Environmental Defense Institute

News on Environmental Health and Safety Issues

November 2005                                                                                                      Volume 16 Number 9

EDI Files Appeal Challenging DOE Censorship of

Crucial Reactor Safety Reports

            The Environmental Defense Institute filed a formal appeal with Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) that challenges DOE Idaho Operations decision to censor/exempt crucial safety reports requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Endnote DOE justifies the censorship under the rubric of “national security.” Endnote

            What is really at stake is DOE’s bureaucratic job security by blocking public access to the real hazards of operating the forty-year-old Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at INL for the production of plutonium. DOE simply does not want the public to know that the department is playing Russian roulette with the INL downwinders. DOE is effectively blocking full disclosure of just how dangerous this ancient reactor is, which was built only to the standards of the 1960's and that which could not come close to meeting current standards applied by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirements for commercial nuclear power plants. DOE’s own internal documents acknowledge that an Advanced Test Reactor “loss-of-coolant” accident would release175 million curies of radiation into the atmosphere, that is over half of the radiation released from the Russian Chernobyl nuclear reactor radiation release. [See previous EDI Newsletters for more information]

            The plutonium-238 that the ATR is producing is used as a power source for the U.S. space program. The Europeans opted for high-efficiency solar panels to provide power for their satellites mainly because of the extreme hazard of inevitable satellites’ re-entry and burn-up into the atmosphere and resultant massive plutonium contamination.

            The public is amazed at the DOE and media cheerleading which is not based on factual information related to the seismic issues at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). For instance, the Idaho Falls City planning and building department is more strict than DOE about building codes and DOE is running a forty-year-old reactor that would fail even these city regulations. City building codes restrict simple church signage in Idaho Falls, yet the DOE says there is no significant seismic risk for INL. Signs and sign structures shall be designed and constructed to resist wind forces as specified in the Uniform Building Code and Seismic Zone 3 the same as San Francisco.

            Now, do you think we should tell the city of Idaho Falls that we can ignore their UBC and seismic zone 3 requirements because DOE says there is no significant seismic risk here and because there was no problem when the 1983 Mt. Borah quake hit of 7.3 on the Richter scale about 30 miles from INL or the largest earthquake within the Inter-mountain Seismic Belt (7.5) that occurred in1959 near Habgen Lake, 90 miles from INL?

            Information based on Freedom of Information reports gained by EDI show INL is located on the Snake River Aquifer Plain with deep alluvial deposits of sand and gravel and inter-spaced thin volcanic horizontal flows which result in the seismic acceleration being 1.8 times greater than that of bed-rock. Endnote DOE is claiming that the alluvial sediments “dampen” or lessen the earthquake hazards which is NOT correct based on their own internal reports.

            DOE’s Environmental Impact Statement says, "The results of these [seismic] investigations indicate that these [seismic] faults are capable of generating earthquakes of magnitude 7 to 7.2 and that the most recent earthquakes occurred more than 15,000 years ago. Endnote This is categorically wrong given that Borah Peak quake was a 7.5 and occurred in 1983 about 30 miles from INL !!

            INL had an earthquake zone 3 rating prior to a 1982 gerrymandering of the site to a zone 2. Zone 3 is the same seismic category as San Francisco. The strongest earthquake in United States recorded history, the Yellowstone quake, occurred in 1959. This quake had its epicenter only 137 miles from INL. As a result, a new seismic zone of 4 was created adjacent to the INEEL site. In January through June 1994 a swarm-of earthquakes hit Soda Springs, ID 60 miles southeast of the site - the largest reached 5.8 on the Richter Scale according to US Geological Survey. Among the 1994 quakes included the Draney Peak earthquake of 3 February 1994 (5.9) and Challis earthquake of 7 June 1994 (5.1) on the Richter scale.

            Over the years, there have been many changes in the seismic criteria selected for the INL. With state-of-the-art seismic hazard and design spectra analyses now complete with the exception of approval of the seismic design spectra for soil for the location of ATR, the problem is one of showing that existing structures and equipment that are needed to withstand a design basis seismic event are capable of withstanding the event. This requires analysis work, some of which has not been funded. The analyses may show that upgrades are required and this would require more funding. In my estimation, the upgrades needed are tenable. It is the lack of oversight of DOE’s operations that allows it to slip on and on into the future without addressing problems. The DOE reactor operations side lacks the oversight scrutiny that the DOE environment waste side receives.

            The October 30, 2005 Post Register article, “Movers and Shakers,that states Idaho is ranked fifth in the nation on a scale of earthquake risk, is counter to DOEs repeated vague assurances that seismic issues are not a concern. EDI has pulled together some of DOE’ s brush-offs regarding seismic events at INL. In the October 14, 2005 Post Register article by Mead Gruver where DOE spokesman Brad Bugger said “the risk of a major earthquake at the lab is slight.”

            In the July 24, 2005 Post Register articleThe great divider,DOE states: the Snake River Plain is actually relatively calm compared to the surrounding mountains.., and during a large 1983 earthquake at Borah peak between Mackay and Challis, the reactor performed as designed and shut itself down.

            These statements reflect a pervasive mindset, and while these statements above are basically true, they paint an incomplete picture of the status of seismic vulnerability. DOE officials at last Julys EIS meetings made statements that seismic issues are not a concern, that the facility is designed to withstand seismic events, which is not true, and that the facility is in compliance with all DOE requirements.

            In the October 2005 Idaho State Journal article (see link below) DOE spokesman John Walsh does not provide an accurate portrayal of the importance of the lack of properly embedded bolts at the Advanced Test Reactor. He states that the bolts were slightly shorter than required: the occurrence report states that the bolts were too short to engage the threads of the concrete expansion anchors in the wall. We doubt that the bolts provided any significant lateral support they were counted on to provide. The existing seismic structural evaluations that were relied on to conclude that the piping systems were able to withstand a significant seismic event were invalid because of the inadequate lateral support that was to be provided by the supports fastened to the walls by the bolts. The heat exchangers would not have withstood the severity of seismic event that the analysis predicted. If the bolts were sufficient to support the safety analysis conclusions and to show an acceptable level of safety, then no modification of the bolts would have been needed. Walsh seems to imply that the bolts were only fixed to satisfy an arbitrary but excessive or unnecessary requirement that they be a certain length. The bolts needed to satisfy structural analysis needs to show that the structures would be adequately braced in a seismic event so that they would not cause comprise the primary coolant system integrity. Structures that are not needed for safety would not be required to meet seismic structural requirements. The Unanswered Safety Question reports sought by EDI under the Freedom of Information Act but censored by DOE for this occurrence may provide more insight to disprove Walshs assertions.

            In the Idaho Falls Post Register, Oct 14, 2005, an article titled Wyoming opposes plutonium plan for INL quoted DOE spokesman Brad Bugger as saying the risk of a major earthquake at the lab is slight.

            We now have seen the INL site-specific seismic hazard characterization and subsequent development of seismic design spectra for rock and soil at the various locations at the site, the DOE standard for determining the seismic performance categories, and the relevance to safety analysis required by (10 CFR-830 ) to evaluate natural phenomena hazards including seismic events.

            DOE should be pressed to answer why DOE does not complete the tasks to seismically qualify its nuclear facility structures and equipment that are needed for preventing an off-site release of radiation.

            There are DOE Orders, DOE standards, and NRC technical reports that delineate how to determine the seismic hazard and seismic design criteria needed to show adequate levels of seismic safety. Why aren’t these design criteria being met?

            In an area where the seismic hazard is minimal, the corresponding seismic loading or accelerations in the seismic design criteria would be small. With DOE’s claims of insignificant seismic hazard in the area, it should be easy for DOE to show an acceptable level of design margin and an acceptably low level of risk of radiation release from a seismic event.

            So, why hasn’t DOE provided documentation to show they have completed this for all of their nuclear facilities?

            Dan Boyd writes in the Pocatello Idaho Journal; “ Three dislodged bolts found in the Idaho National Laboratory's prized reactor have prompted criticisms of the facility's earthquake readiness. But INL officials say the problem at the Advanced Test Reactor has been rectified and never posed a serious safety risk.

During a scheduled shutdown June 7, INL workers found three bolts on the floor and concluded they had fallen out of seismic support anchor plates in the test reactor's heat exchange room sometime during the previous two months.

            “INL spokesman John Walsh said the bolts were slightly shorter than required and were apparently installed by a subcontractor in 1980.
            “The bolts came from three different units of support beams, but each beam still had three other bolts in it, Walsh said. There was nothing that was loose and nothing that was threatening to fall over.“

But activists such as Peter Rickards of Twin Falls, who oppose the Department of Energy's proposal to consolidate plutonium manufacturing at INL, are using the evidence to call for a new environmental impact statement or perhaps a new reactor.

