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Millstone Foiled by Its Own Hot Water: Unit 2 Shuts Because of Overheated Long Island Sound

Since 1970, the Millstone N uclear Power Station has continuously pumped a hot water plume of
billions of gallons of water per day into the Long Island Sound through its once-through cooling system.
For the past decade, the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone has advocated for Millstone’s conversion to a closed cooling system which would not release hot water – laced with radioactive waste products and toxic chemicals – into the Long Island Sound but instead cool the reactor from an onsite pool of continuously circulating water.
Dominion and its ally in government, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, have resisted this common-sense, environmentally-protective alternative. Ironically, a 1993 study by Northeast Utilities pronounced such a conversion feasible, and DEP excluded that report from evidence in recent licensing proceedings.
On Sunday, August 12, 2012, Dominion had to shut down Unit 2 and suffer the economic stresses of losing $1 million or more a day in lost profits because a license condition prevented it from operating when the temperature at the intakes exceeds 75 degrees, as it did then. In issuing the Unit 2 license, the NRC had determined that the Unit 2 reactor cannot be safely cooled by water exceeding that temperature.
The prospect is that Unit 2 will remain shut down for weeks, as the Long Island Sound temperature in that vicinity historically peaks in late August. With Sunday’s shutdown, the region experienced above-“routine” releases of radioactivity to the air and water because the reactor is designed to vent and purge during shutdowns.
Millstone 3 is on the edge and may be forced to shut down soon for a long period as well because of the rising temperature of the Long Island Sound.
These shutdowns could have been avoided if Dominion had converted the nuclear facility to a closed cooling system, as it was ordered to do in neighboring Rhode Island at Brayton Point by the U.S. EPA.
As temperatures were rising in July, Dominion squirmed. The Virginia-based company, anticipating such a showdown later in the summer, applied to the NRC for an emergency amendment which would allow it to operate Unit 2 even if the temperature exceeded 75 degrees. Dominion’s engineers played with their numbers and asked if they could sample water from three locations and calculate the average, which would likely be lower. Consistent with its rubber-stamping pattern, the NRC approved the emergency amendment.
The emergency amendment was of no avail on Sunday, however, because even with the new averaging, the temperature was too hot to risk running Unit 2 at full power.
To obtain the license amendment, Dominion had to represent in good faith and candor that it was not responsible for the circumstances and that the circumstances were unavoidable in order to establish an “emergency.”. If Dominion could not make such an honest representation, the NRC would have been legally compelled to order Dominion to shut Unit 2. If Dominion wanted to pursue the amendment on a non-emergency basis, it would have to risk a public hearing and public scrutiny.
Here’s where it helped Dominion to have a kindred spirit in the NRC, which at all costs helps nuclear licensees to avoid shutdowns. Shutdowns make the industry look bad. They drive down the performance stats and they cost the utilities money.
In its analysis of the emergency license amendment, the NRC failed to take into account the fact of Dominion’s continuous release of hot water to the Long Island Sound in a wide thermal plume within the very area from which Millstone draws in its coolant water, particularly at twice-daily times of high tide.
Thus, the NRC did not analyze whether, if Dominion put both Unit 2 and Unit 3 in cold shutdown, the temperature of the incoming coolant would drop to below 75 degrees.
Rather, NRC blithely concluded in its evaluation of the license amendment: “This emergency situation is caused by environmental factors beyond the control of DNC [Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc., Millstone’s corporate owner].”

Read: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/13/heat-shuts-down-a-coastal-reactor/

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Millstone News

Katie the Goat, Radiation Monitor and Anti-Nuke Symbol, Succumbs to Cancer

KATIE THE GOAT – NUCLEAR WHISTLEBLOWER SUCCUMBS TO CANCER

Katie the Goat, whose milk contained high levels of radioactivity when she lived near the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant in Connecticut and who was stricken with inoperable cancer, died on Sunday, August 12, 2012, at her Redding, Connecticut home.
Katie became a news media celebrity, participating in events that took her from the State Capitol in Hartford in 2006 to the White House on March 11, 2012, the first anniversary of the Fukushima triple nuclear meltdown.
First Lady Michelle Obama pronounced Katie’s invitation to donate a granddaughter to the First Family to serve as a White House pet as well as radiation monitor “a fantastic idea.”
With a concentration of 55 picoCuries/liter in 2001, it is believed that Katie’s milk contained the highest level of strontium-90 ever detected in milk in the state of Connecticut, perhaps the nation. That number was twice the highest concentration recorded in milk sampled in Connecticut during the peak of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s.
Most samples of Katie’s milk, taken when she lived five miles northeast of Millstone in Waterford, Connecticut, from the late 1990s until 2003, had elevated levels of strontium-90, as well as strontium-89 and cesium-137. All are potent carcinogens.
Katie became a news media celebrity when she first ventured to the State Capitol in 2006 after anti-nuclear activists became aware of the high concentrations of radioisotopes in her milk, as reported by Millstone’s owner, Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc. Dominion had assured Katie’s owner that her milk was safe to drink and its environmental reports containing the milk measurements had not been publicized.
There is no federal or state standard for strontium-89 or strontium-90 levels in milk nor do federal regulations limit the volume of strontium-89 and strontium-90 that nuclear power plants may release to the environment, according to Nancy Burton, co-director of the Mothers Milk Project, which collects milk from dairy cows and goats as well as humans and has it tested for levels of radioactivity.
Katie, a white nanny goat of Saanen and Nubian descent, was believed to be in her late teens.
Katie’s 2006 press conference on the lawn of the State Capitol forced then-Governor M. Jodi Rell to direct the state Department of Environmental Protection to investigate the cause of high concentrations of strontium-90 in Katie’s milk.
DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy released a report absolving Millstone from any role in the milk poisoning but failed to provide a credible alternative explanation, Burton said.
“Two qualified scientists studied the DEP report and rebuked it as junk science,” Burton said. Both experts tried to meet with the DEP authors of the study to correct what they perceived to be gross errors, but to no avail.
(McCarthy now serves as President Obama’s appointee as the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s assistant secretary for air and radiation, where her responsibilities include protecting the public from radiation hazards.)
‘ Katie’s milk was tested once she moved to Redding, which is located about 25 miles downwind from the Indian Point Nuclear Power Station in Buchanan NY. Frequently, radioactive strontium was detected in her milk far above national averages.
Katie became a familiar presence at anti-Millstone rallies near Millstone and elsewhere around the state. She appeared next to Ralph Nader, longtime anti-nuclear advocate, in Willimantic. She offered up a sample of her milk at a “Clean Beaches” rally in East Lyme where activists gathered to protest Millstone waste discharges to Niantic Bay, a popular recreational site for swimmers. She wore a “Got Strontium?” sign at a rally supporting a Millstone whistleblower who was fired after reporting to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that Dominion routinely deliberately deactivated its perimeter security system.
Katie was diagnosed with inoperable soft tissue sarcoma in her left shoulder in February 2012. The medical condition is associated with radiation exposure, Burton said.
A Farewell Tour was planned.
Katie returned to the State Capitol for a press conference. Though invited, Governor Dannel Malloy refused to meet Katie and his office issued a statement that he would not meet her in the future..
Katie’s keeper, Burton, communicated with the First Family, asking it to adopt one of Katie’s granddaughters to serve as a White House pet as well as an onsite radiation monitor.
Through her press office, First Lady Michelle Obama replied:
“Dear Ms. Burton,
Thank you for your interest in the First Family. Your offer is extremely generous and seems like a fantastic opportunity, it is truly appreciated. Unfortunately, we are unable to satisfy your request. We apologize that we could not be more helpful. Again thank you so much for such a kind gesture. We wish you well in the future.”
Undeterred, Katie and 3-month-old Dana Blue-Eyes headed to Washington DC and strolled in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on March 11, attracting attention to issues of nuclear power hazards.