Economic Consequences of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

NYCEM.org

New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation

New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation

If today a magnitude 6 earthquake were to occur centered on New York City, what would its effects be? Will the loss be 10 or 100 billion dollars? Will there be 10 or 10,000 fatalities? Will there be 1,000 or 100,000 homeless needing shelter? Can government function, provide assistance, and maintain order?

At this time, no satisfactory answers to these questions are available. A few years ago, rudimentary scenario studies were made for Boston and New York with limited scope and uncertain results. For most eastern cities, including Washington D.C., we know even less about the economic, societal and political impacts from significant earthquakes, whatever their rate of occurrence.

Why do we know so little about such vital public issues? Because the public has been lulled into believing that seriously damaging quakes are so unlikely in the east that in essence we do not need to consider them. We shall examine the validity of this widely held opinion.

Is the public’s earthquake awareness (or lack thereof) controlled by perceived low Seismicity, Seismic Hazard, or Seismic Risk? How do these three seismic features differ from, and relate to each other? In many portions of California, earthquake awareness is refreshed in a major way about once every decade (and in some places even more often) by virtually every person experiencing a damaging event. The occurrence of earthquakes of given magnitudes in time and space, not withstanding their effects, are the manifestations of seismicity. Ground shaking, faulting, landslides or soil liquefaction are the manifestations of seismic hazard. Damage to structures, and loss of life, limb, material assets, business and services are the manifestations of seismic risk. By sheer experience, California’s public understands fairly well these three interconnected manifestations of the earthquake phenomenon. This awareness is reflected in public policy, enforcement of seismic regulations, and preparedness in both the public and private sector. In the eastern U.S., the public and its decision makers generally do not understand them because of inexperience. Judging seismic risk by rates of seismicity alone (which are low in the east but high in the west) has undoubtedly contributed to the public’s tendency to belittle the seismic loss potential for eastern urban regions.

Let us compare two hypothetical locations, one in California and one in New York City. Assume the location in California does experience, on average, one M = 6 every 10 years, compared to New York once every 1,000 years. This implies a ratio of rates of seismicity of 100:1. Does that mean the ratio of expected losses (when annualized per year) is also 100:1? Most likely not. That ratio may be closer to 10:1, which seems to imply that taking our clues from seismicity alone may lead to an underestimation of the potential seismic risks in the east. Why should this be so?

To check the assertion, let us make a back-of-the-envelope estimate. The expected seismic risk for a given area is defined as the area-integrated product of: seismic hazard (expected shaking level), assets ($ and people), and the assets’ vulnerabilities (that is, their expected fractional loss given a certain hazard – say, shaking level). Thus, if we have a 100 times lower seismicity rate in New York compared to California, which at any given point from a given quake may yield a 2 times higher shaking level in New York compared to California because ground motions in the east are known to differ from those in the west; and if we have a 2 times higher asset density (a modest assumption for Manhattan!), and a 2 times higher vulnerability (again a modest assumption when considering the large stock of unreinforced masonry buildings and aged infrastructure in New York), then our California/New York ratio for annualized loss potential may be on the order of (100/(2x2x2)):1. That implies about a 12:1 risk ratio between the California and New York location, compared to a 100:1 ratio in seismicity rates.

From this example it appears that seismic awareness in the east may be more controlled by the rate of seismicity than by the less well understood risk potential. This misunderstanding is one of the reasons why earthquake awareness and preparedness in the densely populated east is so disproportionally low relative to its seismic loss potential. Rare but potentially catastrophic losses in the east compete in attention with more frequent moderate losses in the west. New York City is the paramount example of a low-probability, high-impact seismic risk, the sort of risk that is hard to insure against, or mobilize public action to reduce the risks.

There are basically two ways to respond. One is to do little and wait until one or more disastrous events occur. Then react to these – albeit disastrous – “windows of opportunity.” That is, pay after the unmitigated facts, rather than attempt to control their outcome. This is a high-stakes approach, considering the evolved state of the economy. The other approach is to invest in mitigation ahead of time, and use scientific knowledge and inference, education, technology transfer, and combine it with a mixture of regulatory and/or economic incentives to implement earthquake preparedness. The National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP) has attempted the latter while much of the public tends to cling to the former of the two options. Realistic and reliable quantitative loss estimation techniques are essential to evaluate the relative merits of the two approaches.

