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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Hanford nuclear waste site – a possible leak

Possible leak found at Washington nuclear site, NewsFix, MAY 21, 2017, BY CNN WIRE, WASHINGTON — Authorities at Washington state’s Hanford nuclear waste site are investigating a possible leak after discovering radioactive material on a worker’s clothing. The discovery follows an incident two weeks earlier in which a site tunnel collapsed, sparking fears of radiation exposure.

Washington River Protection Solutions, a contractor working at the site, on Thursday detected high readings of radiation on a robotic device known as a crawler that workers were pulling out of a nuclear waste tank. Contamination was also discovered on the clothing of one of the workers.

“Established decontamination procedures were followed, which involves removing the contaminated clothing. Further surveying the worker showed no contamination remained. No other workers were affected, and all members of the crew were cleared for normal duty,” said WRPS spokesman Peter Bengtson.

The Double-Shell Tank AZ-101 contains 800,000 gallons of nuclear waste, according to the Washington Department of Ecology, which oversees the Hanford site. The nuclear plant is located in the south-central part of Washington state, about 45 miles from Yakima.

Using leak-detection instruments, WRPS said it did not find liquid escaping the tank. However, workers are preparing a plan to conduct a visual inspection by video.

State officials are also urging the US Department of Energy to investigate the incident and determine the safety of the site…….http://cw39.com/2017/05/21/possible-leak-found-at-washington-nuclear-site/

May 22, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Pit collapse at Idaho Nuclear Landfill

Cleanup at Idaho Nuclear Landfill on Hold After Pit Collapse https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/idaho/articles/2017-05-18/cleanup-at-idaho-nuclear-landfill-on-hold-after-pit-collapse
Officials are trying to determine what caused the side of a pit at a nuclear waste landfill in Idaho to collapse. 
May 18, 2017, By REBECCA BOONE, Associated Press  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Some cleanup efforts at a nuclear waste landfill in Idaho were placed on hold while workers try to figure out what caused a collapse in a dig area that sent an excavator into a pit.

The excavator was digging up transuranic waste — which is waste contaminated with highly radioactive elements.

No radiation was released during the May 11 incident, and no one was injured, said Erik Simpson with Fluor Idaho, a contractor hired to clean up the site at the Idaho National Laboratory.

The excavator was digging at the 97-acre (392,545-sq. meter) Subsurface Disposal Area near Idaho Falls when the side of the pit collapsed.

 Simpson said the excavator slid partway into the 21-foot (6 -meter) deep pit. The operator remained in his protective cab for about 90 minutes.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Workers at Hanford nuclear site have sealed off a large sinkhole

Collapsed tunnel sealed at U.S. nuclear site after accident, Chicago Tribune, Nicholas K. GeraniosAssociated Press, 11 May 17,  Workers at a Washington state nuclear site where a tunnel filled with nuclear waste in railroad cars partially collapsed have safely sealed off a large sinkhole that emerged as a result of the collapse, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Thursday.

Authorities also revealed that the 400-square foot (37-square meter) sinkhole they filled with soil could have been there since last weekend before it was discovered Tuesday. That’s because the area around the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste-filled tunnels is not observed every day by workers who patrol the site’s sprawling grounds………

Washington state officials on Wednesday demanded that the federal Energy Department immediately assess the integrity of all the Hanford tunnels.

“The infrastructure built to temporarily store radioactive waste is now more than a half-century old,” said Maia Bellon, director of the state Department of Ecology, which oversees and regulates the federal government’s Hanford cleanup.

The 360-foot long (110-meter) rail tunnel that collapsed was built in 1956 from timber, concrete and steel and covered with 8 feet (2.4 meters) of dirt. Eight flatbed railroad cars loaded with radioactive material were parked there in 1965.

A much larger nearby tunnel built in 1964 has 28 railroad cars with radioactive waste.

The Energy Department was warned in a 2015 report it commissioned that both tunnels were vulnerable to a collapse from an earthquake or deterioration of tunnel building materials caused by intense radiation, the report said.

The nearby Yakama Nation said it has warned about the safety of the tunnels for several years.

“No preventative action was taken,” the tribe said in a statement.

The tribe also said the tunnels should be cleaned of radioactive waste and radiation long before a deadline of 2042 set by a cleanup agreement between the federal and state governments.

The cleanup of Hanford’s waste is expected to last until 2060 and cost an additional $100 billion over the $19 billion already spent. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-nuclear-waste-tunnel-20170511-story.html

May 12, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Collapse of nuclear waste storage tunnel at Hanford

Tunnel collapses at Hanford; no radiation released, officials say http://www.king5.com/news/local/hanford/tunnel-collapses-at-hanford-no-radiation-released-officials-say/438227872  Hundreds of workers were told to take cover at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation after a tunnel full of highly contaminated materials collapsed Tuesday morning. But officials say no radiation was released and no workers were hurt.Officials say a collapsed patch of ground above the tunnel was larger than first believed. The U.S. Department of Energy said the collapse covered about 400 square feet (37.1 square meters) instead of the 16 square feet (1.4 square meters) first reported.

Nuclear waste storage tunnel caves-in at Hanford

Hundreds of workers were told to go into a “take cover” position after the tunnel in a plutonium uranium extraction (PUREX) plant collapsed.

The agency says the rail tunnels are hundreds of feet long, with about eight feet (2.4 meters) of soil covering them. The U.S. Department of Energy says the incident caused the soil above the tunnel to sink between 2 and 4 feet (half to 1.2 meters).

“I would underscore this is confined to a small area of the Hanford site,” Destry Henderson, deputy news manager for the Hanford Joint Information Center, told NBC News. “The facility does have radiological contamination right now but there is no indication of a radiological release,” Henderson said.

A manager sent a message to all personnel telling them to “secure ventilation in your building” and “refrain from eating or drinking.”

A source said “take cover” status was expanded to the entire site at 10:35 a.m. The source also said that crews doing road work nearby may have created enough vibration to cause the collapse, and that Vit Plant employees were in cover mode as well.

May 10, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Water and steam leakage causes shutdown of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Reactor

Kudankulam Nuclear Unit Shut Down Due to Water, Steam Leakage,http://www.news18.com/news/tech/kudankulam-nuclear-unit-shut-down-due-to-water-steam-leakage-1393639.html The second unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) has been shut down due to water and steam leakage, an official said on Saturday.

The plant’s operator, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) said the Unit-II is likely to restart on May 11.

“The unit was shut down due to steam and water leakage. We have to first cool the reactor and then set right the system,” H.N. Sahu, Site Director, KNPP told IANS over phone from Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district around 650 km from here.

The NPCIL has two 1,000 MW nuclear power plants at KNPP built with Russian equipment.

The first unit was shut down on April 13, for annual maintenance and refuelling, a process that would take around two months.

May 10, 2017 Posted by | incidents, India | Leave a comment

25 years of uranium company Cameco’s incidents and accidents

Unviable economics of nuclear power catches up with Cameco, Independent Australia, Jim Green 9 May 2017  CAMECO’S INCIDENTS AND ACCIDENTS: 1981‒2016

This table lists many of Cameco’s accidents and controversies since 1981 — leaks and spills, the promotion of dangerous radiation junk science (in WA and elsewhere) appalling treatment of Indigenous people, systemic and sometimes deliberate safety failures and so on.

Date and Location Description of Incident
1981−89:

Saskatchewan, Canada

153 spills occurred at three uranium mines in Saskatchewan from 1981 to 1989. Cameco was fined C$10,000 for negligence in relation to a 1989 spill of two million litres of radium- and arsenic-contaminated water from the Rabbit Lake mine.
1990, May 13:

Blind River Uranium Refinery

Leak shuts down the Canadian refinery. Approximately 178 kg of radioactive uranium dust leaked into the air over a 30-hour period.
1993:

Canada/US

Inter-Church Uranium Committee from Saskatchewan reveals export of at least 500 tons of depleted uranium to the US military by Cameco, despite several Canadian treaties to export uranium only for “peaceful purposes”.
1998:

Kyrgyzstan

A truck en route to a Cameco gold main spills 2 tons of cyanide into the Barskoon River, a local drinking water and agricultural water source. 2,600 people treated and more than 1,000 hospitalized.
2001−

onwards:

Ontario

A 2003 report by the Sierra Club of Canada provides details of 20 major safety-related incidents and unresolved safety concerns at the Bruce nuclear power plant.
2002:

Kyrgyzstan

Fatality at Cameco’s Kumtor Gold Mine. Death of a Kyrgyz national, buried in the collapse of a 200 meter-high pit wall.
2003, April:

McArthur River, Saskatchewan

Cave-in and flood of radioactive water at the McArthur River mine. A consultant’s report found that Cameco had been repeatedly warned about the water hazards right up until the accident happened.
2004:

Key Lake uranium mill, Canada

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission approves Key Lake license renewal, despite continuing pit sidewall sloughing into the tailings disposed in the Deilmann pit. One million cubic meters of sand had already slumped into the tailings.
2004, April:

Port Hope, Ontario

Gamma radiation discovered in a school playground during testing in advance of playground upgrades. Although the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and AECL tried to dismiss the findings, the material under the school had to be removed when it was converted to low-cost housing in 2011. The contaminated material came from the uranium processing facility in Port Hope, now owned by Cameco.
2006, April:

Cigar Lake, Saskatchewan

A water inflow began at the bottom of the 6-meter wide shaft, 392 meters below the surface. All the workers left the area and removed equipment. According to a miner, “the mine’s radiation alarm kept going off, but the radiation technician merely re-set the alarm, assuring us that everything was fine.”
2006, Oct.: Cigar Lake, Saskatchewan Cameco said its “deficient” development of the Cigar Lake mine contributed to a flood that delayed the mine project by three years and would double construction costs.
2007:

Port Hope, Ontario

Substantial leakage of radioactive and chemical pollutants into the soil under the uranium conversion facility ‒ leakage not detected by monitoring wells.
2008:

US/Canada

Uranium mines owned by Cameco in Nebraska, Wyoming, and Canada have all had spills and leaks. Cameco made a settlement payment of $1.4 million to Wyoming for license violations, and $50,000 to Nebraska for license violations.
2008, January:

Rabbit Lake mill

Seepage underneath the mill discovered after a contract worker noticed a pool of uranium-tainted ice at an outdoor worksite.
2008, May:

Port Hope, Ontario

It was discovered during soil decontamination at the suspended Port Hope uranium processing facility that egress from degraded holding floors had contaminated the harbour surrounding the facility, which flows into Lake Ontario.
2008, June:

Key Lake

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission intends to approve the license renewal for Cameco’s Key Lake mill although CNSC staff assigned ‘C’ ratings (“below requirements”) in four out of 10 program areas assessed, including waste management, fire protection, environmental protection, and training.
2010:

Rabbit Lake

Uranium discharges from Rabbit Lake (highest by far in Canada) showed increase rather than the predicted decrease in 2010.
2011: Ship from Vancouver to China A number of sea containers holding drums of uranium concentrate are damaged and loose uranium is found in the hold.
2012, August:

Port Hope, Ontario

Spill of uranium dioxide powder resulted in one worker being exposed to uranium and three other workers potentially exposed during clean-up.
2012:

Northern Saskatchewan

Draft agreement between Cameco, Areva and the Aboriginal community of Pinehouse includes extraordinary clauses such as this: “Pinehouse promises to: … Not make statements or say things in public or to any government, business or agency that opposes Cameco/Areva’s mining operations; Make reasonable efforts to ensure Pinehouse members do not say or do anything that interferes with or delays Cameco/Areva’s mining, or do or say anything that is not consistent with Pinehouse’s promises under the Collaboration Agreement.”
2012, June 23: Blind River refinery, Ontario Three workers exposed to airborne uranium dust after a worker loosened a ring clamp on a drum of uranium oxide, the lid blew off and about 26 kg of the material were ejected into the air.
2013‒ongoing: Canada Cameco is battling it out in tax court with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Up to US$1.6 billion in corporate taxes allegedly went unpaid. Cameco also involved in tax dispute with the US IRS. According to Cameco, the IRS is seeking an additional $32 million in taxes, plus interest, and may also seek penalties.
2013: English River First Nation, Canada English River First Nation sign deal with Cameco and Areva, agreeing to support Millennium uranium mine and drop a lawsuit over land near the proposed mine. Some English River First Nation band members reacted strongly to the agreement. Cheryl Maurice said. “I am speaking for a group of people who weren’t aware that this agreement was being negotiated because there was no consultation process.”
2013, June: Saskatchewan Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde says the provincial government should not issue any new permits for potash, uranium or other resource development until First Nations concerns are addressed. Bellegarde said the province’s lack of a revenue-sharing deal with First Nations stemmed from “economic racism.” “Do not issue a licence to Cameco or Areva or BHP until indigenous issues are addressed,” he said.
2013, August:

