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South Korean experts to continue analysis of Fukushima water discharge

Japan Times 26 May 23

A South Korean delegation of experts will continue, from home, with its analysis of Japan’s plan to discharge treated radioactive water into the sea from the disaster-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant, the group said Thursday after inspecting it.

The delegation of 21 experts from agencies and affiliated organizations of the South Korean government with expertise in radiation and nuclear reactors, among other fields, held a meeting with Japanese officials to summarize their observations following the two-day inspection, telling the Japanese side they still needed to confirm several things before releasing their conclusion on the plan’s safety.

They requested additional materials, such as protocols for a power outage and a long-term management plan for an advanced liquid processing system (ALPS) capable of removing radionuclides other than tritium in water……….. (Subscribers only) more


May 27, 2023 Posted by | Japan, water | Leave a comment

South Korean nuclear experts to tour Fukushima plant amid water concerns

Japan Times, BY ERIC JOHNSTON. STAFF WRITER. May 22, 2023

A team of South Korean experts arrived in Japan on Sunday for an unprecedented six-day visit that will include a trip on Tuesday to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, where the government is planning to release treated water into the ocean as part of a decadeslong decommissioning process.

Concerned about the aftereffects of the March 2011 nuclear disaster, South Korea continues to uphold a ban on seafood and marine imports from the area around the Fukushima No. 1 plant, despite Japanese government insistence the food is safe.

Nuclear Safety and Security Commission Chairperson Yoo Guk-hee is heading a 21-member team of government experts, who on Monday met with nuclear officials from plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (Tepco) and various government agencies that oversee Japan’s nuclear power industry. They will tour the plant on Tuesday and Wednesday, paying particular attention to Japan’s plans to discharge treated water, currently being stored at Fukushima No. 1, into the ocean…………….

May 26, 2023 Posted by | politics international, South Korea, water | Leave a comment

Fukushima greets summer with dread as nuclear-contaminated wastewater dumping approaches

Global Times, By  Xu Keyue and Xing Xiaojing in Iwaki, May 15, 2023

The Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan is known as “the island of happiness,” which embodies people’s longing for a better life. Summer began in Fukushima in early May when locals normally look forward to intimate contact with the sea.

However, despite strong opposition at home and abroad, the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) are set to go ahead with the plan to dump the nuclear-contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the sea this summer. 

As summer approaches, the Global Times reporters went to the Fukushima Prefecture. In this first installment of this field investigation, the Global Times reveals the palpable sense of fear and unease hanging over Fukushima, paired with intense opposition from locals who chanted “Never allow arbitrary dumping into the sea!”………………………………………………………………………………………………………

About 54 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the city looks subdued with few passersby along the streets. The excavation of an underwater tunnel for the project to drain the nuclear-contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was completed in April, and TEPCO announced that it is expected to complete the construction of the tunnel by the end of June. Measuring 1,031 meters long and 1 kilometer away from the coast, the tunnel will allow radioactive wastewater to be dumped into the sea.

…………………………………………………….. Chiyo Oda, co-chairperson of an environmental NGO and city assembly “Stop polluting the oceans!” was one of them.

“Summer is coming. What’s going to happen? Fukushima greets summer with fear!” said Oda, who expressed strong concern about the dumping of nuclear-contaminated wastewater at a conference themed “Don’t Nuke the Pacific” on May 7. “The Japanese government has reached an agreement with the fishing community that nothing will be done without [the fishing community and other stakeholders’] understanding.” Nevertheless, the Japanese government is apparently breaking its promise and is preparing to dump the water which is likely to start this summer.

When the Global Times reporters met Oda, the 68-year-old woman had just returned to Iwaki from Fukushima city, the capital of Fukushima Prefecture. Early that day, with Kazuyoshi Sato, another co-representative of the city assembly, Oda had driven for two hours to the Fukushima prefectural office to hold a press conference to announce that a mass rally called “May 16 Tokyo Action” will be held in Tokyo on May 16 to urge the Japanese government and TEPCO to stop dumping the nuclear-contaminated wastewater.

Oda told the Global Times that the campaign will last all day on May 16, when anti-sea pollution campaigners from all over Japan are meant to gather in Tokyo. As planned, they will gather in front of the TEPCO headquarters at 10:30 am, and then head to the House of Representatives with lawmakers to hold the rally. The rally and petition to the Japanese government and parliament will be followed by a speech at the Hibiya Open Air Concert Hall in the evening. It will then be followed by a massive demonstration in Ginza, Tokyo, which is expected to be attended by more than 1,000 people.

“The sea of my hometown, the Sea of Japan, and the seas of the world must not be polluted,” said Oda.

Oda noted that the Japanese government, TEPCO, the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, and the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations of Japan signed an agreement in 2015, stating it would not “do anything about the nuclear-contaminated water from Fukushima without the understanding and consent of the relevant people,” but now the Japanese government and TEPCO insist on dumping the water despite opposition from all parties, including fishermen. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Look! This is the sea we want to protect!” Ikarashi told the Global Times that he and his family have fond memories of living by the sea, eating the catch from the same sea, surfing, and frolicking with their children. The people of Fukushima live just like them, having enjoyed the bounty of the sea for generations. If the nuclear-contaminated wastewater is dumped into the sea, future generations will no longer be able to enjoy the beautiful nature.

