|E. Decommissioning Chronicle Continued: January - December 1999|
Dysfunctional decommissioning grinds to a halt
(The main activity is now establishing an on-site high and medium-level radioactive waste site)
1998 decommissioning activities at MYAPC were highlighted by two developments. The first was the loss of the Texas Compact site as a possible location for MYAPC decommissioning-derived radioactive wastes, combined with the elimination of the Barnwell, South Carolina facility as a disposal site for the MYAPC reactor vessel with GTCC internals intact. The state of Texas has suddenly and unexpectedly eliminated the Sierra Blanca site as a location of a low-level waste disposal facility; legislation now being considered in South Carolina would also close the Barnwell facility. At some time during 1998 the state of South Carolina affirmed a 50,000 curie limit for disposal of MYAPC wastes at Barnwell. This information was provided by confidential sources within the bureaucracy of MYAPC to the editor of RADNET in the late fall of 1998. At no time did the state of South Carolina, the NRC or the state of Maine ever answer CBM's request for clarification of how the NRC's policy of concentration averaging for reactor vessel GTCC internals would impact the siting of the MYAPC reactor vessel at the Barnwell facility. It is still not clear how the state of South Carolina was able to over-rule the NRC and limit the radiological content of "low-level wastes" derived from the MYAPC decommissioning process to 50,000 curies, but the secrecy surrounding the issue of reactor vessel disposal with GTCC internals intact is consistent with the evasions and deceptions which have characterized so many aspects of the operation and decommissioning of nuclear power plants such as MYAPC. It is now even more likely that the GTCC reactor vessel internals as well as some of the class C internals will have to be kept on site at or adjacent to the new ISFSI facility that will be soon constructed at Wiscasset. The only remaining question is, will "decommissioning" leave 99%, 99.9% or 99.99% of MYAPC-derived radioactive wastes in a permanent defacto radioactive waste storage facility at Maine Yankee?
The second significant
development in 1998 in the MYAPC decommissioning process was the Orwellian
erasure of all news and public discussion of the March 30, 1984 nuclear
accident at MYAPC in which reactor water storage tank (RWST) leaked at
least 7,000 gallons of effluent into the environs of MYAPC. This accident
was clearly documented in secret radiological survey 2401 at the end of
volume 6 of the GTS Duratek Site
Characterization Report, page 54. This was only one of numerous
accidents documented by this report. The cover-up of and evasion
of responsibility for these nuclear accidents as well as of the financial
legacy left by the establishment of a defacto radioactive waste repository
at Wiscasset wouldn't be possible without the continuing corruption of
language which characterizes most media coverage of the MYAPC debacle.
These omissions, evasions, manipulations of data, news spins and news speak
are the basis of this Orwellian erasure from public consciousness of what
MYAPC was, what it did, what it represented, what it will be in the future
and the nature and costs of its radioactive legacy. As the decommissioning
process grinds to a halt because there is no place to put the radioactive
waste which MYAPC created, a number of observations may be made about the
MYAPC has contracted with Stone & Webster and will pay this participant in the traffic in nuclear waste 250 million dollars to facilitate the establishment of the Wiscasset nuclear waste facility. The use of the term "decommissioning operations contractor" continues the Orwellian tradition of manipulation of language to facilitate this profitable extension of MYAPC as a federally sponsored racketeering enterprise. MYAPC is not actually being decommissioned at all, it's just being converted into a radioactive waste storage facility. A Thursday, December 24, 1998, front page story in the Lincoln County Weekly about Maine Yankee increasing its annual collections from 14.9 million dollars to 33.6 million dollars to pay for "dismantling the plant and clean-up of the site" is an excellent example of this process of erasure at work. Not only is the primary activity of the "decommissioning" process the construction of a waste facility at MYAPC in the form of an ISFSI, it is unlikely that the extensive soil and sediment contamination in and around MYAPC will ever be fully remediated. Also the subject of evasive news reporting is the fact that the transfer of 130 million dollars collected via the mill rate fund for geological disposal of spent fuel to MYAPC for construction of the ISFSI (independent spent fuel storage installation) at Wiscasset ensures that this will be the final location for this fuel. Texas has been eliminated as a destination for Maine's decommissioning-derived radioactive waste; Barnwell may soon also be eliminated by the South Carolina state legislature as a viable waste location. Beatty, Nevada remains as a viable location for the voluminous class A wastes and it is likely that numerous other vendors will appear who would be able to accept low-level wastes for storage or disposal. The problem of NRC misclassification of class B, C and GTCC wastes as "low-level wastes" will now come home to roost at MYAPC, where permanent on site storage of these not low-level wastes will be the only cost effective solution to the impasse created by the nuclear waste debacle. The historic deficiencies in radiological surveillance procedures and documentation at MYAPC now manifest themselves in the form of the inability of the NRC to validate the new decommissioning site release criteria of 25 mrem/yr TEDE. Since no one, including Maine media, will admit there is a problem, its unlikely the problem will ever be addressed. An important component of the Orwellian erasure of the impact and costs of MYAPC operations is the continuing cover-up of hot particle contamination in Montsweag Bay, the Sheepscot River basin and plant environs by past plant operations, accidental and deliberate discharges and accidents such as RWST leak of 1984. Foremost among erased news topics by media such as the Lincoln County Weekly is the prospect of additional significant hot particle contamination of Montsweag Bay and the Sheepscot River basin if MYAPC decides to proceed with underwater segmentation of the reactor vessel internal components as part of the "decommissioning" process. Inevitable onsite safe storage of an intact reactor vessel is much safer and cost effective than pointless segmentation of reactor vessel internals that are not going anywhere. When MYAPC constructs the ISFSI for its 1,440 spent fuel assemblies, the result will be 65 dry casks that weigh 150 tons each. It is neither cost effective nor practical to move these unwieldy casks to a final geological repository or an MRS facility even if the political squabbles accompanying these installations could be resolved. At 150 tons each, the multi-purpose dry casks are too heavy to move by road; the only viable option for transport is via rail. There are presently no rail links to the proposed Yucca Mountain repository. Political rather than physical obstacles ensure that it is unlikely that the MYAPC multi-purpose canisters will ever be moved anywhere, even by rail. (Update: The license presentation on the ISFSI at the January 21, 1999, CAP meeting included a redesigned ISFSI with a capacity for 72 casks, reflecting the necessity of onsite storage of GTCC reactor vessel components as well as control assembly elements (CEA) and of the high-level waste debris from operational mishaps -- see box labeled Spent Fuel Verification Program below.) Insitu onsite storage, as allowed by the NRC site release criteria 25 mrem/yr TEDE, for the huge volumes of contaminated soil and Montsweag Bay sediments resulting from the numerous unreported nuclear accidents of the past at MYAPC will also be the likely cost effective alternative to transporting this contaminated material to a low-level waste repository such as that at Beatty, Nevada (class A low-level waste only). The environs of Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company constitute a near surface radioactive waste disposal site which by law (CFR Section 10 Part 61) require analysis and characterization of all the isotopes destined for disposal. MYAPC and the NRC continue to be in noncompliance with federal law vis-a-vis accurately characterizing the land and sediment disposal of radioactive wastes derived from MYAPC operations, deliberate discharges, decommissioning discharges and undocumented accidents. For an excellent example of a more comprehensive environmental monitoring report which includes analyses of all the isotopes characterizing nuclear power plant operations see Radioactivity in Food and the Environment, 1997, RIFE-3, published by MAFF and SEPA, London.
As the "decommissioning" of MYAPC grinds to a halt and evolves into the establishment of a permanent radioactive waste storage facility in Wiscasset, Maine, to be paid for by the working people of Maine instead of the MYAPC stockholders and other beneficiaries of the nuclear power scam such as MPBN, credit should be given to what is now the most important link in this process of evasion and cover-up: the CAP. The Citizens Advisory Panel was established by the NRC to represent the licensee and implement a smooth transition from reactor operation to license termination. From the licensee's point of view, the most essential ingredient in this process is to ensure that the profits derived from reactor operation remain intact and are not depleted by the obligations of the huge decommissioning and radioactive waste disposal costs that accompany license termination. Federal law assists the evasion of these costs and ensures their efficient transferal to ratepayer and taxpayers during the decommissioning process.
The two key players in the successful evasion of these huge waste disposal and decommissioning costs are the media and the Citizens Advisory Panel. MPBN, the Portland Press Herald and other smaller papers, best represented by the Lincoln County Weekly, encourage these evasions by their selective reporting of the news and issues pertaining to nuclear power plant operation and decommissioning. The tradition of Orwellian manipulation of language in behalf of the licensee, the NRC and vested interests within Maine, as represented by the state government, have continued unabated for almost three decades. This began with the failure to report the first of a series of nuclear accidents at MYAPC, the leaky fuel assemblies and their accompanying hot particle contamination of the Sheepscot River basin in 1973. The Citizens Advisory Panel, consisting, with one exception, of members who will not challenge the evasions of MYAPC and the NRC, is to be congratulated as being the most recent and most successful facilitator of the Orwellian erasures of documentation of the environmental and economic impact of creating a permanent high- and low-level radioactive waste storage facility at Wiscasset, Maine.
The CAP represents the ultimate bureaucratic, institutionalized manipulation of words and erasure of information - of documentation - of the database of the lucrative traffic in nuclear waste. Our only recourse to the erasures of those who provide support for the traffic in nuclear waste is the electronic reinscription of these erasures so that somewhere, at some future time, interested persons navigating cyberspace will at least know that the racketeering enterprise known locally as the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company was the location of a number of small nuclear accidents which were then the subject of small lies and small erasures by Maine media and the CAP. The significance of these small lies and small erasures lies in the larger pattern of weapons production-derived accidents and plumes (larger lies, larger erasures) which these evasions reference and which are the legacy of the nuclear arms race.
January 5, 1999:
The following notice of violation was issued by the Center for Biological Monitoring after reviewing RIFE-3 (Radioactivity in Food and the Environment, 1997, issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, UK and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.)
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001
January 5, 1999
Dear Shirley Jackson:
Enclosed is 1) a summary of generic NRC and NRC licensee violations of 10 CFR Chapter 1, Part 60, especially 61.53 - 61.55 and 2) a copy of RIFE-3, Radioactivity in Food and the Environment, 1997, published by MAFF and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the review of which occasioned this complaint. It is my observation that the NRC has neither the intellectual nor financial resources needed to upgrade current radiological surveillance programs to meet the challenges of the new millennium.
H. G. Brack
cc: NRC Commissioners
January 5, 1999
Subject: Generic NRC and NRC licensee (MYAPC) violations of 10 CFR Chapter 1, Part 60
10 CFR Chapter 1, Part 60 clearly mandates the systematic monitoring of all radionuclides contained in the wastes destined for near-surface land disposal (§61.53). Isotopes listed in Tables 1 and 2 (§61.55) include long-lived radionuclides "whose potential hazard will persist long after such precautions as institutional controls, improved waste form and deeper disposal have ceased to be effective." The Duratek Site Characterization Survey (1998) for the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) and a wide variety of historic licensee and other site assessments clearly document the environs of MYAPC as a radioactive waste disposal area. MYAPC and the NRC failed to execute accurate environmental monitoring during reactor operations and during decommissioning activities that included discharge of 290,000 of the 300,000 gallons of radioactive water in the reactor water storage tank (RWST) during the spring of 1998, among other discharges. These deficiencies have been exacerbated by the failure to evaluate, monitor or document the environmental impact of the 1984 accident also involving the RWST, and other inadvertent plant-derived liquid and hot particle discharges from 1972 - 1998. MYAPC has been, in effect, the location of a small nuclear accident-in-progress. As such, the environs of MYAPC, including Montsweag Bay and the Sheepscot River Basin, are clearly an unmonitored, undocumented radioactive waste disposal area. The NRC and MYAPC, the licensee, are in habitual and generic violation of the requirements of 10 CFR Chapter 1, Part 60 et. al., especially that of §61.53 mandating environmental monitoring of the "impacts of ... operation ... of a land disposal facility."
Enclosed is a copy of RIFE-3, the third annual survey of radioactivity of food in the environment, published by Ministry of Agricultural Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and the Scottish Environmental Agency (SEPA), a review of which by the Center for Biological Monitoring prompted this citation. The RIFE-3 report is sent to you as an example of a comprehensive radiological surveillance program which includes extensive analyses in a wide variety of media of long-lived radionuclides characterizing spent fuel and reactor operations. The monitoring in the RIFE-3 report includes analyses for hard to detect (HTD) isotopes such as those listed in Tables 1 and 2 of §61.55 and includes 3H, 14C, 35S, 60Co, 65Zn, 90Sr, 95Zr, 95Nb, 99Tc, 103Ru, 106Ru, 110mAg, 125Sb, 129I, 131I, 134Cs, 137Cs, 144Ce, 154Eu, 155Eu, 238Pu, 239+240Pu, 241Pu, 241Am, 242Cm, 243Cm, and 244Cm (See page 74 as a typical example.) The RIFE surveillance program clearly documents nuclear installation-derived plumes of many nuclides including 241Am, 155Eu, 238Pu, 241Pu, the surprising and widespread uptake of 99Tc by lobsters and the ubiquitous contamination of the environment by 137Cs.
No such unclassified comprehensive monitoring program has ever been undertaken by the NRC, the DOE or the EPA in the vicinity of any U.S. reactor or weapons production installations. The monitoring program in RIFE-3 provides a compelling and graphic contrast to the deficiencies in NRC surveillance programs discussed in Patterns of Noncompliance: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company: Generic and Site-Specific Deficiencies in Radiological Surveillance Programs issued by the Center for Biological Monitoring in June of 1998.
The deficiencies in NRC radiological surveillance programs are a component of a wider pattern of NRC licensee noncompliance and illegal activities (e.g. in Maine, the power uprate scam). The failure to implement comprehensive 10-61 type monitoring, as exemplified by the enclosed MAFF and Scottish Environmental Protection Agency reports, is consistent with the ongoing failure of timely funding of radioactive waste storage and disposal costs or of accurate documentation of nuclear accidents of the type that occurred at MYAPC in 1984.
Citizen Advisory Panels (CAPs), such as the one now convened for MYAPC decommissioning, serve as facilitators of these evasions, omissions and illegal activities. The current CAP at MYAPC serves as a buffer, ensuring that ratepayers pay the full cost of the "entitlements" derived from the traffic in nuclear waste. MYAPC stockholders, who should be responsible for these liabilities (including upgraded radiological monitoring) up to the full value of their equity in the participating companies, are, consequently, protected from any loss of profits. The fundamental purpose of federal oversight of the nuclear energy debacle is to perpetuate the omissions and evasions which maintain stockholder immunity from these liabilities. Insufficient radiological monitoring is the first essential step in this program of institutionalized evasions.
The failure of the NRC and its licensees to comply with 10 CFR Part 60 et. al. by monitoring environments used as defacto radioactive waste disposal areas provides the legal bases for halting all reactor operations and decommissioning activities until a comprehensive monitoring program, such as that illustrated by the enclosed MAFF-SEPA report, is implemented.
January 21, 1999:
"Spent Fuel Pool Verification Program"
March 5, 1999:
at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company
Spent fuel cladding failure
A nuclear accident in slow motion, 1973-???
There is growing evidence of the existence of a nuclear accident at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) in Wiscasset, Maine. The release phase of this accident, which has occurred in spurts over a long time frame (1973 to the present), will continue as the decommissioning process remobilizes fission and activation product contamination throughout the plant.
Item: MYAPC released information about the contents of the spent fuel pool at the last Community Advisory Panel (CAP) meeting (February 18, 1999) in Wiscasset. Of the 1,436 fuel assemblies, up to 298 are "nonstandard." This is a deceptive way of acknowledging that over 20% of MYAPC has undergone fuel cladding failure at some time in the past. Such failure releases substantial amounts of fission product into the primary cooling circulation water where it can spread to other areas of the plant.
The spent fuel pool also contains a variety of other equipment and items which may be further evidence of the nuclear accident that occurred at MYAPC. These include control element assemblies and plugs, incore instrument thimbles, filter cartridges, neutron sources and, of particular interest, 22 storage baskets, the contents of which have not yet been made public.
Item: On March 30, 1984, during a snowstorm, the reactor water storage tank (RWST) sprung a leak and released 7,000 gallons of radioactive water onto frozen ground. The Licensee Event Report (84-004-00) indicates the water went into a storm drain and was diluted in the Forebay with no detectable radioactivity released. The 1998 Duratek Site Characterization Report contradicts the NRC licensee event report by documenting significant soil contamination along the west side of MYAPC (Volume 6, Supplemental Survey 2501). In a 10,000 sq. ft. area, which was frozen at the time of the release, Duratek site characterization data confirms fuel-rod-derived residual 137Cs contamination of at least 3 million nanocuries. There is no other reactor source for this isotope. The maximum permissible concentration of 137Cs in water released in the environment is 1 nanocurie/liter (10 CFR Part 20 Appendix B). Seven thousand gallons of water = 26,600 liters; the MYAPC release limit for this quantity of contaminated water is therefore 26,600 nanocuries, far below residual contamination levels documented in the frozen soil in the 1984 accident. The contamination documented in Supplemental Survey 2501 is unlikely to be the only radiation released by this component of the accident. (Portions of these reports have now been scanned and can be seen at these links: LER 84-004-00 and Survey 2501.)
