"We Could Have Lost Alaska." – Naked Nuclear Incompetence – EON Digest 2-10-2012

Reuters - Deserted: An empty shopping street in Namie, inside the 12-mile exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima plant. The Japanese government has repeatedly been accused of withholding information on the disaster

Screw-Ups, Shut-Downs, Ghost Towns and Cover-Ups: Normal Operating Procedures [Updated 2-10-2012]
This edition’s harvest of nuclear news reports casts further doubt on the sanity of the dwindling numbers of atomic energy advocates. From California’s San Onofre, Illinois’s Byron, Minnesota’s Prairie Island, to Moscow’s Nuclear Research Center, to Vermont Yankee, to Japan’s Fukushima, (emergencies just within the past week) to nuclear power plants in Germany, and from TEPCO to the NRC the vulnerability of the whole nuclear complex to technical failure, scientistic delusion, managerial incompetence, official malfeasance and links to organized crime is too obvious to deny. And now they tell us, “We could have lost Alaska?!”

A case in point: the NRC just licensed the first new nuclear reactor in three decades.

Here’s the digest. It ends with a new upbeat anti-nuclear video by young surfer/filmmaker Kyle Thiermann.

Southern Company photo. The bottom of the containment vessel for a new reactor at the Vogtle plant in Georgia is seen under construction on Jan. 30. The Southern Company on Thursday got its license for the reactor and a second one going in at the existing nuclear site.

We May Yet Lose Tokyo… Not to Mention Alaska… and Now Georgia, Too
by Harvey Wasserman
Published on Friday, February 10, 2012 by Common Dreams
As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves a construction/operating license for two new reactors in Georgia, alarming reports from Japan indicate the Fukushima catastrophe is far from over.

Thousands of tons of intensely radioactive spent fuel are still in serious jeopardy. Radioactive trash and water are spewing into the environment. And nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen reports that during the string of disasters following March 11, 2011’s earthquake and tsunami, Fukushima 1’s containment cap may actually have lifted off its base, releasing dangerously radioactive gasses and opening a gap for an ensuing hydrogen explosion….

…With bitter debate raging in Japan, the US and elsewhere over the killing power of Fukushima’s emissions, the certification of a new US reactor design may someday be remembered as a bizarre epitaph for the 20th century’s most expensive failed technology.

Without state ratepayers and federal taxpayers being forced to foot the bill, new reactor construction in the US is going nowhere.

And without a final resolution to the on-going horrors at Fukushima, the entire planet, from Tokyo to Alaska to Georgia and beyond, remains at serious radioactive risk. Read more.

Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant Wins First Reactor Construction Permit In A Generation
Lucia Graves
WASHINGTON — Federal safety officials voted 4-to-1 to approve the first nuclear reactor construction permit in almost 35 years, overriding U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko.

The commission’s vote on Thursday will allow Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power to expand operations at its plant in eastern Georgia, paving the way for the construction of two new nuclear power reactors at its Vogtle site. The last such project to be approved was in 1978.

Chairman Jaczko in his dissenting vote cited concerns stemming from Fukushima, underscoring long-standing tensions on the commission over the regulatory response to Japan’s 2011 nuclear power disaster.

“I cannot support issuing this license as if Fukushima never happened,” Jaczko said after the vote at the commission’s headquarters in Rockville, Md. Jaczko had requested a binding commitment that the Fukushima enhancements currently planned would be enacted before the facility begins operations. Southern Company refused to meet this stipulation.
Read more.

US licenses first nuclear reactors since 1978
By Miguel Llanos, msnbc.com
Updated at 1:25 p.m. ET: It’s been 34 years — and several nuclear accidents later — but a divided federal panel on Thursday licensed a utility to build nuclear reactors in the U.S. for the first time since 1978.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s chairman, Gregory Jaczko, opposed licensing the two reactors at this time even though he had earlier praised their design.

“There is still more work” to be done to ensure that lessons learned from Japan’s Fukushima disaster last year are engrained in the reactor design, he told his colleagues. “I cannot support this licensing as if Fukushima never happened. I believe it requires some type of binding commitment that the Fukushima enhancements that are currently projected and currently planned to be made would be made before the operation of the facility.”

“There is no amnesia,” responded Commissioner Kristine Svinick, speaking for the 4-1 majority and noting that the industry has been directed to adopt those lessons.
The licensing covers two reactors estimated to cost $14 billion that the Southern Company wants to add to its existing Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia. Preliminary work has already begun and plans are for the first new reactor to be operating in 2016. Read more.

Emails reveal panic at U.S. nuclear agency as experts were kept in the dark following Fukushima disaster
• One email reads: ‘We have very little factual information as an agency’
• Nuclear Regulatory Commission inundated with requests over safety of U.S. nuclear facilities in wake of disaster
• Experts disagreed over best way to contain Fukushima disaster
• Worst-case scenario would have seen high levels of radiation reach Alaska

By Wil Longbottom – Daily Mail
Emails posted on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission website after the Fukushima disaster last March have revealed the agency was kept in the dark about the scale of the crisis.

The correspondence, posted after the earthquake and tsunami caused catastrophic damage to the nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan, reveals experts in the U.S. disagreed over how to deal with the disaster.

And while assuring the U.S. population that there was no danger, the NRC did not disclose a worst-case scenario which could have seen high levels of radiation affecting Alaska if Fukushima could not be brought under control.

New Containment Flaw Identified in the BWR Mark 1
Fairewinds Nuclear Update
Fairewinds shows that the nuclear industry’s plan to vent the containment at Fukushima Daiichi could not have prevented a containment failure and the ensuing explosions. Look at the graphics from the containment stress tests conducted more than 40 years ago at a US nuclear reactor identical to Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1. This video and its graphics provide important clues about why Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 exploded.

New Containment Flaw Identified in the BWR Mark 1 from Fairewinds Energy Education on Vimeo.

Emails Show Panic Within US Nuke Agency in Wake of Fukushima Disaster
US experts for Nuclear Regulatary Commission disagreed over best way to contain ongoing nuclear disaster

– Common Dreams staff – Published on Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Emails posted on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) website show an agency that was ill-informed about the state of the crisis taking place at the failing Fukushima nuclear plant last year in Japan. The emails reveal some of the mitigation plans advisers to the NRC were contemplating, show an agency reluctant to share its own research on spent fuel pools, and unwilling to articulate worst-case scenarios, including a nuclear fallout plan for Alaska.

Shining the Light on the Triple Meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi
Fairewinds – Video Nuclear Update
There were ample warnings that both TEPCO and Japan’s regulators ignored steps that would have prevented this tragedy. Throughout the world, nuclear oversight has been compromised by the revolving door and cozy relationship between the nuclear industry and the so-called nuclear regulators who promote nuclear power rather than regulate.

Shining the Light on the Triple Meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi from Fairewinds Energy Education on Vimeo.

Nuke dangers nowhere near resolved: Kan’s crisis adviser
Staff writer – Japan Times
In December, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced the “conclusion” of the meltdown crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, saying Tokyo Electric Power Co. was managing to keep the three crippled reactors cool, as well as the facility’s spent fuel pools.

But a former special adviser to Naoto Kan, who was prime minister when the crisis started, warned that the situation is far from resolved and said Fukushima has exposed a raft of serious nuclear problems that Japan will have to confront for years.
“I would say (the crisis) just opened Pandora’s box,” Hiroshi Tasaka, who has a doctorate in nuclear engineering and is now a professor at Tama University, said in a recent interview with The Japan Times.

He was one of a select group who glimpsed the secret worst-case scenario document written up by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission on March 25 that was later reportedly quashed by the government.

According to the scenario, the biggest risk during the meltdown crisis wasn’t the reactors themselves but the spent fuel pools sitting atop them, particularly the one above reactor 4, which still contains about 1,500 nuclear fuel assemblies, Tasaka said.
Read more.

Author Keiko Ochiai, journalist Satoshi Kamata and Nobel literature laureate Kenzaburo Oe prepare to speak to reporters in Tokyo, February 8, 2012. (Photo: VOA - S. L Herman)

Nobel Winner Oe Urges Japan to Decommission Nuclear Reactors
By Chisaki Watanabe – Bloomberg
Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) — Japan should decide quickly to abandon its nuclear reactors, according to Nobel Prize laureate Kenzaburo Oe.
“If we are to take ethical responsibility for children of tomorrow, we need to decide now to abandon all reactors,” the 77-year old author said today at a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

“Another severe nuclear accident could occur,” said Oe, who is among the nine founding members of the “Sayonara Nuclear Power Plants” campaign launched last June. “There is no proof it won’t happen again.”

The initiative aims to collect 10 million signatures to urge the government to phase out nuclear power generation and shift to clean energy and energy-saving measures. So far, 5 million signatures have been collected, said Satoshi Kamata, a freelance journalist and another founding member.

Rising temperatures at Fukushima raise questions over stability of nuclear plant
Justin McCurry in Tokyo – guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 7 February 2012 23.52 EST
Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant say they are regaining control of a reactor after its temperature rose dramatically this week, casting doubt on government claims that the facility has been stabilised. Read more.

Shut down - California's San Onofre Nuclear Power Station (SONGS) - malfunctioning in an earthquake and tsunami zone.

San Onofre nuclear reactor unit shut down; SCE plans repair of steam generator tube leak
February 3, 2012 – Source: Southern California Edison

Southern California Edison (SCE) (NYSE:EIX), operator of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, continues to plan for the repair of the steam generator tube leak in Unit 3 following a precautionary shutdown January 31. Sensitive monitoring instruments at Unit 3 continue to show no change in radiation levels that would be detectable off-site.

Operators responded quickly to indications of a steam generator tube leak based on readings from highly sensitive instruments designed to detect this condition, and in time to take action to prevent any potential change in detectable radiation exposure outside the plant boundary. Operators safely shut the nuclear power plant down and isolated the component that contained the leaking tube within four hours of detecting the indications.

Currently, operators are cooling down Unit 3 and reducing pressure in the plant, which is the method to stop the tube from leaking. They are meticulously following prescribed procedures written specifically for addressing a tube leak condition.

San Onofre, We’ve Got a Problem – by by Joieau – Daily Kos – Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 05:16 PM PST

That’s a diagram of Mitsubishi Heavy Industry’s PWR and APSR steam generator, with the pieces-parts labeled. In case anyone missed my diary of last night, San Onofre: “Unprecedented” Steam Generator Tube Failure, Unit 3 of the San Clemente nuke had to shut down on Tuesday of this week because a leak in one (or both) of its RSGs [Replacement Steam Generators, installed in January of 2011] set off radiation alarms in the auxiliary building. Inspection of Unit 2’s RSGs was conducted yesterday because that plant is down for outage, and “unusual” tube wear was discovered in more than 800 of the more than 9,500 tubes that carry superheated, pressurized reactor coolant water [~600ºF] into the SGs to heat secondary feedwater to steam to turn the turbines and generate electricity. Unit 2’s RSGs were also manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and were installed in the fall of 2009.
Here is a link to a DOE report from their Energy Information Administration/Electric Power Monthly, published in August of 1995 which explains in some detail the function of Steam Generators in a PWR nuclear power plant, and what can go wrong with SGs. Which along with the reactor itself are the most expensive components of a nuclear generating plant. It’s worth a read just to get the general overview of why these non-reactor components are so important.
Steam Generator Degredation and Its Impact on Continued Operation of Pressurized Water Reactors in the United States [pdf]

Apparently there was a little manufacturing problem with SONGS’ Unit 3 RSGs, that everyone involved knew about at the time. Here is the NRC’s Information Notice to license holders on that very issue, from April of 2010 –

NRC: Welding Defects in Replacement Steam Generators [pdf]
Read more.

Data show that California has so much excess energy capacity that the San Onofre and Diablo Canyon reactors could be shut down now with no power shortage.

ENERGY: Electricity market unperturbed by offline nuke plant
Eric Wolff – North County Times
California has so much excess electricity-generating capacity, the shutdown of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station last week had no impact on wholesale electricity prices, data from the California Independent System Operator showed.
The impact was lessened by the timing of the outage. Californians use less power in winter, thanks to a mild climate and a relative dearth of electric heaters.
“It goes back to the fact that you have fairly low demand levels,” said Travis Miller, an electricity and utilities analyst at Morningstar Inc. “You have all this spare capacity, a huge amount of gas plant capacity that’s not running at any time during the day. You can replace that 20 percent during the day with those.” Read more.

Nuclear Hot Seat
Radio – Libbe HaLevy
In the wake of all the bad news from San Onofre in the past week (radiation leak in Unit 2, over 800 damaged pipes found in Unit 3, worker falls into refueling pond), I interviewed James Chambers, a licensed nuclear reactor operator and whistleblower, on the difference between what the mainstream media is saying and what these problems might mean.  Please share. His interpretation is timely and important.

Go to Nuclear Hot Seat Podcast here.
Here’s the audio player: chambers42573c97-9c90-9008-b72b-fdb6702ad773
Here’s the download link.

Also on Nuclear HotSeat:
Nuclear Hotseat Podcast for February 7, 2012
* Interview w/Mary Olson, Director of the SE office of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS.org), on increased radiation risks to women and children as well as national perspectives on the anti-nuclear movement;
* San Onofre problems continue (SEE: Nuclear Hotseat Special Report);
* Fukushima 2 reactor increasing heat while TEPCO injects borax; radiation cloud over New Zealand;
* Fire at a nuclear research center in Moscow;
* Nuke accidents in France, North Anna, and Prairie Island in Minnesota;
* Radioactive fish in Vermont and dying bird populations at Fukushima.

Fire at Moscow nuclear institute, Russia says no risk
By Alexei Anishchuk – Reuters
MOSCOW | Sun Feb 5, 2012 1:18pm EST
MOSCOW (Reuters) – There was no risk of a radiation leak after a fire broke out at a Moscow nuclear research centre housing a non-operational 60-year-old atomic reactor on Sunday, said officials, but Greenpeace Russia expressed serious concern about the incident. Read more.

Nuclear radiation affects both pregnant mother and developing child.

Press Release IPPNW Germany
Spikes of radioactive emissions during inspection and refuelling

For the first time anywhere in the world, recent German data reveal huge spikes in radioactive releases during the refuelling of NPPs.

In September 2011, Gundremmingen NPP located between Ulm and Augsburg in Southern Germany emitted  much larger amounts of radioactive noble gases during inspection/refuelling  than are emitted during normal power operation. According to the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) in Germany, the normal emission concentration during the rest of the year is about 3 kBq/m³, but during inspection/refuelling (in the afternoon and evening of September 22nd) this concentration abruptly increased to ~700 kBq/m³ with a peak of 1,470 kBq/m³. In the following days (September 22nd – 29th), the concentrations of released radioactive noble gases were still much higher (average = 100 kBq/m³) than during normal power operation.

Graphic: Radioactive emissions of the NPP Gundremmingen during inspection and refuelling period

A possible mechanism explaining leukemia clusters close to German and French nuclear power plants?
Image courtesy of German IPPNWThe German affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War has published analysis showing large releases of radioactivity during “routine” re-fuelling of atomic reactors in Bavaria. The releases are hundreds of times higher than what is considered a “normal” release. The German IPPNW warns that fetuses would be especially vulnerable to these radioactive hazards. This physical, chemical, and biological delivery mechanism of radioactivity into fetal tissue is one possible explanation for statistically significant increases in childhood leukemia rates detected near nuclear power plants by German and French government health studies, which officially have “no explanation.”

Setagaya Mayor Nobuto Hosaka - George Nishiyama/The Wall Street Journal

Anti-Nuclear Tokyo Mayor Challenges Big Utilities
By George Nishiyama – WSJ-Japan
Tokyo’s Setagaya ward is over 260 km away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a long way from the evacuation area imposed by the Japanese government after last year’s March 11 disasters. Read more.

David Lochbaum: “The NRC Is Not Doing Its Job”NPR
A nuclear engineer, Lochbaum is director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists. He’s found that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has successfully intervened in some critical situations and dropped the ball in others. “The biggest concern I’ve had with the NRC over the years I’ve been monitoring them is lack of consistency,” he says. “They’re a little bit slow at solving known safety problems.” This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on Nov. 29, 2011.
Would you consider yourself a critic of the nuclear industry?
We’re critics, but we’re not an anti-nuclear organization. We’re a pro-safety or safety advocate.
If a safety problem is identified, we want to see that problem fixed. The only fix isn’t shutting the plant down permanently, taking away the keys. It could be just fixing the safety problem and allowing the plant to operate safely into the future. …
When Fukushima happened, I suppose it’s an article of faith in your business that an accident anywhere is an accident everywhere. Is that what happened?
UCS’s founder, Henry Kendall, used to say that you can’t have but one half of a boat sink. They are basically all in the same boat.
So the accident at Fukushima does affect plants worldwide, and should affect it. It’s a learning exercise. You try to learn from things that work well as well as things that don’t work so well.

SAN ONOFRE: NRC say leak may have caused minor radiation release at San Onofre
BY PAUL SISSON psisson@nctimes.com North County Times |

An official with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday that a water leak this week at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station could have released a small amount of radiation into the atmosphere, contradicting an earlier statement by plant owner Southern California Edison.

Victor Dricks, a spokesman for the NRC, said a small release could have occurred because the leaking component at San Onofre’s Unit 3 reactor vents into a building outside the reactor’s towering containment dome. That building is not sealed or pressurized, he said.

“We know that it vented some radioactive gases into the auxiliary building because that’s what triggered the radiation alarm that told them they had a leak,” Dricks said.
Whether the gas got out of the unsealed building is not known. Dricks said that any gas that might have escaped would be considered a “very low-level release.”
Read more.


In this undated photo released by Entergy Corp., the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vt., is seen. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is urging a federal appeals court to throw out suits filed by the state of Vermont and the nuclear watchdog group New England Coalition. The suits, which a federal appeals court has combined into one, say the NRC improperly issued the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant a new license last year even though it didn't have a required water quality certificate. (AP Photo/Entergy)

Vt. Yankee owner wants $4.6 million in legal fees
Rutland Herald. VT.
Attorneys for Entergy Nuclear have filed a request in U.S. District Court in Brattleboro seeking attorneys fees from the state of Vermont and other parties in its lawsuit over the continued operation of Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

The motion states that Entergy has so far spent $4.62 million on the lawsuit, and it noted that in U.S. District Judge Garvan Murtha’s ruling of Jan. 20, that Entergy was entitled to attorney’s fees. Read more.

Stop valve at Vermont nuke fails during testing
The Brattleboro Reformer reported this afternoon:
Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon is on its way back up to full power after it powered down for a control rod adjustment on Monday.
A rod adjustment is performed every three months to keep the reactor operating at optimal power production.
During the power down, the plant’s turbine stop valves were tested and one of the valves malfunctioned. Read more.

Tepco: Frozen water ruptures pipes at Fukushima plant — Cooling system stops at Spent Fuel Pool No. 4
• Tokyo Electric Power Company has found water leaks in 14 locations at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant
• Leaks apparently occurred after frozen water ruptured the pipes
• [Tepco said] leaked water did not contain any radioactive materials
• [Tepco] said about 40 liters of water leaked from a cooling system for a spent fuel pool at the No.4 reactor
• Leak forced the system to stop for one hour and 40 minutes, but the pool’s temperature did not rise
• Tokyo Electric said 7 tons of water had leaked from the No.6 reactor
• Ruptured pipes caused 3 water leaks on the previous day
• [Tepco] official Junichi Matsumoto admitted that the utility failed to take sufficient steps to prevent frozen pipes

report no longer online

Nuke inspectors focus on `unusual’ wear on tubes
By MICHAEL R. BLOOD; Associated Press
Published: 02/02/12 12:06 pm | Updated: 02/03/12 1:21 am
LOS ANGELES — The integrity of some equipment installed in 2009 at Southern California’s San Onofre Unit 2 nuclear plant is drawing concern after unusual wear was found on hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water.
Thursday’s disclosure came two days after a tube leak at the plant’s other unit prompted operators to shut down the reactor as a precaution. A tiny amount of radiation could have escaped, but officials say workers and the public were not endangered.
The problems at Unit 2 were discovered during inspections of a steam generator, after the plant 45 miles north of San Diego was taken off-line for maintenance and refueling. The two huge steam generators at Unit 2, each containing 9,700 tubes, were replaced in fall 2009, and a year later in its twin plant, Unit 3, as part of a $670 million overhaul.
Read more here.

Bird numbers plummet around stricken Fukushima plant
David McNeill The Independent
Researchers working around Japan’s disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant say bird populations there have begun to dwindle, in what may be a chilling harbinger of the impact of radioactive fallout on local life.

In the first major study of the impact of the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, the researchers, from Japan, the US and Denmark, said their analysis of 14 species of bird common to Fukushima and Chernobyl, the Ukrainian city which suffered a similar nuclear meltdown, showed the effect on abundance is worse in the Japanese disaster zone.
The study, published next week in the journal Environmental Pollution, suggests that its findings demonstrate “an immediate negative consequence of radiation for birds during the main breeding season [of] March [to] July”. Read more.

A former yakuza in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, dispatched workers to nuclear power plants. He used to allocate three workers per three-tatami-mat room. "You could make money easily if you simply had a telephone line," he said. (Kazuyuki Ito)

caption: A former yakuza in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, dispatched workers to nuclear power plants. He used to allocate three workers per three-tatami-mat room. “You could make money easily if you simply had a telephone line,” he said. (Kazuyuki Ito)
Yakuza labor structure formed base of nuclear industry
– Asahi Shimbun
In a rural area 15 kilometers southwest of the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, a business office displays the signboard of a construction company. But inside, a 67-year-old man wearing a black knit cap and wrapped up in a blanket while watching television indicates that the company is more of a temp staff agency for nuclear power plant work.

“Do you want to know about worker staffing?” he says, as he narrows his eyes and grimaces. “That was lucrative. When I was asked to gather up 10 workers, I called up yakuza and construction dealers.”

His said his work involved “disguised subcontracts.” Under the system, a subcontractor provides temporary staff to a general contractor, and they work under the instructions of the general contractor. The practice is illegal under the Employment Security Law, which is designed to protect the rights of workers and to ensure proper working conditions for them.

But the practice has remained widespread for years at nuclear plants around the nation, according to sources. Read more.

Fla. sen. tries to repeal statute that would let energy corps. charge for non-existent plants
By Virginia Chamlee – American Independent
Friday, February 03, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
Florida Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, has filed an amendment to a Senate committee’s energy bill in an effort to repeal a statute that allows energy companies to charge their customers for nuclear power plants that may never be built.

The filing was spurred by a settlement agreement reached last month between Progress Energy and state regulators over a nuclear power plant in Levy County. The agreement specifically addresses outstanding issues with the company’s nuclear plant at Crystal River, which was closed for repairs in 2009 and hasn’t opened since. Progress Energy’s customers will ultimately foot the $1.1 billion bill for the development of the Levy plant, and have so far already paid for half — but the company recently received the right to cancel construction on that proposed plant, meaning customers might be paying for something that is never built. Read more.

Xcel says there’s no risk as Prairie Island spills radioactive water again
By Tad Vezner and Leslie Brooks Suzukamo
Pioneer Press
Posted:   02/08/2012 12:01:00 AM CST
Updated:   02/08 12:38:20 AM
Radioactive water has spilled from Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island nuclear power plant near Red Wing, Minn., on two recent occasions, according to notifications the utility sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission this month. Read more.

Unit 2 at Exelon's Byron nuclear plant shut down again this week after a glitch during start up after a power outage last week. (Michael Tercha/Tribune file)

Startup problem shuts Byron 2 for 2nd time in 2 weeks
1:08 p.m. CST, February 7, 2012
Exelon Corp.’s 1,136-megawatt Unit 2 at the Byron nuclear power plant in Illinois shut by late Monday soon after ramping up to 25 percent power earlier in the day, due to a turbine trip, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

The plant had been shut down last week, after reporting a loss of offsite power a day earlier. Read more.

UPDATE 1-Exelon Ill. Byron 2 returns to service
Feb 7 (Reuters) – Exelon Corp’s 1,136-megawatt Unit 2 at the Byron nuclear power plant in Illinois has been reconnected to the electrical grid and began producing electricity by Tuesday afternoon, the company said.
The unit shut Jan. 30 when power to an insulator in the facility’s switchyard failed.
Repairs to the insulator were completed along with maintenance and inspection tasks while the unit was offline, Exelon said.
Byron 1 was operating at full power, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Brand new replacement parts failing at atomic reactors
A tube rupture in a brand new replacement steam generator at San Onofre Unit 3 last week, and a defective brand new replacement reactor head at Palisades, show that safety significant structures at atomic reactors are of questionable integrity and quality assurance. Three Mile Island and Arkansas Nuclear One have also experienced premature degradation of new replacement steam generators, manufactured by Areva of France.

Palisades nuclear plant in Covert Township faces a downgrade or a closing if its safety performance doesn't improve. / STAN GREGG/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Michigan’s Palisades nuclear plant may be named one of nation’s 5 worst

The Palisades nuclear power plant, which sits on the shores of Lake Michigan, could soon be downgraded by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to a status making it among the nation’s five worst-performing nuclear plants after a year of accidents, unexpected shutdowns and safety violations.

The regional head of the NRC said last week that if performance does not improve, the agency would not hesitate to shut down the plant. Palisades is one of the nation’s 10 oldest nuclear plants, and after hitting its 40-year life-span in 2011, its license was extended until 2031.

“Quite frankly, we find your performance troubling, and it declined in 2011,” regional administration Cynthia Pederson said in a rare public rebuke of the plant owned by Entergy Nuclear Operations. Read more.

Three Mile Island nuclear plant finds unexpected flaws in new steam generators
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012, 6:33 PM     Updated: Friday, January 27, 2012, 8:54 AM DONALD GILLILAND, The Patriot-News

After just one operating cycle, inspectors at Three Mile Island nuclear facility have detected unexpected flaws in the facility’s new steam generators.
There’s no indication radiation was released.

Officials say the flaws are well below regulatory thresholds, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a meeting Thursday morning to get more information.

The two 70-foot, 510-ton “once-through” generators sit on either side of the nuclear core, and were installed at TMI in 2009.

Each cost more than $140 million. Read more.

Surfing For Change: J Bay Nuclear Plant
Kelly Slater Van Jones Foster Gamble (2012)‬

To help keep EON’s work going, please check out all the support options on our Donation Page or you can also send a check made out to EON to EON, POB 1047, Bolinas, CA