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Safety

Nuclear safety is, of course, an oxymoron. Nuclear reactors are inherently dangerous, vulnerable to accident with the potential for catastrophic consequences to health and the environment if enough radioactivity escapes. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Congressionally-mandated to protect public safety, is a blatant lapdog bowing to the financial priorities of the nuclear industry.

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Tuesday
Jul262016

PUCO staff proposes shoring up FirstEnergy's credit rating on the backs of ratepayers -- but who's shoring up Davis-Besse's crumbling Shield Building?!

The "Whitewash of 2012" (weather sealing the Shield Building, 40 years too late), August to October 2012, which merely made matters worse, locking water in the walls, leading to Ice-Wedging Crack Propagation with every freeze-thaw cycle.From today's Midwest Energy News:

UTILITIES:
• Ohio regulators continue taking testimony on a third rate plan filed by FirstEnergy that would have customers pay $393 million to shore up the utility’s credit rating. (Toledo Blade)

While the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) staff proposes to save FirstEnergy's credit rating, and enrich FirstEnergy shareholders in the process, on the backs of electric consumers in Ohio with a hefty surcharge on their bills, who is proposing to shore up the crumbling Shield Building (rebar reinforced concrete containment) at the Davis-Besse atomic reactor?! Certainly not FirstEnergy, nor the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Not one penny of the currently proposed ratepayer bailout of FirstEnergy would go towards repairing or replacing the severely cracked, and worsening, Shield Building. FirstEnergy's plan is merely to monitor the growth of the cracking (which they used to deny was even happening), and woefully inadequately at that. NRC has approved this plan.

Replacing the Shield Building would cost billions. It is unclear that repair is even possible. The only "repair" FirstEnergy attempted -- the "whitewash of 2012" (applying weather-sealant to preclude water intrusion, 40 years too late, from August to October 2012) -- merely made the cracking worse, by locking water in the walls! (See photo, above left.)


The Ice-Wedging Crack Propagation, with every freeze-thaw cycle, due to water locked in the walls, will repeat numerous times this autumn-winter-spring coming up, depending on weather conditions. With each freeze, the cracking grows by a half-inch, or more, in circumferential orientation around the Shield Building exterior wall.

Subsidizing Davis-Besse's continued operation, at ratepayer expense, is a game of radioactive Russian roulette, putting those downwind, downstream, up the food chain, and down the generations at ever increasing risk of a catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity. Thanks to everyone who continues to oppose FirstEnergy's attempted money grabs, aided and abetted by the PUCO staff. Davis-Besse must be shut down, before it melts down.

Monday
Jul182016

Untrained Palisades security guards scapegoated by Entergy management for fire risk violations

As reported by Cody Comb's of WWMT-TV 3's I-Team, who originally broke the story of fire risk violations at Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor earlier this month, based on whistle-blower revelations, additional whistle-blowers have revealed they are being scapegoated by management that didn't even see fit to train them properly in the first place.

A key question -- will the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) yet again be complicit with Entergy, by effectively taking part in that scapegoating?

WWMT quoted a Palisades security guard who has been placed on administrative paid leave:

"I'm on paid leave right now, and I have been for almost a month," said one of the plant workers, agreeing to speak with Newschannel 3's I-Team on the condition of anonymity.

"Now the company [Entergy] lawyer is asking us questions, saying the NRC will be speaking with us…and that we could be criminally liable," the worker added...

"The training department never once trained us on fire tours," the officer said. "Security used to have a fire brigade that had a certain number of security members on shift, but when Entergy bought the plant they got rid of that…there's a whole fire brigade staff at that plant right now that have never trained anybody on how to do the fire tours."

Also as reported by Combs:

According to a source with knowledge of previous Palisades labor issues and investigations...the supervisors at the plant who signed off on the [falsified] paperwork were not placed on leave during the investigation, adding concern about the seriousness of the investigation.

"There's a significant lack of leadership in the security area there, that's for sure," said the source.

WWMT also quoted Beyond Nuclear:

Beyond Nuclear, a group known for its opposition to nuclear energy, is not mincing words about the current Palisades investigation.

"Fire itself is 50% of the risk in terms of a meltdown," said Kevin Kamps, a radioactive waste watchdog for Beyond Nuclear. "It's as much of a risk as all the other risks put together, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and accidents."

Kamps said he is also concerned about the Palisades track record, referencing several incidents in the [45] year old plant's recent history.

"We have such collusion at Palisades, in large measure we've got the NRC covering up for Entergy (owner of the plant), and the NRC has allowed for fire risks to go unaddressed for decades now."

The collusion to which Kamps referred was that at Fukushima Daiichi, which the Japanese Parliament, after a year-long investigation, concluded was the root cause of the nuclear catastrophe. Collusion between nuclear safety regulatory agency, Tokyo Electric Power Company, and government officials is what led to the vulnerability of the three reactors to the natural disasters that wrecked them on 3/11/11, resulting in the triple meltdown, and catastrophic releases of hazardous releases of radioactivity. 

Such collusion exists in spades at Palisades, between NRC, Entergy, and the likes of U.S. Representative Fred Upton (R-MI). Upton chairs the powerful U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee, with jurisdiction over nuclear safety. Palisades is in his congressional district. But Entergy, a major campaign contributor, can do no wrong in Upton's view.

Saturday
Jul092016

Beyond Nuclear Backgrounder re: fire & security risks at Palisades in light of WWMT's “Security workers placed on leave at [Entergy's Palisades] nuclear plant”

Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, MI, located on the Lake Michigan shoreline four miles south of South HavenKalamazoo, MI’s (35 miles downwind of Palisades; see a photo of the reactor, left) WWMT TV-3 on July 8, 2016’s evening news broadcast aired a story entitled “Security workers placed on leave at [Entergy’s Palisades] nuclear plant.” The video, and transcript, is posted online at: http://wwmt.com/news/i-team/security-workers-placed-on-leave-at-nuclear-plant.

Regarding the revelation that Entergy Nuclear had placed security guards on paid administrative leave for “fire inspection anomalies,” and Entergy’s claim that not only security -- but also fire protection -- duties are being adequately covered by “strong interim actions,” WWMT’s ITEAM investigative reporter, Cody Combs, reported:

But over at Beyond Nuclear, a group critical of the Palisades plant, Kevin Kamps is skeptical, especially with so few details from Palisades.

“So the questions that are raised are, did security guards pretend to make their rounds and not really do it, and just fill out the paperwork like they had?” he asked.

The 45-year-old plant is no stranger to security investigations and violations. Kamps says both Palisades and the NRC need to be more forthcoming.

“There have been some major incidents at Palisades, that the NRC, to be frank, was complicit in helping to cover up,” Kamps said.

In response to the news story, on July 9th Beyond Nuclear prepared a backgrounder, to provide significant additional context, information, and documentation. See the PDF version, as well as the Word version (with live URL links to additional documentation).

Then, on July 14th, Beyond Nuclear prepared a supplementary backgrounder, entitled BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE ON NUCLEAR REGULATIONS! Palisades: Lessons NOT Learned from Entergy’s Prior Fire Safety and Security Violations. It includes a section entitled REVELATIONS FROM SIMILAR PRIOR VIOLATIONS AT ENTERGY’S WATERFORD NUCLEAR POWER PLANT IN LOUISIANA COULD SHED LIGHT ON CURRENT VIOLATIONS AT PALISADES. See the PDF version, as well as the Word version (with live URL links to additional documentation).

Beyond Nuclear issued a press release about the supplemental backgrounder, and significant updates learned in recent days, such as: 22 Palisades security guards have been relieved of their duties; the remainder of the security guard force are being pressured to sign waivers, and then to work 75 hour work-weeks, in violation of NRC's standard fatigue rule limits; and the FBI has joined NRC's Office of Investigations on site to look into the violations.

Thursday
Jun232016

NRC annual mtg. re: Entergy Palisades, June 23, 2016 in South Haven, MI

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has announced its annual performance review public meeting re: Entergy's age-degraded, problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, Michigan on the Lake Michigan shore, for Thursday, June 23rd.

NRC has posted a Public Meeting Schedule, with Meeting Details.

The meeting date is Thursday, 06/23/16, from 5:00PM - 8:00PM Eastern.

The meeting location is: Beach Haven Event Center, 10420 M-140, South Haven, MI 49090.

NRC describes the meeting's purpose as: The focus of the meeting is to have a meaningful dialogue between the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the public. The meeting will have three major portions: Open House, Palisades End-Of-Cycle Performance Discussion, and Town Hall.

NRC has also published a more detailed 6/23/16 Notice of Significant Public Meeting to Discuss NRC's End-of-Cycle Assessment of the Palisades Nuclear Plant Performance for the 2015 Calendar Year.

The following NRC staffer is listed as point of contact, for any questions:

Eric Duncan

630-829-9620, eric.duncan@nrc.gov

Monday
Jun202016

Entergy Palisades taking major safety shortcuts with degraded steam generators, with NRC complicity

Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor in Covert, MI on the Lake Michigan shoreline in s.w. Michigan.In 2006, the previous owner of the problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor (see photo, left) -- Consumers Energy -- persuaded the Michigan Public Service Commission (MI PSC) to approve its sale to Entergy Nuclear. (See Consumers Energy slide from spring 2006 presentation to MI PSC.) Consumers Energy argued that it lacked the wherewithal to fix major problems -- to anneal the badly embrittled reactor pressure vessel, and to replace the age-degraded reactor lid and steam generators -- but that the new owner, Entergy, would do so.

(The steam generator replacement would be the second in Palisades' history, the first having been in 1991. Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc. and an expert witness for Beyond Nuclear and a coalition of environmental groups intervening against Palisades on safety issues, has confirmed that no other pressurized water reactor in the U.S. has replaced its steam generators twice.)

A decade after Consumers Energy told the MI PSC that Entergy would do so, none of these fixes have been made. Nor is there any plan to do so. But then again, Entergy's merchant nuclear fleet unwritten business model seems to be "Buy reactors dirt cheap, and run them into the ground!"

And U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is guilty of complicity and collusion in allowing such safety risks to fester to the breaking point.

A breach of the reactor pressure vessel due to pressurized thermal shock; a breach of the corroded reactor lid; or a cascading failure of steam generator tubes -- each of these could lead to a reactor core meltdown. Failure of containment structures, systems, and components could then cause a catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity to the Great Lakes environment.

In 2012, the Japanese Parliament's independent investigation concluded that the root cause of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe was collusion between industry, safety regulator, and government officials. Such collusion exists in spades at Palisades, between Entergy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and government officials like U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who chairs the powerful U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, with direct oversight on NRC and nuclear safety, and in whose district Palisades is located.

Michael Keegan of Don't Waste Michigan has prepared the following docket of documentation regarding steam generator risks at Palisades:

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc., has reviewed the NRC-Entergy communications and documentation, and concluded: "...[T]hese inspection and repair changes make it a greater risk to operate Palisades in this condition...".

With a License Amendment Request comes the opportunity for a request for public hearing.

There were some questions that the NRC did ask known as Requests for Additional Information or RAIs. Today in ADAMS [NRC's Agency-wide Documents Management System] I found Entergy's Response to those RAIs - this document has not yet been reviewed by looks to provide review of the criteria by which the tubes will be plugged or not plugged:

June 7, 2016, Entergy Palisades to NRC; SUBJECT: Response to - Palisades Nuclear Plant - Request for Additional Information Regarding the License Amendment Request for Implementation of an Alternate Repair Criterion on the Steam Generator Tubes (CAC No. MF7435) [PNP 2016-037]

The document I found today, June 20, 2016, has the ML#: ML16159A230. It is dated June 7, and was docketed June 13.

Bottom line results in increased risk to public.

How do we best pin the NRC down on the need to replace the steam generators and what will be the inspection schedule, disclosure, criteria under which NRC allows them to operate. Is this merely a function of Entergy determining law of diminishing efficiency returns? Or will the NRC ever shut it down because of increased public risk?

 

The above documentation was compiled by Michael J. Keegan with Don't Waste Michigan on June 20, 2016.

Also, on May 19, 2016, Michael Keegan shared the following (the documentation below is also posted here as a PDF):

Palisades Steam Generator Reviewers,

Below is a reverse chronology (with hot links) of documents pertaining to License Amendment Request at Palisades regarding components of the Steam Generators at Palisades which were announced in 2006 to be in need of total replacement.  This Steam Generator replacement was to have occurred in 2016 it did not. 

 

ML16130A076  5/11/2016

Palisades Nuclear Plant - Request for Additional Information Regarding the License Amendment Request for Implementation of an Alternative Repair Criterion on the Steam Generator Tubes (CAC No. MF7435).

 

ML16084A333  4/04/2016

Palisades Nuclear Plant - License Amendment Request - Revision to the Requirements for Steam Generator Tube Inspections and Repair Criteria in the Cold Leg Tube Sheet Region (CAC No. MF7435).

 

ML16043A485  3/14/2016

Palisades Nuclear Plant - Relief Request Number RR 4-24 - Proposed Alternative, Use of Alternate ASME Code Case N-770-1 Baseline Examination (CAC No. MF6755).

 

ML16075A103  3/03/2016

Palisades - License Amendment Request - Revision to the Requirements for Steam Generator Tube Inspections and Repair Criteria in the Cold Leg Tube Sheet Region.

 

ML16035A425  3/01/2016

Summary of January 25, 2016, Pre-Application Teleconference Meeting with Entergy Nuclear Operations to Discuss a Forthcoming License Amendment Request Regarding Steam Generator Cold Leg Alternate Repair Criteria at Palisades Nuclear Plant (CAC No. MF7060

 

ML13149A052  4/25/2013

April 25, 2013 Letter to Tim Mitchell, Entergy from William Magwood re: Palisades.

 

 

The next four documents are REFERENCES for LICENSE AMENDMENT REQUEST of 3/03/206 (ML16075A103 - Above)

 

Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., letter to NRC, PNP 2011-035, Withdrawal of License Amendment Request for Steam Generator Cold-Leg Tubesheet Inspection, dated April 19, 2011 (ADAMS Accession Number ML 111090424) ML111090424

NRC letter to Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., Palisades Nuclear Plant-Supplemental Information Needed for Acceptance of License Amendment Request for Steam Generator Cold-Leg Tubesheet Inspection (TAG No. ME5780), dated April 5, 2011 (ADAMS Accession Number ML 110910558) ML110910558

Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., letter to NRC, PNP 2011-11, License Amendment Request for Steam Generator Cold-Leg Tubesheet Inspection, dated March 3,2011 (ADAMS Accession Number ML 110680342) ML110680342

NRC letter to Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., Palisades Nuclear Plant-Issuance of Amendment Re: Tubesheet Inspection Depth for Steam Generator Tube Inspections (TAG No. MD2125), dated May 31, 2007 (ADAMS Accession Number ML071420216) ML071420216

Historical documents pre-dating sale.


ML062640588 10/16/2006

G20060792 - John T. Larkins Ltr. re Questions Raised by Members of the Public During the ACRS Subcommittee Meeting on Palisades Nuclear Plant License Renewal Application.

 

ML061560407 5/30/2006                                                                                               

Palisades - License Amendment Request Regarding Tubesheet Inspection Depth for Steam Generator Tube Inspections.


ML061560408 5/31/2006                                                                                      

Enclosure 5, LTR-CDME-06-80-NP, Rev 1, "Palisades Tubesheet Inspection Depth."

 

The Michigan Public Service Commission document referenced below is not hot linked, it does not appear in NRC system documents other than by citation in Magwood document.

http://efile.mpsc.state.mi.us/efile/docs/14992/0001.pdf  

 

CMS letter to MPSC August 18, 2006 provides reasons for selling Palisades  (see pdf page 188 for Steam Generator Replacement discussion)  The need to replace the Steam Generators was known in 2006 and scheduled for replacing by 2016.   Exemptions now being sought in 2016 to avoid Inspections of Cold Leg Tubes permanently.  Is Entergy looking to avoid having to plug additional tubes by avoiding Cold Leg Inspections? 

 

Cover Letter:

August 18, 2006

Ms. Mary Jo Kunkle

Executive Secretary

Michigan Public Service Commission

6545 Mercantile Way

P.O. Box 30221

Lansing, MI 48909

 

Re: Case No. U-14992

Dear Ms. Kunkle:

Enclosed, for electronic filing in the above-captioned case, are Consumers Energy Company’s Application and the testimony and exhibits of Consumers Energy Company’s witnesses William E. Garrity, David W. Joos, John J. Reed, Michael A. Torrey and Stephen T. Wawro.  The Application seeks relief in connection with the sale of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant.

 

Consumers Energy respectfully requests that the Commission act on the Application in an expeditious manner. This case is being filed only in PDF format.

 

Sincerely,

Jon R. Robinson