October 16, 2013
PLYMOUTH — Depending on your perspective, Monday’s shut down of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station was either another example of the plant’s “defense in depth” safety or additional evidence of its vulnerability.
The press release from Pilgrim arrived just after 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, Oct. 15, and referenced a successful scram (sudden shutdown) of the reactor at 9:21 p.m. the previous evening. According to Pilgrim spokesman Carol Wightman, “Pilgrim Station automatically shut down due to the loss of one of the two 345-kV lines that provides offsite power to the plant.”
October 15, 2013
Shutdowns at Pilgrim in 2013
Jan. 10: Trip of both recirculation pumps. Returned to full power on Jan. 17.
Jan. 20: Leak in a safety-relief valve. Returned to full power on Jan. 24.
Feb. 8: Offsite power loss and main generator load reject. Returned to full power on Feb. 16.
April 18: Refueling. Returned to full power on June 3.
Aug. 22: Electrical problems with water pumps. The plant restarted on Aug. 26, but was shut down by a steam leak on Sept. 8 before reaching full power. Returned to full power on Sept. 21.
Oct. 14: Loss of offsite power.
Source: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
PLYMOUTH – A series of mechanical difficulties at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station has kept the plant from operating at peak for more than two weeks. Currently Pilgrim is completely off the electric grid, shut down Sunday evening because of a steam leak in a pipe supplying hot water to the nuclear reactor.
August 27, 2013
Plymouth residents within 10 miles of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station are eligible to receive free Potassium Iodine (KI) pills to protect them in the event of a radioactive release.
Compiled by Dave Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists – A 36-page printout of events that have occurred at Pilgrim, spanning from 1965 to May 2013.* Pilgrim Events (PDF)
*Important Note: This report contains information about events that happened – not events that did not happen. In other words, just because an event is NOT listed in this report does not mean it did not happen. It might be that the ongoing research effort that yielded this report has not yet recorded the event.
PLYMOUTH — The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station was manually shut down at 8 a.m. Thursday after a tripped breaker cut off power to pumps supplying water to its reactor. James Sinclair, spokesman for Entergy, the plant’s owner and operator, said Thursday the public was in no danger. The plant was put into safe shutdown mode while staff tried to figure out the cause of the tripped breaker.
The plant will remain offline until the problem is identified and fixed, Sinclair said. The facility could be put into “cold shutdown,” which takes up to 48 hours to complete, depending on what repairs are needed, he said.
Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the plant had 1.9 unplanned shutdowns in a 7,000-hour period. This latest shutdown could shift the plant into a category that requires tighter oversight by the federal agency.Keep reading
Read the letter: Sen. Markey & Warren: Letter to Entergy
The state’s two U.S. senators recently stepped into the nuclear safety debate, writing a letter to Entergy Corp. to urge the owner-operator of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station to expand the emergency planning zone and develop a realistic evacuation plan should the plant have a radioactive release.
Entergy updated its estimated evacuation times late last year for the 40-year-old plant, based on the latest U.S. Census figures. Sens. Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, both Democrats, said those estimates are based on “highly unrealistic” assumptions.Keep reading
It’s that bittersweet time of year when we savor the last precious days of summer, trying to somehow make them last, yet knowing they’re about to come to an end. In a few short weeks, area parents will be packing backpacks and lunchboxes instead of beach bags, ceremoniously marking the beginning of another school year.
With the start of school, a slew of tedious paperwork will be brought home for parents to fill out and sign. In Plymouth, one of them will be a consent form authorizing the child’s school to administer potassium iodide (KI) should a radiological event occur at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. In signing this consent form, parents are forced to face the possibility of a catastrophic crisis at Pilgrim. It is a risk that all residents of Plymouth (and beyond) are forced to accept as part of living in this wonderful area, in the shadow of an operating nuclear plant.Keep reading
August 7, 2013
Even more would try to leave in case of Pilgrim nuke plant event
BUZZARDS BAY — Entergy Corp., owners of the aging Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Manomet, has completed its survey of 500 Cape Cod households, asking two key emergency evacuation questions. Fifty Bourne households were contacted.
The first question involved people leaving the Cape due to a weather emergency. Some 59 percent of the respondents said they would depart; 41 percent said no. The second question involved people departing the Cape in the case of a nuclear event at the Pilgrim station and being advised to leave. Some 70 percent said they would get off the Cape; 30 percent said they would stay behind.Keep reading
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…
View Report (PDF, 37 pages)
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.
For more information, contact Frank Rusco at (202) 512-3841 email@example.com, or Stephen Caldwell at (202) firstname.lastname@example.org
BOURNE, MA — Last week a Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) official told local officials and residents that the state agency is considering working on a traffic plan that would essentially ask Cape Codders to stay in place were a radiological accident to happen at Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station (PNPS) in Plymouth. All of Cape Cod is within 37 miles of the facility and well within the 50 mile Ingestion Pathway Emergency Planning Zone.
At the meeting requested by Cape Downwinders and attended by local emergency officials from Barnstable, Mashpee, and Bourne, and Seth Rolbein, Senator Wolf’s chief advisor, MEMA Deputy Director Christine Packard told the group that MEMA has been in contact with Entergy Co., owners of the PNPS, to support and fund a traffic control study for Cape Cod. Ms. Packard reiterated that plans will be dealing with traffic control only and not address the lack of safety plans outside the 10 mile emergency planning zone (EPZ). The ‘shadow evacuation’ area extends 5 miles beyond the 10 mile EPZ and includes parts of Bourne and Sandwich. There are no evacuation instructions for those residents in that identified zone nor does MEMA plan to include any plans for Cape residents and visitors to evacuate.
“There are no plans to evacuate us from danger. There are no plans to shelter us from danger,” said Falmouth resident Bill Maurer, “but there are plans to control us during that danger which essentially insures that we will be exposed to that danger.”
According to Diane Turco of Cape Downwinders, MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz told the Barnstable Regional Emergency Planning Committee last October, “You will be in harm’s way”, acknowledging the serious irsk to people living on the Cape.
“The state’s response to citizen calls for public safety is to acknowledge Cape residents exposure to dangerous levels of radioactive materials and then relocate the population somewhere. The proposed traffic control plan is about controlling us to just stay put and take the hit.”, said Turco.
Organizers of the January 3 event said they were told by MEMA officials that the press would not be allowed at the meeting.
For additional information: David Agnew (774) 722-3728 / Paul Rifkin (508) 737-9545
Press Contacts: Bill Maurer: (508) 299-3936 / Diane Turco: (508) 432-1744
Even though part of Sandwich is 11 miles from Pilgrim, and Provincetown is 18 miles away, Cape Cod and the Islands have no radiological emergency plan. But don’t think that our government has done nothing to safeguard residents from an accident at its nearby Fukushima twin…
The Department of Public Health’s Radiological Emergency Information for Farmers, Food Processors and Distributors shows that there is
a plan some guidance for livestock…
Eight bills to provide some radiological emergency planning were introduced in the Statehouse between 1987 and 1992, and quite a few since. This past spring, seven Cape towns have had citizen initiatives on their town meeting warrant or election ballot. These non-binding measures varied from establishing an emergency plan to simply closing the Pilgrim reactor.