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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

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

Protect our water! Indigenous opposition to uranium mining in South Dakota

Water is rallying cry for opponents at uranium-mine hearing, Rapid City Journal, Seth Tupper Journal staff, May 9, 2017   The spirit of a recent protest against a crude-oil pipeline energized opponents of a proposed southwest South Dakota uranium mine Monday during a public hearing.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosted the hearing — the first of four this week — at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Rapid City, where about 100 people attended during the first few hours of the seven-hour event.

The gathering turned lively when one of the first audience members to speak, Carol Hayse, of rural Nemo, concluded her remarks with a fist-pumping chant that was joined by numerous audience members.

 “Protect our water!” Hayse called to the audience. “Mni Wiconi!”

“Mni Wiconi” is a Lakota Sioux phrase that translates to “water is life.” It is also the name of a rural water system that serves several Native American tribes and other users in western South Dakota.

Protesters who recently and unsuccessfully sought to prevent the completion of the Dakota Access crude-oil pipeline have said the pipeline’s crossing under the Missouri River in southern North Dakota puts the Mni Wiconi system at risk of contamination.

Hayse urged opponents of the uranium project to follow the example of the Dakota Access protesters.

Water quality was a main concern of people who spoke Monday against the proposed uranium mine. The EPA has issued two draft permits for the mine to Powertech, a U.S.-based division of the global Azarga Uranium Corp., and the EPA is taking oral public comments about the permits at this week’s hearings and written public comments until May 19 before making a final decision.

Powertech already has a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. If Powertech’s EPA permits are finalized, the company would still need additional permits before it could start mining, including some from the state of South Dakota. Powertech has had mining rights in the Edgemont area since the mid-2000s…….

Hayse was one of many speakers Monday to characterize the mining project as a probable water polluter. “In situ leaching will allow poisons into our Black Hills aquifers,” Hayse said.

Native American themes were also prominent in the comments from the audience. Floyd Looks for Buffalo, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, said the mining project is within the boundaries of an area set aside for the tribes of the Great Sioux Nation by treaties signed in 1851 and 1868. He said the tribes granted the United States “trespass authority” in those treaties.

“But we did not give them the water rights or the mineral rights,” Looks for Buffalo said, while pledging tribal opposition to the mining project. http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/water-is-rallying-cry-for-opponents-at-uranium-mine-hearing/article_a958986e-e520-50e1-8e90-4a7040782454.html

May 10, 2017 Posted by | indigenous issues, USA, water | Leave a comment

City of Miami Slams FPL’s Plan to Inject Nuclear Waste Below Dade’s Drinking Water

 Miami New Times, BY JERRY IANNELLI, 3 May 17,  For the past seven years, Florida Power & Light has battled environmentalists over its plans to build two new reactors and inject their radioactive waste 3,000 feet underground, just below the aquifers where South Florida gets its drinking water. Environmentalists have vigorously argued that science shows the dangerous waste could leech upward into Miami’s drinking water. And yesterday, those green activists finally earned a hearing before the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

But it turns out the two environmental groups leading the fight aren’t the only ones opposed to the plan: Lawyers for the City of Miami and the nearby Village of Pinecrest both slammed FPL’s plan and urged the NRC to reconsider the electric monopoly’s proposal. Miami Assistant City Attorney Xavier Albán called FPL’s final “environmental impact statement” for the new reactors at the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station “deficient” and begged the NRC to force FPL to come up with a waste-storage plan that would not affect Miami’s drinking water.

FPL has failed to adequately demonstrate that the direct effect, indirect effects, and cumulative impact to the natural physical environment are ‘small,'” Albán said. “The environmental impacts will not be ‘small.'”

The risk of possible carcinogens leaking into the city’s source of drinking water “can never be small,” he added.

FPL also spoke in front of the NRC yesterday and argued that the environmentalists and city officials were wrong. Its science was just fine, the company claimed.

“The NRC is not required to look at every potential environmental impact and does not have to consider worst-case scenarios,” an FPL representative said before the NRC board.

In Miami and Pinecrest, FPL has found its two largest opponents to date. The official challenge to the company’s plans was brought by two groups: the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). The power company had dismissed groups such as SACE as “anti-nuclear” extremist using the wastewater-storage plan as a cover to try to tank a Turkey Point expansion.

“The City of Miami has serious concerns with respect to FPL’s application for a combined operating license for Turkey Point proposed units six and seven,” Albán said. “With respect to the contention before you, this matter specifically relates to the sanctity and protection of a designated source of drinking water, the Upper Floridan Aquifer.”……….

The NRC will likely take weeks, or perhaps months, to issue a ruling.  http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/city-of-miami-slams-fpls-plan-to-inject-radioactive-waste-below-drinking-water-at-turkey-point-9320009

May 6, 2017 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Radioactive elements in drinking water?

Nuclear Reactor Wastewater Will End Up In Your Drinking Water, KNWA: Erika Hall : May 04 FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – – Fayetteville City Council on Wednesday approved dumping wastewater from the site of a former nuclear reactor into the city’s sewer system. The water will eventually flow into Beaver Lake, our area’s main source for drinking water.One city council member thinks it’s a bad idea, but others claim it’s perfectly safe. “We are actually dumping our sewage, what’s left of it into our drinking what source,” said Fayetteville City Council member John La Tour.

May 5, 2017 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Billions of people may face a threat posed by radioactive materials in water.

Nuclear Contamination Reaches Earth’s Deepest Water, Could Affect Billionshttps://www.wateronline.com/doc/nuclear-contamination-reaches-earth-s-deepest-water-could-affect-billions-0001  By Sara Jerome, 2 May 17  @sarmje Billions of people may face a threat posed by radioactive materials in water.

“A shocking new study has revealed that groundwater drunk by billions of people may have been contaminated by decades of nuclear weapons testing. Researchers looked at more than 6,000 wells around the globe, some containing water more than 10,000 years old, found more than half had traces of tritium,” the Daily Mail reported.

“Even at low doses, tritium has been linked with increased risk of mutation and cancer because it goes directly into the tissues of organs of the human body,” the report continued.

The study was led by Scott Jasechko of the University of Calgary in Canada. It was published online in Nature Geoscience on April 25, and the university released a statement about the research.

Tritium was spread during nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s, Science News reported, citing the study.

Professor James Kirchner, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, said, per the Daily Mail: “Roughly half of the wells contained some fraction of recent groundwater less than 50 or 60 years old. It is a bit like going to a giant old people’s home and suddenly realising there are lots of kids running around. That is great, except if the little kids have the flu!”

The upshot is that even groundwater buried so deep in the earth that is it is accessible by only the world’s deepest wells is not immune to modern contamination. Also known as fossil water, this resource began as snow and rain that fell more than 12,000 years ago.

The scientific community previously believed that fossil water was not contaminated. “The unfortunate finding is that even though deep wells pump mostly fossil groundwater, many still contain some recent rain and snow melt, which is vulnerable to modern contamination,” Jasechko said in a statement. “Our results imply that water quality in deep wells can be impacted by the land management decisions we make today.”

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.

May 5, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, water | Leave a comment

Lakes around the world are affected by heat from climate change

Lakes worldwide feel the heat from climate change, Warming waters are disrupting freshwater fishing and recreation, Science News ,BY ALEXANDRA WITZE  MAY 1, 2017 “……..

When most people think of the physical effects of climate change, they picture melting glaciers, shrinking sea ice or flooded coastal towns (SN: 4/16/16, p. 22). But observations like those at Stannard Rock are vaulting lakes into the vanguard of climate science. Year after year, lakes reflect the long-term changes of their environment in their physics, chemistry and biology. “They’re sentinels,” says John Lenters, a limnologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Globally, observations show that many lakes are heating up — but not all in the same way or with the same ecological consequences. In eastern Africa, Lake Tanganyika is warming relatively slowly, but its fish populations are plummeting, leaving people with less to eat. In the U.S. Upper Midwest, quicker-warming lakes are experiencing shifts in the relative abundance of fish species that support a billion-dollar-plus recreational industry. And at high global latitudes, cold lakes normally covered by ice in the winter are seeing less ice year after year — a change that could affect all parts of the food web, from algae to freshwater seals.

Understanding such changes is crucial for humans to adapt to the changes that are likely to come, limnologists say. Indeed, some northern lakes will probably release more methane into the air as temperatures rise — exacerbating the climate shift that is already under way.

Lake layers

Lakes and ponds cover about 4 percent of the land surface not already covered by glaciers. That may sound like a small fraction, but lakes play a key role in several planetary processes. Lakes cycle carbon between the water’s surface and the atmosphere. They give off heat-trapping gases such as
carbon dioxide and methane, while simultaneously tucking away carbon in decaying layers of organic muck at lake bottoms. They bury nearly half as much carbon as the oceans do.

Yet the world’s more than 100 million lakes are often overlooked in climate simulations. That’s surprising, because lakes are far easier to measure than oceans. Because lakes are relatively small, scientists can go out in boats or set out buoys to survey temperature, salinity and other factors at different depths and in different seasons.

A landmark study published in 2015 aimed to synthesize these in-water measurements with satellite observations for 235 lakes worldwide. In theory, lake warming is a simple process: The hotter the air above a lake, the hotter the waters get. But the picture is far more complicated than that, the international team of researchers found.

Globally, observations show that many lakes are heating up — but not all in the same way or with the same ecological consequences. In eastern Africa, Lake Tanganyika is warming relatively slowly, but its fish populations are plummeting, leaving people with less to eat. In the U.S. Upper Midwest, quicker-warming lakes are experiencing shifts in the relative abundance of fish species that support a billion-dollar-plus recreational industry. And at high global latitudes, cold lakes normally covered by ice in the winter are seeing less ice year after year — a change that could affect all parts of the food web, from algae to freshwater seals.

Understanding such changes is crucial for humans to adapt to the changes that are likely to come, limnologists say. Indeed, some northern lakes will probably release more methane into the air as temperatures rise — exacerbating the climate shift that is already under way.

Lake layers

Lakes and ponds cover about 4 percent of the land surface not already covered by glaciers. That may sound like a small fraction, but lakes play a key role in several planetary processes. Lakes cycle carbon between the water’s surface and the atmosphere. They give off heat-trapping gases such as
carbon dioxide and methane, while simultaneously tucking away carbon in decaying layers of organic muck at lake bottoms. They bury nearly half as much carbon as the oceans do.

Yet the world’s more than 100 million lakes are often overlooked in climate simulations. That’s surprising, because lakes are far easier to measure than oceans. Because lakes are relatively small, scientists can go out in boats or set out buoys to survey temperature, salinity and other factors at different depths and in different seasons.

A landmark study published in 2015 aimed to synthesize these in-water measurements with satellite observations for 235 lakes worldwide. In theory, lake warming is a simple process: The hotter the air above a lake, the hotter the waters get. But the picture is far more complicated than that, the international team of researchers found.

On average, the 235 lakes in the study warmed at a rate of 0.34 degrees Celsius per decade between 1985 and 2009. Some warmed much faster, like Finland’s Lake Lappajärvi, which soared nearly 0.9 degrees each decade. A few even cooled, such as Blue Cypress Lake in Florida. Puzzlingly, there was no clear trend in which lakes warmed and which cooled. The most rapidly warming lakes were scattered across different latitudes and elevations.

Even some that were nearly side by side warmed at different rates from one another — Lake Superior, by far the largest of the Great Lakes, is warming much more rapidly, at a full degree per decade, than others in the chain, although Huron and Michigan are also warming fast.

“Even though lakes are experiencing the same weather, they are responding in different ways,” says Stephanie Hampton, an aquatic biologist at Washington State University in Pullman.

Such variability makes it hard to pin down what to expect in the future. But researchers are starting to explore factors such as lake depth and lake size (intuitively, it’s less teeth-chattering to swim in a small pond in early summer than a big lake).

Depth and size play into stratification, the process through which some lakes separate into layers of different temperatures. …….https://www.sciencenews.org/article/lakes-worldwide-feel-heat-climate-change?tgt=nr

May 3, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Reference, water | Leave a comment

Push to examine Turkey Point nuclear wastewater plan

Turkey Point nuclear wastewater plan needs further study, groups say, Susan Salisbury, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer, April 25, 2017 If Florida Power & Light’s proposed Turkey Point units 6 and 7 nuclear reactors are ever built, will it be safe to inject wastewater used to cool to the reactors into deep wells in the Boulder Zone?

April 26, 2017 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Navajo Nation still affected by legacy of uranium mining – contaminated water

Uranium leaves legacy of contamination for Navajo Nation http://www.heraldextra.com/news/state-and-regional/uranium-leaves-legacy-of-contamination-for-navajo-nation/article_8c4df54f-426c-5647-8779-15049d913308.html Apr 2, 2017  SHIPROCK, N.M. (AP) — For more than a decade, about 20 gallons of uranium-contaminated groundwater have been pumped per minute into a disposal pond from beneath a tailings site on the eastern edge of the Navajo Nation.

The U.S. Energy Department says the pond is a few years away from the end of its life span, and pumping will have to stop since the pond has almost reached its capacity.

The federal government monitors and pumps groundwater from beneath the Shiprock uranium mill tailings site in northwestern New Mexico as part of a long-term project aimed at cleaning up the area.

 Mark Kautsky with the DOE’s Office of Legacy Management recently toured the site near the Arizona-New Mexico state line with a group of students from Arizona.

“The water level has come up the point where that pond is just about full,” he told the students from Shonto Preparatory School.

Over the next couple of years, the pond will be evaporated and its liner will be replaced, the Gallup Independent reported (http://bit.ly/1jl8YBA).

Kautsky said the community of Shiprock should not be affected since its drinking water is piped from miles away and farmers in the area get their irrigation water diverted from the San Juan River about 10 miles (16 kilometers) upstream.

The mill tailings disposal site is located behind a locked fence on a ridge behind the Shiprock Fairgrounds and past the Navajo Engineering Construction Authority.

Families live in mobile homes within several hundred yards (meters) of the site, and yellow signs attached to the fencing display warnings in Navajo not to drink the pond’s water.

The disposal site sits on top of a former mill that processed more than 200 tons of uranium ore a day from mines in Cove, Arizona, and other nearby locations.

 The mill operated from 1954 through 1968. The buildings and equipment were torn down in the years immediately after the operation ceased and initial cleanup of the site took place from 1975 throughout 1980.

The massive rock covering of the uranium tailings was built in 1986 to prevent the escape of radon gas.

Kautsky said it was safer to leave the tailings in place than to move them.

“If you start picking up all of this material and hauling it out of here through the community there would be a lot of potential for accidents to happen,” he told the students.

 The Energy Department began long-term oversight of the disposal site in 1991. Federal officials have said there are over 500 abandoned uranium mines on the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American reservation in the country. Navajo territory spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The Energy Department has four legacy management locations on the Navajo Nation: the Shiprock site; disposal sites in Mexican Hat, Utah, and Tuba City, Arizona; and a former processing site in Monument Valley, Arizona.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working with responsible parties and implementing settlements that provide funding to assess and clean up about 40 percent of abandoned uranium mines on Navajo land. Linda Reeves, a regional project manager with the agency, said the EPA is in the early stages of its work.

April 7, 2017 Posted by | indigenous issues, Uranium, USA, water | Leave a comment

Radioactive contamination persists in former uranium mining site: the reason why

water-radiationThis cycling in the aquifer may result in the persistent plumes of uranium contamination found in groundwater, something that wasn’t captured by earlier modeling efforts.

Study helps explain why uranium persists in groundwater at former mining sites      https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170202163234.htm

February 2, 2017

Source:
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Summary:
A recent study helps describe how uranium cycles through the environment at former uranium mining sites and why it can be difficult to remove.

Decades after a uranium mine is shuttered, the radioactive element can still persist in groundwater at the site, despite cleanup efforts.

A recent study led by scientists at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory helps describe how the contaminant cycles through the environment at former uranium mining sites and why it can be difficult to remove. Contrary to assumptions that have been used for modeling uranium behavior, researchers found the contaminant binds to organic matter in sediments. The findings provide more accurate information for monitoring and remediation at the sites.

The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In 2014, researchers at SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) began collaborating with the DOE Office of Legacy Management, which handles contaminated sites associated with the legacy of DOE’s nuclear energy and weapons production activities. Through projects associated with the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act, the DOE remediated 22 sites in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico where uranium had been extracted and processed during the 1940s to 1970s.

Uranium was removed from the sites as part of the cleanup process, and the former mines and waste piles were capped more than two decades ago. Remaining uranium deep in the subsurface under the capped waste piles was expected to leave these sites due to natural groundwater flow. However, uranium has persisted at elevated levels in nearby groundwater much longer than predicted by scientific modeling………

“For the most part, uranium contamination has only been looked at in very simple model systems in laboratories,” Bone says. “One big advancement is that we are now looking at uranium in its native environmental form in sediments. These dynamics are complicated, and this research will allow us to make field-relevant modeling predictions.”In an earlier study, the SLAC team discovered that uranium accumulates in the low-oxygen sediments near one of the waste sites in the upper Colorado River basin. These deposits contain high levels of organic matter — such as plant debris and bacterial communities.During this latest study, the researchers found the dominant form of uranium in the sediments, known as tetravalent uranium, binds to organic matter and clays in the sediments. This makes it more likely to persist at the sites. The result conflicted with current models used to predict movement and longevity of uranium in sediments, which assumed that it formed an insoluble mineral called uraninite.

Different chemical forms of the element vary widely in how mobile they are — how readily they move around — in water, says Sharon Bone, lead author on the paper and a postdoctoral researcher at SSRL, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

Since the uranium is bound to organic matter in sediments, it is immobile under certain conditions. Tetravalent uranium may become mobile when the water table drops and oxygen from the air enters spaces in the sediment that were formerly filled with water, particularly if the uranium is bound to organic matter in sediments rather than being stored in insoluble minerals.

“Either you want the uranium to be soluble and completely flushed out by the groundwater, or you just want the uranium to remain in the sediments and stay out of the groundwater,” Bone says. “But under fluctuating seasonal conditions, neither happens completely.”

This cycling in the aquifer may result in the persistent plumes of uranium contamination found in groundwater, something that wasn’t captured by earlier modeling efforts.

February 6, 2017 Posted by | environment, Reference, USA, water | Leave a comment

USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission allows radioactive waste to be dumped Under Miami’s Drinking Water Aquifer,

water-radiationlegal actionFPL Wins Battle to Store Radioactive Waste Under Miami’s Drinking Water Aquifer, Miami New Times, BY JERRY IANNELLI JANUARY 16, 2017  Environmental activists have started a petition urging Florida lawmakers to prevent FPL from storing waste underground.   South Florida sits atop two gigantic underground stores of water: the Biscayne and Floridan Aquifers. Miamians get most of their drinking water from the upper Biscayne Aquifer, while the government has used the lower portion of the Floridian to dump waste and untreated sewage — despite the fact that multiple studies have warned that waste could one day seep into the drinking water.