Ruiko Muto, who lives in Tamura, Fukushima, is the head of the association for the victims of the Fukushima nuclear accident. After the accident, she worked hard to hold the former management of TEPCO accountable as a member of the legal team for the Fukushima nuclear accident and the criminal prosecution team.

Muto told the Global Times in an email that “ALPS-treated water” used by the Japanese government and TEPCO contains many other radioactive substances besides tritium, making it “not safe at all.” Under such circumstances, attempts to release the radioactive wastewater from Fukushima into the sea must not be allowed.

Muto said that as summer approaches, her group will join forces with other civic groups and continue to express opposition through protests and rallies.

Dumping not only way

In an on-the-spot interview, Global Times reporters noted the intense concern over whether “ALPS-treated water,” as the Japanese government and TEPCO refer to it, is safe, and whether there is an alternative to dealing with the wastewater.

Hideyuki Ban, a Japanese nuclear expert and co-director of the Tokyo-based Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center (CNIC), told the Global Times that “the nuclear-contaminated wastewater contains 64 radionuclides, including tritium, some of which are very long-lived and cannot necessarily be diluted. [The compounds] can accumulate in the ocean and attach to fish and shellfish, and some of them can enter the body of marine organisms, causing human beings to be exposed to nuclear radiation after consumption. Even if [the wastewater] is treated and released into the sea, it is not safe.”

“There is no precedent in the world for dumping such wastewater containing 64 radionuclides into the sea,” he said. 

“The capacity of ALPS to remove radionuclides and the amount of the nuclear-contaminated wastewater to be discharged are not fully understood, let alone gaining the understanding and consent of stakeholders. Under such circumstances, it is not allowed to arbitrarily discharge the wastewater,” he said.

Ban noted that there are other ways to dispose of the wastewater. For example, there is the option of “mortar solidification,” where the nuclear-contaminated wastewater is mixed, solidified, and stored in mortar as in cement production. What the Japanese government has done is based on a political decision, not one based on scientific research, Ban criticized……………………………………………………………………….

The problem, however, is that even if the nuclear-contaminated wastewater is disposed of, key issues such as whether nuclear fuel debris can be removed from the Daiichi plant remain unresolved. The government plans to decommission the reactor in the next 30 to 40 years, but it has yet to give a clear explanation of how long it will take to complete the project and in what condition the facility will have to be in order to qualify as successfully decommissioned, according to Muto.

Surrounded by the sea, Japan gives thanks to the gracious sea as a prosperous maritime nation, on “Sea Day” held annually on the third Monday of July, which is one of the statutory holidays in the country.. Born by the sea, the locals reached by the Global Times could not help but express their deep concern and fear that if the sea is polluted, it will be difficult to enjoy the sea’s succor in the future.


May 16, 2023 Posted by | Japan, oceans, wastes, water | Leave a comment

Plans to release nuclear wastewater into Hudson River delayed following outcry

Spectrum News, By John Camera Hudson Valley, Apr. 28, 2023

Manna Jo Greene, an Ulster County legislator and environmental director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, does not want to see the proposed release of nuclear wastewater from Indian Point into the Hudson River to go forward.

She says standards that deem the proposed discharge safe are outdated.

“And we’re also looking into whether or not this could impact communities that take their drinking water from the Hudson,” Greene said.

……………………………… For now, the release of about 300,000 gallons of nuclear wastewater has been slated for September, giving more time to determine the best path forward.

The next meeting from the Indian Point Decommissioning Oversight Board will take place June 15.

April 29, 2023 Posted by | USA, wastes, water | Leave a comment

Water shortage at Sizewell: the environmental cost

Pete Wilkinson: (From Feb 2022) Building the Sizewell C plant, which
requires vast amounts of fresh water, in an area of water scarcity makes no
sense. The availability of water is something we barely give a thought to:
only ten percent of people consider water shortage to be an environmental
issue, yet without it, it’s curtains. According to the Environment Agency
(EA), England could fail to meet national demand by 2050.

As the driest part of the country, Eastern England has been designated as a
water-stressed area and future pressures include climate change, economic
and housing development. Suffolk is recognised as an area of water
scarcity, facing predictions of a water shortage in the coming years.

East Anglia Bylines (accessed) 23rd April 2023

April 26, 2023 Posted by | UK, water | 1 Comment

Plan for Dumping Nuclear Wastewater Into Hudson River Is Paused

New York Times, By Patrick McGeehan, April 14, 2023

Wastewater from the shuttered Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York will not be dumped into the Hudson River next month as planned, the company that owns the plant said.

The owner, Holtec International, said on Thursday that it would take more time to explain its plan to elected officials and community leaders who have become alarmed about potential harmful effects on the environment.

A Holtec spokesman, Patrick O’Brien, said the company would take a “voluntary pause” in its scheduled release of water from the pools that contained spent fuel rods from Indian Point’s reactors, which stopped generating electricity in 2021.

Why It Matters: Area Residents Feared Contamination of Drinking Water

Releasing water from the spent-fuel pools into the Hudson had always been part of Holtec’s plan for dismantling Indian Point, in Buchanan, N.Y. But a recent notice from the company that it might speed up the process alarmed some environmental activists, who oppose discharging the wastewater because it contains tritium, a radioactive element.

Riverkeeper, an organization that advocates for clean water in New York, opposed the plan, saying: “Ingestion of tritium is linked to cancer, and children and pregnant women are most vulnerable.” Riverkeeper called for the wastewater to be stored in tanks on the site until a safer method of disposal could be devised.

In an April 6 letter to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, New York’s Democratic senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, said that Holtec’s “sudden” announcement had “shocked the community” and would increase public opposition and distrust of Holtec as it continues the decommissioning of Indian Point.

On Thursday, Mr. Schumer said in a statement that he was “relieved that Holtec has heeded our call and will put a stop to its hastily hatched plan to dump radioactive wastewater into the Hudson this May.”

………………………………………… Holtec tried to assure community leaders that the safest way to dispose of the wastewater was to put it in the river. But elected officials proposed legislation in Albany that would ban the “discharge of any radiological agent into the waters of the state.”

What’s Next

Holtec has not abandoned its plan to discharge the wastewater. Mr. O’Brien said the company hoped to “further engage” with elected officials and state agencies and that regulators would gain “time to continue explaining the science and regulations” at public meetings. The Indian Point Decommissioning Oversight Board has scheduled a special online meeting for public comment on April 25.

April 16, 2023 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Opponents pack Pilgrim Nuclear meeting as potential discharge of radioactive water looms

CAI | By Jennette Barnes, March 28, 2023

Opponents of the proposed discharge of radioactive water from the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station packed a meeting on the future of the station last night.

Ryan Collins of Bourne received a standing ovation from the audience when he presented a thick binder of signatures from his petition. The petition calls for a stop to the discharge plan. It garnered more than 200,000 signatures.

The state’s Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel hosted the meeting at Plymouth Town Hall as part of its regular calendar.

…………………………………… opponents argue that the terms of a state settlement with Holtec would make a release of contaminated water illegal, with or without a permit.

Many members of the audience held orange signs that read, “Protect our bays! No permit!” in reference to the proposed modification of Holtec’s permit under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

Jo-Anne Wilson-Keenan, of East Dennis, said she’s concerned about contamination. Speaking from the podium, she raised her arm to show the shape of Cape Cod and the location of Dennis.

“We live right here in the elbow, and when the radioactive water comes down from Plymouth, it’s going to land right on our beaches,” she said.

Jim Cantwell, state director for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, discussed Markey’s March 17 letter to Holtec asking the company to use the ratepayer-funded decommissioning trust fund to pay for an independent scientific study of the risks of discharging the radioactive water stored at Pilgrim.

Last May, at a field hearing hosted by Markey in Plymouth, Singh agreed to allow independent testing.

Meanwhile, state-supervised testing of the Pilgrim water is set to begin with a collection of samples on April 5. Senior staff from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Public Health are scheduled to observe, along with a representative of the town of Plymouth.

But Seth Pickering, a deputy regional director with DEP, said the state no longer plans to use the previously identified Colorado lab, Eurofins, to test for non-radioactive pollutants.

The agency will instead rely on Gel Laboratories of South Carolina, which Pickering disclosed is a lab Holtec uses as well.

Members of the audience objected to the idea of using the same lab as Holtec…………….

April 3, 2023 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA, water | Leave a comment

Groundwater carries radiation risk for North Korean cities near nuke test site – rights group 

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of North Koreans and people in South Korea, Japan and China could be exposed to radioactive materials spread through groundwater from an underground nuclear test site, a Seoul-based human rights group said in a report on Tuesday.

North Korea secretly conducted six tests of nuclear weapons at the Punggye-ri site in the mountainous North Hamgyong Province between 2006 and 2017, according to the U.S. and South Korean governments.

The study by the Transitional Justice Working Group said radioactive materials could have spread across eight cities and counties near the site, where more than 1 million North Koreans live, and where groundwater is used in everyday lives including drinking.

The group, formed in 2014, worked with nuclear and medical experts and defectors and used open source intelligence and publicly available government and U.N. reports for the study, which was backed by the National Endowment for Democracy, a non-profit corporation funded by the U.S. Congress.

“This report is significant in showing that North Korea’s nuclear tests could threaten the right to life and health of not only the North Korean people, but also of those in South Korea and other neighbouring countries,” said Hubert Young-hwan Lee, the group’s chief and a co-author.

Telephone calls by Reuters to North Korea’s diplomatic mission to the United Nations in New York went unanswered.

In 2015, South Korea’s food safety agency detected nine times the standard level of radioactive caesium isotopes in imported hedgehog mushrooms that had been sold as Chinese produce though their actual origin was North Korea.

China and Japan have ramped up radiation monitoring and expressed concerns over potential exposure following the North’s previous nuclear tests but did not openly provide information on contaminated food.

Many outside experts have raised concerns over potential health risks from contaminated water, but North Korea rejected such concerns, saying there were no leaks of harmful materials following past nuclear tests, without providing evidence.

When North Korea invited foreign journalists to witness the destruction of some tunnels at the nuclear test site in 2018, it confiscated their radiation detectors.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, stopped testing defectors for radiation exposure since 2018 amid a thaw in cross-border ties.

But, out of 40 defectors from the regions near Punggye-ri who were tested for radiation in 2017 and 2018, at least nine showed abnormalities. The ministry said, however, that it could not establish a direct link with the nuclear site.

More than 880 North Koreans have escaped from those regions since 2006, the report said.

The rights group urged a resumption of testing and an international enquiry into the radiation risks for communities around Punggye-ri.

The Unification Ministry said it will consider restarting testing if any defectors report health problems and request support regarding radiation exposure.

Seoul and Washington have said Pyongyang could be preparing for a seventh nuclear test.

February 23, 2023 Posted by | North Korea, water | Leave a comment

Hot water — radiation in drinking water

Tighter controls called for as radiation contaminates US drinking water

Hot water — Beyond Nuclear International

Radioactive contamination is creeping into drinking water around the U.S. By Lynne Peeples, Ensia 1 Jan 2023

When Jeni Knack moved to Simi Valley, California, in 2018, she had no idea that her family’s new home was within 5 miles of a former nuclear and rocket testing laboratory, perched atop a plateau and rife with contamination. Radioactive cesium-137, strontium-90, plutonium-239 and tritium, along with a mix of other toxic chemicals and heavy metals, are known to have been released at the industrial site through various spills, leaks, the use of open-air burn pits and a partial nuclear meltdown.

Once Knack learned about the Santa Susana Field Laboratory and the unusual number of childhood cancer cases in the surrounding community, she couldn’t ignore it. Her family now only drinks water from a 5-gallon (19-liter) jug delivered by Sparkletts water service. In August of 2021, she began sending her then 6-year-old daughter to kindergarten with two bottles of the water and instructions to not refill them at school, which is connected to the same Golden State Water Company that serves her home.

A federal report in 2007 acknowledged that two wells sourced by the water company were at risk of contamination from the site. “The EPA has said we’re at risk,” says Knack. And Golden State, she says, has at times used “possibly a very hefty portion of that well water.” To date, radioactivity above the natural level has not been detected in Golden State’s water.

Concerns across the country

All water contains some level of radiation; the amount and type can vary significantly. Production of nuclear weapons and energy from fissionable material is one potential source. Mining for uranium is another. Radioactive elements can be introduced into water via medical treatments, including radioactive iodine used to treat thyroid disorders. And it can be unearthed during oil and gas drilling, or any industrial activities that involve cracking into bedrock where radioactive elements naturally exist. What’s more, because of their natural presence, these elements can occasionally seep into aquifers even without being provoked.

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG, a partner in this reporting project) estimates that drinking water for more than 170 million Americans in all 50 states “contains radioactive elements at levels that may increase the risk of cancer.” In their analysis of public water system data collected between 2010 and 2015, EWG focused on six radioactive contaminants, including radium, radon and uranium. They found that California has more residents affected by radiation in their drinking water than anywhere else in the U.S. Yet the state is far from alone. About 80% of Texans are served by water utilities reporting detectable levels of radium. And concerns have echoed across the country — from abandoned uranium mines on Navajo Nation lands, to lingering nuclear waste from the Manhattan Project in Missouri, to contaminants leaching from phosphate mines in Florida.

While ingesting radioactive elements through drinking contaminated water is not the only route of human exposure, it is a major risk pathway, says Daniel Hirsch, a retired University of California, Santa Cruz, professor who has studied the Santa Susana Field Laboratory contamination. “One thing you don’t want to do is to mix radioactivity with water. It’s an easy mechanism to get it inside people,” he says. “When you drink water, you think you excrete it. But the body is made to extract things from what you ingest.”

Strontium-90, for example, is among elements that mimic calcium. So the body is apt to concentrate the contaminant in bones, raising the risk of leukemia. Pregnant women and young kids are especially vulnerable because greater amounts of radiation are deposited in rapidly growing tissue and bones. “This is why pregnant women are never x-rayed,” says Catherine Thomasson, an independent environmental policy consultant based in Portland, Oregon. Cesium can deposit in the pancreas, heart and other tissues, she notes. There, it may continue to emit radioactivity over time, causing disease and damage.

Scientists believe that no amount of radiation is safe. At high levels, the radiation produced by radioactive elements can trigger birth defects, impair development and cause cancer in almost any part of the body. And early life exposure means a long period of time for damage to develop.

Health advocates express concern that the government is not doing enough to protect the public from these and other risks associated with exposure to radioactive contamination in drinking water. The legal limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for several types of radioactive elements in community water systems have not been updated since 1976. Further, many elements are regulated as a group rather than individually, such as radium-226 plus radium-228. And water system operators, if they are required to monitor for radioactive elements, only need to do so infrequently — say, every six or nine years for certain contaminants.

