Sunday, June 9 Cape Cod Bay, Plymouth Details
An ON–THE–WATER RALLY to celebrate World Oceans Day and shine a light on the environmental impacts to Cape Cod Bay caused by Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.
Rally begins at noon outside the security buoys near Pilgrim Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Launch from wherever you’d like, but we will have two launch sites and safety stations set up in Plymouth with the help of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Don’t have access to a boat? There will be ways for everyone to participate.
More information at www.capecodbaywatch.org/flotilla
Sunday, May 19 | 6:30 pm
Chikako Nishiyama, from the village of Kawauchi in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, is making a trip to New England to offer her eye-witness report on the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Kawauchi is about 15 miles southwest of the stricken Fukushima nuclear reactors. The 2,300 people who lived there were evacuated. A year later they were told it was safe to return, but most still stayed away, fearing radioactive contamination. Now two years later, there are still many who have not returned.
Chikako has been an outspoken and very courageous critic of TEPCO’s and the Japanese government’s whole handling of this disaster (not to mention their actions, or non-actions that allowed the disaster to happen in the first place). She most certainly has first-hand accounts, of her own travail as wells as of others of her village. Her son is a firefighter in his early twenties, assigned to go back to patrol the village before the evacuation order was lifted. He is still stationed in Kawauchi, and Chikako is quite concerned for his health.
Today, the official edict is that the village is now safe enough for people to return, but Chikako believes that this is a policy that sacrifices her village people’s lives. She will explain how a lot of money is at stake, and that her local government is choosing to maintain their interests over well-beings of people and the natural world. Her house still sits in Kawauchi, but she doesn’t intend to live there ever again. She is currently working to find locales in the western part of Japan where those who want to relocate can start new lives in a more sustainable and healthy environment.
Translating Chikako’s story will be Chiho Kaneko. Born in Japan’s Iwate Prefecture (about 150 miles north of the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors) and graduating from Hokkaido University with a degree in agronomy, Chiho moved to the U.S. in 1993 and became an interpreter/translator, visual artist, musician, and columnist for a Japanese daily newspaper. Her most recent trip to Japan was last fall, her fourth visit since the March 11, 2011 nuclear meltdowns.
Nishiyama will speak and answer questions starting at 6:30 pm. The event is free and open to all. Here is an event flyer to download and share: ChikakoTalk-May19.pdf
Reverse Renaissance? Experts Point to 6 Reactors on the Chopping Block and Passage of Anti-Industry Florida Law; Beleaguered Industry’s Woes Start With Bad Economics … and Go Downhill From There. WASHINGTON, May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Call it the “renaissance in reverse.” Not only is…
PLYMOUTH – A group of local residents has appealed a Plymouth zoning permit granted to Entergy Nuclear Generating Corporation (Entergy). The zoning permit, granted without any public hearing, gives Entergy the right to have a long-term high-level nuclear waste storage facility at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Pilgrim’s operating license will expire in 2032. The proposed nuclear waste dump will store all of the radioactive fuel rods that Pilgrim has generated since 1972, for many, many years after Pilgrim itself shuts down.
The appeal, filed with the Plymouth Zoning Board of Appeals on April 25, 2013, asks the ZBA to revoke the permit because the long-term, outdoor, dry cask storage of nuclear waste is not a “permitted use” under the Plymouth zoning laws, and because such storage also is not what the zoning permit calls an “accessory use.” The appeal also asks the ZBA to require Entergy to obtain a special permit. Under the special permit process, the ZBA can set conditions that will insure that the nuclear waste dump is built and operated as safely as possible; the special permit process also allows for public input.
Meg Sheehan, spokesperson for EcoLaw, a group of volunteer lawyers representing the residents, said, “We support dry cask storage, but think the residents of the area are entitled to the safest, most secure storage facility that can be built. Entergy apparently did not give critical facts to the Plymouth Director of Inspectional Services. The real fact of the matter is that, without a special permit, Plymouth zoning does not allow long-term nuclear waste storage.”
Ms. Sheehan went on to point out that the 1967 special permit for Pilgrim did not allow either the construction or the long term operation of a nuclear waste storage facility. That special permit was limited to “a nuclear-powered generating plant and associated buildings, roads, and transmission facilities”; and in requesting the special permit Pilgrim’s original owner, Boston Edison, said “The project will not include a repair station or outside storage of supplies.”
