Monday, 4 February 2013 • 3
taking place in our respective borders,” DEP
Pennsylvania regulator to study
Secretary Mike Krancer said.
radioactivity in drilling wastes
that requires landfills to monitor for radia-
Pennsylvania’s environmental regulator
sources in the shale gas production process, tion levels in incoming wastes, and that only Thursday announced plans to conduct a
including flowback water, treatment sol- tiny amounts of drilling wastes have trig-peer-reviewed study of radiation levels
ids and drill cuttings. Radiation concerns in gered state review.in unconventional oil and gas drilling
waste transportation, storage and disposal
In 2011, the state studied water quality
wastes over the next year to ensure con-
also will be studied.
centrations of naturally occurring radio-
“This thorough and rigorous study, which of wastewater treatment plants processing
active material do not exceed safe levels.
will focus on conditions here in Pennsylva- Marcellus Shale wastewater and found ra-
The Department of Environmental Pro- nia, is further demonstration that states are dioactivity levels at or below normal back-
tection (DEP) said the study will include best suited to responsibly oversee the natu- ground levels. Those plants no longer take sampling and analysis of multiple waste ral gas exploration and production activities drilling wastes.
NRC accuses Exelon of knowingly fudging reports.(Continued from p. 1)
elon, the country’s largest nuclear operator, and 2009. NRC said the company submitted
for several years calculated the sufficiency of similarly inaccurate information in 2006 for elon’s numbers, calculating what the mini-its decommissioning funds using estimated 11 reactors.
mum decommissioning cost should be based
cleanup costs that were lower than NRC-set
An NRC spokesman confirmed Friday that on NRC rules and, after comparing those
the “base” civil fine available to NRC for re- numbers “to the amounts reported by Exelon,
As a result, NRC says, Exelon for those actor-related infractions is $140,000 per day, the staff found Exelon’s reported decommis-
years gave NRC estimates of the overall min- but said the agency takes several factors into sioning funding estimates for 23 plants fell imum cost required to decommission reac- account in deciding whether to fine a compa- below the minimum…” that NRC require-tors that were below the minimum cost that ny and by how much.
Exelon would have calculated if it followed
He said it is too soon to determine what, if
That discovery triggered an investigation
NRC requirements. Lower cost estimates, of any, punishment Exelon might face and that by NRC’s Office of Investigation, which in-course, have the effect of making a smaller the company has taken corrective action, in- terviewed Exelon employees and subpoenaed decommissioning funds look adequate.
cluding by topping off its decommissioning internal Exelon calculations used for decom-
Moreover, NRC alleges that Exelon of- funds to NRC-approved levels.
missioning fund status reports for 2001-2003,
ficials formally declared that the submitted
However, he also noted NRC has judged 2005-2007, 2009 and 2001.
Exelon’s actions to be deliberate, a factor
NRC’s report says Exelon reported prop-
“Exelon submitted estimates that were not working against the company.
erly in the first of those three years. Howev-
calculated in accordance with the regulations,
Exelon, however, says it “disputes the er, it suggests that unspecified “senior level”
yet represented and certified that the esti- NRC’s findings and we look forward to meet- Exelon employees began internally estimat-mates were calculated in accordance with the ing with them to discuss this matter in detail. ing improperly low decommissioning costs, regulations,” said Ho. K. Nieh, director of the
“We are not aware of any evidence sup- for reasons that are unclear, several years
division of inspection and regional support in porting a conclusion that Exelon employees before beginning to submit the low costs to NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor regulation in performed or condoned deliberate miscon- NRC. a letter to Exelon Thursday.
duct or intentionally violated regulatory re-
“Notations in cells in internal Exelon
In the investigation report, NRC said “a se- quirements,” a company spokesman said in spreadsheets used in the preparation of [de-
nior Exelon executive and an Exelon manager a statement that said the company reported commissioning] reports for reporting years 2appear to have deliberately provided incom- “timely and accurate information based on 001,2002,2003,2005,2006,2007,2009, and plete and inaccurate information to the NRC our understanding of the regulations.”
2011 identify senior-level Exelon employees
in Exelon’s 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009 [de-
NRC says it became focused on the matter as being responsible for the calculation of cost
commissioning fund status] reports.” An NRC after Exelon submitted a decommissioning estimates lower than allowed by” NRC rules, spokesman said one of the employees was a fund status report in March 2009. NRC at the says the report.
director of spent fuel and decommissioning time found shortfalls in decommissioning
and the other was a manager of spent fuel and funds at eight Exelon reactors totaling $1.1 simply erred in its reports to NRC, NRC said decommissioning.
internal Exelon presentations and “investi-
Although Exelon’s was the largest, NRC gative testimony indicate that [two] senior
ported minimum decommissioning costs at the time found decommissioning funding managers understood [NRC’s minimum-cost below what regulations required for 23 reac- shortfalls at several other nuclear operators, a estimate rules] and confirm that the indi-tors—all of the operating or closed reactors problem blamed at the time mostly on invest- viduals were involved in the preparation of that Exelon owns, fully or in part—in fund- ment losses due to the financial collapse that Exelon [decommission fund status] reports ing status reports submitted in 2005, 2007 began in 2007.
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