            “They've been telling us it's in great shape,Rickards said of the reactor. It's nice they have safety inspectors, but they approved this. We've been riding on luck since 1980.“

            ”Walsh denied the claim, saying all 180 bolts in the room in question have been replaced and pointing to new earthquake safety measures that have been recently implemented.

            “If a quake were to strike, Walsh said the reactor would automatically shut down, much as it did when the Borah Quake rattled Idaho in 1983.

            “At no time did we have a concern that the safety or security of those seismic supports were compromised,he said. We think ATR is a premiere test facility and is certainly up to the challenge of plutonium production.

            The Department of Energy released a detailed draft environmental impact statement this summer calling for renewing domestic production of plutonium-238 - an extremely hazardous isotope - at the INL in part because of the reactor's capabilities.

            Plutonium-238, which is principally used for powering space batteries, hasn't been produced in the United States for more than 20 years, but dwindling foreign supplies apparently convinced national leaders to resume the activity.

            Hundreds gathered to testify at five different Idaho hearings on the matter this summer and DOE workers are currently working to address concerns and compose a final environmental impact statement. Idaho DOE Communications Director Brad Bugger said that document is expected to be released in the early spring of 2006 with a final policy decision coming no fewer than 30 days after that.

            Several weeks ago, the INL's deputy associate lab director Harold McFarlane told a gathering of Pocatello Rotarians a nuclear facility would be a great place to be in the case of an earthquake. Even with a few missing bolts, INL workers insist that's been the case all along.

            In addition, ATR Safety Review Analysis states "The safety analysis has demonstrated any break in the Primary Coolant Pressure Boundary (PCPB) with an equivalent area of a 3 inch diameter break or less can be mitigated by plant protective functions such that ATR Plant Protection Criteria are not exceeded. As a result, and Primary Coolant System (PCS) component whose failure could result in a break in the PCPB greater than the area of a 3-inch diameter break is classified as safety-related." Endnote In other words, a major hazard. Other internal reports confirm that the ATR Emergency Coolant Pump “cannot produce the flow” required when there is a power interruption and/or during a loss-of-coolant accident that would occur during an earthquake where a break in critical coolant lines break. Endnote

            DOE’s own internal reports acknowledge potential fuel melt-down when emergency coolant systems fail just prior to venting to the atmosphere necessary to save the building and reactor from a steam explosion. Endnote

            Seismic vulnerabilities are also clearly acknowledged in DOE internal reports that state, “Test Reactor Area [that includes the ATR and crucial support systems] masonry block buildings constructed in the early 1950's have not been shown to be adequately reinforced and block wall collapse would be expected for PC-3 and PC-4 seismic events.” Endnote

            Inadequate instrumentation is cited as “increasing the consequences of and accident.” Endnote

            Inadequate fire water supply system is found to “increase the consequences of a malfunction of equipment important to safety.” Endnote

            “On-site raw water supplies, however, are not sufficient to last until commercial power can be reasonably assured to be restored. Therefore, uninterrupted emergency fire water injection supply system delivery to the ATR vessel is not ensured following a seismically induced loss of coolant accident.” Endnote

            The ATR’s shut-down system is also inadequate. Endnote The ATR’s systems “calls for opening the reactor vessel vent valves prior to exceeding a vessel outlet temperature of 200 F.” This procedure allows radioactive gases and steam generated by the loss-of-coolant accident to go directly and unfiltered into the atmosphere. Endnote  

            Loss-of-commercial power at the ATR “causes the core power to decrease as the pressure and flow decreased and the core temperatures increased.” Endnote

            DOE claims the ATR core power only operates at 150 MW, yet reports show “A maximum effective plate power for any inner fuel plate of 347 MW” which exceeds its design power level of 250 MW. Endnote


            The DOE states that release of 175 million curies during an ATR loss-of-coolant accident is reflective of a “perfect storm” accident that amounts to the worst imaginable event, that multiple failures would be required, and such an accident would not occur more than once in one million years. One textbook cites the Chernobyl release as 30 million curies. The 175 million curies release for a ATR accident is not bounding of seismic accidents, accidents without an intact confinement building, with unfavorable break location, or consideration of a canal draining event, or sabotage. The once in one million year criteria is for an accident category and is not strictly adhered to in the ATR safety analysis, and it does not represent the summation of all severe accidents or of all severe accidents with early release of fission products.

            The bottom line is that the public simply can not accept this enormous hazard looming for an unneeded plutonium production operation. ✇ 


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Seismic Events Jolt Support for INL Forty-year-old Reactor


            Before the plutonium-238 production clustering hearings, I made a simple request for recent accident reports at Idaho's nuclear reactor scheduled for plutonium-238 production.

            Both our state nuclear watchdog and Department of Energy officials refused to reveal any problem reports. I filed a Freedom of Information Act request, and the documents finally arrived.

            The Idaho State Journal broke the news story on the earthquake safety support bolts that "had fallen out of seismic support anchor plates in the test reactor's heat exchange room sometime during the previous two months." As reported, "Three dislodged bolts found in the Idaho National Laboratory's prized reactor have prompted criticisms of the facility's earthquake readiness."

            It is indeed ironic that these earthquake support bolts that fell out were discovered on June 7, one month before the public hearings on clustering plutonium-238 production around this very same bolt-dropping Advanced Test Reactor.

            Despite discovering that all the bolts were incorrect and too short to secure properly, not one word of this was even whispered by the Department of Energy speakers nor by our state watchdog, Kathleen Trever.

            The public was told that the ATR was a "great, safe facility" and offered a shiny brochure celebrating the ATR's 40th birthday, that they claimed "would answer all safety concerns."

            As quoted by the Idaho State Journal, "Several weeks ago, the INL's deputy associate lab director Harold McFarlane told a gathering of Pocatello Rotarians a nuclear facility would be a great place to be in the case of an earthquake."

            Well, I find it oddly unsafe when earthquake support bolts fall out of a stationary building producing radioactive material. According to the DOE reports, this same subcontractor had the wrong bolts supporting the primary coolant piping too. The ATR is a 40-year-old relic.

            Not mentioned yet is the internal safety report from 1996, stating that some of the piping in the key coolant pipes is "inaccessible" for safety inspection of the outside of the pipes.

            This all calls for a new study, to include the obviously needed building of a new reactor, if they dubiously insist more plutonium-238 is needed for national security. This new reactor can be built at any DOE site.

            Why are our state watchdog and governor still endorsing clustering all plutonium production around the ancient ATR in Idaho? Your family deserves better. Why are all your state and federal politicians silent, except when cheerleading for nuclear disasters? 

            This article, written by Dr. Peter Rickards, and published in the Twin Falls, Idaho Times News November 1, 2005.


DOE Launches New Attempt to Permit

 INL High-level Liquid Waste Operations

            After several failed attempts to permit its High-level Liquid Waste Evaporator, the DOE and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality are once again offering a “modified” permit for public comment. Endnote

            The Environmental Defense Institute (EDI) effectively challenged DOE’s previous attempts to permit this extremely dangerous operation that has been continuously operating for over a decade without a permit. Endnote In an effort to deceive the public about the true nature of this plant, DOE changed its name to the innocuous sounding Evaporator Tank System (ETS). This new modified permit includes the INTEC Liquid Waste Management System components; Process Equipment Waste Evaporator (PEWE), the Evaporator Tank System (ETS), and the Liquid Effluent Treatment and Disposal (LET&D). EDI has documented that these operations are in violation of the Resource Conservation Recovery Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act. Endnote

            Rather than spend the money to install the appropriate and required emission control systems, the DOE in a desperate attempt to circumvent the law (with the State of Idaho complicity) has:

          Tried to reclassify its high-level liquid waste as non-high-level “incidental waste” in violation of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. Endnote

          Redefine the PEWE, and ETS as not having “process vents” to avoid the regulatory emission requirements. [permit pages 35 and 36]

          Avoid regulatory requirements for stainless steel waste tank secondary containment and leak detection by claiming non-compliant retrofitted Hypalon liners. [permit pages 49 through 55]

          Claiming that only hazardous materials and no radionuclides will be processed, when other parts of the permit text clearly state that “mixed waste” (a combination of hazardous and radioactive) waste is being processed. [permit pages 31 and 79]

            Public comments on this permit can be mailed to Robert Bullock, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ), 1410 N. Hilton, Boise, ID 83706 or emailed to IDEQ’s website public comment section www.deq.idaho.gov on or before 12/5/05. A public hearing will be held 11/29/05 at 7pm at the Shilo Inn Conference Center, Idaho Falls, Idaho. 


