CONNECTICUT COALITION AGAINST MILLSTONE
NRC CURES PROBLEM WITH MILLSTONE’S RECURRING OUT-OF-SERVICE RADIATION MONITORS:
ALLOWS DOMINION TO KEEP ITS RADIATION MONITORING OUTAGES SECRET!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 14, 2014
Contact: Nancy Burton/NancyBurtonCT@aol.com
Things just got a whole lot riskier for folks living in the shadow of Millstone.
Dominion will now be able to operate Millstone at full power for up to 24 hours with its main radiation monitors deliberately disabled without prior notice to the public, where the previous standard was 15 minutes.
Dominion now has free rein to belch dirty radioactive air at “unusual” levels for 24 hours straight while its main radiation monitors are down, as long as the blast coincides with “pre-planned maintenance.”
Watch out! Dominion has just brought Millstone Unit 3 to cold shutdown for a scheduled refueling and lots of “pre-planned maintenance.”
Dominion projects that Unit 3 will release its heaviest, dirtiest radiation releases to the air during this weekslong shutdown. This graph appears on Dominion’s website www.Dom.com:
Last week, NRC seriously relaxed its rules governing inoperable radiation monitors three weeks after concerned citizens demanded to know why radiation monitor outages were recurring frequently at Millstone, a fact known to them only because Dominion was required to report the loss to the NRC and the NRC posted the report on its website, NRC.org.
Millstone has the worst record of all U.S. nuclear reactors in the frequency of reported radiation monitor outages over the past year, according to the NRC.
(Dominion, “the licensee for the Millstone nuclear power company does report radiation monitors out of service more frequently than at other nuclear power plants in the United States via a 10 CFR 50.72 report.” NRC letter to Union of Concerned Scientists October 8, 2014.)
The NRC’s now excusing Dominion from having to report the loss of radiation monitoring operability for reasons of “planned maintenance” unless the loss persists for 24 hours. The prior time frame was 15 minutes.
“Unlike most other plants, Millstone does not have redundant devices for some of their radiation monitors, particularly [the main station stack and long-range monitors, the most critical ones],” the NRC wrote in its
October 8, 2014 letter.
Here’s the obvious question:
What’s to stop Dominion from venting its dirtiest releases – those containing the highest concentrations of radionuclides – during “pre-planned maintenance” over 24-hour periods, making it impossible for the public to ever know the levels to which they and their children and grandchildren were exposed?
The NRC has an easy answer: Nothing!
Shockingly, under existing regulation, Dominion is allowed to disgorge built-up “batches” of its dirtiest radioactive air from the containment, where the nuclear reactor is located, and radioactive processing systems, even when its major radiation monitors are shut down.
All that Dominion need do in such circumstances is apply its “best efforts” (Dominion’s term, approved by the NRC) to repair the monitors and carry out additional sampling and analysis.
The Union of Concerned Scientists asked the NRC if it could say whether Dominion had its workers actually carry out these “compensatory measures.”
Once again, the NRC had an easy answer: “This level of detailed information is not required to be submitted to the NRC.”
The Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone has demanded that Millstone shut down when its main station radiation monitors are disabled.
In a letter sent on October 13, 2014 to Jeffrey Semancik, DEEP Director of Radiation, the Coalition demanded independent DEEP radiation monitoring of Millstone releases and disclosure of such releases to the public.
CONNECTICUT COALITION AGAINST MILLSTONE
October 13, 2014
Director, Radiation Division
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
79 Elm Street
Hartford CT 06106
Dear Mr. Semancic:
We are alarmed to learn that in September 2014, without prior notice to the public or opportunity for public comment, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission revised its rules to allow the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant to operate at full power for up to 24 hours with its main station radiation monitors deliberately disabled and inoperable, where the previous standard was 15 minutes, as long as the releases coincide with “pre-planned maintenance.”
Please reference the October 8, 2014 letter of the NRC’s Raymond R. McKinley to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) responding to the UCS’s query to him dated August 15, 2014 regarding Millstone’s frequently recurring inoperability of its main station radiation monitors. (For your reference, copies of both letters are being sent to you by U.S. Mail.)
The UCS query derived from reviews of reports posted on the NRC website when Millstone’s main station radiation monitors were inoperable for periods in excess of 15 minutes.
