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Members of US congressional oversight committee press the Biden administration on the Marshall Islands’ legacy of nuclear waste contamination

It’s a thorny point for the Marshallese, who are worried about the lingering effects of the nuclear waste left in their nation, decades of persistent health concerns, and a fear that United States officials have not been forthright or transparent about the risks the nuclear waste poses to their health and environmental well-being.

According to a U.S. government presentation delivered in 2019, Runit Dome is vulnerable to leakage caused by storm surge and sea level rise, and its groundwater, which is leaking into the lagoon and ocean, is severely contaminated with radioactive isotopes. Testing of sea creatures in the surrounding lagoon, including giant clams, shows high levels of radioactivity.

Rep. Katie Porter presses Biden team on Marshall Islands nuclear waste, gets few answers,  https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2021-10-22/marshall-islands-nuclear-waste-congressional-hearing-compact, SUSANNE RUST  OCT. 22, 2021

For months, U.S. refusal to accept responsibility for a leaking dome of radioactive waste in the Marshall Islands has complicated negotiations with the Marshallese government on an international compact viewed as crucial for blunting Chinese influence in the central Pacific.

On Thursday, members of a congressional oversight committee scolded representatives of the Biden administration for not making more progress on negotiations and taking the Marshallese position more seriously. During the hearing, administration officials offered conflicting statements on U.S. obligations to the Marshall Islands, making it unclear where the White House stands on America’s history in the region. In addition, the U.S. State Department declined to participate.

“The point of the hearing today was to examine why the United States is not willing to discuss the nuclear legacy with the Marshallese,” said Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), who along with a bipartisan panel of lawmakers stressed the critical role the Republic of the Marshall Islands plays in U.S. national security and safety.

Porter, who heads the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said negotiations will be difficult “unless we act on the moral and national security imperative that we have to address the nuclear legacy.”

The hearing was timed for the 35th anniversary of the signing of the agreement between the two nations, which is set to expire in 2023. It also comes as China develops friendly relations with nations of the central and South Pacific, part of a broader strategy to stem U.S. influence off its shores and worldwide.

The Marshall Islands’ Kwajalein Atoll is home to the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site — where the U.S. tests its long- and mid-range missile defense system. Its location halfway across the Pacific allows the U.S. military to monitor hostile foreign forces, and it is also an important hub for the American space program.

Realizing its leverage, the Marshallese government is increasingly pressing U.S. officials to take ownership for cleaning up Runit Dome. The leaking nuclear repository holds 3.1 million cubic feet of radioactive waste, a byproduct of U.S. weapons testing during the Cold War, and a focus of a Times investigation in 2019.

For decades, the U.S. government has deflected. Instead, it insists the Marshall Islands is solely responsible for the waste site, even though Congress has required the Department of Energy, with funding from the Department of the Interior, to monitor it indefinitely.

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October 23, 2021 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans, politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Suffolk Wildlife Trust and RSPB not impressed by EDF’s bribes for environment

A joint statement by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and RSPB has outlined the
two charities “significant concerns” with proposals for a new £20 billion
power station on the Suffolk coast.

Earlier this month EDF Energy, which
has a controlling stake in the Sizewell C project, set out £250m of
financial contributions, known as the Deed of Obligation, designed to
mitigate the impacts of the project, provide legacy benefits and compensate
some of those affected. This included £78 million to form an independent
environmental body to enhance the landscape of the area and £22m for
biodiversity improvements and the creation of wildlife and habitat areas.


However, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and RSPB, who have been against the
construction of Sizewell C since consultations began, are still adamant
that, if built, the power station would cause considerable environmental
damage.

 

Suffolk Live 21st Oct 2021

https://www.suffolklive.com/news/animal-charities-warn-protected-wildlife-6092590

October 23, 2021 Posted by | environment, Ukraine | Leave a comment

OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the North-East Atlantic discreetly postpones its commitment to reduce radioactive discharges at sea

The OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the North-East Atlanticdiscreetly postpones its commitment to reduce radioactive discharges at sea from 2020 to 2050. Following the Cascais meeting of the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the North-East Atlantic, which took place on October 1, the participating ministers discreetly postponed until 2050 the commitment made in 1998 in Sintra to reduce radioactive discharges into the sea to levels close to zero by 2020.

Once again, international commitments to the environment are being disregarded. This does not bode well for the
upcoming COP26 in Glasgow.

France is the first beneficiary of this 30-year postponement because, with its reprocessing plant at La Hague, it has the
highest radioactive discharges to the sea in Europe. And these discharges are not decreasing, as shown by the results of the citizen monitoring of radioactivity in the environment carried out by ACRO for over 25 years.

 ACRO 19th Oct 2021

The OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the North-East Atlantic discreetly postpones its commitment to reduce radioactive discharges at sea from 2020 to 2050

October 21, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, oceans, wastes | Leave a comment

Backlash against Japanese Prime Minister’s haste to dump Fukushima nuclear water into the ocean


Kishida triggers backlash by saying dumping Fukushima nuclear water can’t be delayed, Global Times, By Xu Keyue: O
ct 19, 2021   Only two weeks after taking office, Japan’s new prime minister Fumio Kishida pressed two hot buttons on the same day on Sunday – sending a ritual offering to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine, and claiming the Fukushima wastewater release cannot be delayed, despite opposition from home and abroad.


Instead of taking full advantage of its own science and technology to process the Fukushima wastewater and deliver a qualified answer to the world over the water treatment, Japan has opted for its irresponsible plan to dump the wastewater as soon as possible and provided self-contradictory explanations for the decision, said Chinese experts.Speaking at his first visit to the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant since taking office, Kishida said the planned mass disposal of wastewater stored at the facility cannot be delayed, claiming his government would work to reassure residents nearby the plant about the technical safety of the wastewater disposal project, Asahi Shimbun reported Monday.

South Korea has expressed concern over Kishida’s plan to release the radioactive wastewater, according to South Korean media on Monday.

“Japan’s decision [to discharge the wastewater] was made without enough consultations with neighboring nations,” a senior South Korean foreign ministry official said. “We have expressed serious concerns and opposition to its plan, which could affect our people’s health and security as well as the ocean environment.”

The Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) has planned to build a one-kilometer undersea tunnel to release contaminated radioactive water out to sea, amid condemnation from fishermen, media reported in late August.

The plan again showed that Japan’s “explanation” over the safety of the water is “self-contradicting,” Liu Jiangyong, vice dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Monday.
Assuming the wastewater has been processed without any side effects or pollution as the Japanese government claimed, and that people can even drink it, why does the Japanese government not simply discharge the water into the sea but plan to dump the water 1 kilometer away from the local residents? asked Liu. He also questioned the claim that it will have no impact on the marine environment and life chain, and asked why the water could not be recycled on land if the wastewater can be processed so cleanly and safely.

Japan can’t answer any of these questions, said Liu, noting that dumping the nuclear water shows that the water is “unusual.”…………. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?tab=rm&ogbl#inbox?compose=DmwnWsTJtkLTcgrqMkBKSqBpmgbKhMHpzMMgttqhvJHgDJrfsKrtFCCwkflZJkjjhwgvJbPrQhFV

October 19, 2021 Posted by | Japan, oceans, politics international, wastes | Leave a comment

Radioactive contamination from the partially-burned former Santa Susanna nuclear research facility

Radioactive microparticles related to the Woolsey Fire in Simi Valley, CA  SCience Direct, MarcoKaltofenaMaggieGundersenbArnieGundersenb    Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Dept. of Physics, Fairewinds Energy Education, 8 October 2021. 

Highlights

Wildfire in radiologically contaminated zones is a global concern; contaminated areas around Chernobyl, Fukushima, Los Alamos, and the Nevada Nuclear Test Site have all experienced wildfires.

Three hundred sixty samples of soil, dust and ash were collected in the immediate aftermath of the Los Angeles (CA, USA) Woolsey fire in 2018.

Radioactive contamination from the partially-burned former Santa Susanna nuclear research facility was found in the fire zone.

A limited number of widely scattered locations had evidence of radioactive microparticles originating at the research facility.

X-ray data showed that ashes from the fire could spread site contaminants to distant, but widely spaced, locations.

Abstract

In November 2018, the Woolsey Fire burned north of Los Angeles, CA, USA, potentially remobilizing radioactive contaminants at the former Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a shuttered nuclear research facility contaminated by chemical and radiochemical releases. Wildfire in radiologically contaminated zones is a global concern; contaminated areas around Chernobyl, Fukushima, Los Alamos, and the Nevada Nuclear Test Site have all experienced wildfires. Three weeks after the Woolsey Fire was controlled, sampling of dusts, ashes, and surface soils (n = 360) began and were analyzed by alpha- and beta-radiation counting. Samples were collected up to a 16 km radius from the perimeter of the laboratory. Controls and samples with activities 1σ greater than background were also examined by alpha and/or gamma spectroscopy or Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-ray analysis. Of the 360 samples collected, 97% showed activities at or close to site-specific background levels. However, offsite samples collected in publicly-accessible areas nearest to the SSFL site perimeter had the highest alpha-emitting radionuclides radium, thorium, and uranium activities, indicating site-related radioactive material has escaped the confines of the laboratory. 

In two geographically-separated locations, one as far away as 15 km, radioactive microparticles containing percent-concentrations of thorium were detected in ashes and dusts that were likely related to deposition from the Woolsey fire. These offsite radioactive microparticles were colocated with alpha and beta activity maxima. Data did not support a finding of widespread deposition of radioactive particles. However, two radioactive deposition hotspots and significant offsite contamination were detected near the site perimeter……………………………

4. Conclusions

A significant majority of samples (97% of 360 samples) collected in the study zone registered radioactivity levels that matched existing area background levels. Nevertheless, some ashes and dusts collected from the Woolsey Fire zone in the fire’s immediate aftermath contained high activities of radioactive isotopes associated with the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL). The data show that Woolsey Fire ash did, in fact, spread SSFL-related radioactive microparticles, and the impacts were confined to areas closest to SSFL and at least three other scattered locations in the greater Simi Valley area. Alpha and beta counting, high-resolution alpha and gamma spectroscopy, and X-ray microanalysis using SEM/EDS confirmed the presence of radioactive microparticles in the Woolsey Fire-related ashes and dusts.

Most of the fire-impacted samples found near the SSFL site’s perimeter were on lands accessible to the public. There were, however, scattered localized areas of increased radioactivity due to the presence of radioactive microparticles in ash and recently-settled dusts collected just after the Woolsey fire. These radioactive outliers were found in Thousand Oaks, CA, and Simi Valley, CA, about 15 and 5 km distant from SSFL, respectively. The Thousand Oaks samples had alpha count rates up to 19 times background, and X-ray spectroscopy (SEM) identified alpha-emitting thorium as the source of this excess radioactivity. Excessive alpha radiation in small particles is of particular interest because of the relatively high risk of inhalation-related long-term biological damage from internal alpha emitters compared to external radiation.

The nuclides identified as the sources of excess radioactivity in impacted samples were predominately isotopes of radium, uranium, and thorium. These have naturally-occurring sources, but these isotopes are also contaminants of concern at SSFL and were detected at generally increasing activities as the distance from SSFL decreased. In addition, the number of radioactive microparticles per gram of particulate matter also increased strongly with decreasing distance from SSFL. These data demonstrate that fire and/or other processes have spread SSFL contamination beyond the facility boundary………..

……https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0265931X21002277?dgcid=coauthor

October 18, 2021 Posted by | environment, radiation, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

US nuclear submarine accident sparks safety fears in South China Sea

US nuclear submarine accident sparks safety fears in South China Sea  https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3152181/us-nuclear-submarine-accident-sparks-safety-fears-south-china?module=perpetual_scroll&pgtype=article&campaign=3152181Busy waterway’s complex underwater terrain and shipping litter make it a challenging environment for the giant vessels


Collision has also highlighted the difficulties in safely disposing of the reactors from decommissioned subs, with no agreed guidelines, experts say.    Minnie Chan 16 Oct, 2021   

The damage to a US nuclear attack submarine which collided with a mystery object in the South China Sea earlier this month has raised concerns about their operational safety, as well as what happens to damaged and decommissioned nuclear reactors.

Defence experts have warned that nuclear submarines – among the world’s deadliest weapons – are also vulnerable in the event of an underwater accident causing a nuclear leak, regardless of whether they are general-purpose attack subs (SSN) or platforms for the launch of ballistic missiles (SSBN).

October 18, 2021 Posted by | China, incidents, oceans | Leave a comment

The scale of global e-waste

The scale of global e-waste — The Earthbound Report
The scale of global e-waste  
https://earthbound.report/2021/10/14/the-scale-of-global-e-waste/byJEREMY WILLIAMSOctober 14, 2021

Today is International e-waste day, which aims to raise awareness of waste electronics. It’s a growing problem, as more people buy phones, laptops and other gadgets, and as they are replaced at a faster rate.

If you average the problem across the global population, 7.6kg of e-waste is created every year for every person on the planet – though of course there are inequalities within that. The UK is among the worst in the world, creating 23kg of e-waste per person per year – second only to Norway. That’s something we need to take some responsibility for, not least because e-waste so often becomes an environmental justice issue.

There are system-wide things we should be doing here to encourage a circular economy. Repair standards are one of those, as I wrote about last week with the ten year smartphone initiative. Rules to prevent planned obsolescence, as France has pioneered. At the personal level, we should try to make things last, repair where we can, and ensure that our gadgets are recycled properly.

MusicMagpie, which re-sells secondhand electronics, has created a series of visuals to help explore the scale of e-waste

October 16, 2021 Posted by | environment, wastes | Leave a comment

A particular threat to health: Why it is vital to stop the dumping of mud from Hinkley Point C in the Severn Estuary.

 Richard Bramhall: A particular threat to health: Why it is vital to stop
the dumping of mud from Hinkley Point C in the Severn Estuary. In 2018 the
French state-owned company Électricité de France (EDF) dug more than
100,000 tonnes of radioactively contaminated mud from the bed of the Severn
near Hinkley Point. Ignoring widespread protests they dumped it back into
the water less than two miles from Cardiff. This was to allow construction
of huge inlets and outlets for water to cool the reactors in the new
nuclear power station – Hinkley Point C – which EDF is building in
Somerset.

EDF held an old licence for the 2018 dump but it expired before
they could shift their target volume of nearly a million tonnes. They
applied to renew the dumping at Cardiff but, because of strong opposition
in Wales and more protective Welsh environment law, they switched to a site
at Portishead near Bristol.

This August the Marine Management Organisation
granted a licence for the Portishead operation and dumping immediately
began again. Campaigners on both sides of the estuary have now applied for
a Judicial Review. The legal challenge identifies many scientific and
regulatory issues.

This article concerns only one:- the health impact of
radioactive particles in the mud. Every nuclear power station in the world
vents dust particles. They are licensed to do this. Filters trap fragments
bigger than about 5 microns (thousandths of a millimetre) but thousands of
billions of smaller particles are released, as data published by the UN
show. Particles this size are inhalable and are biologically very mobile.
The greatest proportion are made of uranium.

 Nation Cymru 10th Oct 2021

October 12, 2021 Posted by | environment, health, UK | 1 Comment

Questions over water supply for the new £20billion nuclear plant for Sizewell, UK

 A regional water supplier is scrambling to work out how to provide enough
water if Sizewell C is approved, after the Environment Agency proposed a
large cut to the amount it can take from the River Waveney. EDF, the
company behind plans for the new £20billion nuclear plant, insisted today
it had a “clear and deliverable” strategy for its water supply.

 Ipswich Star 7th Oct 2021

https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/business/sizewell-c-questions-over-water-supply-8392154

October 12, 2021 Posted by | UK, water | Leave a comment

Mushrooms in Germany are still contaminated by Chernobyl radiation

Mushrooms in Germany are still contaminated by Chernobyl radiation  https://nypost.com/2021/10/08/german-mushrooms-still-contaminated-by-chernobyl-radiation/ By Reuters   Around 95% of wild mushroom samples collected in Germany in the last six years still showed radioactive contamination from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, albeit not above legal limits, the German food safety regulator said on Friday.

Elevated concentrations of caesium-137 and caesium-134 isotopes bearing the characteristic signature of the Chernobyl blast were found especially in southern Germany, the federal office for consumer protection and food safety (BVL) said.

However, none of the 74 samples tested exceeded the legal limit of 600 becquerels of radiation per kg.

The Chernobyl reactor, located in what is now Ukraine, spewed tonnes of nuclear waste into the atmosphere, spreading radioactivity across swathes of the continent and causing a spike in cancers in the more immediate region.

The BVL said the radioactive material lingered in forests because their ecosystems recycled nutrients so efficiently, meaning that wild mushrooms will show contamination for much longer than other agricultural products.

Concern at the long-term impact of nuclear disasters has fueled public opposition to nuclear power, and in Germany triggered a decision, shortly after the accident at Japan’s Fukushima plant in 2011, to abandon it altogether. 

October 9, 2021 Posted by | environment, Germany, radiation | Leave a comment

Russia’s perilous job in raising sunken nuclear submarines

In both cases, experts fear that a nuclear chain reaction could occur should water leak into the submarines’ reactor compartments.  Russian scientists have kept a close eye on the K-159, launching regular expeditions to monitor for potential radiation leaks. According to their data, should the submarine depressurize, radionuclides could spread over hundreds of kilometers, heavily impacting the local fishing industry.

Yet the subs represent just a fraction of the radiation hazards that the Soviet Navy dumped at sea. Between 1959 and 1992, the Soviets carried out 80 missions to sink radioactive debris in Arctic water. In total, some 18,000 objects considered to be radioactive waste were plunged to Arctic depths. Aside from the K-159 and the K-27, the Soviet Navy scuttled reactor compartments, solid radioactive waste, a number of irradiated vessels, as well as old metal structures and radioactive equipment.

Rosatom official puts deadline on raising old nuclear submarines  https://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2021-10-rosatom-official-puts-deadline-on-raising-old-nuclear-submarines

An official with Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, has announced a deadline for raising two Soviet-era nuclear submarines that have been lying for decades at the bottom of seas in the Arctic over fears their reactors could contaminate fertile international fishing grounds.  October 6, 2021 by Charles Digges

An official with Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, has announced a deadline for raising two Soviet-era nuclear submarines that have been lying for decades at the bottom of seas in the Arctic over fears their reactors could contaminate fertile international fishing grounds.

As indicated in the strategy for the development of the Arctic, 2030, not earlier,” Anatoly Grigoriev, head of Rosatom’s international technical assistance project, told Interfax late last month.

The announcement confirms what unnamed officials had earlier told Russian state media more than a year ago. Since then, Bellona has urged Russia, during its two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council, to pursue retrieving the submarines to avoid the contamination risk their reactors, and the spent nuclear fuel they contain,  pose to the ocean environment.

Grigoriev’s remarks concerned the K-27 and K-159, both of which went down still loaded with their uranium fuel. Both submarines, say experts, are in a precarious state. But the submarines sank under different circumstances.

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October 7, 2021 Posted by | oceans, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Russia aims to lift old dead nuclear submarines from the bottom of the Barents and Kara Seas by 2030

Russia to Lift Radioactive Time Bombs From Ocean Floor in 2030,   https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2021/10/04/russia-to-lift-radioactive-time-bombs-from-ocean-floor-in-2030-a75207 Two rusty nuclear submarines will be raised from the sea beds of the Barents and Kara Seas and brought to a shipyard for safe decommissioning. By The Barents Observer  4 Oct 21,  The November-class K-159 submarine sank in late August 2003 while being towed in bad weather from the closed naval base of Gremikha on the eastern shores of the Kola Peninsula toward the Nerpa shipyard north of Murmansk.

Researchers have monitored the wreck ever since, fearing leakages of radioactivity from the two old nuclear reactors onboard could contaminate the important fishing grounds in the Barents Sea. A joint Norwegian-Russian expedition examined the site in 2014 and concluded that no leakage has so far occurred from the reactors to the surrounding marine environment.

However, the bad shape of the hull could eventually lead to radionuclide leakages. A modeling study by the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research said that a pulse discharge of the entire Caesium-137 inventory from the two reactors could increase concentrations in cod in the eastern part of the Barents Sea up to 100 times current levels for a two-year period after the discharge. While a Cs-137 increase of 100 times in cod sounds dramatic, the levels would still be below international guidelines, but tell that to the market buying the fish.

Now, Russia’s nuclear corporation Rosatom has announced the date for lifting the K-159 to 2030.

“As indicated in the strategy for the development of the Arctic, 2030, not earlier,” Anatoly Grigoriev, head of Rosatom’s international technical assistance project, told Interfax.

Grigoriev said Atomflot, the state operator of civilian nuclear-powered icebreakers whose technical base is just north of Murmansk, could become the contractor for the lifting.

The Rosatom official added that the K-27, a submarine dumped in the Kara Sea in 1982, is also included on the list of nuclear objects on the Arctic seabed to be salvaged by 2030.

The submarine was dumped at a depth of 33 meters in the Stepovogo fjord on the eastern shores of Novaya Zemlya.

Last month, divers from the Center for Underwater Research of the Russian Geographical Society conducted a survey of the submarine’s hull. Metal pieces were cut free and the thickness of the hull was measured, along with other inspections of the submarine that has been corroding on the seabed for nearly 40 years. 

Based on the examination, a detailed plan will be worked out on how to conduct the salvage with destabilizing the uranium fuel in the reactors in such a way that a new chain reactor could be restarted with a worst-case scenario of triggering direct contact between the uranium fuel and seawater. 

October 5, 2021 Posted by | oceans, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

CNMI House slams Japan’s plan to dump nuclear waste into Pacific


CNMI House slams Japan’s plan to dump nuclear waste into Pacific, 
https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/452916/cnmi-house-slams-japan-s-plan-to-dump-nuclear-waste-into-pacificThe CNMI House of Representatives has a introduced a joint resolution that condemns Japan’s plan to dump treated nuclear waste from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Introduced by Representaive Sheila Babauta, the joint resolution opposes any other government’s actions related to nuclear testing, storage, and waste disposal in the Pacific and reaffirm everyone’s fundamental right to a safe and healthy living environment.

The resolution states that the Pacific Ocean is a resource and home for many in the Commonwealth, broader Oceania, and many in Japan who rely on it to provide food, economic subsistence, a means of travel, and so many other aspects of life that can be easily threatened by human activities such as pollution and nuclear exercises.

Japan announced in April a plan to start dumping in two years into the Pacific more than a million tons of treated but still radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was destroyed in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Babauta, who chairs the House’s Natural Resources Committee, said the people of Oceania have throughout history been disproportionately impacted by foreign powers’ nuclear activities within the Pacific region.

In 1979, Japan also proposed a plan to dump about 10,000 drums of nuclear waste in the Pacific.

Babauta said UN Special Rapporteurs released a statement expressing deep disappointment in Japan’s latest decision, saying “the release of one million tons of contaminated water into the marine environment imposes considerable risks to the full enjoyment of human rights of concerned populations in and beyond the borders of Japan.”

October 5, 2021 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans | Leave a comment

The sunken nuclear submarines: Russia’s ‘slow-motion Chernobyl’ at sea 

One of them is the K-27, once known as the “golden fish” because of its high cost. The 360ft-long (118m) attack submarine (a submarine designed to hunt other submarines) was plagued with problems since its 1962 launch with its experimental liquid-metal-cooled reactors, one of which ruptured six years later and exposed nine sailors to fatal doses of radiation. In 1981 and 1982, the navy filled the reactor with asphalt and scuttled it east of Novaya Zemlya island in a mere 108ft (33m) of water. A tugboat had to ram the bow after a hole blown in the ballast tanks only sank the aft end.

The K-27 was sunk after some safety measures were installed that should keep the wreck safe until 2032. But another incident is more alarming. The K-159, a 350ft (107m) November-class attack submarine, was in service from 1963 to 1989. The K-159 sank with no warning, sending 800kg (1,760lb) of spent uranium fuel to the seafloor beneath busy fishing and shipping lanes just north of Murmansk. Thomas Nilsen, editor of The Barents Observer online newspaper, describes the submarines as a “Chernobyl in slow motion on the seabed”.

While the vast size of the oceans quickly dilutes radiation, even very small levels can become concentrated in animals at the top of the food chain through “bioaccumulation” – and then be ingested by humans. But economic consequences for the Barents Sea fishing industry, which provides the vast majority of cod and haddock at British fish and chip shops, “may perhaps be worse than the environmental consequences”, says Hilde Elise Heldal, a scientist at Norway’s Institute of Marine Research.

But an accident while raising the submarine, on the other hand, could suddenly jar the reactor, potentially mixing fuel elements and starting an uncontrolled chain reaction and explosion. That could boost radiation levels in fish 1,000 times normal or, if it occurred on the surface, irradiate terrestrial animals and humans, another Norwegian study found.

Russia’s ‘slow-motion Chernobyl’ at sea  https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200901-the-radioactive-risk-of-sunken-nuclear-soviet-submarines, By Alec Luhn, 2nd September 2020

Beneath some of the world’s busiest fisheries, radioactive submarines from the Soviet era lie disintegrating on the seafloor. Decades later, Russia is preparing to retrieve them.

By tradition, Russians always bring an odd number of flowers to a living person and an even number to a grave or memorial. But every other day, 83-year-old Raisa Lappa places three roses or gladiolas by the plaque to her son Sergei in their hometown Rubtsovsk, as if he hadn’t gone down with his submarine during an ill-fated towing operation in the Arctic Ocean in 2003.

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October 2, 2021 Posted by | oceans, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, Russia, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russian and American nuclear wastes in the Arctic may release radiation as global heating melts the ice.


Climate change: Arctic’s unknown viruses’ and nuclear waste,  A rapidly warming Arctic could cause the spread of nuclear waste, undiscovered viruses and antibiotic resistant bacteria, a report has found. BBC, 2 Oct 21,

It said potential radioactive waste from Cold War nuclear submarines and reactors and damage from mining could be released as the ice melts.

The nine million square miles of Artic dates to about a million years old.

Co-author Dr Arwyn Edwards from Aberystwyth University said much of the Arctic is still unknown.

Writing in Nature Climate Change, Dr Edwards co-authored report with academics from universities in the United States and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

The Arctic houses a diverse range of chemical compounds whether through natural processes, accidents or deliberate storage.

Nuclear waste, viruses and chemicals

Thawing permafrost, or permanently frozen land, has widely been seen as a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions as massive stores of Arctic soil carbon are released to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, as well as causing abrupt change to the landscape.

However, the research found the implications are more widespread and less understood – with potential for the release of nuclear waste and radiation, unknown viruses and other chemicals of concern.

Between 1955 and 1990, the Soviet Union conducted 130 nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere and near surface ocean of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago off the coast of north-west Russia.

The tests used 224 separate explosive devices, releasing about 265 megatons of nuclear energy and more than 100 decommissioned nuclear submarines were scuttled in the nearby Kara and Barents seas.

Despite a Russian government launching a strategic clean-up plan, the review notes the area has tested highly for the radioactive substances caesium and plutonium, between undersea sediment, vegetation and ice sheets.

The United States’ Camp Century nuclear-powered under-ice research facility in Greenland also produced considerable nuclear and diesel waste.

Decommissioned in 1967, waste was left in the accumulating ice, which faces a longer term threat from changes to the Greenland Ice Sheet.

The 1968 Thule bomber crash in the same country also dispersed huge amounts of plutonium on the Greenland ice sheet……………………..

The report said despite its findings, it is still poorly understood and largely unquantified and further in-depth research in the area is vital to gain further insight into the risks………..   https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-58724710

October 2, 2021 Posted by | ARCTIC, environment, radiation | Leave a comment