The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Did China dump nuclear trash in Northern Sudan?

radioactive trashflag-ChinaSudan: Govt Urged to Investigate ‘Nuclear Waste Dumping’   Khartoum / Merowe — The Sudanese Parliament and the Communist Party of Sudan (CpoS) have called on the government to “immediately investigate the burial of nuclear waste” from China in the Northern State. The director of the governmental Dams Implementation Unit has strongly denied the “presence of containers with chemicals or harmful substances to Sudan from any other country”.

The former director of the Sudan Atomic Energy Commission in Sudan, Mohamed Siddig, said at a conference in Khartoum last Tuesday that 60 containers with nuclear waste were brought from China to Sudan during the construction of the Merowe Dam in the Northern State.

Siddig told the audience that 40 containers were buried in the desert not far from the Merowe Dam construction site. Another 20 containers were disposed of in the desert. He did not mention the date the waste was dumped, however China worked on the dam between 2004 and 2009. On Sunday, the spokesman for the caucus of the independent MPs, Mubarak El Nur, called for an immediate investigation into the alleged crime. The perpetrators should be brought to justice, he stressed.

The chairman of the Northern State’s parliamentary Services Committee, Ali Hassan Bateik, said that the northern MPs will also demand an investigation into the rapid rise of cancer and kidney failure in the region

Medics  The medical contingent of the Communist Party demanded that the government disclose the exact sites of the 60 Chinese containers.

In a statement on Sunday, the doctors emphasise the need for holding those involved in the operation accountable: “Charge them with murder, and sentence them to maximum penalties”.

The medics also blame the government for keeping silent on the growing number of people in the area who suffer from kidney failure or cancer.

Rumours The director of the governmental Dams Implementation Unit, Jaafar Mohamed Hammad, however, strongly denied the “presence of containers with chemicals or harmful substances to Sudan from any other country”.

He told the Sudan News Agency (Suna) in Khartoum last week that he will take legal action “against those who spread the rumours” about the dumping of Chinese nuclear waste in the Northern State.

November 25, 2015 Posted by | AFRICA, China, secrets,lies and civil liberties, wastes | Leave a comment

Tennessee unhappy about new radioactive trash plans for Oakridge.

Tennessee raises concerns about proposed Oak Ridge nuclear landfill November 22nd, 2015by Associated Press OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — Tennessee officials are raising concerns about the U.S. Department of Energy’s plans for a new nuclear landfill at Oak Ridge.

Oakridge, Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is pushing DOE to consider other Oak Ridge sites beyond the agency’s preferred one, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

The federal agency’s preferred site is adjacent to an existing landfill on the government reservation and only 650 yards from the city boundary.

“We are continuing to work with the DOE and EPA on this issue and taking the matter very seriously,” Kelly Brockman, communications chief for TDEC, said in an email response to questions.

The Department of Energy’s current landfill for cleanup wastes is approaching capacity. That’s largely due to the mountains of hazardous and radioactive debris generated by the demolition of K-25 and other former uranium-processing facilities in Oak Ridge. Continue reading

November 23, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Europe’s nuclear companies face multi $billion burden in disposing of dead nuclear reactors

Standard & Poor’s: Dismantling Europe’s old nuclear power plants will run up a €100bn bill for EDF, E.ON, RWE and others 19 November 2015 by Jessica Morris Dismantling Europe’s old, uneconomic power plants will impose heavy costs on Europe’s biggest operators, something which could strain their balance sheets, and hit their credit rating.


Nuclear liabilities of the largest eight nuclear plant operators in Europe totaled €100bn at the end of last year, representing around 22 per cent of their aggregate debt, according to credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s.

Operators are legally responsible for decommissioning nuclear power plants, a process which can take several decades to implement, meaning the associated costs are high. Europe’s main nuclear operators include France’s EDF, Germany’s E.ON and RWE. They are legally responsible for decommissioning nuclear power plants, a process which can take several decades to implement, meaning the associated costs are high.

While the analysis by S&P treats nuclear liabilities as debt-like obligations, it recognises that several features differentiate them from traditional debt. But given the size of the liabilities against a company’s debt, they can impact a company’s credit metrics, and their credit rating.

The report noted that a company’s nuclear provisions are difficult to quantify, as well as cross compare, because accounting methods vary between different countries. It also foresees many operational challenges ahead, including a reality check on costs and execution capabilities.

November 20, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, EUROPE | Leave a comment

17 year delay before USA govt even starts cleanup of Hanford radioactive waste

exclamation-Flag-USAU.S. government proposes 17-year delay in start of Hanford nuclear tank cleanup — until 2039  Ralph VartabedianContact Reporter, 19 Nov 15 

The Energy Department has proposed a 17-year delay in building a complex waste treatment plant at its radioactively contaminated Hanford site in Washington state, pushing back the full start-up for processing nuclear bomb waste to 2039.


The department submitted the 29-page plan in federal court as part of a suit to amend an agreement with the state that requires the plant to start operating in 2022.

A series of serious technical questions about the plant’s design have caused one delay after another. Two of the major facilities at the cleanup site, which resembles a small industrial city, are under a construction halt ordered in 2013 by then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

The plant, located on a desert plateau above the Columbia River, is designed to transform 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge, currently stored in underground tanks, into solid glass that could theoretically be stored for thousands of years.

The waste was a byproduct of plutonium production, which started with the Manhattan Project during World War II.

The 586-square-mile Hanford site is widely considered the most contaminated place in the country, requiring 8,000 workers to remediate half a century of careless industrial practices that were done under strict federal secrecy. The Energy Department filing shows the extent of the problems. Continue reading

November 20, 2015 Posted by | Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Deep nuclear waste burial plan approved by Finland’s government

flag-FinlandDeep Storage Plans Approved. IEEE Spectrum  By Lucas Laursen 17 Nov 2015 Finland’s government issued a construction license to nuclear disposal consortium Posiva last week, Reuters reported. The license gives the group approval to build a storage facility on Olkiluoto Island, Finland, designed to last 100,000 years.


waste burial Olkiluoto Island

The facility would be the first of its kind in the world. Since the beginning of the nuclear power age, energy firms have paid to store nuclear waste in temporary holding ponds unlikely to last more than a couple of centuries.  The Posiva facility, decades in the planning, may pioneer a more sustainable era of disposal. (See “Finland’s Nuclear Waste Solution,” IEEE Spectrum, December 2009.)

Nuclear waste consists of metal rods composed mostly of uranium with a molecular weight of 238. Over time, the depleted uranium atoms release radioactive particles—a process called decay—that converts the uranium into lighter elements. Over billions of years, those atoms decay, too. By the end, all that is left is lead.

In the (long) meantime, however, the radioactive material can contaminate its surroundings, and therefore requires costly management. The United States and other nuclear-powered countries have thus far proven unable to agree on where to store their half-century’s worth of accumulated nuclear waste. An earthquake, volcanic activity, or even a slow leak of water could disrupt the temporary facilities in which the waste now sits.

To provide safer and more permanent storage, Posiva proposes to bury electrically-welded iron-and-copper capsules 400 meters underground. The capsules would be surrounded by clay barriers and capped with rubble and cement. The facility, which would have a 6,500 metric ton capacity, could likely hold Finland and Sweden’s projected future nuclear waste. But that capacity doesn’t come close to the volume required by larger nations such as the United States, which has over 70,000 metric tons of waste piled up, and produces an additional 2,200 tons a year.

Though tunneling has been going on for over a decade, Posiva had to wait for the Finnish government to approve its 2012 construction permit application before it could begin the trickier task of loading radioactive waste into its metal coffins. That task may begin as soon as 2023, continue for up to a century, and end when operators fill in the access tunnels with rubble and cap them off with cement. Posiva estimates that installation and operating costs for the first century will be around €3 billion (US $3.21 billion).

November 18, 2015 Posted by | Finland, Reference, wastes | 1 Comment

Finland’s nuclear waste burial plan

flag-Finlandwastes-1Finland’s Nuclear Waste Solution. IEEE Spectrum,  By Sandra Upson 30 Nov 2009 Here on Olkiluoto Island, the forest is king. Elk and deer graze near sun-dappled rivers and shimmering streams, and humans search out blueberries and chanterelle mushrooms. Weathered red farmhouses sit along sleepy dirt roads in fields abutting the woods. Far beneath the vivid green forest, deep in the bedrock, workers are digging the labyrinthine passages and chambers that they hope to someday pack with all of Finland’s spent nuclear fuel.

