NRC 4.30.13

The NRC is coming to town on April 30th, for their dog and pony show, or “Annual Assessment”

You can go and ask why VT Yankee got ALL GREEN LIGHTS for their Annual Safety Assessment for the calendar year 2012. 5:30 Open House, 7:00 Q&A. At the Brattleboro Union High School, Fairground Road, Brattleboro (just off Exit 1, I91), in the Multi Purpose Room at the far end of the school.

Nancy Braus of the Safe and Green Campaign wrote an OpEd, published in The Commons on April 24. You can read “The NRC is Not Our Voice” here.

To see a list of 2012 “events” at VT Yankee the NRC may have paid attention to, click here: NRC Open House.

Here’s a brief recap of 2012: Yankee had to power down 7 times with condenser troubles, turbine troubles, or because the water was too hot or too low in the Connecticut River to use for cooling.  Entergy started off the year asking the NRC to change how often it inspects the steam dryer (which in 2010 had 65 cracks). It had been every time Yankee shut down for refueling (about every 18 months) — the NRC okayed the change to every 3 refueling outages (Entergy had asked for every 7 outages, about once every 10 years). Water in the fuel pool dropped 5 inches.

“The NRC & Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2012: Tolerating the Intolerable” is an aptly-named in depth report for the Union of Concerned Scientists.  [Executive summary and full report are here on the UCS website ]

But we won’t be able to ask the NRC on April 30th about the long list of nuclear craziness around the US and at Yankee in the past month.

  • At an Entergy-owned reactor in Arkansas, a 24-year old employee was killed and eight others injured, two seriously, when a “generator stator” in the turbine building fell during a move during refueling.  A few days later, 3 workers were injured at a reactor in Missouri. A nuclear worker in France died this week.
  • “Former Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko says that the current fleet of operating plants in the US should be phased out because regulators can’t guarantee against an accident causing widespread land contamination. In two key decisions last week Jaczko said the agency “damaged significantly” its international reputation for upholding safety and he accused the five commissioners of “just rolling the dice” in dealing with severe accidents.” []
  • The GAO (Government Accounting Office) released a report saying the NRCs evacuation planning is seriously flawed, because it does not take into account “shadow evacuations” of those living beyond the 10 mile EPZ. [AP article here]
  • The state of Virginia created a new department to develop nuclear energy – which will be exempt from any state Freedom of Information Act laws.
  • The NRC snubbed Sen. Boxer, Chairman of the Senate NRC oversight committee and Rep. Markey on a relicensing amendment for San Onofre.
  • A study of found 4,300 fewer cancer deaths 20 years after the closing of the Rancho Seco reactor than when the reactor was operating.
  • Finally, the EPA published a new guide changing public health standards dramatically in the case of a major a nuclear accident:  drinking water guidelines are now nearly 30,000 times less stringent than the agency’s current rules; Homeland Security revised cancer risks to allow as many as one in 20 people to develop cancer from long-term radiation exposure rather than the EPA’s risk of one in 10,000. The report “essentially admits that nuclear power is so dangerous that it could contaminate vast areas with extraordinarily high radiation levels, but rather than protect the people is proposing that government just let people be exposed to massive carcinogenic risks,” according to the comments signed by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen and the Sierra Club. [More on EPA’s Protective Action Guides here].

Closer to home:

  • While refueling, a 6′ by 10′ panel blew off the reactor building and fell onto the roof of the turbine building. The next day, a failed underground flood seal “compromised the flooding-prevention design of a nerve center where cables from the plant’s control room are routed to the rest of the plant.” Two feet of water entered the switchgear rooms; two more leaks were found the next day. Click here to read how VT officials formally expressed concern to the NRC.
  • These incidents came on the heels of concerns about Entergy’s ability to maintain plant safety while its finances are questionable. “…the fair value of its Vermont Yankee plant had dropped to $162 million — three times less than the carrying value at the time of $517.5 million.”[Rutland Herald article is here]
  • Gov. Shumlin advocates $700,000 be included in the evacuation zone plan for Red Cross shelters. [Reformer article here]
  • In the annual town meeting “Doyle Poll,” 46% of Vermonters polled support the state’s efforts to shut down Vermont Yankee, and 41% are opposed.



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