The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

20 years, $4.5 billion minimum to get rid of San Onofre nuclear power plant

nuclear-plant-San-OnofreShutting down San Onofre to take 20 years, cost $4.4B, NRC says , OCTOBER 28, 2014, BY   SAN DIEGO- IT WILL TAKE 20 YEARS AND COST $4.4 BILLION TO DECOMMISSION THE SAN ONOFRE NUCLEAR POWER STATION, REGULATORS SAY.

Activists and residents peppered the members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Monday with pointed questions about the decommissioning process. “How can you tell us a price when you can’t even tell us how long the waste will be there,” asked a woman at the meeting.

San Clemente resident Rochelle Becker said she thinks the process will end up costing much more than the commission’s estimate.

“The NRC has never met a budget. Why in the world should they now?” Becker asked rhetorically.

While the commission estimated that it would take 20 years to decommission the reactor, that doesn’t include removing the plant’s spent nuclear fuel rods. The spent nuclear waste will remain on the property for up to 100 years, under the current plan.

There is no federal nuclear waste storage site, so every nuclear reactor faces the same problem. At the end of their life cycle, nuclear power plant will become nuclear waste storage sites until that changes, according to the commission.

October 29, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor | Leave a comment

German govt sets up commission to seek solution to nuclear waste disposal

wastes-Gorleben-salt-mineflag_germanyWhere Shall We Store Our Radioactive Waste? Red Baron’s Blog, 18 Oct 14, From September 20 to 22, 2014 the Deutsch-Schweizer Fachverband für Strahlenschutz (Swiss-German Radiation Protection Association) held a symposium in Mainz dealing with the topic: Zwischenlager – Dauerlager – Endlager: Wohin mit unserem radioaktiven Abfall? (Intermediate, permanent and final storage: Where shall we store our radioactive waste?)

……….. the question is where can we find places to safely store material still presenting a hazard in more than 100,000 years? Such a choice not only needs our consent but that of future generations too. Germans stoke their Angst and trust their Bauchgefühl (gut feeling) so it will be difficult to reach the same general consent on a repository as in the case of the entry in and exit out of nuclear power.

The Federal Government has set up a commission of 33 persons to deal with the deposition of highly-radioactive waste according to the Standortauswahlgesetz(Law for selecting a site). The German government called scientists, members of environmental associations, representatives of the Churches!!, economy, trade unions, members of parliament and state governments into the commission to find a consensus on a site until December 31, 2015. In their initial sessions the members of the commission lost their time on points of order; so I doubt that they will meet the deadline set by the government…….

October 21, 2014 Posted by | Germany, wastes | Leave a comment

At least 4 years to scrap nuclear reactor barge


The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers recently announced plans to tow a World War II-era Liberty ship converted to a barge-mounted nuclear reactor to Galveston from Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia to be scrapped. The barge is expected to arrive at the Malin International Shipyard in mid-December……..The entire process is expected to less than four years, but the details of the scrapping operation once the USS Sturgis arrives in Galveston have not been finalized, officials said.

October 21, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Partial report by NRC creates false impression that Yucca Mountain nuclear waste plan could go ahead

Yucca-MtOfficials from the state of Nevada, which has fought against Yucca Mountain, challenged the report. Robert Halstead, director of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, said the NRC staff did not fully consider all the probabilities that could affect safety.

“It’s a pretty meek endorsement,” Halstead said. A review of the license application by state scientists and lawyers came up with 229 technical challenges, or contentions, that Nevada is prepared to pursue if the Yucca program moves forward.

The release of only a partial report “creates a false impression that the safety review has been completed,”

NRC staff: Yucca Mountain could meet safety needs by STEVE TETREAULT STEPHENS WASHINGTON BUREAU WASHINGTON  17 Oct 14 — A long-awaited report issued Thursday by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission found the Yucca Mountain site — once considered by the government but halted by the Obama administration — could be safe to store nuclear waste.

The federal agency released a staff analysis of a plan that the Department of Energy submitted for a license in 2008 but later disavowed. The 781-page document concluded that the site 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas “with reasonable expectation” could satisfy licensing rules.

The report immediately was seized by supportive lawmakers on Capitol Hill and executives in the nuclear industry as evidence the Yucca Mountain program largely dismantled by the Obama administration should be reassembled.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the NRC study shows the Nevada site is “a safe, worthwhile investment” that should be allowed to move forward.

If Republicans capture Senate control in the midterm elections next month, Murkowski would likely become chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Other Republicans have said that fresh votes on Yucca would be among the priorities in a GOP-controlled Congress.

Officials from the state of Nevada, which has fought against Yucca Mountain, challenged the report. Robert Halstead, director of Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, said the NRC staff did not fully consider all the probabilities that could affect safety.

“It’s a pretty meek endorsement,” Halstead said. A review of the license application by state scientists and lawyers came up with 229 technical challenges, or contentions, that Nevada is prepared to pursue if the Yucca program moves forward.

The NRC staff report analyzed the most far-reaching aspect of the repository plan: Whether the natural geology of Yucca Mountain coupled with a system of man-made barriers that would be built within the mountain could keep decaying radioactive particles from leaking into groundwater over periods of up to a million years.

After dissecting relevant parts of the license application, NRC analysts concluded it was reasonable to expect it “satisfies the requirements” for long-term nuclear waste storage.

Other aspects of the plan are still being studied by the NRC staff, and are expected to be discussed in other evaluation reports scheduled to be released before the end of the year. The report issued Thursday was Volume 3 of what is envisioned to be a five-volume study. Continue reading

October 18, 2014 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

No solution in sight, to South Korea’s mounting tonnes of radioactive trash

text-wise-owlflag-S-KoreaAs Nuclear Waste Piles Up, South Korea Faces Storage Crisis, Scientific American, 14 Oct 14 Among the usual commercials for beer, noodles and cars on South Korean TV, one item stands in marked contrast. By Meeyoung Cho SEOUL (Reuters) – Among the usual commercials for beer, noodles and cars on South Korean TV, one item stands in marked contrast.

A short film by a government advisory body carries a stark message: the nation faces a crisis over storing its spent nuclear fuel after running reactors for decades.

The world’s fifth-largest user of nuclear power has around 70 percent, or nearly 9,000 tonnes, of its used fuel stacked in temporary storage pools originally intended to hold it for five or six years, with some sites due to fill by the end of 2016.

It plans to cram those sites with more fuel than they were originally intended to hold while it looks for a permanent solution, suggesting little has been learned from the Fukushima disaster in neighboring Japan.

In the Fukushima crisis in 2011, the storage of large amounts of spent nuclear fuel in elevated pools posed a threat of massive radioactive release on top of meltdowns at three reactors. Spent fuel rods heated up after a quake knocked out water-cooling pumps, underlining the dangers of holding troves of radioactive material in relatively exposed cooling ponds.

“We cannot keep stacking waste while dragging our feet,” said Park Ji-young, director of the science and technology unit at respected think tank the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

“If we fail to reach a conclusion (on how to manage spent fuel), it would be time to debate if we should stop nuclear power generation.” With South Koreans still spooked by Fukushima and a scandal at home over fake safety certificates for nuclear equipment, the commission has its work cut out to come up with more than a temporary fix to the storage crunch in a report due by year-end………..


A permanent solution remains elusive, Continue reading

October 15, 2014 Posted by | South Korea, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear Regulatory Commission – “continued storage rule” takes over from “Waste Confidence Rule”

The action of the commission, although not addressing all potential impacts, is effectively saying, “so what?” “There are no significant environmental impacts from indefinite storage of used fuel.”.

Flag-USA Finding a permanent nuclear storage center, Aiken Standard  By CLINT WOLFE Guest columnist Oct 13 2014 “……..In a meeting that took only a few minutes the Nuclear Regulatory Commission passed a ruling regarding continued used nuclear fuel storage……..

 The essence of the issue is that the lack of a geological repository specifically identified for used nuclear fuel has caused the government to consider other alternatives. These include, but are not limited to, on-site storage of the fuel and consolidated interim storage.

A series of court challenges over time has seen the commission stick to its so-called waste confidence rule.

This rule has at least two aspects that are pertinent to this discussion.

One is that “if you don’t have a place to put the used fuel, then you can’t make any more.”

Anti-nuclear activists have pushed this viewpoint that no more nuclear power plants should be licensed until there is a permanent repository.

The commission has responded in the past that they are confident that a repository would be available before it is needed and merely kept changing the date on which that would occur. This approach led to a challenge that the commission was violating the National Environmental Protection Act by proposing a significant new federal project without having determined the environmental impact. This environmental impact could be looked at in every case to significantly slow each new license application.

The commission’s recent action closes out the waste confidence rule and introduces the continued storage rule. Continue reading

October 15, 2014 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | 1 Comment

Heavy task to dismantle San Onofre’s dead nuclear power plant

san-onofre-deadfCountdown to dismantling San Onofre  UT San Diego By Morgan Lee .OCT. 13, 2014 Heavy work on dismantling the San Onofre nuclear plant may be just three months away.

Today, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission intends to set in motion the 90-day countdown for major decommissioning activities by confirming receipt of detailed plans for the project, known as a “post-shutdown decommissioning activities report,” from San Onofre operator Southern California Edison. The notice will be published in the Federal Register.

Edison wants to restore most of the Navy-owned site in northern San Diego County during the next 20 years, a relatively quick schedule. The federal government allows up to 60 years for decommissioning, so that high-level radiation can dissipate.

The commission will conduct a public meeting to discuss Edison’s decommissioning plan, cost estimates and related environmental impacts on Oct. 27 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Omni La Costa in Carlsbad. Beyond the meeting, written comments on the dismantling issue are due to the agency by Dec. 22.

Edison said the job will cost about $4.4 billion. The company announced in June that enough money has been set aside in trust accounts over recent decades to pay for the project.

The utility company is seeking authority to tap decommissioning funds to pay for most San Onofre-related expenses since the facility’s retirement was announced in June 2013.

It also is asking for permission from state utility regulators to cease annual collections of $23 million from its customers that are meant for the trust accounts — and to refund at least $17 million of that money……..

October 15, 2014 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

South Korea desperately buying time, as another 750 tonnes add yearly to its nuclear waste stack




it’s really stupid to just keep on making the stuff

As Nuclear Waste Piles Up, South Korea Faces Storage Crisis, Scientific American, 14 Oct 14“……….The 23 nuclear reactors in Asia’s fourth-biggest economy add a total of 750 tonnes of spent fuel every year to the 13,300 tonnes that filled 71 percent of its wet and dry storage capacity as of last year, according to reactor operator Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co Ltd, owned by state-run Korea Electric Power Corp.

That means storage could fill by 2021, with some pools in danger of reaching capacity by the end of 2016.

Seoul hopes to win time by stacking spent fuel more densely in those concrete-covered pools next to reactor buildings, and by moving waste to pools at 11 new power plants that are set to be built by 2024.

But experts warn that leaving spent fuel in water could be fraught with danger, even in a country that is not anywhere near as seismically active as Japan. They note that the buildings that house pools are typically not as strong as those that hold reactors, which have steel vessels inside concrete domes.

“Spent fuel in a concrete building next to reactor buildings is vulnerable to missile or other attacks from the outside,” said one expert, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

He said that stacking fuel more densely would compound any risk as it would reduce air circulation.

“Air circulation helps lower chances of spent fuel meltdown if water drains or water-cooling pumps are broken when hit by natural disaster or terror attack.”


October 15, 2014 Posted by | South Korea, wastes | Leave a comment

USA’s new Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) not a basis for new nuclear power development

expect to see the issue end up back in federal court, where judges will have to determine whether the NRC’s unwillingness to adopt an actual waste “confidence” policy, instead relying on an assertion that current waste practice is good enough, meets the requirements of the Atomic Energy Act.

Waste Confidence 1Still no confidence in NRC radwaste policy June 8, 2012, a federal court threw out the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s “waste confidence” policy, setting into motion a chain of events that still hasn’t stopped rattling the commission and the entire nuclear power industry.

The court ruled that with the shutdown of the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada, radioactive waste repository and no new repository on the horizon, the NRC had no basis to say that it had confidence that radioactive waste would always be managed safely.

Since the Atomic Energy Act requires that the NRC have such confidence in order to issue reactor licenses (and license renewals), the NRC was forced to institute a moratorium on issuance of all reactor licenses.

At the time, the NRC staff said a thorough job on a new policy to replace the “waste confidence” policy would take seven years of work. But the NRC Commissioners decided to rush the job and this summer issued a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) that it said functions as a substitute for the policy.

There are a couple (well, at least a couple) problems with this approach. Continue reading

October 13, 2014 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Dounreay’s toxic nuclear wastes – for storage and return to Australia, Germany & Belgium

Dounreayflag-ScotlandToxic conundrum: Dealing with Dounreay’s leftovers By Steven McKenzieBBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter 7 Oct 14 Built in the 1950s to push forward the UK’s nuclear energy ambitions, Dounreay is now at the centre of complex £1.6bn demolition job.

The incident which saw cargo ship Parida drifting in the Moray Firthhas, and not for the first time, cast a spotlight on the issue of dealing with part of Dounreay’s legacy – its tonnes of radioactive waste, nuclear fuel and other contaminated material.

So how are these toxic leftovers being handled, and what kinds of material are involved?

During the 1990s, nuclear material was sent from abroad to Dounreay for reprocessing.The customers included power plants and research centres in Australia, Germany and Belgium……..

Because Dounreay is being decommissioned, the foreign material is now being sent back to the countries from which it originated.

In 2011, it was announced that more than 150 tonnes of intermediate level waste would be transported back to Belgium in 21 shipments over four years.The waste was the result of reprocessing 240 spent fuel elements from Belgium’s BR2 research reactor, which produces isotopes for use in medicine and industry.

The reprocessing created about 22,680 litres of liquid waste. This has been mixed with cement and poured into 123 drums each weighing 1.25 tonnes.

Danish company Poulsens has been contracted by the Belgian authorities to take the drums to Belgium. The first shipment left Scotland in September 2012……..

October 10, 2014 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

The mysterious mess of the Parks radioactive trash

wastesFlag-USACasey wants nuclear cleanup details released Trib Live, By Mary Ann Thomas Oct. 10, 2014

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is pressing the Army to publicly release an agreement on how it and three other federal agencies will clean up a waste dump with mysterious nuclear materials in Parks.

The Army Corps of Engineers shut down the cleanup three years ago, only about a month into a 10-year project that could cost up to $500 million.

A Corps contractor dug up nuclear materials that it was not prepared to deal with, according to an investigation by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Although the site received two types of uranium — U-235 and U-233 — and other radioactive materials, the initial cleanup process was developed to handle smaller amounts of nuclear contamination.

The federal investigation found that there isn’t enough documentation to know the level of nuclear contamination at the site. Other federal agencies were called in to help, including the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which deals with nuclear weapons materials.

According to the federal investigation, the original agreement didn’t account for finding more complex nuclear materials, which resulted in disagreements among the agencies on responsibilities.

So now, four agencies have reached an agreement on cleanup responsibilities: the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and NNSA.

However, they have not released the details to the public, not the least of which are the people who live in Kiskimere, the rural village that sits within feet of the waste dump.

Casey and the Corps of Engineers are calling for the agreement to be made public. Casey and residents were instrumental in bringing in the NRC Inspector General’s Office to investigate problems with the cleanup.

“Sen. Casey believes it’s critical that his constituents are appropriately informed about the proposed cleanup of the (Parks Township nuclear waste dump) site,” said John Rizzo, Casey’s press secretar

October 10, 2014 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

International Atomic Energy Agency defined six types of nuclear wastes

Nuclear waste is going nowhere slowly  03 OCT 2014 ANSIE VICENTESARAH WILD  Generations from now, there will still be no-go areas storing radioactive by-products of nuclear power production. ……….

wastes-1Six ways to neutralise nuclear excess

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s guidelines published in 2009 define six different types of nuclear waste, each with its own suggested disposal method, determined by how dangerous the waste is to humans and the environment, how much heat it generates, and its reaction to water and temperature.

  • Exempt waste” does not require any protection and is simply disposed of like other rubbish;
  • “Very low-level waste”, typically soil and rubble with low levels of radioactivity, is disposed of in landfills;
  • “Very short-lived waste” is first shielded and then stored, usually in a purpose-built building, to decay by itself over a few years;
  • “Low-level waste” needs a few hundred years to be considered safe and is buried near the surface once it has been encased in concrete or metal and shielded;
  • “Intermediate-level waste” needs time but no heat protection, and consists mainly of the cladding and resins used in nuclear plants, and contaminated materials that come from decommissioned nuclear reactors. It is generally covered in concrete or bitumen and buried in the region of 10 to hundreds of metres underground; and
  • “High-level waste”, such as spent fuel rods, remains radioactive for tens of thousands of years and generates its own heat. It can be stored on site, as it is at Koeberg or Pelindaba. The United States and Russia vitrify the waste (mix it with glass particles), clad it in concrete, shield it with lead or water and bury it, sometimes kilometres underground, in a process called “deep geological disposal”. – Ansie Vicente

October 6, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Lois Gibbs, who exposed Love Canal pollution scandal, speaks out on nuclear wastes

wastesFlag-USANobel Prize nominee in STL, talks nuclear waste Grant Bissell, KSDK7:40 p.m. CDT October 4, 2014 ST. LOUIS – A Nobel Peace Prize nominee was in St. Louis Saturday to talk about nuclear waste that’s contaminated parts of our area.

Lois Gibbs is known for her extensive activism at Love Canal, a nuclear waste site in New York. On Saturday, she spoke at a community meeting in Maryland Heights organizers say was centered on educating people about the radioactive West Lake Landfill and Coldwater Creek.

“Of all of the site’s I’ve visited, and I’ve visited tons of sites across this country in the last 33 years, this is by far the worst,” Gibbs said of West Lake.

The landfill is owned by Republic Services and contains World War II-era nuclear waste. It’s adjacent to the Bridgeton Landfill, which has had an underground smoldering event for years.

“How do they expect families to live with that kind of terrible fact?” Gibbs said.

The activist is helping amplify the calls to remove the waste from West Lake.

“We’ve got to make the people in this community safe. That should be Republic’s number one goal right now,” said Chuck Stiles, the assistant director of the Teamsters Solid Waste Division.

Many of the people at the meeting either live near the West Lake Landfill or Coldwater Creek. The waterway streams through parts of north St. Louis County and was contaminated by the same waste as West Lake. Hundreds of people who grew up near the creek have developed illnesses they believe are related to exposure to the waste………

A coalition called Just Moms STL has started petitions to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen and the St. Louis County Council to have the waste removed from the West Lake Landfill.

October 6, 2014 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

South Africa’s present, and future, nuclear waste problem

wastes-1flag-S.AfricaNuclear waste is going nowhere slowly Mail & Guardian 03 OCT 2014 ANSIE VICENTESARAH WILD  Generations from now, there will still be no-go areas storing radioactive by-products of nuclear power production. In 300 years, South Africa’s Vaalputs nuclear waste site – a 10 000ha reserve in the dusty Northern Cape – will be opened for unrestricted use. Until then, it needs to be guarded and monitored; no small feat considering that if the 1820 British settlers had buried nuclear waste on their arrival, we would still be guarding the site.

About 100km from the town of Springbok, a warm wind raises dust from the ground, which has not seen rain in many months. Eight metres underground, concrete and metal drums containing low- and medium-level nuclear waste are biding their time, as the natural and sparse shrubbery reclaims the surface of the trenches they were buried in.

This is one of the major question marks over nuclear technology: What do we do with the waste?……….

the urgent question posed at the scientific forum in Vienna was what to do with the more dangerous high-level waste. For South Africa, with its plans to build a nuclear fleet to generate an additional 9 600MW of electricity, about 23% of the country’s power requirements, this issue is even more pressing.

Koeberg and Pelindaba’s high-level nuclear waste remains on site and is not moved. According to South Africa’s 2011 report to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, “used fuel from the Koeberg nuclear power station is currently stored in authorised used fuel pools on the site as well as in casks designed and constructed for storage of used fuel”………

“it is recognised that the current storage capacity at the Koeberg and Pelindaba sites [is] finite and the practice of storing used fuel on a reactor site is not sustainable indefinitely”.

So what will happen to the nuclear waste from the country’s proposed 9 600MW nuclear build?

Storage ‘pools’,…..

As Carl-Magnus Larsson, the chief executive of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, said: “We must remember that storage is an interim solution until final management and disposal … it remains a temporary measure.”….

October 6, 2014 Posted by | South Africa, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan now closing super-costly Tokai nuclear fuel processor

text-wise-owlTokai nuclear fuel processor to close due to cost of meeting new standards

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency has announced that it will shut down a spent nuclear fuel processor in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, as the cost to prepare the facility for new regulation standards established after the Fukushima nuclear plant crisis is predicted to top 100 billion yen.

The agency reported the decommission plan of the existing nuclear fuel processor at a meeting of its reform committee held on Sept. 29.

According to the agency, the nuclear fuel processing technology that has been under development at the Tokai facility has almost been completely moved to another processing station in Aomori Prefecture operated by Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd.

The new regulation standards for running a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility require operators to take the same level of safety and anti-disaster measures against earthquakes and tsunami as nuclear power stations. The agency’s executive director Shigeo Nomura told the meeting that continuing the spent fuel recycling project will not be approved by the public in terms of economic rationality.

The agency will include the decommission plan in its medium-term operational policy, which comes into effect in the next fiscal year, and file a decommission plan with the Nuclear Regulation Authority as early as fiscal 2017.

The Tokai plant came into full operation in 1981. Since 2006, it had reprocessed spent nuclear fuel from the now-decommissioned converter-type nuclear reactor Fugen in Fukui Prefecture.

There are some 110 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel left in the Tokai plant, and the agency plans to commission France to treat the remaining fuel.

October 3, 2014 Posted by | Japan, politics, wastes | Leave a comment


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 863 other followers