state and local officers.
A force of nature + nuclear power = recipe for disaster.
Union of Concerned Scientists
Citizens and Scientists for Environmental Solutions
Three Mile Island 29 Years Later: Nuclear Safety Problems Still Unresolved
Adding New Plants to Aging Fleet Will Increase Risk Without Safety Reform, Science Group Says Nuclear Reactor Security Walking A Nuclear Tightrope
WASHINGTON (March 27, 2008) — The partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant began on March 28, 1979. Since the accident, not a single new nuclear power plant has been ordered in the United States. Indeed, 74 plants under construction at the time of the accident were cancelled. But in just the past year, the nuclear industry has stepped up its efforts to secure government funding for a new fleet of nuclear power plants. Unfortunately, over the last three decades, neither plant owners nor the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have adequately addressed the basic flaws in U.S. nuclear safety that led to the Three Mile Island accident, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
"Three Mile Island was almost 30 years ago so perhaps the industry and the NRC have forgotten about it," said Dave Lochbaum, the director of UCS's Nuclear Safety Project. "But you can bet that even the people who welcome new plants in their communities will want to know if what happened at Three Mile Island could happen to them. As of right now, the industry and the NRC haven't done enough to ensure them it won't."
The Three Mile Island accident was triggered by a loss of reactor cooling water. Before the accident, the plant's cooling system valves had broken down 10 times over the preceding year. Instead of replacing the faulty valves, workers opened them manually to keep the plant operating. When other equipment problems occurred during the eleventh valve failure in March 1979, control room operators were overwhelmed and the plant suffered a partial meltdown.
Since then, the NRC and plant owners have focused more on keeping nuclear plants running over the short-term than ensuring their safety, Lochbaum said. That strategy has allowed a number of safety problems at plants to build up over time. When the accumulated problems cause enough interruptions to harm a plant's profitability, owners shut them down for extensive safety overhauls. Since Three Mile Island, utilities have had to shut down 41 plants for a year or more, a total of 51 times.
Nuclear accidents are most likely to occur at the beginning or end of a plant's operating lifetime, Lochbaum pointed out. When a plant first goes on line, workers have to acclimate to new equipment that has not been tested in real-world situations. Meanwhile, at the end of a plant's life, workers have to compensate for increasingly degraded hardware. Three Mile Island and other major nuclear accidents, including ones at Chernobyl, Browns Ferry in Alabama and Fermi near Detroit, occurred shortly after the plants started operating. Now most of the 104 currently operating U.S. nuclear power plants are entering the high-risk period at the end of their originally intended 40-year lifespans.
If the nuclear industry constructs a new fleet of power plants, Lochbaum said, there will be at a higher risk for a nuclear accident because nearly all of the plants in the United States will be either very new or very old.
"If the industry wants to build a new generation of nuclear plants, it first should prove that it can safely operate the ones currently in operation," he said. "And before the NRC approves any new plants, the agency should make sure the industry isn't as careless with its new plants as it was with its old ones."
Chernobyl, 22 Years Later
CHERNOBYL, Ukraine, March 31, 2008
(CBS) Twenty-two years after the world's worst nuclear accident, radiation danger at Chernobyl is still so severe that a 16-mile area remains sealed - reached only through two checkpoints. CBS News correspondent Bill Plante was allowed inside with a camera crew.
The meltdown left a simmering stew of toxic radioactivity under the rubble, covered by a hastily built shelter that's crumbling.
"There's still a massive inventory of radionucleides inside the shelter - and the shelter is far from being airtight," said project manager Laurin Dodd.
Work is finally underway on a permanent solution, but Chernobyl today is still a very dangerous place.
Special protective clothing is required. The radiation level is so high that you can't stay long.
The construction equipment cabs have lead sheeting; every bucket of rubble is monitored for radiation.
The solution, 10 years in the planning, is an enormous steel arch, to be built in sections, then moved on tracks over the reactor.
At 345 feet, it'll be taller than the statue of liberty - and wider, at 840 feet, than the St. Louis Gateway Arch.
Not only is the project huge, but so is the cost: almost $1.5 billion. And the United States is the largest-single country donor. Why? Not just to help Ukraine, but also to help guarantee the future of nuclear power.
"Nuclear power will always have a shadow over it as long as Chernobyl is a message of concern," said U.S. ambassador to Ukraine William B. Taylor.
CBS News was on the site less than 10 minutes when one member of the group went over his exposure limit.
"Right now the dose rate is 200 times the background of what you'd have in Washington, D.C.," Dodd said.
The steel arch is supposed to keep the radiation contained for at least 100 years - while future generations figure out how to dispose of the mess.
CLASS I EMERGENCY DECLARED AT MILLSTONE
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is monitoring an Unusual Event declared early this afternoon at the Millstone 2 nuclear power plant in Waterford, Conn. An Unusual Event is the lowest of four levels of emergency classification used by the NRC.
