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US Senators Announce 22 Joint Resolutions to Block Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE without Congressional Approval — Mining Awareness +

US Senator Murphy news release: “MURPHY, MENENDEZ, GRAHAM, PAUL, LEAHY, YOUNG, REED ANNOUNCE 22 JOINT RESOLUTIONS TO BLOCK WEAPONS SALES TO SAUDI ARABIA AND UAE WITHOUT CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL Wednesday, june 5, 2019 WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East, along with Ranking […]

via US Senators Announce 22 Joint Resolutions to Block Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE without Congressional Approval — Mining Awareness +

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June 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

US House “Oversight” Hearing on Nuclear Waste Appears Designed to Create Gridlock; Ignore Critical Problems and Needed Solutions — Mining Awareness +

Based on the news release, and on what we know of the list of invited witnesses, as of Jun 4, 2019, and noting the witnesses who should be listed, and are not, this hearing seems designed to create NIMBY gridlock, while overlooking critical problems, and needed solutions. There also appears a lack of planning and […]

via US House “Oversight” Hearing on Nuclear Waste Appears Designed to Create Gridlock; Ignore Critical Problems and Needed Solutions — Mining Awareness +

June 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The nuclear toll on workers and communities – theme for June 19

McClatchy reports: 33,480 Americans dead after 70 years of atomic weaponry

“….. The number of deaths has never been disclosed by federal officials. It’s more than four times the number of American casualties in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And it looms large as the nation prepares for its second nuclear age, with a $1 trillion plan to modernize its nuclear weapons over the next 30 years…..

A total of 107,394 workers have been diagnosed with cancers and other diseases after building the nation’s nuclear stockpile over the last seven decades. The project includes an interactive database that offers details on all 107,394 workers.

McClatchy’s yearlong investigation, set in 10 states, puts readers in the living rooms of sick workers in South Carolina, on a picket line in Texas and at a cemetery in Tennessee…..

— Federal officials greatly underestimated how sick the U.S. nuclear workforce would become. At first, the government predicted the compensation program would serve only 3,000 people at an annual cost of $120 million. Fourteen years later, taxpayers have spent sevenfold that estimate, $12 billion.

— Even though costs have ballooned, federal records show that fewer than half of those workers who sought help had their claims approved by the U.S. Department of Labor.

— Despite the cancers and other illnesses among nuclear works, the government now wants to save money by cutting current employees’ health plans, retirement benefits and sick leave….. … https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article49216310.html (photo: Ralph and Jodi Stanton)

Disastrous health effects of uranium mining, on the people of Jharkhand, India

the financial benefits are meaningless when weighed against what his group says is an alarming rise in stillbirths, birth defects, and adults and children diagnosed with cancer, kidney disease, and tuberculosis.

report showed a far greater incidence of congenital abnormality, sterility, and cancer among people living within 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) of the mines than those living 35 kilometres away. Mothers in villages close to the mine sites were also twice as likely to have a child with congenital deformities, …. us”…http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i1G4YWJkajit3t0xD2ddl4UXwN7g?docId=CNG.5b3137d37ca033f82d1946db0c21911c.951

June 8, 2019 Posted by | Christina's themes, employment | 6 Comments

America came close to having its own Chernobyl-level nuclear catastrophe

Command and Control, Chapter 1

 

America Never Had a Chernobyl. But It Came Close.  https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a27729387/chernobyl-broken-arrows/  

The U.S. kept nuclear accidents like the Damascus Incident secret for decades.

HBO’s Chernobyl is over, but if you’ve seen the series, you’ll remember it for a long time.

Coming on the heels of the mega-hyped Game of Thrones series finale, the five-part miniseries—created and written by Craig Mazin, and directed by Johan Renck—quickly overtook the fantasy story with its astonishing performances and commitment to its immersion in a world that Americans never really understood.

The focus in the discussion around Chernobyl lies where the miniseries has gone: nuclear reactors meant for peaceful energy. The safety of nuclear plants is of upmost importance, but that’s not the only place nuclear energy is located. According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the Department of Defense maintains an estimated stockpile of approximately 4,000 warheads. Mishaps with these weapons of mass destruction are referred to as “Broken Arrow” accidents.

The United States has officially had approximately 32 of these incidents, often involving the transport of weapons from one location to another. None of these incidents caused a major disaster, let alone a Chernobyl-like event. Two nuclear weapons were dropped on Goldsboro North Carolina in 1961 and are now commemorated with an historical marker. But there’s no such memorial for the 1980 accident in which a Titan II missile carrying a thermonuclear reactor exploded near Damascus, Arkansas.

Chernobyl offers a new chance to examine these Broken Arrows. Fortunately, both the stories of Goldsboro, the Damascus Incident, and other Broken Arrows have already been documented in the film Command and Control, directed by Robert Kenner and based on a book by Eric Schlosser.

Available on PBSNetflix, and other streaming services, the documentary shows that the story of lies and of nuclear mismanagement is not limited to Soviet borders.

On September 18, 1980, routine maintenance on an Titan II went awry. A Propellant Transfer System (PTS) team was working on the missile under the authority of the Air Force. A ratchet was used instead of a torque wrench, and that was all it took for a socket from the missile’s oxidizer tank to fall 80 feet down, where a freak bump allowed it to puncture the missile’s first-stage fuel tank.

Efforts to stabilize the missile failed, and late into the night, it exploded. Two men sent in to vent the gas were presumed dead. One of them, Senior Airman David Livingston, died 12 hours later. The nuclear warhead was later found in a field.

There are many differences between Damascus and Chernobyl, of course. Honesty was maintained within the chain of command, although the man who dropped the socket had trouble articulating the truth of the situation for half an hour afterward. And while safety protocols couldn’t keep the 7-story missile from exploding, they did keep the warhead in check.

But when it comes to nuclear incidents, Command and Control makes it clear that the U.S. shares more with the scientists of Chernobyl than many feel comfortable to admit.

There may not be a deeply embedded culture of lying stateside, but the U.S. was as willing to cover up the truth of Damascus, as well as thousands of other nuclear accidents, for decades. And when it came down to the final decision making in Damascus, the documentary paints a picture of an out-of-touch Strategic Air Command that issued commands without any understanding of the situation on the ground—decisions that resulted in Livingston’s death.

Mazin has made it clear that his Chernobyl is not primarily focused on nuclear power. It’s a complex subject, as Valery Legasov, played masterfully by Jared Harris, makes clear in the final episode. But perhaps the greatest similarity between Damascus and Chernobyl was the confident belief that nuclear power could be safely managed at all.

Explaining how nuclear power works in a Soviet court, Legasov describes a dance that can generate tremendous energy. But as Adam Higginbottom shows in Midnight in Chernobyl, it’s a dance that people have been trying to get right for many years.

The Soviet system might have set up the scientists at V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Plant for failure. But even with the best dancers in the world, there’s eventually a missed step.

June 8, 2019 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Holtec” nuclear waste canisters – a pot of gold for the company – a load of trouble for the future?

Halting Holtec – A Challenge for Nuclear Safety Advocates, CounterPunch,    7 June 19, The loading of 3.6 million pounds of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel has been indefinitely halted at the San Onofre independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI), operated by Southern California Edison and designed by Holtec International.

Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) fined Southern California Edison an unprecedented $116,000 for failing to report the near drop of an 54 ton canister of radioactive waste, and is delaying giving the go-ahead to further loading operations until serious questions raised by the incident have been resolved.

Critics have long been pointing out that locating a dump for tons of waste, lethal for millions of years, in a densely populated area, adjacent to I-5 and the LA-to-San Diego rail corridor, just above a popular surfing beach, in an earthquake and tsunami zone, inches above the water table, and yards from the rising sea doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense from a public safety standpoint.

The near drop incident last August, revealed by a whistleblower, has drawn further attention to the many defects in the Holtec-designed and manufactured facility.  It has been discovered that the stainless steel canisters, only five-eights inches thick, are being damaged as they are lowered into the site’s concrete silos.  Experts have warned that the scratching or gouging that is occurring makes the thin-walled canisters even more susceptible to corrosion-induced cracking in the salty sea air, risking release of their deadly contents into the environment and even of hydrogen explosions.

Furthermore, critics point out, these thin-walled canisters are welded shut and cannot be inspected, maintained, monitored or repaired.

Systems analyst Donna Gilmore is the founder of SanOnofreSafety.org, and a leading critic of the Holtec system.  She explains her concerns this way in a recent email:

The root cause of the canister wall damage is the lack of a precision downloading system for the canisters.  Holtec’s NRC license requires no contact between the canister and the interior of the holes. The NRC admits Holtec is out of compliance with their license, but refuses to cite Holtec for this violation.

NRC staff said the scraping of the stainless steel thin canister walls against a protruding carbon steel canister guide ring also deposits carbon on the canisters, creating galvanic corrosion. The above ground Holtec system has long vertical carbon steel canister guide channels, creating similar problems.

Once canisters are scraped or corroded they start cracking. The NRC said once a crack starts it can grow through the wall in 16 years. In hotter canisters, crack growth rate can double for every 10 degree increase in temperature.

Each canister holds roughly the radioactivity of a Chernobyl nuclear disaster, so this is a critical issue people need to know about.

Unless these thin-wall canisters (only 1/2″ to 5/8″ thick) are replaced with thick-wall bolted lid metal casks – the standard in most of the world except the U.S. – none of us are safe. Thick-wall casks are 10″ to 19.75″ thick. Thick-wall casks survived the 2011 Fukushima 9.0 earthquake and tsunami.

U.S. companies choose thin canisters due to short-term cost savings. These thin-wall pressure vessels can explode, yet have no pressure monitoring or pressure relief valves. The NRC gives many exemptions to ASME N3 Nuclear Pressure Vessel standards (a scandal in and of itself).

The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board December 2017 report to Congress raises concerns of hydrogen gas explosions in these canisters. The residual water in the canisters becomes radiated and results in buildup of hydrogen gas.

The gouged canister walls reduces the maximum pressure rating of these thin canisters, creating the perfect storm for a disaster.  Ironically, Holtec calls their system “HI-STORM”.

How many “Chernobyl disaster can” explosions can we afford? There are almost 3000 thin-wall canisters in the U.S.  Yet the NRC has no current plan in place to prevent or stop major radioactive releases or explosions.

Many are advocating that the San Onofre storage facility be moved to higher ground in thicker casks housed in more securely hardened structures.  Others are advocating for the waste to be shipped across country to New Mexico to a facility being proposed there by Holtec and a local group of entrepreneurs calling itself the Eddy-Lea Alliance.

Holtec International, a family-owned company, based in Camden, New Jersey, with mixed reviews from employees.  True to its name, the company has international ambitions for building small nuclear reactors (SMRs) and become dominant in the burgeoning global market of radioactive waste management.  It is working hard to convince the NRC and members of the public that concerns about its San Onofre ISFSI are over-blown and unfounded.

Holtec canisters are reportedly installed at three-dozen other reactor sites around the country, including Humboldt Bay in California.  Holtec is in the running, too, for a waste storage facility at the state’s Diablo Canyon nuclear site, scheduled for shutdown in 2025.

Holtec is also offering to buy four other US phased out nuclear power stations, – Oyster Creek in New Jersey, Pilgrim in Maine, Palisades in Michigan and Indian Point in New York.  As of this writing three of those proposed deals have yet to be approved, but on April 18, 2019, Holtec announced that it has closed the deal with Entergy to acquire the leaking and controversial Indian Point energy center just outside New York City after the last of its three reactors shuts down.

The pot of gold in the radioactive waste business is that, thanks to fees charged to ratepayers over the years, each plant has accumulated hundreds of billions of dollars in a decommissioning trust fund, which would all go to Holtec once the sales have been completed.

With Three Mile Island now scheduled for shutdown by the end of September, will Holtec attempt to buy TMI, as well?………… https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/06/07/halting-holtec-a-challenge-for-nuclear-safety-advocates/

June 8, 2019 Posted by | Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Mars and travel to Mars – will kill astronauts with ionising radiation

EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY: RADIATION WILL MAKE MARS MISSION DEADLY,   https://futurism.com/the-byte/space-radiation-mars-mission-deadly   JUNE 5TH 19__DAN ROBITZSKI__

Slow Down

Elon Musk once said he’d likely move to Mars in his lifetime. But before we settle the Red Planet, the European Space Agency (ESA) urges extreme caution.

That’s because it lacks the natural barriers that protect us Earthlings from cosmic radiation, which would put astronauts at risk of deadly health conditions. But they’re working on it — the ESA says it has partneredwith particle accelerators to recreate cosmic radiation in a controlled setting and build shields that can protect future explorers.

Harsh Conditions

Astronauts on the International Space Station are subjected to 200 times the cosmic radiation as people are on Earth, according to ExtremeTech. On Mars, that number jumps up to 700 — scientists have even suggested that Martian settlers may rapidly mutateto adapt.

“The real problem is the large uncertainty surrounding the risks,” said ESA physicist Marco Durante in the press release. “We don’t understand space radiation very well and the long-lasting effects are unknown.”

Shields Up

The ESA found that a six-month stay on Mars would expose astronauts to “60% of the total radiation dose limit recommended for their entire career.”

Ongoing experiments suggest that lithium is a promising material for future spacecraft and radiation shields, according to the press release, but they haven’t reached the point at which space travel becomes safe.

As it stands today, we can’t go to Mars due to radiation,” said Durante. “It would be impossible to meet acceptable dose limits.”

READ MORE: Radiation Makes Human Missions to Mars Too Dangerous: ESA [ExtremeTech]

More on space: Four Legal Challenges to Resolve Before Settling on Mars

June 8, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, space travel | 3 Comments

Extreme heat and humidity a killer combination now affecting one third of the African urban population

Extreme heat to hit one third of the African urban population, Science Daily 

Date:
June 5, 2019
Source:
Université de Genève
Summary:
An international team of researchers has combined demographic projections and climate scenarios across Africa for the first time. Their results reveal the number of people who will potentially be exposed to extreme temperatures.
Climate change, population growth and urbanisation are instrumental in increasing exposure to extreme temperatures. Researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, — in collaboration with the University of Twente (Netherlands) and the EU Joint Research Centre in Ispra (Italy) — assessed a range of possible scenarios regarding the rate of climate change and socio-economic development in 173 African cities for the years 2030, 2060 and 2090. Their results, which are published in the journal Earth’s Future, show that a third of African city-dwellers could be affected by deadly heat waves in 2090. The projections also highlight the influence of socio-economic development on the impact of climate change.

The effects of climate change are felt specifically in countries with tropical climates, which are characterised by high humidity and very high temperatures. Furthermore, countries in these regions — especially in Africa — are experiencing heavy urbanisation and socio-economic development, leading to an explosion in the size of urban populations. A combination of these two factors is having a major impact on the living conditions of city-dwellers in Africa, especially in terms of exposure to extreme — or even lethal — temperatures. “We consider the critical threshold to be 40.6°C in apparent temperature, taking humidity into account,” says Guillaume Rohat, a researcher at UNIGE’s Institute for Environmental Sciences (ISE). In fact, high outdoor humidity levels disrupt our ability to thermoregulate, with potentially fatal consequences………

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190605100340.htm

 

June 8, 2019 Posted by | AFRICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Mini series Chernobyl unfolds the horror of radiation sickness – a warning for the future

‘A horrible way to die’: how Chernobyl recreated a nuclear meltdown, Guardian,  Julie McDowall, 5 June 19, 

From ‘painting on’ radiation sickness to making the explosion less ‘Die Hard’, the acclaimed drama has gone to great lengths to evoke the chaos and terror of the Soviet-era disaster.

We were lucky to have survived the Cold War without a nuclear attack. The pop culture of that chilly era warned what the bomb would do: the crisping of the skin; the slow agony of radiation sickness; the pollution of the land; and the death of cities.

The bomb didn’t explode, but some people experienced a fragment of this horror. The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 brought explosions, radiation sickness, evacuations, contaminated earth and, finally, medals awarded and memorials erected. It was war after all – but not against the west; this was another type of nuclear enemy.

Sky Atlantic/HBO’s drama Chernobyl unfolds over five distressing episodes that show the 1986 explosion was more than just another disaster in a decade horribly cluttered with them: it was a ghastly taste of nuclear war, a monstrous cover-up and, finally, an event that helped bring down the Soviet Union.

So it is fitting that the series begins with the explosion, as if to get it out of the way so that we might focus on what happens afterwards………..

Surprisingly, Parker didn’t look to photos of Hiroshima or Nagasaki victims for examples of radiation damage, as he suspects these were tempered by wartime propaganda. He went instead to medical textbooks, and this allowed him to pioneer a technique for Chernobyl where he “layered” the skin: painting the actors’ bodies with wounds, then putting a semi-translucent layer on top, giving the impression that sores are forcing themselves to the surface as the body degrades from within. The effect is dreadful to see. Yet, Parker was strict in saying these men must not be relegated to Hollywood “zombies”, and he explains that the director made sure sympathy stayed with these characters: even as they lie rigid on the bed, gurgling and fading, they still speak, and a wife may still hold her husband’s rotting fingers.

“It’s the worst way to die,” says Parker. “Beyond anything you can imagine. The most horrible way to die. I think it’s the worst, in line with medieval torture.” What makes it particularly atrocious is that the victims were denied pain relief. In the latter stages of radiation sickness you cannot inject morphine, he explains. “The walls of the veins are breaking down.”

So the Chernobyl disaster produced agonising deaths without pain-relieving drugs, which brings us back to the horror of nuclear war. Plans for the NHS after a nuclear attack show drug stockpiles would quickly be exhausted, and those who were hopelessly injured would be allowed to die without the tiny mercy of a supermarket paracetamol.

Chernobyl is a compelling and brilliantly realised drama, but it’s also a warning – of the dangers of lies, arrogance and complacency, and of nuclear war itself.

The final episode of Chernobyl airs Tuesday, 9pm on Sky Atlantic. The whole series is available to view on Sky Go and NowTV

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/jun/04/one-day-your-skin-just-slips-off-how-chernobyl-restaged-nuclear-disaster  

June 8, 2019 Posted by | health, media, Resources -audiovicual, Ukraine | Leave a comment

30 years later, a Soviet general still suffers from effects of radiation at Chernobyl nuclear disaster

YEARS OF HELL General, 85, portrayed in Sky Original’s Chernobyl still suffers crippling radiation disease more than 30 years after disaster https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9239830/sky-original-chernobyl-general-tarakanov-radiation/ By Jacob Dirnhuber 6 Jun 2019,

June 8, 2019 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, Ukraine | Leave a comment

What Is Radiation Poisoning?

What Is Radiation Poisoning? Here’s What to Know About the Disease Seen on HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’

And what’s the deal with those iodine pills?, Health, By Christina Oehler June 03, 2019     “…….

In the three years following the Chernobyl explosion, about 530,000 recovery operation workers (think firefighters and other first-responders) were enlisted to help clean up the accident. These workers were exposed to extremely high levels of radiation— an average of 120 millisievert (mSv), or more than 1,000 times more powerful than a chest X-ray, according to the World Health Organization. Those who responded earliest are believed to have been exposed to levels even higher than that.

What is acute radiation syndrome?

According to the CDC, acute radiation syndrome occurs when a person is exposed to a very high level of radiation in a short period of time. The first symptoms of ARS include nausea, vomiting, headache, and diarrhea, which can occur within minutes to days after exposure.

After the initial symptoms subside, an ARS victim will usually feel fine for a period of time before relapsing. The person’s symptoms will vary depending on the level of radiation they received, but some of the symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly even seizures and coma.

Skin damage is another side effect of ARS, which becomes apparent in the third episode of the show. Swelling, itching and redness of the skin can occur. In more extreme cases, people can also experience permanent hair loss, damaged oil- and sweat-producing glands, skin discoloration, scarring and ulceration, or tissue death.

The higher the exposure, the more likely the person will die from ARS. Death from ARS typically occurs as a result of bone-marrow decay, which causes infections and internal bleeding.

What are the long-term effects of radiation exposure?

Valery Legasov, the chemist who worked to help resolve the Chernobyl explosion, is a main character in the HBO mini-series. He reiterates throughout the show that radiation exposure—even at moderate or low levels—can have long-term effects on a person’s health.

According to the EPA, exposure to radiation in moderate doses (like the nearby town of Pripyat would have had) can raise a person’s risk of getting cancer—in particular, thyroid cancer. Additionally, children and fetuses are at increased risk for radiation-related health problems. Exposure at moderate levels can cause cells to divide rapidly, which can result in developmental and birth defects in these sensitive groups.

What do iodine pills do?

Throughout the show, multiple characters recommend iodine pills as a treatment for ARS. Iodine helps the thyroid block harmful radioactive iodine from being absorbed, which ultimately could lead to cancer.

According to the CDC, the thyroid is the most sensitive organ to radioactive iodine, so preventing its absorption in the body can help reduce the risks of developing cancer. While plenty of foods (like table salt) contain healthy levels of iodine for a normal diet, they do not have the level of potassium iodine needed in the case of a nuclear fallout.

Iodine pills should not be taken unless recommended by health officials, in the case of a radiation accident. They also won’t protect against any of the other immediate health effects of radiation poisoning besides thyroid damage.

Ultimately, the levels of radiation needed to cause ARS would only happen in the case of a radiation crisis. While you can take solace in the fact that the levels of radiation from Chernobyl have decreased significantly over the past 30 years—and the fact that disasters involving nuclear power reactors are rare—you can learn more about what to do in case of a radiological emergency here. https://www.health.com/mind-body/radiation-poisoning-chernobyl

June 8, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Nuclear Regulatory Commission ignores many objections, licenses Holtec’s New Mexico nuclear waste storage

Halting Holtec – A Challenge for Nuclear Safety Advocates, CounterPunch,    7 June 19″  ………Ruling Gives Go Ahead to Holtec New Mexico Project

On May 7, the Atomic Safety Licensing Board (ASLB) of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) gave the go-ahead to the NRC’s consideration of a pending license application from Holtec International/Eddy-Lea [Counties] Energy Alliance to store 173,600 metric tons of highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel in southeastern New Mexico.

The 142-page ASLB decision denied all 50 contentions contained in petitions from nearly a dozen organizations opposing the project and requesting a full public evidentiary hearing on its potential impacts.

Petitioners included Beyond Nuclear, Sierra Club, Don’t Waste Michigan, Alliance for Environmental Strategies; Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination (MI), Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (NY), San Luis Obispo Mother’s for Peace (CA), Nuclear Energy Information Service (IL), Public Citizen (TX), Nuclear Issues Study Group (NM).

In an unusual alliance with environmental groups, extractive industry groups the Texas-based Fasken Land and Minerals Ltd. and Georgia-based NAC International Inc. also filed petitions for a hearing, contending that the nuclear waste storage project threatens lucrative fracking operations in the booming Permian Basin.  The project is also widely opposed by Native American Tribes – already victimized by atom bomb testing and uranium mining – as well as ranchers and growers who fear water contamination and the boycotting of their products by suspicious consumers.

The region in which the proposed dump will be located is already known as Nuclear Alley, being home to the failed Waste Isolation Pilot Project(WIPP), the Urenco Nuclear Reprocessing Plant and the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) low-level waste site just across the border in Texas, which is also applying for a high-level waste storage license.

Opponents cite the likelihood that the Holtec/Eddy-Lea project – a below-grade ISFSI similar to the one at San Onofre – could and would be eventually expanded to accommodate spent fuel from aged reactors across the country as they are decommissioned in coming years, thus making the establishment of a permanent federal deep geological repository less urgent, and making New Mexico the de facto national dump.

They point out that over 200 million U.S. Citizens living along transportation routes would be placed in peril by the thousands of resulting shipments of highly radioactive waste being shipped cross country on the nation’s rickety rails, roads and bridges through major population areas.

According to Michael J. Keegan, an Intervenor with Don’t Waste Michigan, “The license application to construct and operate a ‘consolidated interim storage facility’ for spent nuclear fuel in New Mexico is a blatant violation of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA 1982, Amended 1987).  The entire application is contingent on the Department of Energy taking title to the spent nuclear fuel, this is forbidden by current law, unless it is a Permanent Repository.  Concealed from the Public is the true intent of Holtec International to store high level nuclear waste for 300 years.  This proposal is [for a] permanent high level nuclear waste dump and is again, a blatant violation of NWPA,” Keegan points out.

Holtec counsel Jay Silberg reportedly said during a January hearing that the plan would still be viable if utilities retain title to the waste in the case that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act is not altered – as is now being attempted in Congress = or that a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain or elsewhere is not constructed.

“No less than Rick Perry, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, admitted a few weeks ago to a congressional committee that there is a distinct possibility that ‘interim storage’ sites like Holtec could become permanent, de facto spent nuclear fuel repositories for hundreds of years or even forever,” says Don’t Waste Michigan attorney Terry J. Lodge. “Holtec would have none of the safeguards and protections that were considered during the Yucca Mountain proceeding. If Holtec is allowed to build, there is a grave possibility that New Mexico will become the loser for all ages,” Lodge adds.

Mindy Goldstein, a lawyer for Beyond Nuclear comments, “Holtec, Beyond Nuclear, and the NRC all agree that a fundamental provision in the Holtec application violates the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. Today, the Licensing Board decided that the violation did not matter. But, the Board cannot ignore the mandates of federal law.”

Goldstein adds that this is the second time the NRC has issued a decision overruling Beyond Nuclear’s objection to NRC consideration of the unlawful application, and that the group will continue to pursue a federal court appeal it filed on December 27, 2018.

Donna Gilmore comments, “This is another example of the NRC not protecting our safety.  The proposed Holtec New Mexico system is the same Holtec system used at San Onofre.  The NRC knows every canister downloaded into the Holtec storage holes is damaged the entire length of the canister due to the poorly engineered downloading system that lacks precision downloading. In spite of this gouging of thin canister walls (only 5/8″ thick), the NRC refuses to cite Holtec with a Notice of Violation.”

Gilmore concludes, “The NRC told the ASLB they have no problem with Holtec returning leaking canisters back to sender, yet neither the proposed New Mexico Holtec site nor the San Onofre site have a plan to deal with leaking canisters, let alone prevent radioactive leaks or hydrogen gas explosions.  We cannot trust the NRC to protect our safety.  It will be up to each state to stop this madness.”

The opposition groups have vowed to appeal.  San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace said in a statement, “These Mobile Chernobyls are fast tracked to take to the rail, roads, and waterways. Disregard for the current NWPA law by proceeding as if it does not exist is not acceptable.  This railroad of a ruling by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel will be appealed to the NRC Commission as prescribed by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).   Once these remedies have been exhausted appeal to federal courts is then in order.”

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace Spokesperson Molly Johnson stateed, “The NRC again demonstrates that it has been fully captured by the industry it is charged to regulate. The NRC process is shamelessly designed to prevent the public from participating in decision-making.”

Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist for Beyond Nuclear, speaks for many when he says, “On behalf of our members and supporters in New Mexico, and across the country along the road, rail, and waterway routes in most states, that would be used to haul the high risk, high-level radioactive waste out West, we will appeal today’s bad ruling.”  https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/06/07/halting-holtec-a-challenge-for-nuclear-safety-advocates/

June 8, 2019 Posted by | politics, wastes | Leave a comment

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS DOWNGRADING TOXIC NUCLEAR WEAPONS WASTE TO CUT DISPOSAL COSTS—SHOULD WE BE WORRIED? 

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS DOWNGRADING TOXIC NUCLEAR WEAPONS WASTE TO CUT DISPOSAL COSTS—SHOULD WE BE WORRIED? https://www.newsweek.com/trump-toxic-nuclear-weapons-waste-disposal-reclassify-1442573  BY SHANE CROUCHER ON 6/6/19 The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it is moving forward with plans to reclassify toxic nuclear waste from Cold War weapons research, downgrading some of it from the highest level, in order to cut costs and quicken the disposal process.

The waste under review is currently located at three DOE Defense Reprocessing Waste Inventories: the Hanford Site in Washington, the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, and the Idaho National Laboratory.

Environmental campaigners hit back, accusing the Department of Energy (DOE) of risking the health and safety of Americans through what it characterized as a reckless and dangerous departure from decades-long convention in the country’s handling of its nuclear waste.

But an expert in nuclear waste management said DOE’s shifting approach is both reasonable and desirable—provided it is transparent with the American public in order to build confidence that it is disposing of the toxic material responsibly and safely.

Currently, DOE treats most of its radioactive waste as “high-level” (HLW) because of how it was made rather than classifying it by its characteristics, such as radioactivity. HLW must be buried deep underground when it is disposed of.

DOE said in a release that this “one size fits all” approach to waste management has caused delays to permanent disposal, leaving toxic waste stored in DOE facilities, which causes health risks to workers and costs the taxpayers billions of unnecessary dollars.

Now, DOE will seek to lower the classification of waste of lesser radioactivity, meaning it can be disposed of with greater ease because it does not need to be stored deep below ground—and both sooner and at a lower cost.

Professor Neil Hyatt, an expert in nuclear materials chemistry and waste management at the U.K.’s University of Sheffield, told Newsweek this is potentially a positive change by the DOE.

“DOE is proposing to manage waste on the basis of risk rather than how it was produced, which is quite reasonable—and desirable. We would want resources to be focused on dealing with the waste of highest risk,” Hyatt said.

“That said, it is important that this is achieved with regard to the risk to health and the environment over the full lifecycle of waste management—including the period of waste disposal, which is some 250,000 years.”

Hyatt added: “The new interpretation has the potential to radically change the location, inventory, and nature of waste disposed of, which will be of concern to local communities.”

For the new interpretation of HLW to succeed, Hyatt said, those communities will need to be engaged by authorities in a transparent way.

“The problem is that the action will be seen as moving the goalposts, for unfair means, whilst the game is in progress,” Hyatt told Newsweek.

“If you have agreed that waste is to be classified and managed in a certain way for decades, how do you now build confidence in a new approach?

“This cannot be taken for granted. Transparency, effective public engagement and independent expert scrutiny, in evaluating the risk, will be key. But with a new approach comes a new opportunity to get that right.”

Another expert concurred. Pete Bryant is a consultant in nuclear waste management and president of The Society for Radiological Protection in the U.K. He also teaches in the field at the University of Liverpool.

“By characterizing the waste and classifying it according to its radioactivity and ultimately the risk it poses to human health and the environment, it is possible to dispose of some of the less hazardous waste, reducing the burden of managing them all of HLW,” Bryant told Newsweek.

“As long as this is done under appropriate arrangements and checks this will not present a risk to members of the public and the environment,” he said, adding that this is all in line with global standards of toxic waste management.

After DOE’s announcement, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRD), an environmental campaign group, hit out at the imminent reclassification of some HLW.

“The Trump administration is moving to fundamentally alter more than 50 years of national consensus on how the most toxic and radioactive waste in the world is managed and ultimately disposed of,” Geoff Fettus, a senior attorney at NRDC, said in a statement.

“No matter what they call it, this waste needs a permanent, well-protected disposal option to guard it for generations to come. Pretending this waste is not dangerous is irresponsible and outrageous.”

DOE said the change will bring its practices in line with international standards on nuclear waste disposal.

June 8, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

USA aims to save money and time by classifying some “high level” radioactive wastes as “low level”

US to label nuclear waste as less dangerous to quicken cleanup, Guardian, 6 June 19, 
Energy department says labeling some waste as low-level at sites in Washington state, Idaho and South Carolina will save $40bn,
The US government plans to reclassify some of the nation’s most dangerous radioactive waste to lower its threat level, outraging critics who say the move would make it cheaper and easier to walk away from cleaning up nuclear weapons production sites in Washington state, Idaho and South Carolina.The Department of Energy said on Wednesday that labeling some high-level waste as low level will save $40bn in cleanup costs across the nation’s entire nuclear weapons complex. The material that has languished for decades in the three states would be taken to low-level disposal facilities in Utah or Texas, the agency said………

Critics said it was a way for federal officials to walk away from their obligation to properly clean up a massive quantity of radioactive waste left from nuclear weapons production dating to the second world war and the cold war.

The waste is housed at the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina, the Idaho National Laboratory and Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state – the most contaminated nuclear site in the country.

Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee, a Democratic presidential candidate, and the state attorney general, Bob Ferguson, said the Trump administration was showing disdain and disregard for state authority.

“Washington will not be sidelined in our efforts to clean up Hanford and protect the Columbia River and the health and safety of our state and our people,” they said in a joint statement.

The new rules would allow the energy department to eventually abandon storage tanks containing more than 100m gallons (378m liters) of radioactive waste in the three states, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The change means that some of the “most toxic and radioactive waste in the world” would not have to be buried deep underground, the environmental group said.

“Pretending this waste is not dangerous is irresponsible and outrageous,” the group’s attorney Geoff Fettus said.

Tom Clements of Savannah River Site Watch, a watchdog group for the South Carolina nuclear production site, called the reclassification of waste “a cost-cutting measure designed to get thousands of high-level waste containers dumped off site”. He said moving the waste to Utah or Texas is a bad idea involving “shallow burial”.

The old definition of high-level waste was based on how the materials were produced, while the new definition will be based on their radioactive characteristics – the standard used in most countries, the energy department said……..

The nuclear site 200 miles (322km) south-east of Seattle contains about 60% of the nation’s most dangerous radioactive waste that’s stored in 177 ageing underground tanks, some of which have leaked.

Cleanup at Hanford has been under way since the 1980s, at a cost of more than $2bn a year.

The energy department said it would immediately begin studying one waste stream at the Savannah River Plant to see if it should be reclassified as low-level waste. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/05/us-to-label-nuclear-waste-as-less-dangerous-to-quicken-cleanup?fbclid=IwAR1NuNSVrKbw8rn_rLUwOZlx

June 8, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

The arguments for and against reclassifying nuclear wastes

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS DOWNGRADING TOXIC NUCLEAR WEAPONS WASTE TO CUT DISPOSAL COSTS—SHOULD WE BE WORRIED? https://www.newsweek.com/trump-toxic-nuclear-weapons-waste-disposal-reclassify-1442573 BY SHANE CROUCHER ON 6/6/19 The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it is moving forward with plans to reclassify toxic nuclear waste from Cold War weapons research, downgrading some of it from the highest level, in order to cut costs and quicken the disposal process.The waste under review is currently located at three DOE Defense Reprocessing Waste Inventories: the Hanford Site in Washington, the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, and the Idaho National Laboratory.

Environmental campaigners hit back, accusing the Department of Energy (DOE) of risking the health and safety of Americans through what it characterized as a reckless and dangerous departure from decades-long convention in the country’s handling of its nuclear waste.

But an expert in nuclear waste management said DOE’s shifting approach is both reasonable and desirable—provided it is transparent with the American public in order to build confidence that it is disposing of the toxic material responsibly and safely.

Currently, DOE treats most of its radioactive waste as “high-level” (HLW) because of how it was made rather than classifying it by its characteristics, such as radioactivity. HLW must be buried deep underground when it is disposed of.

DOE said in a release that this “one size fits all” approach to waste management has caused delays to permanent disposal, leaving toxic waste stored in DOE facilities, which causes health risks to workers and costs the taxpayers billions of unnecessary dollars.

Now, DOE will seek to lower the classification of waste of lesser radioactivity, meaning it can be disposed of with greater ease because it does not need to be stored deep below ground—and both sooner and at a lower cost.

Professor Neil Hyatt, an expert in nuclear materials chemistry and waste management at the U.K.’s University of Sheffield, told Newsweek this is potentially a positive change by the DOE.

“DOE is proposing to manage waste on the basis of risk rather than how it was produced, which is quite reasonable—and desirable. We would want resources to be focused on dealing with the waste of highest risk,” Hyatt said.

“That said, it is important that this is achieved with regard to the risk to health and the environment over the full lifecycle of waste management—including the period of waste disposal, which is some 250,000 years.”

Hyatt added: “The new interpretation has the potential to radically change the location, inventory, and nature of waste disposed of, which will be of concern to local communities.”

For the new interpretation of HLW to succeed, Hyatt said, those communities will need to be engaged by authorities in a transparent way.

“The problem is that the action will be seen as moving the goalposts, for unfair means, whilst the game is in progress,” Hyatt told Newsweek.

“If you have agreed that waste is to be classified and managed in a certain way for decades, how do you now build confidence in a new approach?

“This cannot be taken for granted. Transparency, effective public engagement and independent expert scrutiny, in evaluating the risk, will be key. But with a new approach comes a new opportunity to get that right.”

Another expert concurred. Pete Bryant is a consultant in nuclear waste management and president of The Society for Radiological Protection in the U.K. He also teaches in the field at the University of Liverpool.

“By characterizing the waste and classifying it according to its radioactivity and ultimately the risk it poses to human health and the environment, it is possible to dispose of some of the less hazardous waste, reducing the burden of managing them all of HLW,” Bryant told Newsweek.

“As long as this is done under appropriate arrangements and checks this will not present a risk to members of the public and the environment,” he said, adding that this is all in line with global standards of toxic waste management.

After DOE’s announcement, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRD), an environmental campaign group, hit out at the imminent reclassification of some HLW.

“The Trump administration is moving to fundamentally alter more than 50 years of national consensus on how the most toxic and radioactive waste in the world is managed and ultimately disposed of,” Geoff Fettus, a senior attorney at NRDC, said in a statement.

“No matter what they call it, this waste needs a permanent, well-protected disposal option to guard it for generations to come. Pretending this waste is not dangerous is irresponsible and outrageous.”

DOE said the change will bring its practices in line with international standards on nuclear waste disposal.

June 8, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Town of Pilgrim now faces long lasting problem of dangerous nuclear wastes

   Radioactive waste big concern for now-closed Pilgrim plant, Cape Cod Times 

June 8, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment