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USA nuclear bombers to go back on 24 hour alert

US Preparing to Put Nuclear Bombers Back on 24-Hour Alert, Defense One, OCTOBER 22, 2017 BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, LA. —  THE U.S. Air Force is preparing to put nuclear-armed bombers back on 24-hour ready alert, a status not seen since the Cold War ended in 1991.

That means the long-dormant concrete pads at the ends of this base’s 11,000-foot runway — dubbed the “Christmas tree” for their angular markings — could once again find several B-52s parked on them, laden with nuclear weapons and set to take off at a moment’s notice…….
Goldfein and other senior defense officials stressed that the alert order had not been given, but that preparations were under way in anticipation that it might come. That decision would be made by Gen. John Hyten, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, or Gen. Lori Robinson, the head of U.S. Northern Command. STRATCOM is in charge of the military’s nuclear forces and NORTHCOM is in charge of defending North America……http://www.defenseone.com/threats/2017/10/exclusive-us-preparing-put-nuclear-bombers-back-24-hour-alert/141957/

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October 25, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

30 October: National Day of Remembrance commemorating atomic energy workers

National Day of Remembrance commemorating atomic energy workers RIVER BENDER.com October 24 2017 ST. PETERS, MO – Each year on Oct. 30th atomic energy workers across the nation are commemorated for the National Day of Remembrance. “……Many atomic energy workers unknowingly worked with hazardous chemicals and radiation without consent or proper protective gear during this construction. As a result, countless numbers of individuals are now sick or deceased because of occupational induced illnesses……… Today, the sacrificial work displayed by nuclear weapons workers for their nation and families is remembered……..

October 25, 2017 Posted by | employment, USA | Leave a comment

Over 10,000 calls to USA’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission oppose subsidies to nuclear and coal

“NO BAILOUT!” BACKLASH BUILDS: 10,000+ COMMENTS AGAINST NUCLEAR, COAL HANDOUTS TO BE DELIVERED TO FERC https://www.nirs.org/press/no-bailout-backlash-builds-10000-comments-nuclear-coal-handouts-delivered-ferc/Signers Oppose Crowding Out Renewables With “Old, Unsafe and Dying” Energy WASHINGTON, D.C.///October 11, 2017///More than 10,000 comments were submitted today for the record at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in opposition to Trump Administration plans for the Commission to enact massive bailouts of the coal and nuclear industry at the expense of renewable energy and with the added downside of higher bills for consumers. The comments were delivered at 9 a.m. shortly after an 8:45 a.m. protest organized by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) outside the main entrance of FERC at 888 First St NE, Washington, D.C.

NIRS noted that the stakes for wind, solar, and the pocketbooks of U.S. ratepayers is very high. A November 2016 report by NIRS concluded that a federal bailout for nuclear alone could add up to $280 billion by 2030. When a major nuclear reactor project in South Carolina failed this year, ratepayers were left holding the bag for $9 billion or moreeven though they will never see a single electron of electricity for their steep investment.

NIRS Executive Director Tim Judson said: “Survey after survey shows that Americans want more clean and safe renewable energy and there is very little support for perpetuating the old, unsafe and dying coal and nuclear industries. To artificially prop up these dirty energy industries and then to force consumers to pay the bill to enrich these already astonishingly profitable companies would have to rank as one of the most anti-environment and anti-consumer steps of the last 50 years.”

Most of the 10,000 individuals’ public comments to FERC submitted by NIRS read as follows:

“Call off your plans to promote coal and nuclear power, and commit to a transition to 100% clean, efficient, renewable energy. Nuclear and coal are two of the dirtiest, most polluting, dangerous, and uneconomical energy sources in the world.”

“If you really want to revive our economy, create jobs, revitalize local communities, and boost small businesses—then clean energy is the only way to go. Our green energy economy can keep the lights on and create millions more jobs than dirty energy could ever provide. Solar and wind are already creating twice as many jobs as coal and nuclear combined—that is ten times as many for the amount of energy generated, and at lower cost.”

“Renewable energy is now providing more electricity than nuclear power. Wind and solar are growing by leaps and bounds, are already cheaper than coal and nuclear, and will soon be the cheapest sources of power available.”

“America needs to get off of dirty sources of energy, not spend billions of dollars propping them up. No coal and nuclear bailout—invest in our clean energy future.”…..FERC https://www.nirs.org/press/no-bailout-backlash-builds-10000-comments-nuclear-coal-handouts-delivered-ferc/

 

October 25, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | 1 Comment

Concern over condition of France’s aging nuclear reactors: 20 of the 58 currently shut down

Reporterre 23rd Oct 2017, [Machine Translation] To date, 20 reactors out of 58 of the French nuclear fleet are shut down. Many are expected to restart by the end of November, but their aging and general condition is worrying.

Reporterre takes stock with a map detailing the situation of each plant. Winter will be tough for
French nuclear power plants. This Monday, October 23, 20 of their reactors are stopped. Of these, at least 8 were put to rest because of a malfunction or a safety problem. On the others, many are currently undergoing maintenance that also seek to repair the anomalies that accumulate in recent years.

A situation highlighted by Reporterre in a map detailing the central location by central. Last malfunction, the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) unveiled in mid-October that the cooling pumps of 29 nuclear reactors were affected by significant corrosion. In case of earthquake or flood, the
pipes could yield. This is one of the causes of the Fukushima accident. According to the ASN, the renovation of the ducts was started immediately on all the reactors, but these will require more complete repairs before being totally secure.
https://reporterre.net/CARTE-EXCLUSIVE-Les-deux-tiers-du-parc-nucleaire-francais-en-panne-ou-a-l-arret

October 25, 2017 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

BBC finally apologises for its uncritical interview with climate denialist Lord Lawson

BBC apologises over interview with climate sceptic Lord Lawson https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/24/bbc-apologises-over-interview-climate-sceptic-lord-nigel-lawson Lawson’s claim that global temperatures are not rising went unchallenged, breaching guidelines on accuracy and impartiality, Guardian, Damian Carrington, 25 Oct 17, The BBC has apologised for an interview with the climate sceptic Lord Lawson after admitting it had breached its own editorial guidelines for allowing him to claim that global temperatures have not risen in the past decade.

BBC Radio 4’s flagship news programme Today ran the item in August in which Lawson, interviewed by presenter Justin Webb, made the claim. The last three years have in fact seen successive global heat records broken.

The Today programme rejected initial complaints from listeners, arguing that Lawson’s stance was “reflected by the current US administration” and that offering space to “dissenting voices” was an important aspect of impartiality.

However, some listeners escalated their complaint and, in a letter seen by the Guardian, the BBC’s executive complaints unit now accepts the interview breached its guidelines on accuracy and impartiality.

The complaint centred on two statements by Lawson: that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “has confirmed that there has been no increase in extreme weather events” and “according to the official figures, during this past 10 years, if anything, mean global temperature, average world temperature, has slightly declined”.

 The BBC complaints unit accepted that these statements “were, at the least, contestable and should have been challenged”. In fact the Global Warming Policy Forum itself, the campaign group chaired by Lawson, acknowledged on 13 August that the temperature data he was referring to was “erroneous” and not official. Senior scientists also declared that Lawson’s statement about extreme weather was wrong.

It is not the first time the Today programme has been censured by the BBC complaints unit for an interview with Lawson. A broadcast in February 2014 was judged to have “given undue weight to Lord Lawson’s views, and had conveyed a misleading impression of the scientific evidence on the matter”.

“I really thought the climate change debate had finished and that these voices of the very rich and well connected had lost relevance in the whole argument,” said Dr Tim Thornton, a recently retired GP from Yorkshire who made one of the complaints. “It’s fine that they don’t like the idea of climate change but they are on a par with flat-earthers.”

Thornton highlighted the claim that global temperatures had not risen: “Even a sixth-former would be able to tell you that wasn’t so. So the BBCinterviewer, if they are talking about climate change, should have done a little bit of homework.”

In his letter to Thornton, Colin Tregear, BBC complaints director, said: “I hope you’ll accept my apologies, on behalf of the BBC, for the breach of editorial standards you identified.”

Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, welcomed the upholding of the complaint but said: “There needs to be a shift in BBC policy so that these news programmes value due accuracy as much as due impartiality.

