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…
Miles Benson, linktv.org Link TV →
Going without insurance is described as “going naked” in insurance industry lingo. Going without insurance for the worst hazards in the nuclear power industry is business as usual.
One need not look back very far to see the problem. In March 2011, the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, triggered by an earthquake followed by a tsunami that overwhelmed all of Japan’s safeguards, melted down three reactors, displaced 160,000 people and caused an estimated $250 billion in damages and other still-unfolding economic consequences.
Today, in the United States, we have 104 operating nuclear plants producing electricity. The owners, operators, and government regulators who oversee them say an event like Fukushima will not happen here. And even if it did, they insist, there is enough liability insurance in place to cover the damages. The actual amount of that insurance coverage: just $12.6 billion.
You don’t need an advanced degree in calculus or risk analysis to see that something doesn’t add up, and to start feeling a bit…naked. But when it comes to nuclear insurance, naked is the fashion designed for the American public. Read more of this →
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.
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”.
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.
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
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.
Entergy seeks zoning permit for dry cask storage project
Frank Mand, Wicked Local Plymouth Source →
“Once again, the total lack of transparency and oversight by the NRC and other regulators responsible for the safe and proper operation of Pilgrim is alarming,” she said. “All we want is straight answers and public accountability. It’s not a lot to ask, given what is at stake.”
Here is a simple thing you can do to help prevent harm from outdated nuclear power plants.
The NRC Commissioners are in the thick of a debate about whether or not to install filters on US nuclear reactors to prevent radiation leaks in case of a disaster. They are planning to vote soon on this topic. Industry is pressuring them not to require filters because it will cost them money, but we citizens deserve this safety precaution! The risk is too high and, at the very least, we can at learn a lesson from Fukushima. Word is there are two commissioners who are swing votes and we need to convince them to vote for filters! Here are their email addresses. Below is an example letter for you to use to create a letter of your own.
“Just do it!”
— Anna Baker
Commissioner Ostendorff: CMROSTENDORFF@nrc.gov
Commissioner Magwood: CMRMAGWOOD@nrc.gov
I understand that the NRC Commissioners are scheduled to vote soon on whether to follow your staff’s recommendation to order filters on vents in Mark 1 and Mark II reactors. I am writing to urge you to vote in favor of these vents. As a mother of two young children who lives near the Pilgrim reactor I would like to know that, in a severe accident, radiation will not be released directly from the reactor core into our neighborhoods. Considering the potential consequences, filters should be a no-brainer.
Part of a 50-day walk from Leverett, MA to Washington, D.C.
Details: New England Peace Pagoda
CAPE COD: Saturday, Feb 23, 2013
10:00am — Walkers gather at Bourne Bridge
6:00pm — Community Potluck at West Falmouth Friends Meetinghouse (Quakers), 572 West Falmouth Hwy (Rte 28A)
Contacts for Potluck: Ami Scheltema (508) 548-8543 / Liz Rogers (347) 860-1307
Contact for Walk: Tim Bullock (413) 485-8469, firstname.lastname@example.org
PLYMOUTH: Sunday, Feb 24, 2013
2:00pm — Walkers gather at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station to chant and drum, sending a “change of spirit” toward the plant. An 8-mile walk to the First Parish Church in downtown Plymouth (19 Town Square, Plymouth, MA) will start around 2:30pm.
5:30–8:00pm — Potluck and Program at First Parish Church, Plymouth. Charmaine White Face, an Ogalala Sioux (founder and coordinator of Defenders of the Black Hills) will speak about the impact of uranium mining on native lands, “America’s Chernobyl,” and a nuclear-free future.
Organizers are concerned about the forecast for bad weather, and have stated that in case of poor conditions the walk will be cancelled, but the events at the First Parish Church will go on. Those who do walk are expected use their own judgement about safety if the weather is inclement.
Local residents are invited to attend all events. There is no parking on Rocky Hill Road, and those who wish to walk are advised to park at “Bert’s” or The Lobster Pound and arrange to be shuttled to the origin of the walk.
ENENews / Shannon Dininny and Mike Baker, Associated Press Article source →
“You couldn’t find a more perfect radioactive storm … I am alarmed about this on many levels. This raises concerns, not only about the existing leak … but also concerning the integrity of the other single shell tanks of this age.”Gov. Jay Inslee
The long-delayed cleanup of the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site became the subject of more bad news Friday, when Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced that a radioactive waste tank there is leaking.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Energy said liquid levels are decreasing in one of 177 underground tanks at the site.
[...] Inslee said the tank is the first to have been documented to be losing liquids since all Hanford tanks were stabilized in 2005. His staff said the federal government is working to assess other tanks. [...]
“We’re out of time, obviously. These tanks are starting to fail now,” said Tom Carpenter of the Hanford watchdog group Hanford Challenge. “We’ve got a problem. This is big.” [...]
Robert Knox, Globe Correspondent Source →
Eleven anti-nuclear protesters will defend themselves against charges of trespassing at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in a trial next month expected to feature a roster of nuclear experts and political thinkers, including Pulitzer Prize-winning author Christopher Hedges and renowned physician and scholar Dr. Helen Caldicott.
Judge Kathryn Hand set a trial date of March 18 in Plymouth District Court at last Wednesday’s pretrial hearing at which the defense strategy was disclosed.
The defendants are among 14 protesters arrested at a demonstration at the Plymouth plant last May. According to the defendants, they were with a group of 60 protesters picketing at Pilgrim to show their opposition to the renewal of the plant’s license in view of its age and similarities to the nuclear reactors that failed in Japan.
Pilgrim’s operating license was renewed by federal regulators last year for 20 years.
When the 14 protesters left an area where picketing was permitted to attempt to deliver a letter to Pilgrim officials, they were warned they would be arrested if they didn’t leave. The protesters did not leave the restricted area and were charged with criminal trespass, a charge that carries a potential penalty of a $100 fine and 30 days’ imprisonment.
According to defendant Diane Turco of Cape Downwinders, the letter to Entergy raised “the clear and present dangers at its 40-year-old Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. The Pilgrim reactor is the same make and model as those which failed at Fukushima.”
In addition to the Cape Downwinders, the demonstration was sponsored by the South Shore-based Pilgrim Coalition, Duxbury-based Pilgrim Watch, and Cape Cod Bay Watch.
Three of the original defendants, including Duxbury resident Pat Garrity, have since pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and were fined $50.
Entergy officials declined to comment Wednesday on the trespass case.
“Our policy is we do not comment on matters that are pending before the court,” spokeswoman Carol Wightman said, adding, “Pilgrim station takes its security responsibility very seriously.”
Both Entergy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff have pointed to the high marks given to Pilgrim on annual safety inspections. In response to the Fukushima comparison, Entergy officials said Pilgrim has backup on-site generators and batteries in the event of the extended power loss that doomed Japan’s reactors.
Aside from setting a trial date, Wednesday’s pretrial hearing included a preliminary discussion of defense assertions and possible witnesses.
Turco said the protesters are seeking to offer a “necessity defense” to the charge against them, arguing that the seriousness of the danger the plant presents to public safety compelled them to take the actions they did. In support of this assertion, the defense intends to call such figures as Hedges, Caldicott, and nuclear expert Gordon Thompson.
A journalist whose coverage of global terrorism for The New York Times received a Pulitzer, Hedges will defend the need for “citizen activism for the greater good,” the defendants said in a statement. His book, “War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning,” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle nonfiction award.
Caldicott became prominent after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania when she left her medical career to call attention to the dangers of nuclear arms and nuclear power. She will testify to “the health dangers of [the Pilgrim] nuclear facility,” the defendants said.
Thompson, a longtime critic of the danger storing spent nuclear fuel within a plant presents as a target for terrorism and an accident risk, helped Attorney General Martha Coakley prepare the state’s argument in a lawsuit against the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision to renew Pilgrim’s license.
Filed last April, the state’s suit argued that the NRC should have completed a study of “the lessons learned” from the accident at the Fukushima plants and their relevance for the Pilgrim plant before relicensing.
In response, the NRC said it “has already considered and rejected the notion that our Fukushima lessons-learned review needs to be completed prior to a decision on any pending license renewal application.”
Nuclear safety advocate Lee Roscoe, a member of Cape Downwinders, said the trial of the nuclear protesters will accelerate growing public concern over reactor safety. She said a new resolution calling for Pilgrim’s closure won backing from Brewster officials after a similar resolution ran into opposition and “squeaked through” Town Meeting last year.
The resolution “calls for the town to ask the government to shut it down because we can’t be assured of our safety in event of an emergency,” Roscoe said. Similar resolutions were passed by town meetings in Marshfield and other communities south of Boston last spring.
The defendants said the prosecution disputed their right to call on the necessity defense at the pretrial hearing. The judge then required both the prosecution and the defense to submit written arguments and supporting papers to her by Feb. 25. If the judge decides that another pretrial hearing will be needed before she rules on the necessity defense, it would take place on March 13.
Robert Knox can be reached at email@example.com.
ENENews / Russia Today News Source →
Transcript at 3:30 in:
Host: What else do they say regarding mobile phone communications and radiation levels at the moment? [...]
Reporter: This is the zinc plant I was talking about. You will see in just a second that there’s a humungous hole in the middle of that building.
This is another thing we should keep in mind is that Chelyabinsk has been a closed region for a very long time. During the soviet era, it was essentially the center of the nuclear research. Top secret facilities are all over the place there. There is one nuclear storage facility called Mayak*.
A lot of people are saying this is really in the best graces that none of the asteroids, and there were at least 5 fragments of the asteroid, that it’s really fortunate that none of the asteroid had landed into that facility. Because that obviously, we would be talking about nuclear disaster there.
