October 25 2014 Three New England Nuke Plants Owned by Entergy have Issues of Public Concern

Groups have concerns with 3 Entergy nukes

The company replied that it has kept safety a paramount concern

pilgram power plant

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Nuclear watchdog groups said Friday that Entergy Corp. is trying to cut costs at reactors it owns in Vermont, Massachusetts and New York, and may be placing safety in jeopardy as a result.

The company replied that it has kept safety a paramount concern, but that it will comply with any new requirements placed on it by federal regulators resulting from the complaints from the groups.

“Running an aging nuclear reactor is already risky business,” said Jessica Azulay, program director of the Syracuse, New York-based Alliance for a Green Economy. “But running an aging nuclear reactor on the cheap — that’s just beyond irresponsible.”

The alliance, Massachusetts-based Pilgrim Watch, and the Citizens Awareness Network, which has affiliates in Massachusetts and Vermont, filed emergency petitions with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission relating to Vermont Yankee and the FitzPatrick plant in Scriba, New York. They also asked the NRC to investigate whether cost-cutting is affecting safety measures at the Pilgrim plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC’s Northeast regional office, said Friday the agency is reviewing the petitions.

Kelle Barfield, spokeswoman for New Orleans-based Entergy, said the watchdog groups are raising unnecessary alarm.

“Clearly, we say over and over again that safety is our top priority. We would do nothing that would compromise the safety of our employees or the communities where we operate,” Barfield said.

The groups maintain that Entergy’s slowness to replace an aging cooling system condenser at the Fitzpatrick plant has resulted in higher than necessary radiation exposure for workers. The condenser has been plagued by frequent leaks. They also question security at the Pilgrim plant, saying the grounds have been targeted frequently by unauthorized intruders.

In addition, they maintain that staffing levels contemplated by Entergy at Vermont Yankee after it closes at the end of the year won’t be adequate to guard against an accident involving its spent fuel storage pool.

The NRC wrote to Vermont Yankee on Oct. 20, saying its request to relax emergency planning around the plant after it shuts down contained inaccuracies, including about the amount of radiation that could escape in an accident involving the spent fuel pool.

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Comcast Not Welcome in Worcester MA – “It’s a terrible company”: Comcast not welcome in city, council says

The City Council in Worcester, MA does not want Comcast coming anywhere near its residents. The cable company is seeking a license transfer from Charter as part of a customer swap that’s tied to its purchase of Time Warner Cable, but the council is trying to block it.
“It’s a terrible company,” City Councilor Gary Rosen said after a vote last night, pointing to Comcast’s “deplorable and substandard” customer service in other municipalities. “In my opinion, they should not be welcome in this city. Comcast is a wolf in wolf’s clothing; it’s that bad. They are awful, no doubt about it. Maybe we can’t stop it, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak out.”
The Telegram & Gazette in Worcester reported today:
The City Council is urging City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. not to sign off on the transfer of the city’s cable television license from Charter Communications Inc. to Comcast Corp.

By an 8-3 vote, the council Tuesday night asked Mr. Augustus to reject Comcast’s request for the license transfer because it feels the cable company lacks the necessary managerial experience, based on the number of public complaints there have been about its “substandard customer service practices.”

The vote is advisory only, the paper wrote. If Augustus takes no action today, the transfer will automatically be approved. If he rejects the transfer, Comcast is expected to appeal the decision to the state cable commission.
Comcast may not have to take it that far. According to Deputy City Solicitor Michael E. Traynor, the transfer cannot be blocked based upon Comcast’s customer service record. “The cable license transfer can only be based on four criteria: the company’s management, technical and legal experience, as well as its financial capabilities. If Comcast can meet that criteria, the transfer cannot be denied, Mr. Traynor said,” the Telegram & Gazette wrote. “He said Comcast’s customer service record does not fall within the standard of measuring the company’s management experience.”
City Councilor Konstantina Lukes said the vote should send a message to the Federal Communications Commission, which could block the Comcast/TWC merger. “This is not a paper vote; this is not an empty vote,” she said. “This is a very clear vote that we are not going to tolerate the kind of responses we got from Charter and Comcast.”
Councilor Frederick Rushton acknowledged that “We are just bit players in a big play. It may feel good to vote this, but it may very well end up having no effect.”
Nationwide, Comcast would gain 1.6 million customers from Charter while Charter would gain 1.6 million customers from Time Warner Cable. In Massachusetts, Comcast would add 182,999 customers in 53 communities, the newspaper report said.

October 14 2014 – Is New England’s seacoast ready for an earthquake?

Is New England’s seacoast ready for an earthquake?

Since 1975 moderate size earthquakes have occurred in New Brunswick, New Hampshire, northern New York and Quebec.

“Drop, cover and hold on.”

It’s a message that likely hasn’t reached most New Englanders who rarely worry about the dangers of a major earthquake happening here. But the threat is real.

“Definitely the risk in this area is significantly greater than most people think,” said Margaret Boettcher, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of New Hampshire who has researched the physics of earthquakes and the mechanics of fault slip.

Seacoast emergency officials agree there is a danger and people should take it seriously. While strong earthquakes are rare here, history has shown that they can happen and could pose a significant threat to many of the region’s historic buildings that were constructed long before codes were put in place to protect against seismic activity. The old brick buildings in places like Exeter and Portsmouth are at greatest risk, officials say.

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