The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Nuclear Regulatory Commission to investigate crack in Oconee Nuclear Station weld

safety-symbol-SmRegulators to look at Oconee Nuclear Station weld crack BY STAFF REPORTS Greenville News July 18, 2014 The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has scheduled a regulatory conference with officials of Duke Energy for July 31 to discuss an apparent violation of NRC requirements.

The apparent violation involved a crack in a weld on the Unit 1 high pressure injection system at the Oconee Nuclear Station near Seneca about 30 miles west of Greenville, according to the NRC. first reported in November the shutdown of Unit 1 after a leak was discovered in what Duke Energy described as the reactor’s containment building.

“On Nov. 11, 2013, the licensee (Duke Energy) determined that a leak in the 1B2 high pressure injection line was pressure boundary leakage. Unit 1 was subsequently shutdown as required … ,” according to an NRC document.

“Your measures failed to identify and correct a significant condition adverse to quality involving a crack in a weld located in the Unit 1 High Pressure Injection (HPI) system,” according to the document addressed to Duke Energy.

NRC and Duke Energy officials will discuss the safety significance of the apparent violation related to an undetected crack in a weld that led to reactor coolant system pressure boundary leakage and a forced shutdown of Unit 1, NRC officials said……..

July 19, 2014 Posted by | incidents | Leave a comment

ISIS insurgents get hold of nuclear materials in Iraq

safety-symbol1flag-IraqIraq tells UN that ‘terrorist groups’ have seized nuclear materials  SMH, July 10, 2014 – Michelle Nichols New York: ISIL insurgents in Iraq have seized nuclear materials used for scientific research at a university in the country’s north, Iraq has told the United Nations in a letter appealing for help to “stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad”.

Nearly 40 kilograms of uranium compounds were kept at Mosul University, Iraq’s UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a letter this week.

“Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state,” Mr Alhakim wrote, adding that such materials “can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction”. However, US security sources said it would be difficult to make weapons from the material.

“These nuclear materials, despite the limited amounts mentioned, can enable terrorist groups, with the availability of the required expertise, to use it separate or in combination with other materials in its terrorist acts,” Mr Alhakim said.

He warned that they could also be smuggled out of Iraq.

A US government source familiar with the matter said the materials were not believed to be enriched uranium and therefore would be difficult to use to manufacture into a weapon………

July 10, 2014 Posted by | incidents, Iraq | Leave a comment

All too close to USA Nuclear Waste project – very strong earthquake

‘Very strong’ quake hits New Mexico border — Seismic data spikes at WIPP nuke site — Emergency declared at nearest nuclear plant — “Larger magnitude event could still occur” — TV: “Sounded like a train derailed” — “Very rare… Still trying to figure out what caused it… no known fault lines in area” (VIDEOS)

June 29, 2014: M5.2 – 50km NW of Lordsburg, NM 04:59:33 UTC (Max CDI (maximum reported intensity) = VII, Very Strong)

Fox 10June 29, 2014: “Thought we heard a train coming… it sounded like a train might have derailed… [Scared] is an understatement, we were shaking.” -Sherry Huggins, near New Mexico/AZ border

KOLD-TV TusconJune 29, 2014: “A very rare occurrence… even the lights were moving around [in our Tuscon studio]”

Fox 10, June 29, 2014: “A lot of people were like what’s going on?… Looks like a bomb went off.” -Steve Krafft, reporter

NRC, June 30, 2014PALO VERDE (nuclear plant near Phoenix, AZ) [...] Emergency Class: UNUSUAL EVENT [...] EMERGENCY DECLARED [...] “The following event description is based on information currently available. If through subsequent reviews of this event, additional information is identified that is pertinent to this event or alters the information being provided at this time, a follow-up notification will be made [...] Initial walkdowns of plant equipment and review of plant parameters have found no unusual conditions or damage to plant equipment. No abnormalities caused by the seismic event were observed. [...] Initial analysis of the Seismic Monitoring Instrumentation System indicated a seismic event, below the magnitude of the 0.10g spectra Operating Basis Earthquake (OBE) and the 0.20g spectra Safe Shutdown Earthquake (SSE). [...] Notified DHS, FEMA  [...] Emergency classification termination was declared [...]

KOLD-TV Tuscon, June 29, 2014: “They are still trying to figure out what caused the quake because there is no known fault line in the area… It’s very common to see aftershocks, especially after a strong earthquake like what we saw… So where is this all coming from?… It’s probably occurring along a fault that we don’t know anything about… Maybe there is a new fault… and they’re going to be able to hopefully identify that fault… it’s not coming from any of the known faults.”

KRQE, June 29, 2014: “The southern half of New Mexico got a Saturday shake-up.”

Copper Area News, June 30, 2014: It is likely that small magnitude aftershocks will continue in the Duncan area for days or weeks. Most will probably go unfelt. A larger magnitude event could still occur. In the event of severe ground shaking, residents are advised to “Drop, Cover and Hold on”.

See also: - Official: We believe there’s been a breach… “It’s a very serious thing” — ‘Seismic event’ mentioned — High levels of alpha and beta radiation detected (VIDEO)

July 5, 2014 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

False alarm at Californian nuclear power plant

Erroneous Alerts, Sirens, Calls, Alarm Californians, Firehouse MATT HAMILTON  ASSOCIATED PRESS  JUNE 28, 2014 Repairs to a nuclear power plant’s siren system in San Luis Obispo County sent residents into a panic as they were accompanied by cellphone messages telling them to ‘prepare for action.’ LOS ANGELES (AP) — People in San Luis Obispo County received a series of unsettling, erroneous emergency alerts Friday as repairs were being made to a nuclear power plant’s siren system, including a vague cellphone message that told them to “prepare for action.”

The chain of mistaken alerts began arousing confusion and fear when a siren that’s part of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant’s warning system began wailing Friday afternoon for no apparent reason, county emergency services manager Ron Alsop said………

June 30, 2014 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Borth Carolina had a close shave with a nuclear bomb

book-Command-and-ControlNuclear bomb nearly detonated after falling on North Carolina, declassified report says June 11, 2014  SMH, Dan Lamothe and Walter Russell Mead There are few things in this world that can change the course of history faster than a nuclear bomb exploding. The devastation is immediate and lasts for years.

That makes the latest details to emerge about a January 24, 1961, incident involving two nuclear bombs all the more jarring.

A B-52 bomber broke up in the sky over North Carolina, and one of the two bombs on board was in the “armed” setting by the time it hit the ground near Goldsboro, North Carolina, according to a newly declassified report published on Monday by the National Security Archive. f the switch had not been damaged by the impact of the crash, the weapon could have detonated, the report said……..

That incident, which led to an anti-­nuclear movement in Britain, where the plane was bound, is one of many stories Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation, tells in Command and Control.

During the cold war, nuclear bombs fell out of the sky, burned up in plane ­crashes and were lost at sea. In the incident Schlosser describes in greatest detail, “the Damascus accident” of September 18, 1980, the warhead from a Titan II missile was ejected after a series of mishaps that began when a repairman dropped a socket wrench and pierced a fuel tank.

Tactical nuclear weapons scattered across Europe had minimal security; misplaced tools and failed repairs triggered serious accidents; inadequate safety procedures and poor oversight led to dozens of close brushes with nuclear explosions.

People have died in these accidents, sometimes as a result of their own carelessness or bad luck, but often while doing their best to protect the rest of us from an accidental nuclear blast.:

June 11, 2014 Posted by | incidents | Leave a comment

The Nights of Fire and Explosions at WIPP

Breaking Bad: A Nuclear Waste Disaster By Joseph Trento, DC Bureau,  June 5th, 2014  “…..There were warnings that not all was sanguine at WIPP. On Wednesday February 5, a truck used to haul salt taken out of the mine to make room for more and more radioactive casks caught fire because of a fuel spill.  A fire in a mine is always serious. But a fire in a high-level nuclear storage facility is very serious. The first concern was a storage cask or canister had caused the fire but no radiation monitors went off, only a fire alarm. Eighty-six workers were slowly evacuated from the mine.

Fortunately, the workers made it to the surface and the fire was isolated to the ruined truck and involved no radioactive waste. That day there was no plutonium flash, no compromised canisters; just six workers were transported and treated at Carlsbad Medical Center. Another seven workers were treated at WIPP for smoke inhalation and the facility closed until everyone was certain the fire was out. A crew had to be sent in to do the inspection because, inexplicably, the WIPP facility is remarkably short of sophisticated remote sensing equipment. DOE immediately began an investigation.

The DOE Office of Environmental Management (EM) put together an Accident Investigation Board (AIB) to review what had gone right and wrong. The main contractor, Nuclear Waste Partnership, as well as the entire Carlsbad DOE field office was under scrutiny. DOE issued a press release saying, “The fire was a serious event that posed a threat to workers deep underground. In this case, the fire resulted in minor smoke inhalation to six workers, but it did not impact the public or the environment. There is no indication the fire was related to the February 14 radiological release.”

What investigators found was shocking. Carlsbad DOE officials did not conduct basic oversight of the private contractors running WIPP.  The contractors failed to implement basic fire safety procedures, such as managing flammable truck fuel in an underground nuclear storage facility. In addition, WIPP officials repeatedly ignored the recommendations of the Defense Facilities Board – the gold standard for maintaining basic safety standards at all defense facilities. But the most damning part of the report said the safety culture required in such a dangerous environment no longer existed. Ironically, as the fire investigation was still underway, investigators had time to prevent the explosion that was to come. But their observations were ignored. The DOE EM report should have resulted in the immediate shutdown and full safety review of the facility. Instead, DOE Washington pressed to keep the waste flowing into WIPP. “The reality is DOE is overwhelmed with nuclear waste and has no safe place to put it,” Greg Mello says.

Nine days later, 2150 feet under the New Mexico desert, just before midnight on February 14, a canister of Los Alamos plutonium-tainted nuclear waste exploded. In a nuclear repository holding thousands and thousands of similar canisters and casks in what was supposed to be the most secure nuclear storage facility in the world, the very thing that was never supposed to happen did. No security cameras had been installed that could view the explosion. The radiation unleashed by the cracked canister quickly contaminated the sprawling underground salt mine. The seven football-field sized rooms in the Panels contain canisters that could have then caught fire and exploded. The continuous air monitor (CAM) finally detected the radiation and an alarm sounded alerting the night shift that high-level radiation had been detected. At that point, the contractors and DOE had no idea of the extent of the damage.

A DOE press release put the best face on a disaster: “Only 11 employees were at the WIPP site on the surface, no employees were in the underground. Two other WIPP employees reported to the site a couple hours later. The continuous air monitor measured airborne radioactivity close to the operating location where waste was being emplaced. Ventilation air is pulled from the underground repository by huge fans on the surface. This exhaust consists of unfiltered clean air… When the CAM alarmed, two dampers were automatically closed in the exhaust duct that redirected the exhaust through high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that removes radioactive particles.

DOE said, “The next day an above ground exhaust air monitor on the WIPP site detected very low levels of airborne radioactive contamination. The 140 employees at the site were kept indoors as a precaution while air samples were taken. The 13 employees present during the radioactive release event on February 14 were tested for internal radioactive contamination after the event. The 140 employees have also been offered testing.

“It is believed that a small amount of radioactivity leaked by the exhaust-duct dampers, through the unfiltered exhaust ducts and escaped above ground. The exhaust duct dampers are large ‘butterfly’ valves that are designed to close and cut off the airflow through the exhausters. However, the valves do not fully seal the exhaust ducts and still allowed a small amount of unfiltered air to escape.”

In fact, DOE employees used spray foam to seal the dampers to keep more radiation contaminated air from escaping from a half mile underground.

That night America’s only official high-level nuclear waste site was rendered useless for at least the next three years. Everything that was supposed to happen did not. Air vents to the surface did not automatically close. DOE failed to keep computer records updated of what deadly waste was in what container and where it was located. That small explosion not only contaminated 21 workers and caused an unknown amount of radiation released into New Mexico’s air, but it also revealed a Department of Energy that is the midst of a nuclear security crisis not in some far off country like Pakistan or one of the former Soviet Republics but here at home.

This time the Environmental Management team asked to investigate by DOE did not have to face the pressure of telling headquarters that WIPP should be shuttered. Radiation contamination did that for them.

The loss of WIPP means the most deadly substances science has managed to create will have to be stored in place across our country in places totally unsuited for such storage. At WIPP, the deadly conditions created by the explosion will make monitoring the remaining radioactive materials very difficult. The official report of the WIPP accident was scathing. But scathing reports on DOE operations are common…. “.

June 9, 2014 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Two Pakistani Nuclear military offices murdered

murder-12 Linked to Pakistan nuclear program killed in attack  Fox News June 04, 2014 A suicide attacker killed two military officers linked to Pakistan’s nuclear program, along with three civilians, near the Kamra air base, not far from this capital, police told Efe.

The incident occurred in the Fateh Jang area about 10 a.m. when a vehicle belonging to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission was boarded by the suicide bomber, who was on foot, after which he detonated the explosives attached to his body…….

June 5, 2014 Posted by | incidents, Pakistan | Leave a comment

Nuclear submarine commander reveals horror of 2011 accident

submarine,-nuclear-underwatHorror on board Plymouth nuclear submarine as crew battles to survive By Plymouth Herald   June 04, 2014 By TRISTAN NICHOLS Defence Reporter @tristan_nichols A “CATASTROPHIC” systems failure on board a Devonport-based nuclear submarine caused a mass-casualty incident, The Herald can today exclusively reveal.

When HMS Turbulent’s air conditioning plants malfunctioned during a deployment in the sweltering heat of the Indian Ocean, it resulted in 26 casualties.

Eight of those casualties were in a ‘life-threatening’ condition.

Temperatures inside the boat soared to 60 degrees Celsius with 100 per cent humidity as the crew battled to fix the problem miles from land.
With the three-year anniversary of the previously unreported incident having just passed, Ryan Ramsey, the submarine’s Commanding Officer at the time, today revealed: “I genuinely thought there was going to be a loss of life on board. People were going to die.”

The tragic incident happened at about 10.30am around three hours after the hunter-killer submarine had left Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates on May 26, 2011……….

June 5, 2014 Posted by | incidents, UK | Leave a comment

What are those nasty smells from Hanford’s nuclear waste tanks?

Hanford-waste-tanks6 Hanford Nuclear Reservation workers report smelling chemical vapors in tank farms  RICHLAND, Wash. –  Six workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are receiving medical evaluations after they reported smelling chemical vapors at two underground storage tank farms.

Washington River Protection Solutions, which operates the underground tanks at Hanford, says five of the workers reported symptoms typically related to chemical vapor exposure.

The employees were working in or near Hanford’s AP and SY Tank Farms when the vapors were reported. All workers immediately exited the area and moved upwind.

Hanford officials are taking samples and checking for possible sources of the vapors.

There have been numerous incidents in recent months when Hanford workers have reported smelling chemical vapors while working in the tank farms.

The tanks contain radioactive wastes left over from the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons.

May 30, 2014 Posted by | incidents, USA | 1 Comment

Wildfires threaten San Onofre nuclear power plant

wildfire-nukeFires sweep southern California and prompt partial evacuation of San Onofre nuclear power plant 15 May 14 FIREFIGHTERS are scrambling to control multiple blazes in southern California on the second day of a sweltering heatwave.

san-onofre-deadfSan Diego County officials say there are nine wildfires burning in the region covering more than 36 square kilometres.

At a press conference today, fire and emergency officials said the greatest concern is now in the city of San Marcos north of San Diego, where a new blaze broke out in the late afternoon and some 21,000 evacuation notices have been sent to residents……One fire prompted the partial evacuation of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, theLos Angeles Times is reporting……..

The blazes, which also closed a major north-south highway, come amid record temperatures in the western US state, where the annual wildfire season typically starts much later in the year………

May 16, 2014 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant radioactive leak due to kitty litter?

Nuclear expert says kitty litter contributed to radiation leak at WIPP Current Argus News, By Zack Ponce, 13 May 14 CARLSBAD >> A change in the type of “kitty litter” that’s mixed with transuranic waste may be to blame for February’s radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. A scientist who worked at WIPP until 2010 says he believes a change from non-organic kitty litter to organic litter caused a chemical reaction inside a waste drum, releasing the radioactive isotopes.

WIPP announced Monday night that photos taken over the weekend showed evidence of melted plastic and rubber on 55-gallon drums, indicating that the production of heat likely occurred in the underground area where waste is stored, according to a news release.

Jim Conca, who worked with WIPP from 2000 to 2010, said last week he believes a chemical reaction involving the kitty litter caused a small explosion inside a waste drum. New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn confirmed on Monday that he has heard Department of Energy officials discuss the possibility that kitty litter may have been to blame for the radiation leak. Flynn said it is just one of many theories the DOE is exploring and nothing is certain at this time.

WIPP Recovery Manager Jim Blankenhorn said during last week’s town hall meeting that officials believe the radiation leak was likely caused by nuclear waste that contained nitrate salt which gave off some sort of chemical reaction. Blankenhorn said a switch from a non-organic substance to organic was what triggered the event. According to Conca, the unidentified substance containing elements mirroring nitrate salt is kitty litter.

Under WIPP’s congressional mandate, the nuclear waste disposal facility located 26 miles east of Carlsbad cannot accept any liquid waste, and therefore kitty litter is used as a preventative measure to absorb any remnants of liquid before the drums are sealed and shipped to Southeastern New Mexico, Conca said………

May 14, 2014 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

9 Ukrainian citizens arrested for smuggling Uranium-235

flag-UkraineReport: Ukrainian Police Arrest 9 Militants Smuggling Uranium-235  Prison Planet, Bradford Thomas  May 8, 2014 Russian news outlet reported Monday that Ukrainian police in the Chernovci region arrested  nine militants—eight Ukrainian citizens and one Russian—who were in possession of 1.5 kilos of substance containing Uranium 235, contents that could be used to create a “dirty bomb.”

The car containing the U-235 had foreign plates and was coming from Pridnestrovie (or Transnistria), a Russian military occupied breakaway territory in Moldova………

May 10, 2014 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Uranium truck set on fire in India

exclamation-flag-indiaMaoists set truck carrying uranium for UCIL ablaze, DNA , 8 May 2014 Maoists torched a government-owned truck in a uranium mining area close to Jamshedpur.

The truck was carrying materials for the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) and was engaged at the Bagjata Mines.

From last few weeks, posters with instructions for drivers to stop ferrying uranium ore from the Bagjata Mines have appeared on trucks at regular intervals, instilling fear and tension among transporters.

Maoist leaders have threatened transporters with dire consequences if they continue to do business with UCIL.

The banned outfit had been demanding permanent jobs for locals in the company as compensation for acquisition of their lands in Bagjata.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Jamshedpur Amol Venukant Homkar said the incident took place early this morning, and added that 15 unidentified armed persons pulled the driver down from the vehicle and then set it ablaze. Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) plays a very significant role in India’s nuclear power generation programme……….

May 9, 2014 Posted by | China, incidents | Leave a comment

Explosion near Iran’s nuclear facility

exclamation-SmHuge blast reported near secret Iran nuclear site; City of Qazvin closed, 8 May 14, NICOSIA — Iran has been rocked by huge explosion near a nuclear facility.The Iranian media have reported an explosion in the northern Iranian city of Qazvin. The blast, reported on May 6, was said to have taken place near a secret nuclear enrichment facility in Abyek.

“The explosion took place in a storage facility,” Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency, which reported at least 50 injured, said.

Officials said nobody was killed in the explosion. But they acknowledged a huge fire that was sweeping the industrial city, about 130 kilometers north of Teheran “Firefighters are trying to prevent the spread of the fire at a car oil storage facility,” Qazvin civil defense director Ali Ahani said.

Iranian opposition sources said scores of people were killed in the blast. They said Iranian Army and security forces closed much of Qazvin,
with a population of 1.1 million.

“It is not certain whether Abyek was the target,” an opposition source said. “But this incident will hamper access to the facility in the short-term.”

The opposition said Iran’s nuclear facilities have been repeatedly
targeted by Israel and the West……..

May 9, 2014 Posted by | incidents, Iran | Leave a comment

Large earthquake felt across wide area of Japan

Tokyo hit by worst quake since 3/11 — Felt throughout more than half of Japan prefectures — Expert: “People should take precautions for next several days” — AP: ‘Unusual’ quakes shake Alaska

Yomiuri Shimbun, May 5, 2014: The quake, which struck at about 5:18 a.m., measured lower 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo [...] the strongest seismic intensity level measured in central Tokyo since the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. [...] Yohei Hasegawa, a Japan Meteorological Agency official in charge of monitoring earthquakes and tsunami, said at a news conference: “The earthquake is believed to have occurred inside the Pacific plate and it doesn’t seem to be related to an earthquake that could occur directly beneath Tokyo, which would have a different mechanism. It is unlikely to be followed by active aftershocks, but people should take precautions for the next several days.”

AP, May 4, 2014: It was the strongest earthquake since the 9.0 quake in March 2011. [...] The quake was felt across a wide area of Japan [...] There were no reports of damage or other abnormalities from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant [...] Reuters reported a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean [...] a second earthquake of magnitude 6.1 about 10 minutes later, further south. [...] On Saturday, a series of small earthquakes and aftershocks has rattled northern Alaska. [...]  the earthquakes are unusual, because the region isn’t a seismically active part of Alaska.

Standart News, May 5, 2014: jolts were felt in 26 out of 47 prefectures of Japan.

See also: Expert in 2010: Megathrust quake predicted to hit Fukushima around Nov. 2013… Recurrence interval of 75 years with last rupture Nov. 1938 — Planet’s most powerful type of seismic event

May 7, 2014 Posted by | incidents, Japan | 1 Comment


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