Item: The Duratek Site Characterization Report also documented high levels of radiocesium adjacent to and outside of the reactor containment and bioshield, with contamination as high as 156,000 pCi/kg 137Cs in grid 103. This is further evidence of systemic failure of fission product barriers at MYAPC. (Volume 6, Survey package R0100)
Item: The Duratek report documents substantial activation product contamination outside of plant systems and equipment, with samples as high as 33,600,000 pCi/kg of 60Co in a hot particle (CRUD) on Bailey Point. (Volume 6, Survey package R0500).
Item: Gamma spectroanalysis of smear samples (Duratek Site Characterization Report, Volume 3) document significant fission and activation product contamination throughout the pipes, drains, valves, steam generators and internal components of the plant outside of the containment and spent fuel pool. Very limited Duratek smear sample spectroanalysis (48 smears in 15 systems) of removal contamination indicates:
Item: Pre-free release analysis of water in the reactor water storage tank (RWST) was taken as a non-representative grab sample of quiescent water and provides no information about fission and activation product contamination in tank sludge, sediments and scaling. The NRC, the licensee and the state of Maine failed to provide CBM with the tank release data (including the neutron shield and other tank release data) when we requested it in the spring of 1998. No specific public notification was provided by the NRC, the licensee or the CAP to area fishermen that the free release of the RWST was underway.
Item: MYAPC did not release the last 10,000 gallons of water in the RWST during the time of this free release. Data on fission product contamination of the remaining contents of the RWST is not contained in any NRC or licensee documents and has not been made available despite requests made by the Center for Biological Monitoring.
Item: Significant fission product contamination remains within the reactor containment vessel. The Duratek Site Characterization Report contains a complete activation product analysis of reactor internals (+3,000,000 Ci) but no information whatsoever about fission and activation product hot particles, "fuel fleas," and other contaminants in the reactor containment. Underwater segmentation of the reactor vessel internals during the decommissioning process is a potential pathway for the release of spent-fuel-derived contamination within the reactor containment.
Item: The Duratek site characterization documents high radiation fields remaining in and around the containment (removal of the spent fuel has been completed), as well as around the base and floor adjacent to the RWST, and in many other locations. The question remains unanswered as to what extent these radiation fields derive from normally occurring shine from irradiated reactor internals versus radiation fields created by breach of the fission product barriers. Contamination derived from the reactor water storage tank produced ground shine along the west side fence line which the licensee has always attributed to shine from normal reactor operations.
Spent fuel failure at MYAPC is an accident-in-progress. The release of fission products in the 1984 RWST leak is one recently documented pulse of fission product contamination which has been followed by the undocumented free release of much of the remaining content of the RWST. Decommissioning decontamination activities for the purpose of constructing a high-level waste repository at Wiscasset will result in the remobilization of fission product contamination which has already escaped the fission product barriers (containment bioshield, spent fuel pool) at MYAPC.
The NRC, the licensee, the CAP, the state of Maine and Maine media have either lied or provided misinformation about the status of the MYAPC facility. The site is not clean as reported by MPBN, etc. None of the above have had the integrity to report that a nuclear accident has occurred at MYAPC in the form of spent fuel cladding failure and that this accident has spread radioactive contamination throughout the environs of the MYAPC facility. The fact that the release phase of this accident may resume with major decommissioning activities has been evaded. The cover up of this relatively small nuclear accident involves numerous violations of federal law and NRC regulations by NRC and MYAPC staff. Both the Maine State Nuclear Safety Advisor Uldis Vanags and Maine State Nuclear Safety Officer Pat Dostie participate in the avoidance of documentation of this breach of fission product barrier integrity at MYAPC. We have requested the assistance of the Office of the US Attorney for Maine in reviewing the situation and intervening to prevent further releases of fission and activation products and hot particle contamination during the decommissioning process until a careful review and recharacterization of plant facilities and the environs clarifies the extent of spent-fuel-derived contamination. It is important that the NRC provide an independent contractor, such as the GTS Duratek Co., to recharacterize spent-fuel-derived residual radioactivity and that the staff of MYAPC and the NRC have no further involvement with this process. Public safety considerations mandate that a thorough recharacterization be completed before any further decommissioning activities begin.
This situation is particularly unfortunate because there is evidence for a similar and perhaps more serious nuclear accident, also involving fuel cladding failure, at the Haddam Neck, Connecticut, reactor.
Note to Media in Maine and elsewhere:
In the spring of 1998, you reported, as indicated by the licensee, that the site was "clean" with no contamination other than that expected from "normal" operations. Would you please correct this misinformation and acknowledge that there has been a nuclear accident at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company, the release phase of which may not be over due to the remobilization of spent-fuel-derived contamination due to the decommissioning process?
Euphemisms wanted for the
Hide the Evidence Contest
(Do you 'get it' yet?)
March 7, 1999
Dear Helen, (etc.):
Thank you for conversing with me the other day. I thought I would send you an inquiry concerning the topic of our conversation. Would you like to continue participating in the contest described below?
The Hide the Evidence Contest
Debris from a Fuel Cladding Failure Accident (FCFA) is now stored in the spent fuel pool of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC). ( A FCFA is not at all similar to a LORCA, Loss of Reactor Coolant Accident.) Some of the radiocesium (CS-137, CS-134) and other isotopes from 200-300 damaged ("nonstandard") fuel assemblies have breached the fission product barrier (reactor containment, spent fuel pool) and spread throughout the facilities and environs of MYAPC. Extensive soil contamination has been documented outside the bioshield at the base of the reactor containment. A 1984 reactor water storage tank leak released +3,000,000 nanocuries of damaged fuel assembly-derived radiocesium into 10,000 square feet of frozen snow-covered soil. The 1984 MYAPC Licensee Event Report (LER GDW-85-50) indicated that the licensee found no detectable radiation in plant environs and overlooked the soil contamination. In 1998, a decommissioning activities release of 280,000 additional gallons of reactor water storage tank liquids remobilized an undetermined amount of accident-derived spent fuel isotopes. Ten thousand gallons of RWST sludge and water remained to be characterized and "decommissioned." Hot particle and activation product contamination documented by Hess, GTS Duratek , and others, may be correlated with accident debris in the MYAPC spent fuel pool. Smear sample spectroanalyses of removable contamination documents the migration of high levels of radiocesium from damaged fuel assemblies throughout Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company plant water systems. The reactor containment has been characterized by an activation product analysis, but not for accident-derived fission product debris and dross. All fuel cladding failure accident debris and damaged fuel assemblies now in the MYAPC spent fuel pool will be indefinitely stored on-site in the new Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI). N.B. ISFSI is pronounced IsFahSee; at the National Imagery Management Agency (NIMA), FCFA is pronounced "FicFah." The NRC doesn't use an acronym for fuel cladding failure accidents.
Accident reconstruction and characterization of the remaining residual radiation resulting from this accident prior to accident site decommissioning is not required by any NRC or state of Maine regulations. Any future accident characterization is purely voluntary on the part of MYAPC or its Decommissioning Operations Contractor (DOC), Stone and Webster.
The release phase of the MYAPC Fuel Cladding Failure Accident (FCFA) began in 1974 and will continue during the decommissioning process. The largest releases in the future may occur as a result of underwater segmentation of reactor vessel internal components. Hot particle contamination of Sheepscot River estuaries is not yet as pervasive as contamination from the Fuel Cladding Failure Accident (FCFA) in the vicinity of the Haddam Neck Connecticut Yankee Plant.
The public relations usefulness of euphemisms such as "licensee event" or "unusual occurrence" as substitutes for "accident" is wearing thin. Another new postmodern euphemism for "accident" is needed! If you would like to play "Hide the Evidence," please me send a suggestion for an alternative euphemism. First prize will be the MYAPC smear sample with the highest removable fission product contamination level. The record to date is 88,000 picocuries per gram of accident-derived CS-137 (48 samples). Second prize will be for the largest activation product hot particle found outside Radiation Contaminated Areas (RAC) of the MYAPC plant. The record so far is 33,600 pCi/g of Co-60 on Bailey's Point. The federal government likes to use grams instead of kilograms as reporting units, so that contamination levels don't seem so obvious.
Anyway, Helen, (etc.), there has been a nuclear accident at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company in Wiscasset, Maine - a Fuel Cladding Failure Accident (FCFA). Get used to it. Thank you for playing Hide the Evidence. Hope you had a good time.
Skip [Fax (207)288-2725]
p. s. Do you "get it" yet?
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Augusta, ME 04330
Dear Dave Barry:
The U.S. Attorney's office for Maine (Don Clark) suggested I contact your office with respect to my request to his office for assistance in investigating one or more violations of 10 CFR Part 20, Appendix B. My complaints involve gross failure by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to document the source term (amount of radioactivity released during a nuclear accident), pathways and residual radiation from a fuel cladding failure accident (FCFA) at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC). The accident began in 1973/74, and due to the spread of fission products beyond plant fission product barriers into the water systems and environs of MYAPC, additional undocumented releases of accident-derived fission products occurred during decommissioning activities in the spring of 1998, and will continue to occur during future decommissioning activities. At the last MYAPC Community Advisory Panel (CAP) meeting, the licensee released details of its "spent fuel pool verification program" and provided information that indicates between 200 and 290 fuel assemblies are "nonstandard," raising the issue of how many becquerels of radioactivity (and of which isotopes) have been released by the fuel cladding failures now coming to light. More details about this accident are contained in the accompanying pages. Please note the enclosed faxes were originally sent to news media this week but, nonetheless, contain much of the basic information that I would like to share with the FBI.
Upon the suggestion of the U.S. Attorney's office in Maine, I have a number of requests:
1. There is a Community Advisory Panel meeting tonight (Thursday, March 11, 6:00 PM) at the Maine Yankee Information Center. Even though it is late notice, I would like to request that someone from either the Bangor or the Augusta office please go to this meeting as an observer for the purposes of gathering background information about the NRC's failure to characterize both the size and duration of releases which have resulted from this (these) fuel cladding failure accident(s).
2. Please note the enclosure (Licensee Event Report 84-004-00) which alleges that a related event, 1984 leak in a reactor water storage tank containing abnormally high amounts of spent-fuel-derived radiocesium, does not represent a violation of technical specifications. Data provided by the licensee in the 1998 GTS Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan contradicts this report and indicates that a substantial amount of radioactivity was released by this event.
3. The 1984 reactor water storage leak would not be as significant a violation of 10 CFR Part 20, Appendix B regulations were it not for the fact that the cursory site characterization which GTS Duratek executed clearly documents that a nuclear accident has occurred at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company facility. The reactor water storage tank leak represents one among a series of undocumented releases of fission and activation products which have as their origin the fuel cladding failure accident (FCFA). Since decommissioning activities are about to begin, it is particularly important that the source term (amount) and pathways of fission products released from damaged spent fuel now in the spent fuel pool be documented prior to any further decommissioning activities.
4. The licensee has also recently disclosed that debris other than damaged spent fuel assemblies from this fuel cladding failure accident(s) is also located in the spent fuel pool in the form of 22 baskets, the contents of which are as yet unidentified. Control element assemblies and other items also in the spent fuel pool may have also played a role in this accident.
It is my contention that prior to any further decommissioning activities, the size and duration of this accident must be analyzed and characterized. Significant quantities of accident-derived fission products still remains within the reactor containment, the reactor water storage tank, the plant water systems (which are about to be removed as part of the decommissioning process) and the environs of MYAPC. Accident-derived contamination in all of these locations remains essentially uncharacterized. I would further contend that the failure of the NRC to document the size and extent of this nuclear accident is a gross violation of federal law and that a number of state of Maine employees may also be sailing close to the wind as accessories to the ongoing cover-up of this fuel cladding failure accident.
As the director of research for the Center for Biological Monitoring (we collect and collate federal and other data, we don't do any monitoring), I have been in frequent contact with the NRC and their many professional employees for almost 30 years. In making a controversial allegation that an accident other than normal operational "events" has occurred with respect to fuel cladding failure, I find the NRC in denial of the obvious. The NRC has reached the point of psychic numbness; it is unable to act in a timely manner to document the extent of the fuel cladding failure accident at MYAPC. Decommissioning activities which will remobilize accident-derived residual radiation are about to commence; the NRC, licensee and the state of Maine cannot be trusted to provide reliable data documenting what has occurred in the past not to mention what will occur in the future. Will your office please get involved to review the violations of federal law which have and are taking place with respect to the cover-up of the extent of accident-derived contamination at MYAPC.
H. G. Brack
A number of questions remain to be resolved before MYAPC decommissioning activities can proceed any further:
1. What amount of radioactivity (how many becquerels of which isotopes) was released from the damaged fuel assemblies?
2. How much of this radioactivity was released beyond plant fission product barriers (e.g. 1984 reactor water storage tank leak (RWST), 1998 RWST decommissioning activities free release, other tank releases, other inadvertent releases via normal liquid discharges etc.)?
3. How much accident-derived radioactivity remains within the reactor containment? What proportion of reactor containment residual radiation other than activated stainless steel components derives from normal plant operations and what proportion is derived from fuel cladding failure?
4. Is there any relationship between soil contamination documented at the base of the reactor containment outside the bioshield and the incidents of fuel cladding failure?
5. How many "bad batches" of fuel assemblies were noted, when were they noted and how many of the "nonstandard" ones now in the spent fuel pool are considered components of the "bad batches"? (How many fuel assemblies are in a "batch"?)
6. What amount of accident-derived fission products remain within the steam generators, other plant tanks and reactor water systems after the decontamination flush?
7. Where is the documentation for the amount of plant-derived radioactivity contained within the decontamination flush; what amount of radioactivity was filtered out of the flush prior to dilution and free release; how does this data compare with decontamination flushes at other reactors undergoing decommissioning?
8. How much accident-derived radioactivity remains in the reactor water storage tank (RWST), both in tank sludge, and within the 10,000 gallons of radioactive water still in the tank? Why was this amount of water withheld during the 1998 free release of the reactor water storage tank (RWST)?
9. What additional soil contamination exists in plant environs beyond that documented in GTS Duratek Supplemental Survey 2501?
10. Why was the soil contamination documented in Survey 2501 not mentioned in the Executive Summary of the GTS Duratek report? Why was the MYAPC site represented as "clean" during the presentations made by the licensee at the Community Advisory Panel meetings in 1998, and so reported by Maine media? Will Maine print and electronic media correct the misinformation previously reported?
11. How has accident-derived as well as normal-operation liquid emissions impacted the estuaries of the Sheepscot River including Montsweag Bay and Bailey Cove?
12. How much accident-derived radioactivity has been released into these marine environments after the cursory GTS characterization of contamination in Montsweag Bay. Why did the NRC and the licensee wait until after cursory sediment sampling to discharge plant-derived liquids from the reactor decontamination flush, the reactor water storage tank (RWST) and other tanks?
13. What's the source of contamination on Bailey Point and how does it correlate with the fuel cladding failure accident (FCFA)?
14. What is the source of the hot particle contamination documented by Hess and the radiological information reports (RIRs) generated by the licensee, most of which are not available for public scrutiny?
15. What accident debris (other than the "nonstandard" fuel assemblies) remain in the spent fuel pool and what is their correlation with the fuel cladding failures?
16. Why would the licensee and the NRC utilize unreliable drive over gamma scans of soil contamination for environmental characterization when these drive over scans obviously failed to pick up surface contamination (+/- 10,000 sq. ft., +3,000,000 nanocuries 137Cs) resulting from the 1984 reactor water storage tank leak (RWST)?
17. Who will implement an accurate characterization of the fuel cladding failure accident (FCFA) and will it be done prior to the resumption of additional decommissioning activities?
18. If the decommissioning operations contractor (DOC) Stone & Webster is responsible for this characterization, will the data be reliable? Available for public scrutiny? Subject to independent peer review from a nonbiased source other than the licensee or the NRC? In this context, doesn't the DOC become a victim of the NRC's failure to document the incidents of fuel cladding failure at MYAPC?
19. Why are state of Maine site characterization split-samples not available for public scrutiny?
20. Why did the NRC failure to provide routine data pertaining to liquid discharges from plant tanks and water systems during 1998 MYAPC decommissioning activities?
21. What steps does the decommissioning operations contractor (DOC) and the licensee intend to take during future plant decommissioning activities to document and then to limit additional releases of accident-derived fission and activation products and hot particles?
Comments on the source term issue
re: fuel cladding failure accidents (FCFA)
at Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC)
and Connecticut Yankee at Haddam Neck
Source term: "the quantity, chemical and physical form
and time history (release duration) of contaminates released to the environment
from a facility"
(Centers for Disease Control, 1999, Savannah River Site (SRS) dose reconstruction)
I'd like to share my concern that Friends of the Coast (FOC) and Citizens Awareness Network (see CAN's newsletter) have been thoroughly co-opted by Maine Yankee/Entergy/Stone & Webster (DOC - Decommissioning Operations Contractor). The "settlement," whatever that was, including a cash $12,500 payment and establishment of a 200 acre park of some type, was the occasion of a lengthy diversion at the March Community Advisory Panel (CAP) Meeting. Neither Ray Shadis (Friends of the Coast), nor anyone else questioned licensee assertions that fuel cladding failure accidents at MYAPC (20% failure rate) are part of "normal" operations and thus need no further documentation. Also, not subject to FOC/CAP questions was the soil contamination outside the bioshield running twenty times higher than peak values in Yankee Rowe discharge bay sediments, an area of expected contamination. The release phase of fuel cladding failure accidents at MYAPC is not yet over. The site characterization report provides clear evidence of breaching of the fission product barriers at MYAPC - evidence confirmed by the high fuel cladding failure rate. The source term of these failures must be documented prior to further decommissioning. Diversion of attention by CAP (the cover-up advisory panel) and the licensee (MYAPC - Entergy) to public relations fluff ("the settlement") and secondary issues (e.g. plant security, noisy fans, etc.) serves to let the NRC and MYAPC off the hook. Documentation to determine the size of the releases from fuel cladding failures, as well as their pathways and destinations, prior to further decommissioning activities is both a public safety and legal imperative. In the context of the silence of Friends of the Coast on these issues, maybe it should consider a name change to Friends of the Cover-up. How about CAN to CANT (can't focus on the necessity of source term documentation)? If MYAPC and Connecticut Yankee fuel cladding failures are "normal," then operational reactor releases to the environment may be much higher nationwide than indicated by misleading and unreliable licensee annual effluent reports.
H.G. (Skip) Brack, Center for Biological Monitoring
On March 8, 1999, Ray Shadis of Friends of the Coast sent me the following comments about last week's CBM mailings:
"If you have not had adequate levels of success with the 'rub their noses' in it approach thus far, perhaps a change of approach is needed ... I am suggesting a different kind of self-discipline and self-sacrifice, each setting aside as much as we can, our ego, may be in order if one is to best serve the cause of protecting our environment and future generations."
In response to Ray's comments, I'd like to make the following statements:
March 30, 1999
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001
Dear Chairperson Jackson:
The Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) has recently revealed that approximately 20% of the fuel assemblies now in the spent fuel pool are "nonstandard" and require special handling and dry cask packaging. This information further confirms growing evidence of periodic loss of radiological controls at MYAPC. Preliminary site characterization data gathered by GTS Duratek in 1998 constitute a predicator of this fuel cladding failure.
The NRC has no legal basis for proceeding with further decommissioning activities at MYAPC until source term analyses of the fuel cladding failure accidents which have occurred there are implemented and completed by some other more trustworthy entity than the NRC or the licensee. Perhaps the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) or GTS Duratek could execute the source term analyses mandated by 10 CFR Part 20. Nowhere in Part 20 are there any provisions that allow the NRC or its licensees to escape documentation of the fuel cladding failure that has been so graphically illustrated by the initial cursory site characterization of the MYAPC facility by GTS Duratek in 1998 and recently verified by the disclosure of the 20% fuel assembly damage rate.
Enclosed are copies of a Brief to the U.S. Attorney for Maine and a letter to the decommissioning operations contractor (DOC), Stone & Webster, summarizing the present position and intentions of the Center for Biological Monitoring.
How did the NRC end up in the untenable position of smugly asserting compliance with federal statutes when "under color of official right" it is in blatant noncompliance with these statutes?
H. G. Brack
Director of Investigations
Radiological Surveillance Programs
Center for Biological Monitoring
Stone & Webster Construction Co., Inc.
Manager of Nuclear Decommissioning
245 Summer St.
Boston, MA 02210
Dear Mr. Nauman:
I am completing a review of the GTS Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) facilities. A number of unexpected residual radiation anomalies are contained within the characterization report (eight volumes, Maine State Library.) The licensee has recently announced the existence of 250 to 290 "nonstandard" fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool which shed light on the anomalies in the characterization survey. This represents a revision of previous (oral not written) licensee assertions that leaking fuel assemblies were associated with only a single "bad batch" (37 assemblies) in the early years of plant operation. It is now clear that a series of fuel cladding failure accidents (FCFAs) have occurred at MYAPC and that this facility is, in essence, the location of a yet to be documented series of nuclear accidents. Some of the damage to fuel assemblies may be the result of grid to rod fretting towards the end of reactor operations and debris now in the spent fuel pool may point to other events in addition to fuel cladding failure. Fuel cladding failure, however, appears to be the primary source of residual radiation anomalies (fission products and hot particles) recently documented in reactor water systems and plant environs.
I would like to share the following observations with Stone & Webster:
1. Future decommissioning activities will likely extend the release duration of past fuel cladding failures.
2. Source term analyses (of isotope quantities, chemical and physical forms and release time) must be executed to determine the amount, pathways and destinations of fission products released during fuel cladding failures.
3. Much more extensive spectroanalyses of removable smear samples from plant equipment and water systems must be executed to document the pathways of fuel-derived fission products within the plant itself. The 48 removable smear samples analyzed in the Duratek report for gamma-beta contamination, while showing a high percentage of anomalies, constitute a grossly inadequate database for decommissioning any type of reactor.
4. The equally cursory characterization of "unaffected" plant areas and adjacent off-site environs also provides graphic evidence of breach of fission product barriers. A much more comprehensive program of spectroanalyses of soil and sediments as well as of selected bioaccumulators must be implemented as part of the fuel cladding failure (FCF) source term analyses. The pathways and destinations of fuel assembly-derived contamination that has breached reactor fission product barriers at MYAPC must be documented prior to any further decommissioning activities.
5. It is now clear that previous NRC licensee-generated event reports, annual effluent reports, reactor water systems and storage tank grab samples and other monitoring data are unreliable and cannot be used for source term analyses. In fact, the licensee should and must be prohibited from supervising or controlling the documentation of these fuel cladding failures, etc. Stone & Webster shares MYAPC's conflict of interest between profits and documentation. Fuel cladding failure source term analyses must be executed by an entity without such conflicts of interest.
6. Resumption of decommissioning activities by Stone & Webster prior to accident characterization should result in the most vigorous possible prosecution of participants allowed by law, possibly including pursuit of Title 18 civil or criminal complaints (section §1964, etc.) (See correction in April 2 letter.)
I look forward to working with Stone & Webster to accurately document the source term for MYAPC fuel cladding failure accidents (FCFAs). I have the following questions and requests:
· Please advise me who you think at Stone & Webster would
be most effective in maintaining an open dialogue about this admittedly
· To whom should I address my questions about the progress of accident characterization efforts and the resulting database?
· Would any representatives from Stone & Webster come to join me for a meeting (or dinner) to review decommissioning procedures and data?
· Who at Stone & Webster, if anyone, is in charge of the fuel assembly verification program announced by MYAPC at a prior Community Advisory Panel meeting?
I would be interested in having one or more face to face meetings with Stone & Webster to discuss these issues, either in Boston, Portland or elsewhere. Please advise me of the status of source term analyses of loss of radiological controls at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company.
Thank you for your attention in this matter.
H. G. Brack
Director of Investigations
Radiological Surveillance Programs
Center for Biological Monitoring
cc. Dave Barry, Don Clark, Community Advisory Panel members, Scott Gray, Shirley Jackson, Mary Ann Lynch, Michael Masnik, NRC Commissioners, Michael Webb, John Zwolinski
Undocumented fuel cladding failures
at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Plant (MYAPC)
· 10 CFR Chapter 1, Part 10.4 directs the NRC to "conduct its
operations in a manner consistent with traditional American concepts of
· 10 CFR Chapter 20, Part 20.103 mandates measurement of radiation levels and concentrations.
· 10 CFR 20.1302 requires surveys of radiation levels in unrestricted areas.
· 10 CFR 20.1402 sets site release criteria for residual radiation at 25 mrem/yr TEDE for members of the general public for all isotopes in all pathways.
· 10 CFR 20.1406 mandates minimization of contamination; 10 CFR 20.1501, surveys that are reasonable under the circumstances; 10 CFR 20.2103, record keeping; 10 CFR 20.2202, notification of incidents; 10 CFR 20.2207 reporting contamination exceeding regulatory limits.
At the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company in Wiscasset, Maine, the NRC has clearly and consistently violated the letter and spirit of the Code of Federal Regulations through
1. Inadequate documentation of the environmental impact of plant operations including a general failure of historic documentation of the residual radiation levels and pathways of isotopes characterizing long-lived spent fuel wastes (LLSFW)
2. Failure to mandate a decommissioning activities environmental impact statement (EIS)
3. Premature acceptance of an inadequate and vague Preliminary Site Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR)
4. Tolerance of a cursory post-operational site characterization database (GTS Duratek)
5. Failing to adequately document the radiological profile of reactor water systems decontamination releases or to allow public discussion or review of this documentation
6. Failing to document the environmental impact of reactor water systems decontamination releases by allowing licensee scheduling of cursory marine sediment characterization prior to liquid effluent releases
7. Ignoring additional emerging evidence of loss of radiological controls and breaches of fission product barriers which graphically illustrate the necessity of additional site characterization prior to major decommissioning activities
8. Failure to adequately document the quantities, pathways and destinations of liquid effluent releases, including the 1984 reactor water storage tank (RWST) accident
9. a stubborn inability to recognize the necessity of upgrading obsolete radiological surveillance programs
10. Systematic avoidance of spectroanalyses of biologically significant radionuclides in abiotic and biotic media other than through cursory and misleading annual environmental monitoring reports
11. An over-reliance on inaccurate and inadequate "drive-over" gamma scanning technology for pre-decommissioning characterization in lieu of more costly spectroanalyses
12. Tolerance of a lack of public hearings, discussion, debate and documentation both during reactor operation and decommissioning in violation of "traditional American concepts of justice"
13. Encouragement of a licensee controlled Community Advisory Panel (CAP) that is both a conduit of misinformation and a forum for evasion, deception and obstruction of justice.
14. A refusal to acknowledge that the MYAPC facility has been the location of a series of fuel cladding failure accidents (FCFAs), 1974-1998
15. A concomitant refusal to recognize the statutory obligation of detailed post-accident source term analyses to determine the quantities, chemical and physical forms and release durations of contamination derived from the "nonstandard" fuel at MYAPC
16. Failure to conduct operations in a manner consistent with traditional American concepts of justice by the maintenance of secret records and databases, beginning with routine radiological incident reports (RIR) and extending to nuclear accidents not yet disclosed to the public, the MYAPC fuel cladding failure cover-up being indicative of a much broader pattern of NRC evasions and self-deception
In view of the anomalies in residual radiation levels at MYAPC plant systems and environs and a 20% fuel assembly damage rate, the NRC is not conducting itself in a manner that is "reasonable under the circumstances" or consistent with the statutory requirements in the Code of Federal Regulations
Nowhere in the Code of Federal Regulations does it suggest the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should join with the licensees to conduct for-profit reactor operations in the manner of a Banana Republic. The NRC has demonstrated an exceptional inability to revise and upgrade its documentation of the environmental impact of reactor operations, accidents and decommissioning procedures not only to meet the statutory requirements of federal law but also to meet the challenges of radiological surveillance programs in the post-Chernobyl era. The NRC has formed a closed society with its licensees and, in Maine, with state government and associated political supporters. There has been no advance or reform in monitoring programs since the AEC was established in 1954. With the promulgation of site release criteria of 25 mrem/yr TEDE for members of the general public, the NRC has shot itself once in each foot and then again in the head for good measure: it lacks the database to validate the site release criteria.
There is now clear evidence of fuel cladding failure accidents at MYAPC and other New England reactors, coupled with an NRC failure to document the source term of these releases. In effect, the NRC is facilitating a for-profit cover-up of instances of loss of radiological controls which are required by federal law to be documented. Without this documentation, the NRC has no legal authority to allow decommissioning activities at MYAPC to proceed. In fact, the inability of the NRC to observe or question the historic inadequacies in its radiological surveillance programs and the resultant lack of documentation of both routine emissions and accidental releases undermines the legal basis for any reactor operations in the United States. If the NRC is unable to understand and enforce both the letter and spirit of 10 CFR Chapter 1, Part 10.4 or the monitoring and documentation requirements in 10 CFR Chapter 20, who will assume its oversight responsibilities? Will the Department of Justice also serve as a facilitator of NRC noncompliance with federal law?
H. G. Brack
Director of Investigations
Radiological Surveillance Programs
Center for Biological Monitoring
Manager of Nuclear Decommissioning
Stone & Webster Co., Inc.
Boston, MA 02210
Dear Mr. Nauman:
I just wanted to correct a typographical error in my letter to you in section 6. The sections of the U.S. Code which catch my attention are first and foremost 1961 and forward and also 371. I also wonder if sections 101, 102 and 103, as well as 1505 could be applied to certain past activities of the licensee (MYAPC). While I was away last week, I was also re-reading the Code of Federal Regulations and find 10 CFR Part 9 on public records and 10 CFR Part 13 on fraudulent claims and statements, as well as Part 21 on reporting defects and noncompliance to be relevant to the activities of the licensee. I am realistic enough to realize that its very unlikely the Department of Justice would bring any charges against such well established and entrenched activities. The failure to document the environmental impact of activities, which start at the beginning of the Cold War, is so ingrained, as to appear as normal behavior. It will certainly be interesting to see what data Stone & Webster will provide to the public documenting the source term of fuel cladding failure, whatever its cause, at MYAPC.
H. G. Brack
cc. Don Clark
Date: Thu, 01 Apr 1999 08:02:11 -0500
From: Raymond Shadis <shadis@....>
Subject: Re:Undocumented fuel cladding failures
Cc: "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I have a complete inventory of the contents of the MYAPS SFP. 20% is more
or less irrelevant, but they do have a lot of damaged fuel, some of which
was damaged during a pin-packing experiment in 1982-83-84. There is a lot
of stuff in baskets and special containers, including one fuel pin in a
concrete pipe. There are filters left from a SFP clean-up and fuel rubble
from the SFP bottom. All of this is documented in CONFIDENTIAL material
provided in our FERC discovery. I would break confidentiality rules and
give this to Skip, but he's acting like such an asshole, I can't trust that
he wouldn't betray MY confidence. It might be suggested to him that he (1)
Ask MYAPC for an inventory list of the SFP., or (2) Come seee me, sign a
confidentiality agreement w/MYAPC AND have a copy for himself subject to
our agreement which says these materials must be returned or destroyed
within 120 days of Jan.15, 1999.
On another matter...
The failure of Ray Shadis (Friends of the Coast) to challenge numerous instances of licensee misinformation and deceptions presented at monthly Community Advisory Panel (CAP) meetings, as well as Ray's comments in the above email, raise a number of important issues. The fact that I have many questions and some criticisms of Ray's role in the CAP meetings should in no way detract from the value and the importance of the years of hard work by Ray and Friends of the Coast in shutting down MYAPC.
It is the position of the Center for Biological Monitoring that:
April 9, 1999, the Center for Biological Monitoring sent the following letter to five newspapers in the Wiscasset area:
At the last Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) Community Advisory Panel (CAP) meeting, I made the observation that the elevated levels of soil contamination outside the reactor containment bioshield (up to 156,000 pCi/kg [picocuries per kilogram] of 137Cs [cesium]) documented by GTS Duratek was highly unusual, may have originated from fuel cladding failure and was indicative of a loss of radiological controls. I also pointed out that the elevated soil contamination levels at MYAPC were 20 times higher than the peak values of contamination in discharge bay sediments at the Yankee Rowe (CT) reactor, where contamination is to be expected. Uldis Vanags, State Nuclear Safety Advisor and Mike Miesner, MYAPC President, indicated that these levels of soil contamination were a normal part of any reactor's operations. They also made the same assertion with respect to the soil contamination along the west side fence line, where peak values exceed 50,000 pCi/kg of 137Cs and contamination extends over an area in excess of 10,000 square feet. Can Uldis Vanags or Mr. Miesner back up their assertion of "normal" operations by citing even one U.S. reactor at which similar levels of soil contamination have been documented? If these levels are a result of "normal" reactor operations, then we have many more problems at reactors which are continuing to operate than has ever been acknowledged by the nuclear industry.
H. G. Brack
184 State Street
State House Station 38
Augusta, ME 04333
Dear Uldis Vanags:
With respect to the enclosed letter to the editor, can you back up your assertion that the elevated levels of 137Cs in the soil outside the reactor containment bioshield is "normal?" Can you cite any specific NRC, NRC licensee or licensee contractor spectroanalyses of any soil samples exceeding the 156,000 pCi/kg peak value noted in the GTS Duratek survey? The same applies to the +/-10,000 ft2 of soil contamination along the west side fence line and the hot particle found on Bailey Point. I certainly would be interested in reviewing any publications or surveillance reports that would lead you to feel that these levels of contamination were "normal."
H. G. Brack
cc. Don Clark
The NRC has sent us a number of inadequate responses to questions we had about documentation on the Maine Yankee site. Below is a copy of the Center for Biological Monitoring's reply.
Quality Assurance, Vendor Inspection, Maintenance and Allegations Branch
Division of Inspection Program Management
Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001
Dear Chief Quay:
I have been dissatisfied with various formulaic replies I have received from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in response to my observations about the debacle at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC). I'd like to summarize what I have been writing about.
· Gross inadequacies exist at MYAPC and other NRC licensed reactors in the record keeping of radioactive waste inventories, projections and characterizations.
· These inadequacies include long-standing deficiencies in radiological surveillance procedures, historical site assessment and pathway analyses.
· Annual licensee environmental reports are too cursory to provide a sufficient database for residual radiation criterion evaluation or to overcome the above deficiencies.
· Inventories and characterization of current MYAPC reactor vessel dross, CRUD, hot particles and fission and activation product residues are not available for public evaluation and may not be known to the NRC or licensee decommissioning operations contractors (DOCs).
· Excessive and illegal secrecy surrounds information and data ranging from routine radiological incidents to the sources of debris in the MYAPC spent fuel pool.
· The NRC's reluctance and inability to document the source term of fuel cladding failure at MYAPC -- including quantities, pathways and destinations of fission products released by these incidents is the most glaring example of the NRC's failure to document the ultimate impact of licensee activities.
· Knowledge of current onsite and offsite fission and activation product inventories and pathways, including marine ecosystem inventories, is minimal and insufficient for residual radiation criterion evaluation.
· The failure to maintain adequate record keeping of radioactive waste inventories, pathways and destinations is one component of a more pervasive generic pattern of violations of 10 CFR Part 1 Section 10.4 and is manifested in a lack of public hearings, environmental impact statements and restricted public oversight of decommissioning expenditures and procedures.
· As a result, expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars (+/- $500,000,000) in public funds proceeds merrily along under the guise of secrecy, proprietary information and an "authorized" licensee controlled Community Advisory Panel (CAP) whose members sign confidentiality agreements to withhold information which should be in the public domain.
· The Community Advisory Panel serves to thwart public access to review or oversight of radioactive waste inventories, characteristics, pathways, destinations or decommissioning costs and procedures. The role the CAP plays at MYAPC is particularly reprehensible because the decommissioning operation contractor, Stone & Webster, is not really decommissioning a nuclear reactor but further assisting in the construction of a poorly characterized radioactive waste storage facility. The CAP assists the NRC and MYAPC in evading the documentation of the legacy of MYAPC.
Formulaic NRC responses to the above observations are no substitute for accountability, accurate record keeping or public participation in the documentation of the legacy of radioactive wastes left at Wiscasset, Maine, by NRC licensee activities. Repeated assertions by the NRC that all federal regulations are being followed at the Wiscasset facility by the NRC and MYAPC cannot alter the statutory requirement that accurate record keeping be kept of the inventories, pathways and destinations of MYAPC-derived radioactive waste. Neither the public nor the NRC know the current location of wastes released by fuel cladding failure and other "incidents" or "events" at MYAPC. It is the NRC, mired in a culture of complacency and self-deception, that is unable to observe or acknowledge its own noncompliance with existing federal statutes.
H. G. Brack
cc. Shirley Jackson
Today, CBM received the following email:
To: Skip Brack <email@example.com>
From: Raymond Shadis
Subject: Re: fuel cladding - NRC response to MYAPC issues
I asked Mary Ann to release a copy of the spent fuel pool inventory (w/caveats) I'm sending a copy of it to you. There is a lot of nasty and interesting trash in the pool. I believe some of it leads to criticality questions under some accident considerations. About the CAP. You are absolutely correct, the CAP is a essentially a public relations group. It's in the group's charter which I'm sure you have read. It is not an oversite group. Never was. That has to be made clear to everyone as it is NRC's
intention to substitute informal bodies and proceedings for adjudicatory processes and tests of truth. Except for those people (3) who reviewed some decommissioning contract bids in advance, there are no confidentiality agreements with CAP members. As a litigant, Friends of the Coast, is bound by certain confidentiality rules regarding discovery materials, as ordered
by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission judge. One item I'd like to tell you about. It is an old memo from a DC consulting firm to MYAPC which, in one section, chortles about the divisions, jealousies, territoriality, and competition among national environmental groups dealing with nuclear power questions. I think this is a parable for our local and New England-wide situation. Now, I personally, thrive on criticism, but I think you ought to find out what Friends of the Coast has on the agenda before you jump on us in public. I would be glad to meet with you or take a phone call most anytime. I truly appreciate your ongoing interest in the MYAPS decommissioning, and your work and generousity over the years. PLease
don't become discouraged ( or cranky with your allies) when it seems people aren't listening. It is, I'm afraid, the meat and potatoes of advocacy.Please, for the sake of fairness, circulate this response to whomever was served the letter below. Thanks for being there, Skip....................................................................................Ray
Today, CBM has posted a citation for the Maine Yankee Inspection Report 98-03 in RAD12: Maine Yankee: Section 2: Public Safety Issues. Note there is documentation of an onsite area of contamination from a 1988 leak. It is particularly interesting that the licensee has represented that the site is clean when in fact here is an area of residual radiation yet to be remediated.
April 26, 1999:
Today, CBM has posted a citation for the Proceedings of U.S. NRC Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards Meeting on Reactor Fuels, Onsite Fuel Storage, and Decommissioning, Friday, April 24, 1998, in RAD11 Section 4: Nuclear Power Plants: Spent Fuel Cladding Failure. Included in the annotations is a list of observations which pertain to the current situation at MYAPC.
The Center for Biological Monitoring issued the following press release pertaining to the recent disclosure of the presence of 66 failed fuel assemblies in the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company spent fuel pool. The letters reprinted below discuss some of the issues involved in this discovery and were mailed to the recipients prior to this electronic posting. As nuclear accidents go, the several episodes of fuel cladding failure, which the spent fuel pool inventory documents, may have little health physics impact. The significance of these failures lies instead with the inability of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to understand and document these breaches of a fission product barrier (the fuel cladding) at the times that they occurred. Even at the time of the compilation of the MYAPC spent fuel pool inventory (1998), it is clear from the documents released by the Community Advisory Panel that neither the NRC nor the licensee have any real understanding of the amount of radioactivity released into the reactor containment through loss of fuel assembly contents. Even more significant is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's reluctance to admit that fuel cladding failure is a form of a nuclear accident and the most significant probable risk (as in "probabilistic risk assessment") accompanying the day to day operations of a nuclear reactor. LORCAs, reactor vessel embrittlement accidents, main line steam breaks and other forms of theoretical accidents may be more serious in their health consequences, but they are also more unlikely than the more ubiquitous fuel cladding failure accidents that can now be documented to have occurred at New England reactors in the last several decades. The NRC itself has made a compelling argument for the prevalence of fuel cladding failure accidents (always called "leakage" by the NRC) in response to the Union of Concerned Scientist's 1998 petitions about fuel failure discussed in the letters and documents below. The fuel cladding failures at MYAPC, Seabrook, Perry and River Bend are just little accidents, but the lies which accompany these losses of radiological controls hide the fact that there is a lot of similar fuel cladding failures that have happened, are happening or will happen at reactors outside of New England. In the case of the Connecticut Yankee reactor at Haddam Neck, the cumulative losses from fuel cladding failures probably constitute the largest nuclear accident to happen in the United States since Three Mile Island. We may conclude that the fuel cladding failure is normal but it is only normal in the sense that when you drive on an icy road you are likely to skid and have an accident. It may not be a fatal accident, but it is still an accident. In the case of the NRC, we need more truthful documentation about what happens to the long-lived spent fuel wastes once fuel cladding failure allows the spread of fuel pellets throughout the reactor containment. The failure to document these small accidents, which in their cumulative impact as at Connecticut Yankee, can amount to more than just a small accident, is part of a larger NRC failure to document the environmental impact of reactor operations, decommissioning and "unusual events" under its federal jurisdiction.
Re: Fuel cladding failure accidents at the Maine
Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) in Wiscasset, Maine
(Also at Connecticut Yankee in Haddam Neck, CT and the Seabrook plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire)
Ray Shadis (Friends of the Coast), MYAPC staff and the Community Advisory Panel (CAP) should be commended for releasing for public review the MYAPC inventory of "spent fuel and other radioactive materials stored in the Maine Yankee spent fuel pool" MYPS 101, April 16, 1998, rev. 0. This material has been up to now "confidential."
This inventory contains the following information: Out of 1,434 spent fuel assemblies now contained in the spent fuel pool, at least 15% are nonstandard and include the following:
· 66 fuel assemblies with "confirmed failure"
· 10 are consolidated or otherwise damaged
· 50 exhibit "physical damage"
· 18 have fuel rods replaced
· 80 have hollow rods (the present location of the spent fuel originally in these rods is not indicated in this inventory)
· 1 fuel rod is cemented into a pipe
· 1 fuel rod is stuck in a conduit
· 1 fuel rod was removed during a "1992 disposal campaign"
· in addition to this inventory of fuel assemblies in the spent fuel pool, this report indicates five filters "determined to be unsuitable for shipment due to dose rates" are in the spent fuel pool and contain loose fuel pellets derived from vacuuming up the debris released during the failure of the 66 fuel assemblies
· numerous other filters are within the fuel pool and also contain fuel pellets but as of 1998 the number of these is not known
· 61 additional filters are contained in trash baskets in the spent fuel pool which also contain solid wastes from thermal shield positioning pin repairs; these filters may also contain spent fuel pellets derived from the fuel cladding failure accidents at MYAPC
Minor grid-to-rod fretting fuel assembly damage and pinhole leaks are a normal component of reactor operations, as the NRC has made clear to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in response to its petitions submitted to the NRC on September 25, 1998 and November 9, 1998, re: failed fuel assemblies at the River Bend, LA and Perry, OH, reactors. The NRC response to the UCS petitions is dated April 18, 1999, and should be reviewed by all persons concerned with fuel failure. The NRC is emphatic in insisting that fuel "leakage" is a normal part of reactor operations, but the NRC response to the UCS is also a model of equivocation and sophistry in that it does not differentiate between "leakage," a word repeated dozens of times in the NRC response, and "failure," the concern of the UCS petition.
In the case of MYAPC, 66 failed fuel assemblies with spilled spent fuel pellets throughout the containment; this is a radically different issue than the 50 leaky damaged fuel assemblies, where no fuel pellets may have escaped and where emissions are limited to noble gasses, tritium and 131I. Each fuel assembly contains an excess of 100,000 curies (Ci) of long-lived spent fuel waste. If 10% of this radioactivity was released during fuel cladding failure accidents, 660,000 Ci of spent fuel waste would have the following potential destinations:
· vacuuming and water system filters now in the spent fuel pool
as noted above
· filters and resin beads shipped to Barnwell, SC as class B low-level waste
· spent fuel-derived pellets still lodged in inaccessible areas of the containment
· fuel pellets and pellet-derived fission products released outside of the reactor containment pressure boundary, but still within reactor water systems (piping, reactor water storage tank, other water system tanks, etc. as indicated by elevated fission product activity in the cursory GTS Duratek site characterization smear sample spectroanalyses)
· fuel cladding failure-derived radioactivity released through stack emissions (e.g. tritium, cesium iodide? etc.) and in water systems leaks 1984, 1988, etc.
· free released radioactivity during normal plant discharges to Montsweag Bay, during decommissioning reactor containment decontamination and water systems tank discharges
The actual amount of radioactivity released during fuel cladding failure accidents at MYAPC is unknown. The NRC has demonstrated gross negligence in the documentation of the source term (quantities of accident-derived effluents) of fuel cladding failures at MYAPC including all of the above potential destinations in the rush to minimize MYAPC owner and stockholder liability for the costs of the radioactive legacy of the MYAPC reactor. The NRC and the licensee have skipped the historical site assessment phase of reactor decommissioning in the hope that no one will request documentation of the accidents of the past. The release of this proprietary information by MYAPC and the Community Advisory Panel is a giant step in confronting and documenting fuel cladding failure accidents at all US nuclear reactors.
SPENT FUEL AND OTHER RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL
STORED IN THE
MAINE YANKEE SPENT FUEL POOL
4.0 Table A.2 contains a list of fuel with known failures. With the exception of assembly R033, the nature of the failures are considered to be gross cladding defects. Other fuel assemblies may also have failed fuel rods.
5.0 Table A.3 contains a list of those fuel assemblies including consolidated assemblies, that have vacancies in their arrays. This table also includes information on the consolidated assemblies.
6.0 Table A.4 contains a list of assemblies with known damage or physical alterations. None of the conditions is considered to be limiting for dry storage but may require additional review.
7.0 Table A.5 contains a list of assemblies that have been repaired. The original failed fuel pins were replaced with either fuel rods or dummy rods prior to continued exposure. Batch U assemblies did not receive additional exposure.
8.0 Table A.6 contains a list of assemblies that were modified to replace the original poison pins with hollow, floodable zirc rods. These assemblies received additional exposure after modification.
9.0 Maine Yankee has two failed rod containers. One is an designed container having roughly the same dimensions as a fuel assembly. The second is a fuel assembly cage used to store failed rods during early repair campaigns.
10.0 Several fuel assemblies have defective fuel rods stored in their guide tubes.
OTHER RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL
All or part of this material may be classified as greater than Class C radioactive waste.
1.0 Table A.7 contains information on the tri-nuke filters stored in the spent fuel pool. Not all of the filters believed to be stored in the pool have been enumerated.
2.0 Table A.8 contains information on solid material waste that is stored in the spent fuel pool.
SPENT FUEL AND OTHER RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL
STORED IN THE
MAINE YANKEE SPENT FUEL POOL
3.0 Table A.9 and Figure A.2 provide information on 168 Control Element Assemblies (CEA) stored in the spent fuel pool.
4.0 Figure A.3 provides information on 8 CEA plugs stored in the spent fuel pool.
5.0 Figure A.4 provides information On 5 neutron sources (3 Pu-Be, 2 Sb-Be) stored in the spent fuel pool.
6.0 Table A.10 and Figure A.5 provide information on the 138 incore instrument thimbles stored in the spent fuel pool.
7.0 Table A.11 and Figure A.6 provide information on in-core instruments stored in the spent fuel pool.
8.0 Figure A.7 provides information on surveillance capsules stored in the spent fuel pool. Maine Yankee reserves the right to redirect some or all of the surveillance capsules as required to support decommissioning
9.0 Table A.12 provides the inventory of the trash baskets stored in the spent fuel pool.
10.0 Table A.13 provides information on nonfuel special nuclear material stored in the spent fuel pool.
11.0 Table A.14 provides information on each fuel cycle (core history).
FILTER WASTE STORED IN SFP
The following filters were utilized with a TriNuke vacuum system at Maine Yankee. The filters were determined to be unsuitable for shipment due to dose rates during a disposal campaign in late 1992. Each filter is housed in a stainless mesh container. Efforts may be possible to consolidate the contents or repackage the filters for storage.
Number Reading Waste Stream and Comments
2000R SFP floor clean up; may contain
loose fuel pellets
2 100R SFP floor clean up; may cantain loose fuel pellets
3 1000R SFP floor clean up: may contain loose fuel pellets
4 200R SFP floor clean up: may contain loose fuel pellets
5 200R Machining debris from thermal shield repair
6 25R SEP floor clean up: may contain loose fuel pellets
Four (4) specially designed filters were used to capture debris from Electro Discharge Machining (EDM) during repair of the thermal shield postioning pins. Dose rates on these filters were unavailable at the release of this document. These filters were designed to be stored in the SFP storage racks. Other filters containing radioactive material may also exist in the spent fuel pool.
