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Millstone News

The Great Experiment Continues: Dominion Wants to Postpone Mandatory Inspection of Unit 2 Reactor Vessel For 20 Years – NRC Says OK

Posted 10/23/2016

The trouble-plagued Millstone Unit 2 – which went online in 1975, nearly 40 years ago – has asked the NRC to waive a mandatory inspection of its reactor vessel, due to take place once every ten years through the life of the reactor, by extending the upcoming inspection interval from 10 years to 20 years.

By letter dated October 18, 2016, the NRC rubber-stamped Dominion’s risky application.

Millstone Unit 2 has suffered record numbers of unplanned shutdowns and was so badly operated that the state wanted to declare it “no longer used and useful.”

The reactor vessel contains the critical nuclear components of the plant: the nuclear reactor and fuel assemblies. It provides a critical role in nuclear safety because the pressure vessel must contain the reactor core at high temperatures and pressures and serve as a barrier to prevent escape of radiation.

Over time, the reactor vessel is constantly bombarded by neutron irradiation which leads to embrittlement, formation of voids and bubbles, and material and structural degradation. The phenomenon of “creep” also occurs when high levels of stress lead to plastic deformation. Embrittlement of the reactor vessel from constant irradiation can also cause cracks to form in the reactor vessel.

In its letter authorizing deferral of Unit 2’s reactor vessel inspection from March 31, 2020 to March 31, 2030, the NRC stated the designated 10-year inspections are necessary “to detect anomaly and degradation indications so that structural integrity” of the reactor vessel can be maintained.

The Department of Homeland Security has recognized that the reactor vessel “provide[s] substantial barriers and defense-in-depth protection against the release of radioactive fission products to the environment.”

WHY IS THE NRC ALLOWING DOMINION TO TEMPT FATE AND RISK THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF THE COMMUNITY?

For more information go to: Subject: Millstone Power Station, Unit No. 2 – Alternative Request RR-04-22 to Implement Extended Reactor Vessel Inservice Inspection Interval (CAC No. MF7369). ADAMS Accession No.: ML16277A678

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Millstone News

Why Connecticut’s DEEP Allows Millstone to Operate with Environmentally Destructive Once-Through Cooling: SCIENCE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT

Posted October 16, 2016

Since 1998, when environmental groups in Connecticut brought a court challenge to DEP’s allowance of “once-through” cooling at the Millstone nuclear power station located on Long Island Sound in Waterford (Fish Unlimited v. Northeast Utilities), DEP’s true motivation has been, so to speak, murky.

Since 1970, when Millstone’s first of three nuclear reactors first went online, the reactors’ once-through cooling systems have been responsible for the slaughter of billions of marine organisms, the release of a relentless 24/7 thermal plume and the discharge of unmonitored volumes of toxic and radioactive waste products to the Sound, which is a protected natural resource under the state’s Environmental Protection Act.

DEP has been empowered during the same period under the federal Clean Water Act to order Millstone to convert to a “closed” cooling system, which would eliminate virtually all of the environmental destruction and pollution of the once-through cooling.

A closed cooling system would eliminate Millstone’s thermal plume, destruction of billions more marinelife due to suction at the intake structures as well as unconscionable contamination of our public waters and public beaches with carcinogenic substances, including long-lived radioisotopes.

The obvious question begging for an answer is: Why has DEP (now “DEEP”) allowed this primitive, technologically-outdated, environmentally destructive cooling system to continue for 46 years – nearly half a century – despite widespread scientific concensus that a closed cooling system is infinitely preferable?

The answer has nothing to do with science.

The Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, an intervening party in DEEP proceedings on Dominion’s most recent application to renew its federal permit under the Clean Water Act, exposed the true answer when it examined Dominion’s Director of Electric Environmental Services, Cathy Taylor.

Nancy Burton, the Coalition’s director, questioned Taylor about secret negotiations which she revealed took place between Dominion and DEEP which resulted in DEEP’s issuance of a draft permit which has enabled Dominion to keep operating Millstone’s once-through cooling system for an indefinite period of time (even though the Clean Water Act requires polluters to apply to renew their permits every five years).

Taylor testified that Dominion demanded as the ground rule of the permit negotiations that any consideration that DEEP order Millstone conversion to closed cooling was “off the table.”

As Taylor testified under questioning by intervenor Burton:

Burton: . . . . I gather that the negotiations would not have proceeded unless all the individuals participating had agreed to that [that the draft permit would not contain a determination that Millstone conversion to closed cooling was required under the Clean Water Act] as a ground rule.

Taylor: I believe that is correct.

Burton: And that ground rule was laid out when; the beginning of the negotiations?

Taylor: I don’t recall exactly when it was laid out, and it’s hard to say when you would point to the beginning of the negotiations. But certainly, in one of our early discussions, we indicated that we would not accept changes to that portion of the permit. . . . As I mentioned, going into the discussions for the stipulation, it was a ground rule that was important for us to set. Otherwise, we would not have pursued the negotiations.

Taylor also testified that then-Deputy DEEP Commissioner Amey Marella was present during the secret negotiations and that she acquiesced to Dominion’s demands. (Shortly thereafter, Marella was appointed DEEP’s Commissioner, the agency’s chief.)

Taylor further testified that once the permit was jointly drafted by DEEP and Dominion, the two parties entered into a secret Stipulation which defined and set the stage for the rigged proceedings on the permit which were to ensue and which led to “renewal” of the Clean Water Act permit on terms agreeable to Dominion. Critically, the permit allows Millstone to operate indefinitely with its once-through cooling system.

This testimony recited above is part of the official record, open to public inspection, at the website maintained by the Connecticut Judicial Department, http://civilinquiry.jud.ct.gov/CaseDetail/PublicCaseDetail.aspx?DocketNo=HHDCV105036261S, in an appeal brought to it by Burton, entitled Nancy Burton v. DEEP, HHD-CV-10-5036261-S. The appeal remains pending.The quoted testimony is taken from Transcripts, Volume 3, Pages 443-468, available for review on the Judicial Department website. It is discussed in more detail in Burton’s Reply Brief, Docket Item #216 (7/18/2016).

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Millstone News Press Releases

CONNECTICUT SUPREME COURT TO HEAR MILLSTONE ENVIRONMENTAL PERMIT APPEAL OCTOBER 18

For Immediate Release: October 14, 2016
Contact Nancy Burton/NancyBurtonCT@aol.com

The Connecticut Supreme Court will hear an appeal on Tuesday, October 18, 2016 on the Millstone nuclear power station’s water discharge permit and whether the Superior Court defied an order the state’s highest court issued to it to hold a hearing on whether DEEP acted illegally in proceedings to renew the permit.

The case, Nancy Burton v. Commissioner of Environmental Protection et al. (SC 19664) will be heard at 10 AM at the Supreme Court, 231 Capitol Avenue in Hartford.

Nancy Burton, director of the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, brought the case seeking to convert Millstone’s two operating nuclear power plants in Waterford , Connecticut , to a closed cooling system.

Millstone’s nuclear reactors have employed “once-through” cooling since the first reactor went online in 1970. The alternative, “closed cooling,” would recirculate water from the Long Island Sound at an onsite pool and avoid releasing an environmentally destructive thermal plume and toxic and radioactive waste materials to the Sound. Closed cooling would also avoid massive, 24-7 harm to fragile marinelife that are sucked into the nuclear plants’ intake structures.

A summary of the case, prepared by the Supreme Court, appears here: http://jud.ct.gov/external/supapp/Summaries/Docket/19664.htm