|F. Decommissioning Chronicle Continued: January 2000 to May 8, 2000|
January 12, 2000
Radiation Protection Division
Office of Air and Radiation
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Frank Marcinowski:
I'd like to comment on your December 2, 1999 letter to John Greeves at the NRC Division of Waste Management. There's no further need for the EPA to make more comments for the NRC's consideration on the rubblization concept at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC). The EPA has no significant ability to influence the outcome of NRC policy decisions. The rubblization process at Maine Yankee is the most cost effective decommissioning option as well as the next logical step in evading documentation of fuel cladding failure-derived contamination in MYAPC company reactor water systems. If the rubblization process is subverted, NRC licensees will be stuck with an expensive and embarrassing pile of regulatory paperwork as accurate record keeping of low-level waste shipments is required by federal law. Rubblization is the next essential step in the ritual of not documenting the source term (inventories, pathways and destinations of contamination) of the fuel cladding failures and other losses-of-radiological controls at MYAPC and other NRC licensed reactors.
The ongoing construction of the Wiscasset radioactive waste storage and disposal facility is a project that was started in 1972 with reactor criticality and the first incident of fuel cladding failure. The Wiscasset facility should now be expanded to include low-level wastes from all other Maine sources as soon as Bob Blagdon, a Wiscasset selectman, makes the arrangement for other Maine waste generators to make their meager contribution to the larger inventories of radioactive waste already sited at Wiscasset. The town of Wiscasset will be happy to collect a fee from other Maine vendors, using the MYAPC facility to help offset their loss of tax revenues from the cessation of reactor operations. Any objection to the waste dump at Wiscasset is just EPA bluster. Historically, the EPA is part of the problem, not part of the solution, and has always been a non-advocate of better documentation of NRC licensee reactor-derived pulsed releases of radioactivity. It's too late to worry about something you can't do anything about now. The Wiscasset facility will be a pathbreaking and innovative solution to the decommissioning conundrum and will provide handy opportunity to solve the fuel cladding failure-derived contamination problem without too much publicity or public expense. The Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company is on the cutting edge of nuclear waste dump design and construction as well as the wave of the future, and it is unlikely that there is anything the EPA can do to alter the economic necessity of ISFSIs, entombment, rubblization, onsite burial of low-level wastes and continued use of Montsweag Bay as a federally licensed liquid waste disposal repository. What the EPA Office of Radiation and Indoor Air thinks is irrelevant - get used to it.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
H. G. Brack
P.S. I would also like to comment on item 5 in your letter: "dilution as the solution" is a remedial practice that is the very foundation of NRC waste disposal policy: see CFR 10 Part 20 Appendix B Tables 1, 2 and 3: "Occupational values, Effluent concentrations, Releases to sewers". MYAPC is not in violation of regulatory guidelines until such time as average individuals residing near the Wiscasset reactor ingest more than 1,000 servings of food contaminated with 10,000 pCi/kg of 137Cs (Table 1). It is unlikely the rubblization process will violate any NRC regulatory guidelines any more than fuel cladding failures did in the past.
The Honorable Thomas H. Allen
House of Representatives
P. O. Box 17766
Portland, ME 04112-8766
Dear Representative Allen:
Thank you for your letter of February 1 pertaining to Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC). I would like to make the observation with respect to the Government Accounting Office report you mentioned that the NRC is particularly deficient in providing public access to accurate nuclide-specific information about the inventories of reactor-derived radioactivity in various components of licensee equipment undergoing decommissioning. At MYAPC, we are particularly in need of additional information about fuel cladding failure-derived contamination in reactor water systems, vacuum filters in the spent fuel pool, the remaining residual water in the reactor water storage tank and soil contamination around the facility.
The current debate on site release criteria obscures the fact that released criteria at any level (10 mrem/yr, 25 mrem/yr, or 100 mrem/yr) cannot be accurately verified since very little information is available about the (source term) release inventories, pathways and destinations of fission products, activation products and hot particles released by multiple losses of radiological controls at MYAPC. Maine Yankee is essentially a pulsed released source point; rubblization provides an additional pathway for the spread of fuel cladding failure-derived fission products and other reactor contaminants.
"Decommissioning" is a disingenuous and misleading description of what, in essence, is the construction of an undocumented defacto nuclear waste storage facility. The state of Maine is correct in seeking a more accurate accounting of reactor-derived contamination, but has a long standing conflict of interest as a principle booster of MYAPC activities. No one should have the illusion that the State of Maine can provide an accurate evaluation of the radiological status of MYAPC facilities or environs. This is a federal obligation, not a state obligation. State of Maine monitoring only creates an illusion of adequate oversight.
Site release criteria, not to mention the rubblization process, can only be determined by a meticulous and comprehensive reactor water system pipe by pipe, spent fuel pool vacuum filter by filter etc. survey for reactor-derived contamination. Such a survey needs to include isotopic profiles of contamination in all areas of the plant expressed in standard reporting units (becquerel/kg or m2). The GTS Duratek survey, which documented losses of radiological controls at MYAPC, was only a cursory beginning to this process. The State of Maine can advocate, but cannot execute the much more detailed radiological inventory of all components of the MYAPC installation which is the necessary prelude to the construction of a defacto radioactive waste storage facility at Wiscasset.
I believe the GTS Duratek Company if properly advised and funded (with whose money?) would be able to do what the state of Maine cannot do. I hope you will support much more detailed federally sponsored analyses of the MYAPC site before any further decommissioning activities occur.
H. G. Brack
United States Senate
250 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-1903
Dear Senator Olympia Snowe:
Thank you for your letter of January 31, 2000. I would reiterate that I have not been satisfied with congressional delegation oversight of the decommissioning process. I am particularly concerned with the failure to observe or note the NRC's failure to document the inventories, pathways and destinations of contamination released via a series of fuel cladding failures at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC). I would specifically direct your attention to a spill of refueling water from the reactor water storage tank (RWST) on March 30, 1984. I enclose a copy of a letter from the NRC where they allege that they made a through documentation of this reactor water storage tank spill. Some of the water from this spill ran into a storm drain and thence into the forebay where it was mixed with circulating water and service water that was discharged into unrestricted waters. I don't disagree that the contaminated water from the reactor water storage tank, after being mixed with uncontaminated water, had "release concentrations of nuclides of the spilled RWST [that] were significantly smaller than the maximum permissible concentration." The problem is the NRC was unable to measure the concentrations of radioactivity in the contaminated water that did not go into the forebay where plant-derived water is diluted. Rather, it spilled onto frozen ground during a snowstorm and the resulting soil contamination was not discovered until the GTS Duratek site characterization several years ago. The area of contamination on the west side fence line, which resulted from this spill, is the largest documented in the open literature at any NRC facility and has great significance for the decommissioning process for those who would take the time to carefully scrutinize the losses-of-radiological controls that characterized plant operations and of which this is only one example.
You will note John Zwolinski's observation that the approximately 5,000 gallons of liquid that spilled flowed into the storm drain, and though he doesn't mention it, hence into the forebay where it would be diluted. I have the following questions about this specific incident.
1. Since the spilled water that causes soil contamination went onto frozen ground in a winter snowstorm, how would the NRC measure the release concentrations of nuclides in the water that did not go into the forebay?