The NRC letter confirms that Millstone holds the U.S. record for frequency of reporting of radiation monitor inoperability.
Our alarm particularly focuses on the statement in the McKinley letter concerning whether NRC verifies whether Dominion may pre-plan its worst and dirtiest radiation releases to coincide with “pre-planned” radiation monitor shutdowns.
The NRC told UCS that Millstone is permitted to vent its “batch” releases containing heavier-than-normal concentrations of radionuclides even when it lacks the capability to adequately monitor the releases because of the monitor shutdowns.
Although the NRC letter seeks to provide assurances that Dominion will take adequate “compensatory measures” – such as air samples and analysis – when it deactivates the radiation monitors, here is what the NRC acknowledges in response to the UCS query as to whether the NRC actually verifies that Dominion has taken such compensatory measures:
“This level of detailed information is not required to be submitted to the NRC.”
We are gravely concerned that the public health and safety have been put at far greater risk of radiation exposure as a result of the NRC’s decision allowing Millstone to operate at full power for up to 24 hours with the loss of its most critical radiation monitors without having to report the loss of monitoring capability to the NRC and, hence, the public. Further, we are at a loss to understand how the welfare of the public is served when Dominion is excused from having to report its deliberate disabling of the critical radiation monitors as long as it “pre-plans maintenance” to coincide with the dangerous releases.
As you know, Connecticut General Statutes §22a-135 (“Duties of Department of Energy and Environmental Protection re: nuclear energy and radiation”) mandates that with regard to “posting of planned radiation releases,” your office must require that Dominion “immediately report [to it] . . . (A) any release of radiation which is . . . unmonitored.”
In accordance with this law, we request, pursuant to the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act, the opportunity to review and copy all DEEP records regarding Dominion’s reports to it of “unmonitored” radiation releases (that is, occurring while critical station radiation monitors were inoperable) during the past two years during which Millstone has attained the U.S. record of frequency of reports of inoperative radiation monitors.
Most particularly, we request such records as pertain to those occasions when Dominion has reported inoperability of radiation monitors to the NRC, as follows:
Event Number 49313
High range stack radiation monitor RM-8168
“removed . . . from service for pre-planned maintenance”
Event Number 49349
RM-8169 Vent Stack Radiation Monitor
Event Number 49893
“Stack RadMonitor out-of-service for pre-planned maintenance”
Event Number 50165
“High range stack monitor taken out of service for planned maintenance”
Event Number 50343
“Removal of stack high radiation monitor for maintenance”
Event Number 50357
“Site stack radiation monitor out of service for planned maintenance”
Event Number 49724
“Normal ventilation radiation monitor removed from service for planned maintenance”
Event Number 49891
“Normal ventilation process radiation monitor out of service for planned maintenance”
Event Number 49951
“[Supplementary Leakage Collection and Release System] radiation monitor out of service for pre-planned maintenance”
Furthermore, pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §22a-135(4) (“DEEP shall . . . (4) monitor radiation originating from nuclear plants and perform tests to detect any buildup of radioactivity in the soil, water, plants or animals of the state”), please inform us what steps you have taken as DEEP’s Radiation Bureau Director to monitor Millstone radiation releases on those occasions when Millstone’s radiation monitor have been disabled for “pre-planned maintenance.”
We particularly request that you implement forthwith a program to monitor goat milk from among the 17 locations within 20 miles of Millstone as were identified by Dominion in its most recent (2013) Annual Radiological Environmental Operating Report. That reports states that Dominion did not sample goat milk as part of its environmental monitoring program during 2013. We request as well that you implement forthwith a program to monitor human breast milk pursuant to the statute.
Furthermore, we request that you act on your statutory authority (Connecticut General Statutes §22a-135(a)(6) and (7)) to petition the NRC to reverse its decision allowing Dominion to operate at full power for 24 hours with disabled radiation monitors for “pre-planned maintenance” without reporting the inoperability of the monitors to the NRC.
Finally we request that you act on your statutory authority (Connecticut General Statutes §22a-135(a)(6) and (7) to petition the NRC to revise its regulations and policies to require that Dominion shut down Millstone during periods when its critical radiation monitors are deliberately disabled for “pre-planned maintenance.”
We appreciate your response at your earliest convenience.
Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone
- 30 -
Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs