FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 12, 2013
Contact: Jessica Azulay: 315.480.1515, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nuclear watchdogs will tell the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Wednesday that the agency must address the ongoing problems with the condenser at Entergy’s FitzPatrick nuclear reactor in Scriba, New York. The plant has seen ongoing reliability and instability issues due to repeated leaks in the plant’s main condenser, a costly piece of equipment that is a central component in the reactor’s primary cooling system, which recovers the steam after it passes through the plant’s turbine. Nuclear watchdogs are concerned that financial challenges at the reactor are preventing the company from replacing the equipment and compromising safety.
An NRC Petition Review Board will hear arguments at 1:30pm, Wednesday, November 13. Members of the public and the media can listen to the hearing by calling (800) 772-3842 and using the security code: 2206.
Alliance for a Green Economy, a New York State coalition of environmental groups, and Union of Concerned Scientists, based in Washington, DC, are calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to require Entergy to replace its condenser, which is clearly at the end of its life.
An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that condenser issues at FitzPatrick have been escalating over ten years and that the plant is a far outlier in the US nuclear fleet. FitzPatrick accounts for over 30% of condenser tube events that have occurred in the US nuclear fleet in the past decade. The plant was cited earlier this year for an unusual number of unplanned power changes, most caused by condenser leaks.
In April 2012, the NRC noted that Entergy planned to replace the condenser during the 2014 refueling outage. On July 25, 2013 Union of Concerned Scientists, Alliance for a Green Economy and other groups filed a petition with NRC asking the agency hold the company to that timeline. The groups note that the “track record for plant owners making good on their plans to implement safety fixes is mixed. When safety fixes are not implemented on schedule, the public shoulders the burden from unnecessarily elevated risk.”
In a recent interview with the Syracuse Post-Standard, Bill Mohl, president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities, refused to commit to replacing the condenser in 2014, saying no final decision has been made.
FitzPatrick is under increasing financial pressure, with projected financial losses for the foreseeable future. Entergy has increasingly shown signs it is considering closing the reactor. Jessica Azulay, organizer with Alliance for a Green Economy said her group sees these financial issues as a root cause for Entergy’s reticence to replace the condense.
“We believe the fate of plant is in limbo and so the company is reluctant to invest money in expensive equipment,” said Azulay. “This is a violation of NRC regulations. The company cannot be allowed to put its bottom line ahead of public safety. If Entergy can’t afford to fix essential equipment, it has no business running a nuclear reactor.”