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A. Introduction
B. Decommissioning Chronicle: August 1997 - September 1998
C. Patterns of Noncompliance
D. Unresolved Issues
E. Decommissioning Chronicle Continued: January - December 1999
F. Decommissioning Chronicle Continued: January 2000 to May 8, 1999
G. Decommissioning Nightmare
H. Decommissioning Debacle Bibliography

Please refer to RADNET Section 6: Radiation Protection Guidelines for an important series of government publications pertaining to decommissioning, site release criteria, derived intervention levels for contaminated food, sediment and other media, as well as other NRC and EPA decommissioning related reports. Additional information on environmental monitoring and environmental contamination in the vicinity of nuclear power facilities may be found in RAD 11: Anthropogenic Radioactivity: Major Plume Source Points: Section 4: Nuclear Power Plants.

Following the final decision to close the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company by its owner's on August 6, 1997, RADNET will continue the chronicle of the Collapse of a Pyramid Scheme by posting a selection of citations, reports and important events which best illustrate current trends, problems and developments in the ongoing decommissioning debacle at MYAPC. New developments pertaining to legal issues and the ongoing investigation of fraudulent computer codes pertaining to the emergency core cooling system and containment analyses will be posted in Collapse of a Pyramid Scheme, Part 4, Legal Issues.

Post-closure developments and issues which will exacerbate the decommissioning debacle include the following:


August 1997:

August 16th:

An announcement was made by State Senator Marge Kilkelly (Wiscasset) that a 15 member Community Advisory Panel on the Decommissioning of Maine Yankee (CAPDMY) will be organized. The first meeting was scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 21 at Maine Yankee's Career Center. Members, primarily from the Wiscasset area will be appointed to two year terms and will include Ray Shadis from Friends of the Coast, a liaison from the Governor's office, as well as industry representatives and local citizens. Activities, reports and policy suggestions of CAPDMY will be reviewed and posted in this section of Collapse of a Pyramid Scheme as they occur.

August 27:

MYAPC submitted their POST SHUTDOWN DECOMMISSIONING ACTIVITIES REPORT (PSDAR) to the NRC on August 27th. Of particular interest is the comment in their description of planned decommissioning activities that "... it may become cost effective to transfer the spent fuel from wet storage to dry storage. If Maine Yankee determines to follow that course, the spent fuel pool may be replaced by a fuel transfer facility, several concrete pads, and a number of dry fuel/waste storage containers." The current inventory of spent fuel assemblies is 1,432 with an additional "4 cages" containing damaged spent fuel residing in the spent fuel pool. This report also references options for collecting the shortfall in decommissioning funds: accelerated collection of payments, financing the temporary shortfall once FERC has resolved the upcoming rate case or extending the decom schedule consistent with the current fund payment collection rate (see page 2 of the PSDAR). This report does not make clear whether the GTCC wastes in the reactor vessel will be removed and stored separately from low-level waste destined for South Carolina or Nevada landfills or whether the reactor vessel and internals will be disposed of in one package as proposed in the Connecticut Yankee decommissioning proposal. This report includes the following quote "The actual schedule may differ in response to the availability of waste disposal facilities, economic resources or unforeseen circumstances." This report also contains an updated summary of decommissioning costs which "does not include the costs associated with storing the spent fuel while waiting for the Department of Energy (DOE) to take possession of the stored materials; and it does not include the costs associated with restoring the site to a green field condition." Current low-level waste burial volume is estimated at 209 thousand cubic feet, GTCC wastes are estimated at 227 cubic feet, and high-level waste volume is estimated at 88 cubic meters. The updated cost estimate is $377,578,000.00, with decommissioning activities with respect to major equipment to occur within 3 1/2 years - a most optimistic and myopic scenario.

September 1997:

-- A dissenting viewpoint --

The following two terms (speedy mothballing / deceptive deconstruction) best describe the restricted current options for decommissioning the MYAPC. Due to factors beyond the control of anyone, particularly a paucity of scarce public, ratepayer and stockholder resources, the following scenarios are a more probable description of the decommissioning scenarios of the future than the extremely optimistic estimates contained in the Preliminary Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities report: 


  • Accelerated surficial cleaning, equipment removal and staff termination ($600 million, 3 - 6 years).
  • Indefinite on-site reactor vessel GTCC waste storage.
  • Indefinite on-site spent fuel storage.
  • The appointment of a citizen advisory committee (already established) to supervise the decommissioning debacle including, at a later date, the construction of an ISFSI (Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation) and the administration of a restricted contaminated zone as described in NUREG 1496, vol. 1, pg. 7-7 "... there can be situations where restricting site use to achieve a TEDE of 25 mrem/y is a more reasonable and cost-effective option than unrestricted use."
(also known as "prompt decommissioning")
  • The myopic vision of the quick deconstruction of the entire MYAPC physical plant ($1.2 billion, 10 - 20 years).
  • Transport of the decommissioning low-level waste to a compaction facility and then to a low-level waste dump in Texas ($400 million). (For an update on new developments with respect to disposing "low-level waste" including greater than class C low-level waste [GTCC wastes] in Barnwell, South Carolina see the RADNET update for October 3 followed by the complete copy of the 1987 TLG Maine Yankee Reactor Vessel Inventory posted on Halloween 1997.)
  • The purchase of expensive multi-purpose canisters (the DOE design and production program for MPC's has recently been canceled) or the use of obsolete and vulnerable dry casks and the subsequent transport of spent fuel to a Nevada desert dump site as proposed in current federal legislation ($200 million).
  • Postponement of the majority of spent fuel storage and disposal costs for future generations in the form of a delayed geological repository ($1 billion per nuclear plant).
  • Transfer of most current spent fuel administration, packaging and transportation costs from ratepayers (nuclear waste policy act of 1982) to taxpayers (proposed nuclear waste policy act of 1997).
  • It looks good on paper, but are taxpayers in non-nuclear electricity generating states really going to pick up the tab for MYAPC ratepayer spent fuel disposal costs? When MYAPC, NRC and state officials and Maine media talk about prompt decommissioning with a shortfall of only $300 million, aren't they really talking about SPEEDY MOTHBALLING? Where are the scarce ratepayer and public resources to do otherwise?

September 18:

The House Commerce Committee voted 42 to 3 to send spent nuclear fuel to the temporary waste depot in the southern Nevada desert. This paves the way for a full vote in the House of Representatives during the fall of 1997. Last year this bill was endorsed 65 to 34 by the Senate, just two votes short of the necessary two thirds majority to override President Clinton's veto. If this bill is implemented as written (1997 Nuclear Waste Policy Act, overriding many of the provisions of the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act) it will be a giant step in transferring spent fuel storage maintenance, administrative and transport costs prior to arrival at a final federal geological repository from utility ratepayers to federal taxpayers. The implementation of this bill including full funding for on-site spent fuel storage at MYAPC could save Maine ratepayers as much as a half a billion dollars over a period of 50 years. This bill is the very antithesis of privatization and downsizing and represents the largest welfare program to be implemented since the days of Lyndon Johnson.

September 25:

The Department of Justice (DOJ) failed to file any charges against MYAPC or the YAEC (Yankee Atomic Electric Company) following the presentation of evidence of criminal activities by the Office of Investigation of the NRC. This failure is consistent with the complicity of the Department of Justice in the ongoing nuclear waste ponzi scheme. The complicated technical presentation necessary for the successful prosecution of the power uprate scam is and was obviously beyond the resources of the Department of Justice. A lack of financial and staff support resources, pre-existing political conflicts of interest, conflicting and divergent U.S. Attorney staff opinions and objectives, lack of support from senior DOJ staff in Washington and the kafkesque task of securing witnesses to testify from within the MYAPC and YAEC gulag further complicated this prosecution. The incompetence of the DOJ in this investigation is a parable for the complicity of the federal government in the nuclear energy pyramid scheme and its concomitant power up-rate scams, which are generic to the industry, as well as an indicator of the likely dysfunctional role of the federal government in the nuclear waste, safety and disposal debacles of the future. The DOJ, in its failure to prosecute obvious criminal activity, continues to serve not only as a facilitator of this kind of for-profit white collar fraud, but as an accessory to similar activities at other nuclear power plants in the United States. A more competent investigation and prosecution posed a significant threat to the nuclear energy industry in the United States in that it would have resulted in a further exploration of the Pandora's box of nuclear energy fraud and deception.

Comments by David Lockbaum at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) that the Department of Justice appears to have thoroughly investigated criminal activities at MYAPC and that these issues are academic due to the plant closure raise questions about the continued ability of the Union of Concerned Scientists to be on the cutting edge of deconstructing various nuclear energy pyramid schemes now occurring at every operating reactor. A more thorough and competent Department of Justice investigation would have been very helpful in illuminating the many ongoing generic safety issues which the UCS has been so scrupulous in documenting in the past two decades. The power uprate scam at MYAPC, based on fraudulent manipulation of computer data pertaining to the emergency core cooling system and the reactor vessel containment capacity, was not only the most lucrative criminal act in the history of the state of Maine, its replication at other nuclear energy facilities raises public safety issues that affect everyone in the United States. The trust of the Union of Concerned Scientists in the probity of the Department of Justice with respect to these ongoing scams is myopic. Comments by the Union of Concerned Scientists are particularly disturbing in view of the continuing cover-up of the nuclear waste pyramid scheme in New England, as no one in the media has yet reported that decommissioning costs at MYAPC and elsewhere do not include the storage and disposal of 99% of the nuclear wastes generated during the scam, or that the +1 billion dollars in consumer profits derived from MYAPC are soon to be followed in +1 billion dollars in ratepayer and taxpayer liabilities to pay for the consequences of this Cold War derived fiasco.
DOJ and the Nuclear Waste Racket

The Department of Justice has many reasons for not prosecuting MYAPC/YAEC on racketeering charges and other violations of federal law. For insight into DOJ complicity in other nuclear waste related illegal activities, link to the uncensored Grand Jury report on Rocky Flats at http://www.downwinders.org. The DOJ can't afford to prosecute criminal activities which would open the Pandora's box of information about missing reprocessed high-level wastes (+/- 4 billion curies) disposed of in liquid form via deep well injection, french drains, etc. at Hanford, Savannah River, INEL and ORNL.

October 1997:

October 3:

MYAPC spokesperson Maureen Brown made the following announcement "The Texas Compact is no longer in the best interest of Maine ratepayers." (Portland Press Herald, October 4, 1997). By any chance would the sudden opposition of MYAPC to the Texas Compact originate from the fact that it is unlikely that the Texas low-level waste facility, unlike Barnwell, South Carolina, would accept an intact reactor vessel including its highly radioactive greater than class C (GTCC) low-level wastes (+4 million curies at 2 years cooling)? If MYAPC is successful in implementing speedy mothballing of the majority of its radioactive wastes in the form of an on-site Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) and then deconstructing the main physical plant, then the following quote by spokesperson Brown may be prophetic. "By the time the Texas facility is built, our waste will be buried." (PPH, October 4, 1997). The easy to site low-level waste, that is. The key question in the speedy mothballing scenario is whether the state of South Carolina will in fact allow burial of the GTCC wastes from both MYAPC and Connecticut Yankee within the larger package of an intact reactor vessel. This option is clearly indicated by the wording on page 3-4 of the Maine Yankee Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (MYPSDAR). "Several technically feasible alternatives are available for removal of the reactor vessel and the reactor internals. The vessel could be removed with the internals intact and included ... Maine Yankee believes that the radionuclide concentrations (due to neutron activation) may allow the vessel/internals assembly to be disposed of as low specific activity waste." This option for disposal of the highly radioactive GTCC reactor vessel components again raises the issue of "hot C" wastes disposal which was first suggested in the 1987 TLG Decommissioning Report (see RAD 12: MYAPC: Reactor vessel inventory: GTCC wastes). Execution of this option of disposal of the highly radioactive reactor vessel internals as one large package of class C low-level wastes would result in dramatic decommissioning costs savings for both the licensee and MYAPC ratepayers. Such an option would allow a greatly speeded up time table for deconstruction of the main components of the physical plant, allowing rapid construction of the independent spent fuel storage installation. The presence of this alternative, safer location for spent fuel will in turn reduce the costs of deconstructing the main physical plant adjacent to a now empty spent fuel pool. If the GTCC wastes have to be robotically separated from a segmented reactor vessel and sited within an ISFSI at Wiscasset, both the optimistic decommissioning schedule and the myopic decommissioning cost estimates will be rapidly undermined. As has been the case in the past, the politicians, including Maine's congressional delegation, who continue to support the Texas low-level waste compact, are the very last to discover the obsolescence of this very expensive component of the decommissioning debacle.

The key questions in the speedy mothballing scenario are: How long will the Barnwell S.C. location remain open to receive MYAPC decommissioning wastes? Is the state of South Carolina and the operators of Barnwell aware that both the MYAPC and Northeast Utilities are hoping to site intact reactor vessels including all GTCC components (+/- 4 million curies of GTCC wastes) without containment in a primitive landfill? The willingness of the state of South Carolina to accept these uncontained wastes in the form of a reactor vessel "package" raises one additional question: why wouldn't the Barnwell consortium and the state of South Carolina tap into the lucrative opportunities provided by the urgent need for a monitored, retrievable storage installation for spent fuel and construct an independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) at the Barnwell facility? Spent fuel in such a facility would be contained in either dry casks or more modern and reliable multi-purpose containers, and would pose none of the risks which accompany uncontained disposal of GTCC wastes in a primitive landfill. The Texas low-level waste compact would be an unlikely location for uncontained disposal of these GTCC wastes and in and of itself will be insufficient both in terms of capacity (cubic feet) and waste forms (no GTCC wastes) to meet the urgent need of MYAPC owners for a lightning fast decommissioning. The opportunities for costs savings provided by the Barnwell facility may be as temporary as they are tempting.

October 7:

The Portland Press Herald reported that "Maine Yankee deliberately gave inaccurate information to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1986 about the ability of [atmospheric] steam [dump] valves to function in the event of problems with the plant's cooling system..." "The investigation involving the steam valves became public Monday when anti-nuclear groups released a copy of a letter from the NRC to Maine Yankee." One more in a series of revelations about illegal activities at MYAPC, the atmospheric steam dump valve misinformation provides the opportunity for the office of the U.S. Attorney for Maine to again show how interested they are in enforcing any law which doesn't threaten the nuclear waste ponzi scheme in the context of its practice by NRC licensees. Unlike the generic violations of the power up-rate scam (altered computer data pertaining to the capacities of the emergency core cooling system and reactor vessel containment), the misinformation about the steam dump valve is a site specific violation, the successful prosecution of which (assuming the NRC refers the case to the U.S. DOJ), won't open a Pandora's box of violations illustrating industry wide corruption in the form of other illegal power up-rates and altered computer codes.

October 15:

Kris Christine in Alma, Maine <LedgeSpring@lincoln.midcoast.com> reports receipt of NRC Office of Investigation Report 1-96-040 as the result of the filing of a FOIA which documents yet another NRC investigation about an allegation by a high-level MYAPC manager that the plant had willfully given the NRC "inaccurate and insufficient information concerning the Emergency Feed Water System -- in particular a leaking valve which had been installed backwards." This report is in addition to OI report 1-96-025 pertaining to the Atmospheric Steam Dump Investigation. While both of these violations are small peanuts, particularly in the context of an obsolete nuclear facility which is now closed, they are also significant as illustrating the degree of deception and corruption which characterized MYAPC operations prior to plant closure. The misrepresentations and computer code alterations at MYAPC are symptomatic of industry-wide violations of federal law and NRC regulations that the Department of Justice is loathe to investigate. Conscientious prosecution of these violations would pose a threat not only to the nuclear industry as a whole, but also to the Department of Justice for its role in looking the other way with respect to violations at other nuclear electricity generating stations and DOE weapons production facilities. In the twilight of the nuclear era, the last hope of the nuclear industry is in keeping the lid on investigations which would illustrate the extent, dangers, and costs of the nuclear waste pyramid scheme not only at NRC licensed reactors but at DOE weapons production facilities which are ironically now under the oversight of the NRC (re. environmental monitoring).

