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2015 in Nuclear News

a-cat-CANImpossible to encompass all the nuclear news for 2015, even in just headlines. So, I single out some themes that I found most interesting.

The survival of investigative journalism, even in this troubled time for print media, and for the shrinking of journalists’ employment. The two stories revealed were:

Also: Ionising Radiation & Risk of Death from Leukaemia & Lymphoma in Radiation-Monitored Workers (INWORKS): an International Cohort Study

The Paris climate agreement –  the nuclear lobby failed its goal of getting nations to adopt nuclear power as a government subsidised method of addressing climate change.

USA. Because America was the great pioneer country for nuclear power, and still the land with the most nuclear reactors, and nuclear weaponry, nuclear issues in USA are particularly important. Through 2015 the industry has grappled with the reality that it is not now economic, (if indeed it ever really was), and with the new imperative of what to do with its mounting dangerous radioactive trash. Once again, I marvel that none of the nuclear authorities have contemplating shutting down the industry, and stopping production of this toxic trash.

The global nuclear lobby came up with two survival tactics – pretending that nuclear is needed to solve climate change, and trying to overturn the science that ionising radiation is harmful to health and ecology. They went all out to get the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s radiation safety standards weakened, and to promote the quack science of “hormesis” . “Hormesis” Advocates Dodge Scientific Rigor with “Special Pleadings” – Ties to Tobacco Industry & Koch Brother Exposed. Bill Gates, Peter Thiel, Breakthrough Institute, in Paris, resembled  snake oil salesmen for new small nuclear reactors. 

Bill Gates to export ‘new nuclear’ reactors to China, where the safety regulations are slacker.

St Louis residents demanding answers on underground fire near nuclear waste. Residents of St Louis County get cancer from long-term exposure to low level radiation. Decades of bungling over radioactive landfill in St Louis County.

Repeating a few of of the many significant headlines 

Independent assessment of the state of the nuclear industry. Bleak outlook for Generation IV nuclear reactors, asGeneration III look like failing.  Nuclear lobby promotes a new ‘health disorder’ – radiophobia.

JAPAN. Declassified report shows Fukushima nuclear situation much worse than we were told.

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke out against using nuclear weapons, and  opposes renewal of Trident nuclear weapons programme.

CHINA. Tianjin explosion highlights need to prioritise environment over economic growth. China censors Internet on Tianjin explosion news. France worried that China’s hasty nuclear power programme is unsafe.

FRANCE. Gloomy financial situation for AREVA in so many ways. Safety problems may mean the end for AREVA’s EPR nuclear reactor.

AUSTRALIA. South Australia runs a shonky pro nuclear Royal Commission .

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Pro Nuclear Spin: denial of radiation effects, of Fukushima harm

Denial in the face of evidence has certainly been an effective tool to frustrate worldwide efforts to address Climate Change.  Why not attempt the same public relations makeover on radiation?

This new, bold initiative appears to be coming in a two-pronged attack:  the first is reviving an already disproved theory that radiation may be ‘good for you’: hormesis.

The second is changing the world’s perception of the Fukushima Daiichi triple meltdown that released and deposited massive amounts of radioactivity in many areas of Japan.

The potential ramifications for public health are huge.


Demystifying Nuclear Power: Problem: In a post-Fukushima-triple-meltdown world, do the numbers work for atomic power?  Fairewinds,November 17, 2015 by Sue Prent

With a giant blot still reading over the page of its public safety record, the multi-national, multi-billion dollar atomic power industry faces  the stark economic reality that without even more of the regulatory and financial support that it has long enjoyed, it cannot successfully compete financially with sustainable methods electrical generation.

Moreover, these preferential government regulations and incredible financial subsidies from countries around the world are more concerned with maintaining a nuclear energy fleet that in the US has long been tied-up with Defense Department interests, and throughout the world has also been an assured method of access to nuclear weapons.

