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Reviewing USA’s nuclear industry 2019 – Natural resources Defense Council

A Year in Review: The Nuclear Fuel Cycle, https://www.nrdc.org/experts/caroline-reiser/year-review-nuclear-fuel-cycle, December 17, 2019 Caroline Reiser 

Part of NRDC’s Year-End Series Reviewing 2019 Climate & Clean Energy Developments

A surprising number of nuclear-related anniversaries happened this year. And yet these events are either so forgotten or have become so normalized, that they don’t seem to make much impact on the decisions we’re making today on the nuclear fuel cycle. Decades have passed since the worst nuclear accidents in the United States, and we’re no closer to cleaning up their legacy. The enduring risks and radiation contamination that persists from these disasters should remind us all why we need strong safety and environmental protection standards for the nuclear industry.

The 40th Anniversary of the Three Mile Island Meltdown

Probably the most famous commercial nuclear event in the United States is the Three Mile Island accident. On March 28, 1979, a nuclear reactor at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania partially melted down due to a combination of technical malfunction and human error.

The accident led to increased regulation of nuclear power plants. But that heightened care when it comes to commercial nuclear reactors has eroded over the years. This year, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) granted the first subsequent license extension, which will allow the Turkey Point reactors to stay open an additional 20 years for an unprecedented total of 80 years.

If there is one plant that is likely to have some challenges functioning until the 2050’s, it’s this one. The Turkey Point plant sits on the coast south of Miami, an area scientist know is experiencing sea level rise faster than expected. Yet in granting the license, the NRC failed to consider realistically how climate impacts like sea-level rise and temperature will affect the plant’s future safety and environmental impacts.

Adding insult to injury, the NRC granted the license even though the review process is far from over. NRDC has been working with Friends of the Earth and Miami Waterkeeper to challenge the environmental impact statement required as part of the license renewal process. While the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board rejected all of our claims, we are in the process of appealing the decision to the full Nuclear Regulatory Commission. If we lose there, a court fight could follow. So while the NRC staff wants to pretend it can’t lose, we still have a lot of fight left.

The 40th Anniversary of the Church Rock Uranium Mill Spill

The largest radioactive accident in the United States had nothing to do with a nuclear reactor or bomb. Rather, it was caused by the first step in the nuclear fuel cycle, uranium mining. On July 16, 1979, a dam holding back a pond filled with uranium mining waste broke. It released 94 million gallons of acidic, radioactive liquid and approximately 1,000 tons of solid radioactive and heavy metal waste into a local river, which then took the acid, heavy metals, and radiation downstream through a wide swath of the Navajo Nation. Tribal members were not warned about the toxicity in their primary water source until days later and then were given the most minimal assistance.

The Church Rock uranium mill spill was a terrible, singular, and instantaneous disaster. But it’s not the only legacy of uranium mining. The pond that spilled at Church Rock was one of many similar unlined, dirt ponds storing radioactive and toxic waste. Over the lifecycle of these ponds, millions of gallons of toxic material leaked into the groundwater, polluting a precious resource in the desert West.

But that was then—right? Wrong.

Domestically, uranium now is largely produced through a process called in situ leach mining. Rather than dig uranium straight out of the earth, in situ leaching sends liquid underground to dissolve uranium directly off the underground ore. The liquid is then pumped back to the surface, carrying with it the dissolved uranium. The problem is, the law hasn’t kept up with the new technology. There are no specific rules to protect groundwater from this type of mining, so instead the NRC has cobbled together a mess of complicated and ineffective standards for protection of public health and the environment. These haphazard regulations theoretically require groundwater be cleaned up after the uranium mining is done, but effective cleanup and restoration to pre-mining water quality has never happened, not once.

The Environmental Protection Agency had prepared the first strong, protective standards for uranium mining, but the Trump administration withdrew them. Instead, in early 2019, the NRC said it will move to codify its existing inadequate rules. NRDC has interceded to halt NRC from moving forward, and we await NRC’s responses to our comments. Essentially, it is EPA’s duty to first update its regulations so that the NRC has rational standards to work from. Should the NRC proceed with this ill-advised rulemaking, it’s very likely to get even more contentious.

The 60th Anniversary of the Nuclear Reactor Meltdown at Santa Susana Field Laboratory

Twenty years before the Three Mile Island disaster, a test reactor at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in Simi Valley, California had a partial meltdown. And this wasn’t the only accident at the site.

Today, Santa Susana remains one of the most contaminated site in California, even though Boeing, NASA, and the Department of Energy signed legally binding agreements with California to have cleanup finished by 2017. And this year NASA and the Energy Department are considering cleanup alternatives that would abandon the majority of the waste in place. NRDC is working closely with local organizations, community members, and the state of California to ensure that NASA and the Department of Energy don’t renege on their cleanup promises.

The 75th Anniversary of the Nuclear Industry

It’s been three quarters of a century since the world’s first full scale nuclear reactor (rather than test reactor) came online. Named the B-Reactor, this production-scale plutonium nuclear reactor was a main part of the Hanford site in Washington, one of the major Manhattan Project facilities used during World War 2 to develop and create nuclear weapons.

While many continue to perpetuate the myths about its promise, the vexing problems the nuclear fuel cycle poses are on vivid display at Hanford and the other the major Manhattan Project sites, including the Savannah River Site and the Idaho National Lab: millions of gallons of waste sit in leaky tanks with little to no progress on cleanup.

So far, Congress has been unable to come up with a durable plan to permanently dispose of nuclear waste, whether the weapons waste that sits at Hanford, the Savannah River Site, and Idaho National Lab or the commercial waste that sits primarily at commercial nuclear reactors. NRDC was busy this year testifying before Congress about a progressive way we can end the stalemate regarding what to do to finally address this problem. Senior Attorney Geoffrey Fettus suggested removing the exemptions from protective environmental laws that nuclear waste currently enjoys and instead treating nuclear waste like any other toxic substance. Placing nuclear waste under environmental laws wouldn’t make it less radioactive or toxic, but it would finally provide the impetus for more protective standards and a better chance for actual disposal deals.
In the meantime, it’s the Department of Energy’s responsibility to deal with safely storing and managing the weapons waste. Yet rather than conduct a full cleanup of the radioactive and toxic legacy of the nuclear weapons complex, the Energy Department continues to try to abandon it in place. The Energy Department is ending 2019 by proposing to reinterpret the term “high-level waste,” thus giving itself the authority to wave a magic wand over 10,000 gallons of high level waste at the Savannah River Site so that it can be disposed of in a cheaper, less secure manner. NRDC has teamed up with states, tribes, and community organizations across the country to ensure that the Energy Department follows the law as Congress intended until Congress can work out a better solution.

Looking back, we can see how nuclear energy and nuclear weapons pose unimaginable risks to our citizens, our water, and our landscape. Moving forward, we will keep fighting to ensure those risks are managed to the highest degree possible.

December 19, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Safety costs increase for Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant

Contractors want 70 billion yen more for safety at nuclear plant   http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201912170067.html By TAKASHI ICHIDA/ Senior Staff Writer, December 17, 2019 TOKAI, Ibaraki Prefecture-Costs to safeguard the Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant here will run at least 70 billion yen ($642 million) more than the plant operator’s estimate, raising the likelihood that consumers will get stuck covering the difference through their power bills.

Japan Atomic Power Co. (JAPC) is seeking to restart the plant, idled since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, as soon as possible to secure much-needed revenue by selling power from it to electric utilities.

The plant operator has been negotiating with leading general contractors over the cost of work to increase safety at the single-reactor plant along the coast of Ibaraki Prefecture. It aims to ink contracts for the work by March 2020. But the difference over the cost between the two sides has rarely narrowed.

Construction of a 20-meter-tall seawall and an emergency facility to protect the plant from possible tsunami and other natural disasters are among the protective measures scheduled.

In October 2018, the Nuclear Regulation Authority approved the plan to implement the measures under more stringent regulations that went into force in July 2013 after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

JAPC estimated that the project would cost 174 billion yen, according to officials at some construction companies.

Six major general contractors–Kajima Corp., Taisei Corp., Obayashi Corp., Shimizu Corp., Hazama Ando Corp. and Penta-Ocean Construction Co.–were asked to give quotes for each portion of the project. Only one company will be chosen for each portion.

Their quotes, all submitted by around November 2018, pegged the overall cost at least 250 billion yen more than JAPC envisaged.

The plant operator is also required to build a facility to respond to a possible terror attack, estimated at costing 61 billion yen, bringing the overall cost to protect the plant to more than 300 billion yen.

The ballooning price tag is blamed on a spike in the cost of civil engineering materials, machine tools and workers, according to officials familiar with the matter.

The plant operator urged contractors to rethink their estimates, but they refused, maintaining that the higher price was inevitable in order to complete the project on time.

With JAPC’s self-imposed March deadline to conclude contracts fast approaching, industry analysts say the operator will likely give in to the contractors’ demands.

In October, five regional electric utilities, including Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Tohoku Electric Power Co., which used to purchase electricity from JAPC, announced they would increase financial support to the company to 350 billion yen from the 300 billion yen they pledged in March.

The rise is attributed to a surge in the costs for the seawall and emergency facility.

JAPC and the six contractors declined to comment when asked by The Asahi Shimbun to provide more details of specific cost overruns.

Japan’s major electric power companies usually directly select individual contractors for projects and do not open contracts for bidding.

Under such contracts, disparities between estimates and final costs rarely emerge.

An official at one of the power companies who is familiar with the matter called the 70 billion yen cost overrun “extremely unusual.”

JAPC maintains that its initial 174 billion yen estimate is more than adequate for contractors to complete the work.

But an official at one of the construction companies accused the power company of low-balling the amount needed for the project.

An official close to a utility financially supporting JAPC said the operator should have contractors compete for each project segment and require them to submit estimates.

The Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant started operations in 1978. The Nuclear Regulation Authority authorized a 20-year extension on the reactor’s life in November 2018.

 

December 19, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment

Australian Parliamentary Report uses dodgy and incorrect nuclear information

House Of Reps Report Supports Nuclear – But Only If Everyone Is Into It  https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/nuclear-energy-australia/   December 19, 2019 by Ronald Brakels  Last Friday the House Of Representatives released a report on nuclear energy in Australia.  They said it’s a good idea — provided everyone is cool with it.Australia.  They said it’s a good idea — provided everyone is cool with it.

The report is called:

“Not without your approval: a way forward for nuclear technology in Australia”

It gives the country three recommendations :

  1. Consider using nuclear power.
  2. Gather information to support the future use of nuclear power.
  3. End or partially lift the moratorium that prohibits building nuclear reactors.
  4.  
  5. \While nuclear is a low-emissions source of energy,  .I don’t agree with these recommendations because:
  1. There is no point considering nuclear power here until one of the countries that have been using it for decades gets it right and starts building reactors that supply energy at a lower cost than renewables.
  2. There is no point paying people to study nuclear energy until other countries with existing nuclear industries show it can make economic sense.  If it never manages to pay for itself, the research will be a waste.   If it does pay for itself then the cost effective reactors may be very different from existing ones and the effort will, again, have been wasted.
  3. We live in a country where the government is always going to require you to get permission before you can build a nuclear reactor, so saying the magic words, “The moratorium is lifted!” makes no practical difference.  But I figure we may as well say the magic words just to make it clear the reason we don’t have nuclear power isn’t because they haven’t been uttered.

The problem with this report is not that the House of Representatives committee and I have a difference of opinion.  The problem is, only someone who has been whacked on the head with a graphite rod could look at the problems new nuclear power is experiencing around the world today and recommend Australia go ahead with it.

The problems have nothing to do with safety, nuclear waste, or security.  These issues are irrelevant because nuclear power can not pay for itself.  If it can’t do that, there is no point in worrying about the other issues and it is painfully clear new nuclear power makes no economic sense when renewables are now cheaper than coal power and continuing to fall in cost.

In the United Kingdom — the nuclear power possessing nation that is, embarrassingly, most similar to our own — they will pay 22 cents per kilowatt-hour for electrical energy from the under-construction Hinkley C reactors.  That’s three times its average cost in the Australian National Electricity Market this year and fives times its average price in 2015.

While Australia’s wholesale electricity prices are unusually high at the moment, they are not going to get three miles high on this island.  Thanks to the decreasing cost of renewable energy they are expected to trend downwards from their current high of one-third the cost of new nuclear energy in the UK.

Britain’s not the only place where new nuclear power is extremely expensive.  A similar price is required for it to be constructed in the US.  There have also been huge cost overruns building reactors in other countries, which include France and Finn’s land.  Because Australia doesn’t have an existing nuclear power industry it could be even more expensive here and, last time I checked, we didn’t have any magic pixie dust we could sprinkle on nuclear energy projects to make them cheaper or on our politicians to make them smarter.

To me, it seems this report is an expensive face-saving measure by Parliamentary supporters of nuclear power.  It makes no sense for this country given the current and decreasing cost of renewable energy, but they’re not willing to admit that.  They instead want to pretend nuclear power is a great idea for us but the reason it’s not going ahead is because it’s unpopular.  Hence the title, “Not without your approval”.  In other words, they are saying the Australian people aren’t smart enough to know a good thing when they see it and that’s the only reason why we’re not building nuclear reactors.

Well, I say screw you House of Representatives Standing Committee on Energy and the Environment and the plutonium powered pony you rode in on.  I felt that looking into nuclear power once again was a waste of time, but if you had investigated it and said

“Nuclear power is far too expensive to make sense for Australia.  If this changes and new reactors overseas produce electricity at a lower cost than renewables we can look into it again, but until that happens, forget about it.”

Then at least we’d know the system works.  We would be able to see that Parliamentary committees are able to look at the bleeding obvious and interpret it correctly.  But instead, they only looked at information they liked while avoiding asking the obvious question of — are modern reactors making enough money to cover the cost of their construction and operation?  Rather than do this, they took bits and pieces they picked from around the obvious question, turned them this way and that, and squinted until they were able to announce that it looked good — but the punters wouldn’t appreciate it and they’re the reason why we can’t have nice things.

They did this rather than admit what has been obvious for years now, that new nuclear will not pay for itself in Australia and, given the decreasing cost of renewable energy, it looks impossible for current nuclear designs to ever pay for themselves here.

By choosing to protect their egos rather than admit they were wrong, the nuclear energy supporters have sullied Parliament’s good…  well, they’ve sullied Parliament’s name.  I don’t expect anything run by humans to be perfect, but I really think we need a turn around in the ratio of sullying to pride inducing Parliamentary moments.

It’s A Long Report

The report is 214 pages.  It could have been a lot shorter.  I could have gotten it down to something like:

“Given that:

  1. The UK will be pay around 22 cents per kilowatt-hour in today’s money for electricity from the Hinkley C nuclear power plant, and…
  2. In the United States new nuclear capacity requires a similar price to proceed and nuclear plants have been abandoned while under construction because it became clear they would never pay for themselves.
  3. Australia has no advantages in building nuclear power stations while having the disadvantage of no existing nuclear power industry.

It is therefore not reasonable to believe we can build nuclear generating capacity for less than what it costs in the UK or USA.  Until reactors are built overseas that produce electricity at a cost that is competitive in Australia, the subject does not merit further consideration.

 

Additionally, given that:

  1. New reactors under construction in France and Finland have had long delays and are far over budget, indicating the high cost of new nuclear capacity is not confined to English speaking countries, and…
  2. No organization is offering to or wants to build a nuclear power station in Australia at a price we would find anywhere close to acceptable.The idea of nuclear power in Australia should be abandoned and only reviewed if there are major improvements in its economic viability.”That’s under 214 words while having the advantage of being correct.  The House of Representatives committee used 214 pages to come to the wrong conclusion.  But arriving at the right conclusion can’t be easy if you have no ability to smell bullshit in your own research.
  3. One Solar Panel Does Not Cause 0.8 Tonnes Of CO2 Emissions

    Take a look at this table included in the report, taken from a publication that advocates nuclear power:

Casually looking at that you might think CO2 emissions for both nuclear energy and solar PV are pretty low.  But if we stop for one minute and use basic mathematical ability that’s available to anyone who doesn’t have to take their socks off to count to 20, then we can see that a Parliamentary committee saw fit to include a table in an official report that gives ridiculous results.

Looking at their minimum figure for Solar PV (Utility scale), I see they are claiming a large solar farm will result in at least 18 grams of CO2 emissions per kilowatt-hour generated.  While generating electricity from PV doesn’t result in any emissions, they are involved in the manufacture of solar panels, so they aren’t completely emissions-free.  However, they are a lot bloody closer to emission free than this table suggests.

These days a typical standard sized solar panel is around 300 watts.  In a solar farm in Australia on a fixed mount it will generate around 12,300 kilowatt-hours over 25 years.  This means they are saying the solar panel will result in a minimum of 222 kilograms of CO2 emissions.  If we use their maximum figure it will result in 2.22 tonnes of CO2, all for a panel that weighs about 18 kilograms.   So they are saying manufacturing and installing one solar panel results in emissions equal to burning 80-800 or more kilograms of coal.

Jinko Solar, the world’s largest solar panel manufacturer, has a figure from 2017 of just 2.19 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour generated by a solar farm.  As this has been decreasing year by year it will be even lower now.  However, this is just for the solar panel and doesn’t include emissions from the construction of its ground mount or inverter, so I’ll double it to 4.4 grams.  This means the actual emissions per kilowatt-hour are probably less than the best figure on the table and more than 40 times less than the worst figure.  Even if we triple the Jinko figure it still comes to less than their median emissions for nuclear energy and less than 4% of their maximum figure for PV.

It’s clear the committee had no ability to detect figures that were bullshit — or they simply didn’t care.

Renewable Energy Increases The Cost Of Nuclear

Here is section 1.50 of the report:

Committee notes on renewable energy

I note the committee has failed to understand the economics of nuclear power if they think it works well with solar and wind energy.  This is because if a nuclear power station produces half the energy its capable of, it almost doubles the cost of that energy.  This is due to nuclear fuel being very cheap1 per kilowatt-hour, so very little money is saved by ramping down, while nearly all other costs remain the same.

This means nuclear power, which is already too expensive when operated in the most economical way — almost continuously at full normal power — becomes even more expensive when used in a grid with a significant amount of solar energy and/or wind power capacity.  Australia already has more than enough to adversely affect the economics of nuclear energy and, even if we approve and build a nuclear power station in one quarter the average time it has taken overseas this century, things will be much worse for its economics by the time it’s complete.

They Don’t Even Know Who Buys Our Coal

The report suggests South Korea could build nuclear power plants for us at low cost.  It’s a very strange conclusion because South Korea is the third largest importer of Australian coal.  You’d think if they could build nuclear reactors cheaply they wouldn’t get nearly three times as much energy from flammable rocks:

If you try breathing the air in South Korea you’ll soon wish they could build nuclear reactors at a lower cost than coal power, but unfortunately they can’t, and — as I’ve probably mentioned in other articles — Australia can build renewable generating capacity that supplies electricity at a lower cost than new coal power.  This includes the cost of firming the renewable energy so supply is always available.

It is amazing we have a Parliament dominated by a party obsessed with coal, but this committee can’t even get their head around the fact that the country that imports more of our coal per capita than any other nation isn’t likely to be in possession of the secret of cheaper than coal nuclear power.

Smaller Is Not Cheaper

Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are suggested in the report as a way of making nuclear power economically viable.  The problem with this is they cost more per kilowatt than large ones.  This fact should not be a surprise to anyone.  The engineers who designed the large nuclear reactors in the world today are not idiots who are currently slapping their foreheads, saying, “I’m so stupid!  If only I had thought of making them smaller instead of bigger!”  Modern reactors are very large to keep their cost per kilowatt down.  Going small has the opposite effect.

That small reactors are not cheap is made obvious by the fact Britain, which has the longest history of nuclear power generation of any country, decided to power their new aircraft carriers with kerosene and diesel rather than small nuclear reactors because of they are so expensive.  This is despite the alternative being expensive oil products rather than much cheaper solar and wind energy.

An advantage given for SMRs is they will supposedly suffer from fewer cost overruns.  But that sales pitch is not enough to make nuclear energy economically attractive — pay for a more expensive product so you’ll have less of a chance of unpleasant surprise expenses down the line.2

They Want Money Wasted On More Reports

The report suggests we get people to write another report on how much nuclear power will cost here:

But I have a different suggestion.  A much cheaper one.  We just wait for another country to build and operate a nuclear power plant at a low enough cost that would be competitive in Australia.  Then we can look into it.

Better yet, to make sure they aren’t exaggerating how cheap their nuclear power is, we say:

“Hey, budget nuclear energy guys, how would you like to build a nuclear power station in Australia?  We give you nothing, but you get the market price for whatever electricity you sell.”

If they say, “nyet” or “bu shi” or “piss off” then we can suspect it’s not as cheap as they’re making it out to be.

If they say, “yes” then we can talk about how they’ll be required to insure it for a reasonable amount based on the costs of nuclear accidents that have occurred in the past.  While nuclear power is very safe, there must have been at least one or two minor little upsets.

Everyone Has To Love Nuclear Energy

The report says that social acceptance of nuclear power is necessary for it to go ahead.  So it’s not going to go ahead because that’s not going to happen.  Nuclear energy has turned out to be an economic disaster overseas, we have much cheaper alternatives, and now that I think about it there have been one or two major nuclear accidents overseas that have left a bad impression.

There was a problem with a nuclear power station in Fukushima, Japan.  The Japanese Government estimated the cost at around $270 billion dollars.  As our government is currently willing to spend around $4.5 million to save an Australian life through public health and safety measures, if we lost that amount of money it would represent around 60,000 Australian lives that potentially could have been saved with it.

Since nuclear power — at the costs we see overseas — is only going to increase electricity bills, and we have far cheaper ways to reduce emissions that are quicker to deploy, and because Australians aren’t in love with a very very small chance of a nuclear accident that has a very high cost, there will never be acceptance for nuclear power in this country.  Not in its current form.  But be sure to let me know when a DeLorean compatible Mr Fusion becomes available.

I’m guessing the entire section on social acceptance is only in the report so when nuclear power doesn’t get built, its supporters can say, “It’s the fault of normal Australians for not believing in the nuclear economic viability fairy hard enough”, rather than admit they themselves were wrong.

The Moratorium Means Nothing

Currently there is a moratorium on nuclear power in Australia.  This means you’re not allowed to build it without special permission from the government.  Well, guess what?  In this country you are never going to be allowed to build a nuclear reactor without permission from the government.  That’s just the way it is.  I know it’s a terrible infringement of our right to build nuclear reactors in our backyards and squash courts.  But on the other hand, it does support our right not to live next door to someone who’s building a nuclear reactor in their backyard, so I could go either way on this one.

The report suggests scrapping the moratorium or partially lifting it.  I’m not sure what partially lifting it means.  Maybe you have to ask for permission but you don’t have to say pretty please or maybe it just means they won’t be too worried if you have an eye patch, a cool scar, and introduce yourself as “The Jackal”.

Because the moratorium doesn’t really mean anything, there may not be any harm in lifting it and shutting up a few idiots who think the only reason nuclear power isn’t currently under construction in this country is because the government hasn’t muttered the magic words, “The moratorium is lifted!”  So they may as well say moratorium leviosa and be done with it.

It’s not as if nuclear power is going to be built in this country one way or the other.  Supporters will soon discover no one’s lining up to build reactors even with our current high wholesale electricity prices.  The only way they will get built is with very substantial subsidies and the government is too busy trying to keep coal power afloat while Australia burns to waste its energy subsidising nuclear.

December 19, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Fukushima Unit 3 Spent Fuel Damage Identified

Fukushima Unit 3 Spent Fuel Damage Identified, Simply Info  [excellent photos],  December 16, 2019  

TEPCO has identified twelve fuel assemblies with damaged lifting handles. Further damage can not be identified at this point as the assemblies are still in the fuel racks in the spent fuel pool. The location of the newer 6 damaged assemblies are from the location where the fuel handling crane and a concrete hatch fell into the pool…. http://www.simplyinfo.org/?p=17842

December 19, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Revised plan for nuclear waste site fails to convince critics

Revised plan for nuclear waste site fails to convince critics, 

Chalk River site would only accept ‘low-level’ nuclear waste, CNL says, Julie Ireton: · CBC News · Dec 18, 2019 Efforts to appease critics of a planned nuclear waste facility near the Ottawa River appear to be falling short.

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) at Chalk River, Ont., is hoping the revised plan will move it a step closer to obtaining the approvals it needs for a “near surface disposal facility for the disposal of solid, low-level radioactive waste” at nearby Deep River, Ont., about 180 kilometres northwest of Ottawa in Renfrew County.

According to the manager of regulatory approvals for the disposal facility project, the biggest change is the type of waste that would be accepted.

“The inventory is now only low-level radioactive waste,” Sandra Faught said. “Back in 2017, there was a small percentage of intermediate-level waste, and that has been eliminated from the proposed inventory.”

Remnants of decommissioned buildings on the Chalk River campus, along with contaminated soil and a “small percentage” of low-level nuclear waste from “off-site locations,” would be allowed at the waste site, according to the new plan.

CNL, a consortium that includes SNC Lavalin, needs to obtain environmental approvals and meet licensing requirements before it can begin construction on the facility, possibly in 2021.

Water worries persist

Critics have called the project a nuclear waste “dump,” and worry it could eventually leach into the Ottawa River, just 1.2 kilometres from the planned site.

“Radioactive wastes should never be abandoned right beside major water bodies,” said Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, in a news release.

…… Ole Hendrickson, a former government research scientist and researcher for the group Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, said even with the recent changes the proposed facility doesn’t comply with International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines.

He said that’s because Canadian law doesn’t compel CNL to meet those international standards.

“So if the government itself, which is responsible for policy, does not have a policy that says it will meet international standards, that basically leaves Canadian nuclear laboratories free to do whatever they want,” Hendrickson said.

The Chalk River nuclear facility is a federal site that contains waste generated during decades of federal research and development, he said.

“The federal government is the owner of the waste, not Canadian Nuclear Laboratories. It’s responsible for safe disposal, and it has simply abdicated its responsibility by handing over it to this consortium.”

In 2014, the federal government gave CNL control over nuclear operations at Chalk River, but the government continues to own the nuclear assets. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/nuclear-waste-plan-chalk-river-1.5400030

December 19, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Switzerland to shut down uneconomic Mühleberg nuclear reactor

December 19, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Switzerland | Leave a comment