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Three Months Later They Admit: We Got Dosed

Three Months Later They Admit: We Got Dosed During the May 25 Emergency Double Nuclear Shutdown

When Millstone Units 2 and 3 went into simultaneous emergency shutdown on May 25, 2014, Dominion told the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that its onsite radiation monitors: “are indicating normal levels.”

At the same time, when Dominion had declared an emergency with the sudden loss of offsite power, the NRC’s Public Affairs officer Neil Sheehan assured Connecticut news media: “[A]All safety systems functioned as designed and . . . there were no health or safety issues to the public as a result.”

The event – once again bringing Millstone and Connecticut to the brink of nuclear disaster – was so serious that the NRC began a special inspection.

Now, three months later, the NRC has released its special inspection report, finding Dominion committed a “white” level – second on a scale of four – violation of federal regulations which led to the shutdowns and complications which kept Unit 3 shut for 10 days. Unit 2 was allowed to restart 4 days after the event. Under NRC rules, Millstone will likely be put under additional NRC oversight for a year or more.

Buried in the August 28, 2014 inspection report, and unreported by the news media, is the previously withheld information that cascading equipment errors led to “unexpected” radioactive gaseous releases through the reactor’s ventilation system and elsewhere at Unit 3.

Unexpected releases of cancer-causing radioisotopes into the air we breathe are a matter of health and safety. We were misled by Dominion and the NRC, once again.

The NRC did not reveal the quantity of radioactive gases released nor identify the radioisotopes. The NRC said the information will not be made available to the public until Dominion releases its annual radioactive effluents report next April, nearly a year after the event.

That’s a best-guess timing estimate.

Although Dominion submitted its 2013 radiological effluents report on time in April, the NRC withheld the report from the public for 4 months and did not release it until after the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone complained.

In addition to the release of radioactive gases to the environment, an untold number of Millstone workers suffered unusual radiation exposures to their bodies during the event, according to the NRC inspection report.

Worker exposure to cancer-causing radiation is also a matter of health and safety. Indeed, it may be a matter of life and death.

We previously reported on the May 25 Millstone emergency: http://www.mothballmillstone.org/alerts/emergency-declared-at-millstone-double-nuke-emergency-shutdown

The NRC special inspection report is available on the NRC web site (www.nrc.gov) in the ADAMS system as ADAMS Accession No. ML 14240A006.

Posted: September 1, 2014

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Alerts Millstone News

Dominion Cited for Millstone Federal License Violations Again

In the NRC’s quarterly inspection report for the months of May, June and July released on August 12, the NRC cited Dominion for three violations of its federal licensing conditions. The NRC imposed no penalties. The cited violations:

(1) Dominion’s radiation protection personnel overseeing contract workers told them respiratory protection was not needed for work they were assigned to do to replace a valve, a job known to involve exposure to airborne radiation requiring use of a respirator. One of the workers set off the radiation alarm as he left the assignment and was found to have been exposed to a measurable internal dose of radiation. Such an exposure is a cancer risk. The NRC declined to impose a penalty on Dominion, finding the violation was not a deliberate one.

(2) During Millstone Unit 2’s refueling outage (April 5 – May 19), Dominion violated federal regulations when it was found to have failed to maintain “emergency action level schemes” for assessing a loss of forced flow cooling during the outage. The violation had potential to compromise emergency preparedness by impairing Dominion’s ability to classify an Unusual Event or an Alert for an uncontrolled reactor coolant system (RCS) heat-up event because of the lack of site specific criteria to assess the RCS temperature. The NRC declined to impose a penalty for the violation.

(3) Also during Millstone Unit 2’s refueling outage, Dominion operated without an adequate procedure for reactor filling and draining, posing a risk to the reactor coolant system’s decay heat removal capability. The NRC inspectors found that pressurizer and head vents were open when they should have been closed, causing control room instrumentation to display inaccurate water level drop. The NRC declined to impose a penalty for the violation.

The inspection report also noted these issues:

(1) The inspectors investigated underground bunkers/manholes subject to flooding which contain cables whose failure could affect safety equipment. They observed a cable vault which contains power cables for the service water system to verify that cables were not submerged in water. The inspectors discovered some cables submerged in water. The NRC declined to cite Dominion for this condition.

