[ RadSafe ] "456 percent rate increase to decommission Haddam Neck"

Muckerheide, James jimm at WPI.EDU
Tue Nov 15 23:52:49 CST 2005



This report reflects more costly travesty caused by falsely assuming that the
LNT applies to radiation protection and radioactivity sources.  Blumenthal
seems disingenuous in complaining about excessive costs and the need for more
extreme cleanup.  But that seems to be nothing compared to the Bechtel
lawsuit and countersuit of Connecticut Yankee.


Regards, Jim Muckerheide



456 percent rate increase to decommission the Haddam Neck  
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 15:12:12 -0800
Hartford Courant today.
State Questions Nuclear Rate Hike
Electric Customers Could Get Rebates If Judge Deems 456 Percent Increase 
Courant Staff Writer
November 12 2005
The state's consumer counsel Friday questioned whether the 456 percent rate 
increase given Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Co. to decommission the 
Haddam Neck plant is justified.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission quietly allowed Connecticut Yankee 
to increase its annual decommissioning ratepayer charge from $16.7 million 
to $93 million in February. The rate increase was included in customer 
bills with little fanfare.
Consumer Counsel Mary Healey said her office, the state Department of 
Public Utility Control and attorney general have been fighting the "awfully 
high" decommissioning charges, now estimated at approximately $831.3 million.
"Just the order of magnitude raises questions whether it was prudent or 
not," Healey said.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, in a telephone interview Friday, said 
he considers the performance of Connecticut Yankee's management 
"incompetent and outrageous." Ratepayers shouldn't be forced to subsidize 
Connecticut Yankee's mismanagement, he said.
An administrative judge is reviewing Connecticut Yankee's cost estimate to 
determine its validity and is expected to make a recommendation to FERC in 
December. FERC typically grants the rate increase requests quickly to keep 
from burdening the applicant financially while the request is deliberated. 
Costs deemed excessive would be rebated.
Connecticut Yankee spokeswoman Kelley Smith said the utility, which had the 
burden to prove its rate increase was prudent and justified, cites four 
primary causes for the increase.
Smith said the 9/11 terrorist attacks resulted in increased security and 
insurance costs. The Department of Energy's continued failure to 
permanently remove Connecticut Yankee's spent fuel was likewise costly, she 
Connecticut Yankee has built concrete casks to house more than 1,000 
uranium-laden spent fuels. The utility claims the costs to continue to 
store the rods and provide around-the-clock security continues to mount and 
the federal government has not taken steps to move the contaminants 
off-site to a permanent repository.
Smith also pointed to the negative impact of declines in the financial 
markets during 2000-2002 that cut earnings on the decommissioning fund and 
termination of the decommissioning contract with Bechtel Nuclear that left 
Connecticut Yankee to complete the work itself.
If FERC determines the $93 million decommissioning price isn't prudent, 
Connecticut Yankee would be directed to issue rebates.
Blumenthal, the DPUC and other state consumer watchdogs say Connecticut 
Yankee's lengthy avoidance in measuring levels of potentially 
cancer-causing Strontium-90 at its decommissioned plant will cost 
ratepayers millions of dollars.
The ratepayers are customers of the nine utility companies, which include 
Connecticut Light & Power Co. and United Illuminating Co., that own 
Connecticut Yankee.
Strontium-90 is found in nuclear reactor waste, a by-product of the fission 
of uranium and plutonium in nuclear reactors.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency considers Strontium-90 "one of 
the more hazardous constituents of nuclear wastes." Internal exposure to 
the chemical similar to calcium is linked to bone cancer, cancer of the 
soft tissue, and leukemia, the agency states.
Jim Reinsch, president of Bechtel Nuclear, the firm Connecticut Yankee 
contracted in 1999 to decommission the site and later fired, testified 
under oath that plant ownership didn't want to test for contaminants like 
When Strontium-90 was found in 2001 to have "severely contaminated" the 
nuclear plant's groundwater, Reinsch testified Bechtel informed Connecticut 
Yankee of the urgent need for extensive groundwater characterization and 
"CY would not own up to its responsibilities to determine the extent of 
groundwater contamination and then develop a cost effective means to 
address it and would not accept Bechtel's recommendations for doing so," 
Reinsch stated.
Bechtel sued Connecticut Yankee for $93.5 million, accusing the utility of 
grossly understating the levels of groundwater contamination making it 
impossible for Bechtel to complete the job on schedule and within budget. 
Connecticut Yankee counter-sued Bechtel, accusing the company of delaying 
the decommissioning and failing to abide by the terms of its contract. 
Bechtel, which was fired in 2003, is seeking $90 million from Connecticut 
Yankee for unlawful termination.
Blumenthal said Connecticut Yankee has a moral and potentially legal 
responsibility to identify contamination.
"It seems like a see no-evil, hear no-evil avoidance of responsibility," 
Blumenthal said Friday. Connecticut Yankee "had a very profound moral 
responsibility to disclose any such problems, which it failed to do."
In its 2001 groundwater report to the state Department of Environmental 
Protection, Connecticut Yankee reported tests for "gamma emitting" 
radionuclides and tritium were good.
Strontium does not emit gamma radionuclides, just beta, according to Haddam 
resident Ed Schwing, a former member of the Citizens Decommissioning 
Advisory Committee.
Connecticut Yankee stated in the 2001 report it would perform quarterly 
groundwater sampling from 20 monitoring wells, with analysis including 
tritium, boron and "gamma spectroscopy."
DEP in 2001 requested that Connecticut Yankee conduct more extensive 
sampling, including hard to detect radionuclides such as Strontium, Schwing 
said. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission also urged Connecticut Yankee to 
test more comprehensively, he said.
"Connecticut Yankee neglected the groundwater contamination issue until 
they were forced to do it, but kept on dragging their feet," Schwing charges.
Mike Firsick, a DEP health physicist, said the state in 2001 told 
Connecticut Yankee" to test the site for possible strontium contamination.
"Typically, if you don't look for it, you don't have a problem with it," 
Firsick said Friday. "I wanted [testing] to be all inclusive. Since they 
were decommissioning, I wanted to make sure they would check for 
everything. It was for the purpose of being thorough and complete."
Firsick said DEP continues to closely monitor Connecticut Yankee.
"I think we have the origin of groundwater contamination well-bounded," he 
said. "There is a through review of the groundwater monitoring, reports 
When Connecticut Yankee states the decommissioning is completed, Firsick 
said DEP plans to test the site for 18 months to ensure the environment 
isn't contaminated.
Copyright 2005, Hartford Courant


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