This paper tries to bring into focus some of the seismological factors which are but one set of variables one needs for quantifying the earthquake loss potential in eastern U.S. urban regions. We use local and global analogs for illustrating possible scenario events in terms of risk. We also highlight some of the few local steps that have been undertaken towards mitigating against the eastern earthquake threat; and discuss priorities for future actions.

Preparing For Disaster At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Indian Point nuclear plant called “disaster waiting to happen”

A boat moves along the Hudson River in front of the Indian Point nuclear power plant March 18, 2011, in Buchanan, N.Y.
Getty Images

Last Updated Feb 23, 2016 10:38 AM EST

The recent radioactive leak at New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant is prompting renewed calls for the site to be shut down, amid growing concerns about the potential damage a nuclear accident could do in one of the most densely populated parts of the country.

In the past year alone there have been a number of mishaps at Indian Point, including a power failure in the reactor core, a transformer fire, an alarm failure, and the escape of radiated water into groundwater. The plant sits about 25 miles north of New York City, so a serious mishap could potentially put millions of people in harm’s way.

“It’s a disaster waiting to happen and it should be shut down,” Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, a watchdog organization dedicated to protecting the Hudson River, told CBS News.

The Indian Point Energy Center, located on the bank of the Hudson River in the town of Buchanan, supplies electricity for millions of homes, businesses and public facilities in New York City and Westchester County, just north of the city.

Environmental groups call the latest problem just the tip of the iceberg, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is joining with organizations like Riverkeeper, the National Resources Defense Council and others in seeking the permanent closure of the plant.

indian-point.jpg

CBS News/Google Maps

Earlier this month, Entergy Corporation, which owns Indian Point, reported increased levels of tritium-contaminated water at three monitoring wells, with one well’s radioactivity increasing by as much as 65,000 percent.

Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that occurs naturally in small doses and is a byproduct of nuclear reactors. It could enter a person’s body by drinking tritiated water, or it can also be inhaled as a gas or absorbed through the skin. Tritium can reach all parts of the body like normal water and is eventually expelled through urine. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) says tritium emits “very weak radiation and leaves the body relatively quick.”

Little research has been done on the health effects of exposure to increased levels of tritium. But the NRC states: “Exposure to very small amounts of ionizing radiation is thought to minimally increase the risk of developing cancer, and the risk increases as exposure increases.”

However, Jerry Nappi, a representative for Entergy Corporation, said that the most recent issue at Indian Point would not have any impact on human health or life in the river. “Concentrations would be undetectable in the river,” Nappi told CBS News. “We know from more than 10 years of hydrological studies on the site that it [radioactive contaminants] can’t reach drinking water sources in nearby communities.”

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standard limit for tritium in drinking water, established in 1976, is 20,000 picocuries per liter. (A picocurie is a unit of radiation that could be measured in a laboratory.) By comparison, after the recent leak, samples showed the tritium-laced water at Indian Point had a radioactivity level of more than 8 million picocuries per liter. That level was the highest regulators have seen at Indian Point, Cuomo said, compared to a normal reading of about 12,300 picocuries per liter.

According to a 2014 notice in the Federal Register, EPA is expected to update the standards for tritium in drinking water. EPA did not make anyone available for comment.

In a statement issued February 11, Cuomo, who has spent years fighting for the closure of Indian Point, said that the recent leak there had been getting worse. “Today, Entergy reported that the level of radioactive tritium-contaminated water that leaked into groundwater at the Indian Point Nuclear facility last week has increased by 80 percent since the initial report [February 5],” the statement read. Cuomo also directed the state’s Departments of Environmental Conservation and Health to investigate the cause of the radioactive leak.

Nappi said that tritium levels normally fluctuate as the contaminant moves through the facility. “It’s not getting worse,” he said. Nappi added that the leak was related to a temporary filtration process that occurred for two weeks in January, and said it has since stopped.

Neil Sheehan, a representative for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told CBS News that the NRC is continuing to review the recent tritium leakage at Indian Point. “We recently sent a radiation protection specialist to the plant to assess the situation and learn more about what happened. He was assisted by our three Resident Inspectors assigned to the plant on a full-time basis,” he said in an email.

NRC is also currently reviewing Indian Point’s renewal license, which would authorize it to continue operating for another 20 years. But environmental groups say the region needs to utilize other options to meet its energy needs.

