Posts Tagged ‘Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant’

According to an Associated Press investigative report, three-quarters of the nation’s commercial nuclear power sites have had tritium leaks (a radioactive form of hydrogen), often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping and the number and severity of the leaks has been escalating as the reactors age, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation.  Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained concentrations exceeding the federal drinking water standard — sometimes at hundreds of times the limit.  Click here to read the entire AP story.

Population near aging Texas nuclear plants.

Comanche Peak

South Texas Project


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Luminant, operator of the two-unit Comanche Peak nuclear power plant 45 miles southwest of Fort Worth, shut down the facility’s Unit 1 reactor about 7 p.m. Thursday and they were still working earlier today to correct the problem that caused the shutdown.  No word yet as to when the unit would be back online. 

Luminant says they were  investigating the cause of this issue, but decided to to take the unit offline to ensure the continued safety of plant employees and plant reliability due to a problem related to an under-voltage relay, which ensures the appropriate amount of voltage is provided to a pump motor.

This outage comes on the heels of STP’s almost month long shutdown back in November of 2010.  See our earlier blog post about that outage.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Comanche Peak’s Unit 1 was reported back on on Saturday, January 15th.  We were unable to find out what time the nuclear reactor was brought back on line that day, but know that the unit was off line for more than 24 hours.

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According to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission release, staff will hold a regulatory conference with Luminant Generation Co. officials on Jan. 13, to discuss the significance of an inspection finding at the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant located near Glen Rose, Texas, just an hour west of Fort Worth.

NRC and Comanche Peak will discuss the significance, cause and corrective actions associated with the “apparent failure by the company to incorporate into station procedures information necessary to ensure continued operability of a water tank that supplies safety-related equipment”. Specifically, an NRC inspection revealed, the company failed to take steps necessary to ensure that a rubberlike bladder inside the tank was properly maintained.

The meeting, which will be open to public observation, will begin at 1 p.m. in the NRC’s Region IV offices in Arlington, Texas located at Texas Health Resources Tower, 612 E. Lamar Blvd., Suite 400.

The public will have an opportunity to observe and ask questions of NRC staff after the business portion of the meeting. Members of the public can listen to the meeting via a special telephone line by calling 1-800-952-9677 and asking to be connected to the meeting.

The NRC evaluates regulatory performance at commercial nuclear power plants with a color coded process which classifies regulatory findings as either green, white, yellow or red, in increasing order of increasing safety significance. The NRC staff has preliminary determined that the significance of the violation is “white,” meaning it has a low to moderate safety significance.

No decision on the final significance, the apparent violations or any contemplated enforcement action will be made during the conference. Those decisions will be made by NRC officials at a later date.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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The planned $15 billion expansion of the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant suffered a critical funding setback in Congress this week when cuts in the House-passed version of the federal spending bill eliminated loan guarantees that Dallas-based Luminant have said were vital to the plan’s viability.

Republicans who pledge even more budget-cutting will take control of the House and most observers expect that efforts to increase spending on such things as nuclear plant expansions will face even greater obstacles.

Under intense public pressure to slash spending, the House cut the level back to $7 billion in the catch-all government spending bill known as a continuing resolution.  The U.S. Senate will vote on the spending bill next week, and it is not clear whether lawmakers who support the loan guarantee program will make an effort to boost the funding before Congress adjourns before Christmas.

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Citizen opposition to more nuclear reactors at Comanche Peak continues. On August 6th the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) Panel found that Luminant had failed to adequately analyze issues brought by concerned citizens in their Petition to Intervene in the proposed expansion at Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant.

“This is a major victory for those living near Comanche Peak and throughout Texas,” says Karen Hadden, Executive Director of Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. “The ASLB Panel has recognized in their decision that Luminant has not sufficiently analyzed alternatives to nuclear power as the law requires.”

The Comanche Peak Interveners (formerly referred to as Petitioners) include SEED Coalition, Public Citizen, Ft. Worth-based True Cost of Nukes and Texas Representative Lon Burnam, District 90, Ft. Worth. On June 10th-11th, the Interveners’ attorney, Robert V. Eye, went before the designated ASLB Panel and argued the admissibility of the 19 contentions filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on April 6th challenging the adequacy of Luminant’s application to construct and operate Comanche Peak Units 3 and 4. Four months later, the ASLB Panel found that two of the contentions deserved further inquiry and delayed a decision on the Interveners’ contention dealing with the Luminant’s lack of plans to deal with catastrophic fires and/or explosions.

