Lawmakers Allege Fed Agencies Planning Other Uses for Yucca Mountain
Three Republicans, including the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, say they are concerned that federal agencies are making plans to use the Yucca Mountain site for something other than a nuclear waste repository.
Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, John Shimkus of Illinois and Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania — all proponents of the waste site plan — told Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz that they heard the Department of Energy and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) have “discussed the possibility of conducting activities at or near the Yucca Mountain site that are not related to the statutorily required uses for the site.”
The agency denies it is looking at the site for testing activity. “The Defense Threat Reduction Agency has never used the Yucca Mountain site for any testing activity, and we have no plans to do so in the future,” a spokesman said. The department declined comment.
Opponents to PennEast Pipeline Want FERC to Grant More Speaking Time
A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission public scoping meeting in New Jersey on the proposed $1.2 billion PennEast natural gas pipeline ended at 11 p.m. with 22 people still waiting to speak, spurring a call on FERC to extend the public comment period.
“People stayed for five hours,” Hopewell Township Committeeman Kevin Kuchinski said at the meeting in Ewing, N.J. “They want to be heard.”
A FERC spokeswoman said the hearing was concluded because of time limits on the rented venue, and that the public could submit written comments. The proposed 104-mile pipeline, which would transport gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region to a pipeline interconnection in New Jersey, has drawn opposition on both sides of the Delaware River.
Vermont Joins Petition to Ask NRC to Examine Vermont Yankee Finances
“While Vermont Yankee recently disconnected from the electric grid, there are a number of immediate and long-term activities that will occur at the plant that could affect the safety of Vermonters,” Vermont’s motion to join the petition reads. Entergy has asked the NRC for permission to reduce emergency plans for the site and indicated that money to fund decommissioning activities is limited.
The attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York have filed similar petitions. The plant was shut down in December.
NRC Inspecting Damage to Summer Unit 2 Containment Caused by Workers
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent inspectors to SCANA’s under-construction Summer Unit 2 in South Carolina after workers accidentally damaged the reactor containment vessel bottom head last month.
Workers from Chicago Bridge & Iron were cutting reinforcement bar when they accidentally cut into the containment vessel itself. The actual damage appears to have been “minor,” but the NRC said it wanted to make sure it understands its potential impact and “the apparent breakdown in controls that might have prevented it.”
SCANA says that Unit 2 will be completed in the first half of 2019, with Unit 3 following a year later.
Petition Calls for Security Upgrades at Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Plant
Two watchdog groups are petitioning the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to modify or suspend the operating license of Entergy’s Pilgrim nuclear generating station near Plymouth, Mass., until the plant’s security is upgraded.
Pilgrim Watch and Cape Downwinders cited recent warnings about possible terrorist activity and noted the plant experienced 10 trespassing incidents in the past three years. They also noted the station’s dry cask spent fuel storage is only about 175 feet from Cape Cod Bay. “Granted, the probability of attack is very small, but the consequences are very large,” said Mary Lampert, director of Pilgrim Watch.
Entergy spokeswoman Lauren Burm said the company recently upgraded its signage to warn beachgoers they are subject to arrest if they stray onto the plant’s property. “Entergy takes the security of our power plants and the safety of our employees and the communities in which we operate very seriously,” she said.
More: Patriot Ledger
Compiled by Ted Caddell