“Coincidentally,” Mary Lampert of Pilgrim Watch commented, “in mid-April the NRC said that spent fuel storage cask structures and components were prematurely degrading from moisture and weathering, especially in marine environments, and pointed to the need for enhanced monitoring and adequate drainage. A Special Permit would allow the Town to have a ‘say’ to assure that these measures, and more, are done to better protect both the public’s and worker’s health and safety.”
“In the past,” said Ms. Sheehan, “Pilgrim’s owners have asked the ZBA for special permits when they wanted to make changes at Pilgrim. Why is Entergy now trying to avoid the special permit process and get away with doing the minimum possible? That’s not OK.”
The next step in the appeal process is for the Zoning Board to schedule a public hearing, which will be held in the next 2 to 3 months.
For more information and copy of appeal: http://www.ecolaw.biz/nuclear-power
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station reports third ‘event’ in the last week, eighth in 2013
Frank Mand, OCM Source (Wicked Local) →
PLYMOUTH — Pilgrim station experienced its third notable ‘event’ in the last ten days and, eighth in 2013, when on Sunday, April 14, at 10:16 p.m. “the PNPS Containment Personnel Air Lock failed integrated air lock testing.”
NRC regulations require that primary reactor containment meets certain leakage rate testing requirements to ensure that “leakage through the containment or systems and components penetrating the containment do not exceed allowable leakage rates specified in Technical Specifications and the integrity of the containment structure is maintained during its service life.”
On April 10th staff discovered indications of a separation in the “Neutralizing Sump Discharge Line.” On April 15 a manual scram took place during a planned shut down when reactor pressure went “beyond established control bands.” And now, plant officials have reported that, during that shut down primary air lock failed a leak rate test as well.
Look to the weekend edition of the Old Colony Memorial for the full story.
Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket Following Radiological Incidents
Helen Caldicott Source (www.nuclearfreeplanet.org) →
The White House has given final approval for dramatically raising permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following “radiological incidents,” such as nuclear power-plant accidents and dirty bombs. The final version, slated for Federal Register publication as soon as today, is a win for the nuclear industry which seeks what its proponents call a “new normal” for radiation exposure among the U.S population, according Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, the radiation guides (called Protective Action Guides or PAGs) allow cleanup many times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These guides govern evacuations, shelter-in-place orders, food restrictions and other actions following a wide range of “radiological emergencies.” The Obama administration blocked a version of these PAGs from going into effect during its first days in office. The version given approval late last Friday is substantially similar to those proposed under Bush but duck some of the most controversial aspects:
In soil, the PAGs allow long-term public exposure to radiation in amounts as high as 2,000 millirems. This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period;
In water, the PAGs punt on an exact new standard and EPA “continues to seek input on this.” But the thrust of the PAGs is to give on-site authorities much greater “flexibility” in setting aside established limits; and
Resolves an internal fight inside EPA between nuclear versus public health specialists in favor of the former. The PAGs are the product of Gina McCarthy, the assistant administrator for air and radiation whose nomination to serve as EPA Administrator is taken up this week by the Senate.
BULLET_ITEMDespite the years-long internal fight, this is the first public official display of these guides. This takes place as Japan grapples with these same issues in the two years following its Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“This is a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace. If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy, then EPA is in for a long, dirty slog,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the EPA package lacks a cogent rationale, is largely impenetrable and hinges on a series of euphemistic “weasel words.”
“No compelling justification is offered for increasing the cancer deaths of Americans innocently exposed to corporate miscalculations several hundred-fold.”
Reportedly, the PAGs had been approved last fall but their publication was held until after the presidential election. The rationale for timing their release right before McCarthy’s confirmation hearing is unclear.
Since the PAGs guide agency decision-making and do not formally set standards or repeal statutory requirements, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and Superfund, they will go into full effect following a short public comment period. Nonetheless, the PAGs will likely determine what actions take place on the ground in the days, weeks, months and, in some cases, years following a radiological emergency.
PC News Update: April 12, 2013 → Cape Downwinders Ballot Initiative / Case for Expedited Transfer of Spent Fuel to Dy Casks / Save Our Bay Flotilla / Ira Wood on Pilgrim / Marshfield Town Meeting To Vote on Nuclear Advisory Committee
Jeff Donn, AP National Writer Full article (www.chron.com) →
Regulators and congressional investigators clashed Wednesday over a new report warning that in the event of an accident at a nuclear plant, panicking residents from outside the official evacuation zone might jam the roads and prevent others from escaping.
The report by the Government Accountability Office, which acts as the investigative arm of Congress, challenges a three-decade-old fundamental of emergency planning around American nuclear power plants: that preparations for evacuation should focus on people who live within 10 miles of the site…
Article passes by a vote of 197 to 2
Cape Downwinders Source →
CAPE COD, MASSACHUSETTS – Provincetown town meeting members voted 197-2 on Wednesday April 3, 2013 to call on Governor Deval Patrick to request the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) close Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station (PNPS).
Cape Downwinders initiated a Cape-wide petition to give citizens a voice for public health and safety with twelve Cape Cod towns having the public advisory question on a ballot or warrant. Two additional town boards, Yarmouth and Falmouth, will vote next week to include the petition on their town ballot.
The public advisory question reveals the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and Entergy’s radiological emergency plans to keep residents on the Cape in the event of a severe accident even if a radioactive plume is moving over the area. The Sagamore and Bourne bridges will be closed to facilitate Plymouth evacuation efforts, and the state would later determine hot spots and “relocate” residents.
PNPS is a GE Mark l Boiling Water Reactor with the same design as Fukushima Daiichi where safety systems failed after loss of offsite power causing 3 meltdowns. In Japan, the US government called for a 50 mile evacuation of American citizens for their protection. With a no-go zone around the destroyed reactors expanding out to 20 miles, over 160,000 people were removed from their home indefinitely. Recently, the NRC held an open house in Plymouth where an NRC official Tom Setzer agreed that ‘Fukushima can happen here”.
A year ago, Governor Patrick, Attorney General Coakley, Congressmen Keating and Markey, State Senate President Murray, Senator Wolf, and Representative Peake all requested that the NRC withhold relicensing of PNPS until lessons learned from Fukushima were addressed. The NRC ignored those pleas and relicensed PNPS for another 20 years. Entergy will continue to operate the reactor even though there are imminent dangers involving 3,400 spent fuel assemblies in a pool designed for 880, a poorly designed containment structure known to have a 90% chance of failure, and serious problems with the emergency plans.
Cape Downwinders spokesperson Diane Turco said, “What is being protected here-people or profits? Telling the public to stay put, take the radiation hit, and relocate later will not be tolerated. The people are calling for the NRC to uphold their mandate to shut a nuclear power reactor if the public safety cannot be assured. Provincetown has spoken and the rest of the Cape will follow”.
“The Medical Consequences of Nuclear Power”
Monday, March 25, 2013 | 7–8:30pm
Dr. Helen Caldicott, renowned physician and scholar, will describe the health dangers of nuclear power and the risks associated with the aged reactor in Plymouth.
Born and taught in Australia she later moved to the United States to begin her medical career as a pediatrician on staff at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston and taught pediatrics at Harvard. She has devoted 38 years to an international campaign to educate the public about the medical hazards of the nuclear age. She has made notable achievements in her career and has written several books on the subject of nuclear power and its effects on health and the environment. She has been awarded 21 honorary doctoral degrees and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. The Smithsonian has named Dr.Caldicott as “one of the most influential women of the 20th century.”
Sponsored by Cape Downwinders and Pilgrim Watch. For more information, contact:
Arlene Williamson – email@example.com (774) 521-3347
Paul Rifkin – firstname.lastname@example.org (508) 737-9545
Wed, March 20, 2013 | 6:30–8:00 pm Plymouth Public Library
Plug-In to Unplug Pilgrim: an opportunity to find your place in a growing movement to remove the risk from Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in your community, held at the Plymouth Public Library.
The first Plug-In workshop, hosted by the Pilgrim Coalition on February 6th, was a great success! Over 60 individuals attended and learned about ways to get involved. The coalition – CCBW included – now has a host of new volunteers helping with a variety of projects. Pictures
The next Pilgrim Coalition Plug-in meeting will be March 20, 2013, from 6:30–8:00 PM, in the Otto Fehlow Room at the Plymouth Public Library. Cape Cod Bay Watch will be meeting with volunteers to further plan the Save Our Bay Flotilla, scheduled for June 9th. New volunteers are welcome to attend.
PC News Update: March 15, 2013 → Cape Downwinders Ballot Initiative / Fukushima Memorial Rally / March 20 Plug-In Event / Pilgrim 14: Case Dismissed, 5 Later Arrested at Pilgrim Nuclear / Mass. AG Loses Legal Bid / Walk for a New Spring / Nuke Matters: Long-Term Nuclear Waste Storage
After 10 months of hearings 2012 trespassing case is dismissed by Judge Kathryn Hand at Plymouth District Court
Frank Mand, Wicked Local Source →
PLYMOUTH — They wanted the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant shut down but, instead, they got arrested. They wanted their day in court but, instead, they got to make a statement and then charges were dismissed. They wanted to get arrested again and, no surprise, it happened.
The Pilgrim 14, who were first arrested for trespassing when they tried to deliver a letter addressed to the head of Entergy last May, celebrated the dismissal of the charges at Plymouth District Court Wednesday by immediately driving back to the plant and, when their chants and protests at the gates went apparently unnoticed, walked down almost to the doors of the plant itself where several members of the original 14 were arrested again.
At this time which of the original 14 was arrested again is not clear, though Cotuit resident Paul Rifkin, a member of the group Cape Downwinders, was definitely one of those detained by Plymouth Police.
The Plymouth Police responded with four or five units within ten minutes of the protesters security breach, followed a few minutes later by a prisoner transport van.
Rifkin made it clear before the court dismissed the earlier charges that he intended to be arrested that day, again.
Many of the 14 and their lawyers were angered by the Commonwealth’s last minute decision to deny them their day in court by issuing a motion to dismiss the previous charges, and in that motion citing the defendant’s “intention to use the Honorable Court as an instrument to further a specific political agenda.”
When the pre-trial hearing got underway however, Judge Kathryn E. Hand allowed any defendant who wished, to make a personal statement.
Many did, including a brief emotional statement by Rifkin.
“Abigail, Jack, Laney and Hayden,” Rifkin said, holding up a photograph of his grandchildren, “these are the reasons why we need to shut Pilgrim down.”
Judge Hand then dismissed the charges, with prejudice, and the defendants and their supporters filed out of the courtroom. But less than 30 minutes later they were parking on the access road that connects Route 3A with the plant’s main gate and, judging by the signs and banners that came out of the cars, their gathering was planned well in advance.
The group took up position on the plant side of Rocky Hill Road, adjacent to the main gate and, a few minutes later, moved past the entrance and toward the plant.
They were surprised that they were not immediately impeded by plant security, which was not seen until the group had moved several hundred yards down the entrance road.
At that point security appeared, and made it clear that anyone who did not leave would be arrested.
Rifkin also made his intentions clear at that time, walking up to a security vehicle and then turning and facing back, holding a protest sign.
What GAO Found
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are collectively responsible for providing radiological emergency preparedness oversight and guidance to commercial nuclear power plant licensees and local and state authorities around the plants. In general, NRC is responsible for overseeing licensees’ emergency preparedness at the plant (on-site), and FEMA is responsible for overseeing preparedness by local and state authorities around the plant (off-site). NRC and FEMA have also established a 10-mile emergency planning zone around nuclear power plants. Licensees are responsible for managing on-site radiological emergency preparedness and developing and maintaining plans that define activities that the nuclear power plant must take to prepare for and respond to a potential incident at the plant. Participating local and state authorities within the 10-mile zone must develop protective actions for responding to a radiological incident, including plans for evacuations and sheltering in place. A recent NRC task force considered the adequacy of the zone size and concluded that no change was currently needed but will be re-evaluated as part of its lessons learned efforts for the Fukushima incident.
NRC and FEMA conduct activities to ensure that licensees and local and state authorities have adequate plans and capabilities to respond to a radiological incident. For example, NRC and FEMA review emergency plans developed by licensees and local and state authorities to ensure that planning standards are met. In addition, NRC and FEMA observe exercises for each plant that licensees and local and state authorities conduct every 2 years to demonstrate their ability to respond to an incident. NRC also requires licensees to develop estimates of how long it would take for those inside the 10-mile zone to evacuate under various conditions. Licensees are to provide these evacuation time estimates to local and state authorities to use when planning protective action strategies.
NRC and FEMA require licensees and local and state authorities, respectively, to provide information annually on radiation and protective actions for the public only inside the 10-mile zone. Those in the 10-mile zone have been shown to be generally well informed about these emergency preparedness procedures and are likely to follow directions from local and state authorities in the event of a radiological emergency. In contrast, the agencies do not require similar information to be provided to the public outside of the 10-mile zone and have not studied public awareness in this area. Therefore, it is unknown to what extent the public in these areas is aware of these emergency preparedness procedures, and how they would respond in the event of a radiological emergency. Without better information on the public’s awareness and potential response in areas outside the 10-mile zone, NRC may not be providing the best planning guidance to licensees and state and local authorities.
Why GAO Did This Study
On March 11, 2011, a tsunami severely damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan and led to the largest release of radiation since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Japanese authorities evacuated citizens within 19 miles of the plant. GAO was asked to examine issues related to emergency preparedness at nuclear power plants. This report examines (1) federal, licensees’, and local and state authorities’ responsibilities in radiological emergency preparedness, (2) the activities NRC and FEMA take to oversee licensee and local and state radiological emergency preparedness, and (3) NRC and FEMA requirements for informing the public on preparedness and NRC’s understanding of public awareness. GAO reviewed laws, regulations, and guidance; examined emergency plans from licensees and local and state authorities; visited four nuclear power plants; and interviewed federal, local and state, and industry officials.
What GAO Recommends
To better inform radiological emergency preparedness efforts, GAO recommends that NRC obtain information on public awareness and likely public response outside the 10- mile zone, and incorporate insights into guidance, as appropriate. NRC generally disagreed with GAO’s finding, stating that its research shows public response outside the zone would generally have no significant impact on evacuations. GAO continues to believe that its recommendation could improve radiological emergency preparedness efforts and is consistent with NRC guidance.
Saturday, March 9, 2013 | 1–2pm Falmouth Town Green, Cape Cod MA details @ Cape Downwinders
Remember Fukushima: March 11, 2011. Please join us at the Falmouth Town Green on Main Street in Falmouth, Cape Cod, MA. Bring banners, flags, signs, smiles and good cheer. Potluck to follow at the Moonakis Cafe in Falmouth. Bring noshes and nibbles of your choice.
For more info: email@example.com, (508) 737-9545
Sara Altherr, Kingston resident Letter to the Editor, Kingston Reporter →
March 11 will be the second anniversary of the devastation of the nuclear power facility in Fukushima, Japan. I hope all Kingstonians will take a minute to contemplate how that disaster – half a world away – holds important lessons for us.
The nuclear reactor at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth is the same design as those in Fukushima. This reactor sits only 10 miles from most of our homes in Kingston. Although a great tsunami initiated the disaster, the actual cause of the explosions and enormous release of radioactivity at Fukushima was the lack of electricity – electricity needed to operate pumps which cool the reactor itself and the nuclear waste reservoir.
Plymouth’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station – owned and operated by Entergy Corporation of Louisiana – is 40 years old and was recently relicensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for another 20 years. The facility was originally planned to operate for 40 years, but, despite concern from local residents and town officials, the NRC decided to go ahead and re-license it without requiring Entergy to abide by new safety guidelines developed since Fukushima.
Kingston Town Meeting approved an article last April that asked the NRC to require Entergy to suspend approval of Entergy’s new license until full implementation of safety improvements based on the Fukushima experience had occurred. Ten other towns in the region also approved similar town meeting articles or ballot questions. Despite those requests and others from state, federal and local officials, the NRC granted Pilgrim’s license renewal.
Since that time, many of us who are concerned about the risks of continued operations at the Plymouth facility have been meeting and continuing activities to try to protect our area from a fate similar to Fukushima’s. I work with the umbrella group Pilgrim Coalition. Various member organization have been working to get the NRC to do its job of “protecting people and the environment.” We have worked with federal, state, and town officials, relevant state and federal agencies and others to lessen the chances that such a disaster happen here.
Frank Mand, OCM Source →
Is this a sign of an aging plant past its prime?
The second “event” at Pilgrim in as many weeks – the failure of a “scram discharge valve” – is also the second time this particular valve has failed in the last two months.
The scram discharge volume valve – referred to in the event releases as CV-302-22B – failed Feb. 18, a week after the blizzard knocked out power to the plant. (In another case of twos, Pilgrim also lost power twice during the storm.). The valve failed again last Friday, March 1.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the CV-302-22B is one of the valves on the drain line from the scram discharge volume, a metal tank that is supposed to contain all of the water vented during a scram (a sudden, rapid, shut down of the reactor).
“When a scram signal occurs,” the UCS reported, “this valve automatically closes, or is designed to do so. Whether it does so is another matter.”
For critics of the plant, including EcoLaw.org Founder Meg Sheehan, this is a sure sign that the plant is past its prime.
“Pilgrim is old and worn out,” Sheehan wrote on her blog this week. “It presents an unacceptable risk to our region, and this is just one more example of that.”
A 1975 report on reactor safety, widely known as the Rassmussen Report, argues against that conclusion.
That report specifically stated that the valves in question have only a “one in a million” chance of interfering with a reactor shut down.
But the UCS said the Brown’s Ferry Nuclear Power Plant in Alabama must have hit the lottery, because in 1980 a plugged scram discharge valve prevented plant operators from successfully removing all of its control rods, three times, before the reactor staff was able to complete a planned shut down of their reactor.
That event at Brown’s Ferry did not occur during an emergency, however, and the 15 minutes it took to withdraw all of the reactor’s control rods did not, therefore, result in a disaster.
This week’s failure of Pilgrim’s scram valve, the official event notice released by Pilgrim concluded, “has no impact on the health and safety of the public.”
Plant staff had actually been monitoring the valve since it first failed in mid-February.
“A similar event report was generated for the same valve on Feb. 18, 2013,” the event-notification report states. “Compensatory measures applicable to the original event report included a revised lubrication application and additional surveillance testing.”
In other words, Pilgrim has been testing this valve since it first failed.
According to the NRC, the valve was lubricated, retested and restored to operability soon after the issue was discovered.
But tests conducted March 1, Pilgrim stated, “did not meet opening stroke time operability requirements for the valve.”
According to the NRC, during the power outages that shut down the plant twice during the February blizzard, the valve worked properly to support the scram.
“That is, it closed within the timeframe necessary to support the scram,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan told the Old Colony.
“The problem resulting in the report on Feb. 18 was discovered,” Neil added, “during routine surveillance testing conducted on these valves in the ‘open’ direction and was unrelated to any of the shutdowns.”
The NRC spokesman acknowledged that this valve plays an important role in supporting the scram function.
“That said, nuclear power plants have numerous systems and components that are important to safety,” Neil said. “The ‘defense-in-depth’ approach for nuclear power plants is based on multiple layers of safety through redundant systems and equipment.”
Neil wouldn’t comment directly on the assertion that the problems with this valve were related to the plants overall age.
“The company (Entergy) is continuing to evaluate the exact cause of the slowness of the valve to operate in the open direction,” Neil concluded. “Our inspectors will review the results of that review.”
For the second time in two weeks, Entergy’s Pilgrim nuclear reactor experienced an “event” requiring notification to the NRC. The scram discharge volume valve (valve CV-302-22B) failed on March 1, 2013 and February 18, 2013. http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “The scram discharge volume is a large metal tank that collects the water vented from the control rod’s hydraulic pistons during a scram. It is sized to contain all the water vented during a scram. CV-302-22B is one of the valves on the drain line from the scram discharge volume. When a scram signal occurs, this valve automatically closes (or is designed to do so, whether it does so is another matter).”
The NRC requires Entergy to make sure this valve is operating as designed because it is a mechanical system that is critical to Pilgrim’s safe operation. The valve is part of the reactor shutdown system, and must be able to operate during a “scram”. A scram means for some reason Entergy has to stop the nuclear reaction (the fission that splits the atoms) from happening.
During the February, 2013 blizzard (Nemo) Pilgrim had to shut down twice – that is, Entergy had to stop splitting the atoms. What if the valve had failed then-instead of a mere 9 days later, on Feb. 18?
Pilgrim exceeds industry averages for automatic shutdowns and unplanned power outages. http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130227/NEWS/302270347
The U.S. NRC says that the valves (called “scram discharge volume piping”) have only a one in a million chances of interfering with reactor shut down. But, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, in June, 1980, that is exactly what happened at the Brown’s Ferry nuclear plant in Alabama: that one in a million chance happened and almost caused a nuclear disaster. http://allthingsnuclear.org/fission-stories-107-mystery-plug
If Entergy’s valve had failed to operate during one of Pilgrim’s many shutdowns during the last year, there could have been a serious nuclear emergency.
Pilgrim is old and worn out. It presents an unacceptable risk to our region-and this is just one more example of that.