Meanwhile, private wells generally remain unregulated with regard to the elements, which is particularly concerning because some nuclear power plants are located in rural areas where people depend on private wells. More than one out of every 10 Americans use private wells or tiny water systems that serve fewer than 15 residences.

The Santa Susana Field Laboratory was rural when it was first put to use about 70 years ago. Today, more than 700,000 people live within 10 miles (16 kilometers). Recent wildfires have exacerbated these residents’ concerns. The 2018 Woolsey fire started on the property and burned 80% of its 2,850 acres (1,153 hectares). Over the following three months, the levels of chemical and radioactive contamination running off the site exceeded state safety standards 57 times.

Hirsch highlights several potential avenues for drinking water contamination related to nuclear weapons or energy development. Wind can send contamination off site and deposit it into the soil, for example. Gravity can carry contaminants downhill. And rains can carry contamination via streams and rivers to infiltrate groundwater aquifers. While vegetation absorbs radioactive and chemical contaminants from the soil in which it grows, those pollutants are readily released into the environment during a fire.

While no tests have detected concerning levels of radioactivity in Golden State’s water, advocates and scientists argue that testing for radioactive elements remains inconsistent and incomplete across the country. Federal and state regulations do not require monitoring for all potential radioactive contaminants associated with the known industrial activity on the site. For some of the regulated contaminants, water companies need only test once every several years.

“This is not an isolated matter,” says Hirsch. “We’re sloppy with radioactive materials.”

“We need stricter regulations”

In 2018, around the same time that fires stirred up radioactive elements in and around the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, drinking water concerns arose just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Guy Kruppa, superintendent of the Belle Vernon Municipal Authority, had been noticing major die-offs of the bacteria in his sewage treatment plant. The bugs are critical for breaking down contaminants in the sewage before it is discharged into the Monongahela River. About 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) downstream is a drinking water plant.

Kruppa and his colleagues eventually linked the low bacteria numbers to leachate they accepted from the Westmoreland landfill. The landfill had begun taking waste from nearby fracking sites — material that included bacteria-killing salts and radioactive elements such as radium.

The Belle Vernon Municipal Authority subsequently got a court order to force the landfill to stop sending its leachate — the liquid stuff that flows off a landfill after it rains. “We sealed off the pipe,” Kruppa says. 

Today, radiation is no longer discharging from his plant. Yet he remains concerned about where the leachate might now be going and, more broadly, about the weak regulation regarding radioactive waste that could end up in drinking water. The quarterly tests required of his sewage treatment plant, for example, do not include radium. “The old adage is, if you don’t test for it, you’re not going to find it,” adds Kruppa.

Concerns that radioactive elements from fracking could travel into community drinking water sources have been on the rise for at least a decade. A study led by Duke University researchers and published in 2013 found “potential environmental risks of radium bioaccumulation in localized areas of shale gas wastewater disposal.” Kruppa’s actions in 2018 drove widespread media attention to the issue.

In late July 2021, the state of Pennsylvania announced it would begin ordering landfills that accept waste from oil or gas drilling sites to test their leachate for certain radioactive materials associated with fracking. The state’s move was a “good step in the right direction,” says Amy Mall, a senior advocate with the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council, which published a report on radioactive waste from oil and gas production in July. “We do need more data. But we don’t think monitoring alone is adequate. We need stricter regulations as well.”

The EPA drinking water standard for radium-226 plus radium-228, the two most widespread isotopes of radium, is 5 picocuries per liter (0.26 gallon). The California Office of Environmental Hazard Assessment’s public health goal, set in 2006 and the basis of EWG’s study, is far more stringent: 0.05 picocuries per liter for radium-226 and just 0.019 picocuries per liter for radium-228. “There is a legal limit for some of these contaminants, like radium and uranium,” says Sydney Evans, a science analyst with EWG. “But, of course, that’s not necessarily what’s considered safe based on the latest research.”

“We don’t regulate for the most vulnerable,” says Arjun Makhijani, president of the nonprofit Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. He points to the first trimester in a pregnancy as among the riskiest windows of development.

The known toxicities of radioactive contaminants, as well as technology available to test for them, have evolved significantly since standards were established in the 1970s. “We have a rule limited by the technology available 40 years ago or more. It’s just a little crazy to me,” says Evans. Hirsch points to a series of reports from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on health risks from ionizing radiation. “They just keep finding that the same unit of exposure produces more cancers than had been presumed,” he says. The most recent version, published in 2006, found the risk of cancer due to radiation exposure for some elements to be about 35% higher per unit dose than the 1990 version.

The EPA has begun its fourth review of national primary drinking water regulations, in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. The results are anticipated in 2023. While advocates hope for stricter standards, such changes would add to the difficulties many drinking water providers already face in finding the finances and technology necessary to meet those regulations.

Seeking solutions

The aquifer beneath Winona, Minnesota — which supplies drinking water to residents — naturally contains radium, resulting in challenges for the city water department to minimize levels of the radioactive element.

Tests of Winona’s drinking water have found levels of radium above federal standards. In response to results, in April 2021 city officials cautioned residents that low-dose exposure over many years can raise the risk of cancer. However, they did not advise people to avoid drinking the water.

The city is now looking to ramp up their use of a product called TonkaZorb, which has proven effective in removing radium at other drinking water plants, notes Brent Bunke, who served as the city’s water superintendent during the time of the testing. The product’s active ingredient is manganese, which binds to radium. The resulting clumps are easy to sift out by the sand filter. Local coverage aptly likened it to kitty litter. Bunke notes that the city also plans to replace the filter media in their aging sand filters. Of course, all these efforts are not cheap for the city. “It’s the cost of doing business,” says Bunke.

Winona is far from alone in their battle against ubiquitous radium. And they are unlikely to be the hardest hit. “Communities that are being impacted don’t necessarily have the means to fix it,” says Evans. “And it’s going to be a long-term, ongoing issue.” Over time, municipalities often have to drill deeper into the ground to find adequate water supply — where there tends to be even larger concentrations of radium.

Some are looking upstream for more equitable solutions. Stanford University researchers, for example, have identified a way to predict when and where uranium is released into groundwater aquifers. Dissolved calcium and alkalinity can boost water’s ability to pick up uranium, they found. Because this tends to happen in the top six feet of soil, drinking water managers can make sure that water bypasses that area as it seeps into or is pumped out of the ground.

The focus of this research has been on California’s Central Valley — an agricultural area rich in uranium. “When you start thinking about rural water systems, or you think about water that’s going to be used in agriculture, then your economic constraints become really, really great,” says Scott Fendorf, a professor of earth systems science at Stanford and coauthor on the study. “You can’t afford to do things like reverse osmosis” — a spendy form of filtration technology.

In general, radiation can be very difficult to remove from water. Reverse osmosis can be effective for uranium. Activated carbon can cut concentrations of radon and strontium. Yet standard home or water treatment plant filters are not necessarily going to remove all radioactive contaminants. Scientists and advocates underscore the need for further prevention strategies in the form of greater monitoring and stronger regulations. The push continues across the country, as the issue plagues nearly everywhere — an unfortunate truth that Knack now knows.

Why doesn’t her family simply move? “I’m not saying we won’t. I’m not saying we shouldn’t,” she says. “But I don’t even know where we’d go. It really looks like contaminated sites are not few, but all over the country.”

January 1, 2023 Posted by | Reference, USA, water | Leave a comment

UK govt goes ahead, seeks financial backing for Sizewell nuclear project, despite strong objections on environmental grounds, especially about water use.

It bears noting that EDF was refused planning consent from Suffolk County Council and the Planning
Inspectorate in 2020 on the grounds that insufficient information was provided about the project’s impacts on local communities and nature.

Particular concerns included procuring water and potential impacts on the local nature reserve.

The UK Government has confirmed approval for the Sizewell C nuclear power
plant after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt moved to back proceeding with the
development at this month’s Autumn Statement. The Department for Business,
Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has stated that the Government will
take a £679m stake in the 3.2GW project and will urge China General Nuclear
to end its involvement.

It will allocate a multi-million-pound package to
cover buy-out costs, commercial arrangements and tax. This is a significant
increase from the £100m option fee contribution for Sizewell C which the
Government confirmed back in January. It will see the Government becoming a
50% shareholder in the project’s development phase. BEIS has stated that
EDF, which is developing the power plant, will “provide additional
investment to match the Government’s stake”.

But with the total project
cost sitting around £20bn, it is clear that additional backers will need to
be found. Sizewell C will be the UK’s first project to use a new funding
model for nuclear, the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model. This model
provides investors with regular returns before a plant begins generating
power. It has replaced the previous Contracts for Difference (CfD) approach
to nuclear funding due to the passage of the Nuclear Energy (Financing)
Bill earlier this year, when Kwasi Kwarteng was in the top job at BEIS.

Some local community groups and major environmental groups have argued that
BEIS rushed the decision on Sizewell C without accounting for key
information on impacts such as water extraction and disrupting wildlife.

On the former point, Sizewell B uses about 800,000 litres of potable water
each day. Friends of the Earth moved in August to launch a legal challenge
to BEIS over the Sizewell C approval decision. It bears noting that EDF was
refused planning consent from Suffolk County Council and the Planning
Inspectorate in 2020 on the grounds that insufficient information was
provided about the project’s impacts on local communities and nature.
Particular concerns included procuring water and potential impacts on the
local nature reserve.

The Planning Inspectorate stated that “unless the
outstanding water supply strategy can be resolved and sufficient
information provided to enable the secretary of state to carry out his
obligations under the Habitats Regulations, the case for an order granting
development consent for the application is not made out”.

Friends of the Earth argued that, when it launched its challenge, no more information had
been provided or considered about Sizewell C’s nature and water footprint.

Edie 29th Nov 2022

November 30, 2022 Posted by | UK, water | Leave a comment

China’s record-breaking heatwave, threatening water resources

The southwestern Chinese regions of Chonqging and Sichuan were battling
fires on Tuesday as they awaited a long-anticipated drop in temperatures
over the next week, but the country’s important autumn harvest remained
under serious threat. Officials warned this month that temperatures were
rising faster in China than in the rest of the world and a record-breaking
heatwave has raised concern about its ability to adapt to rapid climate
change and conserve already scarce water resources.

Reuters 23rd Aug 2022

August 23, 2022 Posted by | China, climate change, water | Leave a comment

Nuclear reactors at Bugey, Blayais, Saint-Alban-Sanit-Maurice, Golfech and Tricastin allowed to release hotter water into rivers

New thermal discharge limits applicable to the reactors of the Bugey,
Blayais, Saint-Alban-Saint-Maurice, Golfech and Tricastin power plants have
been set and will be valid until 11 September. The nuclear power plants of
Blayais, Saint-Alban-Saint-Maurice, Golfech, Bugey and Tricastin will
benefit until September 11 from environmental exemptions concerning water
discharge temperatures due to high temperatures, despite impacts possible
negative effects on the environment.

A decree published on Saturday in the
Official Journal sets ” new thermal discharge limits applicable to the
reactors of the nuclear power plant of Bugey, Blayais,
Saint-Alban-Saint-Maurice, Golfech and Tricastin “. It is specified that
the implementation of these measures will be “associated with a
reinforced environmental monitoring program”.

Le Figaro 6th Aug 2022

August 8, 2022 Posted by | France, water | Leave a comment

Sizewell C nuclear station approval faces legal challenge

Campaigners have begun a legal challenge against the government’s decision to give the Sizewell C nuclear power station the go-ahead amid warnings that UK nuclear plants will be on the frontline of climate breakdown.

Citing the threat to water supplies in an area officially designated as seriously water stressed, the threats to coastal areas from climate change and environmental damage, the challenge is the first step in a judicial review of the planning consent.

The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, overruled the independent Planning Inspectorate to grant permission for the new nuclear reactor in Suffolk in July. Kwarteng is pushing ahead with
government plans to approve one new nuclear reactor a year as part of an energy strategy that aims to bolster the UK’s nuclear capacity, with the hope that by 2050 up to 25% of projected energy demand will come from it.

But Sizewell C has faced stiff opposition from local campaigners, and environmental groups both for its cost and the environmental impact. In a letter to Kwarteng outlining their legal challenge Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) argues that the permission by the government for the plant was given unlawfully. Represented by Leigh Day solicitors and supported by Friends of the Earth, the group says there was a failure to assess the implications of the project as a whole, by ignoring the issue of whether a permanent water supply could be secured, a failure to assess the environmental impact of that project and the suggestion that the site would be clear of nuclear material by 2140, which was not upheld by evidence showing highly radioactive waste would have to be stored on site until a much later date.

The Planning Inspectorate had rejected the scheme saying “unless the outstanding water supply strategy can be resolved and sufficient information provided to enable the secretary of state to carry out his obligations under the Habitats Regulations, the case for an order granting development consent for the application is not made out”.

Pete Wilkinson, chair of TASC, said: “The case against Sizewell C is overwhelming, as has been carefully documented throughout the inquiry stage and was found by the planning inspector to have merit. “Even to consider building a £20bn-plus nuclear power plant without first securing a water supply is a measure of the fixation this government has for nuclear power and its panic in making progress towards an energy policy which is as unachievable as it is inappropriate for the 21st-century challenges we

Guardian 8th Aug 2022

August 8, 2022 Posted by | climate change, Legal, opposition to nuclear, UK, water | Leave a comment

Drought may force nuclear power production cut Associated Press August 5, 2022 0

PARIS — French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne warned that France is facing the “most severe drought” ever recorded in the country and announced the activation of a government crisis unit.

The crisis unit will be in charge of monitoring the situation in the hardest-hit areas and coordinate measures like bringing drinking water to some places. It will also monitor the impact of the drought on France’s energy production, transport infrastructure and agriculture.

The drought may force French energy giant EDF to cut power production at nuclear plants which use river water to cool reactors.

France now has 62 regions with restrictions on water usage due to the lack of rain.

Borne said many areas in France are going through a “historic situation” as the country endures its third heatwave this summer.

“The exceptional drought we are currently experiencing is depriving many municipalities of water and is a tragedy for our farmers, our ecosystems and biodiversity,” the statement said.

August 5, 2022 Posted by | climate change, France, water | Leave a comment

A new nuclear power station needs a vast supply of water. But where will Sizewell C get it from?

As one of the driest parts of the country, Suffolk is described by the Environment Agency as “seriously water stressed”. By 2043, eight years into Sizewell C’s 60-year operating life, the agency anticipates a water deficit in the county of more than 7m litres a day. William Atkins  28 Jul 2022 Plans for the site have got the go-ahead. The knock-on effect for Suffolk’s rivers and seawater will soon be clear

Last week, the government gave the go-ahead for a new nuclear power station to be developed on the Suffolk coast. Providing low-carbon electricity for about 6m homes, Sizewell C will stand alongside two existing stations, Sizewell B and the decommissioned Sizewell A. I live close enough to see the 60-metre tall, white dome of Sizewell B almost every day. When I want to torture myself, I look at developer EDF’s “construction phase visualisations” of the 1,380-acre building site, with its towering spoil heaps and forest of cranes, and wonder if this is what it will take to save the planet.

