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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

New Jersey nuclear reactors can continue guzzling water from Delaware River

nuke-tapPower stays on: Permit allows 2 N.J. nuclear reactors to keep operating By Bill Gallo Jr. | For NJ.com  June 10, 2016  LOWER ALLOWAYS CREEK TWP. — New Jersey Friday granted a five-year permit that will allow PSEG Nuclear to continue to draw billions of gallons of water from the Delaware River to cool two of its nuclear reactors in Salem County.

The Department of Environmental Protection’s permit does not require the plant’s operator, PSEG Nuclear, to build cooling towers at its Artificial Island generating site in Lower Alloways Creek Township, something environmental groups have long urged.

Without this permit, officially known as the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit, the two plants, Salem 1 and 2, might have been forced to shut down…….

Salem 1 and 2, when operating at full power, use 3 billion gallons of water a day from the Delaware River. The water is drawn in, circulated through the plants’ “open loop”cooling systems and discharged back into the river………

Environmentalists have long criticized the plants saying they are causing the death of marine life which is being caught on screens at the point of water intake or by actually being sucked into and through the cooling system…….

Bill Gallo Jr. may be reached at bgallo@njadvancemedia.com.    http://www.nj.com/salem/index.ssf/2016/06/power_stays_on_permit_allows_2_nj_nuclear_reactors.html

June 10, 2016 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

EPA PROPOSES SHOCKING THOUSAND-FOLD INCREASE IN RADIOACTIVITY ALLOWED IN DRINKING WATER

water-radiationFlag-USAFrom Diane D’Arrigo at NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service)
Note that the public has 45 days from when it is published in the Federal Register to comment to the EPA on the PAG-Protective Action Guides. I’ll post an alert tomorrow. This is a media release below. Feel free to send it to interested reporters. Direct them to the press contacts listed at the top of the release. Thanks! – Kay C.  

 

 

Proposal Would Permit Radiation Exposures Equivalent to 250 Chest X-Rays a Year

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, the U.S. EPA quietly issued proposals to allow radioactive contamination in drinking water at concentrations vastly greater than allowed under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The new guidance would permit radiation exposures equivalent to 250 chest X-rays a year. Today, environmental groups called the proposal “shocking” and “egregious.”

The EPA proposed Protective Action Guides (PAGs) would allow the general population to drink water hundreds to thousands of times more radioactive than is now legal. For example, radioactive iodine-131 has a current limit of 3 pico-curies per liter (pCi/L), in water but the new guidance would allow 10,350 (pCi/L), 3,450 times higher. For strontium-90, which causes leukemia, the current limit is 8 pCi/L; the new proposed value is 7,400 pCi/L, a 925-fold increase.

“Clean Water is essential for health. Just like lead, radiation when ingested in small amounts is very hazardous to our health. It is inconceivable that EPA could now quietly propose allowing enormous increases in radioactive contamination with no action to protect the public, even if concentrations are a thousand times higher than under the Safe Drinking Water Act,” said Dr. Catherine Thomasson, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The Bush Administration in its last days unsuccessfully tried to put forward similar proposals, which the incoming Obama Administration pulled back. Now, in the waning months of the Obama Administration, EPA’s radiation office is trying again.

“These levels are even higher than those proposed by the Bush Administration—really unprecedented and shocking,” said Diane D’Arrigo, Nuclear Information and Resource Service. Continue reading

June 8, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA, water | Leave a comment

America’s EPA lifting the level of radioactivity permitted in drinking water

water-radiationFlag-USAEPA Pushing Hike in Radioactive Contamination in Drinking Water http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/news/200/epa-pushing-hike-in-drinking-water-radioactivity/ By Editor  June 7th, 2016

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has unveiled a plan allowing radioactive contamination in drinking water at concentrations vastly greater than the levels permitted by the Safe Drinking Water Act for long periods following release of nuclear materials.

The new guidance would permit radiation exposures equivalent to 250 chest X-rays a year for the general population for an unlimited time period.

EPA’s “Protective Action Guides” (or PAGs) dramatically relax allowable doses of radioactive material in public drinking water following a Fukushima-type meltdown or “dirty bomb” attack.