“As well as taking account of the rights of marginal voices like Lord Lawson to be heard, the BBC should also take account of the harm that its audiences can experience from the broadcast of inaccurate information,” said Ward. “His inaccurate assertion that there has been no change in extreme weather was harmful to the programme’s listeners because they may have been misled into believing that they do not need to take precautions against the increasing risk of heatwaves and flooding from heavy rainfall in the UK.”

Lawson did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comment.

Neither the Global Warming Policy Forum or its charitable arm, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, disclose the source of their funding. On their websites, the groups state: “In order to make clear its complete independence, it does not accept gifts from either energy companies or anyone with a significant interest in an energy company.”

The programme in August featuring the interview with Lawson also included an interview with Al Gore, the former US vice president and climate campaigner, who discussed his new film An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, and another interview with the director Fisher Stevens, who made Before the Flood, also about climate change, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The BBC complaints team told Thornton that “the BBC accepts there is broad scientific agreement on climate change” and that “the global climate is changing and the change is predominantly manmade”. The complaints unit said a 2011 review by the BBC Trust had made clear “the requirement to avoid the impression a minority view stands on the same footing as the views of climate scientists”.

Simon Bullock, at Friends of the Earth, said: “It was a real choke-on-cornflakes interview, with Lord Lawson’s misleading climate-denial views given undue weight, and passing unchallenged. After this ruling hopefully the BBC will now move the climate debate on to how to stop our planet warming, not denying that it is happening.”

October 25, 2017 Posted by | climate change, media, UK | 1 Comment

With North Korean missiles, Japan’s nuclear sites form a terrible danger, of possible accident

Nuclear plants, the Achilles heel in missile tests, remain exposed, By HIROYUKI KAWAI/   The Asahi Shimbun October 24, 2017 North Korea’s missile launches have prompted the government to issue alerts on TV and mobile phones, urging people to take cover in case something goes wrong.

But one puzzling question is why the government has not addressed the risks of keeping nuclear power plants in operation even when missiles are flying over Japan.

North Korea test-fired ballistic missiles 15 times last year and 13 so far this year.

In August, Pyongyang announced plans to fire intercontinental ballistic missiles over the prefectures of Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi before they splash down in waters around the U.S. territory of Guam.

Instead, North Korea’s latest missile, fired on Aug. 29, flew over Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island, and fell into the western Pacific Ocean………

The Japanese government has issued orders to intercept North Korea’s missiles, citing the need to safeguard people’s lives and assets against projectiles falling on Japanese territory. The government is on alert around the clock to issue such orders.

Evacuation drills have been staged in many regions.

When the J-Alert warning was issued soon after North Korea’s missile launches to urge people to take precautions, subway and Shinkansen bullet train services were suspended in some regions.

However, despite this state of high alert, nuclear power plants remain online.

While stressing the missile threat from North Korea, the government has made no mention of the danger to nuclear power plants.

An attack against a nuclear power plant could bring catastrophic consequences.

Experts say the operation of a single reactor for one year produces a level of radioactive material equivalent to 1,000 of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

The destruction of a nuclear plant in a missile strike could put the nation’s very survival at stake.

That is why nuclear power plants are likened to nuclear warheads for potential adversaries……..

Even if a nuclear reactor completes an emergency shutdown after a missile launch is confirmed, the nuclear facility’s safety is not guaranteed.

The collapse of other nuclear plant components by a missile would present a formidable challenge for plant operators in dealing with decaying heat from nuclear fuel in the reactor. Averting a meltdown would be almost impossible under these circumstances as was demonstrated by the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

If a missile directly hit a nuclear reactor, we would all know what to expect.

The vulnerability of nuclear plants in light of a possible missile attack has been pointed out in a lawsuit demanding the suspension of operations at a nuclear facility.

When the presiding judge asked the utility the reason for not halting the plant, the company could not provide an immediate response.

North Korea is fully aware that Japan’s Achilles heel in national defense is its nuclear power plants…… If there exists even a 1 percent risk of conflict, nuclear power plants should be taken off-line as a safeguard measure. That is about ensuring the nation’s security…. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201710240001.html 

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Japan, safety | 1 Comment

Not legal to subsidise nuclear stations – says independent company that manages competitive wholesale power markets

Subsidizing coal and nuclear power plants would not be legal, says PJM, By John Funk, The Plain Dealer, CLEVELAND, Ohio — The independent company that manages competitive wholesale power markets in Ohio and 12 other states believes a federal proposal to subsidize the owners of old nuclear and coal plants is unworkable and would not even be legal.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Misguided government handouts to nuclear power stations. Why?

Why are some governments giving taxpayer handouts to nuclear power plants? http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/why-are-some-governments-giving-taxpayer-handouts-to-nuclear-power-plants/article/2638464 by Mark J. Perry |  Recent proposals to subsidize financially-distressed nuclear plants illustrate how much pressure states are under to produce zero-emission electricity, even as cheaper and more effective ways to provide clean energy become available.

Last winter, and to the delight of utility executives, a bipartisan majority in the Illinois State Legislature offered them a generous gift they had long sought: a $16.4 billion bailout to keep a pair of nuclear plants in operation.

The executives had lobbied hard for this, warning of the loss of 4,200 jobs and carbon-free electricity if the money-losing Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants closed. The two plants, owned by Chicago-based Exelon Corporation, were in jeopardy of closing because they were losing a combined $100 million a year due to the increasing availability of cheap natural gas and renewables.

With less than an hour remaining in the legislative session, the state legislature passed the Future Energy Jobs Act, a multi-billion-dollar bailout that provides taxpayer subsidies to keep the nuclear plants operating for at least another 10 years. The cost of power for Chicago-area ratepayers has increased 16 percent since May due to higher capacity charges coupled with the nuclear subsidies. Power rates will go up at least an additional 5 percent next May based on capacity charges that have already been set. For consumers in a typical suburban Chicago household, the increases will boost their annual electricity bill by at least $140.

The ripple effects from the bailout may well lead to future increases on top of the new surcharges. Subsidizing the two nuclear plants has the unintended consequence of potentially harming the owners of unsubsidized, competing power plants. The PJM Interconnection, an organization that sets the rules for wholesale power markets, is contemplating changes that would compensate the owners of natural gas and coal plants. Simply put, households and businesses in Illinois could be paying twice to keep the same nuclear plants open.

What has yet to be determined is how much electricity bills will rise as a result of the bailout. They’re already on the upswing due to earlier changes PJM made to reward nuclear plant operators and owners of other “base-load” plants that run most of the time for their reliability during periods of intense heat or cold.

And the same basic story applies at a broader level. Nuclear subsidies are expected to raise the electricity bills of New Yorkers by $7.6 billion over 12 years, thanks to the bailout of three nuclear plants in upstate New York. The New York State Legislature approved the bailout on a promise to save 2,600 jobs. The Exelon Corporation stands to benefit the most from the bailout. The company owns two of the plants and, since the bailout last year, purchased a third plant. Other states considering bailouts of nuclear plants are Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Now, on top of that, Energy Secretary Rick Perry recently called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to come up with a new pricing system to reward power plants that help ensure reliability by storing months’ worth of fuel on site. This is an attempt to help financially-distressed coal and nuclear plants nationwide.

There was a time not too long ago when market competition, one of the most basic cost-control methods, was a driving force in the electricity market, and everyone benefitted from it. History clearly shows that market competition lowers costs, boosts performance, and spurs innovation. In the end, consumers get reliable power at competitive prices.

What we don’t need, and can’t afford, is another round of misguided nuclear bailouts that saddle households and businesses with higher electricity bills. If greater use were made of low-carbon natural gas and renewables, and if more failing nuclear plants were closed, the country and economy would be better off. As it is now, in a quest to shield some utilities from the marketplace, more nuclear plants will receive taxpayer subsidies, the growth of more competitive power, along with more jobs, may be slowed. And millions more will be wasted to perpetuate a cycle that not only abuses consumers but promotes what is at best a dubious energy policy.

Mark J. Perry (@Mark_J_Perry) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Respectful dialogue the only way to prevent nuclear war – Mikhail Gorbachev

The Escalating Nuclear Threat Finally Has the Public’s Attention. Now What? https://www.thenation.com/article/the-escalating-nuclear-threat-finally-has-the-publics-attention-now-what/  There is no substitute for our leaders coming to the table and beginning a dialogue. By Katrina vanden Heuvel , 24 Oct 17 

October 25, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international | Leave a comment

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter – conciliatory approach – willing to visit North Korea

Jimmy Carter says he is willing to go to North Korea on peace mission

Former president adopts markedly conciliatory tone about Trump
Carter: ‘We greatly overestimate China’s influence on North Korea’,
Guardian, Martin Pengelly, 23 Oct 17, In an interview marked by conciliatory remarks regarding Donald Trump and his administration, Jimmy Carter said he was willing to travel to North Korea in an attempt to soften tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

Speaking to the New York Times mostly about foreign policy, the 93-year-old former president also said Trump was not solely to blame for damage to America’s world image…….
Carter said he was “afraid” of nuclear conflict between the US and North Korea. “They want to save their regime [and have] now got advanced nuclear weaponry that can destroy the Korean peninsula and Japan, and some of our outlying territories in the Pacific, maybe even our mainland.” Carter had indicated a willingness to talk peace with North Korea last month, according to an academic at the University of Georgia…….
Asked if Trump was responsible for souring America’s image in the world, he said: “He might be escalating it but I think that precedes Trump. The United States has been the dominant character in the whole world and now we’re not any more. And we’re not going to be. Russia’s coming back and India and China are coming forward.”……https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/22/jimmy-carter-north-korea-donald-trump?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%2010.23.2017&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

October 25, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Congress of the People (Cope) aiming to stop President Zuma’s ‘reckless’ nuclear deals with Russia

COPE CALLS FOR PUBLIC SUPPORT TO STOP GOVT’S NUCLEAR PLANS http://ewn.co.za/2017/10/24/cope-calls-for-public-support-to-stop-govt-s-nuclear-plans   Cope leader Mosioua Lekota says President Jacob Zuma is acting recklessly by looking to enter into nuclear deals with Russia. Lindsay  Dentlinger 24 Oct 17, CAPE TOWN – The Congress of the People (Cope) is looking for public to support a petition to Parliament to put a stop to government’s nuclear plans.

Cope leader Mosioua Lekota says President Jacob Zuma is acting recklessly by looking to enter into nuclear deals with Russia.

Speaking at Parliament on Tuesday, Lekota said last week’s Cabinet reshuffle has paved the way for government to proceed with its nuclear ambitions despite a Western Cape High Court ruling in May that found five cooperation agreements signed by government to have been illegal.

He says Parliament should have interrogated the judgment and stopped Zuma from pressing ahead with his nuclear ambitions.

“The president has already shown the propensity to undermine the law, to ignore the Constitution and even the courts to go ahead with his business. We think once we have those numbers, the Speaker will have no choice but to call president Zuma to account.”

Last week, the Department of Environmental Affairs gave its approval for a site at Duynefontein adjacent to the Koeberg nuclear station in the Western Cape to become the first site for reactors as part of government’s nuclear build programme.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

Record low prices for unsubsidised solar power

Think Progress 20th Oct 2017, Prices for new solar power projects are falling so fast that the cheapest prices from 2016 have become the ceiling price for solar today. In April 2016, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reported that the record low unsubsidized solar energy price was 3.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), in aMarch 2016 contract in Mexico.

This month, every single bid that Saudi Arabia received for its 300-Megawatt (MW) Sakaka solar project was cheaper than that. The lowest bid price was 1.79 cents/kWh.

For context, the average residential price for electricity in the United States is more than
six times that, 12 cents/kWh. The jaw-dropping price of 1.79 cents is not about to become the new ceiling for solar bids — since the market conditions in Saudi Arabia are fairly unique and it’s not clear the
bidder, Masdar (owned by the United Arab Emirates) and its French partner EDF would actually make money at that price.

But, still, seven of the eight bids were below three cents — and the two lowest bids were “the lowest
prices ever recorded at a global level,” as PV magazine noted.
https://thinkprogress.org/stunner-lowest-price-solar-power-f3b620d04010/

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Regular flooding predicted for New York, as climate change brings rising sea levels

Climate Change Will Bring Major Flooding to New York Every 5 Years And that’s only counting the floods caused by hurricanes and tropical storms. The Atlantic ROBINSON MEYER 25 OCT 17 

New York is a city on the water. For hundreds of years, its rivers and harbor have worked to its advantage, bringing it speedy transportation and pleasant temperatures.