Dominion, the plant=s owner and operator, made the declaration at 1:17 p.m. after an increase in unidentified leakage was detected at the plant. Millstone 2, a pressurized-water reactor, was shut down at the time for a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage.
When operators placed a system into service to further cool down the plant, they observed increased reactor coolant system leakage and an increasing level in an on-site water-storage tank. The leakage between the reactor coolant system and the storage tank was captured by the tank and therefore there was no liquid release to the environment. The leakage to the tank has since been halted.
The storage tank, by design, has a vent to the atmosphere. Some low-level radioactive gas was likely released through the tank vent. The NRC is independently evaluating any potential release and radiological consequence.
The NRC began formally monitoring the event at 2:30 p.m. today. Inspectors assigned to the plant reported to the site to follow the company=s actions in response to the event. In addition, the Incident Response Center at the NRC=s Region I Office in King of Prussia, Pa., was activated to track developments at the plant, maintain close communications and determine if any additional actions were needed.
Millstone 3, an adjoining pressurized-water reactor operated by Dominion, was not affected by the event and continues to operate at 100-percent power.
Federal and state officials have been notified regarding the event.
Inhale Deeply - Until March 31
Snow and rain caused a malfunction in the Millstone meteorological tower and associated instrumentation for measuring gaseous radioactive releases to the environment for at least seven days in January, according to a report Dominion filed with the NRC on January 30, 2008. 
When workers tried to perform tests on the tower and instrumentation, they were unable to do so because the climbing apparatus had deteriorated so seriously it could not be used to reach the broken equipment 374 feet high.
Dominion has ordered a new climbing system. Dominion informed the NRC it expected to return the tower and instrumentation to operability by March 31.
The silver lining for the community:
"All releases of gaseous radioactive material from the Millstone Unit 2 radwaste decay tanks have been suspended until the . . . instrumentation has been restored to OPERABLE status," according to Dominion's report to the NRC.
 Dominion letter to NRC, January 30, 2008 (ADAMS ML080390313)
For immediate release: Wednesday, February 20, 2008
For further information: Arjun Makhijani (301) 270-5500 or (301) 509-6843 (cell)
3,000+ Organizations and Individuals Urge President Bush
"Protect Most Vulnerable from Radiation Exposure"
Request Executive Order to Shift Federal Regulation Basis from "Reference Man" to Groups Most At Risk -- Pregnant Women, Children
Takoma Park, Md., February 20, 2008: More than 3,000 groups and individuals today sent a letter to President Bush urging him to shift the basis of many U.S. radiation health protection standards from an adult Caucasian male model, called "Reference Man," to those most at risk, specifically including children and pregnant women.
Signers include elected officials, including Georgia State Senators Nan Grogan Orrock and Regina Thomas; health professionals' organizations, including the American Public Health Association; faith-based groups, including the National Council of Churches; well-known environmental advocate Lois Gibbs; and many physicians, children's health advocates, environmental justice organizations, women's groups, and more.
The letter calls on President Bush to direct all federal agencies -- including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission -- to review their exposure standards and bring them into line with the spirit of Executive Order 13045 on the Protection of Children From Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks. Many federal radiation protection standards are based on "Reference Man;" however, other groups -- including women, children, and the embryo/fetus -- are often more sensitive to the harmful effects of radiation.
"Reference Man" is officially defined as a Caucasian male who is 20 to 30 years old, weighs 154 pounds, is five feet seven inches tall, and is "Western European or North American in habitat and custom." Reference Man is often used to set federal rules and regulations, such as limits on how much residual radiation will be allowed after a contaminated site is cleaned up. Reference Man is part of EPA's Federal Guidance Report No. 11, which is still widely used as the basis of radiation dose calculations.
"A central principle of environmental health protection -- protecting those most at risk -- is missing from much of the U.S. regulatory framework for radiation," explained Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), which initiated the letter. "Women's higher cancer risk per unit of radiation exposure is not properly reflected in current regulations. Neither is the possibility of early miscarriages or fetal malformations potentially caused by radiation exposure."
"It is essential that our government take the necessary steps to not only acknowledge the risk differential when looking at the dangers of radiation exposure among pregnant women and children, but to also protect the health of these vulnerable populations," said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of the American Public Health Association.
"Georgians are concerned about radioactive contamination of the Savannah River from waste at the federal Savannah River Site," said Georgia State Senator Nan Grogan Orrock. "People catch and eat fish from the river. Many communities depend on the river for their drinking water. As an elected official, a woman, and a mother, I ask the federal government to do its job and set health standards that protect all of us, not just adult men."
The signers are asking President Bush to issue a Presidential Executive Order requiring all federal agencies and departments to:
- Review their definitions of "Reference" persons and modify them as necessary so that all rules protect those most at risk;
- Review their rules regarding protection of prospective parents and pregnant women in the workplace;
- Update the computer models used to estimate dose and risk for regulatory purposes to take into account the embryo/fetus and children; and,
- Prohibit workplace discrimination based on genetic information.
In addition, the letter seeks support for legislation requiring federal health and environment regulations to protect those most at risk as well as funding for research on the human health effects of combined exposure to radiation and toxic chemicals.
The letter is also being sent to key members of Congress with a cover letter asking them to hold federal agencies accountable for radiation exposure standard-setting processes. It is also being sent to presidential candidates to ask what they will do if elected to protect the most vulnerable from harm from radiation exposure.
The letter to President Bush and other documentation are available online atwww.healthyfromthestart.org
Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) is a non-profit organization in Takoma Park, Maryland, that provides the public and policy-makers with clear, thoughtful studies on a variety of energy, security, and environmental issues. www.ieer
While New London Slept . . . 
All hell was breaking loose at Millstone
On November 10, 2007, while operating at full power, Millstone Unit 3 exceeded its licensed limit for thermal power generation, risking damage to the nuclear fuel cladding and possible release of dangerous levels of radiation to the environment. 
For four minutes on November 10, 2007, while testing valves at full power, the nuclear reactor became frighteningly unstable.
The unexpected event occurred when the reactor increased reactivity after its power was lowered to perform the control valve testing and a high alarm went off in the control room.
The NRC inspection report states:
“Dominion personnel did not stop the test following an unexpected response after the turbine control was transferred to ‘load set,’ believing in error that the change in the thermal generation was caused by a disturbance on the grid.”
“Regardless of the specific cause, the magnitude of the reactivity change was not expected.”
NRC inspectors’ report kept the peak MWTH the Unit 3 reactor reached a secret - but reported thermal power reached an average of 3482.6 megawatts thermal (MWTH)
Millstone Unit 3 is bound by its federal license not to exceed 3411 MWTH.
The NRC concluded Millstone operators violated Dominion procedures which direct: ‘Do not proceed in the face of uncertainty.’
Dominion violated its procedures requiring “Plant personnel stop and question unexpected situations involving reactivity, criticality, power levels, or core anomalies at all times and resolve the situation before proceeding,” according to the NRC inspection report.
Astonishingly, the NRC determined the emergency to be of “very low safety significance (Green) because it only involved the potential to affect the fuel cladding barrier.”
The NRC will not bring an enforcement action to hold Dominion accountable for its serious breach of its license limitations.
The November 7, 2007 emergency event first came to public light on February 7, 2008, when the NRC released to public view its inspection report for the fourth quarter of 2007, a report documenting dozens of equipment, operator errors and nuclear fuel failures, including recurring problems shutting the main valves at Millstone Unit 3. (Problems with shutting the main valves at Millstone Unit 3 led to the Class II emergency declared at Millstone Unit 3 in April 2005, which led to heightened releases of radiation to the air.)
Adding fuel to the fright, the NRC cited Dominion for allowing one of two control room operators with an inactive license to assume control room watchstanding duties, also in violation of Dominion’s federal license.
The NRC inspection report states:
“This finding is more than minor because the issue is associated with the human performance attribute of the Mitigation Systems Cornerstone and affected the cornerstone’s objective of ensuring the availability, reliability, and capability of systems that respond to initiating events to prevent undesirable consequences (i.e., core damage).”
Translation: Dominion’s decision to man the control room with an unqualified operator heightened the risk of a nuclear reactor core meltdown because of inappropriate response to initiating events - such as the unexpected escalation of thermal power generation on November 7, 2007.
The NRC will not bring an enforcement action to hold Dominion accountable for its serious breach of its license condition which requires that only fully qualified operators perform control room duties.
The NRC inspection report further discloses how Dominion’s reckless daily operations expose the public to grave danger.
In the event of a “missile launch” by tornado, the door to a Millstone Unit 3 building holding critical safety components to guard against damage to the nuclear reactor core probably would not have closed as required by Dominion’s federal license.
The NRC inspection report states:
“In August 2007, the inspectors questioned whether the normally open Unit 3 ESF [engineered safety features] building could be closed in a timely manner, in order to protect safety-related equipment from a design basis tornado. The inspectors noted it appeared that shutting these relatively large rolling doors could be a challenge due to their size and existing material condition (i.e., rust and dirt in the door tracks). The inspectors noted that Abnormal Operating Procedure (AOP) 3569, ‘Severe Weather Conditions,’ Revision 016-00, required these doors to be shut upon the station’s receipt of a tornado watch or tornado warning. The AOP noted that maintenance support may be required to close the doors. The inspectors noted that, on May 16, 2007, an actual tornado watch was issued at 4:37 P.M. and the specified ESF doors were not shut prior to the tornado watch expiring at 6:10 P.M. The inspectors noted that a condition report (CR) was not written to address the fact that the doors were not shut, as required by station procedures.”
“From September 2007 to November 2007, the inspectors questioned whether Dominion could meet design basis and procedural requirements. Specifically, the inspectors questioned the timeliness of shutting the ESF building tornado doors given that maintenance may have to be called into the station during backshift hours or weekends. Additionally, the inspectors questioned whether or not the outdoor work could be performed given a tornado watch or warning and related weather conditions. On November 13, 2007, Dominion initiated CR-07-11274 to evaluate the potential impact of the material condition on the ability to close the doors. Dominion determined that the tornado doors were operable based on the fact that they could not find specific closure time requirements in the plant’s licensing basis documents and the doors had been shut during past preventative maintenance (PM) activities.”
On November 14, 2007, the inspectors observed Dominion close two of the doors using a fork lift. During the activity, the inspectors observed that a significant and repetitive force was required to shut the doors. In the case of the ‘B’ Safety Injection/Quench Spray system room door, the fork lift could not be utilized in the same manner as it had been used in the past, since metal staging had been attached adjacent to the door. The inspectors identified that this staging had not been considered as a potential time delay in shutting the door (CR-07-11707). In addition, the inspectors identified an additional delay since the fork lift would have to be brought into a radiologically controlled area (RCA).”
In summary, the report states, “the inspectors identified multiple, unrecognized, delays that the station would have encountered in shutting the ESF building tornado doors during an actual event.”
The NRC found:
“Specifically, Dominion did not ensure safety-related systems and components were adequately protected against postulated missiles generated by a design basis tornado.”
Dominion’s failure to ensure the integrity of the door as a barrier to the engineered safety feature building was a violation of its license and had potential to heighten the risk of damage to the Millstone 3 nuclear reactor core during a tornado, but the NRC decided not to initiate an enforcement action - despite finding that Dominion “had missed multiple opportunities from May 2007 through November 2007 to identify significant challenges in shutting the normally open ESF building tornado doors.”
The inspection report does not address what would happen if a non-tornado-generated missile were aimed at the building and the doors could not be closely timely.
The inspection report further details the recurrence at Unit 2 of significant fuel failures and Dominion’s inability to prevent recurrence of fuel failures. When nuclear fuel fails, the physical barrier to guard against harmful releases to the environment is broken down, heightening levels of radioactive leakage to the Long Island Sound and the public beaches of the Connecticut shoreline, popular retreats for families with young children.
 Southeastern Connecticut’s major daily newspaper, the New London Day, did not report on any of the events described in this posting.
 This posting references the NRC’s “Millstone [Nuclear] Power Station Integrated Inspection report 05000336/2007005 and 05000423/2007005" issued on February 7, 2008.
Settlement Offered to Some Residents Near Pa. Nuke Fuel Plant
February 08, 2008 (Associated Press)
NEW YORK - Atlantic Richfield Co. has offered $27.5 million to settle claims that pollution from a nuclear fuel processing plant damaged
nearby residents' property and caused cancer and other illnesses.
ARCO and plaintiff attorneys asked a federal judge to approve the proposed settlement in a joint motion filed in U.S. District Court in
Pittsburgh this week.
The case concerns the former Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp., or NUMEC, which processed uranium and plutonium for nuclear
submarines and other purposes at a plant in Apollo borough and another in neighboring Parks Township, about 35 miles northeast of
Pittsburgh. The Apollo plant was built in 1957, and the Parks plant was built a few years later.
Residents say they inhaled white radioactive dust for three decades and that microscopic particles of uranium from the plant caused an
unusually high cancer rate. A doctor once testified that 351 of Apollo's 1,895 residents, or nearly one in five, had been diagnosed
with some form of cancer.
Atlantic Richfield Co. bought both plants in 1967 and sold them to Babcock & Wilcox Co. in 1971.
The settlement provides "a fairly nice cash award to each of our clients," said Frederick M. Baron, a Dallas attorney who also represented Karen Silkwood in her radiation-poisoning case. "But more importantly, they retain their ability to continue against Babcock & Wilcox. They are the most responsible party in our view."
More than 300 people filed claims that fell into three groups: property damage, personal injury and wrongful death.
Personal injury and wrongful death claims under the proposed settlement are "by and large are in the six-figure area," Baron said
Friday. Property damage claims would be $10,000 or less.
An attorney for ARCO declined to comment Friday.
But in court documents, attorneys for both sides called the proposed settlement fair because it's not known what, if anything, the plaintiffs might ultimately win from ARCO.
Attorneys for the various companies who ran the nuclear plants have argued that radioactive emissions had been filtered out and that, even if residents had been exposed, radiation levels were too low to cause cancer or other illnesses.
In a 1998 U.S. District Court trial in Pittsburgh, eight test plaintiffs won $36.7 million from ARCO and Babcock & Wilcox. A judge,
however, ordered a retrial after determining that she had wrongly allowed some evidence in the case.
The retrial was delayed when Babcock & Wilcox filed bankruptcy, largely because of unrelated asbestos litigation. ARCO opted to settle claims against it before they can be retried.
Earlier this year, former workers at the Apollo site became part of a special compensation class for sick nuclear workers. The fund
entitles them to $150,000 each.
To qualify for the compensation, former workers must have worked at the Apollo plant for at least 250 days between 1957 and 1983 and have
one of 22 different cancers. Sick workers who do not have one of the 22 cancers may be eligible for compensation, but must meet different criteria.