Idaho Downwinders are Mobilized but

Still Struggling for Recognition

            Nicholas Collias reports in the Boise Weekly (11/2/05) “Half a century ago, Idaho and surrounding states were intentionally targeted by the federal government to receive radioactive fallout from nuclear test explosions. That much is known, thanks to declassified Atomic Energy Commission documents. But how the government should take responsibility for this disregard for to its citizens' welfare continues to be debated.

            “A year ago this Sunday, over 80 downwinders from rural areas hit heavily by fallout spoke at Taco Bell Arena to a packed house of supporters, as well as representatives from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and Idaho's governor and Congressional delegation. With alternating sadness, anger and relief, the victims recalled their stories of illness but spoke hopefully of the prospect of governmental apology and compensation. In the ensuing tumultuous year, they've seen legislation introduced on their behalf, had one of their most vocal representatives, Sheri Garmon of Emmett, pass away from cancer, but ultimately they are little closer to their goals.

            “The 2004 hearing was held to determine whether the NAS should recommend that Congress expand the Radiation Compensation Exposure Act to include Idaho and other affected areas. First created in 1990, the act allows residents of 21 counties in Utah, Arizona and Nevada, who suffer from any of 19 different cancers, to receive up to $50,000 in compensation. Proving that one's cancer resulted from fallout is not required; only residence and illness.

            “However, according to a 1997 NAS study, four Idaho counties--Custer, Blaine, Lemhi and Gem--were as heavily dosed by radioactive Iodine 131 fallout as any areas included in RECA. At the time, Idaho Sen. Larry Craig and then-Sen. Dirk Kempthorne made demands in national media for greater federal investigation into the possibility of compensating affected Idahoans. As of last year, neither had made good on those demands, leading downwinders to accuse the politicians of taking a seven-year nap on the issue.

            "It seemed like they'd forgotten us," said downwinder Tona Henderson of Emmett. Henderson owns the Rumor Mill coffee shop, a Gem County hub where downwinders and supporters continue to meet and discuss new developments--like the April 28 release of the latest NAS report, which said an expansion of RECA to include any specific geographical area, even high-dose areas like Idaho and Montanta, wouldn't be "equitable." While the report conceded that every county in the continental U.S. received fallout from explosions, it added, "It is unlikely that exposure to radiation from fallout was a substantial, contributing cause to developing cancer." The report suggested expanding RECA nationwide but it implementing medical standards to determine who should be compensated. With science at the helm, the authors wrote, an expansion would "result in few successful claims" for compensation.

            “At the time of its release, the report was viewed by many as a dire blow to the RECA expansion movement. According to Preston Truman, head of the advocacy group Downwinders, the report was simply the NAS "passing the radioactive buck." But Truman says that unlike the silence following the 1997 report, Idaho's downwinders have refused to accept defeat. "They didn't just close up shop and go away," he said. "This time they're actually there to bite politicians in the butt and make them do something about it.

            “Following the extensive media coverage surrounding last year's Boise hearing, Truman said he has heard from several hundred previously unheard downwinders in Idaho and Montana. Ester Ceja, of the Boise-based nuclear watchdog group Snake River Alliance, said her organization has also heard from several newly discovered downwinders each month. As a result, the Alliance has created a downwinder advisory group, composed of representatives from affected counties around the state. The group held its first conference call last week, with a simple message: Keep the dialogue going.

            “We're working to continue to put pressure where we can and organize meetings with the delegates," Ceja said. "It's a slow process, but we need a congressional hearing on this.

            “The plea for congressional attention is being heard. Both Montana Senator Conrad Burns and Idaho Senator Mike Crapo have introduced legislation this year to expand RECA into their home states--despite the NAS's recommendation that science should determine any expansion. Burns' legislation, introduced in May, recommended Montana's 15 heaviest-hit counties to be roundly included, with other victims statewide able to apply on a case-by-case basis. The bill calls for $200 million in appropriations to be added to RECA, with 95 percent going directly to downwinders.

            “Crapo's bill is far simpler. In its entirety, it reads, "To include the State of Idaho as an affected area under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act." The qualifications in Burns's bill about counties and monetary amounts are left out, making Crapo's version seem more reliant on existing RECA standards . In an interview with BW, Crapo explained that the brevity is because the bill is only an "interim step" while Congress decides whether to undertake the RECA overhaul suggested by the NAS.

            “We're not trying to create a new system," he said. "We're simply saying, Idaho should be added to the existing RECA coverage. It's an intermediate step, without making Idaho wait for what might be a lengthy debate in Congress about what do with RECA, and whether to do anything with RECA.

            “Crapo admitted that support for his state-specific bill has been tough to come by, since "Senators are undoubtedly going to say, 'Well, why don't we just see if a new approach can be worked out?" He also said he couldn't predict when there would be a congressional hearing or other action in regard to his bill. Crapo has been in discussion recently with Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, but said that in a meeting last week, Specter "Was not prepared to make a firm commitment to proceed on my bill yet.

            “In the meantime, Idaho's junior senator has received consistent, if not always enthusiastic, support from the rest of Idaho's delegation. Sen. Larry Craig co-sponsored the bill, while Rep. Butch Otter's spokesman Mark Warbis told BW Otter ‘is looking forward to reviewing that legislation when it comes to the house side,’ calling the bill "our best consolidated effort to get done what needs to get done.’ Rep. Mike Simpson has said that he would support a House version of the bill, but he also wanted to explore options closer to the NAS report's recommendations. Neither has made any statement about introducing the bill to the House on his own.

            “Gov. Kempthorne, according to his spokesman Mike Journee, is taking an even more staid attitude toward the bill. ‘We do have this NAS report which says geographic distribution isn't necessarily a good idea,’ Journee said. ‘We don't really know which way Congress is going to go with that. But whichever way they go, we think it is important that if they decide to add geographic areas to this act, that Idaho's interests certainly should be watched out for.’

            “Such reserved stances in the delegation make some downwinder advocates, like Dr. Peter Rickards of Twin Falls, incredulous. "Crapo is on the right track, but obviously in super-slow motion," Rickards said. "The rest of the delegation is not helping at all. This immediately puts up a red flag to me that they're putting up a little show as the issue re-arises. This is what happened in 1997.

            “Henderson gave Crapo more credit, but wants Idaho's delegates to shore up support for the bill before it's too late. "We feel like [the hearing] was to our benefit, but only in the last few months," she said. "Crapo's just kind of waving in the wind out there, and in the meantime, people are still dying."  

DOE to Request $400-million in Fiscal Year-07 for

 Nuclear Material Production

            In 1992 former President Clinton shut down the DOE nuclear material production (via reprocessing of reactor fuel) used in nuclear bombs and other military applications in order to bring the US into compliance with the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty. Now President Bush disavows the Treaty and is restarting American nuclear material production with the active support of Idaho’s Congressional delegation.

            Daniel Whitten reports for the Washington based Platts News Service; “ DOE is planning to request $400 million in fiscal 2007 for nuclear spent fuel reprocessing and for a reactor that can run on fuel resulting from the procedure, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) said Oct. 18. Craig said in an interview with Platts that he has been reviewing such plans for several months. He said they would take more than a decade to implement and would cost several billion dollars.

            “Craig said advancing reprocessing technology through chemical separation of reusable nuclear materials and building what he called a "fast reactor" would not eliminate the need for the Yucca Mountain, NV repository. "By the time the proposal would become mainstream, there would already be substantial new waste," Craig said.

            “DOE requested $70-million for reprocessing in FY-06, and one well-placed Senate source questioned whether a much larger increase for reprocessing would be approved by the Office of Management & Budget.

            “Separately, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development, said House and Senate appropriators have agreed to spend $30.5 billion on DOE in FY-06, splitting a $1.5-billion difference between the bills passed by both chambers.

            “Appropriators have not yet agreed how to reconcile specific differences between the measures. Rep. David Hobson (R-Ohio), Domenici's counterpart in the House, has said DOE is likely to see a cut to its $651-million request for Yucca Mountain.

            “Domenici would not comment on the administration's plans for nuclear waste. An industry source said that DOE will continue efforts to submit next year a license application to NRC for the proposed repository.”


Bait and Switch on Funding for New Nuclear Bombs


            On October 25, 2005 Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) announced that funding for the new nuclear bomb study will be dropped from the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill by House-Senate conferees.

            Recognizing the critical nature of the research into weapons to destroy deeply buried targets, the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee has decided to initiate a new research program to replace this new nuclear bomb program. This new program is established under the Air Force by the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2863) and is called the Hard and Deeply Buried Target Defeat System. This new $4 million program will examine both nuclear and conventional options for fielding a weapon with a demonstrated capability to destroy deeply buried and hardened targets, which makes it consistent with the integrated targeting policy called for in the draft Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations.  

Bechtel as DOE operating contractor for the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Facility issued a Notice 11/2/05 on INL AMWTF permit modification that includes changes to "acceptance criteria for off-site waste, deletion of the AMWTF Waste Characterization Quality Assurance Project..."

Once again, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) has not posted the text of these crucial permit modifications on their website leaving the public in the dark.

There is a 60 day comment period (send to Stephanie Carroll IDEQ Boise 83706-1255 and

Public meeting Idaho Falls Public Library 11/30/05 6pm




            1. Environmental Defense Institute and David McCoy 10/14/05 filing with the DOE Office of Hearings and Appeals related to Department of Energy Idaho Operations Office Freedom of Information Act requests filed 7/7/05, 9/21/05, and 10/20/05. EDI also filed an Supplemental Appeal to the Office of Hearings and Appeals 10/26/05.

            2. Department of Energy letter to Chuck Broscious 9/14/05, Freedom of Information Act Request 05-047 EDI (OM-PA-05-069)

            3. Final Report, Development of Design Basis Earthquake Parameters for the Argonne National Laboratory-West, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, prepared for Lock Heed Martin Idaho Technologies 16 March 1998, herein after called ANL-W. The deep alluvial deposits are not referring to the thin soil layer at the surface that is above the bedrock. The statement about the deep alluvial deposits is true and referring to soils that are below the layer of bedrock. The seismic hazard report and design spectra for the bedrock layer clarifies this. The seismic design spectra for soil for the ground surface, that is roughly 1.8 times that of bedrock -- refers only to the top 50 ft or soil of soil above the bedrock (the depth of soil-sand-clay varies from place to place).

            4. Draft Environmental Impact Statement 6/05 also see Bechtel BWXT Idaho 2003 page 3-14

            5. Advanced Test Reactor Upgraded Final Safety Analysis Report" Volume 2 Chapters 5 page 9 that also references Chapter 15 Accident Analysis which is censored by DOE.

            6. Potential Inadequacy in the Safety Analysis, TRA-670, RTC-USQ-2005-197, M-11 Emergency Coolant Pump Flow Measurements and Uncertainty.

            7.Potential Inadequacy in the Safety Analysis, Advanced Test Reactor, RTC-USQ-2005-173, Impact of Potential PCS Leakage on Fuel Element Thermal-Hydraulic Conditions Prior to Reactor Vessel Venting.

            8.Potential Inadequacy in the Safety Analysis, Advanced Test Reactor, TRA-USQ-2004-413, ATR Seismic Primary Coolant System Break Size Contribution from Letdown Valves. Also see TRA-USQ-2004-396, ATR Seismic Primary Coolant System Break Size and TRA Support Building Vulnerabilities

            9. Potential Inadequacy in the Safety Analysis, Advanced Test Reactor, TRA-USQ-2004-385, ATR Surge Tank Level Instrument Limiting Control Settings.

            10. Unresolved Safety Question, Advanced Test Reactor, SE-2003-145, Firewater Supply Modeling Issues.

            11. Engineering Design File No. 5614, Summary of Interim Safety Basis Supporting Advanced Test Reactor Operation.

            12. Potential Inadequacy in the Safety Analysis, Advanced Test Reactor, TRA-USQ-2004-176, Reactor Shutdown System Reactor Vessel Level Limiting Control Settings.

            13. Potential Inadequacy in the Safety Analysis, Advanced Test Reactor, TRA-USQ-2004-341, Fuel Element Thermal Conditions During Loss of Heat Sink.

            14. Potential Inadequacy in the Safety Analysis, Advanced Test Reactor, TRA-USQ-2004-070, Low Reactor Vessel Differential Pressure Safety Limits.

            15. Potential Inadequacy in the Safety Analysis, Advanced Test Reactor, RTC-USQ-2005-197, M-11 Emergency Coolant Pump Flow Measurement and Uncertainty.

            16. The text of the permit is available on IDEQ’s website: www.deq.idaho.gov This is the first time in memory that IDEQ posted the text of a proposed permit that is an important step toward transparency in this crucial process.

            17. See EDI challenges posed on our website: www.environmental-defense-institute.org

            18. EDI and David McCoy 5/10/05 ILWMS permit comments, and EDI, Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free, and David McCoy Petition to the Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General 1/1/03.

            19. Natural Resources Defense Council is currently litigating this in US District Court. 


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