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Sellafield nuclear site’s water use – a massive drain on Cumbria’s rivers and lakes

Radiation Free Lakeland 25th Sept 2018 The rain returned several weeks ago and our gardens and fields have
returned to their usual shades of green. However, United Utilities still
finds it necessary to take full-page advertisements urging us all “to use
a little less water,” to spend less time in the shower, to turn off the
tap when brushing teeth etc. These are, of course in themselves, laudable
actions, but it also seems reasonable to ask ‘Where has all the water
gone? ‘ and, subsequently, to speculate that a big part of the answer
lies in the enormous quantities of water being extracted from Cumbria’s
rivers and lakes to cool and service the many serious hazards that remain
at the Sellafield nuclear site, including Building 30.
https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2018/09/25/nuclear-costing-the-earth-rivers-and-sea/

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September 28, 2018 Posted by | UK, water | Leave a comment

Amazingly High Radiation in Tokyo Bay — 131,000 Bq per Meter Squared

Abstract  http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0193414

A monitoring survey was conducted from August 2011 to July 2016 of the spatiotemporal
distribution in the 400 km2 area of the northern part of Tokyo Bay and in rivers flowing into it of radiocesium released from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident.

The average inventory in the river mouth (10 km2) was 131 kBq⋅m-2 and 0.73 kBq⋅m-2 in the central bay (330 km2) as the decay corrected value on March 16, 2011. Most of the radiocesium that flowed into Tokyo Bay originated in the northeastern section of the Tokyo metropolitan area, where the highest precipitation zone of 137Cs in soil was almost the same level as that in Fukushima City, then flowed into and was deposited in the Old-Edogawa River estuary, deep in Tokyo Bay.

The highest precipitation of radiocesium measured in the high contaminated zone was 460 kBq⋅m-2. The inventory in sediment off the estuary of Old-Edogawa was 20.1 kBq⋅m-2 in August 2011 immediately after the accident, but it increased to 104 kBq⋅m-2 in July 2016. However, the radiocesium diffused minimally in sediments in the central area of Tokyo Bay in the five years following the FDNPP accident.

The flux of radiocesium off the estuary decreased slightly immediately after the accident and conformed almost exactly to the values predicted based on its radioactive decay. Contrarily, the inventory of radiocesium in the sediment has increased.

It was estimated that of the 8.33 TBq precipitated from the atmosphere in the catchment regions of the rivers Edogawa and Old-Edogawa, 1.31 TBq migrated through rivers and was deposited in the sediments of the Old-Edogawa estuary by July 2016. Currently, 0.25 TBq⋅yr-1 of radiocesium continues to flow into the deep parts of Tokyo Bay.

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Japan, water | 1 Comment

26,000 tons of radioactive waste sits at the bottom of Lake Powell

 https://inhabitat.com/26000-tons-of-radioactive-waste-sits-at-the-bottom-of-lake-powell/   Located on the ArizonaUtah border, Lake Powell serves the drinking water needs of 40 million people in the Southwest while welcoming over 3 million recreational visitors every year. However, what lies beneath may give pause to those who depend on the lake. OZY reports that silt on the lake bed covers 26,000 tons of radioactive waste. A remnant from the mid-century uranium boom in the American West, the radioactive stockpile is not thought to be particularly dangerous. Still, even trace amounts can increase the risk of anemia, fractured teeth, cataracts and cancer – dangers which can become more threatening if Lake Powell suffers an extended drought.

 
At the moment, Lake Powell seems safe. “The uranium mill tailings produce a sandy waste that contains heavy metals and radium, which is radioactive, but these tailings have been down there since around the 1950s, with several feet of sediment placed over top of them and the water used as a moderator, or a shield,” Phil Goble, uranium mill and radioactive materials section manager for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, told OZY. However, the radioactive waste is not entirely benign, particularly if conditions change. “The tailings could potentially become a problem if Lake Powell gets to a very, very low water level or if the lake is drained, and the tailings are exposed,” Goble said. “In this case, if someone were to dig down and expose those tailings, or the wind blows them, or people use the spot for recreational use of off-road vehicles, then there could be a health hazard.”
Lake Powell is a manmade lake carved from the surrounding red rock canyon and has not been completely full since the late 1990s. In the early years of the 2000s, it suffered a serious drought in which water levels dropped nearly 100 feet, or one-fifth of the lake’s full depth. Given the increased threat of climate change-related drought, it is not so difficult to imagine a situation in which Lake Powell’s water level drops enough to expose the radioactive waste to the surface environment. In the meantime, scientists are monitoring the lake while locals are encouraged to keep drinking from and playing in the beautiful body of water.

