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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

A nuclear accident in South Korea could contaminate Western Japan, more eriously than South Korea

South Korean nuclear power plant accident would heavily taint western Japan: simulation http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/21/national/science-health/nuclear-accident-south-korean-plant-leave-western-japan-massively-contaminated-study/#.WSJ_W5KGPGg

KYODO  A nuclear accident at a power plant in South Korea could cause wider radiation contamination in western Japan than on its home soil, a study by a South Korean scientist has shown.

If a cooling system fails at the spent-fuel storage pools at the Kori power plant’s No. 3 reactor in Busan, massive amounts of cesium-137 would be released that could potentially reach western Japan, according to a simulation by Jungmin Kang of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a U.S. think tank.

In the worst-case scenario, up to 67,000 sq. km of Japanese soil would be contaminated and 28.3 million people would be forced to evacuate, the study said, though the fallout’s spread would depend on the season.

As for South Korea, an accident at the plant could taint more than half of the nation by contaminating up to 54,000 sq. km, it said.

A total of 818 tons of spent nuclear fuel were stored in pools at the site as of the end of 2015, Kang said. He said an accident could be triggered not only by natural disasters but by terrorism or a missile from North Korea.

May 22, 2017 Posted by | Japan, safety, South Korea | Leave a comment

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

Makeshift fix for breached Hanford radioactive waste tunnel

Temporary cover in place over breached Hanford radioactive waste tunnel, BY ANNETTE CARY, acary@tricityherald.com  21 May 17, Heavy plastic was pulled over the top of a Hanford waste storage tunnel on Saturday, helping keep the radioactive contents of the tunnel contained while a more permanent fix is planned.

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

Scathing criticism of Ontario’s proposed plan for nuclear plant emergencies

Ontario’s proposed plan for nuclear plant emergencies ripped, THE CANADIAN PRESS, MAY 18, 2017 TORONTO – Ontario’s proposed plan for how to respond in the unlikely event of a nuclear emergency falls short, environmental groups say. The province recently released an update to its emergency planning for potential large-scale accidents at the Pickering, Darlington, Bruce Power, Chalk River and FERMI 2 nuclear sites. It deals with co-ordinating responses and public communication, zones and evacuation procedures, preventing food and water contamination, and limiting exposure to radiation.

The environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Canadian Environmental Law Association, say the proposal isn’t based on a large enough incident, and needs to plan for an accident on the scale of the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

Given we’re seeing nuclear accidents at the international level about once a decade, we need to prepare for such events,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil with Greenpeace.

“These proposals do a disservice to Ontarians. They make no proposals to tangibly strengthen public safety and ignore key lessons from Fukushima. It’s unacceptable.”

Community Safety Minister Marie-France Lalonde said the plan “definitely” covers a Fukushima-scale accident………

Environmental advocates have for years been urging a wider distribution of those potassium iodide, or KI, pills. Radioactive iodine is released in the event of a nuclear accident, and the potassium iodide pills can help protect against thyroid cancer.

The pills are currently distributed to households and businesses within a 10-kilometre radius of the nuclear sites, but the environmentalists want that to be 50 kilometres. People outside the 10-kilometre radius can currently request the pills.

The groups also say the government has no comprehensive plan to address potential contamination of the Great Lakes, which are a source of drinking water for millions……..

The plan is posted for public comment until July 14 on the province’s regulatory and environmental registries. Lalonde said experts will be reviewing all the comments to decide what changes need to be made. http://www.torontosun.com/2017/05/18/ontarios-proposed-plan-for-nuclear-plant-emergencies-ripped

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Canada, safety | 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

Britain’s new nuclear danger: cyber security attacks

David Lowry’s Blog 15th May 2017 The cyber security attack on Friday has highlighted the vulnerability of UK national infrastructure to malicious cyber threats. So far it is the impact on the NHS that has hit the headlines.

But it could be far worse: what if it were our nuclear power plants that were disrupted? Next week- from 22 to 24 May – the Vienna –based World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) , headed by the former head of security at Sellafield, Dr Roger Howsley, is participating in the 2nd Annual Industrial Control Cyber Security Nuclear Summit, in Warrington, organised by Cyber Senate entitled with an important presentation entitled“Transformation, Preparedness and Developing Cyber Security Assurance”.

It is instructive to listen to the words of Russian cyber security expert, Eugene Kasperksy, founder and ceo of the Moscow-based Kasperksy Labs, warns governments engaged in cyber warfare that “everything you do – it’s a boomerang: it will get back to you.”

Four years ago he warned that Russian nuclear power plant infected by Stuxnet malware programme – widely believed to have been created by the US and Israel – had infected a Russian nuclear power plant.

Speaking at the Canberra Press Club 2013 in Australia’s capital city. Kasperksy recounted a story from “the Stuxnet time” when a friend of his working in an unnamed nuclear power plant reported that the plant’s computers were “badly infected by Stuxnet”. Kaspersky criticized government departments responsible for engineering cyber-attacks, The Stuxnet virus was first discovered in June 2010 and was found to specifically target industrial control systems manufactured by Siemens. The initial target of  the virus is widely thought to have been the centrifuges used in Iran’s uranium enrichment programme. Although the goal of the virus was extremely specific, its method of proliferation was indiscriminate and the code has since been found on computers across the world…… http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/cyber-threats-you-aint-seen-nothin-yet.html

May 17, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

30 years of warnings on Hanford nuclear site un-safety have been ignored

Thousands of workers were forced to shelter after a roof collapsed at a waste site created in the 1950s and mostly ignored since then, Center for Public Integrity, By Peter CaryPatrick Malone, May 13, 2017 
A series of warnings by state and federal experts, stretching back more than thirty years, preceded this week’s cave-in of a tunnel in Hanford, Washington, that holds lethally radioactive debris from the U.S. nuclear weapons program, according to government documents.

A report in 1980 for the Energy Department, which oversees safety and cleanup work at the site, said that wooden beams holding up the tunnel had lost a third of their strength by then. A contractor for the department pointed to the issue again in 1991, warning that by the year 2001, the beams would be further degraded.

A group of academic experts, working under contract to the department, said more alarmingly in a 1,969-page report in August 2015 that the roof of the tunnel in question had been seriously weakened and that a “partial or complete failure” could expose individuals even 380 feet away to dangerous levels of radiation.

No action was taken by the department in response, and earlier this month — the precise date remains uncertain because conditions at the site were not closely monitored — a portion of the roof collapsed at the tunnel, creating a 20-foot square hole. Afterward, the managers of the Hanford site were forced on May 9 to order 3,000 workers to shelter indoors. But instead of shoring up the beams inside the tunnel in question, they poured in 54 new truckloads of dirt.

The tunnel was one of two at the Energy Department’s Hanford reservation used as dumping grounds from 1960 to 2000 for radioactive machine parts, vessels, and other equipment. It was, in short, a tangible expression of the department’s policy of covering over some of its nuclear bomb-making detritus and effectively pretending it isn’t there.

The neglect followed a blunt warning 26 years ago from the State of Washington — cited in a 1991 Energy Department contractor’s report — that the tunnels were not a safe repository and that the wastes should be moved elsewhere.

Under an agreement overseen by a federal court in eastern Washington, the department was supposed to start crafting a way to deal with the tunnel’s lethal dangers by September 2015, but it missed the deadline and promised to do it later this year as part of an overall agreement with the state and the Environmental Protection Agency to push back completion of the site’s overall cleanup from 2024 to 2042. (Hanford remains the most toxic site in America and the government’s most costly environmental cleanup task.)…….

In the 1991 report, by Los Alamos Technical Associates, Inc., the authors made clear after conducting an internal inspection of the tunnel that the DOE knew the timbers holding up the roof had been substantially weakened as early as 1980. It predicted that by 2001, they would be at 60 percent of their original strength and recommended another evaluation in 2001. But records indicate that it never happened.

A Department of Ecology inspection in 2015 noted that because the tunnels were closed up, “no permanent emergency equipment, communications equipment, warning systems, personal protective equipment, or spill control and containment supplies” were located inside — deficiencies that could complicate emergency efforts in the case of a tunnel fire or other safety incident.

A Government Accountability Office estimate in 2016 placed the total cost of cleaning up the toxic legacy of the U.S. nuclear weapon program at more than $250 billion. https://www.publicintegrity.org/2017/05/12/20862/repeated-warnings-preceded-collapse-hanford-tunnel-storing-deadly-wastes

May 17, 2017 Posted by | Reference, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Inadequate radiation shielding for USA workers handling highly radioactive liquid waste from Canada

Hotspot on Unloading Equipment Reveals Failed Radiation Shielding, Beyond Nuclear 17 May 17  Savannah River Site (SRS), South Carolina— According to a U.S. federal agency document just released on Friday May 12, the first of 100-150 truckloads of highly radioactive liquid waste from Canada has been unloaded at the Savannah River Site, and the transfer container has not provided fully adequate radiological shielding to protect workers.

 A document published by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB), a U.S. federal agency, has confirmed that the first truck shipment of “Target Residue Material (TRM),” or “liquid Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU),” arrived from Chalk River Nuclear Lab, Ontario, Canada at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) HCanyon in SRS, the week ending April 21. (The document was not made publicly available until May 12, however).
The DNFSB document went on to report that “Each container of HEU is pulled from the shipping cask into a shielded “pig” that provides radiological shielding for HCanyon personnel. After loading a pig, radiological protection (RP) identified an unexpected hotspot on the side of the pig indicating that the pig was not providing adequate radiological shielding……..http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/356082/27563569/1494878369963/BN_LiquidWasteTrucks_May15_2017.pdf?token=tCwNLgrui2qfai7fy1HJLwaPtL8%3D

May 17, 2017 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Hanford’s unending nuclear woes

Hanford continues to have truckload of woes http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2017/may/12/hanford-continues-to-have-truckload-of-woes/If ever a place were cursed, it’s the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The last thing cleanup managers needed was a new project.

But the lifespan of rail car tunnels designed to temporarily store radioactive material is much shorter than the half-life of the waste itself, as witnessed by the 20-by-20-foot hole that was spotted above one of the caverns on Tuesday morning.

The two tunnels were built more than 50 years ago as a stopgap measure. Today, there is still no permanent solution as the cleanup drags on, with administration after administration claiming their commitment to safety as it pushes back deadlines.

The feds have spend $19 billion at Hanford, and the deadline for completion is 2060, or 115 years after the first plutonium for a nuclear explosion was produced. It’s a national embarrassment, with serious consequences for this region.

Workers are plugging the hole of the partially collapsed tunnel with a sand and soil mix. Fifty-four truckloads were dumped as of Wednesday night. No airborne radioactivity has been detected. The tunnel, constructed of wood and concrete, has stored eight rail cars filled with contaminated material since the 1960s, the Tri-City Herald reported. The other tunnel is larger, containing 28 rail cars filled with waste.

The fact that radioactive material is still being stored in such a way says everything about the failure of the federal government to come up with a permanent solution. A 2015 U.S. Department of Energy report said the tunnels were susceptible to earthquakes or deterioration, and the nearby Yakama Nation was warned, the Associated Press reported. The tribe says nothing was done.

Earlier reports also warned the tunnels would deteriorate due to time and radiation.

The state of Washington has filed a legal order outlining its expectations, including a plan for the safe storage of materials in those tunnels.

The tunnels aren’t even the worst of it. A total of 177 tanks with 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge are buried beneath Hanford and close to the Columbia River. At least 67 tanks have leaks. If the Columbia River were to be contaminated, it would be catastrophic for the entire Northwest.

The long-term plan has been to convert the waste into glass logs by a process known as vitrification. The logs would be put into permanent storage deep beneath Yucca Mountain in Nevada. But the planned $17 billion vitrification plant has been plagued by design and safety concerns. Politics has stymied the Yucca repository. Former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who served as Senate majority leader, blocked it.

In yet another twist, a recent Government Accountability Office report advises abandoning vitrification and encasing the waste in a cement-like mixture. It’s always something.

President Donald Trump’s initial budget increased U.S. Energy Department spending on cleanups, from $6.1 billion to $6.5 billion. New Secretary of Energy Rick Perry has much to learn about Hanford, and he will be counted on to follow up on the tunnel breach.

But it takes a truckload of faith to believe the curse will be lifted.

May 13, 2017 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

USA intelligence’s “Worldwide Threat Assessment” report warns Trump on global warming

Intelligence community to Trump: When it comes to global warming, you’re wrong, Mashable, BY ANDREW FREEDMAN, 12 May 17  Each year the intelligence community puts together a “Worldwide Threat Assessment” report, and it inevitably scares the hell out of Congress and the public by detailing all the dangers facing the U.S. (Hint: there are a lot of them.)

 This year’s report, published Thursday and discussed at a congressional hearing, makes for particularly disquieting reading.

While it focuses on the increasing danger that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program poses as well as cyberterrorism threats, one environmental concern stands out on the list: climate change.   According to the new report, delivered to the Senate Intelligence Committee by Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence (DNI), warns that climate change is raising the likelihood of instability and conflict around the world.

This is surprising given the Trump administration’s open hostility to climate science findings.

“The trend toward a warming climate is forecast to continue in 2017,” the report states, noting that 2016 was the hottest year on record worldwide. Climate scientists have firmly tied this to human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases, though the report does not make that link.

“This warming is projected to fuel more intense and frequent extreme weather events that will be distributed unequally in time and geography. Countries with large populations in coastal areas are particularly vulnerable to tropical weather events and storm surges, especially in Asia and Africa,” the report states………..http://mashable.com/2017/05/11/trump-intel-report-cites-climate-change-risks/#iCN3X703iiqw

May 13, 2017 Posted by | climate change, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Point Lepreau Nuclear Power Station – there’s no way to make nuclear safe!

How ‘Worst-Case Scenario’ At New Brunswick Nuclear Plant Could Affect Down East Maine, Maine Public, 12 May  Point Lepreau is a nuclear power plant just across the border in St. John. Next month its operating license expires, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is considering whether to renew it for another five years. While that’s not a long amount of time for a 30-year-old plant, there are passionate arguments for and against its operation and implications for an entire region.

This is the second of two parts. To read Part 1, a tour of Point Lepreau, click here.

Back in the 1950s, an U.S. Atomic Energy Commission film, “The Magic of the Atom,” was meant to ease the anxiety people might feel about living and working near a nuclear power plant.

“Today, if you were to take a trip in almost any direction across our great country, you might suddenly come upon a sign like this: Atomic City,” the film’s narrator says.

But after the 1979 disaster at Three Mile Island, nuclear plants developed a more sinister reputation, and ever since, facilities like Point Lepreau have been battling that legacy………

there are some who are speaking out against the facility’s license renewal.

“The health risks are too great. There is no way to make nuclear safe,” says Willi Nolan of Kent County, New Brunswick.

Nolan says she has made it her business to follow up on past major nuclear accidents, and she says the potential devastation to the environment is a deal breaker.

“I just spent some time with four survivors of Fukushima and I’m told, you know, after the worst-case scenario happened there, that there are now people dropping on the streets, 30 years old, 40 years old. We’re still not finished with Chernobyl. There are still human health effects, cancers, childhood conditions,” she says.

When it comes to a nuclear plant meltdown, there are two basic zones of concern: the critical emergency zone that extends for a 10-mile radius, and then what’s known as the ingestion pathway. That spans a 50-mile radius and, in the case of Lepreau, would include towns like Eastport, Calais, Lubec, and East Machias.

But how much do emergency responders in those towns know about nuclear events?

“Very little,” says Mike Hinerman, who runs Washington County’s Emergency Management Agency…….

the biggest problem, experts say, would come in the weeks, months and years after the event, because anything grown in or harvested from that 50-mile ingestion pathway could be tainted — for decades.

“What do you do with apples? What do you do with fish? What do you do with clams?” says Robert Gardiner, MEMA’s technological hazards manager……..a major Lepreau event would devastate the county’s economy, affecting everything from shipping at Eastport to aquaculture, forest products, fishing, tipping, hunting and tourism, and of course the region’s wild blueberries……..

While critics insist that the disaster risk doesn’t justify thee benefits, it’s the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission that will have the final decision.http://mainepublic.org/post/how-worst-case-scenario-new-brunswick-nuclear-plant-could-affect-down-east-maine#stream/0

May 13, 2017 Posted by | Canada, safety | Leave a comment

The unsafe storage of America’s nuclear weapons waste

Nuclear Waste From the Cold War Is Being Stored in Unsafe Conditions. Time to Fix the Problem is Running Out, TIME, Nicholas K. Geranios and Manuel Valdes / AP, May 11, 2017 (RICHLAND, Wash.) — The collapse of a tunnel containing radioactive waste at the Hanford nuclear weapons complex underscored what critics have long been saying: The toxic remnants of the Cold War are being stored in haphazard and unsafe conditions, and time is running out to deal with the problem.

“Unfortunately, the crisis at Hanford is far from an isolated incident,” said Kevin Kamps of the anti-nuclear group Beyond Nuclear.

 For instance, at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, which opened in the 1950s and produced plutonium and tritium, the government is laboring to clean up groundwater contamination along with 40 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste stored in tanks that are decades past their projected lifespan. The job is likely to take decades.

In addition to the tunnel collapse discovered Tuesday, dozens of underground storage tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state — some dating to World War II — are leaking highly radioactive materials.

The problem is that the U.S. government rushed to build nuclear weapons during the Cold War with little thought given to how to permanently dispose of the resulting waste.

Safely removing it now is proving enormously expensive, slow-going, extraordinarily dangerous and so complex that much of the technology required simply does not exist. The cleanup has also been plagued with political and technical setbacks.

For example, the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository, in New Mexico, closed to new shipments in 2014 after an improperly packed drum of waste ruptured. The site just recently reopened.

The U.S. Department of Energy spends about $6 billion a year on managing waste left from the production of nuclear weapons. “The temporary solutions DOE has used for decades to contain radioactive waste at Hanford have limited lifespans,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and frequent Hanford critic. “The longer it takes to clean up Hanford, the higher the risk will be to workers, the public and the environment.”

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry acknowledged the problem with nuclear waste, saying the nation can no longer delay fixing the problem because lives are at stake.

During a tour Wednesday of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Perry said the federal government has failed to remove the waste in a timely manner and he pledged to make progress.

A recently approved bipartisan federal budget deal for this fiscal year includes $2.3 billion for the ongoing Hanford cleanup, which matches the amount that Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, worked to include last year. President Donald Trump is expected to release his 2018 proposal later this month.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the state plans to issue an order making sure the federal government determines the cause of the tunnel collapse. The order will also require the Energy Department to assess if there’s an immediate risk of failures in any other tunnels and take actions to safely store waste in the tunnels until a decision is made about how to permanently handle the material.

Thousands of workers at Hanford were told to stay home as efforts began to plug the 400-square-foot (37-square-meter) sinkhole in the earth over the unoccupied storage tunnel…….http://time.com/4775268/tunnel-collapse-nuclear-waste-hanford/

May 12, 2017 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | 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

Background to the collapse of the Hanford nuclear waste rail tunnel

Nuclear Waste From the Cold War Is Being Stored in Unsafe Conditions. Time to Fix the Problem is Running Out, TIME, Nicholas K. Geranios and Manuel Valdes / AP, May 11, 2017 (RICHLAND, Wash.) “………Officials said they detected no release of radiation and no one was injured in the collapse, though thousands of workers were forced to take shelter for several hours as a precaution. The cause of the collapse was not immediately known.

A gravel road was built to the collapse site, and workers wearing protective suits and breathing masks planned to fill the hole with 50 truckloads of dirt, the Energy Department said.

The rail tunnel was built in 1956 out of timber, concrete and steel, topped by 8 feet of dirt. It was 360 feet long (110 meters). Radioactive materials were brought into the tunnel by railcars. The tunnel was sealed in 1965 with eight loaded flatbed cars inside.

Gerry Pollet, a Washington state legislator and longtime Hanford critic, said the collapse of a waste storage tunnel at Hanford had been feared for years.

“This disaster was predicted and shows the federal Energy Department’s utter recklessness in seeking decades of delay for Hanford cleanup,” he said.

He noted the Energy Department last year received permission to delay removing waste from the tunnels until 2042. The waste was supposed to be gone by 2024, Pollet said.

The radiation levels of the waste in the tunnel that collapsed would be lethal within an hour, Pollet said.

Hanford, a 500-square-mile expanse in remote interior Washington about 200 miles from Seattle, was created during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb.

Hanford made most of the plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons, including the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, during the war. It now contains the nation’s greatest volume of radioactive waste left over from the production of weapons plutonium.

The cleanup there has cost $19 billion to date and is not expected to be finished until 2060, at an additional cost of $100 billion.

The most dangerous waste at Hanford is 56 million gallons stored in 177 underground tanks, some of which have leaked.

Plans to embed the toxic stew in glass logs for burial have floundered. Construction of a $17 billion glassification factory has stopped because of design and safety issues.

The plan is to bury the glass logs at a nuclear waste dump carved inside Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, a project that has been on the drawing board for three decades but has run into resistance from Nevada politicians, including former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.

President Donald Trump has proposed $120 million to restart the licensing process for the dump.

Associated Press writers Susan Montoya Bryan in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this story. http://time.com/4775268/tunnel-collapse-nuclear-waste-hanford/

May 12, 2017 Posted by | safety, wastes | 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