So environmentalists are concerned that Florida Power & Light now wants to dump full-on radioactive waste into the that lower water table, called the Boulder Zone. A small group of activists called Citizens Allied for Safe Energy (CASE) tried to stop FPL’s plan, but their legal petition was shot down this past Friday.

According to NRC documents, CASE’s petition was dismissed for being filed “inexcusably late” in FPL’s application process.

“This was thrown out on procedural grounds,” says CASE’s president, Barry J. White. “The science is still there.”

CASE had filed a petition with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but the NRC on Friday threw out CASE’s complaint, saying the environmental group had filed too late in FPL’s approval process.

The fight stems from the energy company’s plan to build two nuclear reactors at the controversial Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station south of Miami by roughly 2030. The towers might not be operational for a decade or two, but that doesn’t mean the public should stop paying attention to them. FPL is submitting numerous proposals about the project to the government.

As part of that package, FPL told the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it plans to store contaminated water used to clean the reactors, as well as radioactive waste (“radwaste”) in the Boulder Zone. In October, the NRC issued a report, stating FPL’s plan would pose “no environmental impacts” to the South Florida environment.

Roughly a month later, on November 28, CASE filed a legal petition demanding that the NRC hold a hearing on FPL’s radioactive waste plan. CASE alleges the government failed to address a host of concerns about the power company’s plan.

“Everything will be put into a supposedly ‘hermetically sealed’ Boulder Zone,” White told New Times in December. “But anybody who lives in South Florida knows nothing below us is hermetically sealed.” Environmentalists say the plan could leak carcinogens such as cesium, strontium 90, and tritium right into the drinking-water aquifers…….. http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/fpl-wins-battle-to-store-radioactive-waste-under-miamis-drinking-water-aquifer-9059210

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA, water | Leave a comment

Environmental Protection Agency caters to uranium industry, not to protection of groundwater

text-EPA-Nuclear-ProtectionUS delays cleanup rule at uranium mines amid GOP criticism
Federal GOP legislators from Wyoming have said a rule was an unnecessary burden for the uranium industry
NBC5 Jan 5, 2017 CHEYENNE, Wyo. —

Federal officials withdrew a requirement for companies to clean up groundwater at uranium mines across the U.S. and will reconsider a rule that congressional Republicans criticized as too harsh on industry.

The plan that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency put on hold Wednesday involves in-situ mining, in which water containing chemicals is used to dissolve uranium out of underground sandstone deposits. Water laden with uranium, a toxic element used for nuclear power and weapons, is then pumped to the surface. No digging or tunneling takes place.

The metal occurs in the rock naturally but the process contaminates groundwater with uranium in concentrations much higher than natural levels. Mining companies take several measures to prevent tainted water from seeping out of the immediate mining area…….

Along with setting new cleanup standards, the rule would have required companies to monitor their former in-situ mines potentially for decades. The requirement was set for implementation but now will be opened up for a six-month public comment period.

EPA officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Environmentalists and others say uranium-mining companies have yet to show they can fully clean up groundwater at a former in-situ mine. Clean groundwater should not be taken for granted, they say, especially in the arid and increasingly populated U.S. West.

In-Situ-Leaching

“We are, of course, disappointed that this final rule didn’t make it to a final stage,” said Shannon Anderson with the Powder River Basin Resource Council. “It was designed to address a very real and pressing problem regarding water protection at uranium mines.”

The EPA rule is scheduled for further consideration in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

In-situ uranium mining surged on record prices that preceded the 2011 Japanese tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster. Prices lately have sunk to decade lows, prompting layoffs. http://www.mynbc5.com/article/woman-who-lost-her-leg-receives-very-generous-gift/8570346

January 7, 2017 Posted by | politics, Uranium, USA, water | Leave a comment