October 30:

The House of Representatives passed the revisions to the 1982 Nuclear Waste Act (HR1270) opening the way to temporary dry cask storage of commercial and military spent fuel on the Nevada desert north of Reno while a permanent repository is constructed at Yucca Mountain or some other location. HR1270 was approved in the House by a vote of 370 to 120; the previous vote in the Senate was 65 to 34 in favor. If implemented as intended, HR1270 could save the cost of constructing an onsite independent spent fuel storage installation at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Plant in Wiscasset; multipurpose canisters containing MYAPC spent fuel could be moved directly to the desert monitored retrievable storage area. Prompt decommissioning as outlined in the recent MYAPC PSDAR (Post Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report) is conditional upon such prompt spent fuel removal. If successfully implemented spent fuel storage in the Nevada desert could save Maine ratepayers a half a billion dollars. There are, however, a number of flies in the ointment: recent congressional cancellation and questionable status of the multiple purpose canister program (MPC); lack of older model dry casks for transport of large quantities of fuel to Nevada; the necessity to rapidly fund 200 million dollars per nuclear facility for complete removal of spent fuel including containment, transport, security and administration. The priority of spent fuel at certain DOE facilities (West Valley, New York; Morris, Illinois etc.) may also slow down the rapid shipment of spent fuel from commercial reactors as envisioned by HR1270. Any delay in the execution of HR1270 would ensure the necessity for construction of an independent spent fuel storage installation at the Wiscasset facility or at any other location where newly emerging nuclear waste entrepreneurs wish to establish an ISFSI eg. Barnwell, S.C.

October 31: (Halloween)

Maine Yankee TLG Reactor Vessel Inventory

Due to the recent evolution of MYAPC decommissioning plans away from the likely use of the Texas compact for low-level waste disposal (no greater than class C wastes allowed: see entry for October 3) and the anticipated availability of the Barnwell, South Carolina "low-level waste" facility for uncontained burial of an intact reactor vessel (706.4 tons) including all GTCC reactor vessel components (+/- 4,170,000 curies at two years cooling), RADNET is reproducing the 1987 TLG Reactor Vessel Inventory below. Recent conversations with the editors and some news staff at the State Newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina indicate that the Barnwell, S.C. low-level waste facility is now selling space in this facility to utilities seeking nuclear waste disposal capacity in the future. While no public announcement has been made in Maine or in Connecticut, presumably both MYAPC and Connecticut Yankee would be the nuclear utilities most interested in purchasing these space allotments. Neither South Carolina authorities nor Barnwell management appear to have any objections to the "new paradigm" of the NRC for GTCC reactor internals disposal: average the greater than class C reactor vessel components with class A reactor vessel parts and site the whole package in one unit as class C wastes in an uncontained land burial site at Barnwell, S.C.

The following Maine Yankee Reactor Vessel Inventory was first published in a restricted TLG report to the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company in 1987 as a component of TLG's decommissioning cost estimate. (TLG, a contractor for estimating decommissioning costs, estimated decommissioning costs in 1987 as $178,097,900.) In 1992, Uldis Vanags inadvertently republished this confidential information in "A Study of Radioactive Wastes" (Maine State Planning Office). The editor of RADNET reproduced this inventory on page 116 of "Legacy for Our Children: The Unfunded Costs of Decommissioning the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station." This inventory is further discussed in this section of RADNET (12: Twilight of the Nuclear Era: The Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company) which has been published in hard copy by RADNET as "Collapse of a Pyramid Scheme" (currently out of print - RADNET readers are free to download their own copy of this or any other section of RADNET).

RADNET is posting a complete copy of the most relevant components of the Maine Yankee Reactor Vessel Inventory including the greater than class C reactor vessel internals which are symbolized by >C in the lower parts of the third column with reference to the lower core support barrel, the core shroud and the lower core support plate. The recent development, courtesy of more liberal NRC waste disposal standards, of allowing greater than class C wastes to be disposed of as class C low-level waste by averaging GTCC wastes with class A wastes (equals class C low-level wastes) in one large package (706.4 tons) is an important development for any person or organization concerned about what actually goes into a low-level waste facility. A key question for the evolution of "low-level waste" facilities in Ward Valley, California, Sierra Blanca, Texas or in other locations in Nevada or Utah is: will these facilities be as willing to receive GTCC wastes in the form of "hot C wastes" as is the Barnwell, S.C. facility?


Output Tuesday, September 29, 1987 at 14:10

Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station -- Prompt Reactor Vessel Removal (w/2 yr decay) -- Last revised on Tuesday September 29, 1987

(This is a partial list of relevant data in the TLG report)

COMPONENT Total Wt. Lbs. Sp Activ. Ci/Lb 10 CFR 61 [A/C/>C] Activity Ci Payload K/hr No. of Shipments
*** Reactor Vessel ***
Upper Head
Vessel Flange
Upper Head Pkg Closure Plate
Total Upper Head Package
High Activation Zone Vessel
High Activation Zone Clad
Total High Activation Zone
Upper Nozzle Zone Base Metal
Upper Nozzle Zone Clad
Outlet Nozzles
Inlet Nozzles
Total Upper Nozzle Zone
Reactor Vessel Insulation
Neutron Shield Tank (inner wall)
Neutron Shield Tank (remaining structure)
Lower Head & Flow Skirt
Lower Head Pkg Closure Plate
Lower Head Package
Vessel Totals
1,049,794.84 lbs.
7,373.97 curies
*** Internals ***
UGS Support Plate
Control Element Shroud Assys
Fuel Assy Alignment Plate
Upper Core Support Barrel
Thermal Shield
Lower Core Support Barrel
Core Shroud
Lower Core Support Plate
Core Support Columns
Lower Core Support Beam Assys
Total Internals
363,038.00 lbs.
4,170,222.83 curies

Vessel Totals (1,049,794.84) + Total Internals (363,038.00) = 1,412,832.84 Lbs. / 2,000 = 706.4 Tons.

Scan of the original:

Link here to a scan (landscape) of the above table that will print on one page.  It is slightly larger and therefore more readable.  Please note the original copy is in small print and is also difficult to read.

For additional comments on the significance of the availability of the Barnwell, S.C. facility for GTCC waste disposal for MYAPC ratepayers, RADNET readers please refer to the comments for October 3rd in this section of RAD 12: Twilight of the Nuclear Era: The Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company.

November 1997:

November 14:

Radioactive Waste Reclassification
An urgent necessity in the twilight of the nuclear era

The recent closure of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company in Wiscasset, Maine, and the Connecticut Yankee facility at Haddam Neck, Connecticut, and the ongoing decommissioning of the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant near Portland, Oregon highlight the urgent necessity for ending the deceptive radioactive waste classification systems now used by the NRC, DOE and EPA. These systems allow disposal of highly radioactive reactor vessel internal components and operational reactor derived resins as "low-level" wastes. These class B, C and GTCC wastes (see previous posting on GTCC reclassification as class C waste) should not be disposed of in an uncontained formats in landfills in any location including Sierra Blanca, Texas (The Texas LLW Compact), Ward Valley, California and Barnwell, South Carolina (the mother of all uncontained landfills). A further controversial and deceptive component is misleading and obsfucating federal regulations which allow plutonium laced transuranic wastes (TRU) and other long lived wastes to be sited as low-level waste.

It is now time to reformulate radioactive wastes classifications because of the imminent decommissioning of the reactors in New England and the plan to site GTCC wastes in the Trojan Washington reactor vessel in an uncontained landfill at Hanford. Other events that make it time to reformulate radioactive waste classifcations include the recent recommendations from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research for nuclear waste management and classification reform and the growing opposition in California and elsewhere to the deceptions involved in burial of these long lived and high-level wastes. The first priority is to separate class A low-level wastes especially including radiopharmaceuticals and other non-nuclear reactor derived short-lived wastes from the more dangerous class B, C, GTCC and long-lived wastes and allow the shorter lived wastes to be disposed of as low-level wastes in either a landfill situation or a monitored retrievable storage facility.

The deceptive inclusion of commercial nuclear reactor and weapons production derived wastes in the current nuclear waste management disposal scheme threatens the legitimate use of radioisotopes by research institutes, hospitals, universities and other laboratories. These medical and research waste generators are, in essence, being held hostage to an obsolete and misleading waste classification system which makes no sense and which results in a lack of available facilities to accept low risk, short-lived radioactive wastes that do not pose any significant health physics threat to the public. As a result, radioactive waste disposal options are now limited to few active landfills in Barnwell, S.C., Betty, NV and Hanford, WA. where class A wastes and the more radiotoxic class B, C and GTCC wastes may still be sited. As decommissioning of a number of commercial reactors begins and the public becomes more aware of the "hot C scam," it is unlikely that these sites will remain as long-term options for radioactive waste disposal. The continued use of this deceptive radioactive waste classification system threatens the future legitimate monitored retrievable storage and/or disposal of class A low-level wastes at Barnwell, Betty and possibly Ward Valley, which would be a viable site only if retrievable storage technology were implemented.

For an interesting, informative and up-to-date discussion of nuclear waste management and disposal issues, including a complete listing of all federal categories of radioactive wastes, RADNET readers are urged to review Appendix B of Containing the Cold War Mess by Marc Fioravanti, Arjun Makhijani and Steve Hopkins published by IEER. This is by far the most comprehensive description of the waste classification debacle available from any source.

Specific suggestions for a five tiered classification system have also been submitted to the California legislature by PARDNERS (People Against Radioactive Dumping) who are responding to the deceptive attempt to dump uncontained class B, C and possibly GTCC wastes at the proposed Ward Valley low-level waste site in southern California. PARD suggests classifying wastes as:

This organization also suggests a limit on a number of curies per gram without mixing or diluting. The PARD proposal does not clarify what is meant by decay life, but it is usually considered that after 10 half-lives an isotope has decayed to a point where it is no longer a health physics threat. Therefore, an isotope such as Cesium 137 (1/2 T = 30 years) would have a decay life of 300 years, and, therefore, would be considered a high-level waste type E.

It is not yet clear how these various proposals can be combined into a comprehensive reform of the radioactive waste classification system. However, growing public awareness of the ongoing and upcoming decommissioning debacles at various federal remediation sites and commercial reactor facilities mandate this waste classification reform. As of the present time, legitimate class A medical and research waste disposal is being held hostage to an obsolete potpourri of federal waste classifications.

November 21:

Decommissioning cost analysis for the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station (see citataion in the decommissioning bibliography, Part 5-F) is the third in a series of three decommissioning cost analyses made by TLG for MYAPC. Decommissioning cost estimates remain essentially unchanged from the previous estimates made in 1993, with the exception of new provisions made for onsite storage of spent fuel in the form of an independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI). ISFSI siting and construction costs are estimated at $52,249,000.00, but the TLG study contains no details about the design of the ISFSI or a separate cost estimate for the dry casks which would be used as a component of this facility. Major questions still remain about whether current designs for dry cask storage of spent fuel are compatible with the monitored retrievable storage facility now proposed for the Nevada desert as a temporary site for commercial spent fuel. The TLG report not only does not provide any detail about the number and costs of dry casks, there is no mention as to whether the ISFSI will be in the form of ready-to-transport multipurpose canisters (MPC). This is consistent with current indecision by federal regulators (NRC and the DOE) as to what will be the best cask design suitable for both onsite and offsite spent fuel storage. Previous efforts by the Department of Energy to sponsor the development of a Westinghouse-designed MPC were terminated by congressional mandate in 1995. MPC development has now been "privatized" and the lack of detail in the TLG report reflects the uncertain status of multipurpose canister design. Existing dry cask may not be the most suitable for transportation of spent fuel to a monitored retrievable storage facility or for final disposal in a geological repository.

Section 2 of this report provides a disingenuous description of the process of segmenting GTCC reactor vessel internals from the reactor vessel and their storage with spent fuel in the ISFSI after they have been packed in fuel bundle canisters (FBC). This is the "worst case scenario" for GTCC reactor vessel internal components, according to MYAPC officials at the recent November 6, public hearing in Wiscasset, ME. The more likely alternative to reactor vessel internals segmentation, siting the entire reactor vessel as one class C "package" in uncontained land burial in Barnwell, S.C., will save millions of dollars in labor and transportation costs. The TLG report makes no explicit reference to this cheaper scenario for GTCC waste disposal. In the 1987 TLG decommissioning estimate, the greater than class C reactor vessel internals (229 cu ft, +4 million Ci) were to be divided into 100 shipments and sited as low-level waste, also at the Barnwell facility. The proposal for the Texas Compact evolved after Barnwell was closed for a period of years; the re-opening of the Barnwell facility has undermined the viability of the Texas low-level waste site, which is too distant to have much practical use for the large component removal projects (steam generators, reactor vessel). In the event that the reactor vessel is sited as one intact unit, the 706 ton weight will be augmented by the necessity of welding a 2 inch thick steel protective shield around the entire reactor vessel to reduce radiation exposure from the millions of curies of GTCC internal components inside. The TLG report provides no discussion of this alternative method of reactor vessel disposal, which is referenced in the MYAPC PSDAR (see discussion above). The most glaring difference between this cost analysis and the 1987 TLG report is the lack of an equipment specific radiological inventory. The 1987 TLG report contained a very specific description of the reactor vessel and its internal components as well as the radioactivity and weight of these components. The only reason why this more specific description of the reactor vessel is available to the general public is that it was accidentally reproduced as an appendix in an obscure State of Maine report (Vanags, 1992). The 1997 TLG report represents a continuation of the deceptions and the deceitfulness that has characterized MYAPC operations from their inception. It is unlikely that the extremely modest decommissioning cost estimates in this report, based in part on antiquated worker duration schedule estimates, can be executed as described in Table 5.1, which is reproduced below. One of many flies in the ointment is the fact that MYAPC has yet to receive the Duratek site characterization of existing radiological contamination, the preliminary plan for which is discussed in the citation.

Table 3.1
(thousands of 1997 dollars)
Period 1
Period 2
Period 3
Site Restoration
Post Period 3
Dry Fuel Storage


*Columns may not add due to rounding

Table 5.1
(Cubic feet)
1 Waste is classified according to the requirements as delineated in Title 10 of the code of Federal Regulations, Part 61.55
2 Columns may not add due to rounding.
to the 
Work Activity
or Cost Category
(thousands, 97$)1,2
Percent of
Total Cost1
LLRW Burial
ISFSI Siting, Construction and Licensing
Property Taxes
Waste Conditioning/Recycling
Security Services
Non-radiological Demolition
License Termination Survey
Soil Remediation
Plant Energy Budget
NRC and EP Fees
Fixed Overhead
Remaining Costs3
1. Columns may not add due to rounding.
2. All costs include contingency with the exception of property taxes.
3. Remaining costs include site characterization, building modifications, temporary services and support equipment.

The Duratek Site characterization management plan (see citation in the decommissioning bibiography below) contains an extremely detailed description of proposed radiation measurements to be made throughout the MYAPC physical plant in preparation for decommissioning. While it is difficult to observe or criticize any shortcomings in the plan's survey of the physical components of the plant without onsite experience working at the facility, one glaring deficiency is evident within this huge site characterization management plan: the number and location of radiation measurements to be made in the marine environment adjacent to the plant is completely inadequate to formulate either any estimate of the prior environmental impact of plant operations or the cumulative impact of decommissioning activities. Montsweag Bay is the current location of the two diffusers utilized since 1976 to discharge liquid effluents from MYAPC operations. Prior to 1976 liquid effluents were discharged in Bailey Cove. During the early years, Bailey Cove was the subject of extensive surveys of the radiological impact of plant operations by numerous investigators, some of whom were working under the auspices of federally funded Sea Grant Studies designed to determine the feasibility of shellfish culture in the thermal effluents of the reactor. These extensive studies (1970-1984) were reviewed in an annotated bibliography (Brack, 1986) and included sufficiently detailed radiation measurements of Bailey Cove to produce isocuric maps of MYAPC plant derived radiological contamination. In the 1997 site characterization plan only four sediment samples are to be taken along the edge of each of the two diffusers; 15 composites of 3 samples each of sediments will be collected along the Montsweag Bay shoreline and characterization of Bailey Cove is limited to a north/south transect of Bailey Cove of 36 composite samples. None of these 3 characterizations of the marine environment adjacent to MYAPC is of sufficient detail to permit a comprehensive isocuric characterization of the impact of plant operations which was required as a basic component of any graduate student's radiological surveillance report in the days of the Sea Grant proposal for shellfish cultivation. The restriction of radiological surveillance to only 8 samples in the vicinity of the diffuser is a particularly outrageous restriction on the public's right to know both the past and future environmental impact of Maine Yankee operations and decommissioning activities. Future decommissioning activities will include extensive decontamination by washing and flushing; there is the possibility for contamination of Montsweag Bay by these activities with larger quantities of radioactive effluents than had been previously discharged during ongoing plant operations. There also remains the unresolved question of the actual impact of leaky fuel rods both at the beginning of plant operations in the early 1970's and more recently with the disclosure of grid to (fuel) rod fretting in the last days of Maine Yankee operations. The design of the current site characterization plan, while possibly adequate for evaluating physical plant contamination levels, ensures absolutely minimal information is available to the general public or to regulatory authorities about the past and future impact of plant operations on the marine environment. This site characterization plan perpetuates the deceptions of past plant operations and is consistent with the current attempt to reschedule greater than class C reactor vessel internals as low-level waste and ship them off for uncontained burial in Barnwell, S.C. The greatest environmental impact of MYAPC operations may be in the future, both for the marine environment and for the recipient of MYAPC's intact reactor vessel. The irony of decommissioning is that environmental organizations that once closely questioned MYAPC operations are now quiescent. The lack of a detailed environmental impact statement for decommissioning activities, public hearings or even perfunctory reporting by Maine media of these deceptive decommissioning activities ensure that the most significant environmental impact resulting from the presence of the MYAPP may be in the future, not in the past.

Other glaring deficiencies in the Duratek report which are probably generic to all NRC sponsored site characterizations include:

The Duratek report provides the following information about the site characterization process. December 1997:

December 2:

The Decommissioning Community Advisory Panel (CAP) meeting was held on December 2, at the former Maine Yankee Information Center. An extensive presentation was made explaining the defueled emergency plan, including the decreasing likelihood of a resumption of criticality in the spent fuel pool as the spent fuel ages and cools. MYAPC officials insist that there is now no credible chance that a fuel handling accident in the spent fuel pool will result in any significant offsite dose consequence. This assertion was challenged at the CAP meeting by board member Ray Shadis, others in the audience and concerned citizens who note the continued danger of dropping a 100 ton cask into the spent fuel pool at the time it will be deconstructed. A copy of the defueled emergency plan and supporting analyses presented at this meeting is available from MYAPC.

Also discussed at this meeting was the Site Characterization Update. The Duratek Site Characterization includes 126,000 drive-over scan measurements in open areas surrounding the plant, as well as 8,000 walk-over scan measurements in wooded areas surrounding the plant. The objective of this general gamma scan is to locate any hot areas, i.e. locations with twice the background radiation. As of December 2nd, 115,000 scanning measurements had been taken resulting in 24 elevated readings, only one of which is suspected of being plant derived. The other 23 were alleged to be from granite outcroppings. "All 24 will be further analyzed." (Site Characterization Update). No mention is made in this Update of the presence of weapons testing derived radiocesium or plutonium on the grounds of MYAPC. All such prior contamination from off-site sources is now considered background radiation, and the terrestrial gamma scans now being implemented have no capability to measure alpha radiation from plutonium or nuclide specific emissions from any radioisotope. MYAPC officials pledge to continue to provide the public with updates about site characterization results not only at the next Community Advisory meeting on January 15th, 1998, but also at the weekly decommissioning staff meetings held at the plant.

Of interest to anyone concerned with the inadequacies of the site characterization plan, particularly as it applies to the marine environment, is that the licensee has added several (3?) more sampling sites in the area of the Montsweag Bay liquid waste diffuser. MYAPC officials indicate samples showing indications of contamination from the bay will be sent to a laboratory for more detailed nuclide specific spectroanalysis. Further information about the radiological characterization of the marine terrestrial environment at MYAPC will be posted as it is made available by the licensee. MYAPC officials reaffirmed at this meeting that the primary objective of the site characterization is to provide information to the Decommissioning Operations Contractors (DOCs) about radiological contamination of the physical plant which would allow them to develop "a realistic fixed price bid for decommissioning the plant." These licensee spokespersons insist that the old annual Radiological Environmental Monitoring Programs (REMP) constitute the one and only document which would characterize the environmental impact of the plant over the duration of its operations. Comments about the inadequacy of the REMP are made elsewhere within RADNET (see RAD 11-4A: Nuclear Power Plants - US: Yankee Atomic Electric Co, 1991 and RAD 12-2E: Public Safety Bibliography: Yankee Atomic Electric Co, 1995). The failure of the NRC to require in depth nuclide specific, media specific radiological analysis of the environmental impact of nuclear power plant operations will continue to be a major controversy throughout decommissioning. This inadequacy as well as other decommissioning deceptions will be the subject of a radio call-in show on WERU (89.9 FM) on December 11th at 10 AM. RADNET reader and listener comments are welcomed.

December 10:

The startling story in the Portland Press Herald describing how "NRC says Yankee hedged on safety" (headline) represents one more stage in the cover-up of the power up-rate scam at MYAPC, the most lucrative criminal activity ever to have occurred in Maine. The description of the misrepresentations of plant safety systems and containment vessel capabilities as "tinkering with their safety margins" (Neal Sheeham, NRC spokesman) without further analysis of the lucrative criminal implications of this activity by the NRC, the Portland Press Herald or any other Maine media (including the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, which also profited so greatly from this scam) is another example of the rituals of evasion which continue to characterize our failure to acknowledge the significance and the reasons for these criminal activities. The relatively small fines which will result from what the NRC called violations not involving "major safety issues" are yet another institutional diversion of attention from the real issues which underlie the power up-rate scam. The NRC is only kidding itself that these misrepresentations did not involve major safety issues. At what other facilities are similar up-rate scams now in progress?

December 23:

Decommissioning Debacle Update - NRC Achilles Heel

A dose standard of 25 mrem/yr TEDE (Total Effective Dose Equivalent) for all radionuclides, all pathways (including water), is the primary NRC standard for decommissioning MYAPC as well as any other facilities under NRC's licensing jurisdiction. The current site characterization process at MYAPC is sufficiently deficient with respect to the resulting radionuclide monitoring database as to constitute a clear violation of CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act) also know as the Superfund Act. The failure to monitor key media including sediment and sensitive bioindicators in the marine environment constitutes a failure to adequately protect human health and the environment under the provisions of this law. The effective use of "radiological dose as the appropriate measure for the cleanup of radiological contaminated areas" (letter from NRC Chairman Jackson to Senator Chafee, Sept. 3, 1997) as well as the implementation of remediation goals in the environment surrounding Maine Yankee cannot be implemented without site characterization which includes biological monitoring for all radionuclides in all pathways, since this is the basis for the evaluation of the TEDE. It is impossible to accurately estimate the TEDE from MYAPC operations and decommissioning without an accurate nuclide-specific, media-specific database characterizing the environmental impact of these activities in both the marine and terrestrial environments surrounding this facility.

New Year's Editorial - RADNET editor

January 1998:

January 23:

The Center for Biological Monitoring sent the following letter to Shirley Jackson.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, D.C. 20555-0001

Dear Chairperson Jackson,

This letter is to address some issues which pertain to the Federal Register notice of July 21, 1997, Radiological Criteria for License Termination. This criteria is total effective dose equivalence (TEDE) not exceeding 25 mrem/yr for a maximally exposed person, all radionuclides and all pathways.

An ongoing review of the decommissioning process at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) reveals a series of deficiencies and omissions in the MYAPC site characterization process, particularly with respect to the marine environment which has been historically impacted by the receipt of liquid effluents from MYAPC diffusers at the bottom of Montsweag Bay. The deficiencies and omissions noted originate in part from the Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan for MYAPC. In the case of MYAPC, or any decommissioned pressurized water reactor (PWR) or boiling water reactor (BWR), this release criteria mandates systematic pathway analyses for the long-lived isotopes characterizing spent fuel and reactor vessel internal components. The Duratek plan makes it clear that this systematic pathway analyses is lacking at MYAPC, and the resulting site characterization is insufficient to meet the criteria for license termination.

There also appear to be a series of generic irregularities and deficiencies within the regulatory literature of the NRC. These raise questions about the validity of the newly issued release criteria and, thus of the ability of the NRC to meet its statutory obligations as described in the Code of Federal Regulations.

MYAPC: Preliminary observations of deficiencies in site characterization

Timely, accurate and reliable information about the decommissioning activities at MYAPC is not available to the general public. What little information is available derives from licensee controlled Citizen's Advisory Panel (CAP) monthly meetings. The Duratek site management plan has, however, been available for review by CBM and reveals blatant deficiencies in the site characterization process as a precursor to decommissioning activities.

1. The long-standing inadequacies of the annual licensee Radiological Environmental Monitoring Program (REMP) reports are now impacting the site characterization process. These REMPs provide just enough information to identify large areas of the marine environment adjacent to MYAPC as being impacted by plant operations. At the same time, these flawed reports contain a consistent lack of data points such that isocuric characterization of the environmental impact of plant operations has never been possible. They represent the first stage of an NRC licensee failure to meet the statutory obligation of protecting public health and safety, as contained in the Code of Federal Regulations.

2. The Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual (MARSSIM) Draft (NUREG-1575) makes critically clear the important role of "historical site assessment" in evaluating site status in terms of existing contamination (unaffected and affected areas - see Chapter 3). A large body of secondary radiological surveillance reports exist which also document a pattern of plant derived contamination in the marine environment adjacent to MYAPC. This secondary literature ranges from pre- and post-operational analyses of cesium-137 and cobalt-60 done by Charles Hess in behalf of the NRC to a whole series of reports done under the auspices of the Sea Grant program. Some of these other secondary reports include state of Maine monitoring and other reports by Hess and Smith, 1975; Price, Hess and Smith, 1976; Churchill, 1976; Hess, Smith and Price, 1977; McCarthy and Ryder, 1978; McCarthy, Ryder and Antonitis, 1978; Bowen, 1981; Churchill, Hess and Smith, 1980; Lutz and Hess, 1980; Lutz, Incze and Hess, 1980; and Murray, 1982. In contrast to these many reports in the early years of plant operation, there are no post-1982 independent radiological monitoring reports that the Center for Biological Monitoring can cite which supplement the MYAPC REMPs after this date other than Hess, 1997. None of these older documents appear to play any role in the current Duratek "Site Characterization Management Plan". The result is a grossly inaccurate identification of unaffected as well as affected areas. No credible TEDE can be established for MYAPC until the site characterization process is reviewed and revised.

3. Chapter 6 in MARSSIM discusses field measurement methods and instrumentation and reflects the historical emphasis of the NRC on external radiation as the primary area of concern with respect to acute health effects resulting from radiological contamination. With the advent of the all radionuclides all pathway clause of the new release criteria, it is now clear that radiological surveillance must be upgraded to include a consideration of the presence and impact of all the micro-contaminants which characterize long-lived spent fuel wastes (LLSFW): Sr-90, Zr-92, Tc-99, Sn-126, I-129, Cs-137, Pu-238, Pu-239/240, Pu-241, and Am-241. Most of these isotopes are difficult to characterize alpha and pure beta emitters. Comprehensive pathway analyses of these radionuclides is expensive and time consuming and must be done within a laboratory setting. Information is not yet available as to the accuracy of the on-site laboratory recently established at MYAPC and its ability to characterize these isotopes. Questions however have already been raised about the accuracy and scientific reliability of sample collection methods.

4. The controversial presentation made by the licensee at the December CAP meeting denoting extremely limited areas impacted by plant operations combined with the grossly insufficient Duratek site management plan sampling for the marine environment indicates that insufficient data points will be available to construct a grid, as suggested in MARSSIM. The consequence of insufficient data is the clear inability of the NRC or the licensee to evaluate not only the past environmental impact of plant operations but also the ongoing impact of decommissioning activities. The postponement of accurate site characterization until a final site survey is executed (in the case of MYAPC, 2004) is a possible interpretation of the MARSSIM, which is not a site-specific guide. The MARSSIM makes many references to the possibility of detailed site characterization prior to decommissioning but it also makes it clear that this detailed survey is an option. The failure to execute a thorough survey prior to decommissioning activities at MYAPC is a clear violation of the Code of Federal Regulations general statutory requirement to protect public health and safety.

5. Another deficiency in the Duratek site characterization plan is the choice of the location of the "reference area" as the control for evaluating contamination in "affected" areas. The reference area chosen is a terrestrial location which may have been impacted by plant operations. Site-specific factors such as the location of the two diffusers at the bottom of Montsweag Bay make it mandatory that a second reference or control area be chosen in a marine environment located well away from the bays and estuaries near the Wiscasset facility. A terrestrial reference area is insufficient as a control for analyses done within a marine environment.

6. The net result of the gross deficiencies in historical site assessment of plant operations in the marine environment as well as of the current site characterization process is the undermining of the credibility of radiological criteria as the bases for license termination. In the case of MYAPC or any other NRC licensed facility, the errors and omissions in historical and contemporary site characterization are cumulative. Superficial, one-dimensional characterization of residual radioactivity with over reliance on external radiation exposure from gamma releasing radioisotopes results in the failure to meet the all radionuclides all pathways clause of the release criteria (e.g. see the old guidelines in AEC Rule 1-86). Significant additional pathway analyses are needed to characterize the marine environment as a possible repository of LLSFW resulting from micro-contamination from several incidents of spent fuel cladding leakage, grid to rod fretting within the spent fuel assemblies and the general impact of overall operations at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (1972 -1998). In particular, there is an obvious need for a greatly expanded program of sediment sampling in areas impacted by the liquid diffusers, which due to the strong currents which sweep the bottom of Montsweag Bay have the potential to cover many square miles of bays and estuaries near MYAPC.

Upcoming reports containing specific data collected by the licensee and its contractor Duratek during the site characterization process will hopefully provide additional information about these deficiencies.

Irregularities and omissions in NRC regulatory guides

Specific NRC guidelines pertaining to decommissioning NRC licensed facilities begin with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Regulatory Guide 1.86 and include NUREG publications 5512, 5849, 1444, 1496 vols. 1 and 2, 1500, 1501, 1505, 1507, MARSSIM and 10 CFR Part 20, et. al. There appear to be a series of discrepancies and omissions in these regulatory guides which culminate in some questionable definitions in MARSSIM, the most recent of the regulatory guides. In particular, the definition of derived concentration guideline levels (DCGL) appears to be sufficiently flawed as a tool for evaluating residual radioactivity as to undermine the credibility of the release criteria as described in 10 CFR Part 20, et. al. The details leading up to this conclusion will be presented in another CBM report this spring. Pre-existing irregularities in regulatory literature and definitions within MARSSIM culminate in an artificial and controversial definition of DCGL. These include the methodology used to determine background radiation, the concept of 3 mrem as indistinguishable from background, minimum detectable concentration (MDC), elevated measurement comparison (EMC), data quality assessment (DQA) and residual radioactivity. A definition that is emblematic of the historical deficiencies in the regulatory guides is that of contamination within MARSSIM: "the presence of residual radioactivity in excess of levels which are acceptable for release of a site or facility for unrestricted use" (pg. GL-4). While site-specific DCGLs are not yet available for MYAPC, the appendices in NUREG-1500 are the closest regulatory guides come to setting derived concentration guideline levels. In Appendix B-1, the soil concentration of cesium-137 for the residential scenario necessary to provide an exposure of 24 mrem/yr (just below the TEDE of 25 mrem/yr and thus not contamination??) is 17,120 pCi/kg.; for americium-241 2,928 pCi/kg; etc. This gives just a hint of the problems coming down the turnpike in the new DCGLs. The new FDA derived intervention level for americium-241 contamination in foodstuffs is 2 Bq/kg for infants (= 54 pCi/kg). The problems with the DCGLs provide an example of why it is absolutely essential that the NRC re-schedule public hearings for the decommissioning process at all NRC licensed facilities.

The deficiencies and omissions in NRC regulatory literature originate in a fundamental epistemological quandary: the conflict between easily determined dose-related non-stochastic acute health effects of ionizing radiation versus the more controversial stochastic (random e.g. cancer, hereditary defects) health effects of low-levels of chronic contamination. This issue is now manifest in the new DCGLs and NRC's release criteria of a TEDE of 25 mrem/yr. Pathway analyses for long-lived isotopes characterizing spent fuel wastes have been traditionally overlooked in most 20th century environmental radiological monitoring reports. Implicit in the new NRC release criteria is the necessity for more comprehensive analyses of the presence of these isotopes in all pathways, including the marine pathway at MYAPC. The dilatory MYAPC site characterization process is insufficient to meet the obligations implicit in the new site release criteria. Application of spurious DCGLs as they become codified will only exacerbate this problem not only for MYAPC but for all other NRC supervised facilities.

Yours truly,

H. G. Brack

February 1998:

February 1:

February 1st represents a milestone in the nuclear waste debacle in that this was the deadline for the DOE to begin accepting spent fuel wastes from NRC licensed reactors, as mandated by the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act. The failure of the federal government to implement any plan or locate any facility for accepting spent fuel references the near total collapse of federal radioactive waste disposal programs on all levels. "Low-level waste" facilities are now limited to two locations of uncertain reliability: Betty, Nevada and the controversial landfill in Barnwell, South Carolina. In the mad rush to decommission reactors such as Haddam Neck and Maine Yankee, greater than class C (GTCC) reactor vessel internal components are now being reclassified as class C low-level waste in the NRC's large component removal program which allows entire reactor vessels with GTCC internal components intact to be rescheduled as class C wastes. This is done by averaging the reactor vessel content (a few dozens of curies) with the GTCC internal components. The MYAPC reactor vessel is typical of many that will be sited in the Barnwell landfill: at 706 tons the reactor vessel contains over 4 million curies of GTCC wastes at two years cooling. Prior to transport the reactor vessel must be covered with a protective coating of concrete to shield the shine from the radiation field created by the internal components. This will raise the shipping weight of the reactor vessel to about a thousand tons. The Texas low-level waste facility is not designed to receive such large components, nor are existing rail facilities of sufficient sturdiness, nor bridges of sufficient clearance to transport this waste. Only two alternatives remain: barge transport up the Savannah River with a 35 mile trip to Barnwell or on-site safe storage of the reactor vessel in the Maine Yankee containment building. The remaining episodes in this soap opera are still to be played out.

The key question is: will the state of South Carolina successfully implement its planned program of nuclear blackmail: raise two billion dollars for public education by collecting 87% of the proceeds from siting 30 or more reactor vessels in an uncontained landfill which is the last vestige of the legacy of the reckless disposal of weapons production derived radioactive waste during the 1950's and 1960's at Hanford, Washington and Savannah River, South Carolina, etc.

Friday, February 13:

Defacto BRC (Below Regulatory Concern):
Upper bounds of "noncontamination"

A new paradigm for unrestricted release of formerly contaminated NRC and other federal facilities based on DCGLs (derived concentration guideline levels) as provided in MARSSIM (Multi-Agency Radiation Survey and Site Investigation Manual)

NRC site release criteria for decommissioned nuclear power reactors such as MYAPC (Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company) have recently been set at 25 mrem/year TEDE (total effective dose equivalent). (See Federal Register Vol. 62 No. 139 pg. 39088: Radiological Criteria for Unrestricted Use and 10 CFR Part 20 Subpart E: 20.1402: Radiological Criteria for License Termination.)

"A site will be considered acceptable for unrestricted use if the residual radioactivity that is distinguishable from background radiation results in a TEDE to an average member of the critical group that does not exceed 25 mrem (0.25 mSv) per year, including that from groundwater sources of drinking water..."

The NRC has made it explicitly clear that this TEDE is the cumulative dose resulting from exposure to all residual radioactivity (all nuclides) in all pathways. A close reading of the MARSSIM indicates that, in fact, contamination exceeding the DCGL for more than one radionuclide (and thus exceeding the release criterion) can be manipulated by statistical adjustments. If the release criterion is exceeded by more than one DCGL "... the individual DCGLs need to be adjusted to account for the presence of multiple radionuclides contributing to the total dose. One method for adjusting the DCGLs is to modify the assumptions made during exposure pathway modeling to account for multiple radionuclides. A second method is to use the unity rule to adjust the individual DCGLs." (MARSSIM pg. 4-6). Further evidence that the TEDE is not actually based on analysis of all nuclides in all pathways includes the failure of the MARSSIM to mandate pathway analyses for most biological media and for subsurface groundwater contamination, as well as the appendices in NUREG-1500 which restrict analyses to surface, soil, volume and drinking water concentrations. Site specific DCGLs are not yet available for MYAPC or any other NRC licensed facility. The appendices in NUREG-1500 provide a clue to future guidelines which may be used by the NRC in lieu of site-specific DCGLs. Decommissioning procedures at the Yankee Rowe reactor are still using the ancient one-dimensional surface contamination guidelines contained in the Atomic Energy Commission Regulatory Guide 1.86. (e.g. maximum acceptable surface contamination for 137Cs = 15,000 dpm/100cm2 = 1.5 million dpm/m2 = 25,000 Bq/m2). This older criteria for unrestricted release compares to the new site release criteria implied by NUREG-1500 of 36,130 Bq/m2 as the upper limits of noncontamination (24 mrem/yr) for surface contamination for 137Cs.

The following upper bounds of "noncontamination" were extracted from NUREG-1500 Table B1 which lists concentration values for the residential scenario for achieving 3 mrem/yr exposure. In the following table, soil concentrations (pCi/gm) and surface concentrations (dpm/100cm2) have been multiplied by 8 (= 24 mrem/yr) and then converted to the standard reporting units of Bq/kg and Bq/m2.

The data in column 7, representing the upper limits of "noncontamination" (24 mrem/yr; just below the 25 mrem/yr site release criteria), can be compared to the FDA's derived intervention levels for the most limiting protection action guideline for contaminated foodstuffs, which are noted in column 8. Any contamination above the PAGs (protective action guidelines) listed in column 8 results in the seizure of the contaminated food by the FDA.

Please advise us if you spot any math errors in our conversions. See the footnotes for the conversion factors.

3 mrem/yr
pCi/kg (soil)1
dpm/m2 (surface)2
x 8
(24 mrem/yr)
Bq/kg (soil)3
Bq/m2 (surface)4
for contaminated

1 Multiply pCi/gm by 1000 to convert to pCi/kg.
2 Multiply dpm/100cm2 by 100 to convert to dpm/m2.
3 Soil contamination in Bq/kg is derived by dividing pCi/kg by 27.
4 Surface contamination in Bq/m2 is derived by dividing dpm/m2 by 60.

The data in column 7 represent the best available estimate (in lieu of site-specific DCGLs) of the upper limits of "noncontamination" which would allow release of decommissioned NRC supervised facilities for unrestricted use. (Returned to greenfields status).

No NRC or MARSSIM guidelines are available for contamination in any media including shellfish or sea vegetables. A key objective of a dose-based release criterion is the avoidance of controversial volumetric contamination guidelines, yet the use of a TEDE for all nuclides-all pathways mandates analyses for volumetric contamination in all biological media. This new release criteria, i.e. analyses for all nuclides-all pathways - represents a radical change in radiation protection guidelines. No such concept has ever appeared in the Code of Federal Regulations or any other federal document. The concepts in the MARSSIM (NUREG-1575) which precede the NRC's site release criteria provide numerous avenues to circumvent media-specific analyses through the use of statistical smoke and mirrors as well as many ands, ifs, buts and alsos. The comprehensive routine radiological surveillance for all plant-derived contaminants explicitly required by the NRC's new site release criteria may yet be circumvented by application of the MARSSIM to a facility such as MYAPC.

Site-specific DCGLs for MYAPC have not yet been made public. The key questions for the decommissioning process at MYAPC are: 1) how will the site-specific DCGLs compare to the DCGLs listed above, which are extracted from NUREG-1500 and 2) what credibility do DCGLs have in the context of a near total lack of routine environmental radiological surveillance data and poorly characterized "background" levels of anthropogenic radioactivity (weapons testing, Chernobyl, etc.)? MARSSIM allows NRC licensees to set DCGLs at whatever level is convenient for the decommissioning process at a specific facility. The defacto BRC guidelines contained within NUREG-1500 provide a clue to the regulatory guidelines of the future. If the definition of DCGL separates what is considered "contamination" from "noncontamination," then the DCGLs about to be determined for MYAPC will specifically denote the defacto BRC guidelines which will be used to define 'ready for unrestricted release' at this facility. For more comments on the MARSSIM see our review in RAD 6: Radiation Protection Guidelines.

This estimate of defacto BRC guidelines has been provided by the Center for Biological Monitoring. These defacto BRC guidelines are a component of an investigative report being done by CBM for a governmental entity other than the NRC. Persons wishing to obtain a full copy of this report, which will be available later in the spring of 1998, please contact CBM. See the letter to Shirley Jackson posted above which provides an introduction to the subject of this report.

March 1998:

March 5:

A meeting of the Citizen's Advisory Panel (CAP) was held at the Maine Yankee Information Center. Transcripts of these CAP meetings are now available on-line by linking to the Maine Yankee home page. The one recent development of interest was Pat Dostie's revelation that rubbish contaminated with low levels of radioactivity were disposed of in the Wiscasset landfill up until and during 1987. At this time MYAPC was utilizing a release standard of 1 nanocurie (10,000 pCi) per shipment. This compares with the old AEC rule 1.86, which allows decontamination and unrestricted release of contaminated materials with as much as 15,000 cpm/100cm2 surface contamination of 137Cs (1.5 million cpm/m2 = 25,000 Bq/m2). The surprising thing about Dostie's revelations was that anyone was surprised by the news that slightly contaminated materials from MYAPC ended up at the Wiscasset landfill. The siting of slightly contaminated materials at this landfill references a much more controversial subject: the annual release of +/- 1 Ci of fission products and hundreds of curies of tritium to Montsweag Bay since 1972. These releases are the subject of an upcoming report by CBM which will be issued after MYAPC releases the site characterization report in April. The secondary literature which documents the environmental impact of these releases in the early years of plant operation is now posted in this section of RADNET (see Brack, 1986 and Hess, 1997). The Center for Biological Monitoring had not included these citations in RADNET because they were incorporated in our 1986 publication A Review of Radiological Surveillance Reports of Waste Effluents in Marine Pathways at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company at Wiscasset, Maine -- 1970-1984: An Annotated Bibliography. Now that MYAPC is engaged in the decommissioning site characterization process, these reports are the basis of our allegations of both generic and site-specific deficiencies in the historical site assessment and radiological characterization of Montsweag Bay as an area impacted by MYAPC operations. The full report on this subject will be posted as soon as it is available. Maine media, in particular the Portland Press Herald, have given wide coverage to the slightly contaminated materials in the Wiscasset landfill. This is particularly interesting since the same publication has spent 25 years without reporting on the numerous controversies pertaining to the use of Montsweag Bay as a repository for low-level liquid radioactive wastes. The use of this bay as a waste site and the failure of the NRC to require comprehensive radiological surveillance of the environmental impact of MYAPC operations have the potential to delay the decommissioning process.

April 1998:

April 7:

A special meeting was held at the former MYAPC Information Center to present the results of the licensee's inquiry into the above allegations pertaining to slightly contaminated trash being sent to the Wiscasset landfill. The meeting was in three components: a 3:00 PM private meeting with local residents living near the dump and a two part evening meeting which first presented NRC, state and licensee testing of groundwater samples in and near the dump. The second part of the evening meeting consisted of presenting a Trash Sorting Allegation Investigation Report to the Community Advisory Panel. The testing results found no plant-derived radioactivity at the Wiscasset landfill, either in surface and well water or via walkover gamma scans and five in situ gamma spectroscopy readings. Ground water sampling, however, did document high levels of radon in several of the tested locations. For additional information on the issue of microcontamination of the trash cycle, see our review of the Trash Sorting Allegation Investigation Report in this section of RADNET.

April 10, 1998

David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists released a letter to the NRC pertaining to the April 23rd meeting in King of Prussia, PA, between Maine Yankee and the NRC. This meeting is closed to the public and consists of an NRC presentation of the findings of its office of investigation inquiry into the numerous allegations and violations which resulted from the whistleblower's letter of December of 1995. These allegations prompted an independent safety assessment team (ISAT) investigation which concluded that MYAPC was in general compliance with its licensing and design bases. The NRC Office of Investigation inquiry took over two years to complete and came to the opposite conclusions of the ISAT investigation, i.e. that MYAPC operated its plant "in careless disregard" of public safety. The Lochbaum letter summarizes a component of this very complex situation in a nutshell: "The plant closed six weeks later because it was outside its licensing and design bases. If the commission ever expects to have public confidence in the agency's oversight effectiveness, it must figure out what went wrong at Maine Yankee and make sure these mistakes are not repeated." The closed meeting on April 23 is symbolic of the tendency of the NRC and its licensees to operate as a nuclear energy and nuclear waste police state, withholding from the public essential information pertaining to both illegal activities and public safety issues. Both the Lochbaum letter and the OI report, insofar as we know its content, note the careless disregard of public safety issues but omit mention of the most egregious aspect of the power uprate scam: that, in operating the power reactor beyond its licensing and design basis, the licensee was executing the power uprate scam for the purpose of generating extra profits, a clear Title 18 violation. The OI report referred certain violations of federal law to the office of the U.S. Attorney in Portland. This office was unsuccessful in prosecuting these violations. The operation of MYAPC in "careless disregard" of the public safety was a result of its attempt to obtain tens of millions of dollars in extra profits in what is certainly the largest and most successful organized criminal activity in the history of the state of Maine. While the office the U.S. Attorney was unsuccessful in prosecuting this scam, the resulting NRC and public scrutiny eventually closed down the plant while also inadvertently opening the window on dysfunctional NRC oversight of its licensees. "If the Commission wants to understand why the public lacks confidence in the restart process for problem plants like Millstone, you should examine the sequence of events at Maine Yankee. It's a case study in how not to do things" (Lochbaum). The fact that the April 23, 1998, meeting presenting OI charges to the licensee is closed to the public symbolizes the dysfunctional and police-state-like characteristics of NRC oversight of its licensees in the twilight of the nuclear era. This NRC tendency to behave like a closed society (of licensee and licensor) stands in contrast to an otherwise open and responsive Nuclear Regulatory Commission with its helpful public document room staff and user-friendly Internet site.

May 1998:

The Center for Biological Monitoring discontinued posting this dated sequence of events and news updates pertaining to the decommissioning process. In January, 1999, we began a limited continuation of the dated sequence. CBM will continue to post relevant bibliographic citations as NRC and other documents arrive at our office or are brought to our attention. For a summary of the many unresolved issues pertaining to the decommissioning process at MYAPC, see our upcoming report Patterns of Noncompliance. Additional commentaries, reports and MYAPC-related publications by CBM will be posted as they are issued.

June 1998:

The Center for Biological Monitoring published a report to the Department of Justice, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Office of Legal Counsel: Patterns of Noncompliance: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and The Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company: Generic and Site-specific Deficiencies in Radiological Surveillance Programs. This report is a summary of the many controversies and unresolved issues which surround the dysfunctional decommissioning process at MYAPC and other NRC supervised facilities.

September 1998:

CBM has issued MYAPC Decommissioning Update: Unresolved Issues as a follow-up to our report Patterns of Noncompliance as well as for a presentation at the September 23, 1998 CAP meeting in Wiscasset, Maine.

Click here to jump to Part 5-E. Decommissioning Chronicle Continued: January - December 1999

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