They cover the “intermediate phase” after “releases have been brought under control” – an unspecified period that may last for weeks, months or even years.

The agency has declared that the strict limits for chemical exposure in the Safe Drinking Water Act “may not be appropriate…during a radiation incident.”

EPA states that it “expects that the responsible party…will take action to return to compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act maximum contaminant levels as soon as practicable” but during the indefinite meantime –

The general population may be exposed to radioactive iodine-131 at 10,350 pico-curies per liter of water.

By contrast, the current limit is 3, resulting in a 3,450-times increase; The current strontium-90 limit of 8 pico-curies per liter would be allowed a 925-fold increase; and

In an attempt to shield “sensitive populations,” the plan proposes 500 millirem per year for the general population but only 100 millirem for children under 15, pregnant or nursing mothers without explaining how these latter groups will get access to less contaminated water.

“Given this monstrous proposal, it unclear what lessons EPA learned from the contaminated water calamity of Flint, Michigan,” said. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) executive director Jeff Ruch. “It is unfathomable that a public health agency would prescribe subjecting people to radioactive concentrations a thousand times above Safe Drinking Water Act limits as a ‘protective’ measure.”

Internal EPA documents obtained under Freedom of Information Act litigation brought by PEER show that EPA itself concluded that proposed concentrations “would exceed MCLs [Maximum Contaminant Limits of the Safe Drinking Water Act] by a factor of 100, 1000, and in two instances, 7 million.”

The internal analysis estimated for one radionuclide that drinking only one small glass of water “would result in an exposure that corresponds to a lifetime of drinking liters of water per day at the MCL level.”

The Bush Administration in its last days unsuccessfully tried to put forward similar proposals, which the incoming Obama Administration pulled back.

Now, in the waning months of the Obama Administration, those plans are moving forward with new exposure limits higher than the Bush plan it had rejected.

“President Obama goes to Hiroshima to urge a nuclear-free world while his EPA facilitates a nuclear-ridden water supply,” added Ruch. “It speaks volumes that the current Obama drinking water plan is less protective than his predecessor’s.”

June 8, 2016 Posted by | politics, radiation, USA, water | Leave a comment

Florida drinking water wells threatened by nuclear plant leak

Nuclear Plant Leak Threatens Drinking Water Wells in Florida, NYT By LIZETTE ALVAREZ MARCH 22, 2016 MIAMI — When Florida’s largest power company added two nuclear reactors to an existing plant that sat between two national parks — Biscayne Bay and the Everglades — the decision raised the concerns of environmentalists and some government officials about the possible effects on water quality and marine life.

Now more than four decades later, Florida Power & Light’s reactors atTurkey Point, built to satisfy the power needs of a booming Miami, are facing their greatest crisis. A recent study commissioned by the countyconcluded that Turkey Point’s old cooling canal system was leaking polluted water into Biscayne Bay.

This has raised alarm among county officials and environmentalists that the plant, which sits on the coastline, is polluting the bay’s surface waters and its fragile ecosystem. In the past two years, bay waters near the plant have had a large saltwater plume that is slowly moving toward wells several miles away that supply drinking water to millions of residents in Miami and the Florida Keys.

Samples of the water at various depths and sites around the power plant showed elevated levels of salt, ammonia, phosphorous and tritium……

last month, a Florida administrative judge, Bram Canter, chastised the state and Florida Power & Light, finding that the cooling canal system is “the major contributing cause” for the growth of the large underground saltwater plume and for its westerly move toward the drinking water well fields. He ordered the state and the company to clean up the cooling canals, which it had started to do under an October consent decree with the county.

The Biscayne Aquifer, the judge noted in his ruling, is an “important natural resource.” It is the main source of drinking water in the county and is vital to irrigation and the marsh wetland communities, he added. Judge Canter made his ruling after a Florida rock mining company sued the company over the saltwater plume. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/23/us/nuclear-plant-leak-threatens-drinking-water-wells-in-florida.html?ref=energy-environment&_r=1

April 13, 2016 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Miami-Dade County threatened by excessively saline water, due to Turkey Point nuclear plants

Nuclear Plant Threatens Miami-Dade’s Water. Mayor Says, ‘This Isn’t Flint’Updated March 10, 2016  [includes audio]  npr, GREG ALLEN 10 Mar 16 A study shows excessive saltwater from Florida Power and Light’s nuclear plant is threatening Biscayne Bay and the aquifer that supplies much of Miami’s water   “…….