June 10, 2018 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Canada’s clean and beautiful forests, lakes and rivers threatened by nuclear waste plan at Chalk River

Ottawa Citizen 23rd April 2018 , What makes Canada stand out in the world is unlimited natural beauty: miles
of unspoiled forests, lakes, rivers, prairies and tundra. We are a green,
clean country. Or so we like to think.

So it may come as a surprise that we
plan to put 40 per cent of Canada’s radioactive waste in a gigantic dump
at Chalk River, next to the Ottawa River. The dump will hold
“low-level” waste that contains radioactive uranium, plutonium, cesium,
strontium, iodine and tritium (among others).

Rain and melting snow will leach radioactive elements from the dump. Every year, Canadian Nuclear
Laboratories estimates an average of 6.5 million litres of this water will
be treated and discharged into a nearby wetland and thence the Ottawa
River. An unforeseen event – earthquake, deluge or explosion – could
contaminate the Ottawa River and its riverbed from Chalk River to Montreal.
http://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/shacherl

April 27, 2018 Posted by | Canada, water | Leave a comment

Radioactive water from inactive nuclear reactor is dumped into Ottawa River

Reactor’s neighbours alarmed over radioactive toxins in river, Report details dumping water contaminated with tritium  PCBs, other toxins from Rolphton, Ont., site   By Julie Ireton, CBC News Mar 21, 2018   Indigenous communities, environmental groups and other concerned citizens who monitor toxic waste are increasingly concerned about the dumping of radioactive matter and other contaminants into the Ottawa River from an inactive nuclear reactor northwest of the capital.

A scientific report released in February details the dumping of thousands of litres of water contaminated with radioactive tritium, PCBs and other toxins into the river from the inactive nuclear power demonstration (NPD) reactor in Rolphton. Ont., about 200 kilometres from Ottawa.

The contaminants are at levels above Ontario and Canadian surface water quality standards, according to the report.

It was written by geoscientist Wilf Ruland, who was retained by the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council to review the proposed decommissioning of the demonstration reactor.

Radioactive tritium dumped

“The site is so close to the Ottawa River, only being 100 metres [away], and for us the environment and the water are two of our priorities,” said Norm Odjick, the tribal council’s director general.

In the report, Ruland notes releases of contaminated water into the river “appear to have been ongoing for decades and [continue] to the present day.”

“The regulatory guidelines for surface water quality were vastly exceeded in the contaminated water being dumped untreated into the Ottawa River from the NPD facility in 2015.”

Ottawa Riverkeeper Meredith Brown said radioactive tritium has been dumped into and diluted by the river, but cannot be filtered out or treated like other toxins.

……. Ole Hendrickson, a scientist and researcher for the group Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area, questions the safety of the discharge limits for the facility.

Regulations vs. impact

“Aquatic organisms are being exposed to very high concentrations of toxic substances, and there’s nothing to stop boaters from drawing and filtering river water near the discharge point for drinking,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson also pointed out Ontario’s limit for tritium in drinking water greatly exceeds limits in other jurisdictions, and is thousands of times higher than natural levels……… http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/nuclear-contamination-plan-containment-rolphton-cnl-algonquins-1.4584336

 

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Canada, water | Leave a comment

The plight of the world’s big lakes, in the era of climate change

What a great article! and magnificent photos!. And Kenneth Weiss has a degree in folklore! Doesn’t that tell us something?

We are in an age where we are constantly being told that STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) are what matters most – indeed, are all that matters. Well- yes, they do matter. But what about the humanities – arts, social studies, history literature, cultures? We need more Kenneth Weiss’s – more students of folklore !

Combating Desertification and Drought, TerraViva United Nations Some of the World’s Biggest Lakes Are Drying Up. Here’s Why. [see this article if only for the superb photos]   

“……………..Around the globe, climate change is warming many lakes faster than it’s warming the oceans and the air. This heat accelerates evaporation, conspiring with human mismanagement to intensify water shortages, pollution, and loss of habitat for birds and fish. But while “the fingerprints of climate change are everywhere, they don’t look the same in every lake,” says Catherine O’Reilly, an aquatic ecologist at Illinois State University and co-leader of a worldwide lake survey by 64 scientists.

In eastern China’s Lake Tai, for example, farm runoff and sewage stimulate cyanobacterial blooms, and warm water encourages growth. The organisms threaten drinking-water supplies for two million people. East Africa’s Lake Tanganyika has warmed so much that fish catches that feed millions of poor people in four surrounding countries are at risk. The water behind Venezuela’s massive Guri hydroelectric dam has reached such critically low levels in recent years that the government has had to cancel classes for schoolchildren in an effort to ration electricity. Even the Panama Canal, with its locks recently widened and deepened to accommodate supersize cargo vessels, is troubled by El Niño–related rainfall shortages affecting man-made Gatun Lake, which supplies not only water to run the locks but also fresh drinking water for much of the country. Low water levels have also forced limits on the draft of ships so the ships don’t run aground in the lake.

Of all the challenges lakes face in a warming world, the starkest examples are in closed drainage basins where waters flow into lakes but don’t exit into rivers or a sea. These terminal, or endorheic, lakes tend to be shallow, salty, and hypersensitive to disturbance. The vanishing act of the Aral Sea in Central Asia is a disastrous example of what can happen to such inland waters. In its case the main culprits were ambitious Soviet irrigation projects that diverted its nourishing rivers.

Africa’s Lake Chad is a sliver of its former self. Iran’s Lake Urmia has shrunk by 80 percent in 30 years. What remain are the carcasses of ships settled into the silt.

Similar scenarios are playing out in terminal lakes on nearly every continent, a combination of overuse and worsening drought. Side-by-side satellite images reveal the shocking toll. Lake Chad in Africa has shrunk to a sliver of its former self since the 1960s, heightening shortages of fish and irrigation water. Displaced people and refugees who now depend on the lake put an additional strain on resources. Shortages as well as tensions in the hot, dry Sahel are driving conflict and mass migration. Utah’s Great Salt Lake and California’s Salton Sea and Mono Lake have undergone periods of recession too, diminishing critical breeding and nesting areas for birds as well as playgrounds for recreational boaters.

After the Caspian Sea, Iran’s Lake Urmia was once the largest saltwater lake in the Middle East. But it has shrunk by some 80 percent over the past 30 years. The flamingos that feasted on brine shrimp are mostly gone. So are the pelicans, egrets, and ducks. What remain are piers that lead nowhere, the rusting carcasses of ships settled into the silt, and white, barren salt flats. Winds that whip across the lake bed blow salt dust to farm fields, slowly rendering the soil infertile. Noxious, salt-tinged dust storms inflame the eyes, skin, and lungs of people 60 miles away in Tabriz, a city of more than 1.5 million. And in recent years Urmia’s alluring turquoise waters have been stained blood-red from bacteria and algae that flourish and change color when salinity increases and sunlight penetrates the shallows. Many of the tourists who once flocked here for therapeutic baths are staying away.

Although climate change has intensified droughts and elevated hot summer temperatures around Urmia, speeding up evaporation, that’s only part of the story. Urmia has thousands of illegal wells and a proliferation of dams and irrigation projects that divert water from tributary rivers to grow apples, wheat, and sunflowers. Experts worry that Urmia could fall victim to the same overexploitation of water as the Aral Sea. ……..

We live in an era of the most forced migration since the Second World War. We are going to need to support those who are ravaged by climate change so they can migrate with dignity.

William Lacy Swing director general of the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration

In sheer numbers those fleeing “natural” calamities have outnumbered those fleeing war and conflict for decades. Still, these figures do not include people forced to abandon their homelands because of drought or gradual environmental degradation; almost two and a half billion people live in areas where human demand for water exceeds the supply. Globally the likelihood of being uprooted from one’s home has increased 60 percent compared with 40 years ago because of the combination of rapid climate change and growing populations moving into more vulnerable areas.

Most of these displaced people stay within their home countries. If they cross a border, they do not qualify for UN protections as refugees because they cannot claim they are fleeing violence or persecution. “We live in an era of the most forced migration since the Second World War,” says William Lacy Swing, director general of the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration. “This time, though, in addition to war, climate is looming as a major driver. We are going to need to support those who are ravaged by climate change so they can migrate with dignity.”……..

When glaciers first begin to melt, they provide an extra flush of water, explains Dirk Hoffmann, a German researcher based in La Paz who co-authored the book Bolivia in a 4-Degree Warmer World. “But we’ve probably reached peak water in most glacial watersheds,” he says, meaning that meltwater from glaciers will now diminish in the region until it is gone. …….

Second World War. We are going to need to support those who are ravaged by climate change so they can migrate with dignity.

William Lacy Swing director general of the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration

In sheer numbers those fleeing “natural” calamities have outnumbered those fleeing war and conflict for decades. Still, these figures do not include people forced to abandon their homelands because of drought or gradual environmental degradation; almost two and a half billion people live in areas where human demand for water exceeds the supply. Globally the likelihood of being uprooted from one’s home has increased 60 percent compared with 40 years ago because of the combination of rapid climate change and growing populations moving into more vulnerable areas.

Most of these displaced people stay within their home countries. If they cross a border, they do not qualify for UN protections as refugees because they cannot claim they are fleeing violence or persecution. “We live in an era of the most forced migration since the Second World War,” says William Lacy Swing, director general of the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration. “This time, though, in addition to war, climate is looming as a major driver. We are going to need to support those who are ravaged by climate change so they can migrate with dignity.”……..

When glaciers first begin to melt, they provide an extra flush of water, explains Dirk Hoffmann, a German researcher based in La Paz who co-authored the book Bolivia in a 4-Degree Warmer World. “But we’ve probably reached peak water in most glacial watersheds,” he says, meaning that meltwater from glaciers will now diminish in the region until it is gone. ……..http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/worlds-biggest-lakes-drying-heres/

March 3, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, water | Leave a comment

Kathleen Hartnett White, Trump nominee for White House Environment czar, faked water radiation data

170 MILLION IN U.S. DRINK RADIOACTIVE TAP WATER. TRUMP NOMINEE FAKED DATA TO HIDE CANCER RISK. https://www.ewg.org/research/170-million-us-drink-radioactive-tap-water-trump-nominee-faked-data-hide-cancer-risk#.WlvAYryWbGg  By Bill Walker, Editor in Chief, and Wicitra Mahotama, Environmental Analyst, 11 Jan 18Drinking water for more than 170 million Americans contains radioactive elements at levels that may increase the risk of cancer, according to an EWG analysis of 2010 to 2015 test results from public water systems nationwide.  

Radiation in tap water is a serious health threat, especially during pregnancy. But the Environmental Protection Agency’s legal limits for several types of radioactive elements in tap water are badly outdated. And President Trump’s nominee to be the White House environment czar rejects the need for water systems to comply even with those outdated and inadequate standards.

The nominee, Kathleen Hartnett White, former chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, admitted in a 2011 interview that the commission falsified data to make it appear that communities with excessive radiation levels were below the EPA’s limit. She said she did not “believe the science of health effects” to which the EPA subscribes, placing “far more trust” in the work of the TCEQ, which has a reputation of setting polluter-friendly state standards and casually enforcing federal standards.

Last month, after Hartnett White again admitted to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee she knew the TCEQ had ignored the EPA’s radiation regulations, her nomination was sent back to the White House. But on Jan. 8, the White House renominated her, setting up another confirmation vote before the committee, and then by the full Senate.

EWG’s Tap Water Database compiles results of water quality tests for almost 50,000 utilities nationwide. EWG also mapped the nationwide occurrence of radium, the most common radioactive element found in tap water. From 2010 to 2015, more than 22,000 utilities serving over 170 million people in all 50 states reported the presence of radium in their water.

Radioactive elements enter groundwater from natural deposits in the earth’s crust, and the levels can be higher when uranium mining or oil and gas drilling unearth these elements from the rock and soil. They produce radiation called “ionizing” because it can release electrons from atoms and molecules, and turn them into ions.

The EPA has classified all ionizing radiation as carcinogenic. There is clear evidence that high doses of radiation cause cancer in various organs. The probability of developing cancer decreases with lower doses of radiation, but it does not go away.

The developing fetus is especially sensitive to ionizing radiation. At doses higher than are typically found in drinking water, radiation has been shown to impair fetal growth, cause birth defects and damage brain development. But there is no evidence of a dose threshold below which a fetus would be safe from these effects.

Six radioactive contaminants were included in EWG’s Tap Water Database, including radium, radon and uranium. By far the most widespread are two isotopes of radium known as radium-226 and radium-228, which contaminate tap water in every state. The EPA does not have a separate legal limit for each isotope, only for the combined level of the two.

From 2010 to 2015, 158 public water systems serving 276,000 Americans in 27 states reported radium in amounts that exceeded the federal legal limit for combined radium-226 and radium-228.

But federal drinking water standards are based on the cost and feasibility of removing contaminants, not scientific determinations of what is necessary to fully protect human health. And like many EPA tap water standards, the radium limits are based on decades-old research rather than the latest science.

The EPA’s tap water limits on the combined level of the radium isotopes and the combined level of alpha and beta particles were set in 1976. They were retained in 2000, when the uranium standard was established.

To more accurately assess the current threat of radiation in U.S. tap water, we compared levels of the contaminants detected by local utilities not to the EPA’s 41-year-old legal limits, but to the public health goals set in 2006 by the respected and influential California Office of Environmental Hazard Assessment..

California public health goals are not legally enforceable limits, but guidelines for levels of contaminants that pose only a minimal risk – usually defined as no more than one expected case of cancer in every million people who drink the water for a lifetime.

California has separate public health goals for radium-226 and radium-228 that are hundreds of times more stringent than the EPA limit for the two isotopes combined. The EPA standard for radium-226 plus radium-228 is 5 picocuries per liter of water. The California public health goal for radium-226 is 0.05 picocuries per liter, and for radium-228 it is just 0.019 picocuries per liter. The lifetime increased cancer risk at the EPA’s level is 70 cases per 1 million people.

California has the most residents affected by radiation in drinking water. Almost 800 systems serving more than 25 million people – about 64 percent of the state’s population – reported detectable levels of radium-226 and radium-228 combined.

Texas has the most widespread contamination. More than 3,500 utilities serving more than 22 million people – about 80 percent of the state’s population – reported detectable levels of radium-226 and radium-228 combined.

See states with the most widespread contamination and cities with the highest levels of radium in drinking water.

But while Kathleen Hartnett White was chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from 2003 to 2007, the state regularly and deliberately lowered the levels of radiation in tap water it reported to the EPA.

A 2011 investigation by KHOU-TV of Houston unearthed TCEQ emails documenting the deception. Instead of reporting the levels measured in laboratory tests, TCEQ would first subtract the test’s margin of error. Because TCEQ’s falsifying of data made it appear that the system met EPA standards, the system did not have to inform its customers that their tap water contained dangerous levels of radiation.

How dangerous?

In 2001, TCEQ reported to top state officials – including Hartnett White and then-Gov. Rick Perry, now Trump’s energy secretary – that some types of radiation in the tap water of some Texas communities posed an increased lifetime cancer risk of 1 in 400. The EPA’s increased lifetime cancer risk for five types of radioactive elements ranges from 2 to 7 in 100,000.  But the practice continued until 2008, after an EPA audit caught the state cooking the books.

In a 2011 interview with KHOU-TV, Hartnett White defended the deception, saying the EPA’s standards were too protective and that it would cost small communities millions of dollars to comply. She said TCEQ continued its practice instead of challenging the federal rules in court because it would be “almost impossible” for the state to win:

As my memory serves me, [subtracting the margin of error] made incredibly good sense … We did not believe the science of health effects justified EPA setting the standard where they did … I have far more trust in the vigor of the science by which TCEQ assesses, than I do EPA.

KHOU investigative reporter Mark Greenblatt pressed Hartnett White: “But what if you’re wrong? What if you’re wrong and EPA’s right about there being a danger?”

“It would be . . . it would be regrettable,” she replied.

In October, Trump nominated Hartnett White, now a fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which coordinates environmental policy for all federal agencies. One of its major responsibilities is “to develop and recommend national policies to the President that promote the improvement of environmental quality and meet the Nation’s goals.”

In November, in her confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, she characterized TCEQ’s falsification of data as “one of these technical issues” and declared: “I would never, ever tell staff to underreport health hazards.”

In her written responses to follow-up questions from the committee, Hartnett White said she was “aware of the EPA’s interpretation of its rule,” but that she did not “recall EPA telling TCEQ during my tenure there that TCEQ’s methodology was not legal.” But KHOU’s investigation documented that in June 2004 the EPA warned the TCEQ if it did not stop the falsification, the federal agency could take over regulation of the state’s water systems.

The Environment and Public Works Committee voted along party lines to send Hartnett White’s nomination to the full Senate. But on Dec. 21, Senate Democrats refused to vote on the nomination before the end of the 2017 legislative session. On Jan. 8 the White House renominated her without comment. She will now face a second confirmation vote before the committee before a vote by the full Senate.

Installing a head of the Council for Environmental Quality who deliberately falsified data to get around federal regulations is an egregious betrayal of public trust. The fact that her deception left people at a serious risk of cancer makes it even more alarming.

The Senate should reject Hartnett White’s nomination. The EPA must also tighten its legal limits for radioactive contaminants and require more extensive radiation testing and better disclosure – including making sure that rogue state regulators like Hartnett White don’t try to hide risks.

You can read more about the health risks posed by radioactivity in drinking water in EWG’s Tap Water Database radiation report.

January 15, 2018 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, water | Leave a comment

Uranium tailings pollution in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, Colorado

And so, the billions of tons of silt that has accumulated in Lake Mead and Lake Powell serve as archives of sorts. They hold the sedimental records of an era during which people, health, land, and water were all sacrificed in order to obtain the raw material for weapons that are capable of destroying all of humanity.
The 26,000 tons of radioactive waste under Lake Powell http://www.hcn.org/articles/pollution-a-26-000-ton-pile-of-radioactive-waste-lies-under-the-waters-and-silt-of-lake-powellThe West’s uranium boom brought dozens of mills to the banks of the Colorado River — where toxic waste was dumped irresponsibly.

In 1949, the Vanadium Corporation of America built a small mill at the confluence of White Canyon and the Colorado River to process uranium ore from the nearby Happy Jack Mine, located upstream in the White Canyon drainage (and just within the Obama-drawn Bears Ears National Monument boundaries). For the next four years, the mill went through about 20 tons of ore per day, crushing and grinding it up, then treating it with sulfuric acid, tributyl phosphate and other nastiness. One ton of ore yielded about five or six pounds of uranium, meaning that each day some 39,900 pounds of tailings were piled up outside the mill on the banks of the river.

In 1953 the mill was closed, and the tailings were left where they sat, uncovered, as was the practice of the day. Ten years later, water began backing up behind the newly built Glen Canyon Dam; federal officials decided to let the reservoir’s waters inundate the tailings. There they remain today.

If you’re one of the millions of people downstream from Lake Powell who rely on Colorado River water and this worries you, consider this: Those 26,000 tons of tailings likely make up just a fraction of the radioactive material contained in the silt of Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

 During the uranium days of the West, more than a dozen mills — all with processing capacities at least ten times larger than the one at White Canyon — sat on the banks of the Colorado River and its tributaries. Mill locations included Shiprock, New Mexico, and Mexican Hat, Utah, on the San Juan River; Rifle and Grand Junction, Colorado, and Moab on the Colorado; and in Uravan, Colorado, along the San Miguel River, just above its confluence with the Dolores. They did not exactly dispose of their tailings in a responsible way.

At the Durango mill the tailings were piled into a hill-sized mound just a stone’s throw from the Animas River. They weren’t covered or otherwise contained, so when it rained tailings simply washed into the river. Worse, the mill’s liquid waste stream poured directly into the river at a rate of some 340 gallons per minute, or half-a-million gallons per day. It was laced not only with highly toxic chemicals used to leach uranium from the ore and iron-aluminum sludge (a milling byproduct), but also radium-tainted ore solids.

 Radium is a highly radioactive “bone-seeker.” That means that when it’s ingested it makes its way to the skeleton, where it decays into other radioactive daughter elements, including radon, and bombards the surrounding tissue with alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. According to the Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry, exposure leads to “anemia, cataracts, fractured teeth, cancer (especially bone cancer), and death.”

It wasn’t any better at any of the other mills. In the early 1950s, researchers from the U.S. Public Health Service sampled Western rivers and found that “the dissolved radium content of river water below uranium mills was increased considerably by waste discharges from the milling operations” and that “radium content of river muds below the uranium mills was 1,000 to 2,000 times natural background concentrations.”

 That was just from daily operations. In 1960, one of the evaporation ponds at the Shiprock mill broke, sending at least 250,000 gallons of highly acidic raffinate, containing high levels of radium and thorium, into the river. None of the relevant officials were notified and individual users continued to drink the water, put it on their crops, and give it to their sheep and cattle. It wasn’t until five days later, after hundreds of dead fish had washed up on the river’s shores for sixty miles downstream, that the public was alerted to the disaster.

Of course, what’s dumped into the river at Shiprock doesn’t stay in Shiprock. It slowly makes its way downstream. In the early 1960s, while Glen Canyon Dam was still being constructed, the Public Health Service folks did extensive sediment sampling in the Colorado River Basin, with a special focus on Lake Mead’s growing bed of silt, which had been piling up at a rate of 175 million tons per year since Hoover Dam started impounding water in 1935. The Lake Mead samples had higher-than-background levels of radium-226. The report concludes:

 “The data have shown, among other things, that Lake Mead has been essentially the final resting place for the radium contaminated sediments of the Basin. With the closure of Glen Canyon Dam upstream, Lake Powell will then become the final resting place for future radium contaminated sediments. The data also show that a small fraction of the contaminated sediment has passed through Lake Mead to be trapped by Lakes Mohave and Havasu.”

And so, the billions of tons of silt that has accumulated in Lake Mead and Lake Powell serve as archives of sorts. They hold the sedimental records of an era during which people, health, land, and water were all sacrificed in order to obtain the raw material for weapons that are capable of destroying all of humanity.

December 22, 2017 Posted by | environment, Reference, Uranium, USA, water | 1 Comment

Jordan’s water crisis – a sign of climate change troubles to come

Climate change: Jordan water crisis ‘to get worse’  http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/climate-change-jordan-water-crisis-worse-171107093731580.html  Water shortages in Jordan are likely to get far worse over the coming years, according to a recent study by Stanford University.

The researchers said that, in the absence of international climate policy action, the country could receive 30 percent less rainfall by 2100 and annual temperatures could increase by 4.5 Celsius.

This would double the number and duration of droughts when compared with the 1981-2010 period, raising concerns in a country already dealing with water shortages.

The study reinforces a warning issued by the World Bank in August when it named Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco and Syria as the countries in the Middle East and North Africa that will experience significantly increased water stress driven by climate change.

In its report, the World Bank described the region as the global hotspot of unsustainable water use.

Currently, the reservoirs in Jordan are at a record low – only one-fifth full – and the vital winter rains are becoming increasingly erratic.

There seems little respite for the country, which draws 160 percent more water from the ground than is replenished by nature.

But despite its importance, there is little incentive to conserve the precious resource. The use of water irrigation remains heavily subsidised, and wastage is a major issue. More than half of Jordan’s water is used for agriculture, which produces only a small share of the local food supply. It is estimated that almost 50 percent of the water supply is lost due to misuse or theft.

The subsidy also means that some farmers grow water-intensive crops such as bananas and tomatoes.

The government is cracking down on illegal water use and has announced a slight increase in price, but Ali Subah, assistant secretary-general in the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, says the country views desalination as the answer to its water issues.

The trouble is that solutions often depend on cross-border cooperation. Jordan’s flagship Red Sea desalination project, for example, has faced repeated delays, most recently because of a regional diplomatic crisis that led to a scaling back of cross-border contacts since the summer.

Until a solution is found, the fear is that the water crisis in Jordan will only get worse.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | climate change, Jordan, water | Leave a comment

Petition to National Assembly of Wales to suspend licence for dumping rdaioactive mud into Welsh inshore waters

National Assembly for Wales (accessed) 28th Sept 2017,

Petition “We call on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh
Government to direct Natural Resources Wales to suspend the licence it has
granted to NNB Genco, which permits up to 300,000 tonnes of radioactively
contaminated material, dredged from the seabed at the Hinkley Point Nuclear
power station site, to be dumped into Welsh inshore waters.

We further request that the suspension of the licence is used to ensure that a full
Environmental Impact Assessment, complete radiological analysis and core
sampling are carried out under the auspices of Natural Resources Wales, and
that a Public Inquiry, a full hearing of independent evidence and a Public
Consultation take place before any dump of the Hinkley sediments is
permitted.”
https://www.assembly.wales/en/gethome/e-petitions/Pages/petitiondetail.aspx?PetitionID=1243

September 30, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK, wastes, water | Leave a comment

Increase in harmful algal blooms in US freshwaters due to climate change

Climate change projected to significantly increase harmful algal blooms in US freshwaters, Phys Org, 
August 15, 2017, Harmful algal blooms known to pose risks to human and environmental health in large freshwater reservoirs and lakes are projected to increase because of climate change, according to a team of researchers led by a Tufts University scientist. The team developed a modeling framework that predicts that the largest increase in cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CyanoHABs) would occur in the Northeast region of the United States, but the biggest economic harm would be felt by recreation areas in the Southeast.

The research, which is published in print today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, is part of larger, ongoing efforts among scientists to quantify and monetize the degree to which climate change will impact and damage various U.S. sectors…….

It has been estimated that lakes and reservoirs serving as drinking water sources for 30 million to 48 million Americans may be contaminated periodically by algal toxins. Researchers cited an example in 2014, when nearly 500,000 residents of Toledo, Ohio, lost access to drinking water after water drawn from Lake Erie revealed the presence of cyanotoxins……..https://phys.org/news/2017-08-climate-significantly-algal-blooms-freshwaters.html

August 16, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA, water | Leave a comment

Proposed nuclear waste site – too close to Ottawa River

Bloc Quebecois, environmentalists wary of proposed nuclear waste disposal plan, Mylene Crete, The Canadian Press , August 11, 2017 CHALK RIVER, Ont. — A proposed nuclear waste disposal site on land around Chalk River Laboratories is too close to the Ottawa River, says Bloc Quebecois Leader Martine Ouellet.

A significant percentage of Quebecers use the river for their drinking water and a leak could be catastrophic, Ouellet told reporters while touring the nuclear facilities in Chalk River, Ont., earlier this week.