“The Environmental Report in Luminant’s application is seriously flawed,” says Mr. Eye. “The collocation of Comanche Peak Units 1 and 2 and the proposed Units 3 and 4 is never considered in light of various accident and radiological release scenarios. A radiological accident at one unit could cause collateral impacts and disruptions in operations at the other units, and Luminant should have considered this.”

The contentions admitted for further adjudication in the August 6th ASLB decision are as follows:

Contention 13. Impacts from a severe radiological accident at any one unit on operation of other units at the Comanche Peak site have not been, and should be, considered in the Environmental Report.

Contention 18. The Comanche Peak Environmental Report is inadequate because it fails to include consideration of alternatives to the proposed Comanche Peak Units 3 and 4, consisting of combinations of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, with technological advances in storage methods and supplemental use of natural gas, to create baseload power.

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Hey, look! A joint press release from Public Citizen Texas, the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the SEED Coalition:

An NRC Environmental Scoping Meeting will be held on Jan. 6th in Glen Rose, Texas to take comment on the environmental impact study for two nuclear reactors proposed for the existing Comanche Peak site. A coalition of environmental and consumer groups and their members will be telling the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Luminant (formerly TXU) that nuclear plants are “too risky, too expensive and too dangerous” to help Texas meet its power needs, and makes no sense when clean, safe, affordable options exist. The coalition of groups said they
only learned of the hastily called public meeting to seek input on environmental issues on December 24th.

“We’ve been down this road before,” noted Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “The utility industry sold Texas on Comanche Peak and the South Texas Project and consumers have been paying the ‘stranded’ costs ever since, even as valuable water resources are expended and radioactive waste piles up on-site.”

Luminant proposes to build two more nuclear reactors at the existing Comanche Peak nuclear site near Glen Rose, in Somervell County, using an unproven, untested technology known as USAPWR. “The design of the reactors has not been certified and has never been builtanywhere in the world. Why should Texas serve as guinea pigs for a dangerous radioactive experiment?” asked Karen Hadden, Executive Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. “Design problems as well as human error led to numerous problems and shutdowns of Comanche Peak reactors in the past. The competence and character of Luminant need to be examined closely since the history of the existing reactors is disastrous. In the past, there was a chance to fix nuclear reactor construction problems before an operating license was issued, but that safeguard is gone with the new licensing process.” (more…)

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compeakIn an era dubbed a “nuclear renaissance” by the nuclear industry and during which the Bush Administration has pushed one package of subsidies after another, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has indicated that they expect up to thirty applications to be filed to build additional nuclear plants.  Currently, five or six of those proposals are moving through the complicated multi-stage process.  Of these early applications, three of them (for 6 nuclear units, 2 per application) are proposed for Texas.

One of these applications is for Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant, located four and a half miles northwest of Glen Rose in Somervell County and about 80 miles southwest of downtown Dallas.  Luminant (formerly TXU) filed an application September 19, 2008 to build two additional nuclear units on this site.

The Fort Worth Weekly summarizes the history of Comanche Peak:

The process of building and licensing the original pair of reactors at Comanche Peak turned into one of the most contentious – and frankly scary – developments that North Texas had seen in many years. By the time the plant was finished, it had come through major problems in the construction process, was hugely over budget and more than 10 years behind schedule, and had gone through a hard-fought licensing process that many believe added greatly to the safety of the plant. During that process, activists often questioned the objectivity of the NRC inspectors involved.

Given the problematic history of this plant’s previous licensing process, one would think that the NRC would take particular care in making sure the public felt included in the process. But environmentalists, concerned citizens and the media were caught off guard when federal authorities waited until Christmas Eve to send out notice of a public hearing on the proposed expansion scheduled for January 6th.

Officials confirmed that electronic notices of the Jan. 6th meeting were sent Wednesday, Dec. 24th. In defense of their timing, the NRC pointed the media to an online news release dated Friday, Dec. 19th. Though dated for Friday, the release was not actually posted to the website until Monday, Dec. 22nd.

The notification system is supposed to let interested parties know when these events are occurring in a timely fashion.  Burying the notice on Christmas Eve hardly holds to this standard. (more…)

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