INVENTORY OF TRASH BASKETS IN MAINE YANKEE SPENT FUEL POOL
TRI-NUKE FILTERS, STORED IN SPENT FUEL POOL
Trash can in SFP Source of Filters
BT2 5 filters on November1995 or cutup ICI's
BT4 5 filters from vacuuming upender pit and thermal shield repair Cycle 14 refueling 
BT9 5 filters on November1995 or cutup ICl's (One cover bolt is stripped)
BT10 5 filters on November1995
BT13 5 filters on November1995
BT14 5 filters on November1995
BT15 5 filters on November1995
BT17 4 filters cycle 16 cavity purification and vacuuming on top of fuel (6/11/97)
BT19 5 filters on November1995
BT20 4 filters on November1995
BT21 4 filters
on November1995, and debris bucket with 60 R/hr piece of metal
BT23 4 filters (1 from vacuuming, others from cavity upender pit vacuuming)
BT25 5 filters on November1995
Dear Governor Hodges:
I am enclosing a press release we have issued today containing information about two or more fuel cladding failure accidents at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) in Wiscasset, Maine. The first occurred in the first two cycles of reactor operation, 1/8/72 - 5/2/75, and the second occurred in the final cycle of operation, 1/15/96 - 12/ 6/96; the latter was probably responsible for the plant closure in 1997.
Please note in the enclosures that the licensee, in its confidential 1998 inventory of the spent fuel pool, lists 66 failed fuel assemblies in addition to 159 damaged or otherwise nonstandard fuel assemblies.
I have a query for your office and I was wondering if you would consider sending me a written response to the questions.
Please note that each of MYAPC's fuel assemblies contain in excess of 100,000 curies (Ci) of long-lived spent fuel wastes, the six most ubiquitous of which are 137Cs (half life [1/2 T] = 30 years), 90Sr (1/2 T = 29 yr), 238Pu (1/2 T = 89 yr), 240Pu (1/2 T = 6,260 yr), 239Pu (1/2 T = 24,400 yr) and 241Am (1/2 T = 458 yr).
If the 66 failed fuel assemblies leaked 10% of their contents then approximately 660,000 Ci of long-lived spent fuel wastes were released in the MYAPC containment, having escaped the first of three fission product barriers (the fuel cladding.) The truth of the matter is that neither I nor the NRC or the licensee have the foggiest idea of the actual amounts of radioactivity released by these accidents, but a 10% dispersion rate seems reasonable for failed fuel assemblies.
The confidential MYAPC spent fuel pool inventory notes numerous filters still reside within the spent fuel pool which are too contaminated (the dose rate is too high) to be shipped to the Barnwell facility as low-level waste. The 1998 inventory makes clear the fact that the licensee really has no idea how many filters are actually at the bottom of the spent fuel pool, nor do they have any idea of the radiological content of these filters. The inventory does make clear, however, the fact that fuel pellets escaped the failed fuel assemblies and were spread throughout the reactor containment. These pellets were then recovered by a combination of vacuuming and filtering the containment water. Some of the lost pellets were actually vacuumed off the top of the fuel assemblies after one of the accidents.
The questions I have are:
· Does the state of South Carolina maintain a quantitative record
of the radiological contents of filters and resins sent from MYAPC to the
Barnwell facility (class B wastes in HICs - high impact containers)?
It is my understanding that none of these accident-derived wastes would
qualify as class A wastes, though some may have been sent to Barnwell as
class C wastes.
· It must be of interest to someone that low-level wastes being sent to Barnwell include filters containing significant quantities of MYAPC fuel cladding failure accident-derived long-lived spent fuel wastes. Can the state of South Carolina give any estimate of the amount of radioactivity sited at Barnwell which is derived from the fuel cladding failure accidents at MYAPC, in contrast to the normal flow of operational low-level wastes (booties, gloves and the more innocuous everyday waste products of a nuclear reactor)? Certainly, the main question during the decommissioning process here in Maine is: What quantities of long-lived spent fuel wastes were released during the accidents at MYAPC, how much remain in the filters in the MYAPC spent fuel pool, and how much spent fuel wastes were sent to Barnwell as "low-level" wastes?
· During the upcoming decommissioning process Barnwell will be the recipient of a significant amount of fuel cladding failure accident-derived radioactivity. If you don't have records of past shipments, in view of the high radiological content of filters and resins which may arrive in the future, will you maintain record keeping of future waste inventories and will you make these records available to the public?
· The same question would also apply to the future shipment of the intact reactor vessel containment which will likely include a certain amount of dross including hot particles, CRUD and activation products. If MYAPC is not successful in removing the remaining fuel cladding failure-derived spent fuel pellets from the containment during decommissioning, would you also share with us the inventories of dross and spent fuel pellets within the reactor containment after the GTCC internal components are segmented and removed?
· Are you aware that a much larger series of fuel failure accidents have occurred at Connecticut Yankee at Haddam Neck? The potential source term (quantities of radioactivity released) of the fuel failure accidents at Haddam Neck is in the millions of curies, most of which were also vacuumed and filtered. Do you have any data on the amounts of Connecticut Yankee fuel cladding failure accident-derived wastes which were sited at Barnwell?
Please be aware there has also recently been a fuel cladding failure accident at the Seabrook, New Hampshire, reactor in the summer of 1998. Some of the long-lived spent fuel pellets and debris may also be destined for Barnwell. I would just like to express my gratification that the state of South Carolina is willing to accept fuel cladding failure accident-derived long-lived spent fuel wastes for disposal at the Barnwell facility. The NRC is emphatic in insisting that any and all such nuclear accidents, which can now be documented to have taken place in New England reactors, are well within the regulatory guidelines of 10 CFR Part 20, which apply to residents in New England as well as South Carolina. The guideline for 137Cs for members of the general public is that the annual limit of intake of 137Cs not exceed 10,000 nanocuries. There are no other quantitative or concentration-based guidelines other than for liquid effluents, which can be diluted by mixing, so that it is obvious that large quantities of fuel cladding failure accident-derived long-lived wastes can be generated at New England reactors and sited in low-level waste landfills such as that at Barnwell without violating any federal regulations. Human curiosity nonetheless raises the question: how many curies of spent fuel wastes from accidents at New England reactors have been sited at the landfill in Barnwell in the form of filters and resins contaminated with fuel assembly-derived isotopes? I'd like to share your response to my questions with interested parties in Maine and with NRC staff who seem particularly reluctant to quantify the amounts of radioactivity released during fuel cladding failure accidents (not pinhole leakage, but cladding failure where spent fuel pellets are dispersed throughout the reactor containment). Thank you for your attention in this matter.
H. G. Brack
P. S. Most of the impact of the Chernobyl accident in the European community was well within the regulatory guidelines of 10 CFR Part 20.
Dear Congressman Markey:
I'd like to bring your attention to the enclosed press release and letter to Governor Hodges of South Carolina. Both Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) and NRC staff have insisted to me that elevated levels of soil contamination discovered during a cursory site characterization at MYAPC are absolutely normal results of reactor operations. So, too, has the NRC claimed in response to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) petition about fuel cladding failure that fuel cladding leakage is perfectly normal. I agree with the latter assertion, but note that the NRC never really addressed the issue of fuel cladding failure, which is radically different from fuel cladding leakage, in that during fuel cladding failure accidents the fuel pellets spill out of the assemblies and move throughout the reactor containment. Once they are spilled, they can only be retrieved via vacuum and water system filters which then are disposed of (in most cases) as "low-level wastes" at Barnwell, SC. While the accident at MYAPC is relatively small (+/-600,000 Ci?) there has been a much larger accident at the Connecticut Yankee Haddam Neck facility which has been the subject of NRC historical site assessment review. The startling fact emerges from NRC review of the Connecticut Yankee accident that any and all fuel cladding failure accidents and resulting emissions are always within the regulatory requirements of 10 CFR Part 20. NRC reports are consistently characterized by a near total lack of nuclide-specific, media-specific data (e.g. Bq/kg) and a plethora of rhetoric. It is now obvious that the NRC is totally incapable of executing comprehensive accurate assessments of the actual radiological impact of nuclear accidents at US reactors which are always called events or occurrences and are never documented in a straight-forward manner. The NRC has thousands of employees and decades of experience in obsfucating the radiological impact of reactor operations, decommissioning and accidents such as the fuel cladding failures at New England reactors. We now have the urgent need to delegate accurate, truthful and plain-spoken radiological surveillance to some independent entity which would be similar in its function (and also in its ethical independence from conflicts of interest in supervising a for-profit industry) to the Defense Nuclear Safety Board. Please take a public stand on this issue and lead the way in Congress in establishing independent review and reform of the NRC's failed oversight and inability to execute credible documentation of the radiological impact of the nuclear reactors under its supervision.
H. G. Brack
Dear Ron Cole:
Would you be so kind as to provide to the Center for Biological Monitoring for public comment and review a description of your proposed methods and plans for documenting the inventories of radioactivity in materials removed from the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company during the upcoming decommissioning process? It would be helpful if in your descriptions you could use standard reporting units and express contamination in becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg), becquerels per meter squared (Bq/m2) or dpm/100cm2, rather than resort to the usual rhetorical device of indicating that the dose rate is well within federal regulations. CBM is including this letter in a press release on fuel cladding failure accidents at New England reactors in the hope that Stone & Webster will be forthcoming, plainspoken and straight-shooting in its documentation of reactor-derived radioactivity encountered in the decommissioning process. I do not suggest you use the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as a role model in this endeavor.
Thank you for your excellent presentation at the last CAP meeting on low-level waste transport. The only point you didn't mention was that 99.5% of reactor-generated radioactivity will remain onsite after the decommissioning is completed. We all share the hope that the federal government will eventually resolve the waste storage and disposal issues which now make construction of independent spent fuel storage installations (ISFSIs) a necessity.
H. G. Brack
cc. Don Clark
Dear Director Zwolinski:
Thank you for your May 4, 1999, letter. I don't have any questions or criticisms of your definition of nonstandard fuel; your explanation of what the licensee was referring to as nonstandard fuel is very helpful and I look forward to hearing more about what percentage of MYAPC fuel assemblies qualify for the UMS design once fuel inspection is completed.
I must point out, however, that I have spent several hours going over Samuel Collin's response to the Union of Concerned Scientists about the issue of leaking fuel assemblies prior to receiving your second copy of his 39 page director's decision. You will note in the enclosed press release that I object strongly to Mr. Collin's failure to differentiate between leaking fuel assemblies and failed fuel assemblies that then scatter fuel pellets throughout the reactor containment. In my opinion, he never really satisfactorily addressed the Union of Concerned Scientists' petition.
You will also note excerpts of the 1998 MYAPC spent fuel pool inventory which indicates 66 fuel assemblies have failed in addition to the numerous other damaged, altered and reconstructed fuel assemblies and related trash baskets in the spent fuel pool. I was quite amazed to see the wide variety of equipment and debris stored in MYAPC's spent fuel pool in addition to the "standard" fuel assemblies. I would take exception to the last section of your letter: clearly the collection of radioactive garbage and failed fuel assemblies in the MYAPC spent fuel pool is compelling and, in fact, absolutely incontrovertible evidence of periodic loss of radiological controls. You imply in your letter that such loss of radiological controls has never occurred at MYAPC and that "the radiological monitoring programs required by the NRC are sufficiently comprehensive to provide an adequate assessment of the radiological impact of plant operation on the offsite environment." You could hardly provide a better illustration of why so many of the NRC's assertions and claims about minimal environmental impact and nonexistent loss of radiological controls have zero credibility. In view of the soil contamination documented outside the reactor bioshield and in supposedly unaffected areas in and around the Wiscasset reactor and the obvious problems with spent fuel pellets in reactor water system's filters, it is now clear that the NRC cannot be trusted to document the environmental impact of reactor operations, decommissioning or "events" such as fuel cladding failure. One can argue that both fuel cladding leakage and fuel cladding failure are a result of "normal" reactor operations but you cannot ignore federal law and assert that these failures and leaks do not need to be documented.
MYAPC leaves the citizens of the state of Maine with a costly legacy of nuclear wastes for future citizens to study, store, transport and site. Even more costly is the chronicle of evasion, self-deception, diversion of attention, sophistry and misinformation which is the NRC's contribution to this legacy.
H. G. Brack
Dear Dr. Bellamy:
I was at the CAP meeting when you spoke several weeks ago. I don't have anything to disagree with in terms of what you said in your presentation but I would just like to express amazement that you would bother to journey all the way to Wiscasset, Maine, without addressing any of the pressing questions which have arisen during the decommissioning of the MYAPC reactor. No comments on the soil contamination documented by the cursory GTS Duratek characterization survey (is it normal or abnormal) or on the 66 failed fuel assemblies which released long-lived spent fuel waste throughout the MYAPC reactor containment (you are familiar with the MYAPC report, aren't you?) No comments on the possible connection between elevated fission products in the soils adjacent to the reactor and to the various losses of radiological control that have been documented at MYAPC? No questions or advice about the impact of segmenting reactor vessel internals versus intact reactor vessel disposal? No comments on the new NRC policy of concentration averaging and how it might impact MYAPC decommissioning? No explanation for the discrepancies in the 1984 licensee event report which you signed and which contains no hint of the soil contamination that has since been documented and alleged to have resulted from this reactor water storage tank leak? No comment on Mark Robert's 1998 inspection report which indicates soil contamination documented in the GTS 1998 survey was a result of a 1988 leak, Roberts having noted that in 1988 the contamination was removed and remediated by being used as fill in a road that was paved over, only to show up again in 1998? And how about fuel cladding "leakage" versus fuel cladding "failure;" are all incidents of fuel cladding failure with accompanying fuel pellet dispersion examples of normal leakage as implied by Mr. Collins' response to the UCS petition?
Dr. Bellamy you are well paid, well educated and certainly well scrubbed and I have a lot of questions and my impression is you and the NRC won't be answering any of them except for the usual equivocations. Yes, all emissions and effluents at all US reactors are well within the regulatory requirements of reactor operation, and so was Chernobyl. If you have children, please remind them that if their annual intake of radiocesium is 8,000 nanocuries, that is well within the regulatory limits of 10 CFR Part 20.
H. G. Brack
P. S. A memo to you and the NRC staff: your failure to accurately document the environmental impact of reactor operations, decommissioning and accidents such as fuel cladding failure undermines the credibility of probability risk assessment (PRA) including the high risk of fuel cladding failure, renders accurate determination of site release criteria impossible, undermines prompt and efficient reactor dismantlement and waste disposal and sabotages public confidence in the esoteric and inscrutable activities of the NRC. You mislabel radioactive wastes as low-level when they contain dangerous long-lived spent fuel-derived contaminants, use misleading units of measurement which make it difficult to observe the environmental impact of reactor operations and obsfucate simple explanations whenever possible. The only consolation we have in Maine is that the nuclear accident at the Connecticut Yankee facility is much larger than the several that occurred here. The one thing we know is that hell will freeze over before we get accurate documentation of the source terms of these accidents or of the impact of reactor operations and decommissioning (quantities, chemical forms, pathways, destinations) from the NRC.
Dear Mr. Clark:
Sorry I wasn't able to respond to your phone call of April 30, 1999. Anyway, enclosed are various materials and letters pertaining to the fuel cladding failures at MYAPC, which the NRC asserts is all part of "normal" operations. Here we have 66 failed fuel rods spewing long-lived spent fuel waste throughout the reactor containment. The NRC calls this "leakage" and asserts it needs no further documentation since all such emissions are well within the regulatory requirements of 10 CFR Part 20 (and what percentage of the annual limit on intake of 10,000 nanocuries of radiocesium, 4,000 nanocuries of 241Pu or 400,000 nanocuries of 99Tc have your children ingested this year?) So, we have at least two fuel cladding failure accidents at MYAPC which could easily have released +/- 600,000 curies of spent fuel waste but nobody knows or really cares what exactly happened. Most of the debris is heading to South Carolina where nuclear enthusiasms have not yet waned. Our consolation is that the accident at Connecticut Yankee is much larger in terms of spent fuel debris dispersion to who knows where. So, here we have it, the traffic in nuclear waste, a most profitable federally sponsored racket, and those who profit from the generation of these wastes also profit from their remediation. And it is a merry-go-round, the participants in the hide-the-evidence contest many, and if the children down at Kid's Corner (a Bar Harbor day care center) get stuck with the consequences, who cares?