“The good news is, advances in alternate power sources, grid management and energy conservation have brought us to the day when the aging, unsafe Indian Point can close,” Gallay said. He enumerated a number of other available sources of energy for the region, including 600 megawatts thanks to transmission system upgrades and another 500 megawatts available through energy savings achieved through efficiency and renewable energy.

“There will be enough power to keep the lights on in our homes and hospitals, our businesses and schools — in every place that makes our communities healthy and vibrant,” Gallay said.

Preparing For Disaster At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Indian Point nuclear plant called “disaster waiting to happen”

A boat moves along the Hudson River in front of the Indian Point nuclear power plant March 18, 2011, in Buchanan, N.Y.
Getty Images

Last Updated Feb 23, 2016 10:38 AM EST

The recent radioactive leak at New York’s Indian Point nuclear power plant is prompting renewed calls for the site to be shut down, amid growing concerns about the potential damage a nuclear accident could do in one of the most densely populated parts of the country.

In the past year alone there have been a number of mishaps at Indian Point, including a power failure in the reactor core, a transformer fire, an alarm failure, and the escape of radiated water into groundwater. The plant sits about 25 miles north of New York City, so a serious mishap could potentially put millions of people in harm’s way.

“It’s a disaster waiting to happen and it should be shut down,” Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, a watchdog organization dedicated to protecting the Hudson River, told CBS News.

The Indian Point Energy Center, located on the bank of the Hudson River in the town of Buchanan, supplies electricity for millions of homes, businesses and public facilities in New York City and Westchester County, just north of the city.

Environmental groups call the latest problem just the tip of the iceberg, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is joining with organizations like Riverkeeper, the National Resources Defense Council and others in seeking the permanent closure of the plant.

indian-point.jpg

CBS News/Google Maps

Earlier this month, Entergy Corporation, which owns Indian Point, reported increased levels of tritium-contaminated water at three monitoring wells, with one well’s radioactivity increasing by as much as 65,000 percent.

Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that occurs naturally in small doses and is a byproduct of nuclear reactors. It could enter a person’s body by drinking tritiated water, or it can also be inhaled as a gas or absorbed through the skin. Tritium can reach all parts of the body like normal water and is eventually expelled through urine. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) says tritium emits “very weak radiation and leaves the body relatively quick.”

Little research has been done on the health effects of exposure to increased levels of tritium. But the NRC states: “Exposure to very small amounts of ionizing radiation is thought to minimally increase the risk of developing cancer, and the risk increases as exposure increases.”

However, Jerry Nappi, a representative for Entergy Corporation, said that the most recent issue at Indian Point would not have any impact on human health or life in the river. “Concentrations would be undetectable in the river,” Nappi told CBS News. “We know from more than 10 years of hydrological studies on the site that it [radioactive contaminants] can’t reach drinking water sources in nearby communities.”

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standard limit for tritium in drinking water, established in 1976, is 20,000 picocuries per liter. (A picocurie is a unit of radiation that could be measured in a laboratory.) By comparison, after the recent leak, samples showed the tritium-laced water at Indian Point had a radioactivity level of more than 8 million picocuries per liter. That level was the highest regulators have seen at Indian Point, Cuomo said, compared to a normal reading of about 12,300 picocuries per liter.

According to a 2014 notice in the Federal Register, EPA is expected to update the standards for tritium in drinking water. EPA did not make anyone available for comment.

In a statement issued February 11, Cuomo, who has spent years fighting for the closure of Indian Point, said that the recent leak there had been getting worse. “Today, Entergy reported that the level of radioactive tritium-contaminated water that leaked into groundwater at the Indian Point Nuclear facility last week has increased by 80 percent since the initial report [February 5],” the statement read. Cuomo also directed the state’s Departments of Environmental Conservation and Health to investigate the cause of the radioactive leak.

Nappi said that tritium levels normally fluctuate as the contaminant moves through the facility. “It’s not getting worse,” he said. Nappi added that the leak was related to a temporary filtration process that occurred for two weeks in January, and said it has since stopped.

Neil Sheehan, a representative for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told CBS News that the NRC is continuing to review the recent tritium leakage at Indian Point. “We recently sent a radiation protection specialist to the plant to assess the situation and learn more about what happened. He was assisted by our three Resident Inspectors assigned to the plant on a full-time basis,” he said in an email.

NRC is also currently reviewing Indian Point’s renewal license, which would authorize it to continue operating for another 20 years. But environmental groups say the region needs to utilize other options to meet its energy needs.

“The good news is, advances in alternate power sources, grid management and energy conservation have brought us to the day when the aging, unsafe Indian Point can close,” Gallay said. He enumerated a number of other available sources of energy for the region, including 600 megawatts thanks to transmission system upgrades and another 500 megawatts available through energy savings achieved through efficiency and renewable energy.

“There will be enough power to keep the lights on in our homes and hospitals, our businesses and schools — in every place that makes our communities healthy and vibrant,” Gallay said.

Too Late To Prevent The Spill: The Sixth Seal

Indian-Point-Power-Plant

The beginning of the end of NY’s nuclear power?’

 

 

Has the endgame begun for Indian Point? Sure looks that way.

Riverkeeper is fighting on every legal front to stop this dangerous, aging plant from operating, and there’s no doubt we are closing in.

Riverkeeper has raised awareness about the hazards posed by this plant – including the 2,000 tons of toxic nuclear waste that are stored onsite, on the banks of the Hudson River, with no solution in sight. Our commissioning of reports by Synapse Energy Economics helped document the availability of replacement power once the facility is decommissioned. And our attorneys wrapped up arguments that will deny Entergy, the plant’s owner, a means to renew the licenses it needs to continue operating.

Even Entergy seems to have gotten the memo. The plant’s owners are saying openly that it’s time to reach a deal with New York State about the the plant’s closure: An industry publication quotes CEO Leo Denault that Entergy “would be willing to strike a ‘constructive’ agreement with New York officials on early closure of the controversial Indian Point nuclear plant, provided that Entergy received ‘certainty’ and proper compensation for near-term operation … to meet grid reliability and environmental needs while the state pursues a major revamp of its electricity system.”

The state has already signaled its confidence that New York can do without Indian Point’s power. The state Public Service Commission ruled in November 2013 that New York can count on other sources of safe, reliable, affordable energy.

The transformation is already happening, with energy supplies and transmission lines that are in some cases built, in other cases breaking ground. The future is arriving sooner, perhaps, than Entergy thought it would.

– See more at: http://www.riverkeeper.org/blog/watchdog/watch-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-nys-nuclear-power/#sthash.fJtko3g0.dpuf

Indian Point Nuclear Plant Should Be Preparing For Disaster (Rev 6)

County Prepares for Nuclear Emergency

(TNS) – Screens flashed with the latest information and Ashtabula County, Ohio, government officials worked with each other — and officials off-site — in response to an emergency at Perry Nuclear Power Plant Tuesday.

The effort was not in response to a leak or terrorist attack, but a “mock” nuclear emergency mandated bi-yearly by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Mike Fitchet, Ashtabula County EMA director.

The week-long Perry Nuclear Power Plant Evaluated Exercise, which is overseen by FEMA, centered on a “mock event” occurring at the plant, 10 Center Road, Perry, less than 10 miles from the Ashtabula County border. County officials coordinated their response from the bowels of the Ashtabula County Courthouse, where the Ashtabula County Emergency Management Agency is housed.

Fitchet said the exercise includes four steps ranging from “an unusual event” through a “general emergency.”

“The worst case scenario would be a general emergency,” he said.

Participants don’t know what level the exercise will start and what type of conclusion will occur. Scenarios can range anywhere from a malfunction at the plant to a terrorist attack to a radioactive leak.

Planning for the event takes months and on-going plans continue all year to make sure area emergency workers are equipped to keep the public safe, Fitchet said.

The likelihood of any major event at the nuclear power plant is slim, he said, and detailed planning in the last 30 years has improved how government reacts to any potential disasters.

“The plant is designed to get people out of danger before it occurs,” Fitchet said, adding the plan for nuclear issues “is designed by history.”

Only three major nuclear leaks have occurred throughout the world — Chernobyl, in the former Soviet Union; Three Mile Island, in central Pennsylvania and Fukushima in Japan (following a tsunami) — and each were long-term problems that escalated, Fitchet said. Even in those instances, the safety areas were relatively confined, he said.

The drill is designed to handle all the details of a radioactive release from the plant, Fitchet said.

“I don’t see a melt down every happening anywhere. That is more something from the movies. The big concern is a release of radioactive contaminants off site,” he said.

Drill details

Tuesday’s drill was jammed into a relatively short period of time that would actually have taken days or weeks in case of a major problem.

“It’s a slow process,” Fitchet said.

Dozens of fire departments, police departments, county agencies, schools and even businesses are part of the major drill, which involves massive communications, coordinated in the county’s emergency center.

While Ashtabula County is running their response, there is a simultaneous drill occurring with state officials and county counterparts from Lake and Geagua counties, Fitchet said.

Decision makers, which include Fitchet, the three Ashtabula County commissioners and Ashtabula County Sheriff William Johnson, meet in a separate room in the EMA office and two scribes take detailed notes on the interaction.

“You get this feeling of teamwork. None of this can happen without everybody here,” said Ashtabula County Commissioner Dan Claypool.

As details of the “mock” event come out, the command center responds and calls organizations affected by the event — starting with school children, which is the first group that must be moved. During Tuesday’s event, planners transported children from Madison and Geneva to the Lakeside Elementary School complex.

Evaluation and education

As part of the process, controllers, who deal directly with trainers prior to the drill and then monitor the event as it proceeds, work with agencies to provide suggestions and understanding of proper procedures in case of a nuclear emergency.

Bill Mahan, a retired utility liaison with the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Plant, was a controller for the event and always tries to learn something new that can be taken back to Pennsylvania.

FEMA evaluators have a more detailed role in the drill providing a “report card” after the event.

“I’ve been doing it for eight years,” said David Ortman of the FEMA Region 5 office in Chicago, which includes five states.

Ortman said he spent eight years in the Air National Guard as an emergency manager before moving on to FEMA. He said evaluators go through a screening process than multiple classes and hands on observation before moving on to become an evaluator.

The controllers worked with area agencies during a “dress rehearsal” about a month ago with no evaluators on hand to grade the event.

A final grade for this week’s drill is expected to be issued Friday.

———

©2016 the Star Beacon (Ashtabula, Ohio)

Visit the Star Beacon (Ashtabula, Ohio) at www.starbeacon.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Indian Point Nuclear Will Be Trouble At The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

 

Recent series of Indian Point shutdowns worst in years

Ernie Garcia, elgarcia@lohud.com

BUCHANAN — Four unplanned reactor shutdowns over a two-month period at Indian Point are the most setbacks the nuclear power plant has experienced in years.

A review of unplanned shutdowns from January 2012 to the present showed this year’s events happened within a short time frame, between May 7 and July 8, in contrast with events from other years that were more spread out, according to data released by Indian Point.

So many mishaps at the Entergy-owned plant haven’t occurred since 2009, when one of two units at the Buchanan site experienced a similar series, said plant spokesman Jerry Nappi.

Besides a May 9 transformer failure that spilled some 3,000 gallons of oil into the Hudson River, this year’s shutdowns were prompted by a May 7 steam leak, a July 8 pump motor failure and a June 15 switch yard breaker failure offsite in a Consolidated Edison substation.

If a nuclear plant has more than three unplanned shutdowns in a nine-month period, its performance indicator could be changed by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which results in additional oversight. That’s what happened with Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Mass., after four unplanned shutdowns in 2013.

So far, Entergy said there doesn’t appear to be a pattern to the Indian Point shutdowns.
“You do want to look at these events holistically to see if there is something in common, but you also look individually to see what the causes were,” Nappi said. “A plant shutdown in and of itself is not a safety issue.”

One of the four recent Buchanan shutdowns triggered a special inspection by the NRC and calls to close the nuclear plant by environmental groups and elected officials. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said in the past Indian Point should close, but his office did not respond to a request for comment about whether the recent shutdowns have prompted any state scrutiny.

The NRC is expected to release a quarterly report on Indian Point this month that will address the transformer failure and, by year’s end, is planning an inspection of the transformer and an analysis of transformer issues since 2007.

Besides its transformer-related inquiries, the other three shutdowns have not raised “any immediate safety concerns or crossed any thresholds that would result in additional NRC oversight,” agency spokesman Neil Sheehan wrote in an email.

The unplanned shutdowns at Indian Point and Pilgrim in Massachusetts were mostly preventable, said Paul Blanch, a former Indian Point employee with 45 years of nuclear power experience.

“For this to happen this frequently indicates a deeper problem,” he said. “I believe it’s management oversight in the maintenance of these plants.”

Nappi said the transformer that failed May 9 and caused a fire and oil spill into the Hudson was regularly monitored. Investigators determined the failure was due to faulty insulation.

“The transformer inspection and reviews were in accordance with our standards and industry expectations, yet there was no indication the transformer was going to fail,” Nappi said.
The NRC conducted a separate, but related special inspection into the May 9 incident that focused on a half-inch of water that collected in an electrical switchgear room floor. Inspectors determined a fire suppression system’s valve failed to close properly.

Inspectors noted in their report that Entergy knew about that problem since April 2011 and replaced the valve but didn’t discover the actual cause — a dysfunctional switch — until after the fire.

Indian Point’s Unit 3 was down 19 days May through July, with the transformer failure accounting for 16 days. The shutdowns didn’t cause the public any supply problems because New York’s grid can import electricity from other states and New York has an energy plan to maintain reliability, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The nuclear energy industry judges a power plant on how continuously it produces energy, which is called a capacity factor.

There were 100 nuclear plants in the United States in 2014, a record year in terms of efficiency. In January, the Nuclear Energy Institute announced the U.S. average capacity factor was 91.9 percent.

Indian Point has an above-average efficiency rate. The plant’s Unit 2 and 3 reactors were each online more than 99 percent of the time during their most recent two-year operating cycles. They are currently in the middle of other cycles.

Indian Point Before The Sixth Seal

635713434975067636-indian-point-070115Nuclear Facilities in Dangerous Disrepair

By Nicole Gaouette and Barbara Starr, CNN

Updated 7:38 PM ET, Wed September 7, 2016

Washington (CNN)US nuclear security facilities are dangerously decrepit and putting national security goals at risk, according to nuclear officials who are asking Congress to back the administration’s push to modernize the system.

Nuclear officials described critical utility, safety and support systems that are failing at an increasing and unpredictable rate, as well as their efforts to patch the system together until the necessary funding can be found to reinvigorate the system.

“Safe, reliable and modern infrastructure at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s national laboratories and production plants is absolutely essential to the accomplishment of our vital national security missions,” NNSA Administrator Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz told the House Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Wednesday, according to his prepared remarks.

Committee members called Klotz and other officials to discuss the growing backlog of work needed at the country’s nuclear facilities, which include iconic places such as the Los Alamos National Laboratory. At the end of fiscal year 2015, the total cost of deferred maintenance across all NNSA property stood at $3.7 billion, Klotz said.

There is “no obstacle that poses a bigger risk to the long-term success” of the nuclear mission than this aging infrastructure, said Klotz, who stressed that nuclear deterrence is essential not only to US national security, but to the security of US allies as well.

The physical state of the US nuclear complex is in such bad shape because many key facilities were built during World War II and intended to operate for as little as one decade, according to Morgan Smith, president and CEO of Consolidated Nuclear Security.

Today, more than half of NNSA’s approximately 6,000 real property assets are over 40 years old, and nearly 30% date back to the Manhattan Project era, Klotz said.

“Many facilities and their supporting infrastructure have exceeded or far exceeded their expected life,” Smith told the committee, according to prepared remarks, “and major systems within the facilities are beginning to fail.”

Klotz outlined steps his administration has taken to control the maintenance backlog, including better documenting need maintenance, disposing of unneeded facilities and introducing a new budget structure. But he and others stressed that they need more resources.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has pushed to stop the growth of deferred maintenance across the nuclear security enterprise, Smith told lawmakers, “but significant investment is required to appreciably reduce that backlog and sustain safe operations for the extended life of these vital mission facilities.”

In December, Moniz wrote to the Office of Management and Budget to say that their proposed nuclear budget for fiscal years 2018 to 2021 “doesn’t reflect the funding that we estimate is necessary.” He asked for an additional $5.2 billion for that time period, saying that the OMB proposal “ignores or underfunds” nuclear needs.

“Events elsewhere in the world reaffirm the seriousness of the threat environment in which we live,” Moniz wrote, “and underscore the need for a credible nuclear security program portfolio.”

Smith’s Consolidated Nuclear Security manages and operates the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas.

Y-12, originally established in the 1940s as part of three Manhattan Project sites where the nuclear bomb was first developed, is now the country’s primary storehouse of highly enriched uranium and the place where highly enriched uranium components are manufactured, dismantled and tracked.

The Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, the only plant in the nation where nuclear weapons are assembled and disassembled, was built in the1950s.

Smith shared descriptions of some Y-12 buildings in his written testimony that mentioned leaking roofs, “large patches of rust and corrosion on interior walls,” and other examples of “neglect and deterioration.”

The aging systems can also affect production and safety, Smith said. He gave, as one example, a production shutdown at Y-12 because of unplanned outages to humidity control equipment.

“The primary concern with knowingly deferring maintenance is that a major, unforeseen failure could occur,” Smith said.

Gen. Robin Rand, commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, said he was “acutely aware” of the risks posed by the crumbling infrastructure and thought about it when considering missions.

“There will come a point when I can’t do it with existing capabilities,” Rand said. “We need to modernize.”

Adm. Cecil Haney, the commander of United States Strategic Command, pointed out that Russia has been modernizing their nuclear capabilities and alluded to comments by Russian officials indicating they believe the use of some nuclear weapons is acceptable.

The modernization, along with the “provocative nature of statements that have been made by Russian leaders and the display of their capabilities such as long-range strategic air flights in other areas in the world … when you add them all together, it is not in a good place,” Haney said.

USA’s Fukushima At The Sixth Seal (Rev 6)

 

Recent series of Indian Point shutdowns worst in years

Ernie Garcia, elgarcia@lohud.com

BUCHANAN — Four unplanned reactor shutdowns over a two-month period at Indian Point are the most setbacks the nuclear power plant has experienced in years.

A review of unplanned shutdowns from January 2012 to the present showed this year’s events happened within a short time frame, between May 7 and July 8, in contrast with events from other years that were more spread out, according to data released by Indian Point.

So many mishaps at the Entergy-owned plant haven’t occurred since 2009, when one of two units at the Buchanan site experienced a similar series, said plant spokesman Jerry Nappi.

Besides a May 9 transformer failure that spilled some 3,000 gallons of oil into the Hudson River, this year’s shutdowns were prompted by a May 7 steam leak, a July 8 pump motor failure and a June 15 switch yard breaker failure offsite in a Consolidated Edison substation.

If a nuclear plant has more than three unplanned shutdowns in a nine-month period, its performance indicator could be changed by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which results in additional oversight. That’s what happened with Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, Mass., after four unplanned shutdowns in 2013.

So far, Entergy said there doesn’t appear to be a pattern to the Indian Point shutdowns.
“You do want to look at these events holistically to see if there is something in common, but you also look individually to see what the causes were,” Nappi said. “A plant shutdown in and of itself is not a safety issue.”

One of the four recent Buchanan shutdowns triggered a special inspection by the NRC and calls to close the nuclear plant by environmental groups and elected officials. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said in the past Indian Point should close, but his office did not respond to a request for comment about whether the recent shutdowns have prompted any state scrutiny.

The NRC is expected to release a quarterly report on Indian Point this month that will address the transformer failure and, by year’s end, is planning an inspection of the transformer and an analysis of transformer issues since 2007.

Besides its transformer-related inquiries, the other three shutdowns have not raised “any immediate safety concerns or crossed any thresholds that would result in additional NRC oversight,” agency spokesman Neil Sheehan wrote in an email.

The unplanned shutdowns at Indian Point and Pilgrim in Massachusetts were mostly preventable, said Paul Blanch, a former Indian Point employee with 45 years of nuclear power experience.
“For this to happen this frequently indicates a deeper problem,” he said. “I believe it’s management oversight in the maintenance of these plants.”

Nappi said the transformer that failed May 9 and caused a fire and oil spill into the Hudson was regularly monitored. Investigators determined the failure was due to faulty insulation.

“The transformer inspection and reviews were in accordance with our standards and industry expectations, yet there was no indication the transformer was going to fail,” Nappi said.
The NRC conducted a separate, but related special inspection into the May 9 incident that focused on a half-inch of water that collected in an electrical switchgear room floor. Inspectors determined a fire suppression system’s valve failed to close properly.

Inspectors noted in their report that Entergy knew about that problem since April 2011 and replaced the valve but didn’t discover the actual cause — a dysfunctional switch — until after the fire.

Indian Point’s Unit 3 was down 19 days May through July, with the transformer failure accounting for 16 days. The shutdowns didn’t cause the public any supply problems because New York’s grid can import electricity from other states and New York has an energy plan to maintain reliability, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The nuclear energy industry judges a power plant on how continuously it produces energy, which is called a capacity factor.

There were 100 nuclear plants in the United States in 2014, a record year in terms of efficiency. In January, the Nuclear Energy Institute announced the U.S. average capacity factor was 91.9 percent.
Indian Point has an above-average efficiency rate. The plant’s Unit 2 and 3 reactors were each online more than 99 percent of the time during their most recent two-year operating cycles. They are currently in the middle of other cycles.

Too Late To Prevent The Spill: The Sixth Seal

Indian-Point-Power-Plant

WATCH: ‘The beginning of the end of NY’s nuclear power?’

 

 

Has the endgame begun for Indian Point? Sure looks that way.

Riverkeeper is fighting on every legal front to stop this dangerous, aging plant from operating, and there’s no doubt we are closing in.

Riverkeeper has raised awareness about the hazards posed by this plant – including the 2,000 tons of toxic nuclear waste that are stored onsite, on the banks of the Hudson River, with no solution in sight. Our commissioning of reports by Synapse Energy Economics helped document the availability of replacement power once the facility is decommissioned. And our attorneys wrapped up arguments that will deny Entergy, the plant’s owner, a means to renew the licenses it needs to continue operating.

Even Entergy seems to have gotten the memo. The plant’s owners are saying openly that it’s time to reach a deal with New York State about the the plant’s closure: An industry publication quotes CEO Leo Denault that Entergy “would be willing to strike a ‘constructive’ agreement with New York officials on early closure of the controversial Indian Point nuclear plant, provided that Entergy received ‘certainty’ and proper compensation for near-term operation … to meet grid reliability and environmental needs while the state pursues a major revamp of its electricity system.”

The state has already signaled its confidence that New York can do without Indian Point’s power. The state Public Service Commission ruled in November 2013 that New York can count on other sources of safe, reliable, affordable energy.

The transformation is already happening, with energy supplies and transmission lines that are in some cases built, in other cases breaking ground. The future is arriving sooner, perhaps, than Entergy thought it would.

– See more at: http://www.riverkeeper.org/blog/watchdog/watch-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-nys-nuclear-power/#sthash.fJtko3g0.dpuf

Scientists Expecting the Sixth Seal

Scientists find likely cause of 2011 Virginia earthquake, believe there may be more to come

Accuweather 

August 19, 2016; 3:59 AM

On Aug. 23, 2011, those living in eastern North America, from Ontario to Georgia, felt an unexpected shock as the earth trembled in the wake of a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck near the town of Mineral, Virginia, around 2 p.m. local time.

A notable quake with a magnitude of 4.0 or higher east of the Rockies is a rarity, according to USGS reports.

However, a recent study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Solid Earth is shedding light on the likely causes behind the event and may indicate that there are more to come.

Unlike earthquakes that occur near plate boundaries in the more seismically active regions of the world, the 2011 quake raised questions among researchers and stirred alarm among those living in the Washington, D.C., area who felt its full force.

According to the American Geophysical Union, the journal’s parent organization, researchers have discovered pieces of the mantle have been breaking off below the North American Plate in this region and sinking deeper into the earth.

Our idea supports the view that this seismicity will continue due to unbalanced stresses in the plate,” Berk Biryol told the AGU.

Biryol is a seismologist at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and lead author of the recently published study. According to Biryol’s research, the geological processes the researchers found revealed thinning and weakening of the plate.

While most earthquakes tend to occur at subduction zones, or near plate boundaries, the processes causing the earthquakes in the middle of plates have often remained a mystery to scientists.

In order to figure out what was happening deep below the Earth’s surface, Biryol and the study’s team had to use seismic waves generated by earthquakes as far as 2,200 miles away to create a 3D map of the region by tracing the paths of the waves as they moved through the ground.

Virginia along with the rest of the North American continent, Greenland and portions of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans are all located on the vast North American Plate. The plate rides on thin, heated layer of viscous rock called the asthenosphere.

Biryol’s study, which found varying, uneven plate thickness, and a mix of older rock and younger rock, may now help solve many of the mysteries behind tectonic plates’ interactions with the asthenosphere.

“At certain times, the densest parts broke off from the plate and sank into the warm asthenosphere below,” the AGU reported.

“The asthenosphere, being lighter and more buoyant, surged in to fill the void created by the missing pieces of mantle, eventually cooling to become the thin, young rock.”

Coupled with the thinning and weakening of the plate, ancient fault lines long considered stable become more susceptible to slipping, which leads to earthquakes, according the AGU.

The new study unveils that there is much more going on deep beneath the Earth’s surface than scientists originally thought, and that pieces of the mantle have likely been breaking off under the plate for nearly 65 million years.

As the research on these occurrences continues, scientists may gain a better understanding on where these earthquakes will likely occur.

Biryol told the AGU that these seismic zones will remain active over time and will likely cause additional earthquakes in the future.