The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

San Onofre site to get “concrete monolith” for high level radioactive trash – spent nuclear fuel

radioactive trashWatchdog: Nuclear waste can be stored at new San Onofre site, Coastal Commission says, Orange County Register, by Teri Sforza, Oct. 6, 2015  The California Coastal Commission on Tuesday approved construction of a controversial “concrete monolith” to bury spent fuel at the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant, despite many unknowns — including precisely how the casks containing the deadly waste will be monitored.

The permit is only for 20 years, but critics fear it could be forever.

Opponents blasted the plan, saying it creates “America’s largest beach-front nuclear waste dump” just 100 feet from the plant’s sand and sea wall, and vowed legal action to block it.

Instead, opponents said, the Coastal Commission should demand that Southern California Edison – majority owner of the closed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station – move spent fuel to the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona. Edison is a co-owner of that plant. Or, opponents say, the fuel should be moved to a remote spot in the desert, or to a private waste storage facility planned in Texas.

San Onofre’s waste would be safer there, critics insisted. There are simply too many unknowns attendant to burying it for decades in thin, hard-to-monitor steel canisters next to the beach in a densely populated area vulnerable to earthquakes and flooding…….

October 7, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

St Louis landfill fire: risk to nearby nuclear waste prompts plan for disaster

safety-symbol-Smwastes-1Disaster plan developed for use if St. Louis landfill fire reaches buried nuclear waste US News  By JIM SALTER, Associated Press ST. LOUIS (AP), 6 Oct 15,  — Beneath the surface of a St. Louis-area landfill lurk two things that should never meet: a slow-burning fire and a cache of Cold War-era nuclear waste, separated by no more than 1,200 feet.

Government officials have quietly adopted an emergency plan in case the smoldering embers ever reach the waste, a potentially “catastrophic event” that could send up a plume of radioactive smoke over a densely populated area near the city’s main airport.

Although the fire at Bridgeton Landfill has been burning since at least 2010, the plan for a worst-case scenario was developed only a year ago and never publicized until this week, when St. Louis radio station KMOX first obtained a copy.  County Executive Steve Stenger cautioned that the plan “is not an indication of any imminent danger.” “It is county government’s responsibility to protect the health, safety and well-being of all St. Louis County residents,” he said in a statement.

Landfill operator Republic Services downplayed any risk. Interceptor wells — underground structures that capture below-surface gasses — and other safeguards are in place to keep the fire and the nuclear waste separate……….

Directly next to Bridgeton Landfill is West Lake Landfill, also owned by Republic Services. The West Lake facility was contaminated with radioactive waste from uranium processing by a St. Louis company known as Mallinckrodt Chemical. The waste was illegally dumped in 1973 and includes material that dates back to the Manhattan Project, which created the first atomic bomb in the 1940s.

The Environmental Protection Agency is still deciding how to clean up the waste. The landfill was designated a Superfund site in 1990.

The proximity of the two environmental hazards is what worries residents and environmentalists. At the closest point, they are 1,000 to 1,200 feet apart.  If the underground fire reaches the waste, “there is a potential for radioactive fallout to be released in the smoke plume and spread throughout the region,” according to the disaster plan……..

The plan calls for evacuations and development of emergency shelters, both in St. Louis County and neighboring St. Charles County. Private and volunteer groups, and perhaps the federal government, would be called upon to help, depending on the severity of the emergency………Last month, Koster said he was troubled by new reports about the site. One found radiological contamination in trees outside the landfill’s perimeter. Another showed evidence that the fire has moved past two rows of interceptor wells and closer to the nuclear waste…….

October 7, 2015 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Storage of radioactive debris on beach near San Onofre nuclear facility!

san-onofre-deadfNBC: Radioactive debris on beach at California nuclear plant — Magazine: Bombshell report reveals radiation cover-up — Experts: “Unbelievable what they’re doing there”… “We still don’t know how high those levels were” (VIDEO)

East County Magazine, Sep 26, 2015 (emphasis added): NBC TV Investigation Finds Evidence Of Radioactive Debris On Beach At San Onofre — An investigation by KNSD-TV Channel 7 , the NBC affiliate in San Diego, has dropped a bombshell regarding efforts to cover-up lax handling of nuclear waste and radiation leaks at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations… NBC’s investigation found high radiation levels endangered Southern California employees in trailers, including radiation levels so alarming that  Nuclear Regulatory inspectors at times refused to perform routine radiation surveys… Hundreds of pieces of contaminated radioactive equipment were stored on both sides of Interstate 5, which bisects the San Onofre nuclear waste dump now under construction… Nuclear power expert Joe Hopenfeld told NBC 7 that San Onofre was “very, very sloppy, very very careless in handling radioactive material.”… Some have reportedly been pressured to sign non-disclosure agreements to prevent negative information from being made public… NBC reported that SDG&E did not respond to its requests for comments, nor did the Marines… Due to secrecy shrouding the San Onofre high nuclear readings… [Charles Langley is a former public advocate at the Utility Consumers’ Action Network who was terminated for being a whistleblower] observes, “We still don’t know how high those radiation levels were. And if Edison gets its way, we will never know… The answer is probably worse than we think.”

NBC San Diego, Sep 23, 2015: Documents Detail How Nuclear Material Was Handled at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station… The documents were released to individuals involved with the secret negotiations about the current condition and future handling of the 25-acre property… According to the source, the team representing the utilities has told all involved they want nondisclosure agreements signed so no one can go public with any information disclosed during the negotiations [and] the utilities are reluctant to provide full disclosure on what has occurred on the property since they took possession of it… Joe Hopenfeld, an expert on the nuclear power industry, said, “It was unbelievable what they were doing there“… The report says it was determined the cubicle was “responsible for most of the radiation measured on the beach.”… The other document NBC 7 Investigates received is dated April 10, 2014… This document was provided by the utilities to “identify those locations at the Mesa that were affected by the inappropriate presence of radioactive materials.”… After reading in the report about a steam generator system pipe that was “hot,” Hopenfeld said, “You have hot spots, you don’t know what they are.”… “This is an indication of the mentality and the culture at the time at SONGS,” he said. [Former San Onofre Safety Officer Vinrod Arora ] said the plant grounds should be thoroughly inspected by an independent third party and not by SCE or SDGE or any of their subcontractors. “Be very careful of the goods they accept from Edison with the blessings of the NRC,” Arora warned. The concern, he said, is not just for the land but for those that might someday use it.

Watch the NBC broadcast here

October 2, 2015 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

French govt uses amendment to impose nuclear waste dump without parliament vote

The CIGEO project, managed by l’Agence nationale pour la gestion des déchets radioactifs (ANDRA), aims to bury nuclear waste 500 meters under the village of Bure. The wastes consist of 80,000 cubic meters of high-level, long-lived waste produced by French nuclear facilities. The project was estimated to cost 16.5 billion euros in 2005, but an estimate done in 2009 set the figure at 36 billion euros. The final cost is unknowable. For several years, anti-nuclear activists and residents have opposed what they call a “nuclear garbage dump.”

So how did nuclear waste find its way into a bill with 400 articles related to economic growth?

exclamation-flag-franceExecutive Privilege Invoked for Approving French Nuclear Waste Site

For many years, the French nuclear establishment has been struggling to overcome public opposition and legislative obstacles to its plans to bury high-level, long-lived nuclear waste in the rural village of Bure. During the summer of 2015, the socialist government of Francois Hollande took the desperate measure of tacking the issue onto an omnibus bill called the loi Macron, which is supposed to be concerned only with growth, equality and economic opportunity.

Just about anything could be subjectively judged to  promote economic growth, so the government took an expansive view and included whatever it wanted under a very flexible definition of matters which favor “growth, equality and economic opportunity.” Once the nuclear waste project was in the Macron Bill, the government then took advantage of an executive privilege called Article 49.3.

About Article 49.3 Continue reading

September 14, 2015 Posted by | France, politics, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Not one drop of nuclear waste treated after 25 years of costly Hanford project

The Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant project there, known as WTP, is meant to exhume the waste, freeze it in glass, and give it a proper burial. But it’s been plagued by delays. It was expected to cost $4.3 billion and be built by 2011. Instead, the cost has swelled past $12 billion to date, with an estimated $7 billion in work left to be done. So far, not a drop of waste has been processed.

Nuclear cleanup project haunted by legacy of design failures and
whistleblower retaliation, Center for Public Integrity,  Twenty-five years after the project began, the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant at Hanford is nearing a three-fold cost overrun, and not a single drop of waste has been treated 
By Patrick Malone 2 Sept 15 

The largest and most costly U.S. environmental cleanup project has been dogged for years by worries about an accidental nuclear reaction or a spill of toxic materials that could endanger residents nearby, as well as a history of contractor retaliation against workers who voice worries about persistent safety risks.

But it hasn’t fully turned the corner yet, according to recent comments by the federal officials now overseeing its operation. Continue reading

September 4, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes | 1 Comment

Radioactive trash mounting in South Korea, with no solution in sight

At all of the sites visited, the author found local opinion leaders making clear their concerns about the safety of spent fuel management in addition to their concerns about the overall safety of nuclear power plant operations

As they grapple with safety concerns regarding nearby nuclear facilities, local residents typically lack unbiased information on the issues involved

The Search for Interim Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage in South Korea,
Nautilus,   By Jungmin text-wise-owlKang 31 August 2015

I. Introduction

Plans call for a continued expansion in South Korea’s fleet of nuclear reactors, but at the same time, facilities for the temporary storage of spent fuel, mostly in at-reactor pools, continue to fill up. Negotiations between the nuclear industry and central government agencies on one side, and local host communities on the other, for siting of interim spent fuel storage facilities, let alone permanent waste disposal facilities, have been largely ineffective to date, due in large part to a combination of the tactics used by authorities in approaching local communities, and a lack of unbiased information about nuclear facilities on the part of local stakeholders. In the last few years, a new effort to engage host communities has been undertaken, and shows some promise, though much work remains before agreements on facility siting can be reached.

Nuclear Spent Fuel is Accumulating at Reactor Sites in South Korea

As of 2015 about 760 metric tons of spent fuel is discharged annually from 23 reactors in South Korea.[1] About half of this total comes from four CANDU heavy water reactors (HWRs) and the other half from 19 pressurized light-water reactors (PWRs).[2] As of the end of 2013, 6,541 tHM (tonnes heavy metal) in spent PWR fuel and 7,258 tHM in spent HWR fuel were stored in the spent fuel storage facilities at four different nuclear power plants clustered into four coastal sites: Hanul (Ulchin), Wolsong and Kori along the East coast and Hanbit (Yonggwang) on the West coast. Continue reading

September 4, 2015 Posted by | South Korea, wastes | Leave a comment

Call for USA Department of Energy accountability on Idaho’s radioactive trash importation

these contractors are doing work for the Department of Energy, a federal agency using taxpayer dollars. The federal government must be held accountable in Idaho at all times.

Idaho’s role in the national nuclear waste and research strategy deserves more scrutiny. The proposed fuel rods contain some of the most radioactive material on earth. The industry and government have not determined how to “safely” handle and store waste that has a half-life longer than any human civilization has existed. Perhaps, instead of raising alarmist notions that Idaho’s economy depends on begging for nuclear waste imports, the DOE could first finish what it started with the waste we already have.

radioactive trashIdahoans should demand accountability on nuclear waste. BY KELSEY JAE NUNEZ HTTP://WWW.IDAHOSTATESMAN.COM/2015/08/29/3961694/GUEST-OPINION-IDAHOANS-SHOULD.HTML August 29, 2015 The state of Idaho should stand tall while demanding that the Department of Energy honor its commitments to the people of Idaho.

While the Idaho National Laboratory may be an economic force in our state, the history of the site is plagued by the federal government’s irresponsible and shortsighted practices involving disposal of nuclear waste. These actions contaminated the air, the soil, and the Snake River Aquifer with radioactive materials that will remain hazardous until the end of fathomable time. Real people suffered. Decades of dumping and controversial plans to continue shipping nuclear waste from around the world into Idaho caused outrage among many of its citizens. Litigation led to the now-famous 1995 Settlement Agreement, which is hardly outdated — the deadlines have just recently starting to come due.

The 1995 Settlement Agreement represents a set of negotiated promises from the federal government to Idahoans — promises to clean up the nuclear waste it brought here, and promises to limit the importation of more. Enforcing the agreement is Idaho’s legal and moral obligation, and the people should not tolerate manipulative tactics and attempts to bully Idaho into abandoning it. Continue reading

August 31, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Disposal of plutonium; burial is cheaper than MOX processing

MOXFlag-USAflag-UKnuClear news No.77, September 20156. Plutonium Conundrum A US Energy Department-commissioned study, which has been leaked to the Union of Concerned Scientists, concludes that it would be cheaper and far less risky to dispose of 34 metric tons of U.S. surplus plutonium at a federal nuclear waste repository in New Mexico than convert it into mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for commercial nuclear power plants at the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina.

The unreleased report describes in detail the delays and massive cost overruns at the half-built MOX facility, located at the federal Savannah River Site. High staff turnover, the need to replace improperly installed equipment, and an antagonistic relationship between the local federal project director and the contractor are only some of the factors undermining the project. The new report also notes that there are “no obvious silver bullets” to reduce the life-cycle cost of the MOX approach.

According to UCS, a better alternative to turning the surplus plutonium into commercial nuclear fuel would be to “downblend” it, a method the Energy Department has already used to dispose of several metric tons of plutonium. It involves diluting the plutonium with an inert, nonradioactive material and then sending it to the nuclear waste site in New Mexico, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), for burial. The new report’s analysis supports that assessment. …….

The US report is bound to have a negative impact of the UK Government’s preferred management option for its plutonium stockpile which is to convert it into Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel. (See ‘Slow Progress on Plutonium Stockpiles’ Nuclear News No.76).
Don Hancock of the Albuquerque-based Southwest Information and Research Center, which closely monitors WIPP, also opposes the MOX project. But he’s sceptical about WIPP as a viable alternative and said the Energy Department should review other options, including storing the plutonium at the Savannah River Site or the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, where thousands of plutonium pits are already warehoused. He said: “The [DoE and] the Union of Concerned Scientists may be confident that WIPP will reopen in a few years, but I don’t see any real basis for that,” Hancock said. “Going from one bad idea to another bad idea is not the solution to this problem.” (3)

August 29, 2015 Posted by | - plutonium, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Leaked review tells of ‘Significant Design Vulnerabilities’ at Hanford radioactive trash site

Hanford-waste-tanks‘Significant Design Vulnerabilities’ Plague Massive Nuclear Waste Site, Leaked Internal Review Reveals, Common Dreams, 

‘The fact that the Department of Energy has not released this report, prepared last year, is alarming and indicative of a safety-last culture.’

by Andrea Germanos, staff writer 26  Aug 15, 

A leaked internal review of the nation’s largest nuclear clean-up site found hundreds of “significant design vulnerabilities” and begs questions about the Energy Department’s transparency, a watchdog group says.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Washington houses radioactive waste from the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons, and the decades-long clean-up effort has been costly and plagued by leaking underground nuclear waste storage tanks.

Seattle-based Hanford Challenge, which advocates for safe clean-up of the site, says it received the Department of Energy document from a whistleblower who has worked at the site for many years as an engineer.

“The fact that the Department of Energy has not released this report, prepared last year, is alarming and indicative of a safety-last culture,” said Tom Carpenter, Executive Director of the group.

The document is a 2014 draft review called “Low-Activity Waste Facility Design and Operability Review and Recommendations.” That LAW facility, Hanford Challenge explains in a statement, “is designed to treat waste from Hanford’s high-level nuclear waste tanks that will be pre-treated to remove the highly-radioactive materials before being mixed with glass formers in a facility designed to vitrify the low level waste.”

From the executive summary of the leaked report: ……

The leaked review comes the same month as whistleblower Walter Tamosaitis, who raised safety concerns regarding operations at the site, reached a $4.1 settlement with Hanford subcontractor AECOM.

And last year, documents obtained by the Associated Press showed there were “significant construction flaws” in some of the double-shell storage tanks at the facility. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) urged the Energy Department to provide an action plan of how it would deal with the risks the flaws pose, writing in a letter (pdf) to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz: “It is time for the Department to stop hiding the ball and pretending that the situation at Hanford is being effectively managed.”

The Washington site has proven itself an “intractable problem” that “costs taxpayers a billion dollars a year,” author and history professor Kate Brown wrote earlier this year. “Corporate contractors hired to clean up Hanford have made hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and surcharges, and, since little has been accomplished, the tab promises to mount for decades.”

August 28, 2015 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Boeing wanted to quietly dispose of radioactive trash, without accountability

judge-1Judge rejects Boeing’s bid to demolish and dispose of radioactive waste without accountability Eturbo News, SANTA MONICA, CA, Jan 2015  – Sacramento Superior Court has denied Boeing’s motion for summary judgment in a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuit over the demolition and disposal of radioactively contaminated structures from the site of a partial nuclear meltdown near Los Angeles, Consumer Watchdog said today.

“This is an important step on the way to ensuring that state regulators must consider the demolition and disposal of any radioactively contaminated structures at the Santa Susana Field Lab in their environmental assessment of the cleanup of this site,” said Consumer Watchdog Litigation Director Pam Pressley.

text-SMRsBoeing had claimed that the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has no regulatory
authority over the demolition and disposal of radioactively contaminated structures in the nuclear portion of the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL) in Simi Hills. The lab had tested small-scale nuclear reactors, rocket engines, and fuels and suffered a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959 that has never been fully cleaned up……

August 28, 2015 Posted by | Legal, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

South Carolina court blasts state’s environmental protection agency over poor oversight of leaking nuclear waste dump

 Court blasts DHEC for failures at nuclear waste dump  BY SAMMY FRETWELL, 17 Aug 15  COLUMBIA, SC 

For the second year in a row, the S.C. Court of Appeals has ripped the state’s environmental protection agency for failing to properly oversee a leak-prone nuclear waste dump in Barnwell County.

But this time, the appeals court isn’t telling regulators when to resolve problems at the 44-year-old site.

In an Aug. 12 ruling that disappointed landfill critics, the court backed away from requiring a specific timetable to improve conditions at Chem-Nuclear’s dump near the Savannah River.

Last year, the appeals court ordered the Department of Health and Environmental Control and site operator Chem-Nuclear to develop a written plan for correcting problems within 90 days. Both then appealed for a rehearing, which delayed the 90-day requirement and ultimately resulted in last week’s decision.

Sierra Club lawyer Bob Guild said this year’s decision leaves DHEC — the agency that has failed to properly manage the site — the discretion to react to the court ruling at its own leisure.

“We have an agency that has been lawless for years in not enforcing its own regulations, and now, the court is giving it another open-ended opportunity to review itself,’’ Guild said. “That is unfortunate. We are going to monitor this very carefully.’

Guild’s group filed suit 10 years ago in an attempt to force tougher disposal practices at the unlined landfill, where radioactive tritium leaks first were detected in the 1970s. A plume of tritium extends downhill from the site and has for years trickled into a creek that flows toward the nearby Savannah River.

Sierra Club officials say DHEC has been lax in making Chem-Nuclear follow rules at the disposal site through the years.

The appeals court acknowledged problems, saying that DHEC “failed to enforce the law of South Carolina’’ in monitoring the 235-acre landfill outside the town of Snelling.

The court said DHEC, as the agency overseeing Chem-Nuclear’s activities, did not enforce a handful of specific regulations established to protect the environment. It also said Chem-Nuclear had failed to follow some of the rules on nuclear waste disposal. Except for the timetable, the court’s decision last week was similar to last year’s ruling that took DHEC and Chem-Nuclear to task.

“It is important that DHEC enforce its own regulations and require Chem-Nuclear to take action to comply with the technical requirements,’’ the ruling said in sending the matter back to DHEC for consideration……….

An array of critics, however, say tritium is still toxic and often is a forerunner of other, more dangerous pollutants that will one day wash into groundwater. Leaks were discovered within a decade of the Barnwell County site’s opening in 1971, despite initial assurances from state regulators.

The disposal site once took low-level nuclear waste from atomic power plants, hospitals and other places from across the country. Today, the landfill is open only to South Carolina, Connecticut and New Jersey, and waste volumes have dropped sharply. But the Sierra Club has pressed ahead with its 2005 lawsuit, saying better disposal practices will prevent tritium leaks from getting any worse.

One of the major concerns centers on rain that falls into open burial trenches. Environmentalists for years have pushed the state to require the placement of tents or roofs atop the burial trenches. That would cut down on the amount of rain that pours in, picks up radioactive pollutants from the waste and leaks through the bottom of the landfill and into groundwater, they say.

The court said Chem-Nuclear had done nothing to keep rain out of the burial pits, even though a state regulation says it is supposed to minimize movement of water in the pits. And the court said DHEC had not forced the company to comply with the rule intended to keep rain out of the pits — or acted to prevent rain from leaking through the bottom and into groundwater………

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Legal, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan’s highly dangerous plutonium stockpile

Japan’s plutonium stockpile worries Oxford specialist, Global Post, Xinhua News Agency Aug 17, 2015  NEW YORK, — The handling of Japan’s huge plutonium stockpile remains a challenge for the whole world, an Oxford environmental expert has warned.

When Japan marked the 70th anniversary of Nagasaki’s obliteration by a plutonium bomb on Aug. 9, its own cache of weapons-usable plutonium was more than 47 metric tons, enough to make nearly 6,000 warheads like the one that flattened the Japanese city, Dr. Peter Wynn Kirby of University of Oxford wrote in an op-ed on Monday’s New York Times……..

Japan’s 48 standard reactors burn uranium fuel, a process that yields plutonium, a highly radioactive and extremely toxic substance.

Although these reactors were shut down after the Fukushima tragedy, Japan still stores nearly 11 tons of plutonium on its territory, with the rest in Britain and France. Stockpiling plutonium in Japan remains hazardous given seismic instability in the country and the risk of theft by terrorists, warned Kirby…..

As a byproduct of burning uranium, plutonium itself can be processed in so-called fast-breeder reactors to produce more energy. That step also yields more plutonium, and so in theory this production chain is self-sustaining — a kind of virtuous nuclear-energy cycle, noted Kirby.

“In practice, however, fast-breeder technology has been extremely difficult to implement. It is notoriously faulty and astronomically expensive, and it creates more hazardous waste,” wrote Kirby.

Many other countries that experimented with fast-breeder reactors, including the United States, had phased them out by the 1990s. But Japan continued to invest heavily in the technology, noted Kirby.

While Japan’s record with nuclear waste is abysmal, no other country has found a safe or economically sustainable way to reuse such substances, especially not plutonium, he noted. Given Japan’s many vulnerabilities, particularly seismic activity, nuclear waste should no longer be stored in the country, he argued. “The Japanese government should pay its closest allies to take its plutonium away, permanently.”

Britain and France respectively holds 20 tons and 16 tons of Japan’s plutonium under contracts to reprocess it into usable fuel. Under current arrangements, this fuel, plus all byproducts, including plutonium, are to be sent back to Japan by 2020.

“Japan should pay, and generously, for that plutonium to stay where it is, in secure interim storage. And it should help fund the construction of secure permanent storage in Britain and France,” he said.

The Japanese government should also pay the United States to remove the nearly 11 tons of plutonium currently in Japan, he argued.

“Handling Japan’s plutonium would be a great burden for receiver countries, and Japan should pay heftily for the service. But even then the expense would likely amount to a fraction of what Japan spends on its ineffectual plutonium-energy infrastructure,” wrote the specialist.

Making Japan free of plutonium stockpile, thus preventing nuclear catastrophe as a result of earthquakes, would be in the whole world’s interest, he concluded.

August 23, 2015 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan | Leave a comment

Canada’s radioactive trash dump plan, all too close to USA border

Canada Might Start Dumping Nuclear Waste Near the US Border, VICE, By Arthur White August 19, 2015 A Canadian plan to build an underground nuclear waste dump less than a mile from Lake Huron is getting unfriendly attention from US lawmakers, who are trying to force the Obama administration to invoke a 106-year-old treaty against its northern neighbor.

Bruce NGS Great Lakes Lake Huron

Though a Canadian review panel declared that the proposed Deep Geologic Repository will have “no significant adverse effects on the Great Lakes,” opponents wonder why a site so close to the world’s largest freshwater system was chosen. One environmental group even warned that the project could give terrorists the opportunity to steal radioactive materials and blow up a “dirty bomb” in downtown Toronto.

The project would bury 7 million cubic feet worth of low and intermediate level nuclear waste — including contaminated mop heads, paper towels, floor sweepings, but also filters and reactor components — 2,230 feet underground. Ontario Power Generation, which operates two nuclear power plants in Canada’s most populous province, has chosen a site just north of the lakefront town of Kincardine, after getting approval from the municipality.

The power company claims that the site is “ideal” for containing the waste, which will lay ensconced in limestone under a 660-foot layer of shale, a boundary they call “impermeable.” The risk from earthquakes is low, they say, and the rock formations have been stable for millions of years.

Data from a government earthquake database reveal that over the past 10 years there have been about a half dozen earthquakes roughly 20 miles north of the site. At less than 2 on the Richter scale, all of those tremors were extremely weak. The most powerful quake in the region, which hit 4.3 on the scale, was about 50 miles away.

This March, a review panel recommended that the government approve the dump, claiming that the health risks to people living around the lakes are “virtually zero………

That report was sent to Canada’s environment minister, who is expected to announce a decision in early December.

But many challenge the panel’s impartiality, with the Sierra Club Canada saying it’s stacked with ex-nuclear industry officials, and the Canadian Environmental Law Agency (CELA) calling its report biased, incomplete, and “fundamentally flawed.”

“The members of the panel support nuclear power from the outset,” the Sierra Club’s program director, John Bennett, told VICE News. “They’ve never not approved a project.”

CELA blasted the panel and the power company for only considering a “hypothetical” alternative to the DGR plan, without looking at a single other real-world site to bury the waste………

August 20, 2015 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

UK’s nuclear waste dumping must overcome a “nuclear perception problem”

text-wise-owl‘Nuclear waste dumping must overcome public opposition’ – expert concedes  18 Aug, 2015 Nuclear lobbyists have admitted that public opposition to radioactive waste is a major challenge to finding new disposal sites for the deadly material.

wastes garbage

A government agency tasked with nuclear waste management conceded that “nuclear dread” was a common feeling among British citizens, who fear the idea of living near radioactive waste dumps. Continue reading

August 19, 2015 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

UK faces ‘social and political challenges’ to nuclear waste disposal

radioactive trashflag-UK‘Social and political challenges’ to nuclear waste disposal, Yahoo News Press Association – Mon, Aug 17, 2015 Nearly a third of the UK, excluding Scotland, could be suitable for the deep burial of dangerous radioactive waste, experts believe. New £4 billion plans for geological disposal could see containers of nuclear material sunk into boreholes and caverns 200 to 1,000 metres below ground.

There it would remain safe for hundreds of thousands of years while its radioactivity slowly waned.

A public information campaign aimed at winning support for the proposals is due to be launched early next month.

But planning and consultation is set to take so long that the first batch of nuclear waste is not expected to be placed in the ground until 2040. Earlier proposals for a geological disposal facility in West Cumbria were scotched in 2013 because of local opposition.

Alun Ellis, science and technology director of Radioactive Waste Management, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority subsidiary tasked with delivering geological disposal, said surveys indicated around 30% of the UK might be suitable for nuclear waste burial.

Speaking at a background briefing at the Science Media Centre in London, he added: “It’s a substantial proportion. There’s a substantial part of the UK that is technically suitable to host a geological disposal facility, but as we found in Cumbria that’s only half the problem.

“The other half of the problem, the more difficult half, is how we overcome the social and political challenges.”

With that in mind the aim is now to involve the public every step of the way before deciding where to bury the nuclear waste.

Early next month communities will be consulted on how to conduct an information-gathering exercise paving the way for screening potential sites.Scotland does not form part of the plans because geological disposal is not supported by Scottish government.

An estimated 4.5 million cubic metres of nuclear waste either exists already in the UK or will be generated in the near future – four times the volume of Wembley Stadium.

Of this, 90% can be re-used, recycled or permanently disposed of in surface facilities.

But a long-term solution has to be found for what to do with the remaining 10%, some of which could remain a radiation hazard for thousands of years. Currently the waste is stored in surface facilities where its safety cannot be guaranteed in decades to come, creating a burden for future generations.

“The international consensus is that geological disposal is the safest and most sustainable solution for managing these wastes and also that it is technically feasible,” said Mr Ellis………

August 19, 2015 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment


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