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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

LA gas disaster – a mini Chernobyl?

Breaking: They may have “lost control entirely of entire field” involved in LA gas disaster, and it’s coming up everywhere… We learned there’s many other leaks -Attorney — Officials: Loud sound of gas escaping heard half mile away; A “mini-Chernobyl” — AP: Leak “out of control”… amount released “seriously underestimated” (VIDEO)http://enenews.com/breaking-company-entirely-lost-control-entire-gas-field-involved-la-methane-disaster-leaking-everywhere-learned-many-other-wells-leaking-attorney-official-mini-chernobyl-ap-leak-control-tv-a?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

Porter Ranch Town Hall Meeting, Jan 22, 2016 (emphasis added) — Patricia Oliver, attorney (at 11:30 in): “Now it’s kind of simple — if you have a well blow-out, you quit injecting [more gas] underground… No order had been issued [to stop this] though… We sent a letter [to the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR)] saying, “Stop all of the injections, until you can stop the leak”… So we sent a letter on Dec. 1 asking them to stop all injections… Nine days later, they said, “Stop injecting gas”… You’d think that at least temporarily settled it — because if [SoCalGas] didn’t like that, SoCalGas could have temporarily appealed… I have no record of appeal… AQMD [Air Quality Management District] inspected the facility on Nov. 10… and they found all these wells that weren’t accessible — 16 approximately… We don’t know yet why they were inaccessible. We also learned that 15 wells were leakingWe also don’t know why that happened. I spoke at the AQMD hearing this last week and said, “I’m concerned that the fact that now you guys are looking at these injection wells — you don’t know what that means.” You see, DOGGR knows what that means — and that’s a sign that SoCalGas lost control entirely of the entire field and it’s leaking everywhere… So we were like, “We want proof. Now if it’s just coincidental, and you show us why that’s not what’s happening, that’s fine, but provide the evidence”… Families have a right to know what’s going on in that oil field.” (Audience applauds)

Rep. Brad Sherman, U.S. House of Representatives, Jan 21, 2016 (at 17:45): “This the largest natural gas leak in history. We were up there yesterday… what we heard was a loud sound of natural gas escaping that you could hear quite loudly from over half a mile away.”

The Guardian, Jan 11, 2016: Residents attack slow response to what official called ‘a mini-Chernobyl’… “This is a mini-Chernobyl,” Mike Antonovich, the LA county supervisor, told a public hearing at the weekend… [It] is the largest leak of… methane known to experts.

CBS/AP, Jan 15, 2016: A new report shows the level of toxins released… has been seriously underestimated, state regulators said… The findings were released in response to [SoCalGas’ admission that they] underestimated the number of times the cancer-causing chemical benzene has spiked.

AP, Jan 22, 2016: AP, Jan 22, 2016: Officials Waited Months To Monitor California’s Massive Gas Leak — A massive natural gas leak… had been out of control for more than a month when the county’s acting health director said in November that long-term impacts of the cancer-causing chemical benzene should be measured. It took many more weeks to implement the testing… “We can always look back and say, ‘Why didn’t we start with an expanded monitoring program?’” said Angelo Bellomo, deputy county director for health protection… Rob Jackson, an environmental scientist at Stanford University, said… it had undermined the ability to measure health impacts.

See also: Wildlife “disappearing” around LA gas disaster — Residents: “It’s completely quiet”… birds, butterflies, rabbits, coyotes are missing… all fish in pond dead — “All of this is gone… Makes me wonder how bad it really is” (VIDEO)

Watch the town hall here

January 30, 2016 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Fatal rockfall at planned French repository site

World Nuclear News  26 January 2016 One person was killed and another injured today by a tunnel collapse within an underground laboratory operated by French waste management agency Andra. The laboratory, near Bure in the Meuse/Haute Marne area, is assessing the site for its suitability to house a national radioactive waste repository.

According to an Andra statement, the working face of the gallery within the laboratory collapsed at 12.20pm. Geophysical surveys were being carried out at the time and the rockfall is believed to have happened as drilling was taking place. The gallery has now been evacuated and its stability is being assessed……. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Fatal-landslide-at-planned-French-repository-site-2601165.html

January 28, 2016 Posted by | France, incidents | Leave a comment

Dangerous situation in Los Angeles gas crater

exclamation-Flag-USALA gas well has ‘destabilized’, large crater develops in area — Officials: “Could be catastrophic” — TV: Risk of massive fire, possible explosion — Expert: “If wellhead fails, the thing is just going to be full blast… a horrible, horrible problem” — Company refuses to provide photos or media access (VIDEO) http://enenews.com/la-gas-destabilized-officials-could-be-catastrophic-tv-experts-highly-flammable-gas-creating-risk-massive-fire-explosion-professor-wellhead-fails-going-be-full-blast-itll-be-horrible-horrible-pr?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

Los Angeles Times, Jan 15, 2016 (emphasis added): Efforts to plug Porter Ranch-area gas leakworsened blowout risk, regulators say — Southern California Gas Co… is trying to avoid a blowout, which state regulators said is now a significant concern after a seventh attempt to plug the well created more precarious conditions at the site. If a blowout occurs, highly flammable gas would vent directly up through the well… rather than dissipating as it does now… State officials said a blowout would increase the amount of leaked gas… That natural gas also creates the risk of a massive fire… The risk of fire already is so high that cellphones and watches are banned from the site… [The gas company’s attempts to stop the leak] expanded a crater around the wellhead, state and gas company officials said. The crater is now 25 feet deep, 80 feet long and 30 feet wide, those officials said… [The gas company] declined repeated requests from The Times… The gascompany would not provide current photos of the site or allow media access… In one internal state report obtained by The Times, an agencyofficial described [one] kill effort as a “blowout to surface.” “A large column of gas, aerated mud, and rock formed a geyseraround the wellhead,” the state observer wrote.

Scott McGurk, senior oil and gas field regulator assigned to daily watch at Aliso Canyon, Jan 15, 2016: The site and wellhead were made more unstable by the gas company’s attempts to stop the leak by pumping a slurry directly into the well… The wellhead sits exposed within the cavernous space, held in place with cables attached after it wobbled during the plugging attempt… During one of [the plugging] attempts Nov. 13, a hole in the ground opened 20 feet north of the well… Gas that had seeped through diffuse rock fissures on the western side of the narrow ridge began streaming instead from the new vent… the vent allowed a “serious amount of gas” to escape.

Gene Nelson, a physical sciences professor at Cuesta College, Jan 15, 2016: “If the wellhead fails, the thing is just going to be full blast… It will be a horrible, horrible problem. The leak rates would go way up.”

Don Drysdale, California Department of Conservation spokesman, Jan 15, 2016: Thepossibility of fire [is] “a concern” even without a blowout.

Los Angeles Times, Jan 16, 2016: [There’s] new evidence the [Puclic Utility Commission] is concerned that the compromised well site in Aliso Canyon is vulnerable to either a blowout… an explosion, or both… PUC includes a warning that damage to the well system, which was subjected to two months of aggressive high-pressure pumping to try to plug the leak, might now permit air to mix with methane in a way that “could be catastrophic.”… [T]he utility began a series of increasingly aggressive attempts to plug the well with heavy mud… those efforts instead scoured a 25-foot-deep crater around the well, blew out a large vent from which gas could escape more freely, and threatened the stability of the wellhead itself… The Department of Conservation says those facilities present “a direct and ongoing threat to public health, safety, and the environment”

NPR, Jan 15, 2016: Adding to concerns over the disaster, efforts to stop the leak appear to have destabilized the well, the Los Angeles Times reports, raising the risk of a blowout… SoCalGas’ efforts to cap the well have actually increased the risk of a blowout. Seven attempts to plug the leak have made the area less stable… even without a blowout, the leak could catch on fire.

FOX LA transcript, Jan 16, 2016: “Trying to avoid a blowout, state regulators say it’s now a big concern after SoCalGas has tried to plug a leaking well near Porter Ranch seven times. If a blowout happens, experts say highly flammable gas would go up the well, creating a risk of a massive fire — possibly even an explosion.”

Watch FOX LA’s broadcast here (wait for 2nd video to play autonatically)

January 23, 2016 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Major disaster: radioactive material constantly being emitted from LA gas blowout

exclamation-SmFlag-USAExperts: Multiple types of radioactive material constantly being emitted from LA gas blowout — “I’d be running like hell” — “We are getting higher and higher levels…it’s accumulating” — “Poisons spreading through entire San Fernando Valley” home to 2 million people — “Thousands getting sick… it really is a major, major disaster” (AUDIO) http://enenews.com/experts-multiple-types-radioactive-material-being-continuously-emitted-la-gas-blowout-accumulating-getting-higher-higher-levels-poisons-all-moving-down-spreading-entire-san-fernando-valley-th?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29Follow up to: Radioactive material reportedly now being released from massive gas blowout in LA — Byproduct of Uranium — Expert: “A lot” has been detected… Very dangerous (VIDEO)

Interviews from Nuclear Hotseat hosted by Libbe HaLevy, Jan 13, 2016 (emphasis added):

Kevin Kamps,  Beyond Nuclear’s nuclear waste watchdog (8:30 in): “Another important thing that is very significant is that the radon is continually resupplied… Radon is going to beconstantly generated by the uranium contained in the methane… So really you’ve got achronic constant supply of hazardous radon gas coming out of this breach in California.”

Cindy Folkers, Beyond Nuclear‘s expert on ionizing radiation (16:00 in): “I’m absolutely astounded that they are not measuring for radon that I know of… I can’t believe that they’re not measuring for radon… [Radon] also decays to a number of what are called radon progeny which includes a number of short-lived radioactive substances, some of which are lead and polonium. Both of those can be very biologically damaging… There is question as to the kind of doses that they would be getting of radon, but it still is really very much a worry… I feel like — doing the research that I’ve done — that we are not getting the full story of what’s happening there.”

Richard Mathews, candidate for California State Senate who studied physics & astronomy at CALTECH (32:00 in): “People are really concerned about this, people are seriously getting sick… Thousands of people are getting sick from this — and it really is a major, major disaster… Methane floats away and spreads around the whole world… All the contaminants that are in with the methane are heavier than the air and that includes… benzene and toluene, hydrogen sulfide — all of those are heavier than air — they tend to stay close to the ground and move downhill. This is happening in the hills above the San Fernando Valley [home to nearly 2 million people] and so the poisons are all moving down into the San Fernando Valley and spreading through the entire San Fernando Valley… As the radon and other substances flow around, they are accumulating. They are not easily blown out of the valley, and we are getting higher and higher levels… The lead is going to be around for decades… The initiallead that you get is radioactive. This will be a continuing problem… It could spread through the entire San Fernando Valley… The damage that the radon does stays in your body… andshows up as cancer a decade after, maybe even 80 years later. So we really need to follow through.”

Terry Lodge, attorney (50:00 in): “You have a massive release, probably, of radon going on — and there may actually also be radium particulate… I’d be taking very rapid steps [if I lived in the area], I’d be running like hell. And the reason is, I suspect that there’s little by way of emergency anticipation — what could possibly go wrong? We have this vast underground storage facility… There are not radiation monitors… the problem is sort of the Three Mile Island problem… the radiation emission went way off the meter… there were no redundant rings, there was no monitoring certain distances outside the plant boundary. You don’t even have that at Porter [Ranch]… They don’t know how much radon is being dispersed… [Radon] can be concentrated by rainfall, concentrated by humidity, and inversions… There needs to be some type of soil sampling… air, and all that… So the problem is that radon is around in the Porter Ranch situation — nobody’s prepared for it. They’re not talking about it now — this may months into the crisis.”

Full interviews available here

January 15, 2016 Posted by | incidents, USA | 1 Comment

Massive gas blowout in Los Angeles now releasing radioactive material

text ionisingFlag-USATV: Radioactive material reportedly now being released from massive gas blowout in LA — Byproduct of Uranium — Expert: “A lot” has been detected in area… Very dangerous… May be coming up from ground into people’s homes — Official: Levels can cause “significant long-term health effects” (VIDEO) http://enenews.com/tv-reports-radioactive-material-being-released-massive-gas-blowout-la-byproduct-uranium-expert-lot-being-measured-area-very-dangerous-be-coming-ground-peoples-living-rooms-bedrooms-nurseries?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Jan 8, 2016: Their animals are dying… their fish are dying in their fish bowls, their dogs are dying, their cats are getting sick. And their children are getting sick — they’re suffering nose bleeds, they’re suffering terrible debilitating migraine headaches, asthma attacks, respiratory infections, eye infections, ear infections, stomach ailments… The health impact — it’s not just methane coming out of that hole… This is global crisis, more importantly this is a local crisis. Because not only do you have methane — you have benzene, toluene, xylene, which are carcinogenic. You have hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide — which are neurotoxic, which can injure your brain, affect memory, injure your kidneys, your liver, your other bodily organs. There’s also a lot of radon gas being measured in the area. People believe — we don’t know if this is true — the gas that is leaking at 2 miles deep is now coming out and pushing that radon up into people’s living rooms, their bedrooms, their nurseries.

Lawyers and Settlements, Jan 7, 2016: The leak has caused a continuous flow of gases and fluids. Methane alone is leaking 100,000 pounds per hour, according to Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer. Along with that greenhouse gas is methyl mercaptans (odorants added to gas to aid in leak detection) and aromatic hydrocarbons. More concernedly, health officials have identified benzene and radon, both known carcinogens.

CBS LA, Dec 11, 2015: Dr. Cyrus Rangan, the Director of Toxicology and Assessment for the county, came to CBS2/KCAL9 to answer questions…. It’s been reported that radon is being released…  “This is a theoretical possibility,” Dr. Rangan said, “and when you’re addressing a problem that might be several hundred or even several thousand feet deep, you might generate what are called preferential pathways for something like radon, beneath the Earth’s surface, to make its way up to the surface. So primarily our concern about radon is from the worker’s exposure, for the people actually doing the repair job. If we find radon there, we can address the situation. And if radon does exist in the work site then we may need to have to look at the residential community and monitor for it.

Lawyers and Settlements, Dec 12, 2015: There is the issue of radon, a naturally occurringbyproduct of uranium… as SoCalGas and its partners bore into the ground in an attempt to stem a leak that is unleashing a constant cloud of gas into the atmosphere, radon has crept into the conversation.

Robert Kennedy Jr, Dec 17, 2015: Public officials and the gas industry have a tricky and deceptive way of saying things. Methane itself is not dangerous… methane is an indicator that other gases are involved, including radon and benzene, both carcinogenic and very dangerous… gas can escape through any perforation in the earth and on the way up to the surface, it can encounter the aquifers underground, where it will leave behind chemicals, including benzene and radon.

Erin Brockovich, Dec 22, 2015: [B]enzene and radon [are] the carcinogens that are commonly found in natural gas.

Los Angeles Daily News, Dec 2, 2015: [R]adon gas, which may potentially be released during repair operations, is also a concern [L.A. County Department of Public Health Interim Director Cynthia Harding] said.

Los Angeles Times, Dec 2, 2015: Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said a new report by county public health officials had concluded that since the gas leak has continued for so long, emissions levels could produce “significant long-term health effects, including cancer.” Antonovich said the report had identified benzene as the “chemical of greatest concern,” because it is known to cause cancer. It also cited concerns about radon, another known carcinogen.

KPCC, Dec 9, 2015: Public Health Director Cynthia Harding told members of the Board of Supervisors in a Dec. 1 letter [that radon] could also be released as the leak is repaired.

Los Angeles Times, Dec 20, 2015: Health officials are also concerned that the company’s attempt to fix the leak by drilling into the ground to construct a relief well could release radon, a radioactive, naturally occurring and odorless gas that is found in geologic formations and causes lung cancer.

Watch an interview with Robert Kennedy here

January 12, 2016 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Fire at Japan’s Hamaoka nuclear power plant

Fire at Japan nuclear plant put out; no danger to public – operator http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/fire-at-japan-nuclear-pla/2406296.html

Posted 07 Jan 2016 TOKYO: A fire broke out at Chubu Electric Power Co’s (9502.T) Hamaoka nuclear power plant in central Japan on Thursday, but was quickly put out and there had been no danger to the public, the company said.

The fire started at about 11 a.m. (0200 GMT) in the exhaust fan of the turbine building of the plant’s No.2 reactor, which is currently under being decommissioned, a company spokesman said.

The fan was shut down and the fire was confirmed as put out an hour later, he said. An investigation into the cause of the fire was under way.

The plant’s No.1 and No.2 reactors are being decommissioned, while its No.3, No.4 and No.5 reactors remain shut pending stringent safety checks imposed following the Fukushima nuclear disaster nearly five years ago.

(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Richard Pullin) Reuters

January 7, 2016 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

Timeline of major incidents at Los Alamos National Laboratory

2013: A waste container at the lab is packaged with a volatile mix of nitrate salts and organic kitty litter and is shipped to WIPP.

Feb. 14, 2014: The container ruptures in the underground WIPP facility, leaking radiation. Several workers are exposed, although levels are not considered a health hazard. WIPP is closed indefinitely.

March-December 2014: Federal investigators issue scathing reports finding multiple problems with how waste is handled at the lab. One report finds workers who tried to alert supervisors to problems with waste containers were ignored.

Los-Alamos

Chronology of major incidents marking Los Alamos National Laboratory’s management history, Local News, Santa Fe, New Mexico , 4 Jan 16 The New Mexican

Jan. 1, 1943: A secret national laboratory is set up in Los Alamos to design a nuclear bomb during World War II. The University of California is named the official lab manager and is paid $5 million for a one-year contract. The U.S. Department of Energy oversees the lab’s operations. J. Robert Oppenheimer is the lab’s director.

1945: An atomic bomb is tested at the Trinity Site in Southern New Mexico on July 16, ushering in the nuclear age………

1988: A new federal law gives the Department of Energy more leverage over lab contractors. The University of California at Los Alamos National Laboratory is exempted from the law. Continue reading

January 6, 2016 Posted by | incidents, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear sub accident costs $1m, commander loses job

Down periscope: Nuclear sub accident costs $1m, commander loses job Rt.com  5 Jan, 2016 A US Navy commander has lost his job following an accident that damaged a 18,000-ton nuclear guided-missile submarine. The banged-up sub will cost taxpayers at least $1 million to repair, the Navy said.

Captain Dave Adams was relieved of his command of the USS Georgia on Monday, and was reassigned to another post with Submarine Group 10 of Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia.

On November 25, 2015, Adams was commanding one of the two alternating crews that operate the USS Georgia when the 560-foot submarine crashed into a channel buoy on its way back to base in Kings Bay……https://www.rt.com/usa/328018-navy-submarine-crash-georgia/

January 6, 2016 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Rain-sodium reaction caused fire in nuclear waste dump

exclamation-SmFlag-USABeatty waste dump fire blamed on rain-sodium reaction By Wesley Juhl Las Vegas Review-Journal, December 31, 2015 

A fire at a low-level radioactive waste dump in Nye County that shut down a 140-mile stretch of Nevada’s main north-south highway for almost 24 hours in October was caused by rainfall that seeped through a compromised cover and reacted with metallic sodium, according to a report released Thursday.

On Oct. 18, during heavy rainfall, the now-closed, state-owned landfill at the US Ecology dump near Beatty roared to life with explosions and fire. Beatty is about 115 miles northwest of Las Vegas, off of U.S. Highway 95.

state probe of the incident was launched to consider if the fire was related to the wet weather, and if disposal records kept by the state in Carson City and at the site list any materials that could have reacted with water to cause the fire. Monday’s report details how corrosion of the steel drums containing the metallic sodium allowed the packing fluid to seep out, leaving the metallic sodium exposed to underground elements.

The 305-page report released Thursday collects statements from staffers who were there, aerial maps, results of laboratory analyses and a 195-page study on low-level radioactive waste management from 1981 as an attachment……..

Recommendations for long-term fixes from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection include setting up enhanced monitoring of the waste facility capable of handling remote video surveillance and radioactivity measurement. The agency suggested an evaluation of the various types of wastes placed in the site and a redesign of a more protective cover cap…….. http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/nevada/beatty-waste-dump-fire-blamed-rain-sodium-reaction

January 1, 2016 Posted by | incidents, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Leningrad Nuclear Plant accident: radiation spike: mass panic

safety-symbol-Smflag_RussiaMass panic as radioactive cloud pours from nuclear plant — Radiation levels reportedly spike near reactor after emergency shutdown — Traffic jams as people evacuate area — “Everyone got very worried and rushed to get iodine” (PHOTOS) http://enenews.com/mass-panic-radioactive-steam-pours-nuclear-plant-radiation-levels-spiked-area-plant-traffic-jams-people-evacuate-area-everyone-very-worried-rushed-iodine-photos?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

Express, Dec 21, 2015 (emphasis added): Russians flee Chernobyl-style plant over fears of radioactive leak — Russians took iodine and caused traffic jams… amid fears officials were covering up a radioactive leak. The panic followed the emergence of pictures showing a cloud of vapour pouring from Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, some 50 miles from St Petersburg. The authorities insisted that the was no radioactive leakage… but people did not believe the “no danger” claim. Radio Svoboda reported that in the wake of the incident on Friday locals in Sosnovy Bor started withdrawing money from their credit cards. They said locals were in panic mode despite statements from officials that the radiation level was normal… One local said: “Everyone got very worried and rushed to get iodine.”… There were traffic jams as residents left the area and headed for St Petersburg… The plant manager (not pictured) insists there are no reasons for evacuation. [Oleg Bodrov, chairman of Green World ecological group] said: “They know well that the officials’ first task is to say all is normal but not to report about danger, even if there is one. All those who understand a bit about nuclear energy know that it was an attempt to mistake the wish for the reality… this vapour is surely radioactive… Bodrov called for medical checks for staff at the power plant. Interfax reported that a special commission was working at the nuclear station aiming to find out the reasons for the emission.

Daily Mail photo captions: A cloud of vapourpouring out of Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant in St Petersburg caused mass panic… Russian radio reported St Petersburg residents rushing out to buy iodine to protect against radiation poisoning after spotting the steam flowing out of the power station… The billowing vapour spreads across buildings

QHA, Dec 19, 2015: Accident occurred at Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (PHOTO) — Eyewitnesses of the accident and theinhabitants of the Russia’s northern capital are scared. The second unit was stopped at the station… The accident occurred at the second power unit when a pipe with steam cracked in turbine hall yesterday. The steam filled the room, and leaked beyond the power plant. The employees of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (LNPP) had to go home… According to specialists, the release was radioactive, because the waste steam entered the so-called loop reactor coolant. However, the population was encouraged not to panic.

Baltic Newsletter of the Green World, Dec 20, 2015: An emergency stop of the second power unit of Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant took place… The reason for the stop and cooling of the reactor was a sudden leak of radioactive steam from a faulty pipe in one of the rooms of the turbine shop… During the cooling – down step, the reactor steam was ejected through the pipe into the environment. A south – southeast wind of 5 meters per second (not typical for this area) blew the radioactive steam toward the Gulf of Finland… Thus, the five millionth city of St. Petersburg, located 40 km east of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant was fortunate this time. According to some sources , the radiation level rose a few times higher than the background radiation only in the NPP area.

Watch video from the Director of Leningrad NPP here

December 24, 2015 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

Accident at The Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant

exclamation-flag_RussiaAnother Accident at Russian Nuke http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/12/20/1462217/-Another-Accident-at-Russian-Nuke Just a heads-up. The Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant west of St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland suffered an accident on December 18th, according to the Crimean News Agency. A pipe carrying steam from the reactor in the second BWR [Boiling Water Reactor] plant apparently “cracked” [burst, failed] in the turbine hall, releasing radioactive steam and forcing an evacuation of the facility after the reactor was manually scrammed. This would be unit-2 of at the 4-unit facility.

The accompanying photo [on original] was taken of the Leningrad unit-2 plant today (December 20, 2015), showing that radioactive steam is still being emitted in bulk to the atmosphere. Officials at the facility did say they don’t “think” the situation will develop into another Chernobyl. That does not sound particularly reassuring to me, but so far so good.

The four reactors at LNPP are the RBMK-1000 design of Chernobyl type graphite moderated plants. Two more reactors of the newer VVER-1200 type were granted construction license in 2009 and 2010, the first scheduled to go into commercial operation in 2016, and two more are planned in the future.

The population near the plant was encouraged not to panic, as winds are carrying the plume of radiation toward Estonia and Finland. A Latvian news source reported that the government assured citizens there was no danger from the release, the Finnish monitoring stations aren’t showing a spike at present, 3 stations did mark one on the coast east of Helsinki (likely plume path), reaching up to .3µSv/hr on the 18th/19th. Which is .03mr/hr, just above background average.

Measurements of radiation in downtown Sosnovy Bor, 5 km [~3 miles] from the plant, were up to 20mr/hr* (a level about twice the average daily dose most non-grunt workers on the Island at TMI2 absorbed in the days/weeks after that meltdown), so let’s at least hope the residents were warned to “shelter in place” for the duration of this ongoing accident. And have some idea of how to do that properly. Area and regional pharmacies are reported to have ordered potassium iodide, so residents could be getting that. Radiation levels in St. Petersburg, a city of 5 million ~40 miles west of the nuclear facility, are reported to be normal.

The reactors at Leningrad have been plagued with accidents on a semi-regular basis since 1975, most never reported to the media or public. Including one accident at unit-1 in 1975 that came dangerously close to the very same accident later experienced at Chernobyl.

* The reported peak figure of 20mr/hr in the nearest town — which is indeed suspiciously high — is pointed out in the comments to be a mistranslation of µR (microrem) as mR (millirem). Which isn’t enough radiation to register above the considerably higher background. If indeed the Russians have taken to measuring and reporting radiation dose exposures in Rem/Rad instead of the internationally used Sievert. A very odd thing for them to do all of a sudden with this accident when they never did before, but technical deception is a regular art form with nukes of all nationalities. No surprise there.

December 24, 2015 Posted by | incidents, Russia | 1 Comment

Vulnerability of India’s nuclear materials to theft

highly-recommendedflag-indiaIndia’s nuclear explosive materials are vulnerable to theft, U.S. officials and experts say. But Washington has chosen not to press for tougher security while its trade with India is booming, Center For Public Integrity,  By Adrian LevyR. Jeffrey Smith 17 Dec 15  “……..  officials here and outside India depict as serious shortcomings in the country’s nuclear guard force, tasked with defending one of the world’s largest stockpiles of fissile material and nuclear explosives.

An estimated 90 to 110 Indian nuclear bombs are stored in six or so government-run sites patrolled by the same security force, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an independent think tank, and Indian officials. Within the next two decades, as many as 57 reactors could also be operating under the force’s protection, as well as four plants where spent nuclear fuel is dissolved in chemicals to separate out plutonium to make new fuel or be used in nuclear bombs.

The sites are spread out over vast distances: from the stony foothills of the Himalayas in the north down to the red earth of the tropical south. Shuttling hundreds of miles in between will be occasional convoys of lightly-protected trucks laden with explosive and fissile materials — including plutonium and enriched uranium — that could be used in civilian and military reactors or to spark a nuclear blast.

The Kalpakkam shooting as a result alarmed Indian and Western officials who question whether this country — which is surrounded by unstable neighbors and has a history of civil tumult — has taken adequate precautions to safeguard its sensitive facilities and keep the building blocks of a devastating nuclear bomb from being stolen by insiders with grievances, ill motives, or in the worst case, connections to terrorists.

Although experts say they regard the issue as urgent, Washington is not pressing India for quick reforms. The Obama administration is instead trying to avoid any dispute that might interrupt a planned expansion of U.S. military sales to Delhi, several senior U.S. officials said in interviews.

The experts’ concerns are based in part on a series of documented nuclear security lapses in the past two decades, in addition to the shooting:

  • Several kilograms of what authorities described as semi-processed uranium were stolen by a criminal gang, allegedly with Pakistani links, from a state mine in Meghalya, in northeastern India, in 1994. Four years later, a federal politician was arrested near the West Bengal border with 100 kilograms of uranium from India’s Jadugoda mining complex that he was allegedly attempting to sell to Pakistani sympathizers associated with the same gang. A police dossier seen by the Center states that ten more people connected with smuggling were arrested two years after this, in operations that recovered 57 pounds of stolen uranium.
  • In 2008, another criminal gang was caught attempting to smuggle low-grade uranium, capable of being used in a primitive radiation-dispersal device, from one of India’s state-owned mines across the border to Nepal. The same year another group was caught moving an illicit stock of uranium over the border to Bangladesh, the gang having been assisted by the son of an employee at India’s Atomic Minerals Division, which supervises uranium mining and processing.
  • In 2009, a nuclear reactor employee in southwest India deliberately poisoned dozens of his colleagues with a radioactive isotope, taking advantage of numerous gaps in plant security, according to an internal government report seen by the Center.
  • And in 2013, leftist guerillas in northeast India illegally obtained uranium ore from a government-run milling complex in northeast India and strapped it to high explosives to make a crude bomb before being caught by police, according to an inspector involved in the case.  Continue reading

December 24, 2015 Posted by | incidents, India, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

10 Control Rods accidentally dropped into nuclear reactor core – Indian Point

safety-symbol-SmGov’t: Shutdown at U.S. nuclear plant after 10 control rods accidentally fall into reactor core — Caused by ‘smoldering’ event, Fire Brigade on scene — Incident of this type could lead to overheating, potentially resulting in ‘supercriticality’ — Official: No ‘immediate’ concern (VIDEO) http://enenews.com/govt-shutdown-nuclear-plant-after-rods-accidentally-fall-reactor-core-caused-smoldering-event-fire-brigade-scene-incident-could-lead-overheating-potentially-resulting-supercriticality-officia?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

reactor-Indian-PointU.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Event Notification Reports, Dec 7, 2015 (emphasis added): MANUAL REACTOR TRIP INITIATED DUE TO MULTIPLE DROPPED CONTROL RODS — At 1731 [EST] on December 5, 2015, Indian Point Unit 2 Control Room operators initiated a Manual Reactor Trip due to indications of multiple dropped Control Rods. The initiating event was a smoldering Motor Control Center (MCC) cubicle in the Turbine Building that supplies power to the Rod Control System… The affected cubicle has ceased smoldering and is being monitored by on-site Fire Brigade trained personnel… The cause of the smoldering MCC is being investigated and a post reactor trip evaluation is being conducted by the licensee… The licensee has notified the NRC Resident Inspector and appropriate State and Local authorities.

The Journal News, Dec 7, 2015: One of Indian Point’s two nuclear reactors will remain shut down for the next couple of days following a power loss on Saturday, a company spokesman said Sunday. Unit 2 was powered down around 5:20 p.m. Saturday by operators after about 10 control rods “dropped” into the reactor core, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Committee… Neel Sheehan, a spokesperson for the NRC, said a preliminary investigation indicated the problem stemmed from a sudden power loss to the mechanism holding the rods. The plant’s control rods, made of materials that can absorb neutrons, are used to control the fissioning of atoms that generate power… Government inspectors visited Indian Point on Saturday and Sunday. “No immediate concerns were identified,” Sheehan said in an e-mail, adding that inspectors would return to the site “to follow up on troubleshooting, repair activities and restart planning.”

Gothamist, Dec 6, 2015: In a statement, Gov. Cuomo… said he’s sending a team from the Department of Public Service to investigate the incident and monitor the process of bringing the reactor back online.

Several control rods also appear to have dropped at Virginia’s North Anna nuclear power plant after an earthquake in 2011:

  • U.S. NRC Event Notification, Aug 29, 2011: EMERGENCY DECLARED… North Anna Power Station declared an Alert due to significant seismic activity
  • U.S. NRC email, Sept 2011: RE: North Anna… At this point, it appears that the grippers for several of the control rods deenergized and dropped.
  • Westinghouse patent: A dropped rod… will initially result in a reduction in the total power generated by the core. The reactor will then attempt to meet the load… byincreasing power in the remainder of the core which could lead to local overheatingelsewhere in the core.
  • Satoshi Sato, Nuclear Engineer, April 28, 2015 (emphasis added): “I don’t know if you remember, there was the earthquake in 2011 in Virginia. That was a big one… enough to cause vibration to the North Anna reactor resulting in a big spike of neutron flux — orreactor power… and somehow caused the additional radioactivity into the core. So that’ssomething scary, potentially resulting in a supercriticality.” (IEER: “The neutron spike accompanying a sudden supercriticality can lead to an explosion of the reactor core. It is this sort of event which occurred at the Chernobyl reactor”)

Watch a broadcast on the Indian Point shutdown here

December 9, 2015 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Radioactive spill at Cotter’s defunct uranium mill in central Colorado

Uranium mill line leaks 1,800 gallons near Cañon City http://gazette.com/uranium-mill-line-leaks-1800-gallons-near-caon-city/article/1564689 By: Bruce Finley – The Denver Post December 1, 2015  Colorado health officials were reviewing an explanation from Cotter Corp. on Monday after a spill at Cotter’s defunct uranium mill in central Colorado — one of the nation’s slowest superfund cleanups.

A pipeline leaked about 1,800 gallons last week on Cotter’s 2,538-acre property uphill from Canon City and the Arkansas River.

Well tests in July found water in the waste pipeline area contained elevated uranium (577 parts per billion, above a 30 ppb health standard) and molybdenum (1840 ppb, above a 100 ppb standard).

This spill was the latest of at least five since 2010. Federal authorities in 1984 declared an environmental disaster and launched a superfund cleanup.  Read more at denverpost.com

December 2, 2015 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Danger to Ukraine’s nuclear power stations, with attack on transmission towers

safety-symbol-Smflag-UkraineUkraine nuclear power plants ‘dangerously’ without power as towers feeding energy to Crimea blown up, Rt.com  23 Nov, 2015 In an eerie reminder of a possible nuclear catastrophe, a senior Ukrainian energy official revealed that the attack on transmission towers that cut off the delivery of electricity from Ukraine to Crimea also created an emergency situation at nuclear power plants.

The apparent act of sabotage in Ukraine’s Kherson region forced an emergency power unloading at several Ukrainian nuclear power plants, which can be extremely dangerous, according to the first deputy director of Ukraine’s energy company Ukrenergo, Yuriy Katich.

Russia’s Crimea was forced to switch to autonomous reserve power after transmission towers in the adjacent Ukrainian region were blown up, causing a blackout. Meanwhile, the repairs were delayed by Right Sector and Crimean Tatar“activists” attempting to block crews from getting to the scene. None of the groups have accepted responsibility.

“All of these events have led to an additional emergency shutdown of the electrical network of two units at thermal power plants – the Dnieper and Uglegorskaya – and the emergency unloading by 500 MW of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. This includes Zaporozhskaya NPP and the South Ukrainian NPP. I want to stress that such emergency unloading of a nuclear plant – it is very dangerous,” 112. Ukraine online portal quoted Katich as saying………https://www.rt.com/news/323060-ukraine-nuclear-plants-danger/

November 25, 2015 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

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