FirstEnergy Solutions Declares Bankruptcy and Plant Closing Dates

On March 31, 2018, FirstEnergy Solutions — the parent of First Energy Nuclear Operating Company — filed for bankruptcy protection.  As part of its restructuring plan, the company noted that it intended to close three nuclear power plants.

According to published news reports, FirstEnergy Chief Executive Officer and President Charles E. Jones stated as follows:   “FirstEnergy will remain focused on creating long-term value for its customers, employees and shareholders.  Simply put, we will be better positioned to deliver on the tremendous opportunities for customer-focused growth.”

Plant Closings

The company plans to retreat from its role as an energy generating company.  In this regard, FirstEnergy Solutions intends to close the following plants:

  •  the Davis Besse nuclear plant in Oak Harbor, Ohio by 2020;
  • the two-unit Beaver Valley Power Plant in Shipingport, Pennsylvania by 2021; and,
  •  the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Perry, Ohio, in 2021.

The company said the closings were a milestone in its path towards redefining itself as a utility and not a power producer.

DOE Filing

Pursuant to the Federal Power Act law, FirstEnergy Solutions has also requested that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) declare that an emergency exists its PJM market.  The PJM Energy Market procures electricity to meet consumer’s demands both in real time and in the near term.  It includes the sale or purchase of energy in PJM’s Real-Time Energy Market (five minutes) and Day-Ahead Market (one day forward).

If DOE Secretary Rick Perry agrees to the request, it would mean the PJM would have to compensate both nuclear and coal generators in the at-risk market in order to protect the stability of the grid.

Midwest Compact Commission to Hold Annual Meeting

On June 28, 2016, the Midwest Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission (MCC) will hold its annual meeting.  The meeting—which will be held by teleconference call—will begin at 10:00 a.m. CDT (11:00 a.m. for Indiana and Ohio).

Draft Agenda

The following items are on the draft agenda for the meeting:

  • call to order and roll call
  • review of the minutes of the June 9, 2015 meeting
  • review of the financial report.
  • Chair’s report: 2017 LLW Forum meeting and MCC website
  • consultant agreements

–     legal counsel proposal

–     accounting/audit proposal

  • adoption of 2016-17 budget
  • election of Chair and Vice-Chair
  • other business
  • adjournment
  • special guest: Cecelia Snyder, LLW Forum consultant, who will explain how to use the MCC website and the LLW Forum Drop Box

Meeting Sites

The public is encouraged to attend the MCC meeting.  The sites are as follows:

  • Indiana:  Conference Room A, 11th floor, Government Center North, 100 N. Senate Ave., Indianapolis—for information about the site and handicap access, call (317) 234-0338
  • Iowa:  Fifth Floor East Conference Room, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Wallace State Office Building, 502 East 9th Street, Des Moines—for information about the site and handicap access, call Iowa DNR Customer Service at (515) 725-8200
  • Minnesota:  Conference Room 2-1, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul; 55155—for information about the site and handicap access, call (651) 757-2138; for directions, see map at www.pca.state.mn.us
  • Missouri:  Tavern Cave Conference Room, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Fourth Floor Central, Lewis and Clark State Office Building, 1101 Riverside Drive, Jefferson City—for information about the site and handicap access, call Kay Craig at (573) 751-3195
  • Ohio:  Ohio Department of Health, 246 N. High Street, Columbus—for information about the site and handicap access, call (614) 644-2727
  • Wisconsin:  Room B157, Division of Public Health, 1 W. Wilson Street, Madison—for information about the site and handicap access, call Susan Hagstrom at (608) 267-4793

For additional information, please contact Stanley York, Chair of the Midwest Interstate Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission, at (608) 267-4793 or at stanyork080@gmail.com or visit their web site at www.midwestcompact.org.

NRC Conducts Special Inspection at Perry Nuclear Plant

On February 29, 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that the agency launched a Special Inspection into two recent events at the Perry nuclear power plant. According to NRC, neither event affected public health or safety at the plant.

The Perry nuclear power plant is operated by FirstEnergy Operating Co. and is located in Perry, Ohio—approximately 35 miles northeast of Cleveland.

Background

On February 8, 2016, operators at the Perry nuclear power plant manually shut down the reactor when they observed an increase of the temperature in the suppression pool.  The suppression pool is designed to condense steam and is also a water source for emergency cooling systems.

On February 11, 2016, while the reactor was shutdown, there was a temporary loss of power to certain plant cooling equipment.  Operators were able to use a redundant system and restore power to the cooling systems.

Inspection

“Even though the two events are not related, we have questions related to the response of the equipment and operator actions,” said NRC Region III Administrator Cynthia Pederson.  “Our team of specialists in reactor operations and electrical equipment will review the technical details to better understand what happened.”

On February 29, 2016, the four-member inspection team began work and will spend time both on and off site conducting their reviews.  After the inspection, a report documenting the team’s findings will be made publicly available.

For additional information, please contact Viktoria Mitlyng at (630) 829-9662 or Prema Chandrathil at (630) 829-9663.

Ohio Scrap Metal Facilities Receive Shipments Containing LLRW

By press release dated February 24, 2016, the Ohio Department of Health (DOH) announced that “[s]crap metal facilities in Canton, Mansfield and Massillon received shipments containing low-levels of radiation.” The Ohio DOH release stated that the exact source of the radiation that contaminated the scrap metal is being investigated. “The contaminated scrap metal is securely contained and does not pose a health risk to the facilities’ employees or the general public,” states the Ohio DOH release.

The following day, on February 25, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) put out a press release stating that it was notified on February 23 “that recycle scrap contaminated with radioactive material was shipped from a PSC Metals, Inc. facility in Beaver Falls, PA, to two facilities in Ohio.” According to the Pennsylvania DEP release, “[a] radium-226 source of unknown origin was accidentally shredded with other materials, then shipped to processing facilities in Ohio.”

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has been notified of the incident. PCS Metals has hired a licensed decontamination provider to develop a plan for cleanup at the Beaver Falls scrap yard and the Ohio sites, as well as for safe disposal of the contaminated scrap metal.

Ohio DOH radiation protection staff was on-site at all three facilities to conduct radiation testing and to ensure planning for the safe disposal of the contaminated scrap metal. According to the Ohio DOH release, radiation surveys of contaminated scrap metal:

  •   delivered to PCS Metals, Inc. in Canton showed a highest reading of 70 microrem per hour, which is equivalent to less than one-tenth of the radiation dose from a chest x-ray; and,
  •   delivered to PCS Metals, Inc. in Massillon showed a highest reading of 25 millirem per hour, which is equivalent to the radiation dose from two-and-a-half chest x-rays within one hour.

The Ohio DOH release states that contaminated scrap metal delivered to Tube City, Inc. in Mansfield was not unloaded and instead redirected to PCS Metals’ Canton facility. Surveys of employee clothing, locker areas and break rooms at both PCS Metals locations did not show any radiation contamination.

A team from Pennsylvania DEP’s Radiation Protection Program took extensive readings at the Beaver Falls scrapyard. “Elevated readings were found on one large metal shredder and on gloves used by two workers,” states the Pennsylvania DEP release. “DEP is performing additional testing to ensure that there was no skin contamination. Radium-226 can be harmful if ingested.”

The Pennsylvania DEP release goes on to state that preliminary tests on the workers who operated the Beaver Falls machine showed no contamination, but that results are still pending. The Pennsylvania DEP release further states that the shredder has been isolated and that there is no indication that there is any contamination at the site, nor outside the scrapyard property.