The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Why Special Interests Want Bear Ears National Monument Gone: Uranium, Oil and Gas

Mining Awareness +

The comment deadline for “Review of Certain National Monuments Established Since 1996; Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment” is July 10th. However, further down the page it says “To ensure consideration, written comments relating to the Bears Ears National Monument must be submitted before May 26, 2017. Written comments relating to all other National Monuments must be submitted before July 10, 2017.

The Bear Ears National Monument was already a compromise. A huge chunk of the original proposal was excluded, as can be seen on the map at the bottom of this post, apparently – at least in part – to protect Canadian miner Energy Fuels’ Daneros uranium mining expansion.

Their biggest shareholder and uranium customer is South Korea:

Under the 1872 mining law, the miner doesn’t pay royalties for hardrock minerals, such as uranium:

Excerpted from “American Treasure at Risk:…

View original post 736 more words


June 11, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 11 Energy News



¶ “The Massive Farms Harnessing an Invisible Force” • Offshore wind has evolved quickly. The original Burbo Bank wind farm, built just 10 years ago, had 25 3.6-MW turbines – enough capacity to power about 80,000 homes. The Burbo Bank Extension boasts 32 8-MW turbines, providing nearly three times the old farm’s capacity. [BBC]

Offshore substation at Burbo Bank (Credit: Chris Baraniuk)

¶ “US Senators: Heartland Institute Mailings to Grade School Science Teachers ‘Possibly Fraudulent'” • If you teach science to American schoolchildren, there’s a good chance that you might open your mailbox soon and find a package containing a free, unsolicited 135-page book and 11-minute DVD, plus a cover letter from the Heartland Institute. [DeSmog]


¶ The boss of BMW’s Australian arm pulled no punches at the launch of the plug-in hybrid 530e iPerformance. He said he feels the government has fallen far…

View original post 646 more words

June 11, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Burst nuclear container scattered contaminants

Capture du 2017-06-10 20-04-56


The operator of a nuclear research facility north of Tokyo has detected contaminants scattered in the same room in which workers were exposed to radioactive substances from a nuclear fuel container.
Five workers were inspecting the container at the facility in Ibaraki Prefecture on Tuesday. A bag inside the canister suddenly burst, expelling radioactive powder.
The operator, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, says it has detected radioactive substances from 14 sections of the room’s floor. It says measurements reached a maximum of 55 becquerels per square centimeter.
Photos taken a day after the accident show black flecks scattered on the floor. The agency says they could be plutonium and uranium.
After the accident, the 5 workers were kept in the contaminated room for 3 hours. Agency officials said they did not anticipate an incident of this kind, and needed time to set up a tent outside the room to decontaminate the workers.
The agency earlier said one of the workers had 22,000 becquerels of radioactive substances in his lungs. This level of exposure can cause major damage to health. But it now says the actual figure could be lower. Officials say the testing device may have also measured contaminants on the surface of the man’s body.
The worker has been transferred to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences. The officials say plutonium was not detected in an initial test there.

June 11, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Increase in Cancer Risk for Japanese Workers Accidentally Exposed to Plutonium

94 Plutonium-300x300

According to news reports, five workers were accidentally exposed to high levels of radiation at the Oarai nuclear research and development center in Tokai-mura, Japan on June 6th. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the operator of the facility, reported that five workers inhaled plutonium and americium that was released from a storage container that the workers had opened. The radioactive materials were contained in two plastic bags, but they had apparently ripped.

We wish to express our sympathy for the victims of this accident.

This incident is a reminder of the extremely hazardous nature of these materials, especially when they are inhaled, and illustrates why they require such stringent procedures when they are stored and processed.

According to the earliest reports, it was estimated that one worker had inhaled 22,000 becquerels (Bq) of plutonium-239, and 220 Bq of americium-241. (One becquerel of a radioactive substance undergoes one radioactive decay per second.) The others inhaled between 2,200 and 14,000 Bq of plutonium-239 and quantities of americium-241 similar to that of the first worker.

More recent reports have stated that the amount of plutonium inhaled by the most highly exposed worker is now estimated to be 360,000 Bq, and that the 22,000 Bq measurement in the lungs was made 10 hours after the event occurred. Apparently, the plutonium that remains in the body decreases rapidly during the first hours after exposure, as a fraction of the quantity initially inhaled is expelled through respiration. But there are large uncertainties.

The mass equivalent of 360,000 Bq of Pu-239 is about 150 micrograms. It is commonly heard that plutonium is so radiotoxic that inhaling only one microgram will cause cancer with essentially one hundred percent certainty. This is not far off the mark for certain isotopes of plutonium, like Pu-238, but Pu-239 decays more slowly, so it is less toxic per gram.  The actual level of harm also depends on a number of other factors. Estimating the health impacts of these exposures in the absence of more information is tricky, because those impacts depend on the exact composition of the radioactive materials, their chemical forms, and the sizes of the particles that were inhaled. Smaller particles become more deeply lodged in the lungs and are harder to clear by coughing. And more soluble compounds will dissolve more readily in the bloodstream and be transported from the lungs to other organs, resulting in exposure of more of the body to radiation. However, it is possible to make a rough estimate.

Using Department of Energy data, the inhalation of 360,000 Bq of Pu-239 would result in a whole-body radiation dose to an average adult over a 50-year period between 580 rem and nearly 4300 rem, depending on the solubility of the compounds inhaled. The material was most likely an oxide, which is relatively insoluble, corresponding to the lower bound of the estimate. But without further information on the material form, the best estimate would be around 1800 rem.

What is the health impact of such a dose? For isotopes such as plutonium-239 or americium-241, which emit relatively large, heavy charged particles known as alpha particles, there is a high likelihood that a dose of around 1000 rem will cause a fatal cancer. This is well below the radiation dose that the most highly exposed worker will receive over a 50-year period. This shows how costly a mistake can be when working with plutonium.

The workers are receiving chelation therapy to try to remove some plutonium from their bloodstream. However, the effectiveness of this therapy is limited at best, especially for insoluble forms, like oxides, that tend to be retained in the lungs.

The workers were exposed when they opened up an old storage can that held materials related to production of fuel from fast reactors. The plutonium facilities at Tokai-mura have been used to produce plutonium-uranium mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for experimental test reactors, including the Joyo fast reactor, as well as the now-shutdown Monju fast reactor. Americium-241 was present as the result of the decay of the isotope plutonium-241.

I had the opportunity to tour some of these facilities about twenty years ago. MOX fuel fabrication at these facilities was primarily done in gloveboxes through manual means, and we were able to stand next to gloveboxes containing MOX pellets. The gloveboxes represented the only barrier between us and the plutonium they contained. In light of the incident this week, that is a sobering memory.

June 11, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Contractor overcharging Iwaki, Tamura for decontamination workers’ lodging expenses in Fukushima


A construction company on Friday disclosed that has been padding the lodging bills of the decontamination workers involved in decommissioning work related to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

Hazama Ando Corp. said an internal probe had found that one of its employees instructed a subcontractor to overcharge the Iwaki and Tamura municipal governments by a combined ¥80 million (around $724,770) and to make it appear that more workers were involved. Receipts for their lodging expenses were found to have been altered.

The central government is helping prefectural and municipal governments decontaminate areas tainted by fallout from the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in March 2011.

The contractors secure related work orders from both sectors, but the main contractors customarily shoulder the expenses of the subcontractors, after which the state reimburses them and asks Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. to foot the bill.

Toshiaki Nomura, president of the Tokyo-based construction company, apologized for the incident, which involved the padding of bills related to both decontamination and radiation monitoring in the two cities, which are both around 40 km from the crippled complex.

The company was found to have overcharged Iwaki by an estimated ¥53 million and Tamura by around ¥27 million and to have overstated the number of workers mobilized.

Hazama Ando charged Iwaki ¥7,500 per overnight stay instead of ¥5,000, and stated that around 15,000 workers were involved instead of the actual 11,000.

The Tamura Municipal Government was charged ¥5,500 per person for accommodation, or ¥500 higher than the actual amount, and was told that 10,000 workers were involved rather than 5,600.

Hazama Ando is looking into why an employee instructed a subcontractor to overcharge for accommodations and make it appear that more workers were involved. The employee in question has told the company he had acted “haphazardly.”

June 11, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Nuclear workers were quarantined in plutonium-tainted room for three hours after accident: JAEA

n-nuclear-a-20170610-870x555The Oarai Research & Development Center in Ibaraki Prefecture is shown on Wednesday. The facility is overseen by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.


The five workers exposed to airborne plutonium at the Oarai Research & Development Center in Ibaraki Prefecture were quarantined for about three hours in the room where the accident occurred, a Japan Atomic Energy Agency official said Friday.

Although this action was taken to prevent the plutonium and other radioactive contaminants from spreading to other parts of the nuclear research facility, it probably worsened their internal exposure as they breathed the tainted air.

Internal radiation exposure has been confirmed in four of the five men.

Education and science minister Hirokazu Matsuno said at a news conference Friday that a specially appointed team in the ministry would question JAEA President Toshio Kodama about Tuesday’s accident in the coastal town of Oarai.

The accident occurred inside an analysis room at the facility’s fuel research building around 11:15 a.m. Tuesday when a worker in his 50s opened a sealed metal container that had a plastic container of plutonium and uranium powder samples inside that was double-bagged in plastic. At some point, the bag ruptured, ejecting powder into the air.

JAEA says the tainted floor of the room is giving off 55 becquerels of radiation per square centimeter in the area in front of the apparatus — believed to be a fume hood — in which the container was placed before it was opened. The acceptable level is 4 becquerels, according to the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

The workers waited in the room for 3½ hours after reporting the accident. It was only at 2:44 p.m. that they started being checked for radioactive contamination, JAEA said.

When the accident occurred, the men were wearing masks that covered their noses and mouths, but the checks revealed radioactive material was in the nostrils of each one of them.

Subsequent lung checks showed that the man in his 50s had 22,000 becquerels worth of plutonium-239 in his system, compared with 5,600 to 14,000 becquerels in three of the other four. Four of the five were thus diagnosed with internal radiation exposure.

The metal container, which had not been opened once since it was sealed in 1991, was being checked on the instructions of the NRA. Experts evaluating the accident say it is possible that helium had accumulated in the bag over the years, raising the pressure in the container.

The NRA, the government’s nuclear watchdog, plans to look into the accident, including the manner in which the workers wore their masks.

The metal container in question had never been opened since it was sealed in 1991. The workers were checking the container based on an instruction from the nuclear watchdog. Experts have pointed to the possibility that helium gas had built up inside the bag over the years, raising the pressure inside the container.

June 11, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Farmers Struggle

The technology to fully decontaminate a contaminated land has not yet been invented. Despite of all their efforts and hopes, those farmers’ struggle is just beginning and will last for ages…

Capture du 2017-06-10 21-04-03.png


Farmers in Fukushima are struggling to revive their livelihoods. The 2011 nuclear accident and subsequent evacuation devastated farms — the area’s main source of jobs.

Some areas, like the village of Iitate, have lifted most of their evacuation orders. But getting back to normal is taking some time.

More than 200 farmers used to raise cows in this region. But 2 months after authorities lifted their evacuation order, few farmers have tried to return to raising animals.

Six cows were released into a paddy field to graze. It’s a step to revive the farm work that was widely seen in Iitate village.

One farmer is using his cows as an experiment that could bring hope to others.

After the animals eat these fields for 2 months, they’ll have their blood tested to check if they have been influenced in any way by radioactive material.

“It’s finally starting. For those who are worried or not confident about resuming cattle raising, I hope what I’m doing will encourage them,” says the farmer, Takeshi Yamada.

Before the accident, farmers in Iitate used to cultivate some 2,300 hectares of land. But this year, only 20 are being used to grow rice and buckwheat.

Some 60 farmers plan to resume farming this year — a small fraction of the previous total.

A major concern behind the slow uptake is the uncertainty farmers have about being able to sell their produce. Surface soil in the area was removed to help decontaminate the ground, but doing that also lowered its fertility.

Another challenge according to farmers is weakened community bonds.

“We used to work together. We were ready to take on whatever tasks we had. But it’s been 6 years, and the motivation to work is low. Nobody now says ‘let’s work together,'” says farmer Koichi Aoki.

To counter their plight, farmers are doing small things.

They formed a group of volunteers to remove weeds. They’re planting flower seeds to beautify the land and keep weeds from coming back. And there’s an even bigger benefit.

“We’ve been protecting our farmland. We want to keep it from turning to wasteland. And by working together, we’ll be able to form human bonds again. That’s our main goal,” says farmer Masuo Nagasho.

It will take time, but people here are hopeful these small steps are just the beginning.


June 11, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Ibaraki plutonium exposures baffle Japanese nuclear experts


Experts probing the cause of the plutonium-inhalation accident involving five employees at a fuel research facility in Ibaraki Prefecture are trying to determine whether failures in safety equipment or procedures allowed the deadly powder to escape its container.

The accident might have been caused by the long-term buildup of helium emitted by the plutonium, one expert says.

The accident took place at around 11:15 a.m. Tuesday when five men from the Plutonium Fuel Research Facility at Oarai Research & Development Center were taking stock of a radioactive substance in an old storage container. This process usually involves placing the container into a special machine that adjusts the air pressure to prevent the material inside from being blown into the air.

Masked, gloved and donning other protective gear, a worker in his 50s along with a coworker standing by, removed the sealing bolts of a stainless steel container and opened the lid only to see a black powder burst forth.

The plastic bags were thick and we did not expect them to burst,” said an official at Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the facility’s operator. “I have no idea why (the plutonium powder) flew out of the container,” another said.

The powdery substance had originally been encased in a plastic container double-wrapped in plastic. It was then placed inside a stainless steel container sealed with six bolts. The container had not been opened since 1991, and held about 300 grams of uranium oxide and plutonium oxide that had been used in past experiments, JAEA officials said.

The container may have been filled with helium (which can be emitted by plutonium) from extended storage, and that may have increased the pressure inside it,” according to Kazuya Idemitsu, an expert on nuclear fuel engineering and a professor at the Graduate School of Engineering at Kyushu University.

Although masks were covering the workers’ noses and mouths, radioactive material was detected inside the noses of three of the exposed employees.

The agency said Wednesday that internal radiation exposure was detected in four of the five workers and that a fifth is suspected as well.

Up to 22,000 becquerels of plutonium were detected in the lungs of the worker in his 50s who opened the lid. Based on that figure, the agency estimates his body has likely has 360,000 becquerels of material inside it overall, they said Thursday.

Under current labor standards, that translates into 1.2 sieverts over a year, and perhaps a 12 sieverts over 50 years, the officials said.

The government allows designated nuclear workers to be exposed to a maximum of 0.05 sievert per year, or 0.1 sievert over five years.

This is an unusually high amount of radiation. We must carefully look into whether the workers took proper steps,” Nobuhiko Ban, an expert on radiological protection and a member of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, said at an NRA meeting Wednesday.

Plutonium decay can continuously damage cells in the body so it is imperative to make sure workers don’t inhale it, Ban acknowledged.

The main threat from internal plutonium exposure this is bone cancer.

There are very limited cases of treatment for internal exposure to plutonium in Japan,” Kazuhiko Maekawa, an expert on the subject, said.Gen Suzuki, an expert on radiation epidemiology and professor at the International University of Health and Welfare, said the amount of radiation in their bodies can vary based on the size and character of each particle of plutonium.

March 1997: Radioactive material leaks after a fire and explosion at the Ibaraki branch of now-defunct Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp., later absorbed by Japan Atomic Energy Agency. Thirty-seven employees were exposed.

September 1999: A self-sustaining chain reaction is triggered by the use of mixing buckets at uranium processing firm JCO Co. in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture. The accident eventually kills two of three employees, after tainting more than 600 residents.

June 2006: A suspected case of plutonium inhalation occurs at Japan Nuclear Fuel’s reprocessing plant in the village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, but a check for internal exposure turns out negative.

July 2008: A worker at Global Nuclear Fuel Japan Co. is exposed to uranium in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, followed by the exposure of four workers to a uranium-tainted liquid a month later.

March 2011: Three workers stepped in to a puddle during the meltdown crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, exposing two to high radiation.

May 2013: Thirty-four researchers at JAEA’s Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) in Tokai are exposed to an exotic soup of isotopes during an experiment.

June 11, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Burying Radioactive Rubble in the Schoolyard of Primary Schools in Yokohama

yokohama schools burial.png


Question: “Why on earth would anyone do this?”

Answer:”I guess it’s better than sitting unprotected in barrels on the school grounds for years until the national govt got around to classifying the sludge as radioactive waste. And burying it on school grounds has a precedent in Fukushima that everyone seems to think is OK. Why would Yokohama be treated any differently? (Please read in sarcastic tone of voice.)

Special credits to Jack Hiro and Beverly Findley-Kaneko for this information and comments.


June 11, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment