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Nuclear submarine accidents contaminating Russia’s Far East

In 1985, A Nuclear Submarine Explosion Contaminated Russia’s Far East,

Kyle Mizokami, The National Interest•June 5, 2020  
Here’s What You Need To Remember: The explosion blew out the reactor’s twelve-ton lid—and fuel rods—and ruptured the pressure hull. The reactor core was destroyed, and eight officers and two enlisted men standing nearby were killed instantly. A the blast threw debris was thrown into the air, and a plume of fallout 650 meters wide by 3.5 kilometers long traveled downwind on the Dunay Peninsula. More debris and the isotope Cobalt-60 was thrown overboard and onto the nearby docks.

In 1985, a Soviet submarine undergoing a delicate refueling procedure experienced a freak accident that killed ten naval personnel. The fuel involved was not diesel, but nuclear, and the resulting environmental disaster contaminated the area with dangerous, lasting radiation. The incident, which remained secret until after the demise of the USSR itself, was one of many nuclear accidents the Soviet Navy experienced during the Cold War……

The explosion blew out the reactor’s twelve-ton lid—and fuel rods—and ruptured the pressure hull. The reactor core was destroyed, and eight officers and two enlisted men standing nearby were killed instantly. A the blast threw debris was thrown into the air, and a plume of fallout 650 meters wide by 3.5 kilometers long traveled downwind on the Dunay Peninsula. More debris and the isotope Cobalt-60 was thrown overboard and onto the nearby docks.

According to Nuclear Risks, the accident scene was heavily contaminated with radioactivity. Gamma ray radiation was not particularly bad; at an exposure rate of five millisieverts per hour, it was the equivalent of getting a chest CT scan every hour. However, the explosion also released 259 petabecquerels of radioactive particles, including twenty-nine gigabecquerels of iodine-131, a known cause of cancer. This bode very badly for the emergency cleanup crews, especially firefighters who needed to get close to the explosion site, and the nearby village of Shkotovo-22. Forty-nine members of the cleanup crew displayed symptoms of radiation sickness, ten of them displaying acute symptoms…….

While the Chazhma Bay region appears contaminated to this day with radiation, it is unknown how much of it is the result of the K-431 incident and how much the result of the many nuclear-powered submarines that were junked and forgotten in the area.

The K-431 incident was one of several involving Soviet submarine reactors. Ten Soviet submarines experienced nuclear accidents, and one other, K-11, also suffered a refueling criticality……….

June 6, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

Federal report: 2019 Seattle radiation leak could have been disastrous, was a ‘near miss’

May 26, 2020 Posted by | incidents, USA | 1 Comment

Finland’s new nuclear reactor hit by valve leak

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Finland, incidents | Leave a comment

The leaning tower of Vogtle nuclear reactor: yes it’s literally sinking,-and also further into debt

Georgia Nuclear: Vogtle Unit 3 Is Sinking! [BREDL Petition]  18 May 2020, You can find the Fairewinds Associates expert report and BREDL’s legal filing here and under the reports section of this Fairewinds site. You also may read BREDL’s legal filing and the other documents filed on BREDL’s home site, where you will also see the breadth and depth of the environmental work conducted by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and its associated chapters in many states. What Does the Leaning Tower of Pisa Have In Common with the Vogtle Nuclear Reactor?

By The Fairewinds Crew

The famous tower in Pisa, Italy was designed to stand straight up, and like Vogtle, it began to lean during construction. During the ensuing years after construction, the Pisa tower continued to sink into the ground due to the inability of the failing foundation to sustain the tower’s heavy weight. It became known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Similarly, the Vogtle Unit 3 nuclear power plant was designed to be straight on its firm ‘basemat foundation’, which is designed with extra rebar and mathematical calculations to assure that the foundation can support an atomic reactor as heavy as the unique design of the AP1000 with 8-million-pounds of emergency cooling water sitting on top of the containment.

Last month, Vogtle’s  owner, Sothern Nuclear Operating Company (SNC), tried to amend its operating license with information that had been kept secret from the public. When that now leaning wall was first built five years ago, SNC established a program to monitor the lack of stability in the foundation.

Honestly, truth is stranger than fiction – you can’t make this stuff up!  Now we learn that the  Vogtle Unit 3 atomic power reactor is sinking into the red Georgia clay causing an inner wall to tilt!  Yes, this is the same Vogtle Unit 3 that is already billions of dollars over budget and at least 5-years behind schedule.

On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League [BREDL] announced that part of the Vogtle Unit 3 nuclear power plant currently under construction in Waynesboro, Georgia, is sinking. According to BREDL’s press release, “In a legal action filed Monday with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the group called on regulators to revoke the plant’s license for false statements made by its owners, Southern Nuclear Operating Company. On May 11, BREDL filed a nineteen-page legal petition requesting a hearing before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board on a License Amendment for Plant Vogtle’s Unit 3. The petition is supported by detailed, specific expert opinion.  Under rules of procedure, Southern Company has 25 days to respond.”

Fairewinds Associates, Inc Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen wrote an expert witness report submitted by BREDL to the NRC in which he said that Southern Nuclear Operating Company (SNC) chose not to disclose that the Vogtle Unit 3 foundation was sinking faster in the middle than at the edges, in the shape of a dish, causing internal walls to lean.   From our point of view, leaning walls may have created a tourist destination for the Tower in Pisa, however, a leaning tower and failing foundation at a nuke plant is a meltdown waiting to happen.

BREDL has informed the NRC that there must be an entire reevaluation of the seismic/structural integrity of the entire nuclear plant. This means that a completely new licensing review and full analysis of all new stress conditions placed on other components that are no longer level needs to be conducted and receive an independent engineering review as well, since SCE has not publicized this fact to the people of Georgia.  

Vogtle Units 3 & 4 are notoriously over budget, and their construction has been delayed for years. Now with the Covid-19 Pandemic, and these newly uncovered flaws, the construction will slow further as a complete safety review must be conducted to ascertain whether the ‘basemat foundation’ meets the foundation integrity demanded for a nuclear island (NI).  The Vogtle Unit 3 nuclear island underlies the strange heavy design of the AP1000 with its donut-shaped 8-million-pound water tank at the apex of the entire containment system that is meant to protect us from a meltdown.

Let’s look more closely at the history of Vogtle and the so-called nuclear renaissance that never happened. Complicit in this financial boondoggle is the Georgia Public Service Commission (GPSC) whose members have greenlighted all these cost overruns in return for campaign contributions from the nuclear industry. That’s why we wrote The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia. At Vogtle, all the extensive cost overruns have been shifted to Georgia taxpayers and ratepayers, and originally these plants were built with federal loan guarantees – that is our money folks, and a story for another time in the Vogtle saga.

During the past decade Fairewinds joined with other nuclear risk and environmental advocacy groups to raise awareness about the numerous safety flaws and operational issues associated with the AP1000 reactor design. You can read more about those problems and issues here.

In its legal brief, based on this Fairewinds Associates report,  BREDL asked for a formal investigation of the Southern Nuclear Operating Company for making “materially false statements” to the NRC by claiming that the leaning walls were caused by construction tolerance measurements when the real reason the walls have moved is that the ‘basemat  foundation’ of the Vogtle nuclear island (NI) is sinking.

You can find the Fairewinds Associates expert report and BREDL’s legal filing here and under the reports section of this Fairewinds site. You also may read BREDL’s legal filing and the other documents filed on BREDL’s home site, where you will also see the breadth and depth of the environmental work conducted by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and its associated chapters in many states.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Radiation leak at nuclear research reactor

Germany: Radiation leak detected at research reactor, DW, 17 May 20, 

A research reactor near Munich has emitted excess C-14 radiation, says the Bavarian city’s technical university. The “slight” leak late March had shown up Thursday when monthly readings were collated.

Munich’s technical university (TUM) said Saturday a neutron reactor located at Garchingjust north of the metropole was found to have leaked nuclides into the atmosphere “slightly” above the level permitted annually in its license.