Again the minister of emergencies is saying all nuclear facilities in the region are working top notch, nothing out of the extraordinary happening there.
*Wikipedia: The Kyshtym disaster was a radiation contamination incident that occurred on 29 September 1957 at Mayak [Chelyabinsk-40], a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in the Soviet Union. It measured as a Level 6 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale, making it the third most serious nuclear accident ever recorded (after the Chernobyl disaster, and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, both Level 7 on the INES).
AFP: The Chelyabinsk region is Russia’s industrial heartland, filled with smoke-chugging factories and other huge facilities that include a nuclear power plant and the massive Mayak atomic waste storage and treatment centre.[...] “All Rosatom enterprises located in the Urals region — including the Mayak complex — are working as normal,” an unnamed Rosatom spokesman told Interfax.
Update from RT: “Officials did do preliminary testing of radiation levels in the area. They say that that is ok. But of course tests are going to continue throughout the day. [...] Radiation levels are ok at the moment but of course we’ll have to bring you up to date as the developments come in.”
NIRS More info →
The Department of Energy (DOE) is considering a plan to allow radioactively-contaminated metal from nuclear weapons facilities to be “recycled.” This would allow this toxic metal to be mixed with clean recycled metal and enter into normal commerce—where it could be turned into anything from your next pants zipper to baby toys. Act now to stop this outrage! Deadline is February 11, 2013.
Representative James Cantwell
An Act increasing nuclear power plant protections to a twenty mile radius. PDF
Amend Section 5K(E) of Chapter 111 to assess power companies $400,000 per reactor (Pilgrim, VY & Seabrook) to fund DPH radiation control program. PDF
Representative Sarah Peake & Ann-Margaret Ferrante
An Act increasing nuclear power plant protections to a twenty mile radius. PDF
MEMA to assess the present preparedness in Barnstable and Essex Counties and to determine the need for, and appropriateness of, any additional specific steps for a radiological accident at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station and Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. PDF
Senator Dan Wolf
Increase Protections to 20 Miles (and including cities and towns located in Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties, as well as in the area known as Cape Ann in Essex county. PDF
Frank Mand, Wicked Local Plymouth Source →
Ten days ago it was a pump problem. Then, a few days later duck hunters came a bit too close for comfort. And Monday a valve leak set off alarms at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. But, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, it does not, as of now, “see any commonalities between these events as two involved different valves and one was caused by personnel error.”
From a layman’s point of view, these three events – and another shutdown in May – could appear to form a troubling pattern. The plant, after all, is more than 40 years old.
Could these events be related to the age of the plant and, if so, should residents be concerned that multiple events might occur at the same time, making a simple leak or electrical problem a potential catastrophe?
Excluding the incursion by duck hunters, there have been three unplanned shutdowns at Pilgrim in just more than six months:
- Last May: Reactor scram from degrading condenser vacuum due to a valve failure
- Jan. 10: Reactor scram due to trip of both reactor recirculation pumps due to personnel error during testing.
- Jan. 20: Reactor shutdown due to a leaking safety relief valve (These safety release valves are a new design and have been installed since the last outage in 2011.)
Nevertheless, the NRC says no, there is no connection.
“We are constantly on the lookout for any problems or issues that could impact more than one area of plant performance,” NRS spokesman Neil Sheehan said this week.
“We would describe these as cross-cutting issues,” Sheehan added. “One example would be any training program weaknesses that could contribute to plant shutdowns or other events. If we saw evidence of such problems, we would not hesitate to require the company to take action in response, and we would follow up through inspections to ensure that occurred.”
But what about the age of the plant; is that a concern?
“Entergy must investigate and evaluate each equipment failure to determine if additional preventive maintenance measures may be necessary for a given component or system,” Sheehan said.
Sheehan said the reactor scram was due to personnel error during testing and not an equipment failure, and the safety relief valves had undergone work in the not-too-distant past.
The NRC does compile with what it calls “performance indicators,” Sheehan explained. These are the records of unplanned nuclear power plant changes and shutdowns.
“If the number of power changes and/or shutdowns crosses a predetermined threshold, for example, if more than three unplanned scrams occur more than the previous 7,000 hours – about 10 months – of critical operation,” he said, “that performance indicator would cross from ‘green’ to ‘white.’ ”
If that happened at Pilgrim, according to Sheehan, Entergy would have to perform a root cause evaluation and the NRC would evaluate the cause and the corrective actions Entergy took in a supplemental inspection.
“Pilgrim is currently ‘green’ in all performance indicator categories,” Sheehan said, “including unplanned shutdowns.”
But if another scram occurs in the next month or so, it would be time for a root cause evaluation.
Follow Frank Mand on Twitter at @frankmandOCM
Huffington Post Source →
Two years after the disaster at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant in Japan — called the “worst accidental release of radiation to the ocean in history” — a fish with staggering levels of radiation has reportedly been found in the vicinity of the plant.
According to French newspaper Le Monde, the fish was caught last Friday. It reportedly contained more than 2,500 times the legal limit for radiation in seafood.
The AFP writes:
[Plant operator] Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said caesium equivalent to 254,000 becquerels per kilogramme — or 2,540 times more than the government seafood limit — was detected in a “murasoi” fish.
The fish, similar to rockfish, was caught at a port inside the Fukushima plant, a TEPCO spokesman said.
The find is a stark reminder that fears of radiation continue to haunt the island nation years after the nuclear catastrophe rocked Japan’s waters.
Kaimi Rose Lum, Provincetown Banner Source →
WELLFLEET — Concerned for the safety of Cape Codders, who live downwind of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station and in the state-declared “ingestion zone” of potential radioactive fallout, state Rep. Sarah Peake and state Sen. Dan Wolf are pushing for laws that will heighten emergency planning efforts and force the aging plant to address safety issues relating to the thousands of spent fuel rods stored in its attic.
Plymouth, MA Lane Lambert, The Patriot Ledger Source →
The Pilgrim nuclear power plant is back in production after being offline for seven days.
A spokesman for Entergy, Pilgrim’s owner, said early today that the 685-megawatt plant was reconnected to the region’s power grid shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Engineers and crews manually shut down the plant’s reactors Jan. 10 when Pilgrim’s two large water recirculation pumps automatically shut off.
That problem was caused by the failure of an electrical relay. Entergy spokesman Rob Williams said. Entergy extended Pilgrim’s offline time to perform routine maintenance that can’t be done when the reactors are working.
Pilgrim was shut down in December for scheduled maintenance.
Also in 2012, Pilgrim was manually shut down for three days May 23, after workers detected reduced air pressure in the plant’s condenser. That was Pilgrim’s third emergency shutdown in seven months.
Plymouth, MA Frank Mand, Wicked Local Plymouth Source →
Town Manager proposes setting aside funds in anticipation of plant closure
Though the town is expected to announce the signing of a new PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement with Entergy – the owners of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant – in the next few weeks, town officials are not waiting to begin to plan for the eventual closure of the facility.
For the first time since the plant began operating – and paying the town millions for the privilege – the town has decided to put some of that money away, to build a rainy day fund that would help to lessen the impact of the plant’s dropping valuation and, eventual closure.
The fiscal year 2014 budget will set aside $1 million dollars and, according to Town Manager Melissa Arrighi, the plan is to make a substantial allocation annually, depending on the towns economic status.
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
Bill Maurer: (508) 299-3936
Diane Turco: (508) 432-1744
Casey Meserve, Plymouth Patch Source →
Pilgrim Nuclear power plant an exemption regarding the requirement to perform a graded full-scale emergency exercise by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Entergy requested a waiver from the requirement on the off-site portion of the exercise, which must be performed every two years, due to the impacts of Hurricane Sandy, according to the NRC.
The exemption requires that the off-site portion of the exercise for the Pilgrim plant be completed by the end of March 2013. FEMA evaluates and grades the off-site portion.
The on-site portion of the exercise, which is evaluated by the NRC, has already been conducted. It took place on Nov. 7. The NRC’s review did not identify any issues with respect to that portion of the exercise.
Robert Knox, Globe Correspondant Source →
The governor had doubts, the attorney general went to court, neighbors were divided, and the head of the agency regulating nuclear power voted against it. But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission decided that a six-year review process was long enough and renewed the Pilgrim nuclear power plant’s operating license for 20 years. The May vote came a year after a nuclear disaster in Japan cast a shadow over the plant, since Pilgrim is the same model as the reactors that failed in Fukushima. Local watchdog group Pilgrim Watch had other issues beyond post-Sept. 11 and post-Fukushima safety worries: earthquakes, operator errors, radioactive water leaks, poisonous gases blown by shoreline winds, threats to sea life from warm water, and how to cope with the effects (and costs) of a potential meltdown. A few of these were still churning through the slow grind of the license review when the renewal was granted — infuriating opponents — but other factors mattered more to the commission’s majority. The NRC staff backed renewal. Management’s safety record was generally strong. Pilgrim was equipped with backup power sources to prevent the breakdown in cooling that doomed Fukushima. The decision means Pilgrim will go on lighting lights and casting shadows. It generates 10 percent of the state’s power; millions live nearby.
PLYMOUTH, MA Cape Cod Bay Watch Source →
Entergy Corporation could be could be liable for up to $831,325,000.00 in civil penalties for polluting Cape Cod Bay at its Pilgrim nuclear reactor. According to a letter sent to the company and federal officials on October 5, 2012 by local residents, since 1996, there have been 33,253 violations of the federal Clean Water Act at the Pilgrim station. The law provides a $25,000.00 civil penalty for each violation.
The letter was sent under the provisions of the federal Clean Water Act, which gives citizens the right to enforce the law if the government fails to do so. Citizens must give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency written notice of the pollution and a chance to act on the violations. If the agency does not act, citizens can bring a suit after 60 days. Entergy could avoid being sued by reaching an agreement with the citizens or EPA over the violations, and stopping the activities that are alleged to be unlawful. The letter tells the EPA that the citizens may file a lawsuit after 60 days if the agency does not act.
The Pilgrim nuclear power station uses 510 million gallons a day of ocean water for its once-through cooling system. Marine life is harmed by the water intake, and after cycling through Pilgrim, the heated ocean water is discharged at temperatures up to 32 degrees hotter, and sometimes 120 degrees hotter, and containing chemical pollution. Pilgrim has been using the once-through cooling system since 1972, and was recently relicensed for another 20 years by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The letter identifies 15 different types of violations of the Clean Water Act. They include unlawfully discharging into the Bay a chemical used to control corrosion in the station’s pipes, exceeding legal limits for pH and chlorine, discharging total suspended solids and oil and grease without a permit, and failing to properly monitor and report pollutant discharges. The letter also alleges that Entergy has failed to conduct required biological monitoring to assess the impacts of the cooling water system on the Bay. The letter claims the 33,253 violations are documented in Entergy’s own monitoring reports filed with the government every month.
Also on October 5, a group of residents sent a separate notice of intent to sue to the state Department of Environmental Protection for allowing Entergy to damage the environment and failing to enforce the law. The state law allows a “damage to the environment” case to be brought, based on violations of pollution laws. The residents can initiate the state suit 21 days after the October 5 letter if the state does not act.
“Our ocean is not Entergy’s dump. Cape Cod Bay belongs to all of us. Our regulators should be enforcing the laws that prevent this kind of pollution.”Pine duBois, one of three residents who are signatories to the letter
“Our oceans and fisheries are in terrible shape, and stopping Entergy’s pollution is one way to make things better. The Bay belongs to all of us. It is vital to tourism and is part of our natural and marine heritage. Pilgrim has been polluting Cape Cod Bay for over 40 years. Enough is enough.”Meg Sheehan, one of the attorneys representing the residents
State letter: 10/05/12 State Letter 214 7A
Federal letter: 10/05/12 NOI CWA 505
Press Release PDF: 10/08/12 Press Release
Oct 6, 2012 Marshfield Fair Grounds southshorecelebration.com
Pilgrim Coalition will be tabling on Saturday October 6, 2012 at the South Shore Celebration: A Local Food and Sustainable Living Event. This event will be held at the Marshfield Fair Grounds from 10:00am to 4:30pm. We are looking for volunteers to help at the Pilgrim Coalition table to hand out brochures, sign up new members, speak to people about our Organization and the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. If you are interested in volunteering for a two hour shift please contact Anna Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Lampert, Pilgrim Watch
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Pilgrim: How Boiling Water Reactors Work 1
Spent Fuel Storage -Pool Fires 2
Containment Failure: Vent & Hydrogen Explosions 5
Pilgrim- Electric Reliability 10
Emergency Planning 12
Post Accident Cleanup 16
Risks From Daily Operations
Radiation Health Impacts 17
Marine Impacts 29
NRC Oversight- Public Participation- Alternatives
NRC Oversight 30
Public Participation 31
Do We Need Pilgrim’s Electric Power? 32
Jan Ellen Spiegel, The CT Mirror Source →
Waterford — Last month’s unprecedented 12-day shutdown of part of the Millstone Nuclear Power Station sent a shudder through the nuclear energy world.
Caused when the seawater used to cool the plant’s generating Unit 2 became too warm, it was the first time any U.S. nuclear plant was shut down because of intake water temperature problems.
Nuclear energy officials were concerned, but “I don’t know if we would say ‘surprised,’” said Richard MacManus, Millstone’s director of nuclear safety and licensing. He spoke as he stood alongside Niantic Bay, taking in the panoramic view of the massive Millstone facility and Long Island Sound, its source of water.
The shutdown capped a season of power reductions and other difficulties at several of the nation’s power plants — including non-nuclear ones — caused when summer heat and drought compromised the vast amounts of water needed to cool them. It has also set in motion a cascade of other potentially debilitating effects, all of which point to the likelihood that climate change has placed part of the U.S. power grid at risk.
Curiously, the industry and its watchers had seen it coming — for decades.
Frank Mand, Wicked Local Plymouth Source →
“From the time the Pilgrim’s landed, the Bay’s natural resources have changed dramatically, and we plan to raise awareness about threats to these resources and what people can to do preserve and restore them.”Margaret Sheehan, Cape Cod Bay Watch
Casey Meserve, Plymouth Patch Source →
A judge has decided to move forward on civil disobedience charges filed against 14 Cape Cod residents arrested during a protest outside Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in May.
Wednesday afternoon, a Plymouth judge decided to move forward with civil disobedience charges against 14 Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station protestors.
The charges stem from a May 20 protest outside Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station. The protestors attempted to deliver a letter of demands to the plant manager. Pilgrim is owned and operated by Entergy Corporation of Louisiana.
Most of the protestors were from Cape Cod and part of a group called “Cape Downwinders”
Michael Risch of Falmouth was one of the protestors arrested. According to WATD, Risch was “Very pleased,” with the judge’s decision. “I’ve been here before and the case was dismissed. I’m not a publicity hound but I like an opportunity for the public to be made aware of various events.”
Another Cape Coder, Elaine Dickinson, rallied outside of Plymouth District Court while the defendants went before the judge. She says the intent of those arrested was to put a spotlight on Entergy’s dangerous power plant.
“Some of our people went to meet with MEMA, a Massachusetts emergency group, and their maps and their plans are contradictory. There is no plan. There is no plan for people on the Cape, other than you go to your local health department and get your potassium iodine pills; that’s what they want us to do and be quiet.”Elaine Dickinson
Twelve out of the 14 protestors arrested will return to court September 15. The other two defendants decided not to challenge the civil disobedience charges and opted to pay a $100 court cost.
WashingtonsBlog.com Source →
In 10 Years, Peak Cesium Levels Off West Coast Could Be 10 Times Higher Than at Coast of Japan
We’ve extensively documented the fact that ocean currents bring Japanese radiation to the West Coast of North America, and that – rather than adequate ocean dilution - there could be “pockets” and “streams” of highly-concentrated radiation.
Joke F Lübbecke of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and 3 scientists from the GEOMAR Research Center for Marine Geosciences poured tracer dye into coastal waters off of Fukushima, and monitored its progress as it traveled to the West Coast of North America, to find out what might really happen.
Entergy lockout of experienced workers extends to one month amid mounting concerns over the cancellation of critical safety drills and inadequately trained replacement workers doubling up on critical safety tasks
PLYMOUTH, MA PRNewswire Source →
Local workers and concerned citizens have expressed heightened concerns about the safety of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant heading into one of the most densely populated days in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Plymouth hosts one of the Commonwealth’s largest annual Fourth of July celebrations, with tourists flocking to the region for a variety of events, including fireworks, live music and a parade.
Questions and concerns about the safety of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant reached new levels over the past month since Louisiana-based Entergy Corp. locked out 240 experienced members of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 369 – many of who have been operating the 40-year-old facility for decades. During the past four weeks, Entergy has cancelled a vital safety drill that has yet to be rescheduled, forced replacement workers unfamiliar with the Pilgrim Plant to double up on critical safety responsibilities, and at times has had to significantly reduce power output at the plant to cope with leaks and overheating.
“We’re extremely concerned that Entergy is cutting corners on vital safety and maintenance operations because the company doesn’t have enough workers in the plant who are knowledgeable about Pilgrim,” said Dan Hurley, president of UWUA Local 369. “More people come to Plymouth during this week than at virtually any other point in the year, with families and tourists visiting from all over the country for the outstanding Fourth of July Celebration this community hosts. There is never a good time to shortcut critical safety measures at a nuclear power plant, and certainly not now.”
Evan Allen, Boston Globe Source →
“By having untrained workers in there, and not preparing them for emergencies, it’s disgusting. It just shows you that they put profits over the safety of the workers and the safety of the community.”Dan Hurley, president of the Utility Workers Union of America Local 369
Frank Mand, Wicked Local Plymouth Source →
“Our members have clearly spoken and they reject Entergy’s continued demands for major concessions on healthcare, salary and staffing. It’s despicable that after receiving a license renewal that enables the company to make $1 million a day for the next 20 years from Pilgrim, executives continue to insist upon shortchanging the hardworking men and women who run this plant, keep it safe and make it extremely profitable for management.”Dan Hurley, president of UWUA Local 369
On Thursday, the Atomic Safety Licensing Board denied a contention filed by the Jones River Watershed Association. The contention related to environmental effects on Atlantic Sturgeon and herring that call the Jones River home, was denied by the panel for failing to satisfy the criteria for reopening a closed record, and failing to satisfy ‘the (late-filed) contention admissibility criteria.’
Jon Chesto, The Patriot Ledger Source →
“U.S. Rep. Ed Markey blasted the commission’s approach, accusing it of “short-circuiting the process and short-changing residents by moving forward with license approval before all efforts to improve nuclear and environmental safety at Pilgrim … have been resolved.”
Fukushima Reactor 4: The Most Important Story Nobody’s Talking About
“It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on No. 4 reactor.”Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland Mitsuhei Murata to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
It’s the most important story nobody’s talking about: the continued dire situation at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, ravaged by a massive earthquake and Tsunami last March.
Judging by the official position of the Japanese Government – which maintains the worst of the catastrophe has passed, declaring the plant now “stable” – and drying up of mainstream media coverage, it’s easy to see how most of the world has been lulled into a false sense of security about Fukushima.
But in recent months, increasingly troubling reports from high-ranking Japanese and American politicians, diplomats and nuclear experts have been trickling into the blogosphere and alternate media like the irradiated water still seeping from the plant into the Pacific Ocean.
They suggest, in a nutshell, that were another decent-sized earthquake to hit the stricken plant before thousands of highly radioactive spent fuel rods are properly secured, we could see the explosion and diffusion into the North Pacific’s winds and ocean currents of 10 times the radioactive material emitted by the Chernobyl disaster – rendering much of Asia, North America and many other corners of the globe uninhabitable for centuries.
No wonder no one wants to talk about this stuff!
Individuals arrested during a demonstration Sunday, May 20, at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth will be arraigned Monday, May 21 at 9am. The demonstration was organized by the Cape Downwinders, a member of the Pilgrim Coalition.
For more information, visit www.capedownwinders.org
Massachusetts Senate President Therese Murray, state Rep. Tom Calter, and state Rep. Vinny deMacedo ask the NRC once more to consider lessons learned from Fukushima in granting Pilgrim a new license.
Casey Meserve, Plymouth Patch Source →
As the NRC moves into the final weeks of the relicensing process for Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, Plymouth’s state delegation is taking one last shot at getting their points across about safety at the 40-year-old plant. Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, and state representatives Tom Calter, D-Kingston, and Vinny deMacedo, R-Plymouth, sent a letter to NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko last week to express their concerns over the relicensing of Pilgrim. Particularly when it comes to the lessons learned from last March’s disaster at the Fukushima-Diichi plant in Japan.
The delegation took exception to the NRC’s decision to not take the report of the “Near-Term Task Force” commissioned by the NRC after the accident at Fukushima. The NRC has stated that it will use the reports in future considerations but not in current relicensing processes. In the letter, the delegation cited several recommendations they would like to see considered before the plant is relicensed.
Among these recommendations, the Task Force discussed various issues which we believe should be addressed prior to the relicensing of Pilgrim. Those recommendations include increasing the “minimum coping time” to eight hours at each unit. In other words, the systems that would take over would have to be able to sustain their operations for at least eight hours, in a manner that requires minimal operator action. The Task Force also recommended an “extended coping capability” of 72 hours, during which time operators could either restore power or deploy portable equipment that could sustainably cool the nuclear core, andthe spent fuel pools. The Task Force additionally recommended requiring the “coping systems and equipment” to be stored fifteen to twenty feet above the flooding level of the plant.
The letter also reiterates the main concerns of Gov. Deval Patrick and Attorney General Martha Coakley, including the spent fuel rod pools.
With regard to spent fuel pools, as the promise of a nuclear waste depository may never be fulfilled, we not only support, but also expect the transfer of the spent fuel rods currently sitting at Pilgrim into dry cask storage. For several years now we have asked for this important public safety initiative to be done and for equally as many years, our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. This is a primary concern of several elected ofñcials in the Commonwealth, including the Governor and the Attorney General.
In an e-mail to The Manomet Current, Pilgrim Watch leader Mary Lampert states the NRC ignored its own rules and decided “to call the winner before the game is over.” She also argued that the action Borchardt recommends only applies to uncontested license renewal applications, which is not the case for Pilgrim Station.
The power plant has gone through a detailed review over the past six years including safety and technical reviews as part of the NRC’s license renewal process. The relicensing process has been challenged on several occasions by Pilgrim Watch, the Jones River Watershed Association, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and several other organizations and government agencies.
This Saturday, the people of Plymouth will get to have their say, in a non-binding referendum that would ask the Selectmen to “to call upon the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to immediately suspend all further action on the application of the Entergy Corporation for renewal of its license to operate the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station pending the full implementation of all safety improvements recommended by the NRC as a result of lessons learned
from the failures of similarly designed reactors in Fukushima, Japan.”
Pilgrim’s current license expires on June 6.
Political fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster is fueling local opposition to the Pilgrim Nuclear Reactor in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The aging facility’s operating license expires on June 8, 2012, and its owners want a 20-year extension. It looked like it had a green light from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which recommended an approval vote. But out of nowhere, local opposition to the license grew and spread from town to town, stiffening the backs of state and Congressional representatives, the state Attorney General, and the Governor, who urged the NRC to deny the vote until outstanding public safety and environmental concerns can be resolved. The organizers of that remarkable effort join us for this interview. With South Shore activists Anna Baker and Pine Dubois of the Pilgrim Coalition, and Paul Gunter of the DC-based group, Beyond Nuclear. Live radio interview by Amy Grunder, first aired on “Sounds of Dissent” on WZBC 90.3 FM Boston on May 12, 2012.
The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant operates just a few miles from WDCS-NA’s headquarters in Plymouth, MA. A couple of buildings down from our office, one of the power plant’s emergency alert speakers hangs from a telephone pole. We largely ignore the periodic sirens followed by the “this is a test” recorded voiceover. Our annual calendar, provided by the Plant and complete with emergency driving directions out of Plymouth in the case of an accident, hangs in the office bathroom. The local hospitals and schools have stores of iodine pills, just in case…… Every one of us working in the Plymouth office knows someone that works at the Plant, it’s a significant source of employment for a town that largely relies on tourism and our reality of living with nuclear power. Pilgrim, as it is locally known, is a haunting shadow we have grown accustomed to and tend to not think about until something goes wrong, either here, or half way around the world. And as the Plant is requesting to extend its license for another 20 years, we have much to consider from a human, and whale, standpoint.
Wicked Local, Plymouth Source →
“This year’s ballot also includes a nonbinding referendum, asking the voters to authorize the selectmen to request the NRC to delay the relicensing of the Pilgrim Station nuclear plant until all of the issues raised by last year’s disaster in Fukushima have been fixed or resolved here at our local power plant. It doesn’t ask that the plant be closed or the license rejected, merely that known concerns be addressed to make Pilgrim safer. It does not force the NRC to take any action; it’s merely a chance for the people of Plymouth to take a stand, raise their voice and ask the town to request the delay. It will not, by any means, fix all the problems inherent in having an operating nuclear plant (or 40 years of spent fuels rods) sitting in our backyard, but it seems like a no-brainer that every one of those 30,000 some odd registered voters ought to care enough about their own safety to take the time to tell the NRC what they think.”
Patrick Cassidy, Cape Cod Times Source →
There are a number of serious concerns that have been raised regarding public safety, public health and the environment, and I request that the NRC thoroughly consider these matters prior to making any decision on Pilgrim’s license renewal applicationGovernor Deval Patrick
Members of the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 369, voted last night to authorize a strike at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth if a new contract is not approved before the current agreement ends.The vote means workers could strike if a deal isn’t reached before the current union contract expires May 15.
The measure to give union leaders the power to call a strike passed overwhelmingly, said union spokeswoman Laura Wareck.
Richard Brodsky, Op-Ed Contributor, New York Times Source →
The Fukushima meltdowns, which began a year ago this week, were a disaster — but also, at least in the United States, an opportunity. Everyone was awake and interested. Thoughtful questions, wild speculation and genuine, heartfelt public concern about nuclear safety were everywhere.
Predictably, the nuclear industry hunkered down, filling the airwaves with its own spin. The real failure, however, was at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which, some hoped, might seize the moment to push for real discussion and change. It didn’t.
A year has passed, though, with almost no progress. One thing has become clear: It’s not enough to push for change at the industry level. We must also reform the regulators themselves.
The commission’s failures are legion. For one thing, it has repeatedly fallen short on the issue of fire safety. In 1975, a reactor in Alabama almost melted down because the electric cables that control reactor shutdown in an emergency burned through. The commission required upgraded insulation of the cables in all nuclear plants, but when it tested the insulation, it failed.
3/12: Plymouth Daily News (with photos)
3/12: The Manomet Current (with photos & video)
3/12: Patriot Ledger (with photos & video)
3/12: Boston Globe (with audio)
3/11: NECN (with video)
3/11: Cape Cod Today (with photos)
Despite the Fukushima catastrophe in Japan last March, nuclear power is experiencing a rebirth in the United States. Billions of dollars in federal funding has been allocated to develop nuclear capacity; applications are under consideration to build more than a dozen new reactors; and last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced approval for the construction of the first new nuclear reactors in more than three decades.
But what about the nation’s existing fleet of aging reactors? Licensed to operate for 40 years, many of these plants are steadily, if quietly, getting extensions from the NRC. Seventy-one of the nation’s 104 plants already have won approval for 20-year extensions. This video takes a closer look into surprising problems in the NRC’s oversight of aging nuclear plants.
Mary Lampert Pilgrim Watch →
At the Massachusetts State House Hearing on April 6, 2011, called in response to the Fukushima accident and its implications for the Commonwealth, ISO New England testified. The video is accessible here (ISO’s presentation is from 121.50-145): Joint Hearing on Nuclear Emergency Preparedness
Beginning at 138.56 on the video, Senator Downing, on behalf of Senator Wolf, asked ISO what the effect on the grid would be if Pilgrim were not relicensed – in other words, would the lights stay on? Mr. Roark, ISO, replied that we would have other sources to make up power that would be lost if Pilgrim shut down.
Mr. Roark opined that there may be a need for transmission upgrades in the area; however he noted that ISO was working on transmission upgrades to Cape Cod that would be ready in a few years and would likely have spillover effect to Pilgrim’s geographic area. Transmission upgrades go through three stages- study, citing and construction.
Simple observation shows that the lights stay on when Pilgrim shuts down for about a month or so to refuel every 2 years or is forced to shut down in the interim for repairs.
Entergy blocks town from participation in the “ten-mile” emergency plan, even though part of Plympton is within that radius. The town has to get permission from the NRC. Entergy uses the slogan “Safety First”, but evidently not for Plympton.
Wicked Local Source →