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: It’s a problem that began to develop two years ago, after Florida Power and Light upgraded generating capacity at its two Turkey Point nuclear plants south of Miami. After the upgrade, the plants ran hotter. Issues turned up in a closed network of canals that provide water to cool the plants. Because of evaporation, water in the canals became saltier and saltier. Now tests by the county confirm that a plume of that hypersaline water has contaminated the aquifer. Miami-Dade County officials are concerned about well fields not far from the nuclear plants that provide drinking water for the 2-and-a-half million people who live here. County Mayor Carlos Gimenez says while it has to be addressed, it should be kept in perspective…….
ALLEN: New test results released this week show contamination from the nuclear plants is threatening not just the county’s drinking water, but also the health of Biscayne Bay. The bay, which stretches from Miami to the Florida Keys, is a shallow and fragile ecosystem. The county tests show hypersaline water from the cooling canals – along with phosphorus, ammonia and a radioactive isotope, tritium – is leaching into the bay. Rachel Silverstein with Miami Waterkeeper, an environmental group, says it’s already had an impact……..http://www.npr.org/2016/03/10/469897682/as-nuclear-plant-threatens-miami-dade-s-water-mayor-says-this-isn-t-flint

March 11, 2016 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

‘uncontrollable radioactive flow’ from Indian Point nuclear station into the Hudson River

water-radiationFlag-USANew York City’s nuclear power plant leaking ‘uncontrollable radioactive flow’ into Hudson River, http://inhabitat.com/new-york-citys-nuclear-power-plant-leaking-uncontrollable-radioactive-flow-into-hudson-river/ Inhabitat, by , 27 Feb 16 New York governor Andrew Cuomo recently called for an investigation after Indian Point, a nuclear power plant on the Hudson River, reported a leak of radioactive material flowing into the groundwater. Now, new samples taken from the local groundwater show that contamination levels are 80% higher than previous samples, prompting experts to claim this leak is spreading in “a disaster waiting to happen” and calling for the plant to be shut down completely. The Indian Point nuclear power plant is located just 25 miles north of New York City, and it’s a crucial source of of power for over 23 million people living in the greater NYC metropolitan region.

The Indian Point plant is located upriver from NYC, and it’s a serious threat to the whole region, according to watchdog group Riverkeeper. “It’s a disaster waiting to happen and it should be shut down,” Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, told CBS News. Indian Point has been operating for around 40 years, and generates about 25 percent of the electric power for Westchester and New York City. The plant, owned by Entergy, is leaking tritium, a radioactive substance. Three of the forty Indian Point wells showed an increase in radioactive material, and one of the wells showed a 65,000 percent increase. Entergy states that this leak will not harm local inhabitants, as the groundwater is located on their property. John J. Kelly, former director of licensing for Indian Point and a certified healthy physicist, said that tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that is found naturally. “It’s more of a regulatory problem than an environmental problem,” said Kelly.
This isn’t the first problem at the plant, though. Power failures, fires and an alarm failure have all plagued the site in the past year. “This latest failure at Indian Point is unacceptable and I have directed Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos and Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to fully investigate this incident and employ all available measures, including working with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to determine the extent of the release, its likely duration, cause, and potential impacts to the environment and public health,” Cuomo said in an official statement.
“For over 40 years, Entergy’s Indian Point nuclear facilities have been damaging the coastal resources of the Hudson River estuary…New York is home to four commercial nuclear facilities. When properly located and safely functioning, these facilities are regarded as important generators of electricity… However, by virtue of its location as well as its operations, the Department cannot make the same finding as to Indian Point,” Secretary of State Cesar Perales said.

Indian Point has experienced other leaks in the past, and the investigation may influence whether the power plant continues to operate in the future.

