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Threat of out of control fire to radioactive trash site

text-cat-questionI wonder if, in bushfire prone Australia,  the South Australia Nuclear Fuel Chain Commission’s fudgy old pro nukers have considered increasing fire risks and the vulnerability of nuclear facilities?

 

‘Catastrophic’: Underground fire creeps towards nuclear waste site, news.com.au,  OCTOBER 12, heat_wave2015 BENEATH the surface of a US 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 365 metres.

Government officials in Missouri have quietly adopted an emergency plan in case the smouldering 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, near St. Louis has been burning since at least 2010, the plan for a worst-case scenario was developed only a year ago and never publicised until last week, when St. Louis radio station KMOX first obtained a copy……..

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 neighbouring 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.

Koster said the reports were evidence that Republic Services “does not have this site under control.”……..http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/catastrophic-underground-fire-creeps-towards-nuclear-waste-site/story-e6frflp0-1227565910467

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October 14, 2015 - Posted by | safety, USA

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