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Army Corps to test groundwater at nuclear waste dump

Army Corps to test groundwater at nuclear waste dump

https://triblive.com/local/valley-news-dispatch/army-corps-to-test-groundwater-at-nuclear-waste-dump-in-parks-township/    | Monday, July 15, 2019  The Army Corps of Engineers will be on site to conduct routine groundwater sampling at the nuclear waste dump along Route 66 in Parks Township from July 22 to 25, and maybe later.

The 44-acre dump, officially known as the Shallow Land Disposal Area, was used primarily in the 1960s by the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp. (NUMEC), which had plants in Apollo and Parks Township. NUMEC and its successors, the Atlantic Richfield Co. and Babcock & Wilcox, produced nuclear fuels and other nuclear products for the U.S. government, commercial power plants and others.

The Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of resuming a cleanup of the dump, which is expected to cost more than $500 million.

The Corps has been monitoring the groundwater annually at the site since 2003.

The agency has found levels of radioactive contaminants in the groundwater below the federal and state drinking water quality standards. Residents who live near the dump have access to public water.

There has been no evidence of any off-site migration of radionuclides, according to the Corps.

Corps contractor Jacobs Field Services is developing a work plan for the cleanup with excavation planned to start in 2021, according to the Corps.

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July 15, 2019 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Global nuclear industry now threatened by heat, lack of water

Weatherwatch: heatwaves test limits of nuclear power   https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/08/weatherwatch-heatwaves-nuclear-power

Global heating is threatening supplies of water needed in large volumes to cool reactors   Paul Brown, Tue 9 Jul 2019 

Enthusiasts describe nuclear power as an essential tool to combat the climate emergency because, unlike renewables, it is a reliable source of base load power.

This is a spurious claim because power stations are uniquely vulnerable to global heating. They need large quantities of cooling water to function, however the increasing number of heatwaves are threatening this supply.

The French energy company EDF is curbing its output from four reactors in Bugey, on the Rhône River near the Swiss border, because the water is too warm and the flow is low.

Some reactors in the US are also frequently affected. This matters in both countries because the increasing use of air conditioning means electricity demand is high during summer heatwaves and intermittent nuclear power is not much help.

This does not affect nuclear power stations in the UK because they draw their water supplies from the sea, which stays relatively cool. However, it may affect plans to build small reactors on a lake in Trawsfynydd, Wales. And it may also reduce some of the UK’s power supplies during the summer.

As heatwaves intensify, the flow of electricity from French reactors through the growing number of cross-Channel interconnector cables cannot be relied on.

July 9, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, water | Leave a comment

How climate change is impacting the world’s water

The Last Time There Was This Much CO2, Trees Grew at the South Pole,    Dahr Jamail, Truthout , 29  April 19,   “……… Water

As usual, there continue to be ample examples of the impacts of climate disruption in the watery realms of the planet.

In oceans, most of the sea turtles now being born are female; a crisis in sea turtle sex that is borne from climate disruption. This is due to the dramatically warmer sand temperatures where the eggs are buried. At a current ratio of 116/1 female/male, clearly this trend cannot continue indefinitely if sea turtles are to survive.

An alarming study showed recently that the number of new corals on the Great Barrier Reef has crashed by 89 percent after the mass bleaching events of 2016 and 2017. With coral bleaching events happening nearly annually now across many of the world’s reefs, such as the Great Barrier, we must remember that it takes an average of a decade for them to recover from a bleaching event. This is why some scientists in Australia believe the Great Barrier Reef to be in its “terminal stage.”

The UN recently sounded the alarm that urgent action is needed if Arab states are to avoid a water emergency. Water scarcity and desertification are afflicting the Middle East and North Africa more than any other region on Earth, hence the need for countries there to improve water management. However, the per capita share of fresh water availability there is already just 10 percent of the global average, with agriculture consuming 85 percent of it.

Another recent study has linked shrinking Arctic sea ice to less rain in Central America, adding to the water woes in that region as well.

In Alaska, warming continues apace. The Nenana Ice Classic, a competition where people guess when a tripod atop the frozen Nenana River breaks through the ice each spring, has resulted in a record this year of the earliest river ice breakup. It broke the previous record by nearly one full week.

Meanwhile, the pace of warming and the ensuing change across the Bering Sea is startling scientists there. Phenomena like floods during the winter and record low sea ice are generating great concern among scientists as well as Indigenous populations living there. “The projections were saying we would’ve hit situations similar to what we saw last year, but not for another 40 or 50 years,” Seth Danielson, a physical oceanographer at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, told The Associated Press of the diminishing sea ice.

In fact, people in the northernmost community of the Canadian Yukon, the village of Old Crow, are declaring a climate disruption State of Emergency. The chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in the Yukon, Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm, has stated that his community’s traditional way of life is at stake, including thawing permafrost and rivers and lakes that no longer freeze deeply enough to walk across in the winter, making hunting and fishing difficult and dangerous. He said that declaring the climate emergency is his community’s responsibility to the rest of the planet.

Other signs of the dramatic warming across the Arctic abound. On Denali, North America’s highest mountain (20,310 feet), more than 66 tons of frozen feces left by climbers on the mountain are expected to begin thawing out of the glaciers there as early as this coming summer.

Another study found that tall ice cliffs around Greenland and the Antarctic are beginning to “slump,” behaving like soil and rock in sediment do before they break apart from the land and slide down a slope. Scientists believe the slumping ice cliffs may well be an ominous sign that could lead to more acceleration in global sea level rise, as far more ice is now poised to melt into the seas than previously believed.

In New Zealand, following the third hottest summer on record there, glaciers have been described by scientists as “sad and dirty,” with many of them having disappeared forever. Snow on a glacier protects the ice underneath it from melting, so this is another way scientists measure how rapidly a glacier can melt — if the snow is gone and the blue ice underneath it is directly exposed to the sun, it’s highly prone to melting. “Last year, the vast majority of glaciers had snowlines that were off the top of the mountain, and this year, we had some where we could see snowlines on, but they were very high,” NIWA Environmental Science Institute climate scientist Drew Lorrey told the New Zealand Herald. “On the first day of our survey, we observed 28 of them, and only about six of them had what I would call a snowline.”

Lastly in this section, another study warned that if emissions continue to increase at their current rate, ice will have all but vanished from European Alpine valleys by 2100. The study showed that half of the ice in the Alps’ 4,000 glaciers will be gone by 2050 with only the warming that is already baked into the system from past emissions. The study warned that even if we ceased all emissions at this moment, two-thirds of the ice will still have melted by 2100……… https://truthout.org/articles/the-last-time-there-was-this-much-co2-trees-grew-at-the-south-pole/

April 30, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, water | Leave a comment

Canada’s Came co Corp slow to clean up groundwater contaminated with uranium at Saskatchewan mill

Saskatoon Star Phoenix 20th April 2019 , Canada’s largest uranium producer says it’s developing a plan to clean
up groundwater contaminated with uranium and radiation four months after it was first discovered at a shuttered mill in northern Saskatchewan.

Cameco Corp. reported in December that a sampling well adjacent to its Key Lake mill “was showing an increasing trend in uranium concentration” after 50,000 litres of water were “released” over the previous year. Carey Hyndman, aspokeswoman for the Saskatoon-based company, said this week that the incident was immediately reported to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

https://thestarphoenix.com/news/local-news/cameco-developing-plan-to-clean-up-contaminated-groundwater-at-key-lake

April 22, 2019 Posted by | Canada, Uranium, water | Leave a comment

Desalination pours more toxic brine into the ocean than previously thought

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/desalination-pours-more-toxic-brine-ocean-previously-thought  The supersalty water is a byproduct in producing potable water, BY JEREMY REHM , JANUARY 14, 2019

Technology meant to help solve the world’s growing water shortage is producing a salty environmental dilemma.

Desalination facilities, which extract drinkable water from the ocean, discharge around 142 billion liters of extremely salty water called brine back into the environment every day, a study finds. That waste product of the desalination process can kill marine life and detrimentally alter the planet’s oceans, researchers report January 14 in Science of the Total Environment.

“On the one hand, we are trying to provide populations — particularly in dry areas — with the needed amount of good quality water. But at the same time, we are also adding an environmental concern to the process,” says study coauthor Manzoor Qadir, an environmental scientist at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health in Hamilton, Canada.

Between human population growth and climate change, water is becoming increasingly scarce (SN: 8/18/18, p. 14). Desalination technology has become a viable solution to this problem and has grown exponentially in popularity since the 1980s. Almost 16,000 plants now operate worldwide.

Desalination relies on evaporation or specialized membranes to either chemically or electrically separate pure water from a stream of saltwater. But two streams always flow out of the system: one that becomes water that people can use, and another with the leftover, extra-salty brine, which is released back into the environment.

Previous evaluations didn’t assess how much brine these facilities produced, Qadir says. Scientists assumed that desalination facilities on average equally produced brine and pure water — one liter of brine for every liter of pure water. That turned out to be wrong.

Using data on the water sources and technology used at desalination facilities around the globe, Qadir and his colleagues estimated for the first time how much brine is discharged daily. For every liter of pure water made, they found that on average 1.5 liters of highly concentrated brine is released back into the environment. Per day, that value translates to more than half the daily volume of water pouring over Niagara Falls, with 70 percent of it originating from desalination plants in arid North Africa and the Middle East.

As brine re-enters the ocean, “it creates a kind of local environment,” Qadir says. The highly concentrated discharge, which can also contain metals and antifouling chemicals, is denser than seawater, so it flows as a salty plume to the seafloor and can poison marine organisms living nearby. Some brine can also still be hot from evaporative processes during desalination. Because hot water doesn’t hold oxygen as well as cold water, ocean areas where brine enters can become depleted of oxygen.

An international standard requiring wastewater treatment and the use of environmentally friendly chemicals in desalination discharge does exist, says Yoram Cohen, a chemical engineer at UCLA. “But whether all people follow it, I don’t know.”

Save for some scientific studies, not much is being done to resolve the issue, Qadir says. “At the government level, I don’t see that there is a serious attempt that has been made.”

Suggestions have been proposed for repurposing the brine, including for watering salt-tolerant agricultural fields, extracting metals such as magnesium or uranium, or harvesting salt versus mining for it. In terms of technology, you can take the brine “and evaporate it to recover the salt,” Cohen says. “But the price is huge.”

Depending on location and type of technology, desalination alone can cost between $0.50 and over $2 to produce 1,000 liters of drinkable water — about what two people in the United States use in a day. Further evaporating the brine waste only increases the cost.

Modern desalination technologies, such as graphene oxides, are becoming more cost effective and releasing less brine discharge (SN: 8/20/16, p. 22). But they are not universally distributed and are uncommon in the Middle East where desalination is most used. “We need to make sure that with our efforts, we are able to use more of those types of technology which produce more desalinated water than brine,” Qadir says.

January 15, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, oceans, water | Leave a comment

A wave of change is coming to our planet’s water resources

Thanks to climate change, Earth’s freshwater supplies will never be the same again, Science News for Students, BETH GEIGER, DEC 6, 2018 This is the fourth in a 10-part series about the ongoing global impacts of climate change. These stories will look at the current effects of a changing planet, what the emerging science suggests is behind those changes and what we all can do to adapt to them.

It’s January 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. After three years of record low rainfall, reservoirs that supply this city’s water are dangerously low. The city is running out of water, and fast………..
Water world   Our cool blue planet is covered in water. Just 2.5 percent of that water, however, is fresh. Of that, only about one third is liquid. The rest is locked up as ice.That isn’t much freshwater. Yet we depend on it for everything. In the United States, each person uses an average of 340 liters (90 gallons) per day at home. And that doesn’t include the water needed to grow our food or manufacture everything from clothes to cars to cell phones. It takes 3,400 liters (900 gallons) just to make one pair of jeans.

As climate changes, though, so does how much water is available. Water, climate and weather are connected in a never-ending loop called the water cycle. And like any natural system, change one part of it — whether it’s temperature, soil moisture or even how many trees are in a region — and everything else changes, too. Continue reading

December 11, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, water | Leave a comment

In a warming world, nuclear power is extremely vulnerable to water shortages and problems

For nuclear plants, that warning is particularly grave.  Reactors require 720 gallons of water per megawatt-hour of electricity they produce……Solar plants, by contrast, use approximately 20 gallons per megawatt-hour, mostly for cleaning equipment

Trump Administration’s Climate Report Raises New Questions About Nuclear Energy’s Future
The thirstiest source of electricity is already struggling, and greater risk of droughts will only add to those woes. Huffington Post.
By Alexander C. Kaufman, 28 Nov 18, 

Call it the nuclear power industry’s thirst trap.

The United States’ aging fleet of nuclear reactors ― responsible for one-fifth of the country’s electricity and most of its low-carbon power ― has never been more necessary as policymakers scramble to shrink planet-warming emissions. Yet the plants are struggling to stay afloat, with six stations shut down in the last five years and an additional 16 reactors scheduled to close over the next decade. So far, new coal- and gas-burning facilities are replacing them.

The nuclear industry blames high maintenance costs, competition from cheaper alternatives and hostile regulators concerned about radiation disasters like the 2012 Fukushima meltdown in Japan. But the country’s most water-intensive source of electricity faces what could be an even bigger problem as climate change increases the risk of drought and taxes already crumbling water infrastructure.

That finding, highlighted in the landmark climate change report that the Trump administration released with apparent reluctance last Friday, illustrates the complex and at times paradoxical realities of anthropogenic, or human-caused, warming. It also stokes an already hot debate over the role nuclear energy should play in fighting global warming, a month after United Nations scientists warned that carbon dioxide emissions must be halved in the next 12 years to avoid cataclysmic climate change leading to at least $54 trillion in damage.

The report ― the second installment of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a congressionally mandated update on the causes and effects of anthropogenic warming from 13 federal agencies ― devoted its entire third chapter to water contamination and depletion. Aging, deteriorating infrastructure means “water systems face considerable risk even without anticipated future climate changes,” the report states. But warming-linked droughts and drastic changes in seasonal precipitation “will add to the stress on water supplies and adversely impact water supply.”

Nearly every sector of the economy is susceptible to water system changes. And utilities are particularly at risk. In the fourth chapter, the report’s roughly 300 authors conclude, “Most U.S. power plants … rely on a steady supply of water for cooling, and operations are expected to be affected by changes in water availability and temperature increases.”

For nuclear plants, that warning is particularly grave.  Reactors require 720 gallons of water per megawatt-hour of electricity they produce, according to data from the National Energy Technology Laboratory in West Virginia cited in 2012 by the magazine New Scientist. That compares with the roughly 500 gallons coal requires and 190 gallons natural gas needs to produce the same amount of electricity. Solar plants, by contrast, use approximately 20 gallons per megawatt-hour, mostly for cleaning equipment, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group.

Nuclear plants are already vulnerable to drought. Federal regulations require plants to shut down if water in the river or lake that feeds its cooling drops below a certain level. By the end of the 2012 North American heat wave, nuclear generation fell to its lowest point in a decade, with plants operating at only 93 percent of capacity.

The availability of water is one problem, particularly for the majority of U.S. nuclear plants located far from the coasts and dependent on freshwater. Another is the temperature of the water that’s available.

Nearly half the nuclear plants in the U.S. use once-through cooling systems, meaning they draw water from a local source, cool their reactors, then discharge the warmed water into another part of the river, lake, aquifer or ocean. Environmental regulations bar plants from releasing used water back into nature above certain temperatures. In recent years, regulators in states like New York and California rejected plant operators’ requests to pull more water from local rivers, essentially mandating the installation of costly closed-loop systems that cool and reuse cooling water.

In 2012, Connecticut’s lone nuclear power plant shut down one of its two units because the seawater used to cool the plant was too warm. The heat wave that struck Europe this summer forced utilities to scale back electricity production at nuclear plants in Finland, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. In France the utility EDF shut down four reactors in one day.

“Already they’re having trouble competing against natural gas and renewable energy,” said John Rogers, a senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Add onto that high water temperatures, high air temperatures and drought. It’s just another challenge.”

……..  the heart of the biggest question looming over the nuclear industry: Is it, given the radioactive waste it produces, clean energy?

……… For the Sierra Club, the environmental giant making a huge push to get cities and states to go all renewable, nuclear power is “a uniquely dangerous energy technology for humanity” and “no solution to climate change.”

“There’s no reason to keep throwing good money after bad on nuclear energy,” Lauren Lantry, a Sierra Club spokeswoman, said by email. “It’s clear that every dollar spent on nuclear is one less dollar spent on truly safe, affordable, and renewable energy sources like wind, solar, energy efficiency, battery storage, and smart grid technology.”  https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/nuclear-energy-climate-change-report_us_5bfdb9cae4b0a46950dce58f

November 29, 2018 Posted by | climate change, USA, water | Leave a comment

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/

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