Via NY Daily NewsCBS NewsEcoWatch

February 27, 2016 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Radioactive groundwater a difficult problem at Vermont Yankee nuclear site

water-radiationFlag-USAENTERGY GRAPPLES WITH GROUNDWATER INFILTRATION AT VERMONT YANKEE, VT Digger [good photos] FEB. 18, 2016,  BY  “……….Vermont Yankee stopped power production in December 2014, and the NRC last year removed its resident inspector from the site. But the federal agency has continued periodic inspections, and the groundwater issue first surfaced in the NRC’s fourth-quarter report released in January.

That document says that “radioactive water inventories were increasing due mainly to the intrusion of groundwater.” Officials wrote that Entergy had been considering options both to stem the flow of groundwater and to eventually dispose of it.

After the inspection report was released, Sheehan said the problem is occurring on the lowest level of the plant’s turbine building. Groundwater intrusion has been averaging a few hundred gallons daily, Sheehan said, but there had been “occasional spikes” that on one day rose to 1,500 gallons.

Entergy has a water-management plan and has been pumping and storing groundwater, which is considered contaminated due to its contact with the building. In early February, a total of 90,000 gallons had been collected.

Groundwater intrusion was anticipated and in some ways is a symptom of the plant’s shutdown, since heat from power generation previously had caused some of the liquid to evaporate. But officials said they had not expected so much water to arrive so quickly……..

Regardless of any short-term storage solutions, Entergy must come up with a plan for getting radioactive water off the property eventually. And that plan stretches beyond the groundwater issue, as the NRC has said there are more than 1 million gallons of water at Vermont Yankee including liquid stored in a large, donut-shaped reservoir at the base of the reactor building.

Entergy has requested NRC approval to ship about 200,000 gallons of radioactive water to Idaho for disposal. There also has been preliminary talk of possible discharges into the Connecticut River, though any such plan would come under intense scrutiny by state regulators.

Sheehan said Thursday that the NRC is still “awaiting additional information from Entergy on its broader plans for addressing radioactive water at the site.”……http://vtdigger.org/2016/02/18/entergy-stores-contaminated-vermont-yankee-water-in-swimming-pools/

February 20, 2016 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Native Americans’ water supply contaminated by uranium mining

indigenousNative Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply? http://m.voanews.com/a/native-americans-ask-what-about-our-water-supply/3188737.html Celebrities and politicians have rallied around the city of Flint, Michigan, where thousands of children have been exposed to unsafe levels of lead in drinking water. But Native Americans say they have been facing an even more dangerous water contaminant for decades – uranium – and received far less attention

The Cold War arms race triggered a boom in uranium mining in the U.S. Between the 1940s and 1980s, uranium mining operations were carried out under a 19th century mining law that did not require them to clean up after themselves.When demand for uranium waned in the 1980s, companies simply walked away, leaving open pits and tunnels – and enormous amounts of radioactive waste. Today more than 15,000 abandoned uranium mines dot the U.S. West. Three-quarters of them are located on federal and tribal lands.

Ray Manygoats grew up near Tuba City, Arizona, near a now-abandoned uranium mine. He is no stranger to the substance the Diné (Navajo) people call “the yellow monster.”

“Yellow stuff was always everywhere,” Manygoats told the House Oversight Committee in 2007. “I saw liquids bubbling and tried to stay away from them…we would play in the yellowcake sand near the mill, jumping and rolling around in it.”

Manygoats has suffered from a variety of health troubles, including growths on his eyes; his father has respiratory problems.

Effects on drinking water

“There is a really large and convincing and definitive literature that shows that for miners working underground, uranium mining is associated with a greatly increased risk of lung cancer,” said Douglas Brugge, Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. “We also know that uranium, radium, radon and arsenic – which is frequently in the ore as well – are toxic. And we know from a fairly large number of studies that people who are drinking water contaminated with uranium have some adverse health effects, mostly kidney damage.”

In 2014, University of New Mexico researchers sampled mine waste at one Arizona site and found uranium concentrations in spring water that was four times the federal drinking-water limit. Thirty percent of Diné lack access to public water and are forced to drink from unregulated wells, springs and livestock ponds, any of which could be contaminated.

Mining ongoing

Today, only a few companies continue to mine for uranium in the U.S. The most common method is in situ leaching: oxygenated water is injected into the earth, where it dissolves uranium. The solution is then brought back up to the surface and shipped off to processing plants.

In situ mining has been going on since 1988 in northwestern Nebraska, not far from the South Dakota Pine Ridge Reservation that is home to the Oglala Lakota people.

“We are 30 minutes away as the crow flies, fifteen minutes as the wind blows, from the mine site,” said Debra White Plume, executive director ofOwe Aku (“Bring Back the Way”), a grassroots Lakota environmental group.

White Plume and other concerned activists have gone up against one of the world’s largest mining corporations in an attempt to block it from opening up three new mines in the area.

Ninety-eight wells have had to be closed on Pine Ridge because of unusually high rates of cancer, kidney disease and other health problems, said White Plume. She’s convinced that uranium is to blame, and she grows frustrated over suggestions that poor diet or smoking could be a factor.

“Why do the innocent human beings at home have to prove that the big corporation is contaminating them? Why aren’t laws in place that say, ‘OK, if that corporation is going to come into our community, let them show us how they will not harm us, let them show us how they aren’t going to threaten everything we depend on for life: Water, food, air, land?’” she asked.

The US Environmental Protection Agency says it has spent more than $100 million to identify areas at highest risk, part of a multi-year plan to address uranium contamination across the country.

February 15, 2016 Posted by | indigenous issues, USA, water | 2 Comments

Alarming levels of radioactivity in groundwater at Indian Point nuclear station

NY Governor Cuomo thinks Indian Point is too dangerous to operate. He's right. But why are upstate reactors any different?Indian Point nuclear facility operator reports ‘alarming levels’ of radioactivity in plant’s groundwater; some wells increase 65,000% New York Daily News, BY    NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, February 7, 2016,  

Radioactive water overflowed into the groundwater at the upstate Indian Point nuclear power plant, officials said Saturday.

Gov. Cuomo said the plant’s operator, Entergy, reported “alarming levels” of radioactivity at three monitoring wells, with one well’s radioactivity increasing nearly 65,000%………

The site, roughly 35 miles north of New York City, has been under increased scrutiny from Cuomo and other officials following several incidents. In December, Cuomo ordered an investigation into Indian Point after a series of unplanned shutdowns, citing potential risks to both the city and surrounding suburbs.

Cuomo said the “latest failure at Indian Point is unacceptable.”

According to Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the leak occurred after a drain overflowed during a maintenance exercise while workers were transferring water containing high levels of radioactive contamination.

A sump pump that would normally filter the water into another treatment system was out of service, Sheehan said.

Other state officials also blasted the controversial nuclear facility’s most recent mishap.

Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern)said she was concerned not only for the surrounding community but also for the “impact this radioactive water may have on public health and our environment,” Jaffee added…….http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/radioactive-water-leaks-groundwater-indian-point-article-1.2522670

February 8, 2016 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Radiation in Tokyo’s water at higher level than in Fukushima’s

water-radiationflag-japanNRA’s data shows contamination level in Tokyo tap water higher than Fukushima by 24 percent http://fukushima-diary.com/2016/01/nras-data-shows-contamination-level-in-tokyo-tap-water-higher-than-fukushima-by-24-percent/  According to NRA (Nuclear Regulation Authority), Cs-134/137 density in Tokyo tap water is 24% higher than Fukushima.

The report was released on 10/30/2015, titled as “Readings of radioactivity level in drinking water by prefecture” to cover from July to September in 2015.

From this report, only 0.0015 Bq/Kg of Cs-137  was detected in Fukushima drinking water. Cs-134 was not supposed to be detected. On the other hand, 0.00036 Bq/Kg of Cs-134 and 0.0015 of Bq/Kg were detected from Tokyo drinking water.

The measurement of Cs-134 is due to Fukushima accident.

NRA comments each data is based on the reports from prefectures.

It is not mentioned by Fukushima prefectural government why Cs-134 was not detected in their drinking water.

January 28, 2016 Posted by | Japan, water | 1 Comment

Radiation hazards in planned uranium mining in the Karoo, South Africa

 

dust from miningUranium Mining Threatens the Karoo, Karoo Space, 18 Jan 16  By Dr Stefan Cramer  Images sourced by Dr Stefan Cramer “…..According to its documents, Tasman RSA Mines today controls exclusive prospecting rights over more than 750 000 hectares in a circle of nearly 200 kilometres around Beaufort West.

About 32 000 hectares are directly owned under freehold by the company. Local farmers find it hard to resist purchase offers, as farming in this part of the Karoo is particularly difficult due to low rainfall and poor soils.

Unlike in fracking, farms are permanently damaged by uranium opencast mining………

So far the company has not indicated whether they would use in-situ-leaching’, a particularly dangerous but low-cost method. Here, large quantities of leaching agent are injected underground. The uranium is dissolved and recovered in well fields.

The uranium deposits are scattered over large zone of 200 by 300 kilometres which will necessitate trucking of ores over poorly constructed dust roads for hundreds of kilometres to reach the Central Processing Plant.

For this plant, the company has already applied for a water licence to abstract annually 700 million litres of groundwater annually, roughly half of the total water consumption of the Central Karoo Municipality.

It is still unclear what will happen with the contaminated waste water. A discharge of radioactive waste water into the aquatic environment, above or below ground, would be  illegal under South Africa’s strict Water Act.

Most probably contaminated slimes will be delivered to large settling ponds, like those around Johannesburg, from which the remaining water will evaporate. This leaves behind a soft and unstable pile of contaminated soil which can be easily mobilised by the strong prevailing winds in the Karoo into large dust dispersal.

Already today, the environment around Beaufort West is contaminated close to the previous mine sites. First field studies by the author show unprotected nuclear wastes with 10 to 20 times the background radiation.

Dust and Radiation – Two Deadly Impacts

The devastating impacts of uranium mining on people, especially the mine workers, and the environment have been well research and documented. Several studies of large number of cases and with exposure over many years (Wismut AG in the former East Germany, theColorado-Plateau in the USA, and Saskatchewan in Canada, have established a particular direct relationship between occupational exposure to uranium and its decay products and lung diseases.

Mining uranium ore in the Karoo will invariably create huge plumes of contaminated dust. Dust clouds are unavoidable during drilling, blasting and transporting.

Dust suppression by spraying water is only partially effective and creates new problems with contaminated slimes, adding to the environmental cost of groundwater abstraction……..http://karoospace.co.za/uranium-mining-threatens-the-karoo/

January 19, 2016 Posted by | environment, South Africa, Uranium, water | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste dump a danger to water, threat to Nevada’s farming community

Oscar-wastesNevada says national nuclear dump could harm farm community,Naples
Herald, By Nov 23, 2015 BY KEN RITTER  
LAS VEGAS (AP)
water-radiationRadioactive well-water contamination could threaten some 1,400 people in a rural farming community if federal regulators allow the nation’s deadliest nuclear waste to be buried in the Nevada desert, state officials said in a report issued Friday.

A 53-page document submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission derides environmental assessments of the proposed Yucca Mountain repository as legally inadequate. It also characterizes the project itself as “an unworkable waste management plan at an unsafe repository site.”

 The state says groundwater studies don’t properly address the danger to people in nearby Amargosa Valley or the cultural and spiritual effect that construction of the repository would have on Native Americans.

“In the end, there are real people there,” said Robert Halstead, chief of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects and the top state official leading opposition to the project.

“That’s the thing about the way the NRC has approached the whole process,” Halstead said Friday. “Their maps imply there is no population there. They label it as the Amargosa desert.”

George Gholson, chairman of the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, submitted additional comments Friday accusing commission officials of failing to evaluate effects that building the project would have on tribal members.

“Radioactive contamination of groundwater and springs … affronts the Timbisha’s way of life, is disrespectful to cultural beliefs, and constitutes an environmental justice infringement on the rights of a sovereign nation,” the letter said.

The documents amount to the state staking its legal ground to oppose the Yucca Mountain project. They came on the last day of an environmental study comment period ahead of yet-to-be-scheduled licensing hearings and amid calls from some in Congress to restart the long-mothballed project.

Commission officials didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

More than three decades of study yielded findings that water seeping through tunnels containing some 77,000 tons of spent nuclear reactor waste could become contaminated and slowly migrate into groundwater west along the normally dry course of the ancient Amargosa River, toward Death Valley in California……..

A federal appeals court breathed new life into the project in 2013 with an order that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission either approve or reject the Energy Department license application.

Officials say a full slate of licensing hearings could take at least three years. http://naplesherald.com/2015/11/23/nevada-says-national-nuclear-dump-could-harm-farm-community/

November 27, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes, water | Leave a comment

Call on President Obama to protect precious groundwater from uranium mining in Grand Canyon

Why the President Must Ban Grand Canyon Uranium Mining , 
Huffington Post, 24 Nov 15,  [Good maps]
 “…….The mining industry’s statement counts on readers to be ignorantgrand-canyon of the fact that federal and state agencies do not require wells to measure water pollution more than a thousand feet underground, where uranium mining threatens aquifers that feed springs deep within the Grand Canyon. No monitoring means contamination is undetected: out of sight, out of mind.

water-radiationBut that’s changing as the U.S. Geological Survey pieces together samples taken from existing wells and places where groundwater flows downward into the Grand Canyon. These show that mining has already polluted 15 springs and five wells within the Grand Canyon’s watershed with toxic levels of uranium.

The National Park Service reports that existing uranium mines, including some closed more than two decades ago, have fouled the regional aquifer in their vicinity with uranium levels considered unsafe to drink. Water from one sample has uranium concentrations 1,200 times the safe maximum.
Evidence is mounting to suggest that the Grand Canyon’s uranium spills have been ongoing — and undetected — for decades. We now know that contaminated water from the Orphan uranium mine on the canyon’s south rim is poisoning a spring-fed creek deep below the rim where the damage cannot be repaired. On the surface, the mining company walked away from their mess and left the taxpayers with the $15 million clean-up bill. On the canyon’s north rim, miners discovered more than two million gallons of highly contaminated groundwater filling the deep shaft of the Pinenut uranium mine when they re-opened it in 2009.

As I’ve said with regards to oil and gas development, one well contaminated or one person made sick is one too many. The same is true for uranium mining, making the situation around the Grand Canyon a disaster where we can least afford one.

In 2012, this sorry history led my friend and fellow Coloradan, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, to impose a 20-year ban on new uranium mining in the watersheds that drain directly into the Grand Canyon. His action came in response to thousands of new mining claims filed in the preceding decade. Science and prudence also guided his decision, coupled with the knowledge that nearly $1 billion in annual economic activity is generated by this greatest of earth’s geological treasures.

An unprecedented coalition of interests wrote over 300,000 comments in support for his action, led by the Havasupai Tribe, “people of the blue-green water,” whose only source of water is threatened by a mine at the headwaters of Havasu Canyon……..

Need for Permanent Ban on Grand Canyon Uranium Mining

Arizona Congressman Raúl Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, recently introduced the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act aimed at making the 20-year ban permanent and protecting traditional cultural uses of lands around the canyon (summarized here). It was written in collaboration with Havasupai, Hualapai and Hopi leaders. The Navajo Nation, which banned all uranium mining on its land in 2005, joined in support along with Zuni, Paiute and Yavapai leaders.

The bill aims to protect 1.7 million acres of historical tribal homeland, including water sources and sacred sites.

Unfortunately, there’s almost no chance that the legislation will gain approval in today’s gridlocked Congress. But the 1906 Antiquities Act gives the president unilateral authority to set aside federal lands as protected national monuments to stop the looting of archaeological sites and for reasons of “historic or scientific interest.”

I’ve long believed we will be judged by the nation we leave to future generations. After all, we don’t inherit the earth from our parents — we borrow it from our children. The president should act now to protect the Grand Canyon from irresponsible development around this national treasure.