During the early days of atomic reactors, decommissioning, clean-up and long-term radioactive waste storage were not even acknowledged or planned for, and now they crowd onto center stage as aged and leaking plants line up to speedily shutdown and abandon their overflowing nuclear waste cesspools.  In the US, people living near the plants and state governments without regulatory authority over this federal process are stunned to discover the financial burden of underfunded decommissioning funds and inadequate decommissioning procedures that will leave the public facing corporate waste abandonment.

That’s right, here’s the hook: if it weren’t for the scientific consensus view that radiation is harmful, and more radiation is even more harmful, nuclear plants might be a whole lot cheaper to operate.

Talk about your “inconvenient truth!”

Recent developments suggest that the atomic power industry, with cooperation from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), may have come up with a crafty way to make the financial numbers work once again: rehabilitate radiation. Continue reading

January 1, 2016 Posted by | Reference, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

With UK floods now, a timely call to stop extending Cumbria nuclear waste dump


Marianne Birkby

Map Sellafield & Drigg wastesTO: CUMBRIA COUNTY COUNCIL

Early in 2016 Cumbria County Council will be considering the plan to extend the lifetime and capacity of Drigg Nuclear Dump on the West Coast of Cumbria. We the undersigned ask that you Lock the Gate on Drigg.

Why is this important?

To describe the UKs nuclear waste site as a “Repository” is putting a spin on the UKs main nuclear dump for “low level” waste. There is “controlled discharge direct to the Irish Sea” not to mention run off to the Drigg Stream and River Irt. Discharges to the air of radioactive gases are ongoing. According to the British Geological Society the Drigg site is above a regional aquifer. It is also “likely to be destroyed by coastal erosion” in 500 to 5000 years (computer modelling can be wrong either way) . Much of the waste is long lived and high risk.
Below are a few of the reasons why it is important that Cumbria County Council Lock the Gate on Drigg:

Cumbria Drigg waste site

“Planning Application 4/11/9007 Low Level Waste Repository Site Optimisation and Closure Works.”

1. CLOSURE: The statement “closure works” is hugely misleading. The date for “closure” is set at 2079. So Drigg would continue to accept nuclear waste until that time. The site would be “capped.” Again this is misleading and to “cap” a nuclear dump is akin to putting a cap on a fizzy lemonade bottle while there are holes in the bottom of the bottle. The site will continue to leach aqueous emissions to groundwater and gaseous emissions to air for thousands of years.

2. LOW LEVEL: This suggests that the waste at Drigg is low risk and short lived. Neither is true. As the University of Reading has pointed out: “The Drigg site uses two disposal systems: 1) An original system operated from 1959 to 1988 comprising a series of parallel trenches excavated into glacial clays, back filled with LLW and covered with an interim water resistant cap. 2) Current disposal of compacted waste placed in steel ISO-freight containers, with void space filled with highly fluid cement based grout. These containers are then disposed of in a series of open concrete vaults. Radionuclides with highest activities in the inventory include 3H, 241Pu, 137Cs, 234U and 90Sr, 238U and 232Th.

3. RADIOACTIVE FLY TIPPING: The chemical and nuclear dump site has moved on from the years 1940 to 1988 when chemical and radioactive waste was tumble tipped into trenches. Now the waste is compacted into steel shipping containers filled with cement. Incredibly the containers are stacked high. In 2013 the LLW management wrote: “in containers at the tops of stacks, the external capping grout has 
undergone extensive physical degradation and settlement; the lids are not full of grout, and the grout is generally heavily cracked. The state of the capping grout in underlying layers is better; most containers only show sparse cracking and typical settlement in the lid is approximately 15 mm. Standing water, sometimes contaminated with low levels of radioactivity, is present in approximately half of the containers at the tops of stacks. ..In containers at the tops of stacks, organic matter (principally leaf mould) has accumulated beneath many open grout ports, with vegetation growing from some grout ports. ..Corrosion, sometimes fully penetrating, is present in some container lids at the tops of stacks…”

4. FLOODWATER AND SEA INUNDATION: “The Environment Agency has given a formal view that “the potential for disruption of the site is an acceptable risk” By “disruption of the site” they mean inundation by sea and flood. This is a far cry from the Environment Agency’s previous criticism in 2005: “BNFL (Now the NDA) has not yet demonstrated that the wider benefits to the UK from continued LLW disposal on this site outweigh the potential future impacts” We would hope that Cumbria County Council agree with the Environment Agency’s 2005 findings that that the real and present threat of inundation of the Drigg site by flood or by sea is not an acceptable risk to the people of Cumbria or to our international neighbours.

5. THE COLLAPSE in 1985 of the largest black-headed gull breeding colony in Europe on the Drigg dunes has never been satisfactorily explained. The official explanation is that a fox did it!

6. CHILDHOOD LEUKEMIA is officially blamed on “population mixing” due to the influx of workers firstly to the 1940 explosives factory (Royal Ordnance Factory) at Drigg and then the ROF at Sellafield. The irony of this incredible argument is that the plan for 3 new nuclear reactors at ‘ Moorside’ a few miles from Drigg (‘Moorside’ is at the village of Beckermet) would involve a boom and bust influx of thousands of workers along with a further tsunami of nuclear wastes and ever more Driggs.

How it will be delivered

By hand to Cumbria County Council

January 1, 2016 Posted by | ACTION, UK, wastes | 2 Comments

Underground wall ordered by EPA to prevent fire reaching nuclear waste landfill in Bridgestone

Flag-USAEPA orders barrier for nuclear waste landfill in Bridgestone Big News Network.comThursday 31st December, 2015 LENEXA, Kansas – The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered the installation of a physical isolation barrier separating the radioactively contaminated West Lake Landfill Superfund Site from the smoldering Bridgeton Landfill to make sure that the underground fire does not reach the buried nuclear waste.

landfill West Lake St Louis

The barrier will consist of an underground wall. The decision also calls for the installation of additional engineering controls, such as cooling loops, to prevent potential impacts that could result if the subsurface smoldering were to come into contact with the radioactive materialscontained in the West Lake Landfill, Mark Hague, EPA regional administrator, said Thursday.

For years landfill owner Republic Services and state and federal regulators have considered a subterranean firebreak separating the smoldering Bridgeton Landfill from the adjacent West Lake Landfill, just a few hundred feet away.

But uncertainty over the location and extent of West Lake’s radioactive contamination has prompted more studies of West Lake, contaminated in 1973 with nuclear weapons processing waste from the Manhattan Project .

Now, EPA says those assessments, conducted with assistance from the US Army Corps of Engineers, are nearly complete. “We now have a better understanding of where those materials are located,” EPA spokeswoman Angela Brees said. “We’re at a point now where we had enough data where we needed to make a decision about a wall.”

The latest report on the radioactive contamination’s location is under final review and will be released soon, she said.

The worrying part is that the underground fire is now within 1,200 feet from the West Lake landfill.

“Finding a solution to mitigate the potential impacts of a subsurface smoldering event is a top priority for the community, and a top priority for EPA,” said Hague. “Today’s announcement is the first step in moving forward with the installation of a physical barrier and other engineering controls to address this issue.”

“We are now working through the highly complex details of implementing our decision and the associated legal steps. Once the plan is finalized, we are committed to providing this information to the public.”

The work of creating an underground barrier will be paid for by Republic Services, owner of both landfills. A spokesman for Republic Services said the company is ready to proceed with the barrier installation work. The company insists there is no risk of the fire reaching the nuclear material, but environmentalists disagree.

Ed Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment said the barrier is not enough. “The only way to ensure a smoldering or surface fire doesn’t impact the radioactive wastes is to remove them,” Smith said, reported abc News.

West Lake was declared a Superfund site in 1990. In 2008, the EPA announced a remediation plan to cap the nuclear waste with rock, clay and soil. Opposition from the environmentalists however forced that the EPA to reconsider its decision.

No new plan has been worked out despite criticism from some lawmakers and residents who feel the agency is moving too slowly.

January 1, 2016 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | 1 Comment