2. Levels of soil contamination noted in the GTS Duratek report run up to 65,000 pCi/kg of soil and using their data there appears to be a uniform area of soil contamination approaching 10,000 sq. ft. with average contamination levels of 10,000 to 20,000 pCi/kg throughout the whole area. Why didn't the NRC discover this contamination after their follow-up inspection when they tested the water in the forebay? I think it is fairly obvious that there wouldn't have been any remaining standing water on the frozen snow covered ground the day after the spill. Why did the NRC never follow-up this spill with a more detailed analysis of soil contamination in the area where the spill occurred?
3. Why is the NRC insisting that the contamination in the refueling water storage tank discharges were within regulatory limits when it is obvious they had no way to measure contamination levels in this water until it was in the forebay and could be diluted?
4. It appears from what the NRC is saying, that most of the contaminated water went into the forebay, yet only a small amount of contaminated water spilled on frozen ground resulted in very high levels of contamination and it is obvious that the water that did not go into the forebay was contaminated far beyond maximum permissible concentrations. Why would the NRC lie about this? Is this due to incompetence? Why was this spilled water so hot, that is with such high concentrations of fission products in such a small quantity of water?
5. Isn't it obvious that the refueling water storage tank (RWST), which I frequently have incorrectly called the reactor water storage tank (it is), is a repository for fission products which have contaminated reactor water systems due to fuel cladding failure?
6. Wouldn't a more careful oversight of the decommissioning process suggest to you the need to more accurately determine how much radioactivity has been released from fuel cladding failures and other losses-of-radiological controls? Isn't it a red flag to you that the RWST is a repository for reactor-derived fission products?
7. When the licensee flushed out the reactor water systems during the decommissioning process and released over 300,000 gallons of contaminated water from the refueling water storage tank into Montsweag Bay several years ago, they left 10,000 gallons of water in the tank. Why did they do this? Was it too hot to release? Is it still there? Where has or will it go? Why did they flush out the reactor water systems just after they took a few sediment samples from the bottom of Montsweag Bay? Why not sample the sediments as well as the water after the plant water systems were flushed out rather than before? And also, why was no notification given to fishermen and clam diggers that the reactor water systems were being flushed out, particularly in view of the fact that the RWST was and is a repository of fuel cladding failure-derived fission products?
Anyway this leads to a general question for the congressional delegation as a whole: why would you not want the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to mandate an independent inventory (e.g. GTS Duratek, but not state of Maine) of the amounts and destinations of reactor-derived fission products as a normal part of the decommissioning process? You may note that a number of years ago, Uldis Vanags published A Study In Radioactive Wastes (1992) where he made a detailed analysis of activation products in low-level waste that would be disposed of during the decommissioning process. Neither he nor anyone in the NRC mentions the fact that substantial amounts of fission products, released by leaking fuel as a matter of course according to the NRC, are also a component of the decommissioning process because they so pervasively contaminate reactor water systems, as graphically illustrated by the GTS Duratek report with respect to its swipe samples and their subsequent spectroanalyses. How could anyone in the congressional delegation possibly be satisfied with the failure of the NRC to mandate more detailed documentation of the many losses-of-radiological control at MYAPC, the water tank spill in 1984 being a red flag indicating two things: reactor-derived fission product contamination throughout plant water systems, and a mind numbing inability of NRC staff to realize that if they decommission any nuclear reactors in any location, they have to mandate a thorough inventory of the source term of all accidental releases, i.e. the inventories and concentrations of radioactivity released beyond the first fission product barrier (the fuel cladding), the pathways of this contamination within and outside of reactor water systems, and the final destination of these releases. It makes no difference whatsoever that at some point some of the contaminated water was diluted to meet federal regulations. The refusal of the NRC to even admit they have a problem should be a red flag for the congressional delegation, and requires much more detailed scrutinization of both NRC policies and the decommissioning process than anyone has yet endeavored to execute.
Please note I enclose a recent letter from John Zwolinski, Division of Licensing Project Management as well as the Licensee Event Report (LER) for the refueling water storage tank spill. Please note that the LER provides not the slightest clue that extensive soil contamination resulted from this spill and especially that the small quantity of contaminated water that did not go into the forebay for dilution had contamination levels that far exceeded any federal regulations.
I would also like to observe that in 25 years of writing letters to the NRC as well as to the licensee (numbering now perhaps into a fourth order of magnitude), it is hard not to notice that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not have an administrative branch devoted to radiological surveillance of the environmental impact of reactor operations or decommissioning. Why not? Who are they kidding? Why is the NRC so adamant in their insistence that they have adequately documented the defacto radioactive waste storage facilities they have sponsored? Who is going to pay the bill for this systemic institutionalized incompetence, as typified by the enclosed comments on the refueling water storage tank spill?
You will notice in the enclosed staff response to my comments that in fact, the NRC has not received the GTS Duratek site characterization report which documents contamination throughout the reactor water systems and around the environment of the plant. "The licensee has not submitted the Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan to the NRC for our review and there is not a regulatory requirement for them to do so. ... Information derived from the Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan is required to be submitted to the NRC as part of the License Termination Plan (LTP)." These are amongst the most chilling words I've ever read in any NRC literature, letters or Inspection Reports for it clearly indicates that the NRC has no interest in documenting inventories, pathways and destinations of reactor-derived contamination at or after the time they occur until the very end of the decommissioning process at which time there is no one around who will much care what happened in the distant past. At the time of the Maine Yankee License Termination Plan and its final site survey, it will be too late to alter the decommissioning process to take into account the contamination resulting from losses-of-radiological control at the reactor.
Thank you for taking the time to write me about the decommissioning process at Maine Yankee.
H. G. (Skip) Brack
I want to share several pieces of information with interested parties relating to the question of how much radioactivity was released via the 66 failed fuel assemblies that Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) acknowledges are in the spent fuel pool. (They also list approximately another 200 "nonstandard" fuel assemblies.) MYAPC issued the following report on November 22, 1999: Maine Yankee Spent Fuel Pool Non-Fuel Gamma Spectroscopy Characterization. This report would be useful in providing an isotopic profile of the many vacuum filters and other non-fuel debris in the fuel pool, some of which have been recently shipped out to the Barnwell facility in South Carolina. The MYAPC confidential inventory of the contents of the spent fuel pool, previously issued by the licensee in 1998, lists numerous vacuum filters in the spent fuel pool as possibly containing fuel pellets from the failed fuel assemblies. I am now informed by Michael Webb of the NRC that this more recent non-fuel gamma spectroscopy characterization is proprietary information and not available for public review. I would be interested in any comments about the outrageous lack of availability of this important data. Of equal interest is a letter received from John Zwolinski on February 9, 2000, in response to my comments on the Duratek site characterization survey and the soil and reactor water systems contamination which it documents. Zwolinski notes the following about this controversial and very important report "The licensee has not submitted the Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan to the NRC for our review and there is not a regulatory requirement for them to do so." Since the management plan preceded the site characterization report which documented both the soil contamination and the extraordinary levels of fission products in the reactor water systems, obviously the NRC has not received nor is interested in reviewing the voluminous Duratek site characterization report which resulted from the management plan. The Duratek characterization clearly documents the existence of fuel-derived fission products throughout the plant.
The fact that information about the radiological contents of the spent fuel pool is not available to the general public, and that the NRC has not received or reviewed the Duratek characterization which clearly documents the losses-of-radiological control at MYAPC in the past raises a number of questions:
1. With respect to the 66 failed fuel assemblies and the several hundred nonstandard assemblies in the spent fuel pool, would an estimate of the amount of radioactivity lost from the failed fuel assemblies also be considered proprietary information and not available to the general public as well as to state and federal officials overseeing the decommissioning process?
2. The Oakridge National Laboratory Integrated Database provides an inventory of spent fuel wastes within the confines of fuel assemblies at MYAPC. The 1998 inventory of radioactivity in spent fuel for pressurized water reactors is listed as 22,400 x 106 curies (pg. 33) or 22 billion curies for approximately 75 pressurized water reactors in the US. A conservative estimate for the inventory of radioactivity in MYAPC spent fuel is certainly 200 million curies. If 66 fuel assemblies exhibit signs of failure and others exhibit signs of damage, why wouldn't the decommissioning process automatically include as a matter of necessity a review of the failed and damaged fuel assemblies to determine how much radioactivity in the form of fission products is no longer in the fuel assemblies? How much radioactivity was vacuumed up and now resides in filters, both as fuel pellets and, as is more likely, as "low-level waste"?
3. We can complement the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the licensee for their recent search of the spent fuel pool for cow-pod size spent fuel fragments, but its not surprising they didn't find any, even though there are several broken fuel rods in the up-ender pit at the bottom of the fuel pool. The real issue continues to be how much radioactivity was released from the failed and damaged fuel assemblies and where did it go? The mass wasting or breakup of most of the fuel pellets in the reactor water systems naturally results in the creation of "low-level wastes" that have one and only one source point: the reactor vessel and its leaky fuel assemblies. What is so controversial about making an inventory of the radioactivity that has escaped from the spent fuel as well as tracking its pathways and destinations? Such contamination is naturally present in the low-level waste of all reactors as a routine matter of course, both in the vacuum filters as well as in the resins and other debris that every reactor generates. How much radioactivity escaped into reactor water systems and plant environs?
4. Is the reason why the NRC is reluctant to characterize the isotopic profile of the low-level waste stream because fuel cladding failure is so ubiquitous (routine)? And therefore, contamination in most reactor water systems is much more wide spread than the NRC would care to reveal? The important question is - what quantity of radioactivity was released from the failed fuel assemblies at MYAPC (or any other reactor), what are its pathways and its destination? Doesn't quantifying the amount of fission products in the low-level waste stream help answer this key question? Is it legal for the NRC and its licensees to withhold this information as "proprietary"? Doesn't the Code of Federal Regulations mandate that the NRC document all loss-of-radiological controls and make this information available to the general public?
5. How can anyone, even the tooth fairy, make a determination of the validity of site release criteria without this database?
With respect to today's Maine Times article on the decommissioning process at MYAPC. The Maine Times is very helpful in letting MYAPC off the hook by asserting that fuel assembly failure is a matter of my belief. The revelation about the existence of 66 failed fuel assemblies comes from a confidential 1998 MYAPC spent fuel pool inventory (MYAPC inventory of "spent fuel and other radioactive materials stored in the Maine Yankee spent fuel pool" MYPS 101, April 16, 1998, rev. 0. http://home.acadia.net/cbm/Rad9e.html#May10); the existence of failed fuel assemblies at MYAPC is an irrevocable part of the decommissioning process and has nothing to do with personal belief. The state of South Carolina is only kidding itself by suggesting fuel cladding failure derived fission products are not a part of the low-level waste streams going to their landfill from all reactors. The question is: what is the quantity of fission products in low-level waste stream flow? The Maine Times joins other Maine media in diverting attention from the central question surrounding the decommissioning process at MYAPC: how much radioactivity escaped from MYAPC's 66 failed fuel assemblies (1973-74, 1996-97, and ?)? Where did it go? How does it affect the decommissioning process? This issue has nothing to do with belief, but rather with expensive time consuming laboratory spectroanalysis. The cursory Duratek survey resulted in only a meager database, but one that indicates major problems at MYAPC.
Postscript to memo on "proprietary" information:
One of the most contaminated environments at MYAPC is the reactor basement and the surrounding soil. Assuming the mildly contaminated concrete to be sited in the reactor basement has been closely checked and contains no significant quantity of fission products, doesn't the issue of rubblization divert attention from the need to characterize and then remediate this environment - that is the reactor basement where you are going to put the rubble? Soil contamination in the area adjacent to the reactor basement, which will serve as the repository of the concrete rubble, has been noted at levels exceeding 100,000 picocuries of 137Cs per kilogram. Will this area also not be remediated during the decommissioning process?
Aren't these evasions a prelude to the final step in the decommissioning process: covering the MYAPC low-level waste dump with a layer of clean soil and ipsofacto: no surface contamination. Also, no source term analyses of the fuel cladding failures at MYAPC as well as no public access to controversial contamination data which illustrates just how little the NRC and its licensees know about the ubiquitous incidents of loss-of-radiological controls which characterize all reactor operations not just MYAPC. The Maine Times can join the list of media who have avoided asking the key question: how much radioactivity was released by 66 failed fuel assemblies at MYAPC, where did it go and how does it impact the decommissioning process at MYAPC? Its much easier to beat around the bush.
172 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Collins:
I'd like to share my concerns with you about the recent cutbacks in NRC staff as well as the generic inability of the NRC to execute an accurate documentation of the inventories of radioactive waste products which are a component of the decommissioning process at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) in Wiscasset. You will note that the DOE's Integrated Database provides accurate inventories and isotopic profiles of spent fuel wastes at commercial nuclear reactors. Would you share with me any inventories of low-level as well as GTCC (greater than class C) and high-level wastes generated by the decommissioning process at MYAPC? As noted in previous correspondence, I am seeking an estimate of the amounts and destinations of radioactivity released from 66 failed fuel assemblies as well as more than 100 damaged fuel assemblies (out of 1,420). Of the fission products released by fuel cladding failure, what percentage has been shipped as low-level waste to Barnwell, South Carolina? As and within contaminated metal shipped to Frank Hake Associates in Memphis, Tennessee? With respect to the decommissioning process at MYAPC, how much remains on site as reactor containment "dross"? How much is left in remaining contaminated water systems, piping and tanks? How much is left as soil contamination? Please explain to me why your office would not be interested in how much radioactive contamination was released from these failed assemblies, where it went, and how it impacts the decommissioning process. Of special interest is the impact of these loss-of-radiological control "events" on the costs to ratepayers and taxpayers who must eventually bear the burden of these releases.
Enclosed is a copy of a letter to Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Clark, which explores comments made by John Zwolinski of the NRC pertaining to the GTS Duratek survey (1998, ten volumes), that so clearly documents numerous breaches of fission product boundaries at MYAPC.
H. G. Brack
U.S. Attorney's Office
Portland, ME 04104-5018
I had a question about something in a February 9, 2000, letter I received from John Zwolinski, Director of the Division of Licensing Project Management at the NRC. The letter contained this quote: "The licensee has not submitted the Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan to the NRC for our review and there is not a regulatory requirement for them to do so."
I draw your attention to this quote because the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company announced last year that its spent fuel pool contained 66 failed fuel assemblies as well as more than 100 damaged fuel assemblies and other debris. In another recent letter from the NRC, mention is made of broken fuel rods in the bottom of the spent fuel pool in the up-ender pit. In the sequel to the report referred to above by Mr. Zwolinski, the licensee's site characterization contractor GTS Duratek made a cursory examination of MYAPC facilities and environs as a preparation for the decommissioning process. The GTS Duratek survey clearly documents soil contamination along the west side fence line from a 1984 nuclear accident that spilled unusually radioactive water from a refueling (reactor) water storage tank. Out of approximately 100 reactor water system spectroanalytic swipe samples, about 50% showed high levels of fission product contamination. The Duratek survey clearly documents losses-of-radiological control at MYAPC at some time in the past.
Don't federal regulations require that the NRC review licensee generated radiological monitoring reports to ensure compliance with meeting annual limits on intake in Appendix B to Part 20 of the CFR? The Duratek report clearly documents high levels of fission product soil contamination (137Cs) along the west side fence line of the facility. The water tank leak that lead to the contamination was only 7,000 gallons, most of which went directly into a nearby forebay where it was diluted prior to release to Montsweag Bay. An undetermined but much smaller amount of contaminated water was released on snow covered and frozen ground and yet still left significant contamination over an area of 10,000 ft2. This contamination was clearly far in excess of effluent concentration limits listed in CFR Section 10, Part 20, Section B, Table 2, column 2.
We now have the NRC indicating that this kind of licensee generated information is not required to be submitted for consideration during NRC oversight of the decommissioning process. Decommissioning remobilizes fuel cladding failure derived fission products now present in reactor water systems and piping, in the reactor basement and surrounding soil, as well as in areas such as the west side fence line which were not expected to have been impacted by reactor operations. The NRC then says: "Information derived from the Duratek Site Characterization Management Plan is required to be submitted to the NRC as part of the License Termination Plan (LTP)." At that point, a consideration of the radioactive contamination documented by the Duratek report will be pointless. The decommissioning process at MYAPC is well underway. Large quantities of contaminated metal piping have been shipped to Tennessee for reprocessing; other low-level wastes have been shipped off to Barnwell, South Carolina. Isn't it a generic requirement of federal law that the NRC act upon information which clearly documents a threat to public safety in the form of fuel cladding failure derived fission products in a wide area of MYAPC reactor equipment and environs? Why wouldn't the NRC want to document the source term (release quantities, pathways and destinations) of fuel cladding failure derived radioactive contamination? Why wouldn't this release be quantified in terms of the total release from the 66 failed fuel assemblies as well as the other damaged assemblies? Wouldn't it then be important to know the isotopic profile of low-level wastes shipped to both Barnwell and Tennessee as a way of estimating the amounts of fission products remaining on site in the reactor water storage tank, other storage tanks, piping and equipment, foundations and other building materials and in contaminated soil?
Because obvious losses-of-radiological controls have occurred at MYAPC over its years of operation, wouldn't careful documentation of the release amounts be a part of the decommissioning process? Wouldn't this be an important component of determining ratepayer and taxpayer liabilities for cleaning up the mess documented by the GTS Duratek report, the one the NRC doesn't want to read? Isn't this evasion of documentation, as noted by John Zwolinski, a violation of the generic obligation of the NRC to protect public safety? Can the subject of contamination documented by the GTS Duratek report wait until the decommissioning process is nearly over?
H. G. Brack
Thank you for the article you sent me in the mail. Could you please review my letter to Senator Snowe (see copy below) and tell me if you have seen a copy of the "Maine Yankee Spent Fuel Pool Non-Fuel Gamma Spectroscopy Characterization" dated November 22, 1999. Can you obtain a copy of this report? Do you have access to any component of the paper trail which documents the isotopic profile of wastes shipped to Barnwell, Beatty, NV, and GTS Duratek in Memphis? Have you seen any updates or additional site characterizations of soil or sediment contamination at MYAPC issued since the GTS Duratek characterization report? Would you offer any suggestions as to how to access records mandated by 10 CFR Part 61 Subpart D? I have now made requests for these reports to the licensee, the NRC and to all the contractors except Envirocare. I always get the same response: nobody knows anything about any isotopic profiles of low-level waste shipments. Lastly, can you update me on what was just shipped out of the MYAPC spent fuel pool and sent to Barnwell, NC, which was "hot." Presumably, all shipments to Barnwell are within waste classification specifications in 10 CFR Part 61, but accurate isotopic profiles of all waste shipments will help us estimate the amount of spilled fission products from failed fuel assemblies which will be remaining on site, either as contained low-level waste or as wastes lost within the reactor water systems and environs. I am including this letter to you as an email to everyone on our mailing list in the hope that someone else may be able to help us track down the paper trail for MYAPC waste shipments.
United States Senate
Rm. 176 Russell Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Senator Olympia Snowe:
Michael Webb of the NRC has indicated that the following report is a proprietary document and is not available for public review and that "the NRC is no longer in possession of the document." The report I am seeking is the Maine Yankee Spent Fuel Pool Non-Fuel Gamma Spectroscopy Characterization dated November 22, 1999. This report was mentioned in the Maine Yankee Inspection Report 50-309/99-03.
I have a number of questions and requests pertaining to the restricted
status of the isotopic characterization of non-fuel items in the spent
· Can you or anyone else from the Maine congressional delegation obtain a copy of this report, review it and explain to me why you think this report should be restricted information?
· Can you provide me with a copy of this report if you feel it should not be restricted information?
· Can you explain why copies of records mandated by 10 CFR 61 Subpart D with respect to MYAPC land disposal of radioactive wastes are not available for public review for manifests and records including isotopic profiles of low-level wastes shipped to Barnwell, NC? To Envirocare at Beatty, NV? To GTS Duratek (formerly Frank W. Hake & Associates) in Memphis, TN?
· Can you explain why these records should not be subject to public review as part of the decommissioning process, especially for financial planning purposes for an accurate estimation of future waste disposal costs?
· Can you explain why these records should not be subject to public review for the purpose of determining the source term (release inventories, pathways, destinations and current location) of fission product leakage derived from 66 failed fuel assemblies and over 100 damaged fuel assemblies in the MYAPC spent fuel pool?
· Can you explain why an isotopic characterization of MYAPC reactor vessel dross (spent fuel derived fission products, CRUD, hot particles and other activation products) is not available for public review as part of the decommissioning process?
In short, why is the NRC, Maine media and the Maine congressional delegation reluctant to document the amounts and destinations of fission products derived from MYAPC failed fuel assemblies as well as other instances of loss-of-radiological controls? Why is the paper trail documenting the isotopic profile of low-level wastes destined for a variety of locations (including on site storage) proprietary information?
Thank you for your attention in this matter.
H. G. Brack
PO Box 12
Gardiner, ME 04345
Dear Senator Treat:
The public needs an explanation as to why you and other members of the Maine State Legislature support rubblization at Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) without measuring and tracking fission products released from the 66 failed fuel assemblies now in the spent fuel pool. How much radioactivity was released by these failures (1973? 1997?)? Where did it go? Where is it now? Why would anyone want to rubblize the site of these nuclear "events" without evaluating their radiological significance? Without even admitting they occurred? Why would anyone think this is a state rather than a federal obligation?
A related question -- why are Maine media so reluctant to report or write about fuel cladding failures at MYAPC? Why are the words "fuel cladding failure" so controversial they have yet to appear in any Maine newspaper?
Rubblization leaves the working people of Maine - the ratepayers - as the suckers in the decommissioning scam. After "decommissioning" and "license termination" 99% or more of MYAPC fission and activation products will remain on site as ratepayer "entitlements". These entitlements include an independent spent fuel storage facility, a highly contaminated reactor vessel that will probably not go by barge to a landfill in South Carolina, a spent fuel pool filled with debris that will be very expensive to relocate and store, contaminated soil and contaminated reactor water systems that transported spent fuel-derived fission products to locations and environs that have not been radiologically characterized.
There has been a low-level radioactive waste site at Wiscasset since the reactor began operation in 1972. Maine residents voted for this facility three times by wide margins. Why isn't it logical to take an inventory of the radioactive wastes and their location before you rubblize the facility? Who benefits (i.e. profits, or at least saves money) by the current crackpot decommissioning process now underway at MYAPC? Who do you, other Maine legislators and the Maine media think you are kidding?
H. G. Brack
The comments by the Governor's consultants reference only slightly damaged fuel assemblies. The 66 failed fuel assemblies not mentioned in the Governor's report and which cannot qualify for a Certificate of Compliance have released an unknown quantity of fission products, some of which remain in the reactor vessel. The radiological characterization of the reactor vessel in the MYAPC No. GAZ-99-34 Attachment 2 Summary Report mentions only activation product analyses yielding a reactor vessel with "less than 50,000 curies (ci.)" GTCC (greater than class C) components with +/-3 million curies of radioactivity have been removed. In the 1987 MYAPC TLG report the GTCC wastes (235 cu. ft.; 4,047,879 ci. at two years cooling) were scheduled to be cut up and mixed with low-level wastes in 107 shipments (see TLG reactor vessel inventory). Where are the GTCC components now? If destined for the ISFSI, how will they be packaged and who will package them? Or will they be mixed with low-level wastes and shipped to Barnwell in smaller units to meet DOT guidelines as previously planned? Have they already been mixed and shipped? In addition to activation products in the metal components of the reactor vessel, how much radioactivity remains in the reactor vessel as dross, CRUD and debris as well as fission products that derived from the fuel cladding failures at MYAPC in 1973 and 1995-96? Don't federal regulations require accurate characterization of the fission products remaining in the reactor vessel now scheduled to be stabilized by being mixed with concrete and left in the reactor vessel? Why is the evasion of documentation of the quantities and locations of spilled fission products tolerated (e.g. in the reactor vessel, in plant water systems and in the sediments and soils around MYAPC)? Who benefits from the failure to document these losses-of-radiological controls?
Also of critical immediate interest: what is the environmental impact of segmentation of GTCC wastes out of the MYAPC reactor vessel? What quantities of gaseous effluents have been released by the use of robotic welding equipment to cut up highly radioactive reactor vessel internals? What liquid effluents have resulted from this process? How can these effluents be filtered and evaluated in a deconstructed environment? Were any GTCC segmentation derived liquids spilled or discharged into Montsweag Bay? How do GTCC wastes affect the water quality of the spent fuel pool? How will the GTCC wastes be packaged and removed from the spent fuel pool? If not disposed of as low-level wastes, how many casks will be needed? How does segmentation affect worker exposure versus safe storage?
More questions with respect to the Barnwell, South Carolina, destination of the reactor vessel which might leave the MYAPC site in the next few weeks: would accurate documentation of the isotopic profile of all the contents of the reactor vessel including debris, CRUD, hot particles and spilled spent fuel-derived fission products put the MYAPC reactor vessel also over the 50,000 ci. limit for Barnwell? (The 1987 TLG report listed reactor vessel low-level wastes as 109,709 ci. at two years cooling.) Above DOT transport regulations? What quantity of long-lived isotopes such as 239Pu are still in the MYAPC reactor vessel? Doesn't the failure to document the inventories and locations of all spent fuel derived contamination show the NRC and its licensee, MYAPC, in the process of trying to pull a fast one by hoodwinking both the hapless public (ratepayers) and feckless state officials in Maine and South Carolina? Isn't there more in the MYAPC reactor vessel than just > 50,000 ci. of activation products?
The Governor's recognition that there may be some safety issues pertaining to the long term storage of slightly damaged fuel assemblies is a step in the right direction. Admission of problems with damaged fuel assemblies opens the door to discussions of the more serious issue of the 66 failed fuel assemblies and the quantities, destinations and current locations of the fission products they released. The reactor vessel is likely to be a primary repository for these fission products. The question is how much radioactivity leaked out of the failed and damaged fuel assemblies? Where is it now? Where is it going?
Angus S. King, Jr.
Governor [state of Maine]
"On behalf of the State of Maine (the 'State'), I submit the enclosed comments on the Commission's proposed rule, 65 Fed. Reg. 3397, January 21, 2000, that would amend 10 CFR § 72.214 to approve the NAC-UMS Universal Storage System for spent nuclear fuel (Certificate No. 1015)."
"...it now appears that DOE may not complete removal of all Maine Yankee's spent fuel for 20 to 30 years, or perhaps much longer. Thus, whatever storage system is chosen must assure the public's safety for an extended period..."
"Based on its consultation with leading experts, the State has serious concerns about long-term spent fuel storage. The Commission's proposed Certificate of Compliance (Appendix A at A1-1) and NAC's Preliminary Safety Analysis Report (Table 1-1 at 1-4) permit fuel with pinholes or hairline cracks in the cladding to be treated as if it were 'intact,' without analyzing the impact of those defects over the 20-year license period much less over the likely storage duration. Emerging research shows that incomplete drying of the spent fuel before storage, combined with demonstrated physical processes, can enlarge those defects and 'unzip' the cladding thus breaching a primary containment barrier for the fuel. The absence of any mechanism in the NAC-UMS system to verify the condition of the fuel during storage and prior to transport intensifies the State's concerns."
"Failure to provide concerted answers now based on rigorous, scientific
analysis may create additional, more serious problems for future generations."
Based on the State's analysis, NAC International has not yet provided reasonable assurance that its NAC-UMS transfer and storage system will maintain the required level of confinement integrity in the proposed dry storage installation under the known, normal conditions. NAC has not provided the required assurance that the single failure-proof confinement requirements for cladding and cask integrity will be unimpaired during the expected storage interval. In particular, NAC has not provided assurance that the integrity of the primary confinement barrier (i.e., the cladding) will be maintained during the licensed period from cask closure until relicensing or shipment. Until NAC provides that assurance, the NAC-UMS spent fuel storage system should not be approved. To the extent that the NRC approves the NAC-UMS application without a further empirical demonstration of such assurance, the NRC should provide a demonstrable scientific basis to justify its approval.
The CoC defines "Intact Fuel Assembly" and "Intact Fuel Rod" as "a fuel assembly [or rod] without known or suspected cladding defects greater than a pinhole leak or hairline crack.." (CoC, App. A at A1-1) Such cladding penetrations indicate cracks in the cladding and the pinhole is merely the first point of penetration. Thus, it is inappropriate to rely on the partially breached cladding to provide the necessary confinement barrier during long-term storage. Fuel rods with cladding that has been compromised by pinhole leaks or hairline cracks may "unzip" during dry storage due to the known, expected fuel pellet expansion caused by oxidation. Test data compiled by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory ("PNNL") suggest that small defects -- perhaps at the location of permissible cladding defects in 'intact" fuel -- may open up during dry storage, creating a loss of primary confinement. See "Spent Nuclear Fuel Integrity During Dry Storage - Performance Tests and Demonstrations," Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, June 1997. The PNNL study was based on data covering only seven years of dry storage, and cladding degradation over a 20-year licensed life would be expected to be greater. NAC and the Commission have not analyzed the long-term implications of pinholes and hairline cracks.
Moreover, the PSER does not provide a rationale to explain scientifically why permitted cladding defects in the form of pinholes and hairline cracks do not compromise the cladding as a confinement barrier. Neither the PSER nor the PSAR specify a cause for the pinhole or hairline crack, but necessarily assume that they were created by mechanisms external to the fuel rod (i.e., that there is no ongoing mechanism that would exacerbate the defect over time). It is equally plausible, however, that these defects stem from internal rod (cladding) stress corrosion cracking. If so, that mechanism may persist through the dry storage period, further compromising the cladding. Neither Interim Staff Guidance - 1, Damaged Fuel, nor the Nuclear Energy Institute's June 30, 1999 fuel classification protocol address the scientific (i.e., physical cause) rationale for classifying fuel with cladding pinholes and hairline cracks as "intact fuel". Without this analysis, the application does not satisfy the requirements of 10 CFR § 72.236(b), (e), and (1), and the Commission may not approve the proposed rule
Neither the PSER nor the PSAR explains how consolidated fuel assemblies that have been canned will maintain confinement in the NAC-UMS system. (See PSAR Section 22.214.171.124.1.) For such assemblies, the primary confinement barrier (i.e., cladding). has been compromised and has been replaced by a can. The can is not a true confinement barrier, however, because the top and bottom are merely screens that will not confine the powder form of the fuel, U3O8. (See PSAR, App. 12A at 12A1-6.) Furthermore, the process of consolidation itself (as defined by ANSI/ANS-57.10, Design Criteria for Consolidation of LWR Spent Fuel) is expected (Design Event II) to produce broken/damaged rods (i.e., cladding penetrations). Therefore, the requirement for a primary confinement barrier will not be met if the can in which the individual rods are loaded has screens. This absence of a primary barrier -- especially when damaged fuel rods are loaded in the can -- violates the single failure requirement in 10 CFR § 72.236(e) for confinement of the radioactive material (fuel).
Since the inception of the dry storage concept, designers and regulators have been concerned about oxidation of the radioactive fuel (initially UO2) due to moisture that remains in the canister after fuel has been loaded from the pool. Because of this concern, extraordinary attention must be given to removal of the pool water from the loaded canister. The proposed NAC-UMS canister drying process (CoC, Table A3-1; SER Section 8.1.3) calls for producing and holding a vacuum of 3 torr (3 mm Mercury) for 30 minutes through two cycles. Upon completion of the drying process the fuel canister is backfilled with an inert gas (helium) and sealed. This proposed drying process will not remove the water completely. Ideal gas law theory alone indicates that this proposed vacuum drying process cannot remove all of the water, even if the fuel rods do not have cladding penetrations (i.e., pinholes and/or hairline cracks). In addition, It is a fact that the water inside those rods with allowed cladding penetrations (i.e., "intact" fuel rods) will not be removed by the vacuum drying process, thus adding to the amount of water available to react with the fuel material (UO2) during storage.
Water will react with UO2 based fuel to form bonded hydrated phases (UO3-H2O), which cannot be removed by vacuum drying. The oxygen will cause continued oxidation of the fuel, resulting in U3O8 phase, which is highly expansionary (i.e. low density). This phase is able to "unzip" the cladding at already damaged cladding points (stress corrosion cracking) that extend inside the cladding from a pinhole. Because U3O8 is essentially a powder, it is highly dispersible. The oxidation reaction is a time-at-temperature process that will proceed based on the temperature of the fuel pellets. Moreover, hydrated phases can increase the oxidation rate of the fuel, typically by a factor of five. For these reasons, it is highly doubtful that the NAC-UMS dry storage system will be able to maintain the necessary condition of the fuel rods over the 20-year license period, and the application does not satisfy the requirements of 10 CFR § 72.236(b), (e), and (l).
The NAC-UMS system does not provide for a capability to verify periodically whether or not the storage conditions have changed, thus requiring canning or other remedial measures for fuel that has developed further damage during storage. Due to the highly dispersible nature of U3O8 verification inspection cannot take place in a pool but requires a hot cell with remote handling capabilities. The only available non-destructive verification process would he an assay approach similar to gamma scanning, but gamma scanning is not adequate to determine whether storage conditions have changed. In any case, the NAC-UMS storage system is not amenable to such a scanning technique. Thus, the fuel containing canisters may need to be opened periodically in a hot cell and visually inspected. An ISFSI site using the NAC-UMS system may require such a facility because the canisters may not be shipped under Part 71 without verification of fuel rod integrity. The PSER inappropriately accepts verification based solely on the lack of external events --not on the actual condition of cladding -- even though there is an established potential for in-storage cladding degradation. The PSER should define verification requirements for the NAC-UMS system prior to shipment under Part 71 and evaluate the applicant's verification methods. Without such an analysis, the application does not satisfy the requirements of 10 CFR § 72.236(g), (j), and (m).
The NAC-UMS system proposes to use a borated polymer (NS-4-FR) as a neutron slowing/absorbing material for the storage cask (PSER Section 9.1.3). This raises a concern because of problems with radiation hardening experienced with a similar material, Boraflex. See NRC Generic letter 96-04, "Boraflex Degradation in Spent Fuel Pool Storage Racks," June 26, 1996. There is no evidence -- and the PSER does no analysis -- to establish NS-4-FR's ability to maintain form over the expected lifetime integrated neutron flux. The analysis does not satisfy 10 CFR § 72.236(c), (d), and (g).
The heavy load lifting ability of the transfer and storage systems (described in PSER Section 3.2.3) appears to be inadequately supported. The systems are not redundant, either for attachment or lift capability, and, therefore, do not satisfy the requirements for single failure of the lifting equipment. Similarly, the transfer and storage cask lifting trunnions are not redundant and do not satisfy the requirements for single failure or the requirements of 10 CFR § 72.236(h).
The NAC-UMS system dissipates heat via conduction from the center of the fuel assembly-filled canister to the canister walls and away from the canister through the natural convection via air circulation over the canister's outer surface. The analysis of the expected configuration described in the PSER Section 126.96.36.199 is based on an unrealistic physical model that assumes concentrically centered fuel assemblies. In fact, conduction is radial (not axial) and is based solely on the physical contact of the fuel assembly with the basket holding the assemblies. Because the NAC-UMS system is a vertical storage system. there is a potential for non-uniform physical contact between the basket and the fuel assembly (i.e., the heat source). For this reason, hot spots may develop along the axial direction of the fuel rod. The PSER does not analyze the degradation effects of these hot spots to assure cladding integrity throughout the license storage period. Thus, the application does not satisfy the requirements of 10 CFR § 72.236(b), (e), (f), and (l).
Segmentation and removal of MYAPC reactor vessel greater than class C (GTCC) internals creates large amounts of highly contaminated liquid effluents. Placement of these unpackaged GTCC components in the MYAPC spent fuel pool exacerbates the accumulation of contaminated water. The cutting up of the GTCC internal reactor vessel metal components by robotic welders also results in significant quantities of gaseous effluents. MYAPC, as a pulsed released source point of anthropogenic radioactivity, may achieve its maximum peak of uncontrolled radiological discharges during the segmentation process. What is the destination of the millions of curies of GTCC wastes being segmented out of the MYAPC reactor vessel? What is the quantity of radioactive contaminants being released to the environment by the segmentation process? What are the pathways and destinations of these contaminants?
Fax to: South Carolina Governor James Hodges
I have a question about the upcoming siting of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) reactor pressure vessels and internals at the Barnwell, SC, facility. Up here in Maine, we don't really know when the vessel is scheduled to leave by barge, but MYAPC has filed a report with the federal DOT which raises some questions. I wonder if you could help me answer these. The MYAPC report filing is labeled GAZ-99-34. In the report summary, the licensee provides a radiological characterization of the vessel as containing "less than 50,000 curies." Close reading of the summary report indicates only activation products created by the high radiation fields in the metal components of the reactor vessel are included in this radiological characterization. There is no mention in the summary report about fission products within the reactor vessel that remain following several episodes of fuel cladding failure or from contamination resulting from pin hole leaks in less damaged fuel.
Last week the governor of Maine released a report raising questions about the safety of storing the damaged fuel in the proposed dry cask independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI). Not mentioned were the 66 failed fuel assemblies which cannot be sited as standard fuel and which are the source of any fission products remaining in the reactor vessel which will be sited at Barnwell. Does your office have additional information that it would release to the public that would provide a radiological characterization of the quantity of fuel cladding failure derived fission products in the MYAPC reactor vessel? Did the MYAPC or the NRC supply such additional information to the state of South Carolina? Is your 50,000 Ci limit a very strict limit or are you hanging loose about what is in the reactor vessel other than activation products? The 1987 TLG report listed reactor vessel low-level wastes as 109,709 Ci at two years cooling. This does not include the greater than class C (GTCC) wastes that have been recently segmented out of the reactor at Wiscasset. It is surprising that the MYAPC reactor vessel has cooled that much further in a two year period. Perhaps the licensee has removed some other low-level wastes (class C) in order to meet your 50,000 Ci limitation? I would just like to make the observation that activation products characterization is done by modeling; it's impossible to directly measure the quantities of fission products in the reactor vessel. An accurate estimate of fission products in a reactor vessel would have to include an analysis of the 66 failed fuel assemblies now in the MYAPC spent fuel pool. What quantity of fission products escaped from these failed fuel assemblies and where did it go? It is important for us here in Maine to get an accurate radiological characterization of the reactor vessel and all its contents as a step in the process in evaluating the "source term" of the fuel cladding failure accidents that have occurred here in the past. By source term I am referring to quantities of fission products discharged from failed fuel assemblies, their pathways and their destinations and current locations. Does the state of South Carolina have any additional information to help us with this evaluation up in Maine? Does the state of South Carolina know when the MYAPC reactor vessel will arrive there? Have you reviewed MYAPC's filings with the Department of Transportation? Are you satisfied with their radiological characterization of the reactor vessel as presented to the DOT? Do you have any additional information that you could provide to private citizens, i.e. myself or to the press?
Thank you for your attention in this matter.
There will be a meeting on Wednesday night (April 12) at 7:00 PM at the College of the Atlantic's Turrets Great Hall in Bar Harbor. At this meeting, sponsored by COA Social Environmental Action, the Center for Biological Monitoring will be presenting information pertaining to fuel cladding failures at Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company and the impact of fission products released by these failures on the decommissioning process. Comments will also be made on Governor King's recent report on the inadequacy of dry cask storage of damaged spent nuclear fuel, on the segmentation of greater than class C (GTCC) wastes from the reactor vessel and the potential impact of segmentation on the marine environment. Interested members of the public are invited to attend. For more information call 288-5126 and ask for Skip.
|Visitors to this site in response to our ad in the New York Times and Boston Globe please note there is an immense amount of information about the fuel cladding failures at MYAPC contained both in our letters and licensee documents that have been previously posted within our website. Please scroll upwards and follow the links backwards to previous sections. See in particular, the licensee's formerly confidential inventory of the contents of the spent fuel pool that contains the failed or damaged fuel assemblies. Please direct any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.|
On April 26, I met with Kris Ferazza of the Lincoln County Weekly and had an interesting discussion about the 66 failed fuel assemblies at MYAPC. The following thoughts constitute a list of what I think are the most important current issues pertaining to the decommissioning process at MYAPC:
The two unfortunate consequences of the fuel cladding failures at MYAPC are the contamination of reactor water systems and environs, and the impossibility of safely storing failed and damaged fuel assemblies in the dry cask mode. Now that the existence of the 66 failed fuel assemblies has been acknowledged, the Pandora's box has been opened and the consequences of these fuel failures can no longer be the subject of the ritual of aversion by Maine's somnambulistic electronic and print media. (Will they ever get off the pot and get on the stick -- who benefits from continuing the hide the evidence contest?)
The Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company (MYAPC) has chosen the controversial and radiologically dirty method of segmentation of greater than class C (GTCC) wastes out of the reactor vessel. Large components such as the steam generators have been removed from the breached reactor containment and sit out exposed to the elements. There is a high probability that the heavy rainfalls of the last few weeks have re-mobilized decommissioning-derived radiological contamination and washed it into Montsweag Bay. Why would Maine consumers want to eat seafood taken from the vicinity of MYAPC when the environmental impact of the decommissioning process is unknown? Shouldn't this area be closed to the harvesting of marine resources? Shouldn't local fishermen be reimbursed for their loss of income by MYAPC? Why isn't there more public discussion of the ramifications of the decommissioning process and record heavy rainfalls on the environmental quality of Montsweag Bay and the possibility that decommissioning-derived radiological contamination has been re-mobilized and dispersed into the marine food chain?
What quantities of fission products were spilled?
MYAPC site release criteria can't be verified without an
It should be noted that licensee-generated materials indicating that a series of small nuclear accidents in the form of fuel cladding failures had occurred at Maine Yankee in 1972 and just prior to closing in 1996 became available during the last two years. The current significance of the presence of 66 failed fuel assemblies in the MYAPC spent fuel pool is that these fuel assemblies, as well as the other +/- 200 damaged fuel assemblies recently discussed in Governor King's report, cannot be safely stored in the dry cask mode. Long term wet storage in the MYAPC spent fuel pool is also not an option. This means that there is no known safe storage or disposal options for approximately 20% of MYAPC spent fuel.
The Center for Biological Monitoring provided this information and these materials as well as our comments to all Maine media and to the Boston Globe and the New York Times prior to the revelation that the damaged and failed fuel is not suitable for the ISFSI (independent spent fuel storage installation) now being planned for construction at the MYAPC site. None of the media chose to follow up on this story. Recently, Governor King inadvertently released his consultant's comments on the unresolved safety issues pertaining to safe storage of damaged fuel assemblies in the dry cask mode. This has opened a window of opportunity for reconsideration of the significance of fuel cladding failures that allowed the spread of an undetermined amount of spent fuel-derived fission products throughout reactor water systems. Of particular note, and one of many red flags about the situation at MYAPC, was a 1984 reactor water storage tank spill that released +/- 2 million nanocuries of radiocesium 137 in only 7,000 gallons of water. The evidence for this spill did not come to light until the 1998 GTS Duratek report, which contained secret supplemental survey 2501 at the very end of volume 6 of the 10 volume report. During a Community Advisory Panel meeting several months prior to the report release, the licensee described a hot spot they had discovered which was part of this spill as 1 gram of soil containing 26 picocuries of 137Cs. After the release of the GTS Duratek report it became evident that both the licensee and the NRC had lied about their documentation of the reactor water tank spill and its unexpected radiological concentrations. The radiocesium in the water that was spilled onto frozen ground in the middle of the winter in 1984 was at least 50 to 100 times more contaminated than allowed in the regulatory guidelines for releases to "sewers" contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR Part 20 Appendix B). The failure of the media to report the contents of the GTS Duratek site characterization report is a prelude to the current attempt to avoid disclosing that 20% of MYAPC spent fuel cannot be safely stored for any extended period of time by any technology currently in use by the NRC or its licensees.
The Center for Biological Monitoring has carried on extensive conversations with representatives from the news organizations listed below in the hope that Maine media would report this spill and the fuel cladding failure accidents that resulted in the elevated concentrations of radiocesium in the reactor water tank. It should be noted that these elevated concentrations probably derived from fuel cladding failures occurring in 1973. Another episode of fuel cladding failures occurred just prior to the time the reactor was permanently shut. The quantities of spent fuel-derived fission products lost from both these episodes of fuel cladding failure are not known nor has the current locations of the spilled spent fuel-derived fission products been determined.
The Center for Biological Monitoring would like to take issue with repeated comments by most of the following news reporters and journalists that the Maine public is too moronic to understand either the significance or meaning of fuel cladding failure and the necessity for its documentation prior to the decommissioning of a reactor that is in essence the site of a series of small nuclear accidents. The resulting debacle not only undermines the credibility of the NRC and the licensee but also underscores to what extent the Maine media constitute an information gulag that should be noted and remembered by anyone with an interest in the public safety consequences of nuclear reactor operation or decommissioning. The following individuals have played a key role in ensuring that the citizens of Maine have not had timely notice of the fuel cladding failures at MYAPC as well as the fact that there is no known safe storage mode for not only the 66 failed fuel assemblies at MYAPC but also apparently for the approximately 200 other damaged fuel assemblies.
Particularly active in the cover-up of the situation at Maine Yankee have been the news staff at the Portland Press Herald, Channel 6 news in Portland, Channel 13 news and the majority of the news staff at both Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television. NPR did a report last week on Governor King's comments on problems of storing damaged spent fuel in the dry cask mode, but for the most part has played a major part in subverting public discussion about many controversial aspects of MYAPC reactor operations and decommissioning. The dean of the information gulag in Maine is Alan Baker from the Ellsworth American, but his role is more historic and symbolic than being a part of the ongoing cover-up due to lack of access to much of the data that we have shared with other Maine media. Many other Maine print and electronic media are currently a component of this cover-up. This is a dark age in journalism in Maine, but the legacy of lies pertaining to the situation at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company is now unraveling. The cover-up of the consequences of the fuel cladding failures at MYAPC is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. There has been a series of nuclear accidents at MYAPC and the legacy of these accidents is the legacy for all the children of Maine. Those listed above as well as many others who lie to the children of Maine do so at their own risk. The strict site release criteria recently agreed upon by Maine environmentalists and the state legislature is totally meaningless without a determination of what quantity of fission products were lost from failed fuel assemblies, where this contamination went and now resides, and how, when and where the failed and damaged fuel assemblies will be stored and disposed of. The fact that we have to run advertisements in local and national newspapers about these issues illustrates just how irrelevant both the print and electronic media are in the last year of the 20th millennium.
|How you can help|
If you think the issues outlined in this website should be the topic
of a broader public discussion, we suggest you call some of the major media
outside of Maine. In particular, we suggest readers of this site
who share our point of view call the New York Times at (212) 556-1239,
its National Desk at (212) 556-7356 or Matt Wald in the Washington office
at (202) 862- 0300 and urge them to cover the issue of the safe storage
or lack thereof of damaged and failed fuel assemblies. Or ask them
to cover the story of the failed fuel assemblies at MYAPC and our lack
of information about what quantity of fission products were released from
these failures and where these fission products reside. Also, see
|Notice to Center for Biological Monitoring site visitors|
Due to lack of funding, the Center for Biological Monitoring began restricting
general bibliographic postings and annotations in the summer of 1999.
We canceled our Lexis-Nexis service and limited postings to those most
relevant to the decommissioning debacle at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power
Company. More recently (October 1999), The Davistown Museum of Liberty,
Maine, has been incorporated and has taken over those activities of the
Center for Biological Monitoring which pertain to the ecology of Maine,
including the impact of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company on Maine's
fragile marine ecosystems. Several weeks ago, The Davistown Museum
received notice of its 501- (3)c status. We are presently seeking
financial assistance to continue the activities of the Center for Biological
Monitoring as well as to assist the establishment of and support the activities
of The Davistown Museum. If you share the concerns presented in this
website or if you agree that the questions we have about the Maine Yankee
Atomic Power Company need to be addressed, please support our activities
by joining The Davistown Museum or making a financial contribution.
Your membership and/or financial donations will help document one of the
most important ongoing events in Maine history -- the decommissioning nightmare
now evolving at MYAPC including its undocumented reactor water systems
flush, failed fuel assemblies, reactor vessel segmentation and the frightening
sight of its breached reactor containment along the shores of Montsweag
Bay. This is the dirtiest decommissioning in the nation's history
as well as a precedent setting shortcut which will be repeated again and
again in the decommissioning of other US reactors. Please support
this site by joining The Davistown Museum.
On May 5, Center for Biological Monitoring provided an advance copy of a display ad which will be running in eight local Maine papers on Thursday, May 11. Our display ad includes the following sentence: The unwillingness of the community of Wiscasset, the state of Maine, the NRC and Maine's electronic and print media to acknowledge the consequences of the fuel cladding failures at MYAPC makes the recently agreed upon site release criteria meaningless. Ray Shadis had the following response: Dear Skip, Your claims, at base, are correct. But much of what you use to support them is inaccurate and it dasmages your message. Your conclusions are also a little on the heady side. I have inserted a few comments on the ad text in Italic, bold, caps...in the ad text. You may want to adjust your ad text to reflect the comments or not..........................................Ray. THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE. THE QUALITY OF SITE CHARACTERIZATION AND LICENSE TERMINATION PLAN ARE AT ISSUE. SITE RELEASE CRITERIA DEFINES WHERE WE NEED TO GO. THEY CAN BE SEPARATELY QUANTIFIED AND VERIFIED.
Dear Ray: thank you for educating me that meaningful site release criteria can be verified without quantifying or tracking the spent fuel-derived fission products spilled from MYAPC's 66 failed fuel assemblies.
In light of the looming bankruptcy and consequential firing of MYAPC's decommissioning operations contractor Stone & Webster, isn't it time for the complete public disclosure of the current financial situation of decommissioning activities at the MYAPC site? How much money has been spent on decommissioning activities to date? What are the specific line items including public safety protective actions that are a part of decommissioning activities? Did Stone & Webster incur more expenses for one activity or another than they anticipated? Did they act in good faith spending more on necessary decommissioning activities only to be sandbagged by the licensees refusal to be flexible in the financial arrangements of the old contract? To what extent did the failure of the rubblization plan play in the looming bankruptcy of Stone & Webster? What are the upcoming major expenses at MYAPC now that the safe storage of the highly contaminated reactor vessel and its GTCC wastes and fission product residues is no longer an option? How much ratepayer funds has the licensee spent to date and for what activities? If decommissioning is "nearly 25% complete" how much funding remains available for which proposed decommissioning activities? Will ratepayer "entitlement" payments soon have to be increased to cover the ballooning costs of the decommissioning nightmare at MYAPC? Will Maine's information gulag (electronic and print media) continue to print only the information the licensee, the NRC and Friends of the Coast provide to them on this an other topics? Will any other voices, comments, questions be allowed by our uptight media?
For more information on this subject see: Brack, H. G. Legacy for Our Children: The Unfunded Costs of Decommissioning the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station. Hulls Cove, ME: Pennywheel Press, 1993.
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