As reported by Peter J. Brown at Wicked Local Wellfleet, concerns continue to simmer downwind of Entergy Nuclear's Pilgrim atomic reactor (photo, left) in the aftermath of two severe winter storm related shutdowns in the span of just a couple weeks. Numerous elected and other public officials, from Massachusetts State legislators to local Selectmen, to spokespeople for the Cape Cod National Seashore advisory body, are quoted in the article, calling for Pilgrim's permanent shutdown as a safety precaution in the unevacuable Cape Cod region.
Because reactors are so dangerous, an emergency response and evacuation plan are essential. Yet many reactor sites are not easily accessible making such evacuation plans unrealistic and the demands placed on emergency response teams unachievable.
As reported by Robert Audette of the Associated Press, the State of Vermont Department of Public Service has petitioned to intervene, and for full adjudicatory public hearings, regarding an Entergy Nuclear's License Amendment Request (LAR) that would significantly reduce, or completely eliminate, emergency preparedness at the permanently closed Vermont Yankee atomic reactor in Vernon, VT (photo, left).
As reported in the article:
'Entergy's requested amendment would reduce the 10-mile emergency preparedness zone around the plant to its actual footprint as well as its financial contributions to emergency management organizations in the EPZ [Emergency Planning Zone]. Entergy is also asking for a reduction in its offsite emergency notification system, elimination of hostile-action scenario planning and remove the state from participating in emergency response exercises. The change in the notification system would increase notification time from 15 to 60 minutes, states the filing presented to the NRC on Feb. 9."
In the filing, Recchia wrote that if approved the amendment request would "increase the threat to public health and safety in the event of a credible accident scenario... Lack of funding from Entergy would also hinder the state's ability "to implement the Vermont Radiological Emergency Response Programs, and any additional off-site response to an emergency," wrote Recchia.' Significantly, many hundreds of tons of irradiated nuclear fuel will likely remain in VY's storage pool until at least 2020. Loss of the cooling water supply, as by sudden drain down or slower motion boil down, whether due to accident, attack, or natural disaster, could cause an irradiated nuclear fuel fire, and unleash a catastrophic radioactivity release. The storage pool is not located within a radiological containment structure.
In the filing, Recchia wrote that if approved the amendment request would "increase the threat to public health and safety in the event of a credible accident scenario...
Lack of funding from Entergy would also hinder the state's ability "to implement the Vermont Radiological Emergency Response Programs, and any additional off-site response to an emergency," wrote Recchia.'
Significantly, many hundreds of tons of irradiated nuclear fuel will likely remain in VY's storage pool until at least 2020. Loss of the cooling water supply, as by sudden drain down or slower motion boil down, whether due to accident, attack, or natural disaster, could cause an irradiated nuclear fuel fire, and unleash a catastrophic radioactivity release. The storage pool is not located within a radiological containment structure.
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA, photo at left), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) introduced three bills today aimed at improving the safety and security of decommissioning reactors and the storage of spent nuclear fuel at nuclear plants across the nation.
The three bills address safety of spent fuel storage and decommissioning plans. They are entitled: Safe and Secure Decommissioning Act of 2014; Nuclear Plant Decommissioning Act of 2014 (see the bill, Sen. Sanders' press release, and a one-page summary); Dry Cask Storage Act of 2014. To learn more, see the press release at Sen. Markey's website.
The EPW Committee will hold and webcast a hearing entitled “Nuclear Reactor Decommissioning: Stakeholder Views” on Wed., May 14th, at 10 AM Eastern. Witnesses include CA and VT officials, and spokespeople from NRDC and NEI.
Please urge your two U.S. Senators to support these three bills. You can contact your Senators via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
"Senators to NRC: Do Not Exempt Decommissioning Nuclear Reactors from Emergency Response and Security Measures"
Five Democratic U.S. Senators have written U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane, uring that NRC's rubberstamp of exemptions from emergency preparedness and security requirements at permanently shutdown nuclear power plants be stopped.
The five Senators are: Barbara Boxer (D-CA); Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Edward J. Markey (D-MA); Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Bernard Sanders (D-VT). Boxer (photo, above left) is Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, with oversight on NRC and nuclear power issues; Gillibrand, Markey, and Sanders also serve on the EPW Committee.
Their letter points out that nuclear utilities have always received requested exemptions, within just a year or two of reactor shutdowns, from NRC, at permanently shutdown nuclear power plants. This, despite the fact that the nuclear plants still have large amounts of irradiated nuclear fuel stored in pools, vulnerable to catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity, such as due to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, heavy load drops, etc.
The Senators list NRC's "perfect record" of such regulatory relaxation at: Humboldt Bay, CA; LaCrosse, WI; Fort St. Vrain, CO; Rancho Seco, CA; Yankee Rowe, MA; Trojan, OR; Haddam Neck, CT; Maine Yankee; Big Rock Point, MI; and Zion, IL.
Most ironically, NRC consistently stands by its indefensible claim that high-level radioactive waste storage is safe, sound, and secure, and will remain so for at least 60 years post-reactor shutdown, by citing the existence of emergency preparedness and security regulations. Yet, it is these very regulations that NRC consistently exempts shutdown nuclear plants from having to meet!
The Senators have urged NRC chief Macfarlane to not grant such requested exemptions at the five atomic reactors permanently shutdown in 2013 (Crystal River, FL; Kewaunee, WI; San Onofre 2 & 3, CA) or about to be shutdown by the end of 2014 (Vermont Yankee).
On April 10, Beyond Nuclear's Reactor Oversight Project Director, Paul Gunter, urged NRC to enforce emergency preparedness and security regulations at decommissioning nuclear power plant sites, due to the potentially catastrophic risks associated with the irradiated nuclear fuel still stored there.
"NRC Fails to Document Claim...that 'Majority' of Nuclear Emergency Drills Include Natural Disaster Components"
NIRS has published a press release entitled "NRC Fails to Document Claim Made in Denial of NIRS' Emergency Planning Petition that 'Majority' of Nuclear Emergency Drills Include Natural Disaster Components."
NIRS submitted the petition to NRC on Feb. 15, 2012. NRC rejected the petition in its entirety on April 9, 2014.
Beyond Nuclear is one of 37 organizational co-petitioners.