The next couple hundred years may not be as smooth sailing. Global warming, caused by the release of carbon-dioxide pollution into the atmosphere, will cause the seas to rise and the storms to intensify around the city. A new study from an all-star list of climate scientists attempts to estimate how a few of climate change’s symptoms—higher seas, large storm surge, and more intense hurricanes—will intersect in New York over the next 300 years.

It isn’t pretty. Sea-level rise will make every tropical cyclone that hits New York more likely to release damaging floods. For instance, storm floods of nearly seven-and-a-half feet once occurred only a couple times per millennium. In today’s somewhat warmed climate, 7.5-foot floods are projected to happen every 25 years. By 2030, these floods will occur every five years.

New York City has experienced 7.5-foot floods several times in the past decade. Superstorm Sandy loosed 10- or 11-foot floods on much of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, killing 43 people and inundating more than 88,000 buildings…….https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/10/climate-change-nyc-floods/543708/

October 25, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Leonardo Di Caprio- climate change deniers should not hold public office

In what has been interpreted by some as an attack on Donald Trump, actor makes remarks in a speech at the White House, Guardian, 24 Oct 17The actor Leonardo DiCaprio has said he thinks that those who don’t believe in climate change should not hold public office.

Speaking at the White House ahead of a screening of his new documentary, Before the Flood, DiCaprio said such rejection indicated an inability to engage with the rational world.

“If you don’t believe in climate change, you don’t believe in facts, and science, and empirical truths,” he said.

“And, in my humble opinion, [you] should not be allowed to hold public office.”

The words were interpreted as a slight against presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has frequently tweeted his scepticism – despite denying he had made such claims in last week’s presidential debate……Before the Flood premiered in September at the Toronto film festival, where DiCaprio told the audience: “We cannot afford, at this critical moment in time, to have leaders in office that do not believe in the modern science of climate change.” https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/oct/04/leonardo-dicaprio-climate-change-donald-trump-before-the-flood-documentary

October 25, 2017 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | 2 Comments

Argument on the classification of nuclear waste

Reclassify waste to shift the nuclear landscape, The US Department of Energy should classify and dispose of nuclear rubbish according to risk.Nature, 24 October 2017 The United States has a single deep geological repository for nuclear waste. Since 1999, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), 655 metres down in a massive salt formation near Carlsbad, New Mexico, has received 12,000-odd shipments of what it calls transuranic waste. This is clothing, tools and other detritus from the nuclear-weapons programme that are contaminated by elements heavier than uranium. It’s more hazardous than low-level waste, which can be buried closer to the surface, but not as dangerous as high-level waste, for which a disposal site has yet to be found.

WIPP was closed for three years after radiation escaped from a ruptured drum in 2014. It was given the all-clear to reopen only in January; an enquiry determined that the drum had been packed improperly before shipment from the Los Alamos National Labora­tory in northern New Mexico. Concerns remain about safety, as well as the long-term risk of human intrusion into a facility that will remain dangerous for thousands of years after its eventual closure. But by and large, WIPP has functioned as designed, and it could do even more to help the US Department of Energy (DOE) address the fallout from the country’s nuclear-weapons programme.

Much high-level waste — produced during the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel into plutonium — is highly radioactive and dangerous. But the evidence suggests that some of the waste that is labelled ‘high level’ technically qualifies as transuranic. This material is still barred from direct disposal at WIPP, purely because of how it was produced. But labels can be changed. If wastes that meet the transuranic criteria could be shipped to WIPP, it would save considerable time and effort as the DOE continues to struggle with the country’s radioactive legacy. ………

After spending some $11 billion on the as-yet-unfinished vitrification plant over the past two decades at Hanford, some may hesitate to change course. But as former DOE secretary Steven Chu said, the worst thing you can do in a multi-decade project such as nuclear-waste clean-up is to close the door to alternatives. In this case, the solution is simple enough: nuclear waste should be managed on the basis of the risk it poses and not the process that produced it. http://www.nature.com/news/reclassify-waste-to-shift-the-nuclear-landscape-1.22880

October 25, 2017 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment