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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Ontario’s nuclear waste dilemma

text-wise-owlflag-canadaBurying nuclear waste big issue for Ontario now, Woodstock Sentinel Review,  By Greg Van Moorsel, The London Free Press Monday, March 16, 2015………..  a federally-appointed panel’s report, due by May, on whether to allow Ontario Power Generation to bury its least dangerous nuclear waste in a site deeper than the CN Tower is tall.

Opposed by more than 140 Great Lakes centres, including Toronto and Chicago, the 680-m-deep disposal site could be years away even if a construction permit is granted. OPG still needs approval of the local first nation and would have to go through more lengthy review to operate and fill the site, where low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste — not spent nuclear fuel rods — would be stashed more than a kilometre from Lake Huron, in ancient rock in the shadow of one of the world’s largest nuclear plants.

But that’s not the only thing to thrust nukes back onto public radar in Ontario: .Late next year, an overhaul of Ontario’s newest nuclear plant, Darlington, east of Toronto, is set to begin. Already more than 20 years old, Darlington is now at mid-life. OPG says the refurbishment will cost under $10 billion and create 2,000 direct jobs and half as many indirect jobs. It will add 30 years to the plant’s life.

A generation of Ontarians who watched the old Ontario Hydro binge on costly nuclear projects, often with monstrous over-runs, can be forgiven if they’re nail-biting. Yesterday’s mega-projects, which made taxpayers run for the hills, are today sold as “infrastructure” projects we’ve been conditioned to think of only as good. Barring an explosion in oil prices, and new oilsands mines, Darlington will become a construction site like few others in Canada starting in fall 2016.

Whether you support nuclear power misses the point: Ontario is a nuclear power in energy, and that demands public attention.

With 20 reactors, including two in safe storage, Ontario’s nuclear muscle dwarfs almost everything in the U.S. Only Illinois and Pennsylvania come close to Ontario, whose nuclear backbone provides about 60% of its energy needs.

And, yet, even in Southwestern Ontario, where the province first tested nuclear at Douglas Point in the 1960s, atomic energy is often out of mind even though it supports thousands of area jobs.

Southwestern Ontarians, their region Ground Zero for big fights on wind farms, can tell you about highrise-sized turbines. But fewer know the Bruce nuclear plant has the world’s largest operating capacity, or that it’s where OPG wants to sink its deep-burial waste disposal site.

For nuclear in Ontario, the lights are on but too few of us are home. That will soon change. http://www.woodstocksentinelreview.com/2015/03/16/burying-nuclear-waste-big-issue-for-ontario-now

greg.vanmoorsel@sunmedia.ca

March 28, 2015 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

USA to establish a new “independent” Nuclear Waste Administration

text-wise-owlSenators Propose New Nuclear WastAgency http://www.law360.com/publicpolicy/articles/635220/senators-propose-new-nuclear-waste-agency By Juan Carlos Rodriguez Law360, New York (March 24, 2015,  — A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Tuesday introduced legislation that would create a new agency to handle the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and establish a new working capital fund in the U.S. Treasury for nuclear waste projects.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2015 would safeguard and permanently dispose of the nation’s stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel, which are currently accumulating at separate sites across the country.

Waste-Confidence-RuleThe act would establish the Nuclear Waste Administration, an independent agency to manage the country’s nuclear waste program in place of the U.S. Department of Energy. The agency would be headed by an administrator appointed by the president and subject to Senate confirmation, according to the senators.

Under the bill, the NWA would build a pilot storage facility to hold spent fuel from decommissioned nuclear power plants and emergency shipments from operating plants, and be responsible for building consolidated storage facilities for non-priority spent fuel for utilities or defense wastes for the DOE on a temporary basis.

The act would also require the NWA to establish siting processes for storage facilities and repositories and link those storage facilities and repositories. And the administrator would be authorized to begin siting a pilot storage facility for priority waste immediately, while not setting waste volume restrictions on storage.

In addition to the NWA, the act would create the Nuclear Waste Fund, a new working capital fund in the U.S. Treasury, into which the fees collected from the utilities would be deposited. The funds would be available to the administration without further appropriation. The senators said fees already collected remain in the Nuclear Waste Fund, where they will continue to be subject to appropriation…….
Also on Tuesday, Obama authorized the DOE to begin the process of developing a repository to be used for disposal of some DOE-managed high-level radioactive waste. In 1985, a decision was made to commingle defense waste from weapons production and civilian nuclear waste from energy production and dispose of them in the same repository, the DOE said in a statement.
And Cantwell noted the bill was guided by principles laid out by The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, which was formed by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz at the request of President Barack Obama to conduct a comprehensive review of policies for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle and recommend a new strategy.

“I appreciate my colleagues’ recognition that dealing with our nation’s defense waste — more than half of which exists at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington — is an important priority,” Cantwell, the Senate Energy Committee’s ranking member, said in a statement.

But the DOE said the U.S. is no longer generating defense high-level waste associated with weapons production, and the inventory and composition of defense high-level waste is finite, which means the department can use separate disposal pathways for some waste streams.

“In addition, some defense waste is less radioactive, cooler and easier to handle than commercial waste, which means a simpler design and potentially fewer licensing and transportation challenges for a defense repository. Separate disposal of defense high-level waste could allow greater flexibility in site selection — and that could help keep costs down,” the department said. http://www.law360.com/publicpolicy/articles/635220/senators-propose-new-nuclear-waste-agency

March 27, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

USA’s military and commercial nuclear wastes to be dealt with separately

Senators, Energy Department Float Nuclear Waste Proposals US News 25 Mar 15 A bipartisan group and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz are exploring alternatives to a permanent storage facility in Nevada.

Four Senators from both sides of the aisle promoted legislation Tuesday calling for the construction of interim disposal sites for nuclear waste, a potential alternative to decades of deadlock over a permanent facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

text-wise-owl“Nuclear energy is a vital part of America’s energy portfolio, and for far too long, the American taxpayer has been on the hook for the federal government’s failure to implement an effective plan to handle the backend of the nuclear fuel cycle,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. “This legislation is an important step toward advancing the use of nuclear power in America.”

The bill does not mention Yucca Mountain, but it mirrors recommendations published in January 2012 by the Energy Department’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, a panel convened by President Barack Obama in 2010 to develop a new strategy for disposing of spent nuclear fuel. Continue reading

March 27, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

USA plans for storage of the 5% of nuclear wastes that originate from defense programs

wastes-1Flag-USAU.S. to pursue storage for nuclear waste from defense programs, Japan Times, BLOOMBERG

 MAR 25, 2015 WASHINGTON – The Energy Department plans to build a storage site for high-level nuclear waste from U.S. weapons systems. Energy officials, who didn’t give a timeline for developing the repository, said they will start by identifying potential locations and gain local support for the project. President Barack Obama signed a memorandum Tuesday backing the department’s plans.

An administration official who requested anonymity to discuss the plan said building the storage site probably will face fewer obstacles than establishing a repository for waste from nuclear power plants.

That’s in part because U.S. defense programs produce about 5 percent of all nuclear waste, the official said. Waste from generating electricity accounts for 85 percent of the total…http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/25/world/u-s-pursue-storage-nuclear-waste-defense-programs/#.VRR7wfyUcnk

March 27, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A win for future generations in Saskatchewan, as nuclear waste dump rejected

The powerful Nuclear Waste Management Organization with all their money and all their experts could not beat back the duty we have to protect our future generations”

there has been strong Indigenous opposition in Ontario for years. Both the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), representing 49 First Nations in northern Ontario, and the Anishinabek Nation, representing 39 member First Nations across Ontario, have formally declared their opposition to nuclear waste in all of their traditional territories……

“This is what happens when people stick together and fight for what they believe in,” said Fred Pederson, a Pinehouse resident and member of the Committee for Future Generations Continue reading

March 27, 2015 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

USA wants new nuclear waste storage (doesn’t occur to them to stop making this trash)

text-wise-owlUnder current law, the DOE is responsible for nuclear waste generated by electric utilities. The department has already paid out US$4 billion for failing to meet its obligation to remove waste that is now building up at nuclear power plants. It could be forced to shell out up to $23 billion more over the next 50 years if the issue isn’t resolved, Moniz said

US government seeks new sites for nuclear-waste storage Department of Energy pursues interim plan for commercial fuel and permanent location for defence waste. Nature Jeff Tollefson 24 March 2015 The US Energy Department will seek interim storage facilities for commercial nuclear waste and a permanent geologic repository for radioactive material from the country’s nuclear weapons programme, energy secretary Ernest Moniz said on 24 March. Continue reading

March 25, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactors turn out to have an equally Big Radioactive Waste problem

flag-UK1. Small Reactors and the UK’s Long-Term Nuclear Strategy. nuClear News, March 2015 “……Waste Implications The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) has looked at the waste implications of a 75GW programme [ i.e Small Modular Reactor or PRISM] which would be equivalent to a programme of over 50 new large-scale reactors.
wastes-1It said that since the Government has, so far, been mainly talking about the waste inventory from only a 16GW nuclear new build programme, it should consider defining a maximum size for a deep geological facility (GDF) and make clear that we might need multiple GDFs. (15)
The Environment Agency (EA) has already set a limit on the risk that may be caused by the burial of radioactive wastes of 10-6 (i.e. one in a million). (16) Figures from the NDA Disposability Assessment Report for waste arising from new EPR reactors (17) suggest that a programme equivalent to 50 large reactors would require around four GDFs.1
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has built up a momentum for SMRs by throwing hundreds of millions of dollars in cost-shared funding to jump-start the industry…..
text-SMRsfirst someone needs to build a massive supply chain. Money for that would presumably come from customer orders – if there were any. The problem is it appears that no one actually wants to buy one
So what are prospects for small reactors, both in the UK and globally? Former CoRWM Chair, Professor Gordon Mackerron says no SMR (properly defined) has yet been commercialised anywhere in the world, and work on them has been waning because the developers cannot find a market. This is unsurprising as their cost per unit of output is higher than the already expensive conventional, larger reactors, unless hundreds can be sold to give manufacturing economies……http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo72.pdf

March 22, 2015 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Germany’s nuclear power companies have not set aside sufficient funds for nuclear decommissioning

flag_germanyNuclear plant closure money insufficient – German gov’t report http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/20/germany-utilities-nadal-idUSB4N0VR00V20150320

BERLIN, March 20 Fri Mar 20, 2015 (Reuters) – A report commissioned by the German government believes nuclear power firms have not set aside enough money to cover the long-term costs of decommissioning plants, according to a copy of the report seen by Reuters on Friday.

The report from the law firm Becker Buettner Held said the 36 billion euros already set aside by Germany’s four nuclear operators E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Sweden’s Vattenfall was insufficient and meant the costs could fall on the public purse.

The report added the government should consider legal measures which would force the parent companies of nuclear power plant operators to assume liability in the case ofbankruptcy. (Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Stephen Brown)

March 21, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

What to do with ever accumulating radioactive waste? – Belgium doesn’t know

And then there’s the more hope-inducing prospect of transmuting the most-highly-radioactive long-living radioactive wastes into shorter-lived less radioactive isotopes.  This is one of the possibilities for the particle-accelerator-driven liquid-metal-cooled MYRRHA(Multi-purpose hYbrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications), currently under construction in Mol as well…..

similar to certain Thorium reactors, there is a possibility that innovative reactor designs like MYRRHA could assist in the transition from the extremely irresponsible era of currently used nuclear technologies towards a post-nuclear era.  (Problem is that fans of such new technologies seem just Gung ho about continuing the nuclear era, period, usually Book-PandoraReportCoverwhile downplaying cleaner alternatives, ánd accompanied with spewing nuclear propaganda, including belittling the effects of Chernobyl and Fukushima, as well as current nuclear waste disposal issues, and thus end up ultimately undermining their own credibility… The shameful propaganda-shit-movie, Pandora’s Promise, was such a horrid feat of deception, for example.)  ……

Regardless of scientific feats and research fame, the center’s history includes plenty of darker chapters too, including dumping some of its nuclear waste into the Atlantic Ocean[=> Source in Dutch] in the 1970s and 1980s. Belgium’s total waste dumped that way amounts to 55,324  containers with a total of 23,000 tons of (mainly low-level) wastes, dumped at 6 sites in the NE Atlantic.  Much of came from Doel NPP, but a part of it also came from this research site in Mol.
text-wise-owlA Visit to Belgium’s Nuclear Waste Depository Lab, HADES, 750 feet Underground. Not All Alleged is Apparent, March 20, 2015 “……..Part of my concerns stem not from what is going on at the lab per se, but more so from the Belgian government’s irresponsible delays to tackle key decisions, such as giving the green light and allocate the needed funds to start the search for an actual waste deposit site. Unbelievable:  Although scheduled, thát actually hasn’t even started yet.

The radioactive waste are simply accumulating in spent fuel pools and bunkers.  No long-term disposal site is even under construction yet.  They have NO IDEA YET where they’ll put it!   HADES, as it is now, is only an undergound laboratory.  Belgium has been researching the waste disposal issue longer than most other countries, but is currently (2015) near the end of the line for implementation (2035?).

Yet, also true, since disposal can’t even start until a couple more decades anyhow (during which the spent fuel and other wastes need to cool down more), ongoing research should help with making better decisions when that time has come.  Anyhow… “We’ll see.” is the very attitude of kicking the can onto the next generation… Continue reading

March 21, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, wastes | 2 Comments

Radioactive waste produced by fracking for gas

Fracking RadiationNorth Dakota Considers Weaker Landfill Rules, Less Oversight , CounterPunch, MARCH 19, 201 by JOHN LaFORGE

Radioactive waste produced by hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is making headlines all over gas land, particularly in North Dakota’s booming Bakken gas and oil field.

National news coverage of the scandalous illegal dumping of radioactive filter “socks” there  — on Indian Reservations no less — has led North Dakota’s legislature to consider changes to its radioactive waste laws so that fracking’s contaminated wastes can be dumped in ordinary landfills.

One current bill would permit fracking’s radioactive waste in state landfills to be contaminated with 10 times the radioactivity that state law now allows — as long as it’s covered with 10 feet of dirt. Radioactive fracking waste that’s not being illegally discarded — no Victoria, mobster dumping probably hasn’t ended — is supposed to be being trucked out of state.

ND House Bills 1113 and 1114 — reportedly requested by the State Health Department — are being contested by some law makers and journalists who question the right of the department to set its own rules.

The ND Newspaper Association and the ND Broadcasters Association complained that one bill eliminates mandatory public hearings about landfill rule changes and instead permits them “when appropriate.” The bill also cancels public notification of the permitting process for disposition of radioactive materials.

Dave Glatt of the State Health Department told the Bismarck Tribunethat his agency commissioned Argon National Laboratory in Chicago to study the issue and make recommendations. The department wanted to know “radiation limits that would be safe for workers and the public.” Glatt forgets that there are no safe radiation doses, only legally permitted ones.

Locals are Worried

“We don’t want to have, when this oil and coal is gone, nothing left here, a wasteland, and I’m afraid that’s what might happen,” said Underwood farmer Gene Wirtz to KXNET news reporter Ben Smith in January. Wirtz is worried about the increased radioactivity in local landfills. “Any amount of radiation beyond what you’re already getting is not a good thing,” he said.

Radioactive isotopes that contaminate fracking industry waste and its machinery include radon, radium-226, uranium-238, and thorium-232. According to the Health Department’s website, these long-lived radioactive pollutants come in six forms:

* “Produced water” which is injected underground but later brought to the surface as waste;

* “Sulfate scales,” which are hard, insoluble deposits that accumulate on frack sand and inside drilling and processing equipment;

* Contaminated soil and machinery;

* Filter socks, contaminated by  filtering “produced water”;

* Synthetic “proppants” or sand; and

* Sludge and “filter cake” solids of mud, sand, scale and rust that  precipitate or are filtered out of contaminated “produced water. They build up in “filter socks,” and in waste water pipes and storage tanks that can leak.http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/19/fracking-radiation/

March 21, 2015 Posted by | environment, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan has no solution to nuclear wastes. Closing reactors should start the end of nuclear industry

wastes-1flag-japanDecommissioning reactors should be step toward ending reliance on nuclear power Asahi Shimbun, 19 Mar 15 Kansai Electric Power Co. and Japan Atomic Power Co. on March 17 decided to decommission three nuclear reactors that have been in operation for more than 40 years. And on March 18, two more nuclear reactors, operated by Chugoku Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co., joined the “to be decommissioned” list.

This is the first application of the regulation that, in principle, limits the operation of nuclear reactors to 40 years. That rule was adopted after the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Nearly 20 of Japan’s 48 commercial nuclear reactors have been in service for 30 years or longer. Utilities get a one-time-only chance to extend operations beyond 40 years, but the reactor in question must pass special inspections and will require further investments. As the reactors continue to age, the utilities will have to make up their minds from year to year.

Since succeeding in nuclear power generation in 1963, Japan has promoted nuclear energy without any plans for decommissioned reactors. As a result, the nation is now stuck with all sorts of issues that must be resolved if the decommissioning of older reactors is to proceed. Only by overcoming these challenges and becoming a “nation capable of decommissioning nuclear reactors” will Japan be able to take its first firm step toward weaning itself off nuclear energy.

NUCLEAR WASTE PROBLEMS UNRESOLVED

Nuclear waste poses the most critical challenge to the planned decommissioning of nuclear reactors. Directives are effectively nonexistent as to where to store spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste left behind by dismantled reactors.

The government has never addressed this issue, citing its “nuclear fuel cycle” policy that presupposes the full recycling of all spent nuclear fuel. But in practice, this policy is completely useless. Utilities are effectively forced to resort to on-site storage of spent fuel in cooling pools or dry casks.

According to a promise made by Kansai Electric to the Fukui prefectural government, spent nuclear fuel will be “stored or disposed of outside the prefecture.” The utility’s decision to dismantle two reactors at the Mihama power plant means having to deal with this promise.

The handling of radioactive waste is just as problematic. While the waste is supposed to be sorted by the level of radioactivity and stored underground accordingly, nothing has been decided about specific storage locations, not only for highly radioactive waste but also for low-level waste. Nor have any standards been set for the management of buried waste.

Obviously, reactors cannot be dismantled in the absence of rules for spent fuel and nuclear waste disposal. In fact, Japan Atomic Power, which became the first in the nation to decide to decommission a reactor at the Tokai power plant in Ibaraki Prefecture, had to postpone the dismantling work for three years, and then an additional five years, because disposal rules for low-radiation nuclear waste could not be established in time.

Having given up on waiting for communities to volunteer as permanent storage sites for highly radioactive waste, the government has decided to take the initiative and start selecting candidate sites. But given that no community has ever volunteered, the selection process is obviously not going to be easy. To ensure that no community will be forced to become a nuclear waste dump against its will, the government must guarantee procedural transparency and be fully ready for dialogue with every candidate……..http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201503180044

March 20, 2015 Posted by | Japan, wastes | Leave a comment

In just one year, Sellafield nuclear clean-up bill jumps an extra £5bn

Cost of nuclear clean up at Sellafield increased an extra £5bn in the past year Chronicle Live UK By   15 Mar 15 The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has been slammed by MPs for the ever-increasing costs at the site in Cumbria Constantly increasing costs for the clean up of Sellafield are Britain’s bill for the Cold War, an MP has claimed.

This week MPs launched a fresh attack against the rising cost and delays of decommissioning and cleaning up the Sellafield nuclear site.

Leading figures from the nuclear industry were questioned by the Public Accounts Committee following the revelation that the expected costs have increased by £5 billion in a year, to £53 billion.

In a recent progress report on the work, the National Audit Office (NAO) criticised the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which oversees the plant, for delays in cancelling a clean-up contract with the consortium Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) after demands from MPs a year ago to do so.

The report said the contract was terminated only last month, at a cost to the taxpayer of £430,000 in cancellation fees.

  • The site is used to store nuclear material from across the UK and was the host of a facility which secretly produced nuclear materials for the UK’s defence programme during the Cold War which was finally demolished in 2014……..

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee, described the rise as “astonishing” and repeated her criticism during a hearing on Wednesday.

Delays had increased by 86 months since September 2013, while costs were going up by billions of pounds, she said…..

She said she was struck by the “unpredictable massive burden on future generations”, telling the nuclear industry officials it was a good idea to have strong targets and ambitions……..http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/cost-nuclear-clean-up-sellafield-8838478

March 16, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, politics, UK | Leave a comment

South Carolina – problem of nuclear wastes at coal plant

Nuclear waste, arsenic at SC coal plant raise concern BY SAMMY FRETWELL sfretwell@thestate.com March 7, 2015 HARTSVILLE, SC — Just a few hundred yards from Lake Robinson lies an old waste pond that, until this year, was among the least of Duke Energy’s worries in the Carolinas……..documents that have surfaced recently show the unlined 55-acre basin has leaked arsenic – and it has the unusual legacy of being a dump site for low-level nuclear waste. Both findings are producing new questions about how to cleanse the mess at Duke Energy’s H.B. Robinson power station……..

in the 1980s, at least 69,000 cubic meters of radiation-tinged sediment wound up in the coal ash pond from the nuclear plant, a rare occurrence because most power plants don’t include both coal-and nuclear-fired units.

State regulators in South Carolina said they knew of no other power plant site where atomic waste wound up in a coal ash pond. A spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Atlanta said the practice is rare…….http://www.thestate.com/2015/03/07/4031773_nuclear-waste-arsenic-at-sc-coal.html?rh=1

 

March 16, 2015 Posted by | OCEANIA, wastes | Leave a comment

Depleted uranium for Utah – mind boggling scenario

depleted-uraniumhighly-recommendedWill Utah bury nation’s leftover depleted uranium? 
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865624185/Will-Utah-bury-nations-leftover-depleted-uranium.html By , Deseret News SALT LAKE CITY — Yet another delay is being encountered on the long and winding regulatory path that will determine if Utah becomes a key repository of the nation’s supply of depleted uranium — low-level radioactive waste that becomes increasingly potent over millions of years.

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality just received this week additional information from EnergySolutions related to potential erosion and other “deep time” problems suspected to impact its Tooele County disposal site, pushing back the start of a public review to April 13.

Helge Gabert, project manager for the state on the depleted uranium issue, said the requested information was about a month late. It was submitted Wednesday for review. It will be incorporated into a subsequent analysis or safety evaluation that the agency will release for public comment about a week beyond its earlier time frame.

In addition, a pair of public meetings will be held the week of May 4, with a decision on disposal due July 1 from Rusty Lundberg, director of the Utah Division of Radiation Control.

To take the nation’s leftovers of 750,000 metric tons of depleted uranium, EnergySolutions has to first convince Utah regulators that its site will be safe for 10,000 years. Beyond that, it has to prove that the threat to public health will be minimal in the advent of a return of a Lake Bonneville or other “deep time geologic events” over 2.1 million years.

It is a mind boggling scenario, planning for all manner of circumstances that could play out, modeling time and performance over such an extended period that it is difficult to grasp.

EnergySolutions must account for the farmer who wanders onto the disposal site, unaware of the radiological hazard underneath his feet. Or the burrowing rodent that could cause vulnerabilities to the at-grade disposal site.

The company must try to figure out how the wind will deposit the sand, how dunes will form and when the lake returns — as some say it inevitably will — how the water might disperse the radiological hazard from an anticipated breach of the disposal barrier.

Such planning is something Utah is requiring because of the unique nature of depleted uranium, which is the byproduct of the uranium enrichment process for nuclear fuel. While depleted uranium has commercial applications, such as antitank armaments, demand for it is far outpaced by the amount that is generated. The U.S. Department of Energy has responsibility for its disposal.

Depleted uranium gets more radioactive as its isotopes try to get back to their natural state, and as these “daughter products” break down, they not only multiply, but increase in intensity.

The instability that occurs in the decay process occurs over 2.1 million years, with what was once classified as “low-level” radioactive waste breaching Utah-imposed limits on what is allowed to be buried in the state.

Gabert said there is no question that by 40,000 years, depleted uranium will violate the state’s prohibition on anything “hotter” than Class A waste, so it becomes a policy issue for current regulators to decide if its disposal is acceptable in the here and now.

“You could argue why does not the state just make the decision based on the science, but we have not made that. We are willing to hear out what the facility has to say,” Gabert said.

The deep time analysis looks in particular if the threat will be mitigated enough — if the doses of radioactivity would be diluted to the degree that even exposure to a higher “category” of waste would not cause harm.

Critics of the EnergySolutions’ proposal to dispose of the depleted uranium say no amount of assurances or analysis can safeguard human health given the sheer amount of unknowns.

March 14, 2015 Posted by | depleted uranium, environment, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear wastes out of control? Fukushima’s bags of radioactive trash pile up

The fruits of the laborers’ efforts are stacked in those giant sacks—5.5 million of them and counting. They are spread out across Fukushima province, along roadsides, in parking lots and backyards. They are tagged and bar-coded so authorities know what’s inside and how radioactive it is – and when the bags might start to wear out.

As the bags pile up and workers fan out across the landscape, some locals are questioning the cost-benefit analysis.

waste-bags-Fukushima

Fukushima nuclear plant cleanup has cost $13 billion and counting  After 4 years, Fukushima nuclear cleanup remains daunting, vast LA Times, By JULIE MAKINEN contact the reporter 12 Mar 15 “…..Karimata is in charge of the work here in an evacuation zone about 12 miles north of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant—part of the most extensive, and expensive, nuclear cleanup ever attempted.

The scale and complexity of what Japan is trying to do in the aftermath of the 2011 meltdown at Fukushima is mind-boggling. Decontamination plans are being executed for 105 cities, towns and villages affected by the accident at Fukusima Dai-ichi, 140 miles northeast of Tokyo.

Many Japanese regard this massive undertaking as a solemn obligation to right a terrible wrong. Others, even some of the people directly affected, question whether it’s a quixotic waste of resources.

Karimata’s delegation marches up a side street to check on a brigade of laborers wearing gloves, masks, helmets and fluorescent vests with radiation detectors tucked in their chest pockets. Some are spreading fresh soil in the yard of an uninhabited home. Next door, workers are up on a scaffold, preparing to wipe down the roof and gutters.

Across the street, near a bamboo grove, two men are erecting a plastic frame to support a massive double-lined garbage bag about the size of a hot tub. Dozens of identical black sacks, each weighing about a ton and stuffed with radiation-contaminated soil, leaves, wood chippings and other debris, stretch out behind them, awaiting transport at some uncertain date to a yet-unspecified final resting place.

Four years after the Great Tohoku Earthquake shook northern Japan to its core, touched off a deadly tsunami and precipitated the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster, hundreds of square miles remain off-limits for habitation due to radioactivity. Some 79,000 people still cannot return home.

But unlike the 1986 accident at Chernobyl, where authorities simply declared a 1,000 square-mile no-habitation zone, resettled 350,000 people and essentially decided to let the radiation dissipate over decades or centuries, Japan is attempting to make the Fukushima region livable again. It is an unprecedented effort.

The sheer manpower and money dedicated to the house-to-house effort is staggering: Continue reading

March 13, 2015 Posted by | Japan, Reference, wastes | 1 Comment

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