Whoa, got some catching up to do!  Last Saturday, yes, a week ago, it was the annual open house at Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant.  They had “fewer menu options” this year, I think last time they had salad and beans, but this year it was kinda grim for us “flexitarians.”  But there was plenty of food for thought: They had a number of displays in various rooms at the training center, and maybe these were the ones that were at the Goodhue County Historical Society a while ago, some looked familiar.  Anyway, I made a bee-line for the casks, and had quite a chat with the staffer “whose name I can’t remember.”  Why casks? Well, casks and I have a long history… and some things about the casks have not been resolved.

Report of the Site Advisory Task Force – January 1996

At the very beginning of attempts to utilize casks at Prairie Island, well, let us not forget the time the crane got stuck with the cask dangling way at the top dangling over the spent fuel pool:

Licensees have also experienced problems during the 
movement of casks as a result of crane interlocks,
errors in the accounting for the weights of cask components, and human error... At Prairie Island
on May 13, 1995, a cask remained in the hoisted
position above the spent fuel pool for approximately
16 hours while the licensee developed and implemented
corrective actions to address an overload-sensing
system that was inaccurately calibrated for lifting
of a loaded dry storage cask. Changes in the
lifting procedure were required at Prairie Island
when it was discovered that a dry storage cask
weighed more than expected. The weight difference
was found to be the result of acceptable variations
in manufacturing tolerances that had not been
accounted for in previous weight calculations.

See also:  NRC IN 96-26, “Recent Problems With Overhead Cranes,” issued April 30, 1996 (Accession Number 9604260095).

A very important issue to me that wasn’t resolved was how to change the cask seals.  Each cask is like a giant steel thermos, with spent fuel assemblies dropped into a grid inside the cask, a seal is put on top and then the cover is bolted down.  The seals are made of aluminum and stainless steel, and when they’re bolted down, the seal crushes some and seals the cask to prevent leakage.  Each cask has monitors that measure inside and outside pressure and are designed to notify us of leaks.  HOWEVER, these seals are to be replaced every 20 years.  That’s a problem because to replace a seal, the cask will have to go into the pool, be filled, and the lid taken off.  Putting it in the water creates two issues: thermal shock and radioactive steam. It’s my understanding that a cask loaded for an extended period has not been unloaded.  Extended meaning years, like these casks at Prairie Island.  It was tried many years ago and resulted in a 3 Stooges scenario where they got the TN 24P into the pool, took the lid off, and one of the assemblies had warped due to the high temp inside the cask, and got stuck coming out.  But they couldn’t get it back in.  So they tried pulling, pushing, called in the experts.  Read between the lines:


Here’s a choice on, the “Point Beach Ignition Event” where they left a loaded, but not welded, cask sitting overnight, and when the next crew came in to weld it shut, well, zinc and boron = BOOM!

Pt. Beach Cask Explosion 5/28/1996

EPRI reports on TransNuclear casks:

10150992-p15-TN-24P Warpage 10813-TN4P Leak

On Saturday, I verified that no cask seals have been replaced.  It’s been 22 years since the first cask was loaded at Prairie Island, I think it was May 1995.  So, what’s the deal here, are they just not going to do it?  Inquiring minds want to know!

I did learn that there has been limited unloading of casks, notably at Peach Bottom, and doing my homework found this report on the TN 68 (having trouble uploading here, have another better report on this… soon!):

o5/27/2011 Peach Bottom ISFSI Inspection

There’s a EPRI report on “Premature Degradation” but I’ve certainly not got the thousands of dollars to buy it. 


From the public meeting materials, here’s what they’re looking at, above.  These are significant additions to the transmission grid in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

MISO’s Economic Planning Users Group is planning a “Regional Transmission Overlay Study” and they’re having another meeting tomorrow, May 25, 2017 down in Metatairie, Louisiana.

Here’s the call in info:

WebEx Information
Event Number: 966 575 350
WebEx Password: Ts824634

Participant Dial-In Number: 1-800-689-9374
Participant Code: 823713

Meeting Materials from the MISO site:

Here’s the problem — they close the meeting, and people like me aren’t allowed to attend.  First I was told, back in January when I tried to register:

Thank you for registering for the Economic Planning Users Group (EPUG) on Jan 31.  The afternoon portion of this meeting will be held in CLOSED session and reserved from MISO Members or Market Participants only.  Please feel free to attend the morning session from 11:00 am to 12:45 pm ET / 10:00 am to 11:45 CT.

I filled out their “CEII – Non-Disclosure Agreement” form and fired it off.  But noooooo…

So next I went to the PUC’s Quarterly MISO update, where I was assured that we could make arrangements so that I could attend.  I resent the “CEII – Non-Disclosure Agreement” and went back and forth and it came to this (click for larger version).  Note this “explanation” of options to be able to attend:

The reason that you were not permitted to attend the closed session is because the meeting involved discussion of Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (CEII) and CEII access requests by Non-Member Individuals requires FERC clearance.  Another access option is to be included on Appendix A of a MISO member or Market Participant.

So that says there are two ways to gain access, 1) get “FERC clearance” or 2) “Another access option is to be included on Appendix A of a MISO member or Market Participant.”  One or the other. Emphasis added.  Here’s the email (click for larger version) laying out those two options:

Oh, I says to myself, off to FERC.  I sent in the requisite paperwork to FERC, and got “FERC clearance” and they shipped me the CEII information, including but not limited to the map.  I let MISO know I’d obtained “FERC clearance,” and here’s the response (click for larger version):

ARRRRGH, they have my CEII NDA on file, have had it since January 23, 2017.  I resent it to the writer of these emails on March 4, 2017, and I sent it again today, and objected to yet another change in their “rules” (click for larger version):

So the plot thickens — from MISO (click or larger version):

And from moi (click for larger version):

Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  I feel Pope Francis’ pain…  Can we trade the Pope for tRump?  Please?

From NPR:

‘He Is Something’: Trump Visits Pope Francis At The Vatican

And dig this, from the NPR report:

“At the end of the audience, the pope gave Trump copies of his writings,” NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome, “including his encyclical on climate change — a topic on which Trump has a very different opinion.”

To the guy who doesn’t read.  If only he would.  Here are a couple of prior posts about The Pope:

Pope Francis hits it over the fence!

Rep. OH Gov. Kasich & Pope on Trump


James McIntyre was shot outside an open house for a dam project, “Site C” for the dam.  You know, those open houses they hold to tell the public what they’re going to do before they do it… There was an investigation of the shooting by Canada’s “Independent Investigations Office,” and I’d had an alert and checked now and then, particularly a year after the shooting, but didn’t find the articles on the IIO’s November release of information until yesterday!  Here’s the report from the IIO:


Here are some press write ups:

Police ‘begged’ Site C activist to put down knife before shooting him, witness says

IIO clears RCMP in shooting of James McIntyre

RCMP officers cleared in shooting death of Site C protester in Dawson Creek

Look at the way the press framed this article:

RCMP officer cleared in shooting death of B.C. activist that sparked Anonymous revenge campaign

This shooting of McIntyre hit home for me because of my routine of going to the open houses and hanging out at the door, and I know so well how angry people get when there’s infrastructure proposed in their community, on their land.  They published my LTE about this in the Alaska Highway News:


Your coverage of the RCMP shooting of James McIntyre has been thorough in this general dearth of information.

I’ve spent the last 20 years advocating against utility infrastructure in the U.S., and the killing of McIntyre by RCMP is horrifying.  

A big part of my schtick is to stand at the door (not inside where I’d be “interfering”) and enthusiastically greet everyone, hand them a flyer about how to participate, and direct them to the meeting.  Had I been at that open house, I’d be the one they found at the door.  Had they told me to leave, I’d have argued and resisted, as always, ramping up if they pushed.

In my experience, utilities have now and then requested police presence, and when I see it, I let the organizers know it’s offensive and off putting, chilling public participation.  People have a right to speak out against a project, and they have a right to be angry!  I talk to the officers too, find out if I can who wanted them there, and let them know it’s inhibiting and threatening to the public.  I figure they just add me to their list of people to watch.  But this atmosphere of blind fear is not acceptable.  Don’t Canadians have a right to free speech?  Civil disobedience is an appropriate response.  Civil disobedience is NOT a death sentence with law enforcement as judge, jury and executioner.

People are being steam-rolled by utility infrastructure projects such as dams, transmission lines, and pipelines, and no one wants to hear about it.  They want opposition to just go away.  People are losing their land, communities are deeply affected, and those affected are not compensated sufficiently to make it acceptable — and money is not the answer to everything!  

Is the Site C project worth the impacts?  Is generating electricity and profiting from it sufficient reason to inflict these impacts, including this death?  Maybe BC Hydro should think again.

—Carol A. Overland, Utility Regulatory Attorney, Minnesota

Here are my older posts about the shooting, including a video of the shooting by someone in the hotel who was looking out the window:

RCMP shoots hydro dam protester? Nope, misidentified!

James McIntyre ID’d as man shot by RCMP

It’s been a year since McIntyre was shot in BC

RICL?  That’s the “Rock Island Clean Line.”  Yes, that’s an oxymoronic moniker.  Today, this project is on the chopping block, the oral arguments in their challenge of Illinois’ rejection of this project is at issue.  Last gasp…

Here’s the AUDIO LINK to today’s arguments.