H. G. Brack
Dear Michael Webb:
I just wanted to reiterate my dissatisfaction with the Community Advisory Panel meetings, including the one you attended last week. You'll note there is almost no time for public input. There is also no balance between public interests and licensee interests. I would urge the NRC to reform the process by sponsoring a second set of meetings which would be devoted solely to questions the public has. I have also enclosed a copy of a letter to Ron Bellamy which expresses my dissatisfaction with his presentation because he did not address many of the unresolved issues which pertain to the MYAPC decommissioning process. I urge you to attempt to make a reasonable documentation of the fuel cladding failures at Maine Yankee and to execute a historical site assessment review similar to that recently done for the Connecticut Yankee facility at Haddam Neck. The overall lack of documentation of the environmental impact of MYAPC reactor operations, decommissioning and of the old accidents that are now coming to light continues to undermine any credibility the NRC might have with the general public and certainly contravenes any improvements that have been made in lessening worker exposure, reactor shutdowns and improvements in reactor safety systems. Probably the most disturbing element of current NRC policy is over reliance on superficial scoping surveys that in reality provide no scientific data about the actual presence of reactor-derived effluents in the environment surrounding NRC reactors. No one would have dreamed of attempting to document the impact of the Chernobyl accident with scoping surveys. Media-specific, nuclide-specific spectroanlyses is the one and only way to document the environmental impact of nuclear industries and activities and as long as the NRC evades this responsibility it won't have much credibility with the general public.
H. G. Brack
cc. Shirley Jackson
Dear Chairperson Jackson:
I would just like to share with you my observation that you are probably the very best chairperson the NRC has ever had. I appreciate your honesty, integrity and conscientious attempt to improve the safety and efficiency of power reactors under your jurisdiction. I occasionally read your testimony before congress and I agree with most of what you have to say. I support current NRC policies on waste transport, ISFSIs, dry cask storage, multi-purpose cask design, site release criteria and on probabilistic risk assessment. One of the strong points of the NRC is your user-friendly and courteous Public Document Room as well as the rapid and timely response of your staff to the many letters I write. I as well as many other critics of the NRC appreciate the fact that you have lowered worker exposure, unplanned reactor shutdowns and that you have a strong focus ensuring the safe operation of aging reactors during this difficult period of industry deregulation.
I would like to point out, however, that in attempting to document the environmental impact of MYAPC reactor operations and decommissioning on the esturine environments of Montsweag Bay and vicinity during the last 25 years, I have been startled and even shocked by the NRC's culture of complacency. I have written extensively on deficiencies in NRC radiological surveillance programs, none of which have ever been acknowledged by NRC staff. Now we have emerging evidence of a series of nuclear accidents in New England reactors involving failed (not leaky) fuel assemblies. The NRC calls these failures normal operational events. How ever they are defined, there is a compelling need for much more accurate, plain-spoken and systematic documentation of the source term of these losses of radiological control. How many curies of radioactivity were released by these fuel failures, what was their chemical form, their pathways, their destinations? The NRC needs to stop hiding behind its institutionalized rhetoric, formulaic responses, phony scoping and drive-over surveys and confront its own legacy of evasion, self-deception, misinformation and sophistry, as noted in the last paragraph of my letter to John Zwolinski.
Would you please provide a copy of the enclosed material to all of the NRC Commissioners. Thank you.
H. G. Brack
Friends of the Earth obtained leaked documents showing that British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. (BNFL) has held secret talks with Maine Yankee, Connecticut Yankee and Yankee Atomic Electric about bringing spent nuclear fuel assemblies to Sellafield for reprocessing.
Email correspondence to Kris Christine:
I would just like to ask several questions about the July 20th meeting pertaining to cleanup standards at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) power station: how can any cleanup standard, no matter what it is, be verified when we have 27 years of lies, evasions and misinformation, all of which result in a near total lack of documentation of the source term of MYAPC operations as one long small nuclear accident-in-progress?
I have spent over two decades writing on this subject and now push comes
to shove and all involved including Friends of the Cover-up, Kris Ferazza,
the Portland Press Herald, MPBN and other media and environmentalists join
in the continuation of this ritual of aversion by debating site release
criteria standards (or reporting the debate, but not the truth) that can
never be verified. Most everyone seems happy to participate in this
debate, which is in essence a perpetuation of the failure to accurately
document the environmental impact of MYAPC operations using time honored
and Chernobyl-validated monitoring techniques such as field surveys using
grids and laboratory spectroanalyses. So now everyone's going to
lobby for low site release criteria which can never be verified?
Why? Why is everyone so willing to participate in the evasions of
MYAPC - MPBN - NRC - etc.? Site cleanup standards discussion?
Horseshit! This Community Advisory Panel (CAP) sponsored meeting,
like all CAP activities, perpetuates the lies and evasions of the MYAPC
Mary Ann Lynch
Vice President, Law and 207-882-4527 fax
321 OLD FERRY RD. WISCASSET, ME 04578-4922
July 21, 1999
Philip Haines, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Health Engineering
Department of Human Services
11 State House Station
Augusta ME 04333-0011
I am in receipt of a draft state document created by employees of your division outlining radiological inspections, such as soil sampling, etc., for the Maine Yankee site, work which DHE plans in the very near future and the years ahead. The purpose of this letter is to inform you that the state's draft work plan far exceeds the authority granted to it by the state legisIature and by the NRC under the agreement between the NRC and the state.
This draft work plan contains "State Verification and Validation Plans" on site characterization, free release of cold side materials and release of the "back land" areas. As we have discussed with you and your staff, and as we have stated in commnents filed in the Department's recent rulemaking, under the Atomic Energy Act, the NRC is the exclusive regulator of radiological activities and issues at tbe MaineYankee nuclear power plant. Even assuming for the sake of argument that the state nuclear safety program is not preempted (and we believe that it is preempted), the only authority granted under the program by the legislature is monitoring of a nuclear power plant licensee. "Monitoring" is specifically defined by the legislation as follows: "rnonitoring means observing the conduct of operations, including maintenance, quality assurance activities, preparation, transportation and handling of radioactive waste, omissions monitoring, radiation protection and the observation of emergency preparedness tests and drills." 22 M.R.S.A § 664(2). The state nuclear safety inspector has no authority to take samples and physically inspect the Maine Yankee plant or site, a plant under the exclusive regulatory jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
We believe that the proposed work plan is both preempted and far exceeds the authority granted by the state to the nuclear safety inspector. Absent a court order, we will not permit intrusive inspection by an agency that does not have authority to inspect under the federal law. As we have stated on numerous occasions, we are more than willing to allow the state nuclear inspector to "monitor" by, observing the conduct of Maine Yankee Operations in accordance with Maine law and to inspect records maintained by Maine Yankee.
While we recognize the state's interest in protecting the public hea1th and safety, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with its cadre of technically trained, expert inspectors and other staff, was specifically created by Congress to protect the public health and safety in regard to radiological matters.
July 2l, 1999
Because of the potential for conflict that exists whenever two agencies attempt to regulate the same rnatter, Maine Yankee has no choice but to take the position articulated in this letter in order to avoid the conflict and confusion that could be caused by dual regulation.
We have already seen significant conflict in that one state inspector has stated he does not agree with the criteria in MARSSIM, a document developed by six federal agencies including the EPA and the NRC. There is also always the potential to spread or introduce contamination in work of this nature, a risk I am sure the state would not want to take.
The NRC is expert in the area and fully competent to protect the public health safety. If at any time the state feels that there is a question or issue that needs to be addressed the state can raise the issue with Maine Yankee or go directly to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I will be happy to discuss this further at your convenience.
Mary Ann Lynch
172 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Collins:
Thank you for your letter of July 30, 1999, with respect to my email message. I wish to clarify the main point of my email: site release criteria standards can never be verified using the existing database. That doesn't mean that theoretically extensive radiological surveys could not be implemented in the future that would differentiate between the 25 mrem/yr and 10 mrem/yr exposure standards, the latter being the one advocated by Friends of the Coast. It is my personal opinion that in view of the many problems with MYAPC historical site assessment in the past, (a subject which I have written about extensively in Patterns of Noncompliance: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company: Generic and Site-Specific Deficiencies in Radiological Surveillance Programs,) the detailed laboratory spectroanalyses of samples from the abiotic and biotic media surrounding Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company necessary to verify any site release criteria is very unlikely. It is also extremely expensive.
Who would pay for such a detailed analysis of the environmental impact of MYAPC operations? Who would determine what kind of catch-up surveys need to be implemented to make such detailed and exacting analyses of the impact of the Maine Yankee operations? Isn't there a major conflict of interest between the pressures to keep decommissioning expenses low and the high cost of accurate radiological monitoring? How can we depend on the Community Advisory Panel to oversee accurate analyses of the site release criteria when in fact the CAP (as well as Maine media, the NRC, the state of Maine and even all our Congressional representatives, including your office) looked the other way when it became evident the licensee was not being truthful about the radiological status of the MYAPC site. It was the licensees own Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan, as inadequate and misleading as it was, as well as their own inventory of damaged fuel assemblies and vacuum filters containing spilled fuel pellets, which provided (the smoking gun) evidence of multiple incidences of loss-of-radiological controls at MYAPC. This licensee provided information was given further emphasis by blatant inaccuracies in MYAPC Licensee Event Reports filed with the NRC that failed to adequately describe the actual source term and pathways of liquid effluent spills that allowed some of the fission products released by fuel cladding failure accidents at MYAPC (first and last cycles) to enter soils surrounding the reactor containment and along and outside of the fence line on the west side of the plant.
So, here we have a situation at Maine Yankee where there have been a variety of incidents, events, and accidents, of which reactor water system leaks have only been the tip of the iceberg. Everyone has looked the other way and pretended that the information provided at the CAP meetings by the licensee has been accurate and that the existing database derived from the annual environmental radiological surveys has been adequate. And now, Maine's foremost environmental organization, Friends of the Coast, proposes a very strict site release criteria. Aren't we missing something in-between? How is this site release criteria to be verified when we haven't admitted that a series of small nuclear accidents have occurred at MYAPC and that they have had an environmental impact which has not been carefully documented? How much radioactivity was released into MYAPC water systems when fuel cladding failure occurred in the first and last cycles and fuel pellets spilled into the reactor containment? How much of this radioactivity was released to soil and Montsweag Bay sediments by accidental leaks in the 1980's? By the deliberate planned decommissioning-related water tank discharges which occurred last year? What other accidents occurred in-between these events (e.g. what lead to the extensive contamination on Bailey Point?) What are the current liquid and air particulate discharges during this time of frantic decommissioning activities - which must be executed as soon as possible because the Barnwell, SC, low-level radioactive waste facility will probably close by the end of the year? Who is overseeing the environmental impact of these frenzied activities and how will this rush to decommissioning impact the MYAPC environment? (An important side issue here: when Barnwell closes, what happens to the reactor vessel and all the accident debris it contains? What happens to the nonstandard debris in the spent fuel pool, some of which may not fit into dry casks as currently designed? How will all this effect the site release criteria?)
Accurate determination of the environmental impact of MYAPC normal operations, accidents, accidental releases and frenzied decommissioning activities is extremely complicated, requiring exacting scientific measurements in the form of laboratory spectroanalyses, not unreliable gamma drive-over or walk-over scans. Site release criteria can never be verified without a much more extensive analysis of the historic impact of past plant activities including a detailed accounting of the source term (release inventories, pathways and destinations) of the fuel cladding failure accidents of the past.
I object to Maine Yankee Community Advisory Panel activities because they have never admitted that extensive loss-of-radiological controls have occurred in the past. In particular, the CAP (as well as the press, the state of Maine, the NRC) went along with licensee representations about a clean site which were clearly contradicted by the data in volume 6 of the Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan, including the secret surveys hidden at the end of this volume. If the CAP is not going to admit that a series of fuel cladding failure and other accidents contaminated reactor water systems which then leaked contamination into the environs around MYAPC, how can site release criteria be accurately be verified? Doesn't the frenzied decommissioning of an undocumented accident site further complicate site release criteria verification? What happened at Maine Yankee, when and why? How much radioactivity was released, where did it go, where is it now? Why won't anyone admit the accidents of the past?
I'd welcome any further comments from you and your staff, about what I call the "dysfunctional" decommissioning of MYAPC. On Thursday, August 19, at 5:05 PM, I will be hosting a WERU radio call-in show about MYAPC and the current objections of the licensee to further soil testing by the state of Maine. I would welcome input or questions from your staff or anyone else who receives a copy of this letter. Interested persons may call WERU 89.9 FM during the 55 minute program, we'd like to hear what you have to say about the site release criteria and whether the state should or could execute additional soil samples; call (207) 469-0500.
Thank you again for your letter in response to my previous email correspondence.
H. G. Brack
House of Representatives
1740 Longworth Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Rep. Baldacci:
Thank you for your August 16th letter which I found rather disturbing. Differences of opinion between the EPA and the NRC over site release criteria constitute a handy diversion of attention from the main issues pertaining to Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) operations and decommissioning. Judging from your letter, I assume you and your staff have not paid any attention whatsoever to the numerous publications the Center for Biological Monitoring has issued over the years describing deficiencies in NRC mandated radiological surveillance programs in the vicinity of nuclear power installations. As a result of these deficiencies, which are in essence cumulative, the database needed to validate site release criteria of any exposure amount is simply not available. More importantly, as a result of this lack of radiological monitoring data, it is impossible to accurately document the environmental impact of both reactor operations and reactor decommissioning. More specifically, there have been a number of nuclear accidents at MYAPC that have not made the news, including a fuel cladding failure accident in the first cycle of operations in the early years of plant operation and another fuel cladding failure accident in the last cycle of operations, the latter of which was the real but unacknowledged reason why the reactor was shut down.
A few months ago I obtained, courtesy of Ray Shadis of Friends of the Coast and Mary Ann Lynch of MYAPC, an inventory of the spent fuel pool at MYAPC. The spent fuel pool contains debris from the first fuel cladding failure accident in the form of vacuum filters containing spilled fuel pellets that derive from the 1995 clean-up operation which occurred while the steam generator tubes were being resleeved. This debris in the spent fuel pool is too hot to be sited as low-level waste and its destination is as yet undetermined, though it now appears the licensee will be purchasing an extra six to twelve dry casks for onsite storage of nonstandard (failed) fuel assemblies and other accident debris including these filters. It is my observation that the extra life cycle storage and disposal costs of MYAPC accident debris will be at least fifty million dollars. You will note that the NRC continues to deny that any of these accidents ever occurred and that the contamination documented at NRC licensed reactors in New England is simply part of normal operations. You would think the existence of these fuel pellet contaminated filters in the spent fuel pool would be worth at least a paragraph on page 56 of the Bangor Daily News, the Portland Press Herald or the Lincoln County Weekly, but such is not the case with Maine's feckless media who continue to aid the licensee in the cover-up of the existence of these accidents. As I have noted in many letters and reports, all of which have been sent to your office, the problems at Maine Yankee have been partially documented by the Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan which helps trace the movement of excessive levels of reactor-derived fission products through the water systems of MYAPC and into the soils and sediments around the plant.
Of particular interest at the present moment is the source term (release quantities, pathways and destinations) of the most recent fuel cladding failure in the last cycle of MYAPC operations. It is my current understanding (will somebody please correct me if this observation is incorrect) that this debris, also in the form of spilled fuel pellets, remains in the reactor vessel and has not been vacuumed out. The reactor vessel itself is destined for near surface burial at the Barnwell, SC, landfill. Current plans are for the licensee to segment out the highly radioactive greater than class C (GTCC) internal components which would also probably go to the independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) and then ship the intact reactor vessel to South Carolina for burial. Not subject to any public discussion or review is the issue of the characterization of the dross remaining in the reactor vessel which includes CRUD (Chalk River unidentified deposits), hot particles and accident-derived fuel pellets. A rhetorical question to the equally feckless state of South Carolina is: prior to burial of the MYAPC reactor vessel, would South Carolina authorities like to have the reactor vessel vacuumed and the spilled fuel pellets from the last accident removed? Or is it okay for the state of Maine to send the whole mess to South Carolina in the form of an intact reactor vessel and we will just continue to ignore the fact several nuclear accidents have occurred at the MYAPC facility. We can take heart in Maine that these were just little nuclear accidents, and the lies that help cover-up the existence of these accidents are just little lies. The recent fuel cladding failure accident at the Seabrook reactor last summer apparently resulted in a significantly larger contamination of reactor water systems than those at MYAPC; both accidents pale in comparison to the chronic releases, including hot particle contamination, which occurred at Connecticut Yankee. South Carolina continues to serve as a handy cost effective (though unacknowledged) location for the burial of much of the long-lived debris from these accidents. Since no one will acknowledge the existence of any of these accidents, nor of the huge costs they add to reactor decommissioning and construction and operation of an independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI), then we can refer, as you do in your letter to me, to the assumption that "as I understand the issue at this point, the dispute generally is between the Environmental Protection Agency and the NRC. It is over what levels of radiation remain after the plant is dismantled and removed, and the site released for future uses." How do you propose to determine what levels of radiation remain after the plant is dismantled if you have a very poor database for characterizing reactor operations and, in fact, no one acknowledges and therefore never studies the source term of the nuclear accidents which occurred at MYAPC and other reactors in the past?