What might not have been immediately obvious in the coverage of the government’s decision was that the Planning Inspectorate, tasked with assessing such projects, had recommended that permission be refused. The problem, the examiners explained, was fairly simple: EDF couldn’t say exactly where it would obtain one of the main substances needed to make a nuclear power station work, that substance being water.

As well as uranium, a reactor of the kind EDF plans to build needs water in very great volumes. Saltwater will do for part of the process, which is one reason why nuclear power stations are usually built beside the sea. But fresh or “potable” water will also be needed – first, to cool the two reactors, and then, just as importantly, to cool the irradiated fuel once it has been removed from the reactors. For this, absolutely pure water is essential. Sizewell B uses about 800,000 litres of potable water per day; Sizewell C, with its twin reactors, will need more than 2m litres per day, and as much as 3.5m litres per day during construction.

Last September, during the closing hearings of the six-month public planning examination, the question of just where the developer was going to get the water to run Sizewell C, let alone build it, was becoming urgent. Those who had raised concerns about precisely this issue more than 10 years earlier would have been forgiven for feeling frustrated. As one of the driest parts of the country, Suffolk is described by the Environment Agency as “seriously water stressed”. By 2043, eight years into Sizewell C’s 60-year operating life, the agency anticipates a water deficit in the county of more than 7m litres a day. Northumbrian Water, which operates locally as Essex and Suffolk Water, had made it clear to EDF that there was not enough local groundwater for either construction or operation. EDF’s plan, therefore, was to build a pipeline to bring water from the River Waveney, 18 miles away on the Norfolk border. During at least the first two years of construction, while the pipeline was being built, EDF planned to install a temporary desalination plant on the site to turn saltwater from the sea into fresh.

Then, in August, the water company broke the news that its abstraction licenses dictating how much water it could extract from the Waveney, granted by the Environment Agency, were likely to be reduced by up to 60% to safeguard downstream levels. It subsequently confirmed that the Waveney did not, after all, have the capacity to supply water for for any of the 10-year construction phase.

Desalination, opponents of the project noted, was a solution EDF itself had discounted in January 2021 “due to concerns with power consumption, sustainability, cost and wastewater discharge”. And yet, desalination, with all the problems it had set out (including discharging millions of litres a day of saline concentrate and phosphorus into the North Sea), remains EDF’s “fallback” solution for running the station, as well as building it, if another source can’t be found. Northumbrian Water has since confirmed that: “Existing water resources (including the River Waveney) will not be sufficient to meet forecast mains water demand, including the operational demand of Sizewell C.”

Then, in August, the water company broke the news that its abstraction licenses dictating how much water it could extract from the Waveney, granted by the Environment Agency, were likely to be reduced by up to 60% to safeguard downstream levels. It subsequently confirmed that the Waveney did not, after all, have the capacity to supply water for for any of the 10-year construction phase.

Desalination, opponents of the project noted, was a solution EDF itself had discounted in January 2021 “due to concerns with power consumption, sustainability, cost and wastewater discharge”. And yet, desalination, with all the problems it had set out (including discharging millions of litres a day of saline concentrate and phosphorus into the North Sea), remains EDF’s “fallback” solution for running the station, as well as building it, if another source can’t be found. Northumbrian Water has since confirmed that: “Existing water resources (including the River Waveney) will not be sufficient to meet forecast mains water demand, including the operational demand of Sizewell C.”

The more I look at those mock-ups of the building site, the more they seem like a metaphor for another kind of despoilment. Given the government’s stated intention to build a fleet of new nuclear power stations across the country, it’s not just people who live in Suffolk who have reason to wonder what the secretary of state’s decision to wash his hands of Sizewell C’s water problem says about the resilience of the systems we entrust with safeguarding our environment. Still, the foundations will be laid, I suppose, and the cranes will rise, and after 10 years and £20bn (by EDF’s reckoning), Sizewell C will be built. And when the time comes for its reactors to go critical, there will be water, because if there isn’t, Suffolk will have a new tourist attraction to rival Framlingham Castle: the most expensive white elephant in human history.

What this fait accompli means for Suffolk’s rivers and seawater, let alone for the county’s householders and farmers, are not questions that will be answered before building begins. It’s enlightening, in this context, to consider that the past six months have been the driest in Suffolk for more than a quarter of a century, and the driest in England since 1976.

“The secretary of state disagrees with the examining authority’s conclusions on this matter,” Wednesday’s decision letter states, “and considers that the uncertainty over the permanent water supply strategy is not a barrier to granting consent to the proposed development.” During last year’s planning hearings, two stories kept coming back to me: the biblical account of Moses in the desert, making water gush from a rock by striking it with his staff; and the Brothers Grimm tale in which a giant clasps a stone in his fist, and crushes it until, finally, water is forced out.

 William Atkins is the author of The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places and The Moor

July 30, 2022 Posted by | UK, water | Leave a comment