Posiva, the Finnish company building an underground repository here, says it knows how to imprison nuclear waste for 100 000 years. These multimillennial thinkers are confident that copper canisters of Scandinavian design, tucked into that bedrock, will isolate the waste in an underground cavern impervious to whatever the future brings: sinking permafrost, rising water, earthquakes, copper-eating microbes, or oblivious land developers in the year 25 000. If the Finnish government agrees—a decision is expected by 2012—this site will become the world’s first deep, permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel.

Of course, not everyone shares Posiva’s confidence. ”It’s deep hubris to think you can contain it,” says Charles McCombie, executive director of the Association for Regional and International Underground Storage, based in Switzerland.

There’s more at stake here than the interment of 5500 metric tons of spent Finnish fuel. More than 50 years after the first commercial nuclear power plants went operational in the United Kingdom and the United States, the world’s 270 000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel remain in limbo. After it gets swapped out of a reactor, utilities put it in specially designed pools, where chilled, circulating water absorbs the initial heat and radioactivity. After about five or six years, the fuel has cooled considerably, enabling utilities with limited pool space to load it into huge, million-dollar steel casks that are left to sit on concrete pads within guarded compounds.

The arrangement is far from ideal. Continue reading

November 18, 2015 Posted by | Finland, Reference, wastes | 2 Comments

South Australia: the State to become radioactively poisoned yet again?

Freydenberg said the facility would ‘only’ house low and intermediate level waste. Perhaps he is unaware of the toxicity of this LLILW. Dr Green again: ‘When the spent fuel is removed from the reactor, it is high-level nuclear waste. After some months it cools down and falls below the heat criterion so is reclassified as LLILW.’

The farmer opponents of the Kimba sites are right to be concerned. The spent fuel reprocessing waste will be hazardous for thousands of years.

South-Australia-nuclearSouth Australia’s nuclear threat continues Michele Madigan |  17 November 2015

Last Friday 13 November, the federal government released the shortlisted sites of the proposed national radioactive waste facility. No surprise that three are in South Australia, the ‘expendable state‘: Cortlinye and Pinkawillinie near Kimba on Eyre Peninsula, and Barndioota near Hawker, north of Port Augusta.

I wonder if South Australians aren’t beginning to feel like nuclear particles themselves, bombarded on all sides by the nuclear industry. This announcement from the federal government about its nuclear repository plans comes as the state government continues to consider, through its Royal Commission, whether, when and where South Australia will offer to host the world’s high-level nuclear waste.

The six names on the federal government shortlist (the remaining three being Sallys Flat in NSW, Hale in the Northern Territory and Oman Ama in Queensland) are taken from an original list of 28 properties that were offered by their landowners. It’s disturbing to find that the owner of the Cortilinye site, at least, has been misinformed,believing ‘It’s basically only a medical waste facility.’

In reality, only 10–20 per cent of the radioactive waste is medical in origin. And nuclear medicine is in no way affected by the lack of a national repository.

Resources and energy minister Josh Freydenberg’s Friday announcement included a masterly sentence of understatement: ‘Low level waste is those gloves or those goggles or the paper or the plastic that comes into contact with nuclear medicine, and intermediate waste could be, for example, those steel rods that are used in the reactor to actually create these particular products.’

It’s interesting to notice what’s different and what stays the same from the 1998–2004 ‘dump’ campaign in SA.Former science and energy minister Nick Minchin’s ultimately unsuccessful task back then was the imposition of a national dump on a South Australian community. His favourite low-level waste examples were watches that shine in the dark.

Senator Minchin however was not quite as casual as Freydenberg about what the intermediate waste ‘could be’. While Freydenberg seems to be casting around for an arbitrary ‘example’, the ‘steel rods’ he refers to, which are still travelling by sea from France back to Australia, are in fact long-lived intermediate level radioactive waste (LLILLW). As Dr Jim Green of Friends of the Earth explains:

‘Despite the name, spent fuel is orders of magnitude more radioactive than the original uranium ore. The spent fuel reprocessing waste returning from France will be stored at Lucas Heights, south of Sydney, and is then destined for ‘interim’ above-ground storage at one of the six sites.

‘Oddly, the government is making no effort to find a final disposal site for LLILW,’ he adds, even though ‘according to international standards, it should be subject to deep underground disposal, some hundreds of metres underground.’

Freydenberg said the facility would ‘only’ house low and intermediate level waste. Perhaps he is unaware of the toxicity of this LLILW. Dr Green again: ‘When the spent fuel is removed from the reactor, it is high-level nuclear waste. After some months it cools down and falls below the heat criterion so is reclassified as LLILW.’

The farmer opponents of the Kimba sites are right to be concerned. The spent fuel reprocessing waste will be hazardous for thousands of years.

All the while, the push for welcoming the world’s most dangerous material continues within SA — despite 40 per cent of SA’s electricity currently supplied by renewable energy.

It’s interesting how ethics enters the debate on the pro-nuclear side. With uranium just .02 per cent of the nation’s export dollars, Premier Weatherill has quoted ‘some’ who saw that because SA has 70 per cent of Australia’s uranium reserves ‘we’re duty bound to play our role in storing the waste’. In a signed letter to me earlier this month he was more direct.

The environmentalist refutation is more logical. The people do not choose to export uranium, but governments and companies do. If any government imports uranium then, just as with any other product, they import the responsibility of dealing with it.

As South Australia contemplates the renewed prospect of hosting both national and international radioactive waste sites, the stakes are high, especially for local Aboriginal populations whose collective memories include both the British mainland atomic tests of the 1950s and 1960s, and the successful campaign of 1998–2004 opposing a proposed national dump.

‘We live off the land,’ one young man from Coober Pedy wrote informally to the Royal Commission. ‘We go bush, we gather our food out there. We don’t want radioactive waste to destroy our land. It’s going to contaminate everything — our creeks, our water, our family.’

‘We don’t want the nuclear waste to be on our lands,’ Mima Smart, chairperson of Yalata, told me. Yalata is the place to which the people of the Maralinga Lands were removed to in 1952, a year prior to the first mainland explosion in the British nuclear test series.

‘Long ago our people didn’t have any rights and went through the bomb,’ she says. ‘That’s why we haven’t got Old People today. But these days we have our legal rights. How many more people do they want to die like what we seen?’

November 18, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, wastes | Leave a comment

Finland’s underground nuclear waste storage plan approved

flag-FinlandFinland approves underground nuclear waste storage plan, Reuters, 12 Nov 15 

HELSINKI Finland has become the first country in the world to give a construction license for a permanent underground nuclear waste repository, the center-right government said on Thursday.

waste-burialIt approved Posiva Oy’s plan to construct a spent nuclear fuel encapsulation plant and disposal facility at the island of Olkiluoto, western Finland. Local people have accepted the plan.

Up to 6,500 tonnes of uranium may be deposited in the facility, some 450 meters (490 yards) below the surface in the granite bedrock. It is estimated to become operational from around 2023.

Sweden has similar plans, but Posiva said it is a few years behind Finland. “This is a huge step for us. We’ve done research and development work for this for more than 40 years,” said CEO Janne Mokka.

The world has 270,000 tonnes of used fuel stockpiled, much of it under water in ponds at nuclear power stations, adding to the urgency of finding a permanent storage solution  for material that can remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years.

In Posiva’s disposal process, the waste will be packed in copper canisters and transferred into tunnels and further into deposition holes lined with bentonite buffer. Construction is expected to cost just under a billion euros, and the total cost estimate, including operational costs for 100 years, is 3.5 billion euros ($3.8 billion).

Before the repository can go operational, Posiva must yet again analyze its environmental impacts, including the ability to retrieve the nuclear waste if necessary as well as the transport risks……..

November 13, 2015 Posted by | Finland, wastes | Leave a comment

PRISM (Power Reactor Innovative Small Module) and MOX much touted, but nuclear waste burial is best

Another option on the table is PRISM. Developed by GE Hitachi (GEH), PRISM is a sodium-cooled fast reactor that uses a metallic fuel alloy of zirconium, uranium, and plutonium. GEH claims PRISM would reduce the plutonium stockpile quicker than MOX and be the most efficient solution for the UK. The problem is, despite being based on established technology, a PRISM reactor has yet to be built, and the UK is understandably a little reluctant to commit in this direction. Seen as something of a gamble, it remains in the running alongside the currently more favoured MOX option.

Amid all the uncertainty, one thing is for sure. Regardless of what decision is taken, a proportion of the plutonium will end up as waste and will need to be safely disposed of.


waste-burialUnlike MOX and PRISM, immobilisation has no prominent industry backers. In comparison to exploiting the plutonium for our energy needs, there is no great fortune to be made from disposing of it safely. But immobilising the entire plutonium stockpile may in fact be a more economically sound approach than reprocessing

Sellafield plutonium a multi-layered problem, The Engineer UK,   6 November 2015 | By Andrew Wade   “……..It takes somewhere in the region of 5-10kg of plutonium to make a nuclear weapon, so 140 tons is a slightly worrying amount to have sitting in a concrete shed in Cumbria. While everyone at the press conference was at pains to point out that there are no major safety concerns with the current storage, it is widely accepted that a long-term plan needs to be formulated. This, however, is where things get tricky. The potential energy of the plutonium if converted to nuclear fuel is massive, but there are several competing technologies vying for endorsement, none of which are well proven as financially viable.

Top of the list – and the government’s current preference – is for some application that uses mixed oxide fuel, or MOX. MOX is made by blending plutonium with natural or depleted uranium to create a fuel that is similar, but not identical, to the low-enriched uranium used in most nuclear plants today. MOX can be – and in several European countries is – used in thermal reactors alongside uranium. But despite past concerns, there is in reality no shortage of uranium today, so no huge need to supplement it with MOX in current reactors. Where MOX could in fact lead to greater efficiencies is in fast reactors, but these are costly and difficult to operate, and would not make economic sense unless the cost of uranium fell.

To complicate matters further, developing MOX is by no means a straightforward process. Continue reading

November 9, 2015 Posted by | Reference, reprocessing, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Australia should not become the world’s radioactive trash dump

text-cat-questionWhen nuclear reactors shut (as they are doing in USA) – where is the income stream to pay Australia for having all that radioactive trash?



Mona-Lisa-wastesProponents are talking up the billions that might be made by swallowing our pride and making Australia the world’s nuclear waste dump. But they have been silent about the costs. 

And the waste would need to be monitored and problems addressed for millenia

Wasting Australia’s Future: Why We Shouldn’t Become The World’s Nuclear Waste Dump, New Matilda,   By  on November 9, 2015 There are many good reasons why Australia should not set its sights on becoming a dumping ground for nuclear waste. Dr Jim Green takes up the case.

While sceptical about the prospects for nuclear power in Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has given cautious support to the idea of a nuclear fuel leasing industry in Australia. Such an industry would involve uranium mining, conversion (to uranium hexafluouride), enrichment (increasing the ratio of uranium-235 to uranium-238), fuel fabrication, and disposal of the high-level nuclear waste produced by the use of nuclear fuel in power reactors overseas.

In the Prime Minister’s words: “We have got the uranium, we mine it, why don’t we process it, turn it into the fuel rods, lease it to people overseas, when they are done, we bring them back and we have got stable, very stable geology in remote locations and a stable political environment.”

Regardless of its merits, a nuclear leasing industry is an economic non-starter. That much is clear from the data provided in the latest edition of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Technology Review.  Uranium miners could be compelled to participate in an Australian nuclear leasing industry. But try telling that to BHP Billiton. The company bluntly stated in its submission to the 2006 Switkowski Review: “BHP Billiton believes that there is neither a commercial nor a non-proliferation case for it to become involved in front-end processing or for mandating the development of fuel leasing services in Australia.”

And there’s no point appealing to the patriotic fervour of Australia’s uranium miners: they are majority foreign-owned. Continue reading

November 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, wastes | Leave a comment

Barsebäck nuclear power plant to be dismantled – good business for Westinghouse?

Westinghouse Electric to dismantle Barsebäck nuclear power plant Located just 20 kilometers from Copenhagen, the plant ceased operation already in 2005 November 6th, 2015 12:10 pm| by Lucie Rychla

Westinghouse Electric Company has been hired to dismantle the Barsebäck nuclear power plant, located just 20 km from Copenhagen in Skåne, Sweden.
 Demolition of the plant’s inner reactor tanks will begin next summer and is expected to take four years, reported Ingeniøren.