Atlantic Richfield is owned by BP plc.
Power Reactor Event Number: 43951
Region: 1 State: CT
Unit:  [ ] [ ]
RX Type:  GE-3, CE, W-4-LP
NRC Notified By: LENNY MAUSPELLER
HQ OPS Officer: BILL HUFFMAN Notification Date: 02/01/2008
Notification Time: 13:47 [ET]
Event Date: 02/01/2008
Event Time: 10:24 [EST]
Last Update Date: 02/01/2008
Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY
10 CFR Section:
OTHER UNSPEC REQMNT
HAROLD GRAY (R1)
TERRENCE REIS (FSME)
Unit SCRAM Code RX CRIT Initial PWR Initial RX Mode Current PWR Current RX Mode
1 N N 0 Decommissioned 0 Decommissioned
LOSS OF SPENT FUEL POOL COOLING
Millstone Unit 1 is in a decommissioning status but still maintains spent fuel in the spent fuel pool. On January 30, 2008, the normal power to the Unit 1 spent fuel pool was lost due to a fault (overcurrent trip) in the "Trayer Switch" (an auto disconnect switch) in the electrical supply line to the spent fuel pool cooling bus. A backup diesel generator was started and was being used to power the spent fuel pool cooling system until the "Trayer Switch" was repaired. At approximately 0840 EST today (2/01/08), alarms were received indicating low decay heat pump low flow and low spent fuel pool cooling pump low flow and discharge pressure. Investigation revealed that the backup diesel generator was operating at a frequency of 57.5 Hz rather than the normal 60 Hz. The technical staff was unable to get the diesel generator to maintain the normal 60 Hz output frequency. The licensee elected to secure the spent fuel pool cooling system pumps at 1024 EST based on concerns that the pumps could be damaged if operated at under frequency for an extended period of time.
Licensee technicians are currently engaged in repairing the diesel generator frequency controls and estimate that it could be returned to service this afternoon. The licensee has also ordered a temporary skid mounted diesel generator which should also arrive this afternoon. The repairs to the normal power source are not anticipated to be completed until Monday (2/04/08).
The spent fuel pool temperature has increased 1 degree to 86 F in approximately 4 hours. The tech spec limit on spent fuel pool temperature is 150 F. The licensee states that other unit electrical systems powered off the diesel, such as lighting and rad monitors, continue to operate normally at the reduced output frequency of the diesel. One security tower has been slightly impacted but appropriate compensatory measures were implemented.
A Millstone Unit 2/3 Resident Inspector has been notified. The licensee has attempted to contact the Regional Inspector.
High incidences of fetal death, prematurity, distressed pregnancy, birth defects, early childhood mortality, thyroid cancer and leukemia - all associated with exposure to low-level ionizing radiation - have taken a terrible toll on the young of our community.
Southeastern Connecticut's largest-circulation newspaper, The Day of New London, suppresses the truth about the ill effects of Millstone operations.
The Day crossed the line on December 15, 2007, when it published a false and defamatory article, later followed by a poisonous editorial, excoriating Nancy Burton, director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, and deliberately portraying her in a false light, for posting on this website the names of children who have been the subjects of paid obituaries published in The Day. Some of the obituaries attributed death to cancer. The Coalition expressed its grief over the heartbreaking loss of any child.
The Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone has never broken a confidence nor revealed sensitive private information without permission and never will.
The Day is committed to nuclear power and nuclear weapons, regardless of the human, environmental and social costs.
The Coalition is dedicated to exposing the truth about Millstone.
A Superior Court judge will conduct a hearing in the Hartford Superior Court on Tuesday, January 22, 2008, at 9:30 A.M. on Nancy Burton's application for a temporary injunction which, if granted, would direct The Day to remove its libelous articles from its website. The case is entitled Nancy Burton v. Patricia Daddona et al., CV 08 4034528.
The public - and all who care about truth and the welfare of our children and our community - is encouraged to attend.
Senators call for safety inspection, waste studies at VY
By BOB AUDETTE, Reformer Staff Saturday, January 12
BRATTLEBORO -- Windham County's senators are asking their fellow legislators to require Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant undergo an independent safety inspection prior to receiving approval to extending its operation for another 20 years.
Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham, and Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, D-Windham, are also asking the state to consider alternate locations for the storage of high level nuclear waste, rather than on the banks of the Connecticut River, where it is now stored.
And a third bill, sponsored by White, would penalize Entergy, the owner and operator of Yankee, half its monthly profits if, in that month, fence line radiation levels exceed the state maximum of 20 millirems.
"The bills are not to do with whether you are pro- or anti-Vermont Yankee," said White. "We're simply asking for an independent safety inspection. We, at the legislative level, are going to give permission or not to continue operation. We need all the information we can get."
Entergy has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend Yankee's operating license by 20 years, from 2012 to 2032. Even if the NRC approves Entergy's request, the
Vermont State Legislature -- in an agreement with Entergy when the company bought the plant -- has the power to keep the plant from operating.
