The Department of Energy is seeking another five-year certification from the Environmental Protection Agency for its Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M. The WIPP Land Withdrawal Act requires DOE to seek recertification every five years to ensure the site’s compliance with federal radioactive waste disposal requirements, according to an executive summary of the application. The package provides new data on the underground repository, its waste inventory, and key changes since the last update. The site was first certified for permanent disposal of transuranic waste in 1998. The Environmental Protection Agency can “modify, revise, or suspend” the certification, EPA supervisory environmental scientist Thomas Peake said Tuesday during a two-day meeting in Washington, D.C., of the National Academies’ Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board.
Exchange Monitor 18th April 2019 read more »
After Fukushima, U.S. regulators told operators to calculate their exposure to various flood risks and compare that with what the plant was designed for. Ninety percent of plants had at least one risk exceeding their design. According to a Bloomberg review of correspondence between the commission and plant owners, 54 of the nuclear plants operating in the U.S. weren’t designed to handle the flood risk they face. Fifty-three weren’t built to withstand their current risk from intense precipitation; 25 didn’t account for current flood projections from streams and rivers; 19 weren’t designed for their expected maximum storm surge. Nineteen face three or more threats that they weren’t designed to handle. The fight over regulation and climate change comes when the nuclear industry, under pressure from cheap natural gas and still viewed with suspicion by many environmentalists, can least afford it, according to Peter Bradford, a former commissioner. “Anything that increases their costs now threatens their existence,” he says. Whatever the likelihood of a Fukushima-style disaster, the aftermath offers a glimpse of the costs of failure. Eight years later, much of the adjacent city of Okuma remains uninhabitable; in 2016 the Japanese government estimated total cleanup and compensation costs would approach $200 billion. Macfarlane, the former NRC chairman, says the lesson of Fukushima is that the nuclear industry, including regulators, needs to prepare for seemingly unlikely threats. “Boy, did we misjudge natural hazards,” she says. “If something happens and you don’t learn from it, woe unto you.”
Bloomberg 18th April 2019 read more »
New Jersey regulators voted Thursday to approve $300 million in customer-funded subsidies for the state’s nuclear industry despite finding the plants are financially viable. The decision means that all residential utility customers in the state will see their bills go up by about $40 a year under some estimates. Large businesses have said their bills could go up by about 50%. In return for the bailout, the state’s biggest utility, Public Service Enterprise Group, is expected to keep the three southern New Jersey nuclear plants that supply an estimated two-fifths of the state’s electricity supply in operation.
Daily Mail 18th April 2019 read more »