Neither human beings nor the surrounding environment had been endangered, said the TUM and Bavaria’s environmental ministry — responsible for oversight.

Monthly figures collated on Thursday had shown an excess in C-14 particles 15% above the permitted yearly level, with the potential to cause “theoretically” a load for the public of 3 Mikrosieverts at the maximum…….

The facility was put on hold on March 17 because of the current pandemic, leaving many scientists unable to glean results for industry and medicine, said Görg.

The FRMII reactor, inaugurated in 2005, remains controversial among organizations like Germany’s branch of Friends of the Earth (BUND) and opposition Greens in Bavaria’s state assembly…….

May 17, 2020 Posted by | Germany, incidents | Leave a comment

South Carolina nuclear fuel plant treatment pool leaking, polluting groundwater?

Radioactive muck found in pond; liner may be leaking at SC nuclear fuel plant, The State BY SAMMY FRETWELL, MAY 13, 2020  Nearly 40 years ago, the operators of a nuclear fuel plant near Columbia installed a liner in a treatment lagoon, hoping to trap radioactive and chemical waste before it could trickle into groundwater beneath the pond.

Now, the lagoon liner is wearing out. And that’s a concern.

Recent research suggests radioactive pollution has seeped through the synthetic barrier that was supposed to protect soil and groundwater in the Congaree River flood plain. Soil below the liner is suspected of being polluted with waste from the east lagoon, according to a new report for the plant’s operator, Westinghouse Nuclear.

’“It is expected that some contamination will exist in the soil underlying the east lagoon liner, given the long operating history of the lagoon and the potential for a liner system leak,’’ the May 8 report for Westinghouse says.

If the soil below the lagoon is polluted, as Westinghouse suspects, it could indicate that groundwater flowing away from the property and toward the Congaree River has been contaminated.

No one knows the extent of the contamination yet, but Westinghouse has a plan to dig radioactive sludge from the lagoon and haul it across the country for disposal in the Idaho desert.

Once the company has removed the mucky sludge and the lagoon’s 1980s era liner, it plans to test the soil below the waste pond to see how much contamination may be in the earth.

The new Westinghouse consulting report, released by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, says sludge in the east lagoon at Westinghouse is contaminated with low enriched uranium and technetium-99, nuclear materials generated as part of production of fuel rods at the 51-year-old factory.

Exposure to sufficient amounts of uranium can cause kidney damage in adults and children. Technetium 99, which concentrates in the thyroid and gastrointestinal tract, can increase a person’s chances of cancer if exposed to certain amounts………

For now, Westinghouse is moving forward with cleanup efforts. Although the company doesn’t plan to clean up some pollution until it closes the plant in future decades, Westinghouse has agreed to get rid of other contamination sooner. …….

The tainted material that would be shipped to Idaho, likely next year, includes 45,000 cubic feet of sludge, soil and debris from the east lagoon, a 160-foot long pond behind the plant on Bluff Road.

Radioactive pond sludge would be hauled away on railroad cars to a U.S. Ecology site in the Owyhee Desert near Grand View, Idaho, according to plans filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Contaminated cylinders and a polluted sludge pile also will be carted away from the site for disposal…….

May 14, 2020 Posted by | environment, incidents, USA | Leave a comment

The search for the 4th hydrogen bomb dropped over Palomares, Spain

May 11, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Spain | Leave a comment

Ukraine Continues Fighting Fires Near Defunct Chernobyl Nuclear Plant

Ukraine Continues Fighting Fires Near Defunct Chernobyl Nuclear Plant, Radio Free Europe, 27 Apr 20 KYIV — Firefighters in Ukraine continue to battle a series of fires near the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant nearly a month after they broke out.

The State Service for Emergency Situations said on April 27 that brigades were still working to extinguish fires in the Lubyanskiy, Paryshivskiy, Dytyatkivskiy, and Denysovytskiy forest districts in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

“The main efforts are focused on the localization of two fire sites, smoldering stumps, wood segments, and peat-boggy soil,” the service said, adding that radiation in the area does not exceed permissible levels.

The fires began on April 3 in the western part of the uninhabited exclusion zone before spreading to nearby forests.

Ukrainian officials have said they have extinguished the fires several times, but new fires continue appearing in the area……

April 28, 2020 Posted by | climate change, incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Coronavirus cases at Hanford nuclear waste site and at Nuclear Fuel Services

April 16, 2020 Posted by | health, incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Ukrainian authorities declare wildfires near Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Wildfires near Chernobyl under control, Ukrainian authorities say,  April 14, 2020 The fires reportedly came within two kilometers of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

April 14, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Abandoned Chernobyl nuclear plant is threatened by approaching wildfires

Blaze rages near Chernobyl, endangering abandoned nuclear plant

“A fire approaching a nuclear or hazardous radiation facility is always a risk”   By Margaryta Chornokondratenko and Alexander Marrow | Reuters

KIEV – A huge forest fire in Ukraine that has been raging for more than a week is now just one kilometer from the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant and poses a radiation risk, Greenpeace Russia warned on Monday, citing satellite images.

Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Service said it was still fighting the fires, but that the situation was under control.

Video footage shot by Reuters on Sunday showed plumes of black smoke billowing into the sky and trees still

ablaze, with firefighters in helicopters trying to put out the fires.

Aerial images of the 19 mile exclusion zone around the plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986, showed scorched, blackened earth and the charred stumps of still smoldering trees.

The Emergency Situations Service said radiation levels in the exclusion zone had not changed and those in nearby Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, “did not exceed natural background levels.”

Greenpeace Russia said the situation is much worse than Ukrainian authorities believe, and that the fires cover an area one thousand times bigger than they claim.

On April 4 Ukrainian authorities said the blaze covered an area of 20 hectares, but Greenpeace cited satellite images showing it was around 12,000 hectares in size at that time.

“According to satellite images taken on Monday, the area of the largest fire has reached 34,400 hectares,” it said, adding that a second fire, stretching across 12,600 hectares, was just one kilometer away from the defunct plant.

Ukrainian officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on those claims.

Rashid Alimov, head of energy projects at Greenpeace Russia, said the fires, fanned by the wind, could disperse radionuclides, atoms that emit radiation.

“A fire approaching a nuclear or hazardous radiation facility is always a risk,” Alimov said. “In this case we’re hoping for rain tomorrow.”

Chernobyl tour operator Yaroslav Yemelianenko, writing on Facebook, described the situation as critical.

He said the fire was rapidly expanding and had reached the abandoned city of Pripyat, two kilometers from where “the most highly active radiation waste of the whole Chernobyl zone is located.” He called on officials to warn people of the danger.

Satellite images taken by NASA Worldview and seen by Reuters showed the two fires had extended far into the exclusion zone.

The fires, which follow unusually dry weather, began on April 3 in the western part of the exclusion zone and spread to nearby forests. Police say they have identified a 27-year old local resident who they accuse of deliberately starting the blaze.

It remains unclear if the person, who has reportedly confessed to starting a number of fires “for fun,” is partly or fully responsible.


April 14, 2020 Posted by | incidents | Leave a comment

Chernobyl wildfires now ‘close’ to exploded nuclear reactor

Raging forest infernos in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone burning for eight days are now ‘close’ to exploded nuclear reactor amid new fears of radiation contamination

  • Wildfires burning through Chernobyl forests are nearing the nuclear reactor
  • There are fears that flames could reach radioactive trucks and vehicles abandoned after the notorious 1986 power station explosion
  • Kiev has deployed more than 300 people and 85 pieces of equipment   By JACK WRIGHT FOR MAILONLINE, 13 April 2020

April 13, 2020 Posted by | climate change, incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Radioactive cloud headed to Kiev, as fires rage in Chernobyl region

April 11, 2020 Posted by | climate change, incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Ukrainian firefighters continue to struggle with Chernobyl are fires, amid radiation fears

April 11, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Finally, they might investigate America’s most fatal nuclear submarine disaster

CTY Pisces – Photos of a Japanese midget submarine that was sunk off Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack. There’s a hole at the base of the conning tower where an artillