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Tritium Hot Zone Expands Around Vermont Nuclear Plant

by Susan Smallheer
VERNON - The Department of Health said late Monday there appears to be "a very large area" at the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor contaminated with radioactive tritium, and contamination levels continue to rise.
Because the area is so big, according to William Irwin, radiological health chief, there are many potential sources of radioactive water at this particularly high concentration of tritium.
"This is a very large area that encompasses many potential sources of water at this concentration of tritium, including the condensate storage tank and the systems and components of the advanced off-gas system," Irwin said late Monday afternoon.
He said the area of contamination was roughly from the reactor building to the Connecticut River.
Robert Williams, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear said Monday the new well with the highest level of contamination saw its concentration drop a little on Sunday to 2.38 million picocuries per liter, but went higher on Monday, to 2.52 million picocuries per liter of water. The federal standard for drinking water is 20,000 picocuries per liter.
Williams said Entergy Nuclear investigators were working on a strategy for excavating the area next to the well with the highest contamination levels.
Irwin said despite the increased levels of tritium, no other reactor-related radioisotopes have been identified in testing.
He said another groundwater monitoring well was in the final stages of being put into use and more wells might be drilled to help define the plume of contamination.
Irwin said it was too early to say how long the leak or leaks had been active. "It could be months or even a year or two," he said.
The first indication of the contamination showed up in November in one of three 2007 monitoring wells and the levels quickly rose starting in January. New wells, closer to the reactor and turbine buildings, show contamination in extremely high levels.
"We have to uncover pipes and see what's leaking. And get a better image of flow times and flow directions," he said. Water flows west to east on the site, toward the Connecticut River. Some of the monitoring wells are 15 to 20 feet from the river, while others are 100 feet or 200 feet away from the river.
Irwin said the Health Department is starting to test wells at private residences along Gov. Hunt Road, where Vermont Yankee is sited.
He said all of the private wells the state is testing are within a quarter of a mile of the plant and the point of the highest level of contamination.
Irwin said the state was looking to add five or six private residences to the state's weekly testing program, but he said the state had to get landowners' permissions. He said the department wanted to publish those test results, with the names of the individual homes kept confidential.
He said the Department of Health is testing private wells at Vernon Elementary School, which he estimated was just under a quarter of a mile of the contamination. The state is also testing water at two area farms - the Miller farm, which he said was about a quarter of a mile north of the plant, and the Blodgett farm, which, he said, was a mile from the plant "as the crow flies."
In addition, the Vernon Green nursing home and residential center is also being tested, he said. He estimated Vernon Green was about a half-mile south of the plant.
There are no municipal water systems in Vernon, he said, and every business and home is dependent on its own well.
Irwin said the Vernon health officer had done some initial private well testing when the tritium contamination problem first was made public.
Irwin said all deep wells are testing free of tritium.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, a New Hampshire Democrat whose district includes communities in Vermont Yankee's emergency planning zone, visited the plant Monday and said he was satisfied with the effort by Entergy to try and find the leak or leaks.
But Hodes, who is running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, said he planned on introducing a bill that would give neighboring states with towns in the emergency planning zone surrounding a nuclear power plant some say in the plant's operation.
"Catastrophes do not make exceptions for state boundaries and neither should laws designed to protect from them," said Hodes. "Granite Staters live within earshot of this nuclear power plant and I believe that guaranteeing the safety of Vermont Yankee is central to guaranteeing the safety of our citizens," he said in a prepared release.
Under the Hodes' proposal, states in the emergency zone could initiate their own investigations into the safety of power plants.
Vermont’s radioactive nightmare
By Harvey Wasserman
[/FONT]Online Journal Guest Writer

Feb 12, 2010, 00:38

Like a decayed flotilla of rickety steamers, at least 27 of America’s 104 aging atomic reactors are known to be leaking radioactive tritium, which is linked to cancer if inhaled or ingested through the throat or skin.
The fallout has been fiercest at Vermont Yankee, where a flood of cover-ups has infuriated and terrified near neighbors who say the reactor was never meant to operate more than 30 years, and must now shut.
In 2007, one of Yankee’s 22 cooling towers simply collapsed due to rot.
Now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has confirmed tritium levels in a monitoring well at Vernon to be 3.5 times the federal safety standard. The leaks apparently came from underground pipes whose very existence was recently denied by VY officials in under-oath testimony at a public hearing. Vermont’s pro-nuclear Republican Governor Jim Douglas has termed the event “a breach of trust that cannot be tolerated.”
Yankee is owned by Entergy, a Mississippi-based consortium that also owns New York’s Indian Point reactor, which suffered an internal gusher of radioactive water in May, 2009. Another leak has just been found at Oconee in South Carolina. Illinois’ Braidwood leaked so many millions of gallons of tritium-laced water that its owner, Exelon, was forced to buy a new municipal water system for a nearby town.
Entergy says none of Yankee’s tritium has been found in local drinking water or in the Connecticut River, which supplies the plant’s cooling water. Vernon sits near Vermont’s southeast border with Massachusetts, across the river from New Hampshire. “The existence of tritium in such low levels does not present a risk to public health or safety whatsoever,” says the company’s Robert Williams.
But VY is just the latest of more than two dozen U.S. nuclear plants -- many built in the 1960s and ’70s -- to be found with leaking tritium.
Last year at New Jersey’s Oyster Creek, tritium was reported leaking a second time shortly after Exelon got it a 20-year license extension. Entergy’s Pilgrim reactor, at Plymouth, Massachusetts, has recently leaked tritium into the ground.
The NRC’s Neil Sheehan has confirmed leaks involving 27 of 104 licensed US reactors, and says that probably doesn’t account for all of them. At Yankee, Oyster Creek and elsewhere, rotting pipes are the likeliest culprit, but no one is 100 percent certain.
The epidemic has escalated public dismay. Vermont state Representative Tony Klein, chair of House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, says that “when you have public officials that the public depends on for their health and welfare making casual statements that a radioactive substance is not harmful to you, I think that’s ludicrous.”
For decades the Encyclopedia Britannica, National Academy of Sciences and other primary scientific bodies have confirmed that no dose of radiation, no matter how small, can ever be deemed perfectly safe. “There is no threshold of exposure below which low levels of ionizing radiation can be demonstrated to be harmless or beneficial,” says Richard R. Monson, associate dean for professional education and professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Thus far, the NRC has granted a series of license renewals to aging reactors. But by virtue of a long-standing agreement with Entergy, the Vermont Legislature can deny Yankee’s request for a 20-year extension. In the 1990s, local groups like the Citizen’s Awareness Network helped force down the Yankee Rowe plant on the Deerfield River in Massachusetts, about 25 miles southwest of Vernon. The root cause was concern over embrittlement of the elderly reactor’s core, a key to the future of all other aging nukes.
In Vermont, angry debate has also arisen over Entergy’s dwindling decommissioning fund, which has been slashed by a declining stock market. Entergy has proposed spinning off plant ownership to a shell corporation whose assets may be even more dubious. But area residents also fear Entergy may be pushing Yankee operations in an attempt to find the source of its leaks.
With VY operating under duress, Katz and others report an increasing wave of concern among local citizens starting to think seriously about how they might evacuate if Entergy keeps pushing. “This plant appears to be leaking from its reactor piping, but they don’t really know where,” she says. “They don’t want to shut down because they’re afraid they’ll never get back up. Entergy is choosing to protect its bottom line rather than the health and safety of our community.”
Indeed, a desperate national industry now pushing for massive federal subsidies to build new reactors may not survive a flood of elderly clunkers being forced to close by the weight of their own contamination. “This is an industry trying to build a new fleet of Titanics while the old ones are sinking,” says Katz.
Amidst the gusher of tritium leaks, Governor Douglas wants to postpone the legislature’s vote on VY’s license extension. But his term expires in November, and all five Democratic gubernatorial candidates are pledged to a Yankee shutdown.
What happens next will be defined by fierce grassroots activism crashing into a flood of corporate money in support of a rickety old reactor being operated with increasing recklessness.
The highly hyped “reactor renaissance” -- and much more -- may hang in the balance. Stay tuned.
Harvey Wasserman is Senior Advisor to Greenpeace USA and the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, and Senior Editor of [/FONT] , where this article first appeared. His SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at[/FONT]
We had a nuclear power plant once.It was a piece of shit(POS).
Trojan Nuclear Power Plant

Name:Trojan Nuclear Power PlantCategory:Nuclear / RadioactiveArchive ID#:OR3142 i
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Description:The only nuclear power plant in Oregon shut down twenty years early, after a cracked steam tube released radioactive gas into the plant in 1992. It cost $450 million to build the plant, and it is expected to cost the same amount, at least, to make it go away. In 2001, the 1,000-ton 1,130-megawatt reactor was encased in concrete foam, and coated in blue shrink-wrapped plastic, then shipped up the Columbia River on a barge to the Hanford Nuclear Site in Washington, where it was placed in a 45 foot deep pit, and covered with six inches of gravel, making it the first commercial reactor to be moved and buried whole. The plant went on line in 1976, and was said to have been built on an Indian burial ground. When it shut down 16 years later, it was the largest commercial reactor to be decommissioned. The 500-foot-tall cooling tower was imploded in May 2006. The spent fuel rods, however, are still stored on site, as they are at all the other 108 or so commercial reactors in the country. Almost 800 rods are in a pool, next to the Columbia River, awaiting the possible opening of the Yucca Mountain radioactive storage facility in Nevada.

We made it disappear!!!!!!!

If Sarah Palins motto is "Drill Baby Drill",Obamas will be "Mutate Baby Mutate".

Obama's Atomic Blunder

by Harvey Wasserman

As Vermont seethes with radioactive contamination and the Democratic Party crumbles, Barack Obama has plunged into the atomic abyss.
In the face of fierce green opposition and withering scorn from both liberal and conservative budget hawks, Obama has done what George W. Bush could not---pledge billions of taxpayer dollars for a relapse of the 20th Century's most expensive technological failure.

Obama has announced some $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for two new reactors planned for Georgia. Their Westinghouse AP-1000 designs have been rejected by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as being unable to withstand natural cataclysms like hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.
The Vogtle site was to originally host four reactors at a total cost of $600 million; it wound up with two at $9 billion.

The Southern Company which wants to build these two new reactors has cut at least one deal with Japanese financiers set to cash in on American taxpayer largess. The interest rate on the federal guarantees remains bitterly contested. The funding is being debated between at least five government agencies, and may well be tested in the courts. It's not clear whether union labor will be required and what impact that might have on construction costs.

The Congressional Budget Office and other analysts warn the likely failure rate for government-back reactor construction loans could be in excess of 50%. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu has admitted he was unaware of the CBO's report when he signed on to the Georgia guarantees.

Over the past several years the estimated price tag for proposed new reactors has jumped from $2-3 billion each in some cases to more than $12 billion today. The Chair of the NRC currently estimates it at $10 billion, well before a single construction license has been issued, which will take at least a year.

Energy experts at the Rocky Mountain Institute and elsewhere estimate that a dollar invested in increased efficiency could save as much as seven times as much energy than one invested in nuclear plants can produce, while producing ten times as many permanent jobs.

Georgia has been targeted largely because its regulators have demanded ratepayers put up the cash for the reactors as they're being built. Florida and Georgia are among a small handful of states taxing electric consumers for projects that cannot come on line for many years, and that may never deliver a single electron of electricity.

Two Florida Public Service Commissioners, recently appointed by Republican Governor Charlie Crist (now a candidate for the US Senate), helped reject over a billion dollars in rate hikes demanded by Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy, both of which want to build double-reactors at ratepayer expense. The utilities now say they'll postpone the projects proposed for Turkey Point and Levy County.

In 2005 the Bush Administration set aside some $18.5 billion for reactor loan guarantees, but the Department of Energy has been unable to administer them. Obama wants an additional $36 billion to bring the fund up to $54.5 billion. Proposed projects in South Carolina, Maryland and Texas appear to be next in line.

But the NRC has raised serious questions about Toshiba-owned Westinghouse's AP-1000 slated for Georgia's Vogtle site, as well as for South Carolina and Turkey Point. The French-made EPR design proposed for Maryland has been challenged by regulators in Finland, France and Great Britain. In Texas, a $4 billion price jump has sparked a political upheaval in San Antonio and elsewhere, throwing the future of that project in doubt.

Taxpayers are also on the hook for potential future accidents from these new reactors. In 1957, the industry promised Congress and the country that nuclear technology would quickly advance to the point that private insurers would take on the liability for any future disaster, which could by all serious estimates run into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Only $11 billion has been set aside the cover the cost of such a catastrophe. But now the industry says it will not build even this next generation of plants without taxpayers underwriting liability for future accidents. Thus the "temporary" program could ultimately stretch out to a full century or more.
In the interim, Obama has all but killed Nevada's proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. He has appointed a commission of nuclear advocates to "investigate" the future of high-level reactor waste. But after 53 years, the industry is further from a solution than ever.

Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has reported that at least 27 of America's 104 licensed reactors are now leaking radioactive tritium. The worst case may be Entergy's Vermont Yankee, near the state's southeastern border with New Hampshire and Massachusetts. High levels of contamination have been found in test wells around the reactor, and experts believe the Connecticut River is at serious risk.

A furious statewide grassroots campaign aims to shut the plant, whose license expires in 2012. A binding agreement between Entergy and the state gives the legislature the power to deny an extension. US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has demanded the plant close. The legislature may vote on it in a matter of days.

Obama has now driven a deep wedge between himself and the core of the environmental movement, which remains fiercely anti-nuclear. While reactor advocates paint the technology green, the opposition has been joined by fiscal conservatives like the National Taxpayer Institute, the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

Reactor backers hailing a "renaissance" in atomic energy studiously ignore France's catastrophic Olkiluoto project, now $3 billion over budget and 3 years behind schedule. Parallel problems have crippled another project at Flamanville, France, and are virtually certain to surface in the US.
The reactor industry has spent untold millions lobbying for this first round of loan guarantees. There's no doubt it will seek far more in the coming months. Having failed to secure private American financing, the question will be: in a tight economy, how much public money will Congress throw at this obsolete technology.

The potential flow of taxpayer guarantees to Georgia means nuclear opponents now have a tangible target. Also guaranteed is ferocious grassroots opposition to financing, licensing and construction of this and all other new reactor proposals, as well as to continued operation of leaky rustbucket reactors like Vermont Yankee.
The "atomic renaissance" is still a very long way from going tangibly critical.

Harvey Wasserman is Senior Advisor to Greenpeace USA and the Nuclear Information & Resource Service. His SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at
This was unfortunately inevitable because the nation wasted an opportunity to invest in and the necessary time to develop other sources of power, moves toward small and sustainable etc. Now, in addiiton to genetically-modified foods, we will have genetically-modified consumers. Families that grow together glow together. But think of all the depleted uranium we will now have to put into our robots and micro-UAV's; it's a fair trade off. There's a new pop hit now being pieced together with footage from appearances of recording artists who have been dead for over a year called "We :aetsch: The World"