(2) In the course of the three-month inspection period, Millstone Units 2 and 3 both shut down due to a loss of offsite power, according to the NRC. Both units suffered a loss of condenser vacuum and other complications. The shutdown damaged the Unit 3 pressurizer relief tank rupture disk, containment, excessive relief valve leakage, loss of instrument air, low pressure turbine rupture disk and the reactor head vent pipe hangar.

The NRC identified numerous operational issues in the Unit 3 reactor trip:

“Additional complications at Unit 3 included a main steam isolation signal due to a steam leak in the turbine building and an unexpected loss of instrument air pressure. The loss of instrument air pressure led to the inability to maintain a normal [reactor coolant system] letdown flow path, which resulted in the necessary diversion of letdown through the reactor head vent into the pressurizer relief tank (PRT). After the PRT exceeded rated pressure, the PRT rupture disk opened as planned and reactor coolant drained into the containment building basement and collected in the structure’s sump system. During the restoration of instrument air pressure, a relief valve on the unit’s volume control tank lifted as the normal drainage flow path was being restored causing the primary drains transfer tank to overflow inside the auxiliary building.”

The NRC ordered a “Special Inspection” but has not yet released the results. The NRC allowed Dominion to restart Unit 3 on June 2.

The August 12 NRC inspection report is available here: Millstone Power Station – NRC Integrated Inspection Report 05000336/2014003 and 05000423/2014003 ADAMS Accession No. ML14224A098

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DEEP COMMISSIONER SELECTS LONG TIME MILLSTONE WORKER TO HEAD RADIATION PROTECTION

Waterford, CT, July 30, 2014 – A longtime worker at the Millstone Nuclear Power Station is the new head of radiation protection for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone announced today. Jeffrey Semancik, former director of nuclear engineering at Millstone, is DEEP’s Director of Radiation, according to a DEEP announcement issued on June 26, 2014. The appointment by DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee was criticized by Coalition Director Nancy Burton, a longtime anti-nuclear activist. On its face, this appointment is woefully inappropriate, she said.

“DEEP and its predecessor DEP have an appalling record of lackadaisical, hands-off attitude when it comes to Millstone,” Burton said. “This appointment confirms the concerns of many that DEEP is an industry puppet when it comes to Millstone.”

Burton cited the recent repeated failure of radiation monitoring equipment at Millstone Units 2 and 3 as necessitating the appointment of a radiation director who is unquestionably independent and free of industry influence. Mr. Semancik, no matter how hard he tries, will have zero credibility with the public when radiation releases are at issue, Burton said.

Semancik studied at the U.S. Naval Academy before becoming Millstone operations manager in 2009, according to the DEEP announcement.

click here to download the pdf version.

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Alerts Millstone News

MILLSTONE 2 SHUTS DOWN AGAIN

Dominion was forced to shut down Millstone Unit 2 over the July 26 weekend because of the failure of feedwater pump circulation, according to information the company provided to the NRC.
Unit 2 remained shut on Monday, July 28, 2014.
The failure of the turbine-driven auxiliary feedwater pump circulation forced a controlled shutdown from full power to a “hot standby” condition within 6 hours of the pump failure and “hot shutdown” condition within an additional 12 hours, according to Dominion.
Dominion reported to the NRC that its normal procedures including troubleshooting and repairs “were unable to determine and correct cause of low pump recirculation flows.”
Two months ago, on May 25, both Millstone Units 2 and 3 suffered emergency shutdowns simultaneously. Dominion attributed the scrams – classified as the lowest of 4 emergency levels – to a loss of offsite power.

Here is the NRC posting on the Unit 2 shutdown:
http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/en.html
Posted July 28, 2014

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Alerts Millstone News

Emergency Declared at Millstone Double – Nuke Emergency Shutdown

MAY 27, 2014

The two nuclear reactors at the Millstone Nuclear Power Station shut down over the Memorial Day weekend as an emergency was declared when the site lost electricity from the grid.

Learn more