"I'm asking the Senate to do some heavy lifting as the Legislature prepares for its vote on continued operation in 2009," said Shumlin. "I don't want to have any disagreement after the Legislature goes home in May about what we meant by an independent assessment. We will have the Legislature write a bill that defines an independent inspection and send it to the Governor. Vermonters are well served by coming to an agreement on this before the session adjourns."
"There's a group of us working very closely together to offer what we think would be a deep analysis of the plant," said Rep. Sarah Edwards, P-Brattleboro, a member of the Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel.
Windham County legislators have been calling for some sort of independent inspection of Vermont Yankee for several years, she said, and after a cooling fan cell collapsed at the plant last August, the need for an independent inspection has been agreed to by many people in state government.
A spokesman for Vermont Yankee said an independent inspection is not necessary.
"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has a very thorough process in place for plant oversight and inspection," said Rob Williams, spokesman for Vermont Yankee. "There's no indication in all of the NRC reports on trending, inspections and performance indicators that says an additional inspection would be necessary,"
Activists have been calling for an independent inspection such as one conducted at the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant in Wiscasset in 1996. Though the safety inspection itself did not call for closure, problems discovered during the analysis proved to be too costly to fix for the plant to continue operation.
The independent safety inspection of Maine Yankee "was a long time ago," said Williams. "The lessons learned there have been incorporated into the present federal oversight. To impose a Maine Yankee style inspection here would be a step back in terms of safety benefits compared to resources expended."
"Governor Douglas continues to support an independent safety inspection," said Jason Gibbs, spokesman for Gov. James Douglas. The governor would more than likely sign off on any such legislation after his office has reviewed it thoroughly.
As far as finding a different location to store the nuclear waste, said Williams, the Legislature has many issues to consider.
"Our site is obviously preferable. It's licensed for nuclear operations and that includes fuel storage, and it's in a high-security area."
Both sides of the debate agree that the federal government hasn't met its obligation to take the waste and store it in an appropriate long term facility.
While Yucca Mountain, in Nevada, is the federal government's chosen spot to store spent fuel, the facility hasn't opened due to opposition from residents of the Silver State.
"We intend to make the fuel ready to transport to the U.S. Department of Energy as soon as that federal agency is ready to receive it," said Williams.
"Since any reasonable person now understands that the federal government is going to continue to break its promise to take high-level nuclear waste off the banks of the Connecticut River, the question we need to discuss as a community in Vermont, in conjunction with geologists and scientists, is where is the best worse place to store the waste," said Shumlin.
"It's about physical features," said Edwards. "Just because the plant is located on a river, that doesn't mean that the storage of high level nuclear waste next to the river is an ideal spot."
When the federal government was looking at various locations to site its nuclear waste facility, Vermont was one consideration.
"There was no good place to store it," said Shumlin. "But is there a place better than a flood plain on the banks of the Connecticut River? This is really just a simple safety question that all Vermonters should be concerned with."
White said scientists and geologists might find a better place to store the waste, such as abandoned mines in Rutland and Washington counties.
"We have some nice open fields in Chittenden County that aren't on the waterfront," she said.
The governor believes this is a conversation worth having, said Gibbs, even though he believes the federal government has an obligation to fulfill its promise to take possession of the nuclear waste.
As far as being fined for going over the fence line limits, said Williams, that's not an issue at all.
"We have stayed within the state limits," said Williams. "Vermont Yankee has never gone over the state limit."
"I'm not sure I buy that," said White. "We need to have the conversation about what is the appropriate level and what is the appropriate measuring tool."
Bob Audette can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.
Energy and Commerce Committee to Probe Breakdowns in NRC Oversight (January 7, 2008)
Washington, DC – Rep. John D. Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, today announced they will conduct a comprehensive review of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) operations following reports of security guards sleeping on the job at the Exelon Peach Bottom nuclear power plant.
“The NRC’s stunning failure to act on credible allegations of sleeping security guards, coupled with its unwillingness to protect the whistleblower who uncovered the problem, raises troubling questions,” said Rep. John D. Dingell, Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. “It appears that there has been a systematic failure, by both NRC officials and the nuclear plant licensee, to ensure that these high-risk facilities are secure and employees are not discouraged from expressing concerns about safety.”
“The Committee would like to know whether it was the repeated notification from a concerned employee or the threat of a videotape showing security workers asleep on the job appearing on the evening news that prompted the licensee to look into this matter,” said Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. “In addition, the Committee wants to know why the NRC remains confident in this same contractor’s ability to secure other nuclear facilities throughout the country.”
Investigations by the NRC’s Inspector General have unveiled questionable decisions by the Commission with respect to nuclear power plant re-licensing. Additional questions have been raised about the adequacy of licensing decisions related to reprocessing facilities in South Carolina and the risk from a red oil explosion. The investigations have also concluded that the NRC failed to test the adequacy of fire protection materials after promising to do so during testimony before the Committee on Energy and Commerce in March 1993.
“The Administration has not complied with the requirements of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness Act of 2002, which requires the stockpiling of potassium iodide pills in a 20 mile radius around nuclear power plants,” said Dingell. “The Committee will inquire whether objections by the White House and industry have led to foot-dragging by the NRC and the dangerous state of our nation’s nuclear power plants.”
“It is clear that the NRC requires increased oversight by this Committee,” said Stupak. “We will be seeking testimony from the NRC, the inspector general, the Government Accountability Office, scientists, and security force workers to assess what is broken and how best to fix it. We must ensure the NRC is responsive to allegations of security lapses, especially now that there are a number of new license applications for nuclear power plants flowing into the NRC. The American people need to know someone is looking out for their health and safety at new and existing nuclear power plants.”
Was the NRC’s review of Dominion’s application to renew the operating licenses for Millstone Units 2 and 3 largely a sham?
In a devastating report issued on September 6, 2007, the NRC’s independent Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) revealed the results of its audit of selected relicensing cases - including Millstone’s from 2004.
Millstone Nuclear Power Station is specially cited in the audit for extreme deficiencies in the NRC’s review process.
The OIG’s audit “revealed a review process so weak that in over 98 per cent of the 458 representative NRC safety reports sampled by the OIG, NRC staff reviewers failed to demonstrate they had conducted an independent safety review,” states a petition by citizens opposing relicensing of the Indian Point, Vermont Yankee, Plymouth (MA) and Oyster Creek (NJ) released on January 3, 2008 in an effort to suspend ongoing NRC proceedings to relicense those nuclear power plants.
‘Disturbingly, well over a third of the report sampled parroted statements by licensees - some of which, in turn, parroted statements in NRC guidance documents - without providing evidence of independent certification,” the petition states.
“In short, the OIG auditors did not find enough documentation to conclude that NRC staff reviewers did, in fact, perform an independent review of license renewal applications,” the petition states.
In the case of Millstone, the OIG report states:
“[The] NRC’s narrative description of operating experience for Millstone’s flow-accelerated corrosion program is nearly identical to the description provided in the licensee’s renewal application. NRC’s Millstone audit report . . . presents information about the trending successes in the Millstone flow-accelerated corrosion program and gives the appearance of the audit team’s independent review and analysis. In fact, this passage is nearly identical to that presented in the license renewal application . . . Moreover, while NRC states that the project team reviewed operating experience, there is no discussion of what precisely was reviewed.”
Of the 46 Millstone safety reports reviewed by the OIG audit, in 100 per cent of the instances, NRC staff reviewers failed to demonstrate they had conducted an independent safety review.
In 12 safety reports involving an aging management program supposedly reviewed by NRC staff, the OIG audit found, “there was no mention of review methodology or no specific support for the staff’s conclusions in the audit, inspection or safety evaluation reports.”
In 34 safety reports, involving an aging management program supposedly reviewed by NRC staff, “the audit, inspection or safety evaluation reports cited anecdotal information provided by the licensee.”
The Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone calls upon the Connecticut Congressional delegation to open hearings on the scandalously inadequate review the supposed federal regulator, NRC, performed before allowing this most dangerous nuclear facility and others to continue to operate for 20 years beyond its original licensing period.
The OIG report is available on the NRC’s website in the ADAMS system as “ML072490486.”
For Riverkeeper's take on the NRC's "cut and paste" approach to nuclear relicensing, go to: http://riverkeeper.org/campaign.php/indianpoint_relicensing/we_are_doing/1406
Tritium Leak at Millstone!
Tritium, a radioactive poison, has seeped into the groundwater at Millstone at a level of concentration 1.7 higher than the federal EPA drinking water standard of 20,000 picocuries per liter - at 34,000 picocuries per liter - according to a report Millstone’s owner, Dominion, filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on November 28, 2007 (1).
According to news reports (2), as of December 29, 2007, the source of the leak and its extent were unknown; the leak may have potential to contaminate residential wells in the vicinity.
Dominion’s public relations spokesman, Peter Hyde, and the NRC’s spokesman, Neil Sheehan, have downplayed the significance of the tritium leak. The news media have parroted their comments.
Yet, it is established science that there is no threshold for cancer risk of radiation; thus, no level of exposure is “safe.” Using risk factors published by EPA in 2002 for mortality from cancer, it has been credibly estimated that ingestion of tritiated water at the rate of 1.5 liters per day at 20,000 picocuries per liter over a lifetime of 70 years would cause a fatal cancer risk of about 4 in 100,000. No account is taken of organically-bound tritium in the calculation. (3) The risk is heightened when the tritium concentration is 34,000 picocuries per liter.
Exposure to tritiated water and organically-bound tritium has other effects, including contributing to the risk of birth defects, genetic defects and miscarriages. (4)
Millstone routinely releases vast quantites of tritiated water directly to the Long Island Sound. Tritium has a half-life of 12.4 years and thus is radioactive for 248 years. Unfiltered, it escapes as a gas into the air as well. Standing in a cloud of triated water on a foggy day near a reactor, the human body absorbs the tritium through the skin. It is readily absorbed through the lungs and the genito-urinary tract. Because tritium is a soft energy beta emitter, the radiation it gives off is readily absorbed by the surrounding cells and thus is biologically highly mutagenic, causing chromosomal breaks and aberrations. “In animal experiments, it has been shown to induce a five-fold increase in ovarian tumors in offspring of exposed parents while also causing testicular shrinkage and atrophy of the ovaries. It causes decreased brain weight in the exposed offspring and mental retardation with an increased incidence of brain tumors in some animals. Increased perinatal mortality was observed in these experiments as well as a high incidence of stunted and deformed fetuses. These effects were observed with surprisingly low concentrations of tritium, becoming three times more dangerous biologically at low doses. Tritium is also more dangerous when it becomes organically bound in molecules of food." (5)
In light of the known serious health consequences of human exposure to tritium, we call on Connecticut’s public officials to safeguard the public by requiring Dominion to eliminate its tritium releases to the environment.
1) NRC Event No. 43813
2) Associated Press, reported at www.Boston.com
3) Memorandum of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, March 20, 2006
5) “Nuclear Emissions,” Dr. Helen M. Caldicott, October 17, 2007
Dominion Investing $500 million in closed cooling system - at Brayton PT:
Dominion is telling Connecticut it doesn't want to pay to convert Millstone to a closed cooling system, thereby dramatically reducing its thermal impact to the Long Island Sound, entrainment of billions of marinelife and discharge of radioactive and toxic poisons to the Long Island Sound.
Dominion will have to pay to protect the Connecticut environment if Connecticut public officials deem the Connecticut environment worth protecting. The battle lines are drawn for an epic conflict in 2008.
Read Dominion's Decemnber 21, 2007 press release:
Dominion To Minimize Thermal Impact On Mt. Hope Bay From Brayton Point Power Station
$500 million cooling system to reduce water use by more than 90 percent
Dominion's environmental investments at Brayton Point to total $1.1 billion
Agreement clears the way for long-term operation of a key generating facility
RICHMOND, Va. – A unit of Dominion (NYSE: D) has agreed to invest approximately $500 million to reduce dramatically the amount of cooling water its Brayton Point Power Station uses from Mt. Hope Bay, thereby minimizing the station's thermal impact on the bay.
This investment by Dominion New England, combined with previously announced air emissions equipment being installed at the station, will bring the company's investments in environmental improvements at Brayton Point to approximately $1.1 billion since the station was acquired in 2005.
"As one of the largest electricity generators in New England, Brayton Point plays a vital role in ensuring reliable electric service for the region," said Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Dominion's investments to improve air and water quality also will help ensure that it is one of the most environmentally advanced facilities of its kind. We now have established a clear path for operating these generating units well into the future and supplying much-needed electricity to New England."
Working in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and several environmental groups, Dominion has agreed to install a closed-loop system that will reduce the amount of cooling water Brayton Point requires by more than 90 percent. Dominion also dropped its appeal of the EPA permit filed in federal court.
Brayton Point now uses about 1 billion gallons of water each day from Mt. Hope Bay.
Dominion will construct two natural draft cooling towers for all four electricity generating units to comply with the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Dominion is committed to completing the construction in an expeditious fashion to achieve the necessary reduction outlined in the permit.
Brayton Point is New England's largest fossil-fueled power station, with two coal-fired units and one oil-fired unit generating a total net summer capability of 1,568 megawatts. It is located about 30 miles south of Boston and 13 miles east of Providence, R.I. and is capable of burning coal, natural gas and oil. Brayton Point supplies 16 percent of the electricity used in Massachusetts and 8 percent of New England's needs.
Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 26,500 megawatts of generation, 7,800 miles of natural gas transmission pipeline and 1 trillion cubic feet equivalent (Tcfe) of proved natural gas and oil reserves. Dominion also owns and operates the nation's largest underground natural gas storage system with about 960 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves retail energy customers in 11 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's Web site at http://www.dom.com.
On this site and in telephone calls in 2007, we vigorously appealed to Connecticut's Congressional delegation to reject the Bush Administration's scheme to make taxpayers guarantee loans for construction of new nuclear power plants.
Unfortunately, the entire Connecticut Congressional delegation that voted - all but Senator Chris Dodd, who moved to Iowa and did not appear in the Senate Chamber to cast a vote - stood in lockstep with the Bush Administration and the money-wielding nuclear industry to approve a $25 BILLION LOAN GUARANTEE for new nukes. Their votes mean that Wall Street will now help finance a new round of pre-deployed nuclear terrorist targets rather than commit those funds to sane, clean, renewable energy.
SHAME ON YOU JOE COURTNEY, CHRIS MURPHY, ROSA DeLAURO, JOHN LARSON, CHRIS SHAYS, JOE LIEBERMAN AND CHRIS DODD.
You compromised the public interest.
See you at the polls.