“Radioactivity, just like heavy crude oil, doesn’t go away,” she said. “You can’t say, ‘we have contamination, we are going to clean it up.’ It can’t be cleaned.”……

Ottawa subcontracts the management of the site to Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), a consortium of four engineering and tech companies including SNC-Lavalin and Rolls-Royce.

CNL says it wants to consolidate all the nuclear waste around the site in one location, so it can be monitored, contained and isolated…….

Ouellet said CNL didn’t look for other disposal sites further away from the river.

“I have not been reassured because their so-called best site, it’s located on their territory of Chalk River and they didn’t look outside the area because of the costs involved,” she said. Kehler said CNL did look for other locations.

“We have considered the possibility of moving radioactive material elsewhere, but people wouldn’t be in favour of that,” Kehler said. “And the waste is already here.”

CNL’s plan is to create a facility that can hold up to 1,000 cubic metres of nuclear waste for up to 50 years.

Benoit Delage, an environmentalist in Quebec’s Outaouais region, said it’s a bad idea.

“The idea of building a nuclear waste depot one kilometre away from a river that feeds a large part of the Quebec population, there is something missing there,” he said. “Anyone can tell you it doesn’t make sense.”

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission needs to conduct an environmental review of CNL’s depot proposal.

Public consultations will also take place. Quebec’s environment minister has asked the federal government to hold the hearings in Quebec in order for them to be close to the people potentially impacted by the plan. http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/bloc-quebecois-environmentalists-wary-of-proposed-nuclear-waste-disposal-plan-1.3542320

August 12, 2017 Posted by | Canada, wastes, water | Leave a comment

USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) OK’s Storage of Nuclear Waste Below Miami’s Drinking Water

Feds Say FPL Can Store Nuclear Waste Below Miami’s Drinking Water Because It’s “Not Likely” to Leak, Miami New Times, FRIDAY, JULY 21, 2017  

July 22, 2017 Posted by | USA, wastes, water | Leave a comment

Thorium contamination the likely cause of radioactive pollution at Missouri landfill

Tests Reveal Stormwater Contamination at Missouri Landfill, US News, Missouri test results reveal that stormwater from just outside a landfill complex contains radioactive contaminants. July 11, 2017, BRIDGETON, Mo. (AP) — Missouri test results reveal that stormwater from just outside a landfill complex contains radioactive contaminants.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources found levels of alpha particles that exceeded the threshold allowed in drinking water outside the West Lake Landfill, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2tDXjKI ) reported.

Environmental Protection Agency officials said the data doesn’t signal a public health risk because stormwater doesn’t represent a source of drinking water. Alpha particles are a form of radiation that needs to be ingested to pose a significant health threat……

The natural resources department said the alpha readings released last month couldn’t be attributed to uranium and radium that were tested for, so the department is conducting additional tests for thorium as a potential cause for high particle levels……https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/missouri/articles/2017-07-11/tests-reveal-stormwater-contamination-at-missouri-landfill

July 14, 2017 Posted by | thorium, USA, water | Leave a comment

Radioactive pollution “flowing freely” into the Columbia River, from the decommissioned Hanford nuclear facility

Groundwater contaminated with radioactive waste from the decommissioned Hanford nuclear facility in Washington state is still “flowing freely” into the Columbia River, a program manager with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said at a meeting of the Hanford Advisory Board.

Radioactive Waste Still Flooding Columbia River, EPA Says, By Karina Brown, Global Research, July 04, 2017 Courthouse News Service 8 June 2017  KENNEWICK, Wash. (CN) –

The announcement came as part of a five-year review of cleanup measures taken at the Superfund site. Officials with the EPA and the Department of Energy said at a meeting Wednesday that the review showed most of the cleanup actions at Hanford were properly “protective,” meaning the public was shielded from the worst of the site’s estimated 500 million gallons of potentially radioactive waste.

Radioactive sludge in shuttered reactors, contaminated soil in landfill sites and equipment that was once used to refine the uranium that fueled the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki were all properly contained, according to the report.

But there was a glaring exception: groundwater contaminated with hexavalent chromium and strontium-90 was still flowing into the nearby Columbia River, according to a presentation from Mike Cline, director of the Department of Energy’s Soil & Groundwater Division.

“Contaminated in-area groundwater is still flowing freely into the Columbia,” EPA Project Manager Dennis Faulk told members of the board.  ……..http://www.globalresearch.ca/radioactive-waste-still-flooding-columbia-river-epa-says/5597591

July 7, 2017 Posted by | USA, wastes, water | Leave a comment