Troy, Ohio, USA

A fire occurred on a truck carrying uranium hexafluoride which originated from Cameco’s refinery in Port Hope, Ontario. Nuclear regulators in Canada – where the cargo originated – and in the US were not informed of the incident.
2013, Sept.:

Northern Saskatchewan

Sierra Club Canada produces a detailed report on Cameco’s uranium operations in Northern Saskatchewan. It details systemic corporate failure by Cameco as well as systemic regulatory failure.
2014, Jan.:

Port Hope

About 450 Port Hope homeowners have had their soil sampled and properties tested in the first phase of the biggest radioactive clean-up in Canadian history. Some 1.2 million cubic metres of contaminated soil will be entombed in a storage facility. More than 5,000 private and public properties will undergo testing to identify places which need remediation. Port Hope is riddled with low-level radioactive waste, a product of radium and uranium refining at the Eldorado / Cameco refinery. The clean-up will cost an estimated US$1.3 billion.
2014, March A statement endorsed by 39 medical doctors calls on Cameco to stop promoting dangerous radiation junk science. The statement reads in part: “Cameco has consistently promoted the fringe scientific view that exposure to low-level radiation is harmless. Those views are at odds with mainstream scientific evidence.”
2015 A uranium supply contract was signed by Cameco and India’s Department of Atomic Energy on April 15, 2015. Nuclear arms control expert Crispin Rovere said: “As with the proposed Australia–India nuclear agreement, the text of the Canadian deal likewise abrogates the widely accepted principle that the nuclear recipient is accountable to the supplier. This is ironic given it was nuclear material diverted from a Canadian-supplied reactor that led to the India’s break-out in the first place. It would be like the citizens of Hiroshima deciding it would be a good idea to host American nuclear weapons within the city – the absurdity is quite astonishing.”
2015: Saskatchewan Cameco’s uranium operations in Saskatchewan are facing opposition from the Clearwater Dene First Nation. A group called Holding the Line Northern Trappers Alliance has been camping in the area to block companies from further exploratory drilling in their territory. The group set up camp in November 2014 and plans to remain until mining companies leave. Concerns include Cameco’s uranium deal with India and the health effects of Cameco’s operations on the Indigenous people of northern Saskatchewan.
2015:

Key Lake mill, Canada

Cameco personnel identify the presence of calcined uranium oxide within a building. Five workers receive doses exceeding the weekly action level of 1 mSv.
2016: Smith Ranch ISL uranium mine, Wyoming, USA The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission finds that a supervisor from Cameco subsidiary Power Resources deliberately failed to maintain complete and accurate records of workers’ exposure to radiation. The NRC issues a Notice of Violation to Cameco.
2016: Smith Ranch ISL uranium mine, Wyoming, USA

 

 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a Confirmatory Action Letter to Cameco subsidiary Power Resources documenting actions that the company has agreed to take before resuming shipments of radioactive sludge to a Utah facility. The letter followed two incidents in which containers of radioactive barium sulfate sludge, a byproduct of uranium ore processing, arrived at their destination with external contamination from leakage during transport.

A more detailed, referenced version of this information, written by Mara Bonacci and Jim Green for Friends of the Earth Australia, is posted at wiseinternational.orghttps://independentaustralia.net/business/business-display/unviable-economics-of-nuclear-power-catches-up-with-cameco,10275

May 10, 2017 Posted by | Canada, incidents, Reference | Leave a comment

1961 the thermonuclear bomb that they dropped in North Carolina

A thermonuclear bomb slammed into a US farm in 1961 — and part of it is still missing https://www.businessinsider.com.au/nuclear-bomb-accident-goldsboro-nc-swamp-2017-5?r=US&IR=T, DAVE MOSHER MAY 8, 2017,

May 8, 2017 Posted by | history, incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear worker made error – tried to cover it up

Nuclear plant worker ‘deliberately’ tried to hide error, officials say, NJ.com 3 May 17  LOWER ALLOWAYS CREEK TWP. —  A worker “deliberately” attempted to fix an error he had made while conducting tests at a New Jersey nuclear reactor causing the plant to shut down 2 years ago, federal officials say.

The now-former employee’s action prompted the Hope Creek generating station to automatically shut down on Sept. 28, 2015. The worker later lied about what he did, officials said Wednesday.

The unidentified PSEG Nuclear technician “made an error while performing a surveillance test and deliberately attempted to correct the error rather than comply with the procedural guidance to stop and inform management,” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in a letter outlining its findings in the case on Wednesday……

When it conducted its own investigation of the unplanned shutdown, PSEG Nuclear discovered it was human error, not mechanical failure that caused the plant to trip off line, officials said……

The plant was shut down for four days.

PSEG, as the operator of Hope Creek, takes responsibility for the actions of the worker and did not contest the NRC’s finding…

The plant is one of three nuclear reactors operated by PSEG at its Artificial Island generating complex in Lower Alloways Creek in Salem County.

Hope Creek, along with the other two reactors there — Salem 1 and Salem 2 –comprise the second-largest nuclear complex in the United States.

Bill Gallo Jr. may be reached at bgallo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow Bill Gallo Jr. on Twitter @bgallojr. Find NJ.com on Facebookhttp://www.nj.com/salem/index.ssf/2017/05/nuclear_plant_shut_down_after_worker_deliberately.html

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

Guilty plea: man made bomb threats against nuclear plant in Florida

Man guilty of bomb threats against nuclear plant in Florida | 19 April 2017 | A north Florida man has pleaded guilty to sending bomb threats to a nuclear power plant, a school and other government and private facilities. Acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow said in a news release that 25-year-old David Wayne Willmott Jr. pleaded guilty on Tuesday in federal court to three counts of making threats to use an explosive device. Federal prosecutors say Willmott emailed bomb threats in 2014 and 2015 to the nuclear plant as well as two courthouses, two airports and a sheriff’s office.

April 26, 2017 Posted by | incidents, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Shenzhen nuclear plant declares war on shrimp

Hong Kong-based watchdog reports six minor incidents at Guangdong power suppliers last year, including accumulation of 3mm shrimps around water pipe at Ling Ao station, South China Morning Post, Ernest Kaoernest.kao@scmp.com Wednesday, 19 April, 2017 Operators of a nuclear power plant in Shenzhen have surrounded water intake pipes with gill nets to prevent the accumulation of shrimp that caused a minor safety incident last year.

The Nuclear Safety Consultative Committee, a Hong Kong-based watchdog that monitors the plants in Daya Bay and Ling Ao, reported six “below scale”(Level 0) incidents at the power stations last year, three of which occurred in a single month……..http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/2088956/shenzhen-nuclear-plant-declares-war-shrimps

April 21, 2017 Posted by | China, incidents | Leave a comment

US: Nuclear waste mislabeled at Washington state site

Skagit Valley Herald, Apr 13, 2017 RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — A shipment of nuclear waste from a commercial power plant located on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state was improperly labeled when it was trucked to a commercial disposal site, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

As a result, Energy Northwest, the consortium that operates the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant, has been temporarily barred by state regulators from sending waste to the US Ecology disposal site located on leased Hanford land, the Tri-City Herald (http://bit.ly/2pyWwWi ) reported Thursday.

The Energy Northwest plant makes electricity and is located on the sprawling Hanford site, which is half the size of Rhode Island. Energy Northwest is separate from Hanford’s past mission of creating plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons, which ended in the 1980s. Plutonium production left Hanford with the nation’s largest collection of radioactive waste.

The incident occurred when a Nov. 9 shipment from the power plant to the disposal site turned out to be more radioactive than claimed on the shipping manifest, the newspaper said…….http://www.goskagit.com/news/state/us-nuclear-waste-mislabeled-at-washington-state-site/article_77794de4-a84d-5bcf-9acb-cadc1146f9b3.html

April 14, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Another incident at Pilgrim nuclear power plant, as workers cause flood at the base of the reactor

Careless workers cause flood at Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/04/operator_error_leads_to_flood.html By Mary Serreze | Special to The Republican on April 04, 2017   Operators at the 45-year-old Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station failed to follow standard procedures last week, causing water to flood into a reservoir at the base of the reactor, reports the Cape Cod Times.

Workers incorrectly opened and shut certain valves, causing water to flood from a massive storage tank to an area of the reactor known as the torus. The torus plays a role in depressurizing and cooling down the reactor in case of a serious accident.

“This was a breakdown in the process that shows lack of adherence to procedure,” according to a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He said there were no immediate safety concerns.

At noon on Friday, Pilgrim operators were flushing pipes in the reactor’s cooling system in preparation for an upcoming refueling. They opened a valve on the torus without first closing the valve on the water storage tank. Water being drained into the torus, setting off an alarm in the control room.

“This volume of water placed the torus level above the administrative limit for readiness should an unplanned event occur,” a spokesman for plant owner Entergy Corp. told the Cape Cod newspaper. “Station personnel appropriately responded to close the valves and processed and filtered the water from the torus back to the condensate storage tanks.”

Friday’s flood was the second recent serious incident involving operator error. On March 27, workers triggered the wrong switch, causing the temporary shutdown of a coolant injection system that is essential to cool the plant in a severe emergency.

Federal regulators in 2015 labeled Pilgrim as one of the three worst performers in the country and placed under increased oversight for safety violations and unplanned shutdowns.

Soon thereafter, Entergy announced it would close Pilgrim permanently in mid-2019 due to poor market conditions and increased operational costs. The closure will remove 680 megawatts of capacity from the New England power grid.

There have been a number of problems and violations at the aging nuclear power plant in recent years. Pilgrim has reportedly logged $40 million in annual losses.

April 7, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | 1 Comment

Water level rise causes shutdown in South Korea’s Kori No. 4 nuclear reactor

South Korea’s Kori No. 4 nuclear reactor shut due to water level rise, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-nuclear-idUSKBN16Y2N6 South Korea’s Kori No. 4 nuclear reactor was manually shut down after the water level in a collection tank rose due to a coolant leak, a spokesman at the reactor’s operator said on Tuesday.

“We estimate the water level of the reactor’s collection tank increased after coolant was leaked,” said Lim Dae-hyun, the spokesman at Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co Ltd (KHNP).

Lim added that there was no release of radioactivity and that the cause of the water level increase was being investigated.

The 950-megawatt Kori No. 4 reactor is near Busan, a city more than 300 km (190 miles) southeast of the capital, Seoul.

KHNP, fully owned by state-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO), runs the country’s 25 nuclear reactors, which supply about a third of South Korea’s electricity. (Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

March 29, 2017 Posted by | incidents, South Korea | Leave a comment

India’s nuclear watchdog shuts down Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant due to “smallpox-like spots”

BARC scientists probing how 2 nuclear reactors contracted ‘small pox’http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/barc-scientists-probing-how-2-nuclear-reactors-contracted-small-pox/article17532987.ece PRESS TRUST OF INDIA MARCH 20, 2017 Mumbai: In a plot similar to a Bollywood thriller’s, scientists are burning the midnight oil to discover the reason behind the mysterious nuclear leak at the Kakrapar Nuclear Power Plant in Gujarat.

This 21st century atomic potboiler is actually unfolding through the hard work of scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), whose laboratory actually shares a wall with the famous property where Raj Kapoor used to live. Here, they are working overtime to find out the real cause of the leaks at the twin reactors in southern Gujarat.

To avoid panic and further accidents, Indian nuclear watchdog Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has shut down the affected plants till the cause has been found. Nuclear experts say the pipes, made from a rare alloy, have contracted what seems like small pox, and this contagion has spread all over the critical tubes in two Indian Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) at the Kakrapar facility. To make matters worse, more than a year into the investigation, the teams of scientists can’t figure out what has gone wrong.

It was on the morning of March 11, 2016, and as fate would have it, exactly five years after the Fukushima reactors in Japan began exploding, Unit Number 1 of the 220-MW PHWR at Kakrapar developed a heavy water leak in its primary coolant channel and a plant emergency was declared at the site.

The indigenously built nuclear plant had to be shut down, but no worker was exposed and there were no radiation leaks, the Department of Atomic Energy confirmed. Operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) said the reactor had shut down safely, and confirmed that safety systems had functioned normally.

The atomic thriller really begins when experts were trying to find out why a leak recognition system failed, when it should have raised an alarm. “There is a leak detection system in place in all PHWRs, but in this case it failed to detect the leak on March 11, 2016,” confirms AERB Chairman SA Bhardwaj. The watchdog body suspects the crack developed so rapidly that the electronic leak detection system just did not have the time to react.

Subsequent investigations revealed that the leak detection system was fully functioning and the operator had not shut it down to cut costs. Nothing in the core of a nuclear reactor can be done in a jiffy, and several weeks after the first leak, the initial probe using a specially designed tool revealed four big cracks in a coolant tube had led to the massive leak.

The mystery unfolds

The discovery of the crack was only the beginning of the mystery. Further efforts to find the cause established that the outside of the tube, the part not exposed to high-temperature heavy water, was corroded due to unknown causes.

This was a stunning discovery, since the outside of the failed tube was exposed only to high-temperature carbon dioxide and there had been no recorded case of a similar corrosion on the outside of any tube. It is also very hard to access this part since the space is tiny in the annulus.

The AERB then ordered that all tubes made of a special zirconium-niobium alloy be checked on the outside. To their surprise, they discovered that the contagion of the nodular corrosion, ‘small pox-like’ in layman’s parlance, was widespread in many of the 306 tubes. Similar tubes from the same batch used at other Indian reactors continued to operate without corrosion.

The needle of suspicion now pointed to carbon dioxide, a gas known to be very stable in high-radiation environments. A further post mortem revealed that Unit-2, which is twin of the affected reactor, had also been affected by a similar leak on July 1, 2015. Investigations into Unit-2’s failure were made but no conclusive result had been found. This back-to-back failure of two fully functional nuclear reactors befuddled engineers.

BARC begins probe

Undaunted, AERB ordered that the entire assembly and not just the affected tube be safely pulled out and brought to BARC, India’s foremost nuclear laboratory, for detailed failure analysis.

In addition, since India operates another 16 similar nuclear plants, a full-fledged investigation was carried out on coolant channels at all atomic power plants. The investigating team found the ‘small pox-like’ corrosion was confined only to the two units at Kakrapar.

While NPCIL heaved a sigh of relief, the finding made it all the more difficult to discern the true cause of the leaks at Kakrapar. Mr. Bhardwaj says investigators are wondering if the carbon dioxide used in Kakrapar may have been contaminated, which caused the nodular corrosion.

The source of the carbon dioxide was traced backwards, and it seems only the Kakrapar plant was sourcing its gas from a Naptha cracking unit, where it was possibly contaminated by hydrocarbons.

March 20, 2017 Posted by | incidents, India | Leave a comment

59 years ago, a nuclear bomb was accidentally dropped on South Carolina

Nuclear core was unarmed, but 6,000 pounds of explosives detonated
WYFF News 4 Mar 13, 2017, Mars Bluff SC – 
This weekend was the 59th anniversary of an event many people don’t know happened in South Carolina. On March 11, 1958, a nuclear bomb was accidentally dropped on a small community near Florence.

A U.S. Air Force Boeing Stratojet that was flying out of Hunter Air Force Base took off at about 4:30 p.m. headed for the United Kingdom and then on to Africa. The aircraft was carrying nuclear weapons as a precaution in case war broke out with the Soviet Union.

The captain of the aircraft accidentally pulled an emergency release pin in response to a fault light in the cabin, and a Mark 4 nuclear bomb, weighing more than 7,000 pounds, dropped, forcing the bomb bay doors open. The bomb, which lacked an armed nuclear core, plunged 15,000 feet to the ground below…..http://www.wyff4.com/article/moose-on-the-loose-animal-races-to-catch-up-to-snowboarder/9131703

March 15, 2017 Posted by | history, incidents, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment