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Palisades Nuclear plant springs minor leak as repairs continue to tank that caused shutdown


It’s been more than a month since the Palisades Nuclear Plant near South Haven shut down after an unexpected release of slightly radioactive water into Lake Michigan.

Nuclear watchdog groups are upset there was yet another leak into the plant’s control room last week.

Entergy spokesman Terry Young says the leak was caused when sparks from welding work damaged a tarp separating the leaky tank that’s under repair from the control room below.

“Total leakage into the control room was less than four tablespoons of water,” Young said. “Now with that said, no water intrusion is acceptable to us. But I just want to emphasize that this posed absolutely no threat to safety of personnel or equipment.”

Federal regulators could not confirm the amount of the leakage, beyond “three drops per minute, for less than 24 hours.” Young says the water came from nozzles that are attached to the tank. The tank was drained, and the nozzles capped, but he says the water likely came from one of those nozzles.

“After last year’s leak into the control room the company put a tarp and catch trays in the catacombs,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng said.

The tank sits on the roof, below the roof are catacombs and below those is the control room’s ceiling.

“They cannot start up without finding and fixing whatever caused the leak into the control room,” Mitlyng said. She says the NRC has six specialists on site, in addition to the two resident inspectors.

Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear says he asked about the former leaks into the control room as recently as last month. “I was told by company and agency spokespeople that that issue was a thing of the past, that an installed moisture barrier had taken care of the problem,” Kamps said in a written statement.

“If Palisades can’t even prevent basic leakage through the ceiling of the control room, which has now been going on for over two years, what does that say about its reactor and radioactive waste safeguards?”

Young says a new “spill barrier” is on site. He couldn’t say immediately if the company considered it a permanent fix.

During repairs, the company realized the flooring beneath the tank was not built as drawings indicated. Specifically, a sand bed the tank was supposedly resting on did not exist. The company had assumed that low level leakage after the tank was repaired last summer was due in part to the sand bed being wet.

“It was impossible to say where those very low levels of leaks were coming from because there were no detectable flaws (in the tank) through any of the examinations,” Mitlyng said. She says the leak had not stopped after the repairs last year, but that the rate was low enough it wasn’t against regulations.

The tank is original construction, so Young points out the lack of a sand bed was done decades ago by a different company. Entergy bought Palisades in 2007 from Consumers Energy.

“At the time the decision was made not to put sand under there, they also did not update the drawings,” Young said. “So we assumed it was there. It turns out that is wasn’t. But what we put in place now is even vastly superior to what that sand would have done.”

The new sub-flooring will consist of a fiber board with reinforced concrete.

Repairs of the leaky tank continue. Young says workers are expected to finish the partial replacement of the tank bottom this week and begin a series of tests to confirm the tank is fixed. Young expects the plant will likely restart in early summer.

via Palisades springs minor leak as repairs continue to tank that caused shutdown | Michigan Radio.

U.S. senator reveals “truly shocking” information about California nuclear plant — “Restart of San Onofre reactors is now off the table”


San Onofre: Internal letter reveals Edison knew of defects at crippled

reactors but misled federal regulators to get expedited license

Source: Friends of the Earth News Release

Date: May 28, 2013

“Restart is dead”

Sen. Barbara Boxer has released a private 2004 letter from Southern California Edison that reveals the utility knew of major problems in its radically redesigned replacement steam generators at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station that could lead to a “disastrous outcome,” but the company knowingly misrepresented its failed design as a “like-for-like” replacement to sidestep a more thorough license review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The leaked letter confirms accusations of the nuclear watchdog group Friends of the Earth. Its release, said the group, means Edison’s restart plan is dead.

“This letter from Edison management is truly shocking,” said Damon Moglen, climate and energy director for Friends of the Earth. “It shows definitively that Edison was more concerned with keeping to a construction schedule and making money than with assuring safe operation of their reactors. It raises serious questions about their honesty and about the NRC’s handling of the San Onofre license.

“The restart of San Onofre reactors is now off the table. No one can possibly argue for the further operation of these crippled reactors when such an experiment places the lives and livelihoods of millions of Southern Californians at risk.” […]

“Friends of the Earth accused them, the ASLB judged them and now Edison has confessed,” said Dave Freeman, former head of the federal Tennessee Valley Authority and senior advisor to Friends of the Earth. “The San Onofre restart plan is now deader than a doornail. It’s over.”

via U.S. senator reveals “truly shocking” information about California nuclear plant — “Restart of San Onofre reactors is now off the table”.

Worst Week Since Fukushima: 4 Major Setbacks In 3 Days Are Latest


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 the U.S. nuclear power industry mothballing plans for planned reactors in North Carolina and Texas, it also is now pulling the plug (or threatening to do so) on existing reactors in California. All of that and the passage of anti-industry legislation in Florida happened last week (April 28th-May 3rd), easily the worst single week for the U.S. nuclear power industry since the March 2011 meltdown of nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan.

One day after the closure by Dominion Resources of the Kewaunee Power Station reactor in Wisconsin, three experts held a phone-based news conference today to comment on the recent string of adverse developments for the troubled nuclear power industry.

Peter A. Bradford , adjunct professor at the Vermont Law School, a former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and a former utility commission chair in New York and Maine, said: “2013 is another year in which the pumps can’t keep up with the rush of water aboard the ‘nuclear renaissance.’ It’s no surprise that any utility executive with a modicum of concern for his customers’ electric bills doesn’t consider this to be the right time to build a new reactor. However, the closing of existing reactors in the face of market realities is something new, suggesting that US nuclear generation may actually have reached a peak a few years ago that it will not attain again in our lifetimes.”

Mark Cooper , senior fellow for economic analysis, Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School, and author of “Policy Challenges of Nuclear Reactor Construction, Cost Escalation and Crowding Out Alternatives” (2009), said: “From Florida and the Carolinas to Texas and on to California, the underlying issue driving the demise of nuclear power is the same: bad and unsustainable economics. In Florida, a ratepayer rebellion in the face of rapidly rising reactor costs shared the same roots as Duke’s abandonment of two reactors in North Carolina that were projected to have doubled in cost. In Texas, only foreign government-backed entities could afford the soaring costs of the STP reactors near San Antonio. In California, Southern California Edison is seeking to sidestep hundreds of millions of dollars in costs for damaged reactors that may simply be too expensive to repair. The story of nuclear power from coast to coast is one of bad economics.”

Between Tuesday to Thursday of last week, the following things happened:

On Tuesday, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ruled that a partnership between NRG Energy Inc. and Toshiba Corp. to build the pair of proposed South Texas Project reactors violates a U.S. law prohibiting foreign control of nuclear power plants. (See http://nukefreetexas.org/downloads/staff_FOCD_determination_letter_43013.pdf and http://nukefreetexas.org/2013/05/foreign-ownership-could-halt-licensing-of-south-texas-project-nuclear-reactors-nrc-says-nina-doesnt-meet-their-requirements/.) In March, the NRC failed to strike down a similar finding that the proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 reactor project in Maryland is dominated by foreign companies. (See http://www.nirs.org/nukerelapse/calvert/prcc3commorder31113.pdf.)

Southern California Edison CEO and President Theodore F. Craver told investors Tuesday that one or both reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS) face permanent shutdown if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) does not move immediately to permit the damaged reactors to go back online without a prior hearing to determine if it is safe to do so. Costs related to the shutdown are now pegged at $553 million, including $109 million spent on inspections and repairs and $444 million for replacement power. Other estimates indicate the San Onofre debacle could cost consumers up to $3 billion. (See http://www.powermag.com/nuclear/Decision-to-Close-SONGS-Nuclear-Reactors-Could-Come-by-Late-2013_5583.html and http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/may/04/san-onofre-nuclear-plant-near-death/.)

Duke Energy announced Thursday that it will abandon plans for two nuclear reactors at the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in North Carolina. Duke will seek to make Progress Energy customers, instead of corporate stockholders, pay for this blunder – and will likely try to add a mark-up, with profit, on top of the $70 million spent. (See http://www.ncwarn.org/2013/05/demise-of-harris-nukes/.) This February, Duke announced that it would not repair the damaged Crystal River reactor in Florida.  (See http://www.cleanenergy.org/index.php?/Press-Update.html?form_id=8&item_id=352.)

Also Thursday, the Florida Senate sent a bill to the governor revising a 2006 law allowing utilities to charge for nuclear reactors that may never be built. To date, the “advance cost recovery” provision has permitted Florida Power & Light Co. and Duke Energy (formerly Progress Energy Florida) to collect more than $1.4 billion from customers. Even with the new legislation, the Sunshine State’s six million ratepayers will have to count on the state’s Public Service Commission to rein in industry abuses on advance cost recovery financing. (See http://www.cleanenergy.org/index.php?/Press-Update.html?form_id=8&item_id=371.)

Commenting on the setback for nuclear power in California, Daniel Hirsch , lecturer on Nuclear Policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nuclear policy nonprofit organization, and co-author of a recent study about the severity of San Onofre’s steam generator problems, said: “San Onofre is crumbling.  New steam generators in both Unit 2 and 3 failed in just a year or two of operations. Each plant has hundreds of times more damaged tubes than the typical reactor with new steam generators. Southern California Edison informed investors last week that it is likely to close both reactors permanently if it can’t get the NRC to approve restart of Unit 2 with an exemption from the requirement for a prior hearing to determine its safety. That is like a judge in the Old West saying: ‘We’ll hang ’em now and give ’em a fair trial later.’ It appears that Edison is convinced that its proposal to restart the damaged reactor without repairing or replacing the crippled steam generators can’t withstand the scrutiny of a safety hearing. Whatever the industry’s hopes for a revival of nuclear power, San Onofre’s steam generators seem to be working in the opposite direction.”

CONTACT:  Leslie Maloy , (703) 276-3256 or lmaloy@hastingsgroup.com; and Alex Frank , (703) 276-3264 or afrank@hastingsgroup.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  A streaming audio replay of a related news event will be available by 5 p.m. EDT on May 8, 2013 at http://216.30.191.148/worstweek.html.

via Worst Week Since Fukushima: 4 Major Setbacks In 3 Days Are Latest… — WASHINGTON, May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —.

via Worst Week Since Fukushima: 4 Major Setbacks In 3 Days Are Latest… — WASHINGTON, May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —.

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