From my point of view as a person in interested in documenting the impact of plant operations, MYAPC is an accident-in-progress (a series of pulsed radiation releases) which really will not be over until the last vestiges of contaminated soil, sediments and reactor equipment and physical plant are removed from the premises. With the construction of the independent spent fuel storage installation at MYAPC, what we have is essentially the construction of a high-level radioactive waste storage facility on the site of nuclear accidents that have not been fully documented. Obviously, we are not going to get very far in characterizing the size and impact of these pulsed releases if our congressional representatives, including your office, as well as our feckless media and even Maine's environmental organizations and activists won't acknowledge that these fuel cladding failures and other accidents have occurred in the past.
Please advise me if your office needs another hard copy of CBM's publication Patterns of Noncompliance which can be downloaded from the WWW at <http://home.acadia.net/cbm/Rad9c.html>. Deficiencies in MYAPC's historical site assessment as well as a discussion of the contamination noted in the GTS Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan are contained in pages 33 - 56 (Section II). Additional information pertaining to these startling revelations about the contents of the MYAPC spent fuel pool can be downloaded from our Website (RADNET Section 12: Twilight of the Nuclear Era: The Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company: Part E. Decommissioning Chronicle Continued: starting with January 21, 1999 <http://home.acadia.net/cbm/Rad9e.html#verif prog>. The inventory is detailed in the section labeled May 10, 1999 <http://home.acadia.net/cbm/Rad9e.html#May10>.) I acknowledge that our publications as well as our Website are not very user friendly and the (smoking gun) evidence of the accidents at MYAPC come in little fragments of information that don't lend themselves to easily understood sound bites / media reports.
You, as well as our other representatives in Congress from the New England states, seem oblivious to the existence of fuel cladding failure accidents, water systems and soil contamination as well as the resulting additional decommissioning costs and complications at New England reactors. The added costs of these accidents - what the NRC disingenuously calls "unusual occurrences" - must be paid by the utility ratepayers and taxpayers who also voted you into office. And no one is supposed to acknowledge that they occurred? Do you suppose that the debris resulting from these accidents as well as the resulting soil and sediment contamination, not to mention the additional costs to ratepayers and taxpayers will go away, if you, like the NRC, continue to pretend that these events never occurred?
H. G. Brack
cc. Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Tom Allen, Ed Markey, Jim Hodges, Hartsill Truesdale, Angus King, Steve Ward, Susan Young (Bangor Daily), Keith Shortall (MPBN), Meg Weston (Portland Press Herald), William Huffman, Michael Masnik, Richard Dudley, Ron Bellamy
Date and source term of a Seabrook, New Hampshire, (Public Service Company of New Hampshire) summer of 1997,* fuel cladding failure accident.
Source term information: release date, release inventories, pathways, destinations, etc.
· Number of failed fuel assemblies?
· Number of failed fuel rods?
· Any NRC - licensee unusual event or LER reports? (please forward report date and title if you have seen any)
· Has reactor containment been remediated (e.g. by vacuuming)?
· Have vacuum filters contaminated by accident-derived fuel rod pellets been placed in the spent fuel pool yet?
· How long was the duration of the failure?
· To what extent were reactor water systems contaminated by this fuel cladding failure accident?
· Was there any notification of state and local authorities during the release duration of the fuel cladding failure? Any federal, state or local paper trail citations are welcomed (NRC or licensee reports, state reports, letters, related newspaper articles.)
Fuel cladding failure accidents are the most ubiquitous of all types of nuclear accidents and are a commonly expected "unusual occurrence" in the "normal operation" of a nuclear reactor. If you have any additional information about the "unusual occurrence" at Seabrook nuclear reactor in the summer of 1998, please contact the Center for Biological Monitoring, PO Box 144, Hulls Cove, ME 04644, (207) 288-5126, fax (207) 288-2725, email <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For NRC staff reference to this accident please see page 24 and 67: United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (April 1998). Proceedings of U.S. NRC Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards Meeting on Reactor Fuels, Onsite Fuel Storage, and Decommissioning, Friday, April 24, 1998. U.S. NRC, Washington, D.C. <http://www.nrc.gov/ACRS/rrs1/Trans_Let/index_top/ACRS_sub_tran/Reactor_Fuels/rf980424>. Persons reading this transcript please note the numerous veiled references to the Seabrook accident. The disclosures in this report are typical of information the NRC now wishes to restrict via the current proposals to limit freedom of information.
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
475 ALLENDALE ROAD
KING OF PRUSSIA, PENNSYLVANIA 19406-1415
September 27, 1999
Mr. H. G. Brack
Center for Biological Monitoring
P.O. Box 144
Hulls Cove, ME 04644
SUBJECT: REPLY TO CORRESPONDENCE TO CHAIRMAN DICUS AND MR. RONALD BELLAMY DATED AUGUST 30, 1999
Dear Mr. Brack:
Thank you for your August 30,1999, electronic-mail to Chairman Dicus and Mr. Ronald Bellamy, of this office, in which you requested information about a summer 1998 fuel cladding failure at Seabrook Station in New Hampshire. We have provided the answers to your specific questions in Enclosure 1 to this letter.
Based on a review of information regarding fuel failures at Seabrook, we've determined that the condition that you refer to was one that was initially identified by the licensee on May 31, 1997, by detailed fuel sipping and ultrasonic testing of the reactor fuel during the fifth refueling outage. Prior to this, the licensee had suspected several leaking fuel rods during power operations as early as December 10, 1996, when routine reactor coolant water analysis indicated increased activity. While the activity had not increased significantly, the licensee determined that the fuel sipping and ultrasonic testing were necessary to help identify the source of the increased activity. The fuel cladding failures were orally reported to the NRC in Event Report No.32423 on May 31, 1997. Additionally, a written Licensee Event Report (LER), No.50-443/97-009, dated June 30, 1997, and a supplemental LER No 50-443/97-009-01, dated July 30, 1999, were provided by the licensee. We have enclosed copies of these three reports with this letter. There have been no other fuel clad failures at the Seabrook Station since this occurrence.
The NRC reviewed the possible consequences of operating with a fuel leak in NRC Inspection Report No. 50-443/97-01, dated April 8,1997. The initial LER was reviewed by the NRC in Inspection Report No 50-443/97-03, dated July 30, 1997. In those reports the NRC concluded that the licensee had appropriately identified and taken action for this condition. Also, the licensee's initial actions to remove and store the failed fuel pins and to prevent recurrence of the failure were found acceptable. The supplemental LER provides an update to the licensee's root cause analysis and corrective actions; however, the information about the consequences of the event remains the same as reported in the initial LER. The NRC reviewed this LER supplement and determined that the licensee's corrective actions were reasonable to prevent future failures in NRC Inspection Report 50-443/99-05, dated August 25, 1999. Regarding the releases from the plant during this period of operation, we concluded that all releases were well within the allowable values stated in the plant technical specifications.
I appreciate your interest in these matters involving Seabrook. I hope this letter is responsive to your request.
Hubert J Miller
1. Response to Questions
2. 10 CFR 50.72 Event Report Number 32423
3 LER 50-443/97-009
4. Supplemental LER 50-443/97-009-01
ENCLOSURE 1 - RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS
Question 1: You requested, "source term information - release date, release inventories, pathways, destinations, etc."
Answer 1: The licensee reported in LER 50-443/97-009 that the amount of radioactive materials released from the degraded fuel into the reactor coolant system was within the capabilities of the radioactive waste management systems to collect and process without exceeding the radioactive release limits of 10 CFR 20 and within the guidelines of 10 CFR 50, Appendix I.
While the NRC has no specific data regarding the release to the environment
associated with the fuel cladding failure, the licensee has published total
dose commitments (which would include any increased effluent releases resulting
from the fuel clad failure) to members of the public in the Annual Radioactive
Effluent Release Report. Given the indication that this condition began
in late 1996 and the plant continued to operate until May 1997, we reviewed
the annual effluent release reports for 1996, 1997, and 1998. The results
of these reports were well below the Technical Specification (TS) limits,
as shown the following table:
|Annual TS Limit||1996||1997||1998|
||3.43E-4 mrem||6.79E-4 mrem||6.23E-4 mrem|
|Airborne (Organ Dose)||
||5.12E-3 mrem||2.47E-2 mrem||1.83E-2 mrem|
|Noble Gas Beta Air Dose||20 mrad Beta Air||5.36E-4 mrad||2.44E-2 mrad||7.14E-4 mrad|
|Noble Gas Gamma Air Dose||10 mrad Gamma Air||3.62E-4 mrad||8.18E-3 mrad||1.15E-3 mrad|
Question 2: You asked, "number of failed fuel assemblies?"
Answer 2: Four assemblies had degraded fuel rods.
Question 3: You asked, "number of failed fuel rods?"
Answer 3: There were five degraded rods, one in each of three assemblies and two in a fourth assembly.
Question 4: You asked, "any NRC - licensee unusual event or LER reports? (please forward report date and title if you have seen any)"
Answer 4: There was no declaration of an "unusual event." This event did not warrant a declaration of an unusual event, the lowest of four categories of emergency classification. The Seabrook Emergency Plan would have required an unusual event declaration if the technical specification limit for reactor coolant system specific activity was exceeded. The maximum limit for specific activity is: "1 microCurie per gram dose equivalent lodine-131 for more than 48 hours during one continuous time interval" The licensee measured this activity throughout the period of operation with the fuel leaks and found that the value stayed well below the stated limit. Additionally, the Seabrook emergency plan classification guidance is consistent with the NRC standard for emergency classification as described in NUREG-0654, Criteria for Preparation and Evaluation of Radiological Emergency Response Plans and Preparedness in Support of Nuclear Power Plants, Appendix 1, Basis for Emergency Action Levels for Nuclear Power Facilities. Therefore, this event did not require an emergency declaration.
As described in the letter, there were three reports from the licensee (one oral report per 10 CFR 50.72 and two written reports per 10 CFR 50.73 - copies of each report are enclosed).
Question 5: You asked, "has reactor containment been remediated (e.g., by vacuuming)?"
Answer 5: As described in the referenced LERs, prior to reactor startup following refueling outage number five, an extended Mode 4 reactor coolant system cleanup was completed to minimize crud deposition on the fuel rod cladding surfaces. The crud was suspected to be one of the causal factors for the clad failure.
No special remediation or vacuuming was done for the released fission products into the reactor coolant system. The licensee stated that the normal radioactive waste management system processed the reactor coolant system without exceeding the radioactive release limits of 10 CFR 20.
Regarding the remediation of the fuel assemblies, during the removal of the five fuel rods, two rods broke and a third had failed similarly, apparently during the preceding operating cycle. For the broken rods, the licensee determined that none of the fuel pellets escaped from the rods. These materials were placed in special storage containers and stored in the spent fuel pool.
Question 6: You asked, "have vacuum filters contaminated by accident-derived fuel rod pellets been placed in the spent fuel pool yet?"
Answer 6: Regarding your use of the term "accident," this event was not an accident. As stated in Answer 5 above, no vacuuming or other special remediation efforts were undertaken. Therefore, no vacuum filters have been placed in the spent fuel pool as a result of this event.
Question 7: You asked, "how long was the duration of the failure?"
Answer 7: The initial indication of increased reactor coolant activity was discovered by the licensee on December 10, 1996, and the plant continued to operate until May 10, 1997 when refueling outage five began. Therefore, the plant operated for about five months with the apparent fuel clad failure.
Question 8: You asked, "to what extent were reactor water systems contaminated by this fuel cladding failure accident?"
Answer 8: As previously stated, this event was not an accident. Regarding the extent of contamination, the licensee reported in the referenced LERs that prior to December 10, 1996, the reactor coolant system specific activity was just above measurable limits between 1E-4 and 2E-5 microCuries per gram dose equivalent lodine-131. Initially, the reactor coolant system dose equivalent lodine-131 activity increased to about 1E-3 microCuries per gram. Subsequently, several additional increases occurred, so that just prior to shutting the plant down for the refueling outage the reactor coolant system dose equivalent Iodine-131 activity was about 1E-2 microCuries per gram.
The licensee has to comply with the Technical Specification for the reactor coolant specific activity, such as Dose Equivalent I-131. The Technical Specification limit for the Dose Equivalent I-131 is less than or equal to 1 microcurie per gram. The licensee is required to perform an isotopic analysis for the reactor coolant to determine the Dose Equivalent I-131 once every 14 days. If the specific activity of the reactor coolant is greater than 1 microCurie per gram Dose Equivalent I-131 for more than 48 hours, the licensee must follow the Action Statement as stated in Plant Technical Specification section 3/4.4.8, Specific Activity. In this case, the licensee determined that the coolant activity increased to a small fraction of the allowable limit and no action, such as shutting down, was required to further reduce the coolant activity. The licensee did note some detectable increase in transuranic elements in the coolant system; however, this was handled by the normal cleanup system.
Subsequently, while preparing to install new fuel racks in July 1998, the licensee vacuumed portions of the spent fuel pool. The licensee found no further evidence of significant contamination, such as fuel pellets or other materials related to the fuel cladding failure, in the spent fuel pool during this activity.
Question 9: You asked, "was there any notification of state and local authorities during the release duration of the fuel cladding failure? Any federal, state or local paper trail citations are welcomed (NRC or licensee reports, state reports, letters, related newspaper articles.)"
Answer 9: The associated licensee event reports are enclosed with this
letter and the referenced NRC inspection reports describing this event
are available in the Public Document Room. The licensee indicates that
they briefed state and local officials about the apparent fuel clad failure
on January 10, 1997. Also, while no press release was made at that
time, several local news organizations were informed of the problem at
the same time. Subsequently, on June 29, 1997, the licensee issued a press
release regarding a number of activities that had been completed during
the fifth refueling outage including the corrective actions for the fuel
Senior Allegation Coordinator
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
475 Allendale Rd.
King of Prussia, PA 19406-1415
Dear Mr. Vito:
As per usual, the NRC responses to my recent letter misstates the fundamental observations I have made about the decommissioning process at Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC). My primary concern is not that the licensee doesn't know how many filters are in the spent fuel pool or their radiological content. Rather, my primary concern is that due to NRC incompetence, self-deception, inadequate historic site assessments and record keeping, deficient if not deceptive radiological surveillance, poor site characterization, etc. the source term (release inventories, pathways and destinations) of fission products released to reactor water systems by fuel cladding failure accidents, etc. in the first and last cycle of operations is unknown.
A second concern is that in decommissioning the reactor site and constructing an independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI), the NRC is allowing the creation of a high, intermediate and low-level waste storage facility on the site of an ongoing pulsed release nuclear accident. The inventories of reactor-derived fission products within the plant water systems, reactor vessel, spent fuel pool, standard fuel assemblies and fuel cladding failure accident debris must be accurately characterized before decommissioning can proceed. The Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan is sufficient only to indicate that a much more detailed study of the accidents at MYAPC must be undertaken as part of the decommissioning process. Federal law as well as public safety considerations mandate nothing less.
Accurate site release criteria verification cannot be made until the source term of MYAPC as a pulsed release nuclear accident is documented.
H. G. Brack
CBM has received the following citations from the NRC for the Seabrook failed fuel assemblies. Note there are only four. This occurred in 1997 rather than in 1998.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (May 31, 1997). "ON 970531 IDENTIFIED FIVE DEGRADED FUEL RODS IN FOUR DIFFERENT ASSEMBLIES. CAUSED BY INTERACTION BETWEEN FUEL PELLET & CLADDING WHICH CAUSED CLADDING DEGRADATION. REPLACED FOUR DEGRADED FUEL ASSEMBLIES. W-970630 LTR." LER 97-009-00. Seabrook Licensee Event Report, U.S. NRC, Washington, DC.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (May 31, 1997). "ON 970531
DEGRADED FUEL RODS WERE IDENTIFIED IN W FUEL ASSEMBLIES. CAUSED BY LOCALIZED
CORROSION OF FUEL CLADDING. FOUR DEGRADED FUEL ASSEMBLIES WERE REPLACED
WITH NEW ASSEMBLIES. WITH 990802 LTR." LER 97-009-01. Seabrook Licensee
Event Report, U.S. NRC, Washington, DC.
2600 Bull Street
Columbia, SC 29201-1708
September 1, 1999
Mr. H.C. Brack
Center for Biological Monitoring, Inc.
P.O. Box 144
Hulls Cove, Me 04644-0144
Dear Mr. Brack:
Your letter of May 10, 1999, to Governor Jim Hodges regarding low level waste shipped to the Barnwell, South Carolina disposal facility from the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company has been referred to my office for response.
Please be advised that my staff has completed an inquiry into your allegations.
Although Maine Yankee has experienced failed fuel during its operating lifetime as have all nuclear power plants, there is no evidence of the release of fuel pellets from the containment and entering the low level waste streams received at the Barnwell facility. Our on site inspectors and the facility operator have reviewed the shipping manifests, corresponding qualitative and quantitative radiological sample analytical data for the waste streams, the waste characterization profiles, and direct measurement information, and confirm all waste received is within the acceptable allowances specified in their operating license.
We have also discussed plant operating parameters and statistics with the plant officials, and all historical transuranic activities in the plant monitoring systems are low or below detection limits. Since this power plant is subject to the regulatory jurisdiction of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, I have also forwarded a copy of your letter to them for further response.
Thank you for your interest in this matter and providing this information
Very truly yours,
Virgil R. Autry, Director
Division of Radioactive Waste Management
Bureau of Land and Waste Management
cc: John Clark, Governor's Office
Hartsill Truesdale, Bureau Chief
Bob Trojanowski, NRC Region II
Division of Radioactive Waste Management
Bureau of Land and Waste Management
South Carolina Dept. of Health and Environmental Control
2600 Bull St.
Columbia, SC 29201-1708
Dear Director Autry:
Thank you for your letter of September 1, 1999, with respect to my questions about fuel cladding failure accident debris in the low-level waste stream going to Barnwell, SC. Please note that since we have quite a few interested observers of the decommissioning process at MYAPC, we will post your letter, which was received September 9, 1999, on the Internet on our Website at URL <http://home.acadia.net/cbm/Rad9e.html#Autry> along with other correspondence and observations on this topic.
I agree with your staff's observation that fuel cladding failure accidents are a common occurrence, but I am surprised that all nuclear power plants without exception experience these failures. You observe that "there is no evidence of the release of fuel pellets from the containment and entering the low level waste streams received at the Barnwell facility." This may be reassuring to some readers of your correspondence but MYAPC in its confidential inventory of the spent fuel pool indicates there are substantial quantities of fuel cladding failure pellets in vacuum filters now stored outside of the containment in the MYAPC spent fuel pool. In addition, the Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan helps trace substantial quantities of fuel cladding failure-derived fission products throughout plant water systems and in the environs (soil, sediment) of the reactor vicinity. So, all fuel cladding failure-derived wastes remain on site at MYAPC?
I'm not surprised that "all waste received [at Barnwell] is within the
acceptable allowances specified within their [MYAPC's] operating license"
but nonetheless the following questions remain to be answered.
· What is the source term (release inventories, pathways and current locations of accident-derived wastes) of the fuel cladding failure accident at MYAPC?
· How much accident-derived waste went to Barnwell in comparison to the amount of accident-derived wastes that remain at the MYAPC site?
· What citations and documentation can the DHEC provide for a public review of your "qualitative and quantitative radiological sample analytical data for the waste streams, the waste characterization profiles, and direct measurement information?"
· What record keeping do you maintain of nonstandard materials other than resins in HICs (high impact containers) and other normal operational materials in low-level waste and what are the annual variations in wastes received at Barnwell from MYAPC?
· Have you received any vacuum filters during your years of receiving MYAPC wastes and, if so, which years did you receive vacuum filters and other nonstandard wastes?
· What is the plant transuranic activities monitoring system you referred to in the third paragraph of your letter -- can you please specify what this document is so we can include it in our bibliography of references pertaining to MYAPC decommissioning activities?
· The implication of your letter is that no significant quantity of MYAPC fuel cladding failure debris has been received at your facility; in view of the liberal NRC operating licensee acceptable allowances for radioactive waste streams, why wouldn't you expect to have some accident-derived waste fission products in the MYAPC waste stream since these accidents are such a normal part of reactor operations?
· Where is the spectroanalytic database that would allow you to assert that your waste stream contained no fission products derived from mass wasting of accident-derived fuel pellets?
Since large quantities of fuel cladding failure-derived fission products and CRUD can be sited as low-level waste, the questions arising in the decommissioning of MYAPC pertain not to any violation of acceptable federal or state allowance guidelines, but to the quantitative documentation of fuel cladding failure release inventories, pathways and destinations. All residents of South Carolina will be gratified to learn that all debris from fuel cladding failure accidents in New England is still in New England and not in the low-level waste streams received at the Barnwell facility, but is this really a truthful assertion?
I am looking forward to reviewing "the sample analytical data," which you refer to in your letter, that would confirm this assertion with respect to MYAPC-derived wastes. Please forward us a copy of this data as soon as possible for our review. Upon review, we will post your report citation(s) in the appropriate location in RADNET: Nuclear Information on the Internet at URL <http://home.acadia.net/cbm>.
Thank you for your and the state of South Carolina's responses to my inquires. Freedom of information about the radiological inventories and destinations of NRC licensee-derived wastes are an essential component of the successful prompt decommissioning of any nuclear reactor.
H. G. Brack
cc. Jim Hodges
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001
Dear Chairman Dicus:
I would like to share my reactions to the NRC Workshop on the Inspection Program for Decommissioning Power Reactors presented October 13, 1999, at Meriden, Connecticut. Would your office kindly provide a copy of my observations to the NRC staff that attended that meeting?
I was particularly bothered by the obvious fact that the NRC staff has no sense of addressing the following fundamental issue:
As is permitted by federal regulations, every NRC licensed reactor constitutes a pulsed released source point. The NRC clearly grasps its obligation to insure that the release limits of 10 CFR 20 are not exceeded. It clearly does not perceive its obligation to further document the environmental impact of reactor operations beyond 10 CFR 20, where the annual limit on intake of 137Cs of 10,000 nanocuries/year for members of the public, is the equivalent of ingesting 1,000 kg of food contaminated with 10,000 pCi/kg of 137Cs, the effective protection action level utilized by the FDA for imported foods after the Chernobyl accident. NRC staff are clearly unable to grasp the fact that with the new release criteria for license termination of 25 mrem/yr TEDE (the fly in the ointment as it were,) the NRC has grossly insufficient radiological data to make any accurate determination of residual radiation levels that are the legacy of reactor operations. NRC staff seem particularly oblivious to the need for systematic and comprehensive analyses of all pathways of exposure; NRC staff seem fixated on one-dimensional surface contamination exposure rates. Within this paradigm, any quantity of radioactive materials can be buried and covered with uncontaminated soil and meet your release criteria as now interpreted by NRC staff. This is absurd. NRC staff has habitually evaded answering the following question with respect to the legacy of its power reactors. What is the source term of each reactor as a pulsed released source point; i.e. what are the reactor release inventories, pathways and current locations? Where is the NRC report which would summarize the inventories of radioactivity in each segment of reactor equipment and environs, just as the Oak Ridge Integrated Database (DOE) summarizes current and projected inventories of spent fuel isotopes?
NRC staff are particularly inept at documenting nonroutine loss-of-radiological controls involving inadvertent release of CRUD and fission products, especially from episodes of fuel cladding failure, into reactor water systems and then into the environment via tank leaks at MYAPC (Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company) and elsewhere. First the NRC pretends that significant releases did not occur (e.g. Bellamy, 1984, LER); secondly, the NRC has little or no follow-up analyses of releases which did occur. In the failure to track pathways of these releases, the NRC demonstrates a consistent lack of questioning attitude, a criticism often made of the licensees. At MYAPC, the NRC looked the other way when the licensee announced (incorrectly at a CAP meeting) that the site was "clean" and ready for decommissioning activities. The fact of the matter is, the MYAPC site was the location of at least two significant episodes of fuel cladding failure that demanded much more detailed radiological assessment (as in historical site assessment) prior to commencement of decommissioning activities. Instead, the NRC tolerated a bull in the china closet approach to decommissioning by the licensee, an approach which included an amazingly inadequate and inept PSDAR. The NRC has upgraded almost every aspect of its operations during the last 20 years (look for example at the improvements in the electronic availability of information on your Website) except radiological surveillance programs (still circa 1952). The new site release criteria require a leap forward in surveillance activities; the NRC has instead taken many steps backward by not requiring any accountability for the environmental impact of plant operations. The NRC continues to rely almost entirely on licensee derived information with little or no independent review of the actual levels of radioactivity in plant environs. As previously noted, historical site assessment is sketchy if known at all. The semi-annual licensee environmental reports (e.g. 4 sediment samples per quarter) are a joke in biological monitoring circles as are the requirements in the ODCM as well as the annual limits on intake in 10 CFR Part 20 Appendix B.
The Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan provided enough information to indicate major soil contamination problems exist at MYAPC, but the NRC did not have the nerve to follow-up the revelations in Volume 6 of this report with additional surveillance utilizing standard monitoring procedures (e.g. grids as suggested [but not required] in MARSSIM.) Ongoing decommissioning inspection programs should be, but are not, building on the database, which should be, but isn't, the legacy of historical site assessment. Nowhere in NRC files or reports is there a single document which accurately summarizes the historical assessment of residual radiation levels at any NRC facility. Nowhere is there any mention of the fact that high decommissioning activities (HDA) have the potential to include the maximum release to the environment of long-lived fission products characteristic of spent fuel wastes as well as CRUD via water systems tank releases. HDA may also include peak values of airborne particulates. The NRC inspection program makes no mention of ongoing monitoring for releases which result from HDA activities. The main NRC focus seems instead to be on a theoretical final status survey which will occur in the future - after contaminated areas are covered with soil. In view of the routine nature of fuel cladding failures, (see NRC answers to CBM questions on fuel cladding failure at Seabrook, NH, online at RADNET Section 12 <http://home.acadia.net/cbm/Rad9e.html#NRCresponse>) something not mentioned in licensee and NRC public relations press releases, and the many inadequacies in NRC radiological surveillance programs, the NRC has not and can not provide an accurate assessment of residual radioactivity levels at MYAPC or any other reactor, either in plant equipment and onsite environs, or in offsite environs. The NRC, therefore, cannot validate the release criteria for decommissioning of 25 mrem/yr TEDE to an average member of the public. Without an adequate database this release criteria becomes pie in the sky.
In summary, my impressions of your October 13 evening presentation were that it was unfocused, failed to articulate the real issues surrounding decommissioning of nuclear reactors, displayed a lack of questioning attitude and exhibited little or no awareness that validating the release criteria must include accurate pathway analyses for all isotopes in all media. One or more panel members even seemed oblivious to the fact that there was a radical difference between water systems filters containing routine contamination and those contaminated by spent fuel pellets released by fuel cladding failure. At MYAPC, how much radioactivity was released by fuel cladding failures and where is the current location of this contamination? The Duratek report confirms that some fuel cladding contamination is in plant water systems and in the soil outside of the plant and not all within the water system filters now in the spent fuel pool. It is obvious that the elevated soil contamination levels at MYAPC are of no interest to the NRC, otherwise, the NRC would have mandated additional surveillance for soil contamination once the Duratek report was published. Has any member of the NRC staff even read Volume 6 of the Duratek report with its secret supplementary survey of highly contaminated areas at the end of the volume (but, oddly, not mentioned in the Executive Summary of the report - did the Duratek authors and the NRC hope nobody would notice the supplemental surveys?) The NRC staff exhibits a consistent lack of awareness that the long-lived spent fuel wastes referenced in 10 CFR 20 Chapter 1 Part 61.55 ("whose potential hazard will persist long after such precautions as institutional controls, improved waste form and deeper disposal have ceased to be effective") must be tracked during both reactor operations and decommissioning activities. NRC staff continues to demonstrate over-reliance on the annual effluent reports (which have now been discontinued, which may be or are inaccurate as shown at MYAPC, and which under any conditions are not adequate for extrapolating source term information) and a tunnel vision focus on the ALI (annual limit on intake) in 10 CFR Part 20 Appendix B. I must note I have never heard any NRC staff member mention the design criteria of a 3 mrem limit for liquid effluents in 10 CFR 50 Appendix 1 Part A, a criteria which you couldn't possibly verify with your sloppy radiological surveillance programs and nearly nonexistent historical site assessment.
I left the meeting in Connecticut with reinforced feelings that the NRC was decommissioning post offices and donut factories with no history of nuclear effluents and no legacy of residual radioactivity. I feel that NRC staff operates in an ivory tower cocoon of NRC staff/licensee meetings and cannot be trusted to accurately document the onsite and offsite residual radioactivity levels that are the legacy of reactor operations and the mention of which is so systematically evaded in your decommissioning inspection programs. The fundamental question during decommissioning activities remains unanswered; what is the radiological legacy of reactor operations and decommissioning activities (source term: released and unreleased radionuclide inventories, their pathways, their destinations and their current locations) and what will be the life cycle financial costs of creating, packaging, storing, transporting and siting these wastes?
H. G. Brack
Rep. John Baldacci
1740 Longworth Building
Washington, DC 20515
Thank you for your letter of October 15. You are correct in pointing out that my previous correspondence and email request for information about the fuel cladding failure at Seabrook contained a typographical error: the NRC April 1998 staff reference to this incident was obviously to one that took place in the summer of 1997, not in the summer of 1998.
I'm writing you as well as our other members of Congress to advise you that the NRC provided an excellent response to my request for information about this fuel cladding failure. A complete copy of their response is available on our Website at <http://home.acadia.net/cbm/Rad9e.html#NRCresponse> and runs about four printed pages. I urge you and my other congressional representatives to download and review the NRC response to my inquiry.
The Seabrook fuel cladding failure alluded to by the NRC staff in April, 1998, as causing widespread contamination of the reactor water systems at Seabrook involved, allegedly, five fuel rods in four fuel assemblies. In contrast, the confidential MYAPC inventory of the Wiscasset spent fuel pool involves 66 failed fuel assemblies as well as hundreds of other damaged fuel assemblies and other odd items, many derived from incidents of fuel failure.
The NRC makes very clear in their response to my questions that fuel cladding failures are a routine occurrence in almost all reactor operations. This raises the fundamental question with respect to decommissioning MYAPC or any other reactor: why would the NRC not upgrade its radiological surveillance programs and reports and provide a clear and easy to read summary of all instances of loss-of-radiological controls, including fuel cladding failure incidents, as part of the historic site assessment component of the decommissioning? As much as 10 - 20% of the independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) at MYAPC will be devoted to the storage of failed fuel assemblies, debris and other nonstandard equipment. This means that tens of millions of dollars of ratepayer and taxpayer funds will be devoted to cleaning up the mess left by fuel cladding failures and other losses-of-radiological controls. Is there any chance the NRC will be as forthright in documenting the source term (release inventories, pathways and destinations) of past "incidents" at MYAPC and other reactors as they were in quickly responding to my Seabrook inquiry? How much extra will it cost to store and site 66 failed fuel assemblies at MYAPC? How extensive is the contamination of plant water systems and equipment which resulted from these failures (note the extremely high levels of fission product contamination in a relatively small number of swipe samples in the Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan)? What is the connection between the high levels of soil contamination noted in a number of MYAPC Duratek site characterization surveys and the fuel cladding failures which occurred at MYAPC? Why is the NRC not following up the Duratek revelations with additional characterization of the soil contamination surrounding MYAPC? (For more information on the questions we have about this soil contamination and the MYAPC decommissioning debacle, please review the information on our Website at <http://home.acadia.net/cbm/Rad9e.html#fuelCladFailure>.)
Thanks for your recent letters and I hope the next time you visit the Geronimo Sculpture Gardens I will be more timely with my blueberry pancake production and that also you will visit the CBM office next to the Sculpture Gardens to continue a dialog on the MYAPC decommissioning debacle.
H. G. Brack
cc. Philip Haines
United States Senate
Rm. 176 Russell Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Senator Snowe:
Thank you for your letter of November 3, 1999. I would like to restate my concerns about NRC supervision of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) in plain English: quantities of fission products have leaked out of 66 MYAPC failed fuel assemblies, all as a matter of what the NRC calls routine reactor operation. Cursory licensee sponsored site characterization revealed extensive on site and off site soil contamination. The source term (isotope release quantities, pathways and destinations) of contamination released by the fuel failures (fuel pellets) as well as other losses-of-radiological control are poorly documented if they are know at all. The upcoming rubblization stage of the MYAPC decommissioning process has the potential to further spread fuel failure-derived contamination the NRC and the licensee are so reluctant to document. The NRC is unable to accept the reality that federal law mandates an accurate accounting of the inventories and destinations of radioactive waste at NRC licensed radioactive waste repositories such as the one at Wiscasset, Maine.
I believe all our congressional delegation has looked the other way as the defacto radioactive waste storage facility at Wiscasset has evolved into a reality. During plant operations as well as during decommissioning, the pulsed releases of contamination at MYAPC have been poorly documented, the complacent self-satisfaction of the NRC with antiquated monitoring procedures not withstanding. These releases will continue during the rubblization and decommissioning process. The fact that adequate federal, state and ratepayer resources are not available to accurately document the environmental impact of plant operations and decommissioning is a handy excuse to look the other way as responsibility for the defacto radioactive waste storage area at Wiscasset devolves from a federal concern to a purely local one. The federal government has declined to accurately assess the extent of radiological contamination from the pulsed releases at MYAPC. The future citizens of Maine will suffer the consequences of the failure of the federal government to document this legacy.
H. G. Brack
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