The National Mining Association may not be willing to stop digging — literally or figuratively — but the president owes it to us all to help them.

Mark Udall, who represented Colorado as a Democrat in the Senate from 2009 to 2015 and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 through 2009, is a member of the board of the Grand Canyon Trust. Posted: 24/11/2015 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sen.-mark-udall/why-the-president-must-ba_b_8628806.html?ir=Australia

November 25, 2015 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Diablo Canyon nuclear plant – the industry’s last stand in California

If Diablo closes, no nuclear plant will take its place. California law forbids building more until federal officials come up with a permanent way to deal with the waste.
Diablo nuclear power plant
terminal-nuclear-industryNuclear power’s last stand in California: Will Diablo Canyon die?, SF Chronicle,  By David R. Baker
November 14, 2015“……..the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., is the last of its kind in the state. And in less than 10 years, it could close, ending nuclear power’s long history in California….

The first of its two operating licenses from the federal government expires in 2024, the second a year later. Federal regulators are weighing whether to renew those licenses and keep Diablo humming through 2045. PG&E, however, appears to be having second thoughts.

 Once eager to extend Diablo’s licenses, company executives now say they aren’t sure. Since the deadly 2010 explosion of a PG&E natural gas pipeline beneath San Bruno, their focus has been on reforming the company and repairing its image, not relicensing Diablo.

And any extension will involve a fight. The plant sits within a maze of earthquake faults, all of them discovered after construction began in 1968. Seismic safety fears have dogged the nuclear industry in California for more than 50 years, forcing PG&E to abandon plans for one of its first reactors…… Continue reading

November 16, 2015 Posted by | politics, USA, water | Leave a comment

Precious Groundwater in Drought Areas Threatened by Uranium Mining

Why Are We Allowing Uranium Miners to Pollute Groundwater in Drought Zones?
water-radiationFlag-USAUranium mining threatens aquifers that could provide the drought-stricken West with emergency water supplies. BRIAN PALMER OCT 16, 2015 
Mining uranium, the fuel for nuclear reactors, is a dirty business. Following World War II, mining companies extracted millions of tons of uranium from Navajo tribal lands in the West, contaminating homes and water supplies in the process. It went on for decades, and Navajo miners developed lung cancer at very high rates.

Today, even as the United States nuclear power industry struggles to survive, uranium mining continues. The techniques are more modern, but conservationists say the threat could be just as insidious: polluting water supplies in drought-ridden parts of the country where drinking water is already alarmingly scarce.

New rules proposed by the federal government last year could help reduce the threat—although industry is fighting to weaken them, along with its Republican allies in Congress. And critics say the proposed regulations might not be strong enough anyhow. Ironically, this might all be happening to extract a resource we barely need anymore—at the risk of one that we most certainly do……..

The industry must now work with what geologists call “roll-fronts.” These are relatively thin uranium deposits that formed deep underground over the course of thousands of years. Typically just 10 to 30 feet in height—too small to be harvested by human miners—the roll-fronts can only be extracted by chemical means.

The process used today is called in situ recovery, or ISR, mining. (Opponents use the more chemically descriptive phrase “in situ leaching,” or ISL.) The mining company drills four or five holes, called injection wells, and then pumps down a mix of an oxidizing agent (often hydrogen peroxide or simple oxygen) and water. Pressure from the constant influx of fluid forces the solution to percolate through the uranium-rich layer of Earth toward another hole, called the production well, which carries it up to the surface. At this point, the company reverses the chemical reaction that dissolved the uranium, using a separate chemical to precipitate the metal out of the water. The water, now stripped of most of the uranium, heads back into the well to continue the cycle…….

In-Situ-Leaching

In reality, ISR mining isn’t so tidy, and the few peer-reviewed studies available suggest that leaching uranium out of rocks contaminates the surrounding groundwater for decades. As Western states deal with increasing levels of drought, that’s a problem…….

Remediation is water- and time-intensive, but does it work? The answer is pretty disturbing: No one knows. There have been only a handful of major studies on the efficacy of the uranium-mining remediation process. Continue reading

October 17, 2015 Posted by | technology, Uranium, USA, water | Leave a comment

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