According to Westinghouse, the company will dismantle, segment and package the reactor pressure vessel internals for final disposal – a process that significantly reduces the radioactivity remaining in the plant since it was shut down.

No more nuclear energy
Barsebäck is a boiling water nuclear power plant with two units, which began commercial operation in May 1975 and June 1977. Barsebäck Unit One was shut down in 1999, 17 years before its planned life expectancy, and Barsebäck Unit Two ceased operation in May 2005.

In 1980, the Swedish parliament decided not to build any new nuclear power plants in the country and to phase out existing plants by 2010, following a referendum that took place after the Three Mile Island incident in Pennsylvania.

November 7, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Indonesia says “No” to Australia’s nuclear waste ship entering its waters

text-NoNuclear Waste Ship will be Denied Entry to Indonesian Waters 05 Nov 2015 By : 

 The navy is ready to prevent nuclear waste-laden vessel from entering Indonesian waters on its way to Australia Jakarta, – Indonesia’s Maritime Security Board (Bakamla) will request the Navy to prevent a vessel carrying 125 tons of nuclear waste from France to Australia from entering the Indonesian waters.

“Our investigation has found that the vessel had ever entered our seawaters when sailing to France. And now we are monitoring its travel back to Australia,” Bakamla Chief Vice Admiral Desi A Mamahit told reporters at his office in Jakarta, according to

Transporting the nuclear waste is BBC Shanghai, an Antigua & Barbuda-flagged general cargo ship. Admiral Desi mentioned two reasons why Indonesian authorities disallow BBC Shanghai passing through Indonesian waters on its way to Australia. The first reason is that the Indonesian seawaters are not part of the routes allowed for foreign vessels traveling from Europe to Australia and vice versa. The second reason is that BBC Shanghai carries nuclear waste.

BBC reported that BBC Shanghai is due to reach Australia by 27 November and that it is now in Africa. France-based nuclear company Areva sent the nuclear waste back to Australia.

The waste reportedly derives from the spent nuclear fuel sent from Australia to France in 1990s and early 2000s. French law obliges such nuclear waste to be sent back to Australia.

November 6, 2015 Posted by | politics international, wastes | Leave a comment

USA’s budgetary tug of war between nuclear weapons and radioactive trash clean-up

The clean-up work, which includes a mixture of radioactive and chemical wastes, “is the largest environmental remediation ever undertaken by mankind and the most technically challenging”

One reason for the Energy Department’s struggles is a budgetary tug of war within the agency. One part of the department maintains the US’s atomic arsenal, and another is in charge of cleaning up the contamination from nuclear work. Funds for both come from the same pot, and in a shift from the 1990s, an increasing portion is going towards ensuring the readiness of the weapons ­arsenal

exclamation-Flag-USAToxic remnants of US nuclear program JOHN R. EMSHWILLER, GARY FIELDS THE WALL STREET JOURNAL NOVEMBER 03, 2015

About 70km southeast of San Francisco, in an 320ha mini-city built to create atomic bombs, there’s a contaminated building slated for eventual demolition.

Mark Costella, a facilities manager at the Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, would prefer to tear down the structure, but doesn’t have the tens of millions of dollars needed.

Instead, he is spending $US500,000 ($700,000) to fix the roof.

These are the kinds of contradictions at the heart of the ­complicated, expensive and struggling effort to clean up the US’s 70-year-old nuclear weapons program.

The Energy Department’s clean-up operation is wrestling with reduced budgets, tens of billions of dollars in ballooning cost estimates and 2700 structures on its to-do list. Officials said more than 350 additional unneeded facilities controlled by other programs in the Energy Department are probably eligible for transfer to the clean-up operation. But that office said its funds were limited and it was not ­accepting any more projects, no matter their significance.

That means some of the nation’s toughest threats are now on the backburner, possibly for decades, while relatively low-­priority work moves forward.

Dirty and decaying structures where weapons work and other nuclear activities were carried out — some the size of several football fields and old enough to qualify for Social Security — are clustered in federal sites from South Carolina to California. Some are within easy walking distance of people’s homes. Continue reading

November 4, 2015 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

What’s happening? USA’s weapons program and nuclear waste clean-up funds come from the same kitty!

exclamation-SmFlag-USAQ&A: What’s Next for America’s Nuclear-Waste Clean-Up,   WSJ, By GARY FIELDS and JOHN R. EMSHWILLER 

The Senate and House are expected as early as this week to take up the defense authorization bill President Barack Obama vetoed last month and try to push a version of it through again.  Buried in the bill is a proposal that could dramatically re-order nuclear-weapons clean-up activities, a decades-long effort that is costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars

The proposal is five paragraphs, barely noticeable in the 1,000-plus-page document.  But, if implemented, its effects could be felt in communities around the country. Here’s a Q&A:

What is the problem?

Creating America’s nuclear arsenal left thousands of structures around the U.S. tainted with radioactive and chemical contamination.  Over the past quarter century, the Energy Department clean-up office has disposed of about 2,800 of them with a like number still to do.  However, for various reasons some of the dirtiest and most dangerous buildings aren’t yet on that clean-up list and might not be added for decades.

How many structures are in this sort of limbo?

An Energy Department inspector general’s report this year put the number at over 350.  Among them is Alpha 5 in Tennessee.  Larger than ten football fields, it produced uranium for the Hiroshima bomb but is now a decaying structure of radioactive and chemical contamination where “the speed of degradation is far outpacing” maintenance funding, said an Energy Department report.

Why aren’t these places getting addressed?

The issue, as with many things, is money. The Energy Department’s money for the weapons program and the clean-up effort come from the same the same kitty.  A quarter century ago, with the end of the Cold War, more money for the first time started flowing into clean-up than weapons.  In recent years that situation has reversed.  Plus, much of the money available to the clean-up operation is committed at various sites and there isn’t enough money to take to address some of these other buildings–even if they are more in need of attention than some of the structures being dealt with.

What are Congress and the administration doing?

The energy secretary has appointed a working group to review clean-up priorities.  The provision in the vetoed defense bill would require buildings such as Alpha 5 to be added to the clean-up operation within three years—a timetable the Obama administration says isn’t possible.

November 4, 2015 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Banking-industry style regulation needed for Europe’s nuclear decommissioning costs

DecommissioningEU regulation of nuclear decommissioning costs needed -Capgemini Europe needs banking-industry style regulation to bring more transparency to the costs of nuclear reactors, consultancy Capgemini said in its annual energy market report.

Capgemini said gross provisions for decommissioning and long-term spent fuel management work out at 4.7 billion euros ($5.2 billion) per reactor in Germany, compared to just 1.2 billion in France and 3.38 billion euros in Britain.

Even if France’s nuclear fleet of 58 reactors is much bigger than Germany’s 17 reactors, economies of scale from the standardization of processes look too big to account for such a difference by themselves, according to Capgemini.

“Establishing what methodology is used to estimate the overall cost is essential, but it is never explained in annual reports, with each player relying on the estimates of their own experts in that area,” Capgemini said.

Nuclear operators like France’s EDF, Germany’s E.ON and RWE and Sweden’s Vattenfall all use different discount and inflation rates to calculate the present value of long-term liabilities and the parameters for these calculations are left to individual companies to decide, the consultancy said. “For obvious reasons to do with transparency, it is urgent that a process be instituted at European level … similar to the international regulatory framework for banks (Basel III) following the financial crisis that affected most European countries,” Capgemini said.

There are also strong disparities with regards to nuclear operators’ legal obligations in terms of covering these future costs, it said.

Only Finland’s Fortum, Vattenfall (for its Swedish activities), EDF and the Czech Republic’s CEZ have portfolios dedicated to the financing of these long-term obligations, with coverage ratios of 100, 78, 68 and 31 percent respectively, Capgemini said.

Other sector players do not have dedicated assets on their balance sheets, and German utilities currently do not cover their provisions, it added.

Last month, E.ON dropped plans to spin off its German nuclear power plants, bowing to political pressure to retain liability for billions of euros of decommissioning costs when the plants are shut down.

The International Energy Agency said late last year that almost 200 of the world’s 434 reactors in operation would be retired by 2040, and estimated the decommissioning cost at more than $100 billion, but many experts view this figure as way too low. ($1 = 0.9057 euros) (Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Susan Fenton)

November 4, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, EUROPE | Leave a comment


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