Thursday, December 08, 2011

NRC’s Jaczko Responds to Rep. Markey on the Sr-90 Issue at Vermont Yankee

GuestPost_IconIt’s been a few weeks since I posted about Entergy responding to Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) on the strontium-90 (Sr-90) issue at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko has since weighed in, on the NRC’s behalf, with a letter he sent to the congressman.

Of note, the chairman’s letter echoes what Entergy officials and the Vermont Department of Health (VTDH) have been saying all along:

Because there are multiple potential sources of Sr-90, including nuclear weapons testing by multiple countries in the middle of the last century, it is very difficult to draw conclusions about the source of any particular Sr-90 contamination that is found in the environment unless there is additional supporting evidence.

Because of this fact, Jaczko believes that Entergy’s Laurence Smith, manager of communications, is fair in one of his statements that “There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Vermont Yankee is the source for the strontium-90.” He writes:

The quoted licensee statements in your question are not without foundation based on the above information.

The chairman also continues by explaining that the NRC’s methods of analyzing the data employ a somewhat different “band of uncertainty” than the VTDH, and concludes that:

The VTDH results are too close to the level of uncertainty to be considered by themselves a conclusive indication of the presence of Sr-90. When taken together, these factors lead us to conclude that there is no need for further study of possible Sr-90 contamination from Vermont Yankee at this time.

If there is ever an indication of Sr-90 releases above the legal limit or contamination at Vermont Yankee, the chairman reassures the congressman that the:

NRC will take action, as appropriate, at that time.

Given that the state’s department of health and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have come back to the congressman with similar explanations, I wonder if we can now consider this issue to be null?

Read the full letter here.

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