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Long Island Concerned About Millstone’s Environmental Impacts on Long Island Sound – Funds $80,000 Study

In a split vote Tuesday, county lawmakers approved an $80,000 study on the impacts that Connecticut’s Millstone Nuclear Power Plant has on water temperature of the Long Island Sound.

The study comes in the wake of concerns over rising water temperatures in the Long Island Sound that researchers say are linked to significant population reductions in the Sound, especially in cold water species such as lobster and winter flounder, as well as eelgrass.

“This research is absolutely critical,” said Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk), who sponsored the legislation calling for the study. “The Long Island Sound is warming at an alarming rate and everything I have been looking at points to the heat source being in that Waterford area.”

Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, which will be conducting the study, requested county funding for the initiative, reporting that the Sound’s average water temperature that has increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit per decade over the past 40 years. This, according to Dr. Chris Gobler — who will be leading the study — compares to an increase of about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit worldwide over the last 80 years.

Each day, roughly two billion gallons of water is pumped from Long Island Sound into the Millstone Power Station to help cool systems and support the station’s two operating reactors. After it heats up, about 90 percent of that water is discharged back into the Sound at about 20 degrees warmer than when it was taken in, said Ken Holt, a spokesman for Millstone.

That processes releases approximately 15 million BTU’s of heat each hour into the Long Island Sound and is considered significant contributor to the warming of the water, said Mr. Schneiderman.

In September of 2013, Emerson Hasbrouck, a senior marine environmental issues educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, told The Suffolk Times that a combination of increasing water temperatures, low dissolved oxygen, pesticide run-off and nitrogen loading proved too much for the Sound’s lobster population, causing the extreme die-off in 1999.

However, not all county lawmakers are not convinced that a study would help fix the ecology issues facing the Sound. Notably, North Fork legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) cast one of five dissenting votes in the 11-5 tally. Mr. Krupski said the funding source for the study, a quarter-percent tax devoted to improving water quality, has limited resources, and those dollars would better suited to pay for proven water quality projects, not studies.

“There is very little money left for actual water quality improvement,” Mr. Krupski said. “Should we spend $80,000 on a study, or, should we spend the $80,000 on drainage, which we already know would improve water quality?”

Mr. Schneiderman countered by stating that the money put toward the study will not prevent the funding of water quality projects.

Though the two East End legislators are split on the study, they agree Millstone — located just under 10 miles from Plum Island — needs to be addressed.

“I mean, we would all like to close Millstone down,” Mr. Krupski said.

Mr. Schneiderman said the study’s findings could impact an upcoming decision that would allow the plant to continue to operate.

The federal Clean Water Act requires such plants to use the best available technology in order to best protect local environments, something Mr. Schneiderman says Millstone is not doing. Newer technologies, which release heat into the atmosphere instead of into nearby waters, have become the new environmental standard, he said.

To continue using its outdated systems, Millstone’s parent company, Virginia-based operator Dominion Power, will need a variance that expires in September.

Mr. Holt, previously told the Suffolk Times the company needs the variance since upgrading to the best available technology would not be financially feasible at this time. He estimated that the upgrades would run into the “billions of dollars,” and in an interview this week, said that the plant’s impacts on the Sound are questionable in the first place.

“We don’t feel that Millstone has a significant impact on the Long Island Sound as a whole,” Mr. Holt said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, whose signature is needed following the vote, is expected to approve the study according to a spokesperson.

Mr. Gobler said the study should be complete by September.

View the original article here http://riverheadnewsreview.timesreview.com/2015/03/63467/county-approves-80k-to-study-millstones-impact-on-sound/

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The answer is YES

At the CCAM public meeting, back on September 24, 2014, Legislator Jay Schneiderman proposed a question to Jeffrey Semancik (DEEP’s Director of Radiation), which Jeffrey Semancik at the time neither confirmed nor denied but it clearly made him uncomfortable. See video clip below.

We know the answer to Jay Schneiderman’s question. The answer is YES. Yes during planned refuelings critical radiation monitors are disabled.

Here is a recent article by Joe Mangano published in the Day.

http://www.theday.com/article/20141228/OP05/312289963
Citizens can monitor radiation around plant
Published December 28. 2014
By JOSEPH MANGANO

Recent findings have moved state and federal regulators to publicly discuss problems at the Millstone Power Station nuclear plants in Waterford. Topics have ranged from defective parts in reactors to rising water temperatures in the Long Island Sound, where the plant draws and releases heated water.
Regardless of the issue, all Millstone discussions are to protect public health and safety, a government duty mandated by law. But oversight by government only may not be enough. For example, “refueling” – replacing used uranium fuel with new fuel – recently occurred at Millstone reactor 3. During refueling, which takes several weeks, the reactor shuts and many maintenance tasks are performed – some of them involving releases of radiation.

As these tasks are going on, Millstone workers temporarily took radiation monitors out of service for maintenance. So, any radiation leaks into the environment would occur when less monitoring is in place.

How much radiation is released from Millstone is a very elusive concept. Most official releases are difficult to find on the Internet and even more difficult to understand. In addition, government does nothing more than declare whether releases are within legal limits.

Insufficient government oversight of Millstone’s radiation releases carries a message that greater involvement is needed from local residents.

Citizens aren’t scientists, but they still can play a key role in radiation monitoring. For decades, hand-sized, easy-to-use devices have been available to count levels of radiation in the air. After the Three Mile Island meltdown in Pennsylvania in 1979, devices were placed in nearby public locations, so people could be warned more quickly in case of another meltdown.
But after the disastrous meltdown in Fukushima, Japan three years ago, many more citizens have purchased and used counters – not for meltdowns, but for routine releases from reactors.

Millstone generates more than 100 chemicals not found anywhere on Earth – except when atomic bombs explode and nuclear reactors operate. Each chemical, in particle or gas form, is radioactive. They are mostly stored in reactors as waste, but some escape and can enter human bodies through breathing and the food chain.

Once in the body, radioactive chemicals kill cells or damage the DNA in healthy cells. If enough harm is caused, cancer, birth defects, or other disorders can result. Fetuses, infants, and the elderly are especially vulnerable to radiation damage.

Radiation from Millstone’s reactors, in operation since 1970, may have harmed local residents. Since it began, Millstone has released the third highest amount of radiation of any U.S. nuclear plant.

From 1973 to 2007, cancer incidence in New London County was higher than any other Connecticut county. In that period, 44,000 New London residents were diagnosed with the disease. The New London rate is still highest in the most current period for all ages combined – the young, and the elderly. Each year, another 1,600 county residents receive a diagnosis of cancer.
Citizens have historically played a significant role in scientific achievements. During the nuclear era, studies involved thousands of parents who donated their child’s discarded baby teeth so chemists could measure levels of Strontium-90, one of the 100-plus chemicals found only in nuclear weapons tests and reactor emissions.

With the Millstone plant ever aging, now is the time for citizen action. Acquiring one of these easy-to-use counters and measuring radiation levels in the air – simply by turning a button to “on” – will empower the community to better understand the extent of pollution caused by the plant. Citizens can then use this knowledge to demand greater accountability from Millstone owners, to help lower releases and lower disease rates.

Joseph Mangano is executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project (www.radiation.org).