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NEI Energy Markets Report

NEI has begun posting an Energy Markets Report (pdf) for readers on our website. This report is an eight page snapshot of what went on in the energy markets the previous week. It includes electricity, natural gas, and oil prices and graphs. It also includes, daily nuclear capacity availabilities and futures' prices as well as future capacity builds and short term outlooks.

The data presented are from Global Energy Decisions, InterContinental Exchange, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Edison Electric Institute and Energy Information Administration.

Here's a summary of what went on last week:
  • Electricity prices were mixed across the country (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices at the Henry Hub fell by $.47 to $7.86/MMBtu (see page 4).

  • Electricity demand is expected to increase by 0.5 percent in 2006 and by an additional 2.0 percent in 2007 due mainly to weather conditions and continuing economic growth. Electric power sector demand for coal is projected to increase by 1.2 percent in 2006 and by another 1.4 percent in 2007. Total natural gas demand in 2006 is projected to remain near 2005 levels, then increase by 2.3 percent in 2007 (see page 8).

For the report click here (pdf).

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pgunter said…
Here's some news, Exelon cant hold its own... Paul, NIRS

Fri Feb 17, 2006 10:12 PM ET

By Bernie Woodall

LOS ANGELES, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Exelon Corp.'s plans to respond to a 1998 leak of radioactive water at its Braidwood nuclear power plant and other smaller leaks at other plants appear on track with Illinois Environmental Protection Agency staff, a spokeswoman for the Illinois EPA said after a meeting with the company on Friday.

on Friday, before the meeting, Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott chided Exelon for not telling the state EPA about the 1998 leak of at least 6.25 million gallons of radioactive water at the Braidwood plant until three months ago, and only then after citizens told the EPA about it.

Scott also said in a statement that federal and state officials need to tighten reporting requirements when a nuclear power operator makes a spill or leak of radioactive material.

Currently, companies need to tell the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency about a spill but are not required to notify all state environmental agencies such as the Illinois EPA, which is the guardian of Illinois' groundwater.

"We are disappointed to learn about the old incidents only recently," Scott said in the statement issued on Friday, before the meeting with Exelon staff.

"It has become apparent to me that the reporting mechanism in place is not adequate to protect the groundwater or the people that rely on it as a source of drinking water," Scott said. "I also intend to pursue avenues to correct this gap" and discuss the matter with Illinois' U.S. senators. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, both Democrats.

Exelon, with 10 U.S. plants and 17 reactors, has the largest number of nuclear power plants in the country.

After Friday's meeting, Illinois EPA spokeswoman Maggie Carson said the session was "very successful" and that Exelon presented technical remedies to the leaks at Braidwood and other, smaller leaks at other Illinois plants, including one at the Dresden nuclear power station in Morris, Illinois.

Both the Braidwood and Dresden nuclear plants are about 60 miles from Chicago.

The state EPA issued in December a violation order that Exelon officially responded to on Friday.

The Chicago-based Exelon faces a fine from the Illinois attorney general's office, according to the state EPA statement.

Exelon this week said it had created a reserve to remedy the problem of leaks at its nuclear plants that will result in an after-tax decrease of $4 million from previously reported 2005 income.

Exelon spokesman Craig Nesbitt said the company was not required to report the 1998 incident and at the time did not believe it was a serious event because the leak occurred above ground on plant property.

But since then, the water contaminated with tritium has seeped into groundwater off plant property.

"There's no question we didn't handle it the right way," Nesbitt, who did not attend Friday's meeting, said. "The object now is to find the correct remediation process."

There appears to be no immediate threat to drinking water, said the EPA's Carson, but she added that the EPA wants to ensure the safety of groundwater and is seeking to stiffen reporting requirements.

Exelon on Thursday also said it would inspect pipes and other systems at its 10 nuclear power plants to cut down or eliminate future leaks.

Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen with a half-life of 12.5 years found naturally in small concentrations in most surface water. A nuclear reactor, however, produces higher concentrations of tritium in water.
This service is not intended to encourage spam. The details provided by your colleague have been used for the sole purpose of facilitating this email communication and have not been retained by Reuters. Your personal details have not been added to any database or mailing list.
Paul Primavera said…
Paul Gunter,

Shame on Exelon for any wrong doing it may have committed regarding this tritium leak. Yet during this same period of time, while no lives were lost or injured as a result of the tritium leak at Braidwood, coal plants continue to use the atmosphere as their sewer and kill tens of thousands of Americans yearly from lung disease.

As Jim Hoerner pointed out at:

< >

Drinking two liters per day of 20,000 picoCuries [pCi/L] per liter results
in about four milliREM per year. This is roughly equivalent to sleeping
closely with four other people. Much less than one dental X-ray. Less than one gets from living in a brick house. Less than some athletes get from
drinking Gatorade. Talk about cover-up! :-) Wonderful thing about
radiation, it can be measured in trivially small amounts.

'Still, Exelon has offered financial settlements to 15 nearby property owners. Nesbit said last month that the company agreed to compensate the property owners because "we don't want these people to suffer any harm for something we did."'


BTW, Exelon did set up a web page to inform the public about this incident and it is at:

< >

Now I applaud your efforts, Paul, in helping to improve safety at commercial nuclear power plants, but I wonder why an event that has injured or killed no one gains such interest from a European-founded organization (NIRS-WISE), but the tens of thousands who die yearly from coal plant pollution or the two million who die yearly from biomass burning world-wide (deaths that could all be averted by increasing our use of nuclear energy) are completely ignored. I wonder sometimes (as suggested at Atomic Insights) if fossil fuel interests actually fuel with money such anti-nuclear groups.
Paul Primavera said…
< >

Byron Blowdown Line Inspections Begin

WARRENVILLE, Ill., Feb. 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Exelon Nuclear is
launching an initiative across its 10-station nuclear fleet to systematically
assess systems that handle tritium and take the necessary actions to minimize
the risk of inadvertent discharge of tritium to the environment.
The assessments will take place in 2006 and will cover pipes, pumps,
valves, tanks and other pieces of equipment that carry tritiated water in and
around the plants.
The initiative is intended to significantly reduce the possibility of a
tritium release of the type that occurred in the past involving the lake
"blowdown" line at Braidwood Generating Station near Braceville, Ill. While
the Braidwood leak poses no health or safety threat to the environment or the
public, "we recognize that inadvertent releases are unacceptable and we are
committed to eliminating them," said Exelon Nuclear Chief Operating Officer
Charles Pardee.
The initiative also will establish new standards for inspections,
responses to, and remediation of tritium releases that have the potential to
affect the environment or the public.
Standards for responses to tritium releases would be modeled, in part,
after a recent response at the Dresden Generating Station, where intensified
monitoring and inspection detected a small underground tritium leak shortly
after it occurred. The small leak, which was confirmed by test data over this
past weekend, dripped at a rate of about a half-cup per minute and was
discovered within a few weeks after it began.
In this case, the suspect pipe was scheduled for replacement as part of a
repair and monitoring program undertaken at Dresden. The leak was confined to
shallow ground in a small area near the center of the plant property alongside
the plant structure and inside the protected security area. It is not
expected to approach the edges of the plant property and poses no health or
safety threat.
"Our purpose is to ensure that we have a full understanding of the health
of our systems that handle tritium, and that we have satisfied ourselves, our
stakeholders and the communities in which we are members, that our equipment
has a high degree of integrity," Pardee said. "Just as important, we want to
ensure that we are fully prepared to properly respond to a leak should one
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is found naturally in
small concentrations in most surface water. It is produced in higher
concentrations in water used in nuclear reactors and is a normal byproduct of
commercial nuclear power production. Tritium is typically discharged into the
environment under strict federal guidelines.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established a safe drinking
water limit of 20,000 picocuries of tritium per liter of water.
At Dresden, tritium found in one test well near the center of the plant
property measured 500,000 picocuries per liter. Surrounding test wells 10 to
20 feet away showed tritium concentrations of 20,000 picocuries per liter or
less, indicating a small area of tritium that dissipates rapidly at the edges.
The affected area is believed to be about 30 feet across near the center of
the plant's 1,782 acres, adjacent to the plant structure and inside the
protected security area. Testing along the site boundary confirmed that no
tritium has approached the property edge.
The equipment inspection program announced today has already been
initiated at the Byron Nuclear Generating Station in Ogle County, Ill., which
is similar to Braidwood in its design. As does Braidwood, Byron uses a
blowdown line to release tritium to a nearby river -- the Rock River -- as
part of normal permitted plant operations.
Recent inspections at Byron initiated in response to the Braidwood issue
found standing water inside concrete vaults in the ground that are part of the
Byron blowdown line, which runs along a strip of company property to the
river. The vaults house valves known as "vacuum breakers" that can
malfunction and leak. Water in the vaults was tested last week and found to
contain a tritium concentration of 86,000 picocuries per liter. Additional
engineering work and environmental sampling is being undertaken this week to
determine if tritium has migrated into the ground outside the vaults. The
Byron tritium concentrations pose no health or safety threat to employees or
the public.
In addition to the inspection program, a project team comprised of Exelon
Nuclear engineers, chemists and environmental scientists, as well as expert
consultants, is looking for technological ways to reduce the amount of tritium
produced and released at all nuclear plants. The effort is separate from the
inspection program.
"We owe it to our neighbors and our employees to ensure the environmental
integrity of our plants," Pardee said. "We take great pride in the positive
environmental attributes of nuclear energy, and we must preserve and enhance
the notion that there is no cleaner, safer or more reliable way to produce

Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC) is one of the nation's largest electric
utilities with approximately 5.2 million customers and more than $15 billion
in annual revenues. The company has one of the industry's largest portfolios
of electricity generation capacity, with a nationwide reach and strong
positions in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. Exelon distributes electricity to
approximately 5.2 million customers in northern Illinois and Pennsylvania and
gas to more than 460,000 customers in the Philadelphia area. Exelon is
headquartered in Chicago and trades on the NYSE under the ticker EXC.
Paul said…
Funny that Exelon's initiative comes after a coalition of public interest groups filed a petition to NRC for emergency enforcement action (10 CFR 2.206) on January 25, 2006 requesting a Demand for Information for analysis of tritium leakpaths at all US reactors. Guess they wanted to get ahead of the curve given all the bad publicity of being caught hiding substantial activated water leaks for these many years.

See NIRS website for petition and other documented tritium leaks in the Appendix at >

Appears that all US units are going to have to do what Exelon is doing.

Next step is to get independent analysis at select sites since Exelon cant be trusted. Thats likely to happen at Braidwood.

Paul, NIRS
Paul Primavera said…
Paul Gunter,

I already saw the petition to which you refer at a link on web page:

< >

I applaud all efforts to improve safety. That being said, no one has or will die from these quite miniscule tritium leaks. Compared to the amount of radioactivity that coal fired plants routinely dump into the atmosphere from the naturally occurring uranium, radium and thorium in coal, they are nothing.

I also question your phraseology "...they wanted to get ahead of the curve given all the bad publicity of being caught hiding substantial activated water leaks for these many years..." These leaks are (as I already pointed out) miniscule compared to the dumping from fossil fuel burning which we know actually kills and I know of no overt attempt by Exelon to cover anything up. To say otherwise without documented proof some might consider as slander. Personally, I don't know what to think of such wild accusations.

BTW, I don't think that the water containing tritium from Braidwood, Byron or Dresden was activated. It is my understanding that the tritium evolved by mechanisms different that activation of hydrogen into deuterium then into tritium. Please read the IAEA Technical Report 421 on Management of Waste Containing Tritium and Carbon-14 at web page:

< >

Section 4.2 starting on page 39 provides some
tritium production and release.

Section 5.3 on page 51 provides some information on separating tritium from spent fuel

Section 5.4 on page 54 discusses removal of tritium from gas streams.

Section 5.5 on page 53 discusses removal of tritium from liquid waste.

You may also wish to review the following:

National Academy of Sciences
Radiochemistry in Nuclear Power Reactors (1996)
Water and Impurity Activation Products

Idaho State University
Tritium Information Section

EPA Tritium

Interestingly enough, when I provided these web links to Edith who posted some NIRS 'information' about Braidwood at < >, she apparently moderated my message out.

I can only wonder why pro-nuclear message boards and blogs (such as NEI Nuclear Notes or Know_Nukes) allow equal time to our 'loyal' opposition, but the same equal time that 'loyal' opposition will not afford to pro-nuclear people.

I will summarize: no one has been killed or injured as a result of the tritium leaks at Braidwood, Dresden or Byron. I agree that the leaks should not have occurred, but as far as public health and safety goes, there was minimal if any impact even for leaks existing (say for example) since the late 1990s. Yet during that same period of time (call it six years to be simple) 12 million people have died world-wide from biomass burning and in the US 180,000 have died from lung disease due to coal plant pollution.

Your concern, Paul Gunter, about tritium leaks at Exelon plants, while perhaps laudable in and of itself, appears to be quite misplaced.
Rod Adams said…
Paul Gunter:

Just how much do you think Exelon and other nuclear plant operators should spend to correct a problem with a trivial impact on the environment and zero impact on human health?

Tritium is a naturally occurring isotope that is a weak beta emitter. It is pretty simply to test drinking water to ensure that no standards are violated. If no one drinks water that has an excessive level of tritium, there will be no harm to people, since beta emissions are shielded by such items as a single sheet of paper and human skin.

There are far more worrisome materials emitted in much larger quantities from coal, oil, wood, straw, ethanol, corn stalks and gas. Those emissions are accepted as a natural part of using those fuels.
Rod Adams said…

I applaud NEI's decision to make these Energy Market Reports so conveniently available via the NEI Nuclear Notes Blog.

I will try to remember to point my readers to them on a regular basis.

Rod Adams
Paul said…

It is deliberate efforts such as these to trivialize and obfuscate the health risks associated with chronic exposure to this isotope that has spawned growing public mistrust of Exelon and all of its apologists. We have only exposed the tip of the tritium iceberg, then there are the dissolved and entrained noble gases and their long lived daughters and fellow travelers.

Because 3H can incorporate so initimately within the biology chronic exposure to tritium has been scientifically proven to can cause cancer, birth defects and genetic mutations.

Natural occuring tritium is 6 to 24 picocuries per liter according to ICRP.

Where do you suppose the 10 million picocuries per liter in test wells at Dresden came from?

I think you are going to be seeing alot more news about this as this hide and go seek game over the years is exposed.

Deny it you no doubt will continue to do... this page is not where these revelations will count most...

To be continued...
Paul, NIRS
Paul Primavera said…
Paul Gunter,

Compared to the radioactivity routinely dumped into the environment by coal fired power plants, the radioactivity accidently released from Braidwood, Byron and Dresdon is indeed trivial. In fact, there is NO evidence whatsoever that these 20000 pCi actually got into any drinking water whatsoever, and even if they had, then drinking 2 liters of such water per day over one year is still 4 mRem - far less than the 360 mRem of normal exposure we all get from background anyways.

BTW, do YOU drink 2 liters of local water per day for 365 days per year? Is that a realistic assumption?

This whole premise is based on fear and hysteria. This is a non-issue except for whatever adverse publicity NIRS - WISE can gain. I will repeat: more than 30000 people die per year in the US from lung disease caused by coal plant pollution. More than 2 million per year die world-wide from biomass burning. These deaths can all be avoided by using nuclear power, and even with the tritium releases from Braidwood, Byron and Dresden, no deaths from commercial nuclear power in the US have resulted. NONE. ZERO.
Paul Primavera said…
Paul Gunter,

Where did you get the figure "10 million picocuries per liter in test wells at Dresden"?

According to:

< >

"The company also said it was working on another small underground tritium leak at its Dresden nuclear station in Morris, Illinois. The company found the leak, which dripped at a rate of about a half-cup per minute, over this past weekend just a few weeks after it started.

"The company said the Dresden leak remained in shallow ground in a small area near the center of the plant property alongside the plant structure. The company does not expect the leak to approach the edges of the plant property."

Even if this were 10 million picocuries per liter, who actually drinks such water from "the center of the plant property alongside the plant structure".

As I said, unless I am mistaken, except for anti-nuclear publicity this is a trivial matter.
pgunter said…
It was FOIA'd and released as an Illinois EPA document.

Some of the surface storm drains were contaminated with over 1 million pCi/l of tritiated water.

Moreover, it was an informed UCS that originally disclosed to the media the August 30, 2004 Dresden pipe break, not the company.

Exelon then issued its newsrelease disclaimer that it was a "trickle from a faucet" more recently disclosed in Chicago Tribune to have been closer to 650,000 gallons.

Perhaps that is a trickle compared to the 6.75 million gallon release in 1998 at Braidwood.

Paul, NIRS
Paul Primavera said…
Paul Gunter,

I would then say that Exelon screwed up. However, how many people have been injured or killed as a result of this leak? None.

So as Rodney asked, "Just how much do you think Exelon and other nuclear plant operators should spend to correct a problem with a trivial impact on the environment and zero impact on human health?"

The leak should not have happened. But this is still trivial compared to the millions of tons of green house gases and particulates that coal plants worldwide dump into the sewer - I mean the air we breathe.

This bears repeating: 2 million people per year die from biomass burning pollution. That's over 5475 every day, or 228 every hour or over 3 people every minute.

Shame on Exelon for the tritium leaks. Greater shame on Exelon for not having more nuclear power plants to replace burning of fossil fuel and biomass!

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