Nuclear Reactor Emergencies

NUCLEARBIBLE.COM: On March 11, 2011, exactly 33 days after the failed nuclear terror attack of February 6, 2011, there was an attack on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Ōkuma, Japan. According to Japanese scientists, the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which allegedly caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster, was actually the result of an underwater explosion. As with all airports used in the 9/11 attacks, Fukushima was also conveniently “secured” by an Israeli company shortly before the incident. The Fukushima disaster along with high profile cyber-attacks on Iran’s nuclear reactors by the U.S. and Israel has nuclear reactor terror blinking red on every level.

Ever since the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in 2011, there have been approximately 40 nuclear reactor “emergencies”, “closures”, “leaks” and other major incidents clearly setting the stage for coming nuclear reactor terror on an unimaginable scale. Complementing the unprecedented nuclear reactor emergencies are multiple cases of “terrorists” attempting to breach nuclear reactors, repeated lapses in nuclear reactor security, as well as countless propaganda articles indicating that a Fukushima-level event inside the United States is a foregone conclusion.

Aside from blatant programming of the 2012 Hollywood nuclear reactor disaster film entitled “Chernobyl Diaries”, a recent Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) panel recommended that the U.S. government customize emergency plans for each of America’s 65 nuclear power plants, a change would “expand” the standard 10-mile evacuation zone surrounding nuclear reactors. Also, in a letter submitted to internal investigators at the NRC, a whistleblower engineer within the agency accused regulators of deliberately covering up information relating to the vulnerability of U.S. nuclear power facilities that sit downstream from large dams and reservoirs. Lastly, a recent study led by European researchers found Fukushima is not alone, as 22 other nuclear plants around the world may also be “susceptible” to destructive tsunami waves.

The non-stop Fukushima nuclear disaster propaganda in America along with recent nuclear reactor emergencies, plots and patsies, whistleblowers, propaganda, movies and changes in U.S. government regulations, policies and procedures, all indicate that nuclear reactor terror is in fact being plotted and planned.

Title: Fire Shuts Controversial N.Y. Nuke Plant
April 29, 2003

A fire early Tuesday damaged equipment in a non-nuclear section of the Indian Point 3 power plant and forced the shutdown of the reactor, a spokesman said.

The cause was unknown but there were no signs of sabotage or terrorist acts, said Jim Steets of Entergy Corp., the plant's owner.

The other plant on the site, Indian Point 2, was already out of service, having shut down automatically because of an unrelated electrical outage Monday evening. The twin shutdowns completely remove Indian Point, the region's top producer of electrical energy, from the power grid.

Since the terror attacks of 2001, many people living nearby have focused their fears on the Indian Point complex, 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan, as a possible target. Critics who want the two plants shut down say the densely populated area cannot be protected if radiation were released in a major accident or attack.

The fire Tuesday morning was classified as an ``unusual event,'' the lowest of four levels of alert on a scale used by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Indian Point 3 was shut down within minutes after the fire was discovered in the insulation around piping for the main steam generator around 3 a.m. It was extinguished within the hour and no one was injured.

Damage was visible on part of the turbine as well as the insulation, Steets said. He did not know how long it would take for the plant to resume operations.

``We're not going to bring it back until we understand the cause of the fire and check out all the equipment,'' he said.

Indian Point 2 shut down ``as it's designed to do'' when the electrical outage hit the area at about 5 p.m. Monday, Steets said. Con Edison said the power failure, which lasted several minutes and affected 51,000 customers, happened when feeder cables malfunctioned (AP, 2003).

Safety Breaches Reported At UK Nuclear Reactors
Date: March 22, 2011
Source: Guardian

Abstract: EDF Energy, the company that runs Britain's nuclear power stations, has been reprimanded by government inspectors after a series of safety blunders at reactors in Scotland.

Two reactors at Torness in East Lothian have suffered failures in electricity supplies, several "unplanned shutdowns", and a seaweed blockage. It was the loss of power caused by the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the still unfolding nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan.

The revelations have reignited concerns about the safety of Britain's nuclear stations. French-owned EDF Energy admitted that it had not followed the correct procedures, but insisted that there had been no danger to the public.

report posted online by the UK government's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) discloses that there were two significant safety "events" at Torness in September last year. "Correct operational procedures appear not have been observed," says the report.

In one incident, an equipment malfunction cut off the electricity supplied to a gas circulator. Gas circulators are critical components because they ensure that air is kept moving to cool reactor fuel and prevent it from overheating.

The second incident also involved problems with electricity supply, though this time to a radioactive fuel dismantling facility at Torness. According to EDF Energy, the two events were "entirely unconnected".

The NII report says: "The events included contributions from operators not complying in full with the instructions provided to ensure safe limits and conditions are observed during plant operations."

Nuclear inspectors have written to EDF Energy requiring more information about the incidents, and have received a response. The NII is satisfied there is "no immediate safety issue" but has left open the possibility of taking enforcement action in the future.

The report, which covers the final three months of 2010, also reveals that one Torness reactor had "several unplanned shutdowns, requiring action to correct adverse conditions which affected operation of the reactor". This happened after the reactor had restarted after a planned maintenance shutdown.

In addition, the second reactor at Torness had to be manually shut down because the screens that take in seawater for cooling were blocked by a large mass of seaweed. Inspectors identified "a number of areas where further enhancement may be possible" in the safety arrangements for dealing with seaweed.

"These are all events that should ring very loud alarm bells," said Pete Roche, an Edinburgh-based nuclear consultant and editor of the website. "As we've seen with Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and now Fukushima, a combination of unexpected events all happening at once can quickly lead to a serious accident because of the highly dangerous nature of the fuel used to power these reactors."

The Scottish Nationalist MSP, Shirley-Anne Somerville, said: "EDF Energy must confirm that these issues have been resolved and that they have every measure in place to make sure there are no further problems at the plant."

She added: "The SNP's opposition to nuclear power has been long held and while there are nuclear power stations operating in Scotland we must take every possible step to ensure their safety."

EDF Energy, which owns British Energy, operates eight nuclear power stations across Britain. It is also the lead company bidding to build a new programme of nuclear power stations in England.

The director of Torness, Paul Winkle, argued that the company had a good safety record and welcomed input by the NII. The problems with electricity supplies to the gas circulators occurred because "one piece of a group of equipment failed", he said.

"While power to one gas circulator was removed, others operated as normal, as they are designed to do, and there was, therefore, no possibility of losing cooling."

The issue with power supplies to the radioactive fuel dismantling facility was reported to the NII because "we hadn't followed procedure exactly as we should", he added.

According to Winkle, the seaweed blockage had been predicted by "sophisticated monitoring systems". None of the incidents had caused any danger to staff, plant or the public, he insisted.

This article was changed on 23 March - "the last three months of 2010" now reads "in September last year" (Guardian, 2011).

Title: French Nuclear Power Company Hit By Cyber Attack
November 2, 2011
eSecurity Planet

Abstract: French energy conglomerate Areva may have been hit by an attack first detected in September.

"Local reports are consistent only in terms of talking about cyber-espionage, perhaps involving malware rather than some kind of terrifying Stuxnet-style nuclear kit sabotage caper," writes The Register's John Leyden.

"Staff reportedly learned that all might not to be well with Areva systems in mid-September, following a weekend security upgrade that left some systems out of action for three days," Leyden writes. "The National Security Agency Information Systems (ANSSI) reportedly assisted the security upgrade."

Go to "French nuke biz slapped in mystery cyberattack" to read the details (eSecurity, 2011)

 Ohio Nuclear Plant With Cracked Concrete Restarts
Date: December 6, 2011
Source: Desert News

Abstract: A nuclear reactor where cracks were discovered in the plant's concrete shell nearly two months ago began producing electricity again Tuesday, despite objections from a congressman who says unanswered questions are lingering about what happened.

FirstEnergy Corp., the operator of the Davis-Besse plant near Toledo, said it should be at full power later this week.

The plant along Lake Erie was shut down for maintenance in October when crews discovered a 30-foot hairline crack in the outer concrete wall that's designed to protect the reactor from anything that might hit it from outside such as storm debris.

More cracks were found soon after, leading to closer inspections.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission signed off on restarting the plant after FirstEnergy assured it that the cracks don't pose a threat. Regulators said they've done their own checks and reviewed testing already completed by the plant operator.

U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat who has been a longtime opponent of the plant and its owner, criticized the NRC's decision, saying that it's still unknown what caused the cracks or whether it's a bigger problem.

The NRC has given Akron-based FirstEnergy until the end of February to find out what caused the cracks.

At full power, the plant makes enough electricity for around 750,000 customers, primarily in Ohio. The company's electric system has 4.5 million customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Davis-Besse was shut down this fall to replace an 82-ton reactor head, a steel lid that sits atop the reactor vessel.

FirstEnergy said the new reactor head is made of better material than the former reactor lid that had cracks in its nozzles. The plant was shut down for four months in 2010 for repairs to those cracks that the NRC said were discovered before they could do damage.

The plant also was shut down from 2002 to 2004 because of an acid leak in a different reactor head (Desert News, 2011).

Title: Iranian War Fears Spark Closure Of Israel Reactor
Date: January 9, 2012
Source: The Australian

Abstract: Israel is preparing to shut its nuclear reactor at Dimona, where it makes nuclear weapons, because of the site's vulnerability in a war with Iran.

The decision, taken by the Israel Atomic Energy Commission and the country's civil defence authorities, follows a realisation that the facility could be vulnerable to a missile attack.

The Haaretz newspaper quoted officials last week as saying they had concluded the reactor was no longer impenetrable in the event of war.

Deactivating the reactor in the southern Negev desert would minimise the dangers of nuclear fallout in the area "should it be targeted by missiles from as far away as Iran".

The official explanation is that work on the reactor is conducted for research and does not need to be carried out around the clock.

According to defence sources, the shutdown at Dimona would begin before the launch of any Israeli or US assault on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Whistleblowing technician Mordechai Vanunu, who first revealed Israel's nuclear arsenal to London's The Sunday Times in 1986, worked at Dimona.

Uzi Even, one of the founders of Israel's nuclear program and now a professor in Tel Aviv, said it would take a long time, many weeks, to cool down a nuclear reactor and lower the level of radioactivity.

He said the Dimona reactor, built in 1964, was probably the second oldest active reactor in the world.

It was dangerous and "should have been closed a long time ago", he said.

Dimona, constructed with French help, was used to make plutonium for nuclear weapons and experts say the reactor produces tritium for H-bombs.

The defence of Dimona is a top priority.

Huge air defence batteries ring the site, but this is no longer considered sufficient.

An Israeli intelligence officer said last week that in the event of war with Iran "no fewer than 15,000 rockets and missiles will land on Israel".

The decision to close Dimona follows Iranian warnings that the site is a legitimate target.

Iran's deputy chief of staff Brigadier-General Massoud Jazzayeri has warned that Dimona would be targeted in retaliation to an Israeli attack.

A leaked defence department report suggested security arrangements at Dimona had been "severely deficient" for years.

Dimona is within range of Iranian and Syrian missiles, and some of those possessed by the Lebanese militia Hezbollah (The Australian, 2012).

Title: Nuclear Commission Says Point Lepreau Leaks 'Unsettling'
Date: January 9, 2012

Abstract: The head of Canada's Nuclear Safety Commission says two recent incidents at New Brunswick's Point Lepreau nuclear generating station are "unsettling."

On Dec. 13, there was a radioactive spill. Up to six litres of heavy water splashed to the floor, forcing an evacuation of the reactor building and halt of operations.

Then, on Dec. 14, NB Power issued a news release, admitting there had been another type of spill three weeks earlier. About 23 barrels of water laced with the toxic chemical hydrazine was released into the Bay of Fundy.

Both incidents occurred as part of preparations for restarting the plant, which has been undergoing refurbishments for nearly four years. "Since this plant is almost finished refurbishing, it's a bit unsettling to hear about hydrazine and heavy water leak one after the other," safety commission president Michael Binder said during a regularly scheduled meeting in Ottawa on Dec. 15.

"So that is the discomfort level we all feel about this," he said.

Fellow commissioner Moyra McDill also expressed concerns that the heavy water leak appeared to originate from a piece of equipment meant to handle gases, not liquids.

"Since machines don't normally act on their own initiative … something must have been missed somewhere in the system if you have fluid entering a gas zone," she said. "I'm a little concerned that heavy water ended up in a pump for gas."

NB Power spokeswoman Kathleen Duguay said a faulty pump caused the heavy water leak.

The damaged pump diaphragm has been replaced and the utility plans to resume loading heavy water into the reactor within days, she said.

"The potential risk posed to the environment was negligible and there are no public health implications resulting from this event," Duguay has said.

The heavy water was released into a contained area in the reactor containment building, although NB Power officials told the safety commission that small vapourized particles of radioactive tritium did escape up the station’s ventilation stacks.

Still, station manager Wade Parker said the release was well below allowable levels.

In a further complication, safety doors that had closed to contain nuclear particles from further escaping ended up locking in two cleanup crew members for two hours after they had finished their work.

The workers, who wore special suits and breathing apparatus, were not in danger, according to NB Power.

Hydrazine Concentration Low
Meanwhile, Duguay also downplayed the hydrazine leak.

"It is believed that the discharge would have had a localized and minimal environmental impact, if any, when making contact with the Bay of Fundy," she stated in a news release.

Hydrazine is used to remove the oxygen from the water in the steam generators, protecting tubes from localized corrosion and maintaining the appropriate steam generator water chemistry, said Duguay.

This ensures that the steam generators continue to contribute to a high safety margin, that maintenance requirements are minimized and that workers are protected.

The leak was at low concentrations, said Duguay.

"Simply put, this concentration would be like having a single soft drink can of hydrazine in 4,500 litres of water."

A faulty valve in the steam generators was to blame in that case, said Duguay. It leaked light water onto the roof of the service building, which made its way to the roof drainage, which connects to a ditch that discharges into the bay, she said.

How should Canada deal with aging nuclear reactors? Take our survey.

Point Lepreau, Atlantic Canada's only nuclear reactor, is undergoing a $1.4-billion refurbishment. It was originally expected to be back generating power by September 2009, but there have been problems, particularly with the calandria tubes.

The tubes, which are about six metres long and 13 centimetres in diameter, contain the reactor's fuel channels and fuel bundles.

Several of the 380 tubes that were installed were leaking and had to be replaced.

The next step will include the installation of pressure tubes, spacers, end fittings and positioning assemblies, as well as bellows welding.

It is estimated that NB Power spends $1 million a day to purchase replacement fuel while the reactor is offline.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is currently considering NB Power's application for a new five-year operating licence for Point Lepreau (CBC, 2012).

Title: Nuclear Reactor Shut
Date: January 11, 2012
Wall Street Journal

Abstract: The operators of the Indian Point nuclear plant shut down one of its two reactors early Tuesday morning to repair a malfunctioning cooling pump

The shutdown comes as the plant, which sits about 40 miles north of Midtown Manhattan, is under increasing political pressure, especially from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governor has said the plant should be closed completely because it's a safety risk, and in his State of the State address last week he highlighted a plan to improve the state's electrical transmission system, which could help replace some of the power Indian Point provides to downstate New York.

Entergy Corp., which operates the plant, said no radioactivity was released during the shutdown. Because the shutdown was an unplanned reduction in power output, it counts against Indian Point in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's indicators of plant safety. But a spokesman said Indian Point is "well below" the level at which more oversight would be required.

"This is what their procedures call for and we didn't see any indication that they're not adhering to those procedures," the spokesman said.

But those who favor closing Indian Point said the incident underlines safety concerns.

"It's not surprising it's having problems like this, given its age and given some of the other problems it has had," said Paul Gallay, president of the environmental group Riverkeeper. "It's one thing to drive a car that's got too many miles on it; it's a hell of a different thing to run a nuke plant like that."

James Steets, a spokesman for Entergy, disputed that notion. He said the part that needed fixing—a seal on a pump—was not original equipment and the problems weren't the result of age.

"Sometimes repairs become necessary and this repair unfortunately just couldn't be done while the plant is operating," he said (Wall Street Journal, 2012).

Title: Gyeongju Residents Fret Over Malfunctioning Nuclear Reactor
Date: January 13, 2012

Abstract: The 680,000kW No. 1 reactor at Wolseong Nuclear Power Plant in Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do has been shut down due to a malfunctioning component. The reactor, the design life of which expires on November 30 this year, malfunctioned just six months after comprehensive maintenance that lasted two years and three months, prompting controversy over its safety.

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. Ltd (KHNP), stated on Thursday that the reactor had been shut down at around 4:24 that morning after a temperature sensor on one of its four reactor coolant pumps malfunctioned. No radiation leak had occurred, and the reactor would be restarted within two to three days after procedures had been followed, they said. Coolant pumps are devices that circulate water in order to take away heat generated by the reactor. When a certain temperature is exceeded, the reactor is shut down. “The temperature did not actually rise: it was simply a component abnormality,” explained one MKE official.

Wolseong’s No. 1 reactor began commercial operation in 1983 and is the second oldest in Korea, approaching the end of its 30-year design life. It is currently being assessed by the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) for an extension to its period of operation. The MKE and KHNP plan to run the reactor for another 10 years if the safety inspection finds no problems. “They give 10 year extensions in other countries, too, after conducting safety inspections according to set procedures,” explained one MKE official. An official from the NSSC said, “We received a final life extension report in December last year and began our assessment. The assessment will last up to 18 months.”

Local residents and environmental groups, however, are expressing concern over the fact that the No. 1 reactor malfunctioned six months after being restarted in July 2011 following major maintenance work that began in April 2009 and lasted for two years and three months, including replacement of pressure pipes and control computers. The Korea Federation of Environmental Movements issued a statement saying, “Until this accident, the Wolseong No. 1 reactor has recorded 51 malfunctions over 30 years due to flaws in machinery and components, including radiation leaks, coolant leaks, and reactor shutdowns. Local residents and civic groups have been demanding that the reactor be decommissioned but the government unreasonably restarted it in July last year. Today’s shutdown is the result of that decision.”

Lee Sang-hong, the director of a Gyeongju alliance for nuclear safety formed by local civic groups, said, “Because the Wolseong No. 1 reactor has reached the end of its 30-year design life and is worn out, it is expected to keep malfunctioning from now on. There is a high possibility that a small accident could quickly turn into a large-scale one” (Hankyoreh, 2012)

Title: All 3 Nuclear Reactors In Shikoku Suspended
Date: January 14, 2012

Abstract: Operations at all three nuclear reactors in Shikoku have been suspended as the last one was stopped for a regular inspection on Jan. 13.

Shikoku Electric Power Co. suspended operations at the No. 2 reactor of its Ikata Nuclear Power Plant on the night of Jan. 13. Its No. 1 and 3 reactors, which had been shut down for regular inspections, cannot be reactivated because of the ongoing crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Shikoku Electric Power became the second utility in Japan with no nuclear reactors running, following Kyushu Electric Power Co.

Currently, only five of the 54 commercial nuclear reactors across the country are in operation (Mainichi, 2012)

Title: Nuclear Power Plant Shut Down After Off-Site Power Loss
Date: January 16, 2012
Power Engineering

Abstract: A Notification of Unusual Event at the 1,200 MW Wolf Creek nuclear power plant in Kansas was terminated Jan. 16 after the plant was shut down due to the loss of off-site power.

Plant officials determined that a circuit breaker in the switchyard failed, causing the loss of off-site power to the plant, according to Jenny Hageman, spokeswoman with the power plant. An investigation continues into the cause of the breaker failure and the loss of power.

Hageman said in an email that officials plan to replace the failed breaker, restore power to non-safety-related equipment and systems and inspect additional plant equipment to ensure there is no damage.

Diesel generators performed as designed, keeping the reactors cool until the plant could be safely shut down.

Plant owners Kansas City Power & Light, Westar Energy and Kansas Electric Power Co-Op Inc. will use other generating facilities they own or will purchase power from other utilities while the plant is shut down. There is no word on when it is expected to restart (Power Engineering, 2012)

Title: Federal Panel Faults Idaho Lab For Radiation Exposure Mishap
Date: January 19, 2012
Source: Reuters

Abstract: The radiation exposure of 16 workers at a nuclear research lab in Idaho stemmed from a failure to properly assess the risks posed by the handling of decades-old plutonium fuel cells, federal investigators concluded on Wednesday.

In its report on the November 8 mishap at the Idaho National Laboratory, the U.S. Energy Department's Office of Health, Safety and Security also found the lab erred in not activating its emergency plan sooner after the accident, a delay that may have compromised medical treatment of the workers.

The panel recommended the lab conduct a fresh assessment of "the likelihood, severity and risk of accidents," as well as the effectiveness of hazard controls at the deactivated reactor where the exposure occurred.

The Idaho National Laboratory, occupying 890 square miles in eastern Idaho, is the Energy Department's leading nuclear research center, employing some 6,000 government workers and contractors.

The decommissioned reactor involved in the accident is located within a complex of facilities used for remotely handling, processing and examining spent nuclear fuel, radioactive waste and other irradiated materials.

Sixteen workers were exposed to low-level plutonium radiation when a container holding a plutonium fuel plate was opened in the process of preparing the material for shipment to another facility. Subsequent inspections found that a layer of stainless steel cladding that envelopes the spent nuclear fuel inside the container was defective.

Thirteen of the workers tested positive for actual radioactive contamination, either on their clothing or from nasal swabs, and two of those were found to have inhaled radioactive particles, lab spokesman Ethan Huffman told Reuters.

None has shown any sign of radiation sickness or other ailments, and all 16 returned to the job the next day, though the two who tested positive in lung scans have stayed away from further radiological work while medical evaluations of them continue, Huffman said.

Still, the radiation doses were all believed to be minimal and "we don't believe there is anything that would be of concern in terms of long-term effects for them," he said.

The decommissioned reactor has remained closed since the accident amid continuing decontamination efforts, but officials said the radiation release posed no risk to the public.

The exposed workers are all employees of laboratory contractor Battelle Energy Alliance.

Lab director John Grossenbacher issued a statement on Wednesday saying officials there "deeply regret" the incident and promising to improve safety and training programs "and to better understand the hazards of our work."

The board of investigators said the accident could have been avoided had the lab and Battelle paid more attention to well-documented safety risks posed by the plutonium fuel plates and taken greater precautions.

"Through a review of records, the board found that the probability of encountering damaged plutonium fuel plates is higher than expressed" in existing safety protocols for the reactor, which was decommissioned in 1992, the panel said.

"As a result, workers were at increased risk of exposure to uncontrolled radioactive material," the safety board said.

Battelle, the report found, had rated the chance of an accident like the one that occurred as "extremely unlikely," and there was no evidence "that any drill was performed that would have prepared the workforce to respond to an event like the" November 8 mishap.

The panel also faulted the lab for failing to activate its emergency plan sooner to ensure a better-coordinated and timely response. That error "limited the effectiveness of the medical response" and delayed an assessment of how strong a dose of radiation the workers received, the panel said.

The effects of radiation worsen the longer radioactive material remains in the body.

Plutonium is considered more dangerous when inhaled than ingested because particles lodge in the lungs instead of being eliminated by the body, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Reuters, 2012).

Title:  Officials Trying To Learn What Happened At Illinois Reactor That Shut Down Amid Power Failure
Date: January 21, 2012
Chicago Tribune

Abstract: Officials are investigating the events surrounding a power failure at a nuclear reactor in northern Illinois.

Exelon Nuclear's Byron Generating Station shut down Monday morning after the power failure. Steam was vented to reduce pressure after it shut down.

Officials say operators began releasing steam to cool the reactor from the part of the plant where turbines are producing electricity, not from within the nuclear reactor itself. The steam contains low levels of tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen. But federal and plant officials insist the levels were safe for workers and the public.

Diesel generators were supplying the reactor with electricity, though it hasn't been generating power while the investigation continues 
(Chicago Tribune, 2012).

Title: Mistakes At Tennessee Nuclear Reactor Cause Work Stoppage
Date: January 24, 2012
Insurance Journal

Abstract:  Mistakes by construction workers at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar reactor project, described last Friday by the utility’s chief executive as potentially fatal, idled about 1,000 workers temporarily for a safety talk.

TVA ordered an unpaid safety work stoppage at the reactor project between Chattanooga and Knoxville in response to finding this month that cables were erroneously removed in December from the plant’s operating Unit 1 reactor and discovering that a valve in the Unit 2 reactor now under construction was improperly removed from another system.

A TVA spokeswoman told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the construction “stand down” ordered to start at noon Wednesday was to continue “until the errors discovered are clearly communicated to all personnel.”

TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci said no one was hurt and at no time was there a risk to public safety. She said construction at the $2.5 billion, 1,200-megawatt Unit 2 reactor project, which is expected to be completed in 2013, would resume on Monday.

Martocci said TVA had not yet determined if the mistakes were due to carelessness but a “root cause analysis” was being conducted.

“We don’t recall doing a stand down like this,” she said Friday.

TVA’s top executive, Tom Kilgore, said in a statement to employees on Friday that “when workers return to the site on Monday, they will join foremen and supervisors to review an error that occurred in December that had the potential for fatal consequences and that was identified earlier this week at Watts Bar Unit 2. Also to be reviewed is a second incident that occurred this week which could have resulted in a severe injury or worse if it had happened under slightly different circumstances.”

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Region 2 spokesman Roger Hannah said Friday that such work stoppages at nuclear plants are “not uncommon” and probably occur every two or three years. Hannah said they are “not exclusive to the nuclear industry.”

Hannah declined to speculate about any possible penalty for TVA.

He said TVA would assess both nuclear safety and workplace safety issues.

The NRC has inspectors at Watts Bar, where the Unit 1 reactor is the nation’s newest, operating since 1996.

“We’ll look at what happened,” Hannah said. “It could lead to some follow-up inspection.”

The problems were discovered in routine TVA inspections and follow heightened NRC scrutiny on other TVA nuclear plants.

NRC last summer placed TVA’s Browns Ferry plant near Athens, Ala., under a red finding _ the regulator’s most serious safety flag. In November, NRC placed the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant near Chattanooga under a white finding, the lowest safety rating, because the plant had too many unplanned reactor shutdowns in less than a year. Under NRC’s color-coded inspection findings, white is least serious, then yellow, then red. A plant operating with no safety problems is coded green.

Two contractor employees at the Watts Bar project were charged last year with falsifying electrical cable inspection records.

Martocci said Friday that TVA did not notify the media or provide public notice on Wednesday because “it doesn’t affect people on the outside. It affects our employees.”

“We had information available if people had called us and asked,” she said.

David Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the incidents involved little-used, redundant systems that only in worst-case scenarios might have tripped a reactor. But he agreed with TVA’s action to get workers’ attention.

“It’s the right thing to do. It’s like a timeout for workers to refocus,” said Lochbaum, a former TVA nuclear operator and a former NRC training instructor.

TVA supplies power to about 9 million people in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia (Insurance Journal, 2012)

Title: Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant Finds Unexpected Flaws In New Steam Generators
Date: January 26, 2012

Abstract: After just one operating cycle, inspectors at Three Mile Island nuclear facility have detected unexpected flaws in the facility’s new steam generators.

There’s no indication radiation was released.

Officials say the flaws are well below regulatory thresholds, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a meeting Thursday morning to get more information.

The two 70-foot, 510-ton “once-through” generators sit on either side of the nuclear core, and were installed at TMI in 2009.

Each cost more than $140 million.

Each is filled with more than 15,000 high-chromium nickel alloy tubes, through which flows hot radioactive water from the core. The radioactive water in the tubes is under high pressure to keep it from boiling. It heats nonradioactive water outside the tubes, turning it to steam that powers the plant’s turbines.

The tubes are one of the primary barriers between the radioactive and nonradioactive sides of the facility. If one were to break, radioactive water from the reactor core could pass into the steam mechanism and escape as steam into the atmosphere.

When TMI shut down in October to change fuel, inspectors discovered some of the tubes had unexpected wear marks — from rubbing against each other.

An eighth-inch of space separates each tube. They aren’t supposed to touch.

The generators had been in operation only 22 months; they are supposed to give the plant another 25 years of life.

Eric Epstein, leader of the watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert, said he hoped TMI’s multi-million “investment in French technology came with an American waranty.”

An official from AREVA, Inc., the French company that manufactured the generators, told a meeting of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Thursday morning, “We did not expect a tube touching another tube.”

The reason the tubes are wearing against each other and in the pattern they are, he said, “is not immediately obvious to us right now.”

A detailed study is underway to determine the cause.

TMI ran multiple tests in November, and ultimately found tube-to-tube wearing in 257 of the 31,194 tubes in the two generators. In most cases, it had abraded less than 10 percent of the tube wall, but in several cases close to 20 percent of the tube wall was gone.

The tubes are less than four hundredths of an inch thick.

All tubes with more than 15 percent of the wall gone — seven total — were plugged before the plant was restarted at the end of November.

“In no case was the depth of wear even close to the regulatory limit,” said TMI spokesman Ralph DeSantis.

Although tube-to-tube wear was unexpected, wearing at the location of plates that support the tubes is well known. He said the allowed limit of wear is 40 percent through the tube wall.

The new flaw “is not considered a safety issue,” said DeSantis. “We feel confident we have a good program in place to manage it. 

DeSantis said every single tube will be inspected again at the next refuelling.

“We’re not going to compromise safety on any of this,” he said.

Only one other facility uses the AREVA generators: Arkansas Nuclear One in Russellville, Arkansas, which has been running them since 2005.

Once Arkansas was alerted to the findings at TMI, they reviewed their previous inspection results and discovered their generators also were susceptible to tube-to-tube wear.

Arkansas officials offered multiple explanations to the NRC on Thursday why their inspections had failed to detect the flaws.

They also said their review of the data indicated more tubes show wear over time, but that the wearing appears to cease after it abrades about one-quarter of the tube wall.

Epstein wants answers.

He said he’s “frustrated and disappointed that the root cause of the tube degradation has not been identified, and that results from the investigation are not expected in the ‘near term.’”

He called for “an aggressive timeline” to find the cause of the problem.

“The NRC has to do more than punt the problem to AREVA, and the industry has to do more than wait to hear how far the ball was punted,” said Epstein (PENN Live, 2012).

Title: China Denies Nuclear Accident
Date: January 27, 2012

Abstract: China has moved swiftly to deny it has become the latest nation to experience a nuclear accident, after claims that it was forced to shut down its newest nuclear reactor last year. A report from Japan's Atomic Energy Agency said the China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) stopped generating electricity in October following an accident. With Japan already reeling from the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant in March last year, the incident sparked alarm there and in South Korea over the prospect of radiation leaking from the CEFR. Those fears were intensified by Beijing's failure to report the accident or release details of what happened, according to a Tokyo newspaper which cited the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency's investigation.

The same report highlighted worrying safety lapses at the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) outside Beijing, which houses the CEFR. Safety standards were said to be "very low", with a lack of devices to measure potential radiation leaks, while the main control room of the reactor was equipped with beds which workers rested on when they were on duty.

Wan Gang, the director of the CIAE, denied there had been an accident or any cover-up.

"CEFR hasn't been operating since July last year so reports that an accident occurred in the autumn are extremely inconsistent with the facts," he told Chinese media.

Mr Wan also refuted the allegations of poor safety, saying five teams were monitoring the reactor around the clock and that there were multiple measures in place to prevent radiation leaks. He denied there were beds in the main control room for staff to sleep on.

China has never experienced a major nuclear accident, although there have been small leaks of radiation from some of its nuclear power stations. The last occurred in May 2010 in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong Province at the Daya Bay plant, the oldest of China's 13 operational nuclear reactors. Managers at the plant failed to inform the public of the leak until three weeks later. Subsequently, Beijing denied that radiation had escaped but it was confirmed by a Hong Kong power company with a share in Daya Bay.

CEFR is a fourth-generation reactor and China's first fast reactor. Until now, China has largely been dependent on French and Russian technology for its nuclear power programme. As the world's largest energy consumer, China has ambitious plans for its nuclear plants to provide six per centof all its electricity needs by 2020. There are currently 27 new plants under construction, but work on them has been halted since the Fukushima disaster while safety checks are carried out (Telegraph, 2012).

Title: Furnace Malfunction Hobbles Aomori Spent Nuke Fuel Reprocessing Plant
Date: January 31, 2012

Abstract: A furnace malfunction at a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant here has stalled a planned trial run of the facility, throwing the future of Japan's nuclear cycle policy into doubt.

Yoshihiko Kawai, president of plant operator Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL), announced at a regular press briefing on Jan. 30 that a problem with a furnace at the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant has forced a halt to the preparatory work for a test of the plant before it officially goes into operation. The furnace is designed to mix molten glass with highly radioactive liquid waste.

The cause of the malfunction has yet to be determined, with no prospect of restoring the equipment to operation in the near term, JNFL said. The technical impasse could prompt calls for a review of the country's nuclear fuel cycle policy, under which spent fuel from conventional nuclear reactors would be reprocessed into MOX plutonium-uranium mixed-oxide fuel for so-called "pluthermal" and "full MOX" reactors.

The plant has repeatedly delayed a full-scale trial run since December 2008 due to a spate of troubles. JNFL had taken various corrective measures before starting to check the status of the furnace on Jan. 24 ahead of the planned test.

According to Kawai, plant workers began work with the plant's "B-System" furnace, which has no history of use in trials and is separate from the plant's "A-System," which caused trouble four years ago.

On Jan. 24, when workers started melting beads made from a mixture of glass and nonradioactive mock liquid waste in the furnace and pouring the molten material into a container below, they found the flow gradually slowing down, threatening to block the furnace outlet. Workers suspended the procedure three times and stirred the furnace interior in an attempt to restore function, but the glitch has not yet been fixed. Furthermore, unidentified and unexpected black particles each measuring several millimeters were found in the outflow.

"We will continue our restoration work for a while so that we can recover the equipment and ascertain the cause of the problem in a careful manner," said Kawai. The president also said he would make efforts to remain on-schedule for a trial run in early February and the completion of the plant in October, ruling out the possibility of suspending the furnace for inspections at the moment. Regarding the furnace problem's possible effects on the mounting calls for a review of the nation's nuclear fuel cycle policy, Kawai said, "It is important to proceed with our work carefully and without too much strain. We want everyone to understand the situation in terms of advancing the debate as well."

Following plant trouble in 2008, the company has repeatedly conducted experiments using a test furnace in Ibaraki Prefecture and struggled to improve operating methods and devices. In the wake of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011, the company had its safety measures updated and approved by Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura in December that year, ahead of preparations for the plant trial.

President Kawai had stressed in October last year that keeping the nuclear fuel cycle business going "is necessary from the perspective of environmental conservation as well" if compared to burying spent fuel and waste. He had also said the closure and disassembly of the plant could cost some 1.4 trillion yen, on top of the approximately 2.2 trillion yen that was spent on its construction.

The construction of the Rokkasho reprocessing plant, which ultimately aims to recycle nuclear fuel by extracting plutonium and uranium from spent nuclear fuel, began in 1993 for a planned completion in 1997. However, an array of troubles, including technical problems and exposure of one worker to high-level radioactive liquid waste, have forced JNFL to postpone official completion as many as 18 times.

While the government has clearly set forth the promotion of the nuclear fuel cycle in the nation's Framework for Nuclear Energy Policy, protests against the policy have heightened since the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The prototype "Monju" fast-breeder reactor in Fukui Prefecture, which is aimed at efficiently utilizing reprocessed nuclear fuel, has no prospect of restarting. As such, the Japan Atomic Energy Commission has embarked on a full-scale review of the nuclear fuel cycle policy. The total amount of spent nuclear fuel at nuclear power plants across Japan currently stands at some 14,000 metric tons, with nowhere to go unless reprocessing gets under way (Mainichi, 2012).

Title: Nuclear Accident Releases Tritium Near Chicago
Date: January 31, 2012

Abstract: A minor nuclear accident caused a reactor to lose power at the Byron Generating Station, about 95 miles northwest of Chicago. The shutdown resulted in a large amount of steam venting from the plant, releasing small amounts of tritium into the atmosphere.

Officials have reported that the local population, and the public in general, are not in any danger, but are working to restore power to the plant. It's unknown why power was lost, but it appears to have been caused by an outside electrical grid failure.

The incident, which occurred late Monday evening, was immediately reported to local officials, and engineers acted swiftly to contain radiation and cool down the No. 2 reactor. The main reactor was unaffected.

Experts say that a release of tritium is not as dangerous as other, more lethal radioactive elements, but is still cause for concern. Sensors at the plant are not registering dangerous levels of radioactivity.

Still, any kind of nuclear accident is cause for immediate concern and action by plant workers to ensure the problem is diagnosed and solved. Why the power to the reactor was lost is still a mystery, and, despite the calming words, means there are some scenarios beyond control.

Isn't the electrical grid supposed to be a vulnerable area which terrorists could exploit to start a nuclear accident? Isn't it possible this could be an attack by cyber criminals?

It seems that, no matter what the experts say, anyone living nearby would be smart to consider evacuating if the situation suddenly becomes more dangerous or spins out of control.

This story is still developing, but it's very likely to be monitored very closely. Stay tuned for further details (Gather, 2012).

Title: Contamination Found At Nuclear Site
Date: January 31, 2012

Abstract: Traces of radioactive contamination have been found on the shoes of workers demolishing a former nuclear power station.

It was detected on around a dozen people on Thursday as they prepared to leave a building which they were preparing for demolition.

Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL), which is overseeing the decommissioning of the site in Caithness, has launched an investigation.

It said that the building is in a "controlled" area, where contamination is possible, and controls are in place to manage it.

In a statement DSRL said: "The area was isolated and follow-up surveys confirmed that the contamination was confined to a small area. An investigation is under way.

"There was no harm to staff or the environment."

Dounreay's nuclear reactor was shut down in 1994 and work to decommission the site has been under way since then as part of a £2.6 billion project.

It was the only plant in Britain to use liquid metal instead of gas or water in the cooling circuits (UKPA, 2012)

Title: California Nuclear Plant Shuts Down Reactor As Precaution
Date: February 1, 2012
Source: Reuters

Abstract: One of two reactors at the San Onofre nuclear power station in Southern California was shut down on Tuesday after a small leak was detected in a steam generator tube, but the incident posed no risk to the public or plant workers, the facility operator said.

The reactor unit, which normally provides 1,100 megawatts of electricity, was shut down at about 5:30 p.m. local time as a precaution and will remain off line for a least a couple of days, said Gil Alexander, a spokesman for Southern California Edison.

The plant's only other reactor already had been deactivated for a scheduled refueling and technology upgrade, he said. But the utility has ample reserve electricity, which it buys from independent power producers, to continue meeting customer demands while the two reactors are off line, the company said.

"We don't expect any impact on our customers tomorrow," Alexander told Reuters.

The two reactors together normally produce enough electricity to serve 1.4 million average-sized households in Southern California.

The leak, which Alexander called "very minor," was initially detected by sensors and occurred in the closed system that circulates water from the reactor to thousands of steam-generation tubes.

Although the water is radioactive, the leak was confined within the containment vessel surrounding the reactor, and there was no release of radioactive material to the atmosphere, Alexander said.

He said the incident was so minor that neither Edison procedures nor Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules required a shutdown, but the company decided to turn off the unit as a precaution.

NRC inspectors who work at the plant, located just south of San Clemente, were immediately notified of the mishap.

Alexander said it takes about 12 hours for a newly halted reactor to cool down fully, so inspection crews are not expected to enter the area where the leak occurred until some time on Wednesday.

Unlike the case of an ammonia leak inside the plant in November, operators saw no need to evacuate any workers on site as a precaution, Alexander said (Reuters, 2012).

Title: San Onofre Nuclear Plant Closed After Radiation Leak
Date: February 1, 2012
Source: ABC News

Abstract: A small quantity of radioactive gas leaked inside one of the buildings at San Onofre nuclear power plant north of San Diego, according to a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The spokesman said the radiation levels were “barely measurable,” but the plant was shut down as a precaution.

“At no point were the public or our workers in any danger,” Southern California Edison spokesman Gil Alexander told ABC News.

Officials say the radiation leak likely occurred in the steam generator tubes of San Onofre’s reactor #3. The steam system, which is supposed to be shielded from exposure to radiation, was replaced in December 2010. Alexander said plant officials will be conducting an investigation into why the new steam tubes leaked.

Gary Headrick is part of the environmental group San Clemente Green and lives just eight miles away from San Onofre.

“If we don’t make them shut it down, it’s going to be too late,” Headrick said.

San Onofre is one of dozens of U.S. reactors facing new scrutiny after Japan’s nuclear crisis. It is located right on the coast, and in the heart of America’s earthquake country.

It also is right next door to Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base where 38,000 military families live, and another 32,000 people work each day, all of whom would be in immediate danger if there’s ever a meltdown.

ABC News visited San Onofre the day the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan melted down. At the time, plant officials were eager to reassure the public that the same thing could not happen on the California coast.

“This plant is safe,” California Edison’s Chief Nuclear Officer Pete Dietrich told ABC News.

After Japan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission updated its seismic model and in a report issued yesterday found that 96 reactors in the central and southern U.S. are in regions at a higher risk for quakes than previously thought.

The report included parts of the country that are not traditionally seen as geologically active, places like Chattanooga, Tenn., Savannah, Ga., Jackson, Miss., Manchester, N.H., and Houston, Texas.

Major metropolitan areas are uncomfortably close to nuclear plants, with as many as 120 million Americans living within 50 miles of a nuclear reactor, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Indian Point, outside of New York City, has 20 million people living within a 50-mile radius. And Dresden is just 50 miles from the heavily-populated suburbs of Chicago.

Nuclear regulators plan to give plant operators four years to reevaluate seismic risks, but some of the plants may be too expensive to make earthquake safe.

However, in the case of San Onofre, it’s unlikely the leak had anything to do with seismic safety and was probably just faulty equipment.  Officials have been taking extra care to reassure the public that there’s no danger, since after Japan, the idea of radiation leaking from a nuclear plant tends to set people on edge (ABC News, 2012)

Title: California Nuclear Plant Shut Down Over Radioactive Leaks
Date: February 1, 2012

Abstract: A leak at a Southern California nuclear facility that regularly provides power to roughly 1.4 million households has caused the plant to shut down a reactor.

Despite officials insisting that everything will be perfectly alright at the San Onofre nuclear site, this is not the first time as of late that power plants have raised serious questions about their safety in America.

A reactor at the San Onofre nuclear power station was halted Tuesday afternoon after personnel at the plant identified a leak in a steam generator tube. Gil Alexander, a spokesman for Southern California Edison, explains to Reuters that the reactor will remain offline for at least a couple of days.

"We don't expect any impact on our customers tomorrow," Alexander adds, yet notes that the reactor in question usually churns out around 1,100 megawatts of electricity to one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the country.

The shutdown is forcing officials to halt operations in Unit 3 of the plant. Unit 2 of the station was already offline at the time of the incident, of which officials say was the result of routine maintenance and upgrades.

Speaking of the alleged minuteness of the leak, Alexander tells the Los Angeles times that “it wouldn’t even qualify as the least severe” infraction under guidelines set up by the United States’ Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Regardless, the plant, located south of San Clemente, California, reported the incident to them anyway.

As it would be, the regulations in place for American facilities are actually more lax than one would expect.

"While the NRC and the nuclear industry have been reassuring Americans that there is nothing to worry about – that we can do a better job dealing with a nuclear disaster like the one that just happened in Japan – it turns out that privately NRC senior analysts are not so sure," Edwin Lyman, a Union of Concerned Scientists nuclear expert, explained to Reuters last year. Even after the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant in early 2011 raised questions internationally over safety regulations, the United States has done little to improve conditions since.

The reason, some say, is that the regulations in place don’t call for them. In a report conducted by the Associated Press last year, it was revealed that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has repeatedly weakened safety requirements for facilities, regularly allowing antiquated plants to continue operating by making it easier to pass tests in lieu of actually upgrading the facility. The AP found that of the 104 nuclear plants operating in America last year, 66 of them had been re-licensed for an additional 20 years of service. The vast majority of plants in the US, however, are already older than a quarter of a century.

San Onofre, located around 70 miles south of Los Angeles, is one of those.

“I think we need nuclear power, but we can’t compromise on safety. I think the vulnerability is on these older plants,”engineer Richard T. Lahey Jr., formerly with General Electric Co, told the AP last year. Although one-fifth of the nation’s power comes from nuclear plants — and much of Southern California relies on the San Onofre, loosened regulations are repeatedly putting much of America and the world at risk.

The San Onofre facility was opened in the late 1960s and has been upgraded since then, although not without incident. Engineers at the Bechtel Group Inc. of San Francisco installed a 420-ton nuclear reactor vessel at the facility in 1977, only to be publically humiliated when it was realized that the plant was constructed backwards.

Authorities at San Onofre say that the leak has yet to spread outside of the plant, but should that happen the consequences could be catastrophic. The San Onofre facility is only a stone’s throw away from the Pacific Ocean.

The AP adds in their analysis that roughly 113 alerts at the nation’s nuclear facilities since 2005 can be blamed in part on aging. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission itself reported in 2008 that 70 percent of potentially serious safety problems stem from “degraded conditions.”

Within the last year, a nuclear plant outside of Washington, DC was shut-down after concern of damage to reactors. In August 2011, officials questioned authorities at Vermont’s Yankee nuclear plant after water samples in a nearby stream tested positive for a carcinogenic chemical (RT, 2012)

Title: Heavy-Water Spill At N.B. Nuclear Plant Could Have Been Avoided: Report
Date: February 1, 2012
Winnipeg Free Press

Abstract: A recent heavy-water spill at New Brunswick's Point Lepreau nuclear power plant could have been avoided if changes had been made after similar incidents almost 17 years ago, a new report says.

The NB Power report, obtained by The Canadian Press, says heavy water entered a gas monitor three times during a shutdown in 1995, but the design was never changed.

It states that documentation wasn't updated to require a particular valve to be closed.

"A contributing factor was that the previous similar occurrences in 1995 ... did not result in actions to address this issue," the report says.

"Those events created a potential opportunity to either analyse and correct the design deficiency, or to record the rationale and revise the ... documentation."

The power plant was evacuated in mid-December after four to six litres of heavy water spilled from a piece of monitoring equipment known as a gas chromatograph.

At the time, the plant's heavy-water system was being refilled as part of the utility's plan to restart the generating station after it is refurbished.

The Crown-owned utility said there were no health concerns for workers or the public during the spill.

Plant spokeswoman Kathleen Duguay said Wednesday that the 1995 incidents were documented, but not in all the places where it was needed.

"We have a better system today," Duguay said. "We have a rigorous system to track this ... That piece of equipment has been repaired, and the moderator system has been filled."

Duguay said the documentation and drawings at Point Lepreau have also been updated.

She said emergency procedures were in place to handle a heavy water leak, and those procedures worked well.

But a long-time critic of Point Lepreau said the incident raises questions about the effectiveness of the federal regulator.

David Coon, policy director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, said the regulator should have followed-up on the incidents in 1995 and ensured that documents and procedures were in place to prevent another spill.

"The specific issue should have been put to bed a long time ago since it first occurred in 1995 by regulators doing their job and ensuring that it was properly addressed," Coon said Wednesday.

"These kinds of incidents with the regulator appearing not to follow through effectively to deal with problems when they're identified undermines confidence in the overall regulation of the operations of nuclear power plants like Point Lepreau."

In 1995, the regulator was the Atomic Energy Control Board. That body was replaced in 2000 by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Point Lepreau has been out of service since March 2008 for a major refurbishment that's meant to extend the life of the reactor by 25 years.

The project is three years behind schedule and $1 billion over the original $1.4-billion budget.

It is now scheduled to return to service this fall (Winnipeg Free Press, 2012).

Title: Minor Malfunction At Chinese Nuclear Power Plant
Date: February 1, 2012
Economic Observer

Abstract: Today the Chinese-language website of The People's Daily, quoting Hong Kong Media, reported a minor accident at the Ling Ao Nuclear Power Plant in southern Guangdong. The report states that no radiation leak was detected. The Ling Ao plant is only about 50km north of Hong Kong and only 1 km away from Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant. According to information released by Daya Bay Nuclear Power Operations Management Co. Ltd., the company that operates and manages the plant, technicians discovered three days ago, that the plant's no. 3 reactor was mistakenly using old data. The operators say that technicians have already rectified the problem and confirmed that the safe operation of the plant was not affected by the malfunction and that no radioactivity was detected. 

The report also says that the Hong Kong government has not recorded any unusual readings (Economic Observer, 2012).

Title: San Onofre Nuclear Plant Closed After Radiation Leak
Date: February 1, 2012
ABC News

Abstract: A small quantity of radioactive gas leaked inside one of the buildings at San Onofre nuclear power plant north of San Diego, according to a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The spokesman said the radiation levels were “barely measurable,” but the plant was shut down as a precaution.

“At no point were the public or our workers in any danger,” Southern California Edison spokesman Gil Alexander told ABC News.

Officials say the radiation leak likely occurred in the steam generator tubes of San Onofre’s reactor #3. The steam system, which is supposed to be shielded from exposure to radiation, was replaced in December 2010. Alexander said plant officials will be conducting an investigation into why the new steam tubes leaked.

Gary Headrick is part of the environmental group San Clemente Green and lives just eight miles away from San Onofre.

“If we don’t make them shut it down, it’s going to be too late,” Headrick said.

San Onofre is one of dozens of U.S. reactors facing new scrutiny after Japan’s nuclear crisis. It is located right on the coast, and in the heart of America’s earthquake country.

It also is right next door to Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base where 38,000 military families live, and another 32,000 people work each day, all of whom would be in immediate danger if there’s ever a meltdown.

ABC News visited San Onofre the day the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan melted down. At the time, plant officials were eager to reassure the public that the same thing could not happen on the California coast.

“This plant is safe,” California Edison’s Chief Nuclear Officer Pete Dietrich told ABC News.

After Japan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission updated its seismic model and in a report issued yesterday found that 96 reactors in the central and southern U.S. are in regions at a higher risk for quakes than previously thought.

The report included parts of the country that are not traditionally seen as geologically active, places like Chattanooga, Tenn., Savannah, Ga., Jackson, Miss., Manchester, N.H., and Houston, Texas.

Major metropolitan areas are uncomfortably close to nuclear plants, with as many as 120 million Americans living within 50 miles of a nuclear reactor, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Indian Point, outside of New York City, has 20 million people living within a 50-mile radius. And Dresden is just 50 miles from the heavily-populated suburbs of Chicago.

Nuclear regulators plan to give plant operators four years to reevaluate seismic risks, but some of the plants may be too expensive to make earthquake safe.

However, in the case of San Onofre, it’s unlikely the leak had anything to do with seismic safety and was probably just faulty equipment.  Officials have been taking extra care to reassure the public that there’s no danger, since after Japan, the idea of radiation leaking from a nuclear plant tends to set people on edge (ABC News, 2012)

Title: California Nuclear Plant Shuts Down Reactor As Precaution
Date: February 1, 2012

Abstract: One of two reactors at the San Onofre nuclear power station in Southern California was shut down on Tuesday after a small leak was detected in a steam generator tube, but the incident posed no risk to the public or plant workers, the facility operator said.

The reactor unit, which normally provides 1,100 megawatts of electricity, was shut down at about 5:30 p.m. local time as a precaution and will remain off line for a least a couple of days, said Gil Alexander, a spokesman for Southern California Edison.

The plant's only other reactor already had been deactivated for a scheduled refueling and technology upgrade, he said. But the utility has ample reserve electricity, which it buys from independent power producers, to continue meeting customer demands while the two reactors are off line, the company said.

"We don't expect any impact on our customers tomorrow," Alexander told Reuters.

The two reactors together normally produce enough electricity to serve 1.4 million average-sized households in Southern California.

The leak, which Alexander called "very minor," was initially detected by sensors and occurred in the closed system that circulates water from the reactor to thousands of steam-generation tubes.

Although the water is radioactive, the leak was confined within the containment vessel surrounding the reactor, and there was no release of radioactive material to the atmosphere, Alexander said.

He said the incident was so minor that neither Edison procedures nor Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules required a shutdown, but the company decided to turn off the unit as a precaution.

NRC inspectors who work at the plant, located just south of San Clemente, were immediately notified of the mishap.

Alexander said it takes about 12 hours for a newly halted reactor to cool down fully, so inspection crews are not expected to enter the area where the leak occurred until some time on Wednesday.

Unlike the case of an ammonia leak inside the plant in November, operators saw no need to evacuate any workers on site as a precaution, Alexander said (Reuters, 2012).

Title: San Onofre Nuclear Plant Closed After Radiation Leak
Date: February 1, 2012
ABC News

Abstract: A small quantity of radioactive gas leaked inside one of the buildings at San Onofre nuclear power plant north of San Diego, according to a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The spokesman said the radiation levels were “barely measurable,” but the plant was shut down as a precaution.

“At no point were the public or our workers in any danger,” Southern California Edison spokesman Gil Alexander told ABC News.

Officials say the radiation leak likely occurred in the steam generator tubes of San Onofre’s reactor #3. The steam system, which is supposed to be shielded from exposure to radiation, was replaced in December 2010. Alexander said plant officials will be conducting an investigation into why the new steam tubes leaked.

Gary Headrick is part of the environmental group San Clemente Green and lives just eight miles away from San Onofre.

“If we don’t make them shut it down, it’s going to be too late,” Headrick said.

San Onofre is one of dozens of U.S. reactors facing new scrutiny after Japan’s nuclear crisis. It is located right on the coast, and in the heart of America’s earthquake country.

It also is right next door to Camp Pendleton, a Marine Corps base where 38,000 military families live, and another 32,000 people work each day, all of whom would be in immediate danger if there’s ever a meltdown.

ABC News visited San Onofre the day the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan melted down. At the time, plant officials were eager to reassure the public that the same thing could not happen on the California coast.

“This plant is safe,” California Edison’s Chief Nuclear Officer Pete Dietrich told ABC News.

After Japan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission updated its seismic model and in a report issued yesterday found that 96 reactors in the central and southern U.S. are in regions at a higher risk for quakes than previously thought.

The report included parts of the country that are not traditionally seen as geologically active, places like Chattanooga, Tenn., Savannah, Ga., Jackson, Miss., Manchester, N.H., and Houston, Texas.

Major metropolitan areas are uncomfortably close to nuclear plants, with as many as 120 million Americans living within 50 miles of a nuclear reactor, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Indian Point, outside of New York City, has 20 million people living within a 50-mile radius. And Dresden is just 50 miles from the heavily-populated suburbs of Chicago.

Nuclear regulators plan to give plant operators four years to reevaluate seismic risks, but some of the plants may be too expensive to make earthquake safe.

However, in the case of San Onofre, it’s unlikely the leak had anything to do with seismic safety and was probably just faulty equipment.  Officials have been taking extra care to reassure the public that there’s no danger, since after Japan, the idea of radiation leaking from a nuclear plant tends to set people on edge (ABC News, 2012)

Title: Japanese Nuclear Plant Leaks Contaminated Water
Date: February 2, 2012

: he operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), says some eight tons of radioactive water has leaked from a reactor at the plant. 

TEPCO said there was no cause for alarm, since none of the water reached outside the reactor building.

TEPCO said freezing temperatures may have caused a pipe to burst in the building.

The huge earthquake and tsunami that followed caused Japan's biggest civilian nuclear disaster in March (RFERL, 2012).

Title: Palisades Nuclear Plant Downgraded By NRC Over Safety Concerns
Date: February 14, 2012
Source: Huffington Post

Abstract: Federal regulators said Tuesday that safety violations at the Palisades nuclear power plant in southwestern Michigan had led them to downgrade the plant to a status held by just two others in the U.S.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission assigns the more than 100 nuclear reactors in the U.S. to one of five categories based on their safety performance. Most are in the top-performing group. Palisades was bumped to the No. 2 category last month and now will join two others in the third category: the Perry Nuclear Power Plant's Unit 1 generator near Cleveland and the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant's Unit 1 generator in Berwick, Pa.

The only reactor that ranks lower is Browns Ferry Unit 1 near Athens, Ala., which is in the fourth category.

Palisades' demotion means the plant will get closer scrutiny from regulators and will undergo a team inspection to determine whether staffers understand what caused their violations and have taken steps to prevent them from happening again, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokeswoman Prema Chandrathil said.

Despite the findings, the commission remains confident the plant does not pose a danger to nearby residents, Chandrathil said.

"If the plant was not operating safely, we would not hesitate to shut them down," she said.

Located in Van Buren County's Covert Township on the Lake Michigan shoreline, Palisades is owned by New Orleans-based Entergy Corp.

Palisades spokesman Mark Savage said the plant was cooperating fully with the commission and had accepted the agency's findings about two violations last year and one in 2009 that caused the downgraded status.

One was a Sept. 25 electrical fault caused by plant workers that caused the reactor and half of the control room indicators to shut down and triggered safety systems that actual plant conditions did not justify, the commission said. Agency investigators described the incident as having "substantial safety significance."

The other was the failure of a water pump that cools safety equipment. It resulted from cracking of one of the couplings that hold together rods in the cooling system. The same failure had happened in 2009, and the commission said an inspection showed the plant hadn't done enough to prevent a recurrence.

The agency designated that event as having "low to moderate" significance.

Savage said Palisades has since replaced all 21 of the couplings, not just the one that failed.

"The things we had violations for were equipment issues or things that happened during maintenance of equipment," he said. "The plant continued to operate safely even when all of these activities were ongoing."

The commission has scheduled a public meeting for Feb. 29 in nearby South Haven to discuss the plant's performance, Chandrathil said.

Beyond Nuclear, an activist group, said the commission should shut down the plant.

"The grass-roots environmental movement of the Great Lakes will do all it can to shine a spotlight on the grave risks at Palisades," said Kevin Kamps, the group's radioactive waste specialist (Huffington Post, 2012)

Title: Nuclear Reactor Shut Down To Fix Pump Fault
Date: March 24, 2012

Abstract: A reactor at the Beznau nuclear power plant has been temporarily shut down due to a technical problem.

The shutdown at the plant in northern Switzerland happened on Friday night and is expected to last for several days.

A problem arose with the shaft seal unit of the coolant pump at Beznau II, the operator Axpo said in a statement. It was shut down as a “preventative measure”.
Axpo said the reactor posed no danger to the public or the environment. The other reactor, Beznau I, is still operating. It is the oldest in the world.
Axpo told the faulty part was new and had been installed last year. Repairs will begin on Monday and once complete the reactor will be checked by the Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate
(SwissInfo, 2012)

Title: California Nuclear Plant Shut Indefinitely Amid Hunt To Find Cause Of Problems
Date: April 7, 2012

Abstract: A large Southern California nuclear plant is out of commission indefinitely, and will remain so until there is an understanding of what caused problems at two of its generators and an effective plan to address the issues, the nation's top nuclear regulator said Friday.

Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, refused to give a timetable as to when the San Onofre nuclear plant could resume operation. He said only that his agency had "set some firm conditions" as to when that could happen.

"We won't make a decision (to approve the facility's restart) unless we're satisfied that public health and safety will be protected," Jaczko told reporters. "They have to demonstrate to us that they understand the causes, and ... that they have a plan to address them."

The power plant has been shut down since this winter, when a small amount of radioactive gas escaped from a steam generator during a water leak. At the time, federal regulators said there was no threat to public health, though they could not identify how much gas leaked or exactly why it had happened.

The water leak occurred in thousands of tubes that carry heated water from the reactor core through the plant's steam generators.

Leaks occur periodically in older units, but plant owner Southern California Edison replaced the four steam generators at San Onofre in 2010 and 2011 as part of a $680 million project. They are in units 2 and 3 of the nuclear facility; unit 1 went out of service in 1992.

Each of the 65-foot-tall, 640-ton generators -- built by Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries -- are packed with thousands of narrow tubes that carry hot, pressurized water from the reactors. The heat produces steam in a separate loop that drives the plant's turbines and generators.

"Tubes are vibrating and rubbing against adjacent tubes and against support structures inside the steam generators," the agency noted.

Eight of the more than 9,700 tubes in one of the unit 3 generators failed a pressure test, while six tubes in unit 2's reactor needed to be plugged, the NRC has found. Another 186 tubes in unit 2, which was shut down for refueling at the time of the leak, were plugged "as a precautionary measure."

In addition to driving the turbines to create electricity, the steam generators are "one of the barriers between the radioactive material in the reactor core and ultimately the external environment," Jaczko noted.

Located near San Clemente, the San Onofre nuclear plant's twin reactors are "Southern California's largest and most reliable sources of electricity," according to Southern California Edison's website. When operational, the facility -- which is owned by that utility, San Diego Gas and Electric and the city of Riverside -- supplies power for 1.4 million households at any given time.

Anti-nuclear activists gathered Friday, not far from where Jaczko, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, toured the power plant, to question the need for nuclear energy and raise alarms about a potential environmental catastrophe.

Gary Headrick, founder of the group San Clemente Green, said that such public pressure was needed in order to guard against a nuclear crisis along the lines of what happened last year at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant.

"If we were to let things go as they've gone in the past, it's very likely that we'd experience a Fukushima right here in Southern California," Headrick said at the rally. "And that's why we're here today" (CNN, 2012)

Title: Update: Reported Fire At The INL
Date: April 16, 2012

Abstract: INL fire officials report the fire on the roof of a building at the Materials and Fuels Complex at the Idaho Site is out. The fire is believed to have occurred while workers were welding on the roof of the building. No injuries have been reported, and employees – although delayed – will be traveling home as usual.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been activated and is gathering information about a reported fire on the roof of a building at the Materials and Fuels Complex at the Idaho Site. Officials report that at this time there is no visible smoke or flames. The building has been evacuated and all employees are safe. No injuries have been reported.

Based on the information gathered so far, there is no risk to the public. INL personnel are responding to investigate the incident; state, county and tribal officials are being notified. Additional information will be provided as soon as it becomes available
(KPVI News, 2012)

Title: Jellyfish-Like Organisms Shut Down California Power Plant
Date: April 26, 2012
ABC News

Abstract: The workers of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant received a very slimy surprise this week when they discovered hoards of jellyfish-like creatures clinging to the structure, leading to the shutdown of the plant.

The organisms, called salp, are small sea creatures with a consistency  similar to jellyfish.

The influx of salp was discovered as part of the plant’s routine monitoring system, according to Tom Cuddy, the senior manager of external and nuclear communications for the plant’s operator, Pacific Gas & Electric.

“We then made the conservative decision to ramp down the affected unit to 20 percent and continued to monitor the situation,” Cuddy said. “When the problem continued, we made another conservative decision that it would be safest to curtail the power of the unit.”

The salp were clogging the traveling screens in the intake structure, which are meant to keep marine life out and to keep the unit cool.

“Safety is the highest priority,” Cuddy said. “We will not restart the unit until the salp moves on and conditions improve. No priority is more important than the safe operation of our facility.”

The plant consists of two units. Unit 1 was shut down previously because of refueling and maintenance work and will not be functional for several weeks. Now that Unit 2 has been shut down because of the influx of salp, the plant has ceased all production.

Even with the Diablo Canyon plant out of commission, PG&E has pledged to continue production using other sources of power so that customers are unaffected by the closure.

“We’ve had salp cling to the intake structure before, but nothing to this extent,” Cuddy said.

The plant’s strategy? Simply wait until the salp move on and resume production once the filters are clear (ABC News, 2012)

Title: NRC Cites Virginia Nuclear Plant After 2011 Earthquake
Date: May 14, 2012

Abstract: A Virginia nuclear power plant will get closer scrutiny from regulators after one of its backup generators failed to work during the earthquake that rattled the state and surrounding region in August.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission found workers at the North Anna plant failed to properly maintain the generator, one of four designed to keep cooling systems running in case of a power outage, the agency announced Monday. The remaining diesel-powered units operated as planned, allowing the reactors to cool after they shut down because of the earthquake, the NRC said at the time.

The plant is about 90 miles southwest of Washington and about 10 miles from the epicenter of the magnitude 5.8 quake, which was felt across much of the East Coast. There was no immediate reaction to the increased scrutiny from the plant's owner, Richmond-based Dominion Resources, but the NRC said the company has revised its maintenance procedures since the incident.

The NRC classified the problem as one that had a low to moderate impact on safety, the third-lowest rating on its four-point scale. But the finding means the plant will be subject to additional inspections (CNN, 2012).

Title: Iran: 'Massive Cyber Attack' Detected On Nuclear Facilities
Date: June 21, 2012
Source: M

Abstract: Iran has detected a planned "massive cyber attack" against its nuclear facilities, state television said on Thursday, after talks with major powers this week failed to resolve a row over Tehran's disputed nuclear activities.

Iran's Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi said the country's arch enemies the United States and Israel, along with Britain, had planned the attack.

"Based on obtained information, America and the Zionist regime (Israel) along with the MI6 planned an operation to launch a massive cyber attack against Iran's facilities following the meeting between Iran and the P5+1 in Moscow," Iran's English-language Press TV quoted him as saying.

"They still seek to carry out the plan, but we have taken necessary measures," he added, without elaborating.

Security experts said last month a highly sophisticated computer virus, dubbed "Flame", had infected computers in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.

Iranian officials were quick to say the country had defeated the virus, capable of snatching data and eavesdropping on computer users. It was not clear if the cyber attack referred to by Moslehi was "Flame", or a new virus.

Iran's nuclear program came under attack in 2010 by the Stuxnet computer worm which caused centrifuges to fail at the main Iranian enrichment facility. Tehran accused the United States and Israel of deploying Stuxnet.

Iran has been locked in a row for nearly a decade with Western countries over its disputed nuclear program which the West believes is aimed at making nuclear weapons.

Tehran denies the charge, saying it only wants peaceful nuclear technology to generate.

Earlier this month current and former U.S. officials said the United States under former President George W. Bush began building Stuxnet to try to prevent Tehran from completing suspected nuclear weapons work without resorting to risky military strikes against Iranian facilities.

They said President Barack Obama accelerated the efforts after succeeding Bush in 2009.

World powers and Iran failed to secure a breakthrough at talks on Tehran's nuclear program in Moscow on Tuesday, despite the threat of a new Middle East conflict if diplomacy collapses.

After two days of talks, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said significant differences remained and the two sides had agreed only on a technical follow-up meeting in Istanbul on July 3.

Tehran has repeatedly said that as a member of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it can develop a full nuclear fuel cycle, and, if this is recognized, talks with the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, France, Russia, China, the United States — and Germany (the P5+1) can succeed.

"If the other side agrees to recognize Iran's (nuclear) rights based on international regulations, Iran is ready to negotiate anything," Ali Akbar Velayati, an adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency on Thursday (MSNBC, 2012).

Title: IAEA Confirms Yongbyon Reactor Shutdown
Date: July 16, 2007

Abstract: Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have confirmed that the North Korean nuclear reactor at Yongbyon has been shut down. The agency's head Mohammed ElBaradei said they had “good co-operation”.

The reactor was closed after the first shipment of oil was received from South Korea on Saturday as part of a disarmament deal agreed last February. The agreement followed years of negotiations at six-way talks between China, Russia, Japan, the U.S. and the two Koreas.

The United States says it will push North Korea to give details of its other nuclear activities, and expects it to completely scrap its nuclear programme by the end of this year.

Six-party talks are set to resume on Wednesday in Beijing where the members are expected to map out the next phase of the disarmament deal (RT, 2007).

Title: Dirty Deeds: Iranian Nuclear Program Hit By 'AC/DC Virus'?
Date: July 24, 2012

Abstract: Iranian nuclear facilities have reportedly been attacked by a “music” virus, turning on lab PCs at night and blasting AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”

Mikko Hypponen, Chief Researcher at Finnish digital security firm F-secure, publicly released a letter he received from an unnamed Iranian scientist. The researcher, who claimed to work for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said that another virus has struck the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran and a secret underground research facility at Fordo, southwest of Tehran.

The letter’s author reported that the virus shut down equipment (made by Germany’s Siemens Corporation) and automated systems at both research centers.

Hypponen published the letter on his blog, but cautioned that there is no way for him to verify the accusations. He was able to confirm, however, that the letter did originate from the AEOI’s servers.

The letter, which was reportedly sent to various cybersecurity experts, said that Metasploit’s Penetration Testing Software had been used to direct this new attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The scientist stressed that he is not a cybersecurity specialist, and does not have detailed information on the virus.

“There was also some music playing randomly on several of the workstations during the middle of the night with the volume maxed out. I believe it was playing ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC,” the scientist wrote.

If true, this attack is the third hacking attempt aimed at Tehran’s controversial nuclear program. In 2010, the state-of-the-art Stuxnet virus set Iran’s nuclear ambitions back by at least two years.

In May 2012, experts at Russia’s Kaspersky Laboratories exposed another Trojan virus called Flame, which was designed to spy on web activity in Iran and some Middle Eastern countries. Russian cybersecurity experts labeled Flame “probably the most complicated virus ever.”

Iran claimed to have found a way to neutralize Flame (RT, 2012).

Title: 40 India Nuclear Plant Workers Contaminated In Separate Incidents
Date: July 24, 2012
Channel News Asia

Abstract: More than 40 workers at a nuclear power station in northern India have been exposed to tritium radiation in two separate leaks in the past five weeks, company managers said on Tuesday.

The first accident occurred on June 23 when 38 people were exposed during maintenance work on a coolant channel at the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station in Rawatbhata, senior plant manager Vinod Kumar told AFP.

Two of them received radiation doses equivalent to the annual permissible limit, he said, but all those involved have returned to work.

In a second incident last Thursday, another four maintenance workers at the plant were exposed to tritium radiation while they were repairing a faulty seal on a pipe.

India is on a nuclear power drive, with a host of plants based on Russian, Japanese, American and French technology under consideration or construction.

The country's growing economy is currently heavily dependent on coal, getting less than three per cent of its energy from its existing atomic plants, and the government hopes to raise the figure to 25 per cent by 2050.

But environmental watchdogs have expressed concerns about safety in India, where small-scale industrial accidents due to negligence or poor maintenance are commonplace and regulatory bodies are often under-staffed and under-funded.

The director of the Rajasthan power station, C P Jamb, confirmed the second accident to AFP but said the radiation was within permissible limits and posed no health threat.

"The workers were exposed to radiation from 10 to 25 per cent of the annual limit," Jamb said. "Such minor leakages keep on happening but they cause no harm."

C D Rajput, director of the unit where the leak happened, also said the radiation exposure "was well under the limits and all the workers are working normally".

No explanation was immediately available as to why the first incident at the plant took a month to emerge.

In May 2011, four labourers were exposed to low levels of radiation at the Kakrapur Atomic Power Station in eastern Gujarat state.

In November 2009, workers at a nuclear plant in southern Karnataka state fell ill after radioactive water contaminated their drinking water.

Tritium is a mildly radioactive isotope of hydrogen
(Channel News Asia, 2012).

Title: Cracked Belgian Nuclear Reactor To Remain Closed
Date: August 10, 2012
France 24

Abstract: The head of Belgium's federal agency for nuclear safety AFCN said on Friday he was "sceptical" that an ageing reactor closed over fears of cracks could be restarted.

"I'm fairly sceptical for the moment," Willy de Roovere told RTBF public radio, even if "the possibility remains that I am wrong."

According to French-language daily Le Soir, a crack of between 15 and 20 millimetres (0.6 and 0.8 inches) was discovered during a test in June. There has been no denial of this report.

According to the agency, repairs are "practically impossible" and are "not an option" for fear of creating new tensions "which we must avoid at all costs."

Installing a replacement meanwhile has never been attempted anywhere because of the problem of high radiation levels.

The AFCN revealed on Wednesday that the Doel 3 reactor, located 25 kilometres (20 miles) north of Antwerp, would remain closed at least until August 31 after the discovery of possible cracks in the protective vessel surrounding the core during routine June testing.

The agency is also mulling the permanent closure "in the worst case" of a second reactor in the country's south near Liege.

The tests showed "faults in the steel base material" on which the reactor vessel is mounted, the AFCN said.

The Dutch firm, Rotterdam Drydocks, that made the vessels is out of business, which has amplified concerns about others it delivered in Europe and in the Americas.

Spain has indicated it has two reactors in the same bracket, Switzerland and Sweden one each.

The firm supplied one to the Netherlands, but had not manufactured it. The government in The Hague said it has still to decide whether to test its nuclear facilities.

The German government said reactors supplied by the defunct company were no longer in service.

Representatives of nuclear safety bodies from all the countries involved will meet in Brussels on August 16 to "exchange information," the AFCN said (France 24, 2012).

Title: Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Reactor Shut Down
Date: August 13, 2012
Baltimore Sun

Operators of the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Southern Maryland have shut down one of the two reactors there because a control rod unexpectedly dropped into the reactor core, causing a reduction in power generation, a plant spokesman said Monday.

The incident happened Sunday afternoon, prompting the plant's staff to shut the reactor down to find and fix the cause of the malfunction, according to Kory Raftery, spokesman for Constellation Energy Nuclear Group. Control rods are used in a reactor to limit the fission taking place among the reactor's enriched-uranium fuel rods.

An unplanned insertion of a control rod into a reactor core can "create an imbalance in the fissioning and pose challenges for reactor operators," according to Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He described it as an infrequent occurrence among U.S. nuclear plants.

The plant spokesman said there was no risk to the public from the control-rod problem, noting the plant's redundant safety systems. But he said that "the safe and prudent decision was to shut the unit down" until inspections and maintenance could be performed.

Raftery could not predict when Unit 1 would be back in operation, but noted that Unit 2 is still running at full power at the plant, which is 70 miles south of Baltimore.

"We'll get back up to 100 percent and connected to the grid as soon as safely possible," he said.

It's the third unplanned shutdown of Unit 1 (Baltimore Sun, 2012).

Title: Warm Water In Sound Causes Millstone Unit To Shut Down
Date: August 13, 2012

Abstract: For the first time, record-breaking water temperatures in Long Island Sound have forced the shutdown of the Unit 2 nuclear reactor at the Millstone Power Station.

It appears to be the only nuclear power plant in the nation forced to shut down this summer due to high water temperatures, said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

This is the first time Unit 2 has been shut due to high water temperature since it began operations in 1975, according to Ken Holt, spokesman for Millstone owner Dominion. 

The Unit 2 nuclear reactor at the Millstone Power Station will remain shut until the company is confident that the temperature of the water drawn into the plant from Long Island Sound will remain below 75 degrees, Holt said.

"We don't want to restart it and then have to shut it down again if the temperature spikes back up," he said.

The unit, the smaller of the two operating plants at the power station, was shut down on Sunday afternoon after the temperature of water from Long Island Sound used to cool the plant exceeded limits set by the plant's license.

Millstone was among plants that received emergency license amendments this summer related to the temperature of cooling water. Last week, Millstone received permission from the NRC to take an average of three temperature measurements for the water at the intake pipes for Unit 2, rather than using the single highest measure. 

The plant's license states that it must be shut down when the water temperature is 75 degrees or higher over a 24-hour period. The water is used to cool instruments in the nuclear reactor building and the emergency diesel generators. Water that is too warm does not sufficiently cool the plant to keep it within the margin of safety.

Water temperatures in Long Island Sound this summer are the warmest on record. Nationwide, July air temperatures have been the hottest on record since record-keeping began in 1895, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and are expected to continue to remain high through August.

Unit 2 produces 880 megawatts of electricity. Unit 3, which has water intake pipes that draw from a deeper, colder part of the Sound, is still at 100 percent capacity, producing 1,200 megawatts of electricity, Holt said.

Holt said federal, state and local officials have been notified of the shutdown, as well as ISO New England, the organization that oversees the regional power and transmission system.

Despite the Millstone shutdown, there has been sufficient capacity in the system both Sunday and Monday to meet normal power demands, Marcia Blomberg, ISO spokeswoman, said. The system had 2,600 megawatts of excess capacity on Monday, she added.

"We operate the system with a margin of reserve to allow for unplanned outages," she said. 

Millstone crews are monitoring the water temperature to determine when it will be safe to restart the plant, which would take a couple of days. Holt said the company will wait unit it can be confident that the temperature will remain below 75 degrees.

He declined to discuss the financial implications of the shutdown on Dominion. 

Sheehan said "it remains to be seen" whether the NRC will consider the issue of warming water temperatures and the long-term implications for nuclear power plants.

"We're always on the lookout for issues that may need further review for their generic implications," he said (, 2012)

Title: Monticello, Prairie Island Nuclear Reactors Idled For Repairs
Date: August 15, 2012

Abstract: Xcel Energy said Tuesday it has shut down two of Minnesota's three nuclear reactors for what it called minor repairs.

Neither plant released any radiation or posed any danger to citizens, the company said. The Monticello nuclear plant's single generating unit, which had been operating at 10 percent capacity since last weekend, was shut down because of a leaking pipe inside the plant's concrete containment structure, the company said.

One of the two nuclear generators at the Prairie Island plant was shut down because its emergency diesel generators suffered exhaust leaks.

"It's unusual for us to shut down both units in [the] same half day, but it's not unheard of," Xcel spokeswoman Mary Sandok said.

The company is compensating by buying more electricity from other providers on the Midwest power grid, Sandok said. Although additional electricity costs are passed to ratepayers, the effect is not likely to be large enough for most to notice, she said.

The 600-megawatt Monticello generator and the 550-megawatt Prairie Island unit account for 20 percent of the power Xcel generates for the Upper Midwest. Both are expected to be on again in a few days, Sandok said.

The Prairie Island Indian Community expressed concern about that plant's age and condition.

"Today's unplanned shutdown -- and the unusual white steam clouds released throughout the day during the reactor shutdown -- are ominous reminders of the fact that the 40-year old Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant operating a half-mile from our homes relies on aging technology," Tribal Council President Johnny Johnson said in a statement (StarTribune, 2012)

Title: NRC To Inspect Leak At Entergy's Palisades Reactor In Michigan
Date: August 15, 2012

Abstract: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Wednesday it started a special inspection at Entergy Corp's Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan to review a leak from a control rod drive mechanism inside the containment building.

The 793-MW unit was shut after a leak was identified Aug. 12.

The leak has not resulted in a release of radiation to the environment and is not a threat to public health and safety, the agency said.

Since July, the NRC has been monitoring a gradual increase of unidentified leakage at the reactor and sought safety assurances from Entergy on those leaks.

The plant is required to shut when the unidentified leak rate exceeds 1 gallon per minute (gpm). At the point of shutdown, the unidentified leakage was about 0.3 gallon per minute, the NRC said.

The limit for this area is 0 gpm and the plant will need to fix the leak before returning to operation, the regulator said.

The three-member inspection will review the utility's monitoring of the leak and subsequent plant shutdown, verify the adequacy of radiological controls, evaluate any potential degradation and review the plant's repair action, the NRC said in a statement.

The team will also review the plant's reporting requirements and their plan for addressing the cause of the event, the NRC said.

Entergy shut the plant in June due to leakage from a refueling water tank (Reuters, 2012).

Belgium Shuts Two Nuclear Reactors Amid Safety Concerns
Date: August 17, 2012

Abstract: Belgium’s nuclear regulator has questioned the safety of the Electrabel-operated Doel 3 reactor due to cracks in the pressure vessels that have already forced the shutdown of a similar unit at the Tihange nuclear plant.

Belgium has halted the 1,006-megawatt Doel 3 reactor until at least the end of August after the discovery of suspected cracks in the pressure vessel. But it is possible that the reactor could be shut down for good.

Willy De Roovere, who heads the FANC regulator agency, said it was always hard for a company to meet a requirement to prove a nuclear plant is safe.

He told a news conference that Electrabel, the Belgian unit of France’s GDF Suez, would have to show that "in a period of the remaining lifetime there is no single risk, there is no risk at all that cracks can go [on to produce leaks]."

A spokeswoman for Electrabel said, as quoted by Reuters: "Is it safe or not to continue the production of Doel 3? That's what we will have to prove to the FANC."

The vessel in question was built by now-defunct Dutch company Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij, which also constructed the pressure vessel for another Belgian unit, Tihange 2, as well as parts for nuclear plants throughout Europe and in the Americas.

The Belgian agency BELGA reported that Tihange 2 was halted yesterday, as it has the same pressure vessel as Doel.

“I would like to remind that Doel 3 and Tihange 2 have been halted and do not represent any danger for the population, the workers and the environment,” De Roovere was quoted as saying.

Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij was also responsible for two units in Germany that are no longer operating, two in the Netherlands, two in Spain, one in Sweden, two in Switzerland, 10 in the United States and one in Argentina, said the Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency, an agency within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development..

Nuclear specialists from the countries where the Dutch vessels are in use are due to meet in Brussels today (17 August).

De Roovere said it was doubtful the Doel operations would resume before the end of September and that regulators would meet again in October to discuss the issue.

Stress Tests
The Doel 3 reactor had been scheduled to close in 10 years' time, according to a nuclear exit plan the Belgian government adopted in July.

GDF Suez is expected to trim significantly its 47-year-old nuclear business now that Belgium, the only nation where it operates nuclear plants, is phasing out its reliance on atomic power.

Belgium has long considered a complete exit from nuclear energy (see background), but that will depend on its having enough alternative sources of energy in place.

EU member states are each responsible for determining policy on nuclear power and on the energy mix in general.

However, the European Commission has initiated a series of voluntary stress tests as part of efforts to ensure safety following Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster.

They were meant to be completed before the Commission's August summer break, but governments have been given extra time for further assessments.

Speaking in Essen, Germany, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said he expected the stress tests to be completed in October and that they would include the assessment from regulators about risks associated with the possible cracks in the Belgian unit.

"In the coming weeks, we expect clear results from the Belgium regulators about possible risks," he said, as quoted by Reuters (EurActive, 2012).

Title: Nuclear Reactor Facility Evacuated In Austin
Date: September 14, 2012

Abstract: A research facility at the University of Texas in Austin that houses an active nuclear reactor has been evacuated after a man with a middle eastern accent claiming to be a member of Al-Qaeda warned authorities the campus had been booby-trapped with explosives.

“The university received a call from a male with a Middle Eastern accent claiming to have placed bombs all over campus. He said he was with Al Qaeda and these bombs would go off in 90 minutes. President Powers was notified and it was decided to evacuate all of the buildings out of an abundance of caution,” reports We Are

UT’s JJ Pickle Research facility in North Austin was also evacuated. The facility houses a a fully functional nuclear reactor operated by the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab department.

The Pickle campus is protected by a guard shack that visitors have to pass through to enter the building. The giant research facility in north Austin is not part of the main UT central campus located in downtown which also has a nuclear reactor that was built under the campus in the 1960s.

There was no incident 90 minutes after the call was made, suggesting the bomb threat was a hoax. However, it does coincide with attacks on U.S. embassies by radical Islamists as well as protests across the Middle East in response to a dubious film said to insult the Prophet Mohammad

A campus-wide email has been sent to all students, according to the Dallas News. “Evacuation due to threats on campus immediately evacuate all buildings get as far away from the buildings as possible. Further information to come,” the email reads.

Students at North Dakota State University in Fargo were also evacuated this morning. Anunspecified threat was also made via graffiti to Valparaiso University (Infowars, 2012).

Title: Iran Accuses Siemens Of Nuclear Sabotage
Date: September 22, 2012
Fox News

Abstract:  Iran is accusing the German technology company Siemens of implanting tiny explosives in equipment the Islamic Republic purchased for its nuclear program.

A prominent Iranian lawmaker says the booby-trapped equipment was meant to derail Iran's uranium enrichment efforts, but security experts discovered the explosives and removed them.

Siemens denies the charge and says its nuclear division has had no business with Iran since the 1979 revolution.

Any sale of nuclear equipment to Iran is banned under U.N. sanctions, raising the possibility that if it indeed has some, it may have been acquired through third parties.
  Iran claims it has been the target of a concerted campaign by Israel, the U.S. and their allies to undermine its nuclear efforts through covert operations.

Five nuclear scientists and researchers have been killed in Iran since 2010. Tehran blames the deaths on Israel's Mossad spy agency as well as the CIA and Britain's MI-6. Washington and London have denied any roles. Israel has not commented (Fox News, 2012).

Title: Three Mile Island Reactor Returned To Service After Unexpected Shutdown
Date: September 22, 2012

Abstract:  Three Mile Island Unit 1 was returned to service at 9:12 a.m. Saturday when operators connected the plant’s turbine generator to the regional power grid, according to officials at Exelon Generation. 
The unit automatically shut down on Thursday because of an unexpected problem with a relay switch on a reactor coolant pump. Three Mile Island personnel replaced the relay, installed additional monitoring capabilities and tested the pump prior to restarting it. 
“We performed the necessary repairs safely and efficiently and are committed to a reliable operating cycle,” Rick Libra, TMI site vice president, said in a statement. 
This was the second time TMI has shut down in the past month. The first incident was between Aug. 22 and Sept. 6. Officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have said that so far the two incidents appear to be unrelated. 
TMI’s partial reactor meltdown in Unit 2 in 1979 remains the nation’s worst commercial nuclear accident
(, 2012).

Title: Spy Device Disguised As Rock Blown Up Near Iran Nuclear Site
September 23, 2012
Al Arabiya News

Abstract:  A spy device camouflaged as a rock exploded when it came into contact with Iranian troops near an underground nuclear enrichment plant, The Sunday Times reported this week. 

Last month, Revolutionary Guards at the Fordo nuclear facility, near the northern city of Qom, came across the rock and attempted to move it, according to sources who spoke to the newspaper.

The guards, who had been on patrol to check terminals connecting data and telephone links to the site, reportedly witnessed the disguised spy device exploding when they came into contact with it. 

Experts who surveyed the scene of the explosion, according to the newspaper, analyzed remnants of the device and found it had been able to intercept data from computers at the nuclear plant, where uranium is enriched.

News of the explosion was reportedly first kept secret by the Iranians. But last week, Fereydoun Abbasi the Iranian vice-president and the head of the nuclear energy agency, revealed that the power lines between Qom and the Fordo facility were blown-up in August.

The finding has sparked speculation over whether the spy device could have been a significant source of intelligence for Western countries, which has now been lost. 

Israel believes Iran's nuclear program to be aimed at developing an atomic weapons capability that would menace its own existence, and its current status as the Middle East's sole, if undeclared, nuclear weapons power.

Iran insists its program is exclusively for peaceful, civilian ends, but it is locked in a deepening standoff with the U.N. nuclear watchdog and the U.N. Security Council over the issue.

The existence of the site was unknown until it was uncovered three years ago in 2009, according to The Sunday Times, which added that the nuclear plant has been under surveillance by American, British and Israeli intelligence agencies. 

It is believed that there are up to 3,000 centrifuges which are pieces of equipment used to separate substances of different densities and rotates at high speed that are hidden under 260ft of rock.

There are reports that claim the explosion was planned to cut the power supply to the plant and damage the centrifuges, however, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, who visited the site the day after the explosion occurred did not state that there was any damage or disruption to the plant in their reports.

The enrichment of uranium in Iran has become a matter of considerable diplomatic importance. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated last week, that Iran would have what it needed for a nuclear weapon by the middle of next year, and has threatened a unilateral attack.

However, Britain and the United States believe that Iran is progressing at a slower pace. 

British officials confessed earlier in the year that a fake rock had been discovered in Moscow in 2006, the camouflaged rock was reportedly revealed to hold monitoring and transmission equipment used for espionage
(Al Arabiya News, 2012)

Title: Kewaunee Nuclear Plant To Shut Down In The Spring
October 22, 2012
HTR News

Cheap natural gas is putting 650 nuclear plant employees at Kewaunee Power Station out of work.

Dominion Resources Inc. said Monday it will shut down the one-reactor power plant on the shore of Lake Michigan in the spring because it could not sell it and cannot operate it profitably.

“The biggest factor is the market price of power,” said Daniel Stoddard, senior vice president of nuclear operations at Dominion.

The closing will have a wide-ranging impact, hurting workers who will lose high-paying jobs and the Northeastern Wisconsin and Kewaunee County economies, and possibly affecting Wisconsin Public Service Corp. customers. The Kewaunee Power Station provides about 20 percent of WPS’s electricity.

“Over the last 18 months, we have worked very hard to find a buyer for Kewaunee,” Stoddard said. “Our view right now is this is a permanent decision.”

Stoddard said Dominion will honor its contracts to sell electricity through December 2013, when they expire. The plant began operation in 1974.

Kewaunee Power Plant employees learned of the decision Monday morning.

State resources will be available to displaced workers, said Jim Golembeski, executive director of Bay Area Workforce Development Board. “The good thing is, we have some time here. I don’t think anybody needs to panic at this time,” he said.

The plan is to stop generating electricity in about six months, accompanied by phased layoffs. The plant will be put into safe storage condition. Nuclear fuel in the reactor will be moved to the spent-fuel pool, where it must stay for five to seven years, after which it can be moved to dry-cask storage on site.

At some point, the federal government is supposed to take possession of the used fuel and the plant will be dismantled and the site returned to greenfield condition. Dominion has 60 years in which to accomplish the latter.

Dominion will offer incentives to employees to stay until the shutdown to ensure staffing, Stoddard said.

“Our primary focus is on safely operating the plant,” he said (HTR News, 2012).

Title: DOE Confirms Leak Inside Hanford Nuclear Waste Tank
October 22, 2012
King 5 News

The interior wall of a double walled nuclear waste storage tank at Hanford is leaking. KING 5 reported last week the leak was suspected after material was found between the walls of the tank. The Department of Energy (DOE) confirmed the leak on Monday. The announcement emphasizes that the material that escaped from the inner wall is still contained by the exterior wall and there is no risk of public exposure. The discovery is a setback, however, in the transfer of nuclear waste from the older, single shelled tanks to the newer, double shelled tanks. An emergency pumping plan requires the waste be removed the tank quickly, but the DOE said it is still assessing the situation and did not announce its plan for dealing with the substance which has been determined to be highly radioactive. Tank AY-102 contains 850,000 gallons of waste. It is the oldest of the double walled tanks and the first to be identified with a leak. Several of the single walled tanks have already leaked waste into the soil and groundwater (King 5 News, 2012).

Title: Hydrogen Leak Detected At San Onofre Reactor
October 23, 2012

A minor hydrogen leak was detected over the weekend at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County, but it was small and presented no health risk to employees or the public, Southern California Edison announced Monday.

The leak occurred Sunday in a pipe in a non-nuclear area of the facility, and it was reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, according to SCE. The utility said a fitting will have to be replaced.

The hydrogen, which is lighter than air, rose up and dissipated, according to SCE.

The nuclear plant's two reactors have been shut down since January, one for planned maintenance and the other after a leak was discovered in a steam generator tube. A subsequent investigation found unusual wear in many of the tubes.

The utility said the hydrogen leak had nothing to do with testing that took place this weekend.

A group called Friends of the Earth issued a statement calling the latest problem "strong evidence'' that the plant is unsafe to restart.

The NRC and SCE, which operates the plant, said they won't restart the reactors until it is safe to do so. San Diego Gas & Electric owns a 20 percent share and receives one-fifth of its power (KTLA News, 2012).

Title: Nuclear Plant Alert As 26 Facilities In Sandy's Path
October 29, 2012

Parts of two nuclear power plants were shut down and another one put on alert, as the ‘Superstorm’ Sandy ravished the US East Coast. The storm may hit as many as 26 of the nuclear facilities along its path.

At the Salem plant in Hancocks Bridge, New Jersey, a unit was shut down Tuesday, because four of its six circulating water pumps were no longer available, PSEG Nuclear reported. The plant's other unit, Salem 2, was already offline for maintenance when the storm hit.

A unit at Indian Point plant north of New York City was shut down on Monday due to an external grid issue, the plant operator said. The facility itself and its employees are not at risk, the Entergy Corp. said.

America's oldest nuclear power plant at Oyster Creek was already out of service for scheduled refueling when the storm hit. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials have put the facility on alert due to unusually high water there. The agency assured that the water levels are expected to recede soon and pose no threat to the plant.

But Professor Christopher Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risks says that Oyster Creek – which was commissioned in 1969 – could pose danger because of its age.

“The older the nuclear power station, the less good the integrity of the various control systems and the actual metallic components of the control systems…if they’re that much older, they’re more corroded. They can be brittle as a result of neutron effects. So that’s certainly a factor,” Busby told RT.

In other parts of the East Coast, nuclear plants were weathering the storm without incident.

Arnie Gundersen, the chief engineer of energy consulting company Fairewinds Associates, warns in a recent podcast that even if engineers at plants from North Carolina to New England say their plants have been shut down and are safe from disaster, it may already be too late.

During a recording uploaded to the Fairewinds website on October 28, the nuclear expert explains that facilities that are shut-down in preparation of severe storms like Sandy could still contain dangerous radioactive materials in their cooling pools for as long as two days.

“The plant can withstand relatively high winds, but the transmission grid can’t — that’s all those transmission towers that are all over the states,” Gundersen says. “So what’s like to happen is that power lines will go down and the plant will suffer what will call loss of offsite power,” the same thing that happened at Fukushima, Japan.

Gundersen says that once offsite power is shut down, plants will automatically halt its nuclear chain reaction process because that energy will have nowhere to go. “The plant needs to drop its power immediately because there is no wire at the other end to send it anywhere if the offsite power is lost,” he says.

“There’s 26 power plants in the East Coast that are in the area where sandy is like to hit, and hopefully as the storm track becomes better defined, the plants that are most subject to it — likely New Jersey and Pennsylvania — preventively shut down,” Gundersen says. Assuming those facilities preemptively put their nuclear plans on hold, he adds, “will of course minimize the impact: the jarring to the nuclear reactor and its safety systems.”

But even if plants are shut down, though, onsite power will need to be pushed somewhere, which then raises an entirely independent question of how to handle a surplus of radioactive, intense energy.

“When offsite power is lost, the plant is forced to dramatically reduce power real quickly and then it still needs to be cooled,” he says.

“You’ll hear in the next two days, ‘we’ve shut down the plant,’” he says, “but what that means is they stopped the chain reaction. But what Fukushima taught us was that that doesn’t stop the decay heat. There is still as much as 5 percent of the power from the power plant that doesn’t go away when the plant shuts down, and for that you need the diesels to keep the plant cool,” referring to the diesel-powered generators that will control the reservoirs.

“Some of these plants have two diesels, and some of these have three diesels, and they are designed so that if one of these fails then they can still get by,” he says. “As the plant operator, as the people running the plant, it’s a little bit of a nervous time to realize that you’re on your last fall-back,” he warns. “You just hope that’s your last fall-back.”

Even if pools can still be powered and cooled, that doesn’t mean that a chance of a disaster is nil: according to a McClatchy report from 2011, the cooling pool used in the US contain much more nuclear material on average than those in Japan.

Some facilities in the storm’s trajectory, such as the nation’s oldest nuclear plant — Oyster Creek in Lacey, New Jersey — have already pulled the plug for other reasons. In that case, routine maintenance has already allowed the facility a few days to cool down and will likely spare South Jersey from any otherwise imminent disaster. Across the East Coast, though, other sites might still pose a risk.

Speaking to Bloomberg News, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan says the agency is prepared to see “an impact to coastal and inland plants” and is planning on stationing inspectors at plants expected to be hit (RT, 2012).

Title: Sandy Likely To Shut At Least Two NJ Nuclear Reactors
October 29, 2012

At least two major New Jersey nuclear power plants are likely to shut on Monday as Hurricane Sandy makes landfall as a Category 1 storm and more plants could reduce power as the storm triggers precautionary safety measures.

In Connecticut, Dominion Resources Inc already reduced the output of its Millstone 3 reactor from full power to about 75 percent as a precaution due to high water levels caused by Sandy, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said.

Sandy, centered over the Atlantic Ocean about 175 miles (285km) southeast of New York City, was expected to hit near Delaware and south New Jersey later Monday as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of up to 90 miles per hour (150 kph).

The nuclear reactors in Sandy's current path include units at Public Service Enterprise Group Inc's 2,332-megawatt (MW) Salem and 1,161-MW Hope Creek plants in New Jersey, which were likely to bear the brunt of the storm before it moves inland. Those PSEG reactors combined account for about 19 percent of the state's total electric capacity, although New Jersey also draws supplies from the whole Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland (PJM) power region.

PJM is the biggest power grid in the United States serving more than 60 million people in 13 U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states and the District of Columbia.

Electricity traders said if Sandy continues on her expected path it was likely PSEG would have to shut the Salem and Hope Creek reactors later Monday, but they were mixed on whether the storm's winds would still be strong enough to force the shutdown of reactors in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

PSEG spokesman Joe Delmar said the company would take the Salem and Hope Creek reactors offline if wind speeds reach greater than 74 miles per hour onsite for more than 15 minutes or the river water level reaches 100 feet (30 meters). Sandy's maximum winds were at 90 mph earlier on Monday.

The mean river water level at the Salem-Hope Creek site was 89 feet and the site grade was about 102 feet. The highest river level ever recorded was 97.5 feet, Delmar said.

But Sandy was expected to lose some punch as she moves over Pennsylvania and Maryland, crossing near Constellation Nuclear Energy Group's 1,705-MW Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant in Maryland, Exelon Corp's 2,244-MW Peach Bottom, 805-MW Three Mile Island and 2,264-MW Limerick in Pennsylvania, and PPL Corp's 2,450-MW Susquehanna in Pennsylvania.

All U.S. reactors have procedures that require operators to shut the units when hurricane-force winds reach their sites or when floodwaters reach certain levels.   

Nuclear power represents about 18 percent of the generating capacity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region. One megawatt powers about 1,000 homes.

A few reactors in the area were already shut for refueling or other maintenance, including Exelon's Oyster Creek in New Jersey, PSEG's Salem 2 in New Jersey, PPL's Susquehanna in Pennsylvania and Dominion's Millstone 2 in Connecticut.

Both Salem Unit 1 and Hope Creek were at full power Monday morning and the refueling work on Salem Unit 2 was suspended by 6 p.m. EDT Sunday, Delmar said.

Wind & Flood Water
Delmar said only essential personnel were required to report to the Salem and Hope Creek site on Monday.

He said PSEG was in Phase 2 of its severe weather plan.

Phase 1 included inspecting, removing and securing objects outside that could become airborne and putting emergency equipment and supplies in place.

Phase 2 of the plan includes visual inspections of equipment, verifying weather tight doors, checking on emergency diesel availability, and ensuring water intakes are prepared for severe weather.

Power companies from North Carolina to Maine have been preparing for Sandy for days and urged customers to be ready for the possibility of days without electricity. More than 700,000 homes and businesses were already without power Monday afternoon. See factbox on power outages.

The Long Island Power Authority, which serves 1.1 million people on Long Island, New York, and others said outages could last as long as seven to 10 days.

The last big storm to hit the U.S. East Coast was Hurricane Irene in 2011, which made landfall in the Outer Banks in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm. Irene caused billions in property damage as it ran up the coast from Carolinas to Maine.

Irene left more than eight million homes and businesses without power, some for a week or more in the hardest hit areas. It forced many power plants to shut, including at least two reactors, at Oyster Creek in New Jersey and Calvert Cliffs in Maryland.

Several other reactors had to reduce power primarily due to debris in their cooling water intakes and other reasons, like Duke Energy Corp's Brunswick in North Carolina,

Dominion's Millstone in Connecticut and PSEG's Salem in New Jersey.

The biggest utilities in Sandy's path include units of Duke, Exelon, FirstEnergy Corp, National Grid Plc, Consolidated Edison Inc, Northeast Utilities, Dominion, PSEG, PPL, Pepco Holdings Inc and Iberdrola SA (Reuters, 2012).

Title: Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant Alert
October 30, 2012
My Fox NY

An alert was declared at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey because of water exceeding certain high water level criteria in the plant's water intake structure, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

An "unusual event" was declared around 7 p.m. on Monday.

The situation was upgraded to an "alert" about two hours later.

Water level was rising in the intake structure due to a combination of a rising tide, wind direction and storm surge, according to the NRC.

The NRC said in a statement that is was continuing to monitor impacts from Hurricane Sandy on nuclear power plants in the northeastern United States.

"All plants remain in a safe condition, with emergency equipment available if needed and NRC inspectors on-site, the NRC's statement said.

The Oyster Creek plant is in Lacey Township, N.J. It gets its cooling water from the Barnegat Bay.  It is the nation's oldest nuclear power plant.

Oyster Creek has operated since 1969 and provides about 9% of New Jersey's electricity (My Fox NY, 2012).

Title: Nuclear Plant In N.J. On Alert As Sandy Tests Industry
October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy forced three nuclear power plants to shut and put another on alert as federal regulators dispatched inspectors to monitor 11 facilities in the path of the storm, the biggest test for the U.S. industry since a crisis in Japan more than 18 months ago.

Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PEG) manually closed its 1,174-megawatt Salem Unit 1, about 18 miles south of Wilmington, Delaware, when four of six circulating pumps were no longer available because of weather, according to Joe Delmar, a company spokesman. The unit operated at full power yesterday, while unit 2 was shut for refueling.

“The biggest challenge for us overnight was waves hitting the circulating water systems at both stations,” Delmar said in an e-mail response to questions. There was also “lots of river grass and debris,” he said.

Sandy, the biggest Atlantic Ocean tropical storm on record, moved along the East Coast for five days before slamming into the mid-Atlantic coast yesterday, unlike the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 that crippled Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. Still, Sandy may disturb intake of water for cooling or sever plants’ links to external power.

Nine Mile Point in Scriba, New York, was automatically shut down after a power disruption to a switchyard, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. Entergy Corp.’s Indian Point 3 nuclear plant in New York also automatically closed at 10:41 p.m. yesterday because of power-grid issues from the storm, Neil Sheehan, an NRC spokesman based in King of Prussian, Pennsylvania, said today in an e-mail.

Oyster Creek
The nation’s oldest nuclear plant, Exelon Corp. (EXC)’s Oyster Creek facility in New Jersey, declared an alert last night due to elevated levels of water in its water-intake structure, according to a statement from the NRC. The plant, about 33 miles (53 kilometers) north of Atlantic City and near the center of the storm’s landfall, was already offline for a refueling outage.

“Nuclear plant operators throughout the region had their hands full dealing with this historic storm. While three reactors experienced shutdowns, all are in a safe condition,” Sheehan said in the e-mail. “Inspectors were on duty throughout the storm to keep a close watch on plant conditions and will continue to do so as work on restoring the units to service” begins.

Public Safety
Exelon said last night there was “no challenge to plant safety equipment and no threat to the public health or safety,” according to an e-mailed statement. “Exelon has staffed on-site and off-site emergency operations centers to monitor weather and plant conditions and to provide updated information to local, state and federal officials.”

Exelon said the alert was declared when water rose above 6 feet (1.8 meters) above sea level, the threshold for an alert -- the second-lowest of four levels of emergency declaration. A disruption was also reported at the plant’s switchyard, which delivers power to the plant, though diesel generators kicked in automatically.

Oyster Creek began operating in December 1969 as the nation’s first large-scale commercial nuclear power plant. The company announced in 2010 plans to close it by the end of 2019, when it will have been in operation 50 years. Its single boiling-water reactor produces 645 net megawatts, enough electricity to power 600,000 homes.

‘Breadth, Intensity’
On its website, the Chicago-based company called Oyster Creek “a robust and fortified facility, capable of withstanding the most severe weather.” Earlier yesterday, Exelon said it repositioned emergency gear, activated back-up communications and boosted staffing at its three Pennsylvania plants in the path of the storm: Limerick, Peach Bottom and Three Mile Island.

Entergy Corp. (ETR)’s Indian Point 3 nuclear plant in New York automatically shut down at 10:41 p.m. yesterday because of power grid issues from the storm, Sheehan said today in an e-mail.

Constellation Energy Group Inc.’s Nine Mile Point 1 reactor in the state was also shut because of a problem putting power onto the grid, Reuters reported, citing an unidentified NRC spokesman. It wasn’t clear if the outage was related to Sandy, Reuters said, citing the NRC. Nobody answered calls to the press offices of Constellation or the NRC.

NRC Inspectors
The Washington-based NRC sent inspectors armed with satellite phones to facilities from Maryland to Connecticut and said all plants remain in a safe condition. Procedures require plants to shut before winds are forecast to exceed hurricane force, the commission said in a statement yesterday.

“Given the breadth and intensity of this historic storm, the NRC is keeping a close watch on all of the nuclear power plants that could be impacted,” NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane said in an e-mailed statement. “Our extra inspectors sent to the potentially affected sites will continue, on an around-the- clock basis, to independently verify that the safety of these plants is maintained until the storm has passed and afterwards.”

Analysts said loss of outside power, which is necessary to keep nuclear cores and spent fuel cool, would test adjustments being made at the plants after an earthquake-triggered tsunami led to radiation releases at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in 2011. The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) plant lost off-site power and backup generators failed after the earthquake.

Nature’s Power
Just as with Fukushima, plant owners “look back to see what flooding heights, wind speeds, etc. have occurred at the site and design their plants to survive repeats,” Dave Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in an e-mail. “But when nature reaches new levels, as at Fukushima, past protections may be insufficient.”

“Designing by rear-view mirror works when nature cooperates and stays consistent with the past,” he said.

U.S. nuclear plants are well-equipped to handle the threats from Sandy, said Arthur Motta, chairman of the Nuclear Engineering Program at Pennsylvania State University. “In terms of comparative risks, a nuclear power plant is safer than most of the other things nearby,” he said in an interview.

Plants in the path of the storm included Indian Point and Calvert Cliffs in Maryland, owned by Constellation Energy Nuclear Group LLC, a joint venture of Exelon and Electricite de France SA in Paris.

Flood Protection
“All plants have flood protection above the predicted storm surge, and key components and systems are housed in watertight buildings capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds and flooding,” the NRC said.

At Indian Point, debris in the Hudson River, which could disturb water-intake, poses a greater risk than flooding, Sheehan said in an interview. All the plants in the storm’s path were told to examine their vicinity for large objects that could become “airborne missiles” in high winds, he said.

Given the threat of loss of power, “it would be more responsible if NRC and plant operators would shut the plants down in advance,” Kevin Kamps, a radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, a Takoma Park, Maryland, group that seeks to end nuclear power and nuclear weapons, said in an interview.

It takes longer to cool down the radioactive core at a plant operating at full power, he said.

“In terms of reactors, you had better hope those diesel generators work adequately,” Kamps said.

Backup Generators
Backup diesel generators and cooling systems at Fukushima failed after a 15-meter surge of water tied to a 9-magnitude undersea earthquake on March 11, 2011, led to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Hydrogen explosions occurred as water in the reactors and spent-fuel ponds boiled away and radiation leaked.

Motta, a member of a National Academy of Sciences panel on U.S. nuclear safety, disagreed and said shutting the plants now wouldn’t make much of a difference.

Hurricane Sandy crossed the New Jersey coast south of Atlantic City. With winds extending 1,100 miles, the storm shut the federal government in Washington and state offices from Virginia to Massachusetts. It halted travel, prevented U.S. stock markets from opening and upended the presidential campaign (Bloomberg, 2012).

Title: Hurricane Sandy: Problems At Five Nuke Plants
October 30, 2012
ABC News

The nation's oldest nuclear plant declared an alert and a second plant just 40 miles from New York City was forced to shut down power as five different nuke plants in Hurricane Sandy's path experienced problems during the storm.

Indian Point in Buchanan, New York, on the Hudson River north of New York City, automatically shut power to its unit 3 on Monday night "as a result of an electrical grid disturbance," according to Entergy, the plant's operator.

The connection between the generator and the offsite grid was lost, and the unit is designed to shut down to protect itself from electrical damage. Entergy said there was no release of radioactivity, no damage to equipment, and no threat to the public health.

"At Indian Point yesterday the river level and wind had no impact on plant operation," said a spokesman. Another unit at the plant continues to operate, and the company expects unit 3 to return to service within days.

Operators also declared an alert at the nation's oldest nuclear plant, Oyster Creek in Lacey Township, New Jersey, on Monday evening after the center of Sandy made landfall, "due to water exceeding certain high water level criteria in the plant's water intake structure."

The alert level is the "the second lowest of four action levels," as defined by the NRC.

"Water level is rising in the intake structure due to a combination of a rising tide, wind direction and storm surge," the NRC said Monday. "It is anticipated water levels will begin to abate within the next several hours."

Exelon Corporation, the owner of the plant, said in a statement that there was "no threat to the public health or safety" from the situation.

The plant also lost power, which is critical to keep spent fuel rods from overheating, but "the station's two backup diesel generators activated immediately," and it has two weeks of diesel fuel on site, Exelon said.

A reactor at an Exelon facility outside Philadelphia, Limerick Generating Station, was ramped down to 91 percent power after Sandy caused a problem with its condenser.

A unit at a fourth plant 43 miles from Philadelphia, Salem Nuclear Power Plant on Delaware Bay in southern New Jersey, was manually shut down just after 1 a.m. Tuesday morning "when four of the station's six circulating water pumps were no longer available due to weather impacts from Hurricane Sandy," according to plant co-owner PSEG Nuclear.

"No issues were encountered during the Salem Unit 1 shutdown," said PSEG Nuclear, "and the plant is currently stable. In addition to the operating crews onsite, Salem has designated response teams available."

At the Nine Mile Point plant near Oswego, New York, in what operators say "is likely a storm-related event," unit 1 shut down automatically around 9 p.m. Monday because of an electrical fault, while unit 2 experienced a power loss from an incoming power line because of the same fault. An emergency diesel generator started automatically to supply power to unit 2. The NRC said that the operators are still evaluating the cause of the event. "All plant safety systems responded as designed and the shutdown was safely carried out," said the NRC. Nine Mile Point is owned by CENG, a joint venture of Exelon and a French power company (ABC News, 2012).

Title: Sandy Curtails US Nuclear Plants, Oldest Under Alert
October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy slowed or shut a half-dozen U.S. nuclear power plants, while the nation's oldest facility declared a rare "alert" after the record storm surge pushed flood waters high enough to endanger a key cooling system.

Exelon Corp's 43-year-old Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey remains on "alert" status, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said early Tuesday. It is only the third time this year that the second-lowest of four emergency action levels was triggered.

"Oyster Creek is still in an alert but may be getting out of it as long as water levels continue to drop," NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan told Reuters.

The alert came after water levels at the plant rose more than 6.5 feet (2 meters) above normal, potentially affecting the "water intake structure" that pumps cooling water through the plant.

Those pumps are not essential to keep the reactor cool since the plant has been shut for planned refuelling since Oct. 22. Exelon however was concerned that if the water rose over 7 feet it could submerge the service water pump motor that is used to cool the water in the spent fuel pool, potentially forcing it to use emergency water supplies from the in-house fire suppression system to keep the rods from overheating.

Exelon also moved a portable pump to the intake structure as a precaution in case it was needed to pump cooling water.

The water levels reached a peak of 7.4 feet -- apparently above the threshold -- but the pump motors did not flood, Sheehan said. As of 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday the water level was down to 5.8 feet, with the next high tide at 11:45 a.m.

"They need the water level to stay below 6 feet for a while to exit the alert," Sheehan said, noting when the water level falls below 4.5 feet, the plant could exit the unusual event.

An unusual event is the lowest of the NRC's emergency action levels.

Exelon said in a statement that there was no danger to equipment and no threat to public health or safety.

"Right now there's no imminent threat of releases. There's no protective actions around the plant," Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate said on the Today Show.

"Some of these reporting requirements are due though to the severity of the storms. That they have to make these notifications based upon conditions, that does not mean that they are in an imminent threat at the plant," Fugate said.

The incident at Oyster Creek, which is about 60 miles (95 km) east of Philadelphia on the New Jersey Coast, came as Sandy made landfall as the largest Atlantic storm ever, bringing up to 90 mile per hour (mph) winds and 13-foot storm surges in the biggest test of the industry's emergency preparedness since the Fukushima disaster in Japan a year and a half ago.

Despite the alert -- which is a serious but not catastrophic event that signals a "potential substantial degradation in the level of safety" -- the U.S. nuclear industry was broadly seen having passed the test. About a dozen alerts have been issued in the past four years, according to NRC press releases.

On Tuesday morning, the NRC said that Entergy Corp's Indian Point 3 automatically tripped offline at about 10:41 p.m. last night due to fluctuations in the power grid caused by the storm, while Public Service Enterprise Group Inc shut Unit 1 at Salem in New Jersey at 1:10 a.m. due to a loss of "condenser circulators" due to the storm surge and debris.

Spent Fuel
The relatively small 636-megawatt (MW) Oyster Creek plant earlier experienced a "power disruption" at its switch yard, causing two backup diesel generators to kick in and maintain a stable source of power, Exelon said.

The NRC spokesman said the company could use water from a fire suppression system or a portable pump to cool the pool if necessary. The used uranium rods in the pool could cause the water to boil in about 25 hours without additional coolant; in an extreme scenario the rods could overheat, risking the eventual release of radiation.

The concerns over the status of the spent fuel pool at Oyster Creek was reminiscent of the fears that followed the Fukushima disaster last year, when helicopters and fire hoses were enlisted to ensure the pools remained filled with fresh, cool water. The nuclear industry has said that the spent fuel rods at Fukushima were never exposed to the air.

Nuclear plants must store the spent uranium fuel rods for at least five years in order to cool them sufficiently before they can be moved to dry cask storage containers.

Exelon spokesman David Tillman said Monday night the plant has "multiple and redundant" sources of cooling for the spent fuel pool.

The plant uses pumps to take in external water that circulates through a heat exchanger used to cool the internal water that surrounds the rods, keeping them from overheating.

Among other units, Constellation Energy Nuclear Group's 630-MW Nine Mile Point 1 nuclear power reactor in upstate New York did shut due to a problem putting power onto the grid, although it was not clear whether the trouble was related to the storm.

In addition, Sandy caused power reductions at both units at Exelon's Limerick nuclear plant in Pennsylvania and one unit at Dominion's Millstone plant in Connecticut (Reuters, 2012).

Title: News Report: 2 South Korean Nuclear Reactors Shut Down
November 4, 2012

Two nuclear reactors on South Korea's southwest coast have been shut down after the government announced it had discovered "unproven" parts were being used in such plants, according to a report Monday from Yonhap news agency.

Minister of Knowledge Economy Hong Suk-woo said there's no threat of a radiation leak, saying the parts in question were "ordinary" - things such as fuses and power switches - and are unrelated to the reactors themselves but haven't met the requirements to be used in nuclear plants.

According to Hong, eight suppliers faked 60 warranties for 234 parts (involving a total of 7,682 items worth about 820 million won, or $750,000) since 2003, Yonhap reported (CNN, 2012).

Title: Damaged San Onofre Generator Removed From Plant
November 5, 2012

A roughly 700,000-pound steam generator removed from a boiler at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was en route to a disposal site in Utah today on a specially configured truck trailer.

The unit, which was part of an assembly inside a boiler, emits about as much radiation as a dental X-ray, according to Southern California Edison, which operates the idled plant.

The steam generator was put on the trailer Sunday night and will be hauled to Clive, Utah, over the next three weeks -- via Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. The exact route is not being disclosed. The shipment is the third of its kind.  

One of two in-service reactor units was already offline for refueling and maintenance when a leak in a tube in a steam generator in the other reactor unit prompted SCE to shut down the second reactor Jan. 31. The cause of the premature wear is the subject of an investigation.

New steam generators, shipped from Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, are awaiting installation.

Last week in a third-quarter financial reported filed by parent Edison International, SCE said costs associated with the shutdown exceeded $300 million. As of Sept. 30, inspection and repair costs totaled about $96 million, while the costs of replacing the electricity normally generated at the came to about $221 million.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reviewing a proposal from Edison to restart one of the reactors at 70 percent power for a trial period of five months, at which time more inspections would take place to ensure its safety. There are no immediate plans to restart the other reactor.

On Oct. 25, the California Public Utilities Commission voted to initiate a formal investigation into problems at San Onfore (KESQ News, 2012).

Title: Transformer Fire Shuts Down Lakeside NY Nuclear Plant, 2nd Event In A Week
November 11, 2012
Staten Island Live

The FitzPatrick nuclear power plant on Lake Ontario has shut down for the second time in a week. The shutdown early Sunday was triggered by a fire in the plant's main transformer.

Plant owner Entergy Nuclear says the fire broke out around 5:45 a.m. and was extinguished at 6:30. The company says there was no release of radiation and no danger to employees or the public. It was reported as an "unusual event," the lowest of four event classifications by the Nuclear regulatory Commission.

FitzPatrick shut down on Nov. 4 when its turbine stopped during routine testing. It returned to operation after personnel replaced an electrical relay.

The plant is in Oswego County about 30 miles northwest of Syracuse (Staten Island Live, 2012).

Title: Cracks At South Korean Nuclear Plant Raise Fresh Safety Concerns
November 12, 2012

Tiny cracks have been found in tunnels at a nuclear plant in South Korea, increasing concerns about nuclear safety in the country following a recent scandal involving the use of unverified parts.

The reactor where the cracks were found will remain offline for weeks as regulators investigate the problem, putting extra strain on South Korea's already stretched power supply going into the winter months.

The utility Korean Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) said it detected microscopic cracks in six control rod tunnels at Unit 3 of its Yonggwang nuclear plant in the southwest of the country. Control rods are used to regulate the speed of nuclear reactions taking place inside reactors.

"The cracks are not serious and there is no risk of radiation leakage," said Jang Yong-jin, head of the mechanics department at KHNP.

The problem was discovered while the reactor was switched off for a regular 36-day maintenance period. But it will now stay out of service for a further 47 days as inspectors seek to determine the cause of the cracks, the South Korean Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said.

That deprives the national power grid of another source after operations were halted this month at two other reactors at the same complex to replace thousands of parts that were supplied with forged quality certificates.

Authorities warned at the time that halting those two reactors, Units 5 and 6, may result in "an unprecedented level" of strain on the nation's power supply. They account for about 5% of South Korea's total supply, according to the government.

Now, the situation appears even bleaker.

"Winter here is brutal, and I am now very concerned that the unexpected shutdowns of three nuclear units will cause power shortages," said Huh Kyun-young, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyung Hee University.

Experts have been warning about insufficient power supplies in South Korea for years, according to Huh.

"I just bought an oil heater because I have kids in my home," he said.

It remains unclear how much power supply will be affected by the extended shutdown of Unit 3, said Jang of KHNP.

"Relevant departments are mapping contingency plans," he said.

The cracks themselves are not a serious issue and have been found at reactors in such other countries as the United States and Japan, said Jae Moo-sung, a professor in the nuclear engineering department of Hanyang University.

But Jae warned that the news could hurt South Korea's efforts to export its nuclear power technology to other countries.

The problems at the South Korean reactors come amid increased scrutiny of nuclear power worldwide following the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan during the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country in March 2011 (CNN, 2012).

Title: First-Ever Terror Rocket Fired At Dimona Nuclear Plant
November 14, 2012
Arutz Sheva 7

Gaza terrorists fired a rocket at Dimona Wednesday, where Israel's nuclear reactor is located. The rocket fell wide of its mark and caused no casualties or damage. Channel 2 said this was the first time a terror rocket was fired at the sensitive site.

Terrorists fired about 20 Grad Katyusha missiles at Be'er Sheva, after firing at Sderot and Ashkelon. There have been no reports of casualties. Iron Dome anti-missile batteries successfully intercepted most of the rockets fired at Be'er Sheva. One woman was reportedly lightly hurt in Be'er Sheva.

At least two rockets were fired at Ashdod. Iron Dome intercepted one but a second one fell within the city, in an open space. No one was hurt.

Rockets were also fired at Ofakim.

The IDF released video of a Fajr rocket being placed inside a concrete silo at an unknown date in the past. The IAF is believed to have hit most of the Fajr rockets that have been hidden in Gaza.

The IDF also released an aerial photo showing the proximity between a Fajr launch site and civilian structures, including a kindergarten (Arutz Sheva 7, 2012).

Title: Cracks Found In South Carolina Atomic Station's Nuclear Reactor Head
November 15, 2012

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ordered engineers at a power plant in South Carolina to act urgently on cracks that have appeared in a reactor head there that could increase the likelihood of an atomic disaster.

The group that ensures safe and sound nuclear facilities across the US says they don’t believe the public needs to worry as of now about cracks discovered at the SCE&G plant in Jenkinsville, SC, but that could change if action isn’t taken immediately.

According to The South Carolina State newspaper, the SCE&G plant told the commission that they would make repairs in order to satisfy their concerns in an October 30 statement delivered to the NRC. Confirming this week, a spokeswoman for the atomic energy plant said that they have indeed begun fixing the cracks.

Those repairs, say the NRC, will be a good fix for the moment, but might not necessarily relieve them of future concerns.

“The situation … indicates to me that the best and safest fix is for the old, cracked vessel head to be taken out of service and replaced,” anti-nuclear activist Tom Clements tells The State.

“At some point in the not-too-distant future, it seems like the company will want to replace the head with one that is a little more resistant to this kind of cracking,” David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists adds to the paper, a move that could set SCE&G back upwards of $60 million.

Only a few miles from the busy city of Columbia, though, the investment might be imperative to ensure that the area stays safe from any potential catastrophes.

“The cracks found in the VC Summer reactor pose a clear safety risk and must be immediately addressed,” Clements explains to the Aiken Leader. “While SCE&G will want to rush to get the reactor back on line and do a quick repair, the NRC must be deliberate in reviewing the causes of the cracking and how it is addressed.Operation of the reactor with a vessel head subject to cracking poses a safety hazard that both SCE&G and the NRC are responsible for.”

In an email to The State this week, company spokeswoman Rhonda O’Banion characterized the cracks as “minor defects” in the steel domes that sit atop the part of the facility where atomic reactions actually occur and that current efforts are “pre-emptive” to assure that are no issues down the road. Once the current round of repairs is complete, the company says the dome should be in satisfactory condition for the next 40 years.

According to a year-long investigation finalized by the Associated Press in 2012, the AP says they believe that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has regularly lessened restrictions in recent years. In their probe, they found that 82 of America’s operating reactors are more than a quarter-century old, with 66 units having been re-licensed for an additional two decades (RT, 2012).