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U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will run environmental study BEFORE relicensing South Carolina nuclear fuel plant

After public outcry, feds will conduct extensive study of SC nuclear fuel plant  The State  BY SAMMY FRETWELL  JUNE 05, 2020   , Following state concerns about previously unknown pollution at an atomic fuel plant near Columbia, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced Friday that it will conduct an extensive environmental study of the Westinghouse fuel factory.

Conducting a detailed study is expected to delay by a year any decision on a new license for the plant while the agency looks into problems that have surfaced in recent years.

The plant has polluted groundwater, some of which has only been discovered since 2018, and neighbors have raised concerns about safety and water contamination.

The NRC’s decision marks the first time the agency has ever conducted a full environmental impact statement before deciding if a nuclear fuel fabrication plant should be relicensed, NRC spokesman Roger Hannah said. The plant’s owner, Westinghouse, wants a new 40-year-operating license for the plant, built in 1969.

“In March 2020, the NRC received new data collected by Westinghouse during ongoing site investigations,’’ the agency said in a news release Friday afternoon. “Based on the NRC’s independent evaluation of the new data .

… the NRC decided it could no longer conclude that renewal of the license would result in a finding of no significant impact’’ to the environment.

The Westinghouse plant, which employs more than 1,000 people, is one of only three nuclear fuel factories of its kind in the United States. The plant makes fuel rods for the nation’s atomic energy plants. Plants in North Carolina and Washington state also make nuclear fuel.

Tom Clements, a nuclear safety watchdog in Columbia, said it appears that the NRC listened to concerns by the public and state regulators.

“That is very encouraging to hear,’’ said Clements, who said the full study is needed. “It took a clamor from the public before they would do the right thing. I’m glad they have finally done this.’’

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control called for a full environmental impact statement after finding rising pollution levels in ponds on the site.. ……


June 6, 2020 Posted by | environment, politics, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Back to “normal” or on to “new normal” ? But NORMAL IS the problem!

June 2, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

Species are becoming extinct at an accelerating rate

June 2, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

Sellafield’s radioactive cats

Carlisle News & Star 30th May 2020, Claims that cats from West Cumbria’s nuclear site given out for adoption were found to have plutonium in their system have been challenged by
Sellafield. Radiation Free Lakeland claims samples analysed from two cats
showed plutonium and cesium in the poop of one of them. Marianne Birkby, of
the campaign group, said: “For Sellafield to be handing out cats to the
public is rather at odds with their policy of culling wildlife on site to
contain radioactive contamination.

June 1, 2020 Posted by | environment, UK | Leave a comment

Wildlife charities unite to oppose Sizewell C nuclear power station

East Anglian Daily Times 28th May 2020, Two wildlife charities have united in their opposition to plans for the  Sizewell C nuclear power station – and will tell national planning chiefs
it must not go ahead. The RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) say they
have not seen evidence that the £14billion project can be built without
detrimentally impacting internationally and nationally important
landscapes, habitats, animals and plants on the Suffolk coast.
Ben McFarland, SWT’s conservation manager, said: “Current plans suggest the
direct loss of nationally important and protected land on Sizewell Belts, a
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). An area between 10-12 hectares
– or roughly ten football pitches – will be covered in concrete. The
loss of this nationally rare fen habitat would be devastating and
On neighbouring land at RSPB Minsmere nature reserve, the
build will bring the Sizewell Estate adjacent to the internationally famous
wildlife haven. It is feared the building work may increase erosion,
upsetting the delicate balance of the reserve. It could affect the water
levels in Minsmere’s ditches, impacting its rare wetland wildlife, which
includes bitterns, water voles, otters and ducks.

May 30, 2020 Posted by | environment, opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Opposition to unnecessary, environmentally destructive Sizewell nuclear project

East Anglian Daily Times 27th May 2020, Energy giant EDF is being asked to delay the formal consultation on its plans for a new £14billion nuclear power plant on the Suffolk coast until
after the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted. Community leaders
believe people need to be able to attend public meetings and other events
as part of the process for the Sizewell C planning application submitted
Some industry observers say this would mean autumn at the
earliest – and a final decision on the project late next year. The
leaders of East Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council have been
supportive of EDF Energy making the Development Consent Order submission
for permission for the project but are continuing to call on the company to
ensure they talk to the two local authorities before triggering the formal
Section 56 process and timescale which includes a period of formal public
Steve Gallant and Matthew Hicks said: “We have written to EDF
Energy asking them to delay the Section 56 process given the current
Government guidance on social distancing, social isolation and public
gatherings. We believe all parties must be satisfied that appropriate
public engagement can take place. “We would like EDF Energy to continue
its discussions with both councils so we can work together to find a
suitable solution that works for all our communities.”
Meanwhile, Pete Wilkinson, chair of Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), has written to all
Suffolk county councillors calling on them to let their hearts rule their
heads and reject the project, which he claims will “irreparably alter
that unique Suffolk character and nature of this tranquil and welcoming
county, transforming it into just another over-developed, car-dominated,
road-centred, urbanised area of the UK like so many others – bland,
conformist and uniform”.
Mr Wilkinson said: “EDF have today applied to
the national planning inspectorate for permission to build two huge nuclear
reactors on a site which is barely big enough to contain them. It requires
the destruction of the 100 year old Coronation Wood for its overspill
facilities. The construction is designed to house two European Pressurised
Reactors generating 3.2 gigawatts of electricity at full power. The
Sizewell B plant has recently reduced its output by 50% at a reported cost
of £50million due to over-supply. This over-supply is not just a
consequence of the covid-19 pandemic. In 2005, the government made plans to
meet a predicted 15% increase in electricity demand by 2020. In fact,
demand has dropped over those 15 years by 16%, an overestimation of demand
by more than 30%. It is axiomatic that Sizewell C is not needed to ‘keep
the lights on’ nor is it an essential infrastructure project.”

May 30, 2020 Posted by | environment, opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s National Trust says new Sizewell C nuclear power station poses threat to rare birds

Times 27th May 2020, New Sizewell C nuclear power station poses threat to rare birds, says
National Trust. A new nuclear power station planned for the Suffolk coast
would threaten rare wildlife on protected heathland, according to the
National Trust.
It has condemned EDF’s application, expected to be
submitted to the Planning Inspectorate tomorrow, to build twin reactors at
Sizewell in a project that the French state-controlled company says would
supply enough low carbon electricity for six million homes, or 7 per cent
of UK power.
The trust owns Dunwich Heath, 140 acres of lowland heathland
that is one of Britain’s rarest habitats and is home to a breeding
population of endangered stone curlews. It has written to the leaders of
East Suffolk council and Suffolk county council to raise concerns about the
proposed £18 billion plant, which EDF would build with the Chinese nuclear
power company China General Nuclear (CGN). Stop Sizewell C, a local
campaign group, said the power stations “would be an expensive bridge to
nowhere: it will suck vital funds away from the technologies and projects
that are more capable of truly transforming our energy landscape”.
Last month a group of celebrities with homes in the area or links to it,
including the actors Bill Nighy and David Morrissey and the painter Maggi
Hambling, called on the government to step in to delay consideration of the
proposal until the coronavirus restrictions were lifted. Mr Nighy, who used
to live in Theberton with his former partner, the actress Diana Quick,
said: “It is beyond belief that EDF is pressing forward during these
terrible and uncertain times with a project so misguided, and which even
the government’s own advisers find deeply concerning.
“If Sizewell C is allowed to go ahead we will be left with an outdated form of energy that
will not fit to any degree in our new world, and this internationally
famous environment will be desecrated. This is a time to protect our
ecosystems, not shatter them.”

May 27, 2020 Posted by | environment, opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Michigan flood – a setback to cleanup of toxic waste Superfund site

Michigan flood displaces thousands, threatens chemical plant    Brynne Connolly  21 May 20, MIDLAND, Mich. (AP) — Floodwaters have overtaken dams and forced the evacuation of about 10,000 people from communities in central Michigan, where the governor warned that Dow Chemical Co.’s hometown could end up under 9 feet of water by Wednesday evening and said the state will investigate the dam operators.

Families living along the Tittabawassee River and connected lakes in Midland County were ordered to leave home Tuesday evening, the second time in less than 24 hours. By Wednesday morning, water several feet deep covered streets, parking lots and parkland and had reached a hotel near the river in downtown Midland.

No injuries or fatalities related to the flooding have been reported, city spokeswoman Selina Tisdale said.

The river topped a previous record of 33.9 feet (10.3 meters) set during flooding in 1986, the National Weather Service said. Its flood stage is 24 feet (7.3 meters), and it was expected to crest by day’s end at about 38 feet (11.6 meters).

The Weather Service urged anyone near the river to seek higher ground following “catastrophic dam failures” at the Edenville Dam, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) north of Detroit, and the Sanford Dam, about seven miles (11 kilometers) downriver.

Midland City Manager Brad Kaye said Wednesday that the Sanford Dam is overflowing but the extent of structural damage isn’t yet known.

If the entire dam structure were to fail, “there would be a much higher surge that will come down the river and that could raise the level much more quickly than what we’re seeing right at the moment,” Kaye said.

Michigan is under a stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The state has been a national hot spot for COVID-19, with more than 52,000 cases and 5,000 deaths, but Midland County has had fewer than 80 cases and under 10 deaths. Still, residents were advised to take precautions and schools set up as shelters spaced cots to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said downtown Midland, a city of 42,000 and home to Dow Chemical Co., faced an especially serious flooding threat.

“In the next 12 to 15 hours, downtown Midland could be under approximately 9 feet of water,” the governor said during a late Tuesday briefing. “We are anticipating an historic high water level.”

On Wednesday, Whitmer told reporters that her office has been in touch with federal officials and will ask FEMA for support. “This is an event unlike anything we’ve ever seen before,” she said.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he was closely monitoring the situation and praised first responders. But he also took a jab at Whitmer, whom he has criticized for her stay-at-home orders: “We have sent our best Military & @fema Teams, already there. Governor must now ‘set you free’ to help. Will be with you soon!”

Whitmer said the state would investigate the operators of the dams and “pursue every line of legal recourse we have.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said it has directed Boyce Hydro to establish an independent investigation team to determine the cause of the damage to Sanford Dam, and that it would reach out to state officials regarding the Edenville Dam. It will send an engineer to assist with the investigation when it’s safe to do so.

In 2018, the commission revoked Boyce Hydro’s license to operate the Edenville Dam due to non-compliance issues that included spillway capacity and the inability to pass the most severe flood reasonably possible in the area. That year, the state rated the dam, built in 1924, in unsatisfactory condition.

The Sanford Dam, which was built in 1925, received a fair condition rating. Both are in the process of being sold.

“The initial readout is that this was a known problem for a while and that’s why its important that we do our due diligence,” Whitmer said.

Dow Chemical, with 9,000 employees and contractors in Midland, on Tuesday shut down all operating units except those needed to contain chemicals, spokesman Kyle Bandlow said. By Wednesday, floodwater was mixing with on-site containment ponds prompting the company and U.S. Coast Guard to activate emergency plans, Dow said in a statement.

It said there was no threat to the public or the environment, and that it has uncovered no product releases.

The flooding likely will pose a significant setback to the cleanup of a federal Superfund site caused by Dow’s release of dioxins in the last century, which contaminated sediments and floodplains along 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers, said Allen Burton, a professor of environment and sustainability at the University of Michigan……  

May 21, 2020 Posted by | climate change, environment, USA | Leave a comment

Antarctic krill threatened by warming waters – climate change’s danger to the marine ecosystem

Climate change threatens Antarctic krill and the sea life that depends on it The Conversation, Devi Veytia, PhD student , University of Tasmania, Stuart Corney, Senior lecturer, University of Tasmania, 19 May 20, 

The Southern Ocean circling Antarctica is one of Earth’s richest marine ecosystems. Its food webs support an abundance of life, from tiny micro-organisms to seals, penguins and several species of whales. But climate change is set to disrupt this delicate balance.

Antarctic krill – finger-sized, swarming crustaceans – might be small but they underpin the Southern Ocean’s food web. Our research published today suggests climate change will cause the ocean habitat supporting krill growth to move south. The habitat will also deteriorate in summer and autumn.
The ramifications will reverberate up the food chain, with implications for other Antarctic animals. This includes humpback whales that feed on krill at the end of their annual migration to the Southern Ocean.

What we found

Antarctic krill are one of the most abundant animal species in the world. About 500 million tonnes of Antarctic krill are estimated to exist in the Southern Ocean.

Antarctic krill play a critical role in the ocean’s food webs. But their survival depends on a delicate balance of food and temperature. Scientists are concerned at how climate change may affect their population and the broader marine ecosystem.

We wanted to project how climate change will affect the Southern Ocean’s krill “growth habitat” – essentially, ocean areas where krill can thrive in high numbers.

Krill growth depends largely on ocean temperature and the abundance of its main food source, phytoplankton (microscopic single-celled plants)………

Krill growth habitat shifted south as suitable ocean temperatures contracted towards the poles. Combined with changes in phytoplankton distribution, growth habitat improved in spring but deteriorated in summer and autumn.

This early end to the growth season could have profound consequences for krill populations. The krill life cycle is synchronised with the Southern Ocean’s dramatic seasonal cycles. Typically this allows krill to both maximise growth and reproduction and store reserves to survive the winter.

A shift in habitat timing could create a mismatch between these two cycles.

For example, female krill need access to plentiful food during the summer in order to spawn. Since larger females produce exponentially more eggs, a decline in summer growth habitat could result in smaller females and far less spawning success.

Why this matters

Krill’s significant role in the food chain means the impacts of these changes may play out through the entire ecosystem.

If krill shift south to follow their retreating habitat, less food would be available for predators on sub-Antarctic islands such as Antarctic fur seals, penguins and albatrosses for whom krill forms a significant portion of the diet.

In the past, years of low krill densities has coincided with declines in reproductive success for these species……..

May 19, 2020 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

South Carolina nuclear fuel plant treatment pool leaking, polluting groundwater?

Radioactive muck found in pond; liner may be leaking at SC nuclear fuel plant, The State BY SAMMY FRETWELL, MAY 13, 2020  Nearly 40 years ago, the operators of a nuclear fuel plant near Columbia installed a liner in a treatment lagoon, hoping to trap radioactive and chemical waste before it could trickle into groundwater beneath the pond.

Now, the lagoon liner is wearing out. And that’s a concern.

Recent research suggests radioactive pollution has seeped through the synthetic barrier that was supposed to protect soil and groundwater in the Congaree River flood plain. Soil below the liner is suspected of being polluted with waste from the east lagoon, according to a new report for the plant’s operator, Westinghouse Nuclear.

’“It is expected that some contamination will exist in the soil underlying the east lagoon liner, given the long operating history of the lagoon and the potential for a liner system leak,’’ the May 8 report for Westinghouse says.

If the soil below the lagoon is polluted, as Westinghouse suspects, it could indicate that groundwater flowing away from the property and toward the Congaree River has been contaminated.

No one knows the extent of the contamination yet, but Westinghouse has a plan to dig radioactive sludge from the lagoon and haul it across the country for disposal in the Idaho desert.

Once the company has removed the mucky sludge and the lagoon’s 1980s era liner, it plans to test the soil below the waste pond to see how much contamination may be in the earth.

The new Westinghouse consulting report, released by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, says sludge in the east lagoon at Westinghouse is contaminated with low enriched uranium and technetium-99, nuclear materials generated as part of production of fuel rods at the 51-year-old factory.

Exposure to sufficient amounts of uranium can cause kidney damage in adults and children. Technetium 99, which concentrates in the thyroid and gastrointestinal tract, can increase a person’s chances of cancer if exposed to certain amounts………

For now, Westinghouse is moving forward with cleanup efforts. Although the company doesn’t plan to clean up some pollution until it closes the plant in future decades, Westinghouse has agreed to get rid of other contamination sooner. …….

The tainted material that would be shipped to Idaho, likely next year, includes 45,000 cubic feet of sludge, soil and debris from the east lagoon, a 160-foot long pond behind the plant on Bluff Road.

Radioactive pond sludge would be hauled away on railroad cars to a U.S. Ecology site in the Owyhee Desert near Grand View, Idaho, according to plans filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Contaminated cylinders and a polluted sludge pile also will be carted away from the site for disposal…….

May 14, 2020 Posted by | environment, incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Close to 100 USA Environmental Rules now removed by Trump govt: here’s the list

The Trump Administration Is Reversing Nearly 100 Environmental Rules. Here’s the Full List.  NYT,  By NADJA POPOVICH, LIVIA ALBECK-RIPKA and KENDRA PIERRE-LOUIS  May 6, 2020

After three years in office, the Trump administration has dismantled most of the major climate and environmental policies the president promised to undo.

Calling the rules unnecessary and burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other businesses, his administration has weakened Obama-era limits on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and from cars and trucks, and rolled back many more rules governing clean air, water and toxic chemicals. Several major reversals have been finalized in recent weeks as the country has struggled to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

In all, a New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law SchoolColumbia Law School and other sources, counts more than 60 environmental rules and regulations officially reversed, revoked or otherwise rolled back under Mr. Trump. An additional 34 rollbacks are still in progress.

With elections looming, the administration has sought to wrap up some of its biggest regulatory priorities quickly, said Hana V. Vizcarra, a staff attorney at Harvard Law School’s Environmental and Energy Law Program. Further delays could leave the new rules vulnerable to reversal under the Congressional Review Act if Democrats are able to retake Congress and the White House in November, she said.

The bulk of the rollbacks identified by the Times have been carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, which repealed and replaced the Obama-era emissions rules for power plants and vehicles; weakened protections for more than half the nation’s wetlands; and withdrew the legal justification for restricting mercury emissions from power plants.

At the same time, the Interior Department has worked to open up more land for oil and gas leasing by cutting back protected areas and limiting wildlife protections……

All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality each year, according to energy and legal analysts.

Below, [on original] we have summarized each rule that has been targeted for reversal over the past three years.


May 9, 2020 Posted by | environment, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Scientists Warn Worse Pandemics Are on the Way if We Don’t Protect Nature

Scientists Warn Worse Pandemics Are on the Way if We Don’t Protect Nature     Jordan Davidson
Apr. 27, 2020
  A group of biodiversity experts warned that future pandemics are on the horizon if mankind does not stop its rapid destruction of nature.

Writing an article published Monday by The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the authors put the responsibility for COVID-19 squarely on our shoulders.

“There is a single species that is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic – us. As with the climate and biodiversity crises, recent pandemics are a direct consequence of human activity – particularly our global financial and economic systems, based on a limited paradigm that prizes economic growth at any cost. We have a small window of opportunity, in overcoming the challenges of the current crisis, to avoid sowing the seeds of future ones,” the authors wrote on IPBES.

The authors of the report include the three co-chairs of the comprehensive 2019 IPBES Global  Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which found that one million species of plants and animals are at risk of extinction within decades. The fourth author, Peter Daszak, is the president of EcoHealth Alliance and is tasked with spearheading the IPBES’ next global assessment, as The Guardian reported.

The authors argue that government stimulus plans need to include sustainable and nature-positive initiatives. “It may be politically expedient at this time to relax environmental standards and to prop up industries such as intensive agriculture, long-distance transportation such as the airlines, and fossil-fuel-dependent energy sectors, but doing so without requiring urgent and fundamental change, essentially subsidizes the emergence of future pandemics,” the authors wrote.

They also fault wanton greed for allowing microbes that lead to novel diseases to jump from animals to humans.

“Rampant deforestation, uncontrolled expansion of agriculture, intensive farming, mining and infrastructure development, as well as the exploitation of wild species have created a ‘perfect storm’ for the spillover of diseases from wildlife to people,” they wrote in their article.

They warn that 1.7 million unidentified viruses known to infect people are estimated to exist in mammals and water birds. Any one of these may be more disruptive and lethal than COVID-19.

With that in mind, the authors suggest three facets that should be considered for COVID-19-related stimulus plans. Countries should strengthen environmental regulations; adopt a ‘One Health’ approach to decision-making that recognizes complex interconnections among the health of people, animals, plants, and our shared environment; and prop up healthcare systems in the most vulnerable countries where resources are strained and underfunded. “This is not simple altruism – it is vital investment in the interests of all to prevent future global outbreaks,” the scientists argue in their IPBES article.

“The programs we’re talking about will cost tens of billions of dollars a year,” Daszak told The Guardian. “But if you get one pandemic, even just one a century, that costs trillions, so you still come out with an incredibly good return on investment.

“Business as usual will not work. Business as usual right now for pandemics is waiting for them to emerge and hoping for a vaccine. That’s not a good strategy. We need to deal with the underlying drivers.”

Their assessment has been supported recently by others in the scientific community. A study published earlier this month blamed human impact on wildlife for the current outbreak, as The Guardian reported.

The authors of the new article end their piece on an optimistic note about nature’s resiliency. “We can build back better and emerge from the current crisis stronger and more resilient than ever – but to do so means choosing policies and actions that protect nature – so that nature can help to protect us,” they wrote.

May 4, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment, health | Leave a comment

The COVID-19 crisis is a warning for the future

May 3, 2020 Posted by | environment, health | Leave a comment

Hole in the ozone layer is now closed

Record Arctic ozone hole now closed: UN


May 2, 2020 Ozone depletion over the Arctic hit a “record level” in March, the biggest since 2011, but the hole has now closed, the UN World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says.

The springtime phenomenon in the northern hemisphere was driven by ozone-depleting substances still in the atmosphere and a very cold winter in the stratosphere, WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis told a UN briefing in Geneva.

“These two factors combined to give a very high level of depletion which was worse than we saw in 2011. It’s now back to normal again … the ozone hole has closed,” she said on Friday.

Nullis, asked whether less pollution during the pandemic had played a role, said: “It was completely unrelated to COVID.”

May 2, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, environment | Leave a comment

This is what uranium and radon, do in drinking water

Dr. Hans Frehly  1 May 2020, People who are exposed to relatively high levels of radionuclides in drinking water for long periods may develop serious health problems, such as cancer, anemia, osteoporosis, cataracts, bone growths, kidney disease, liver disease and impaired immune systems. 
Just think what cesium 137, tritium, plutonium, cobalt 60, strontium 90 do and all the other man created, super radionuclide poisons do. Even in minute amounts. They are from nuclear bomb making, nuclear ships, nuclear reactors, nuclear waste, oil field imaging, nuclear medicine, nuclear plants, nuclear accidents, nuclear waste. They are everywhere now. Ask yourself how much of the covid pandemic is from omnipresent nuclear pollutants, effecting us from weakened immunity. All radionuclides are the most potent industrial poisons of the immune system and genome. Humans are dumb clucks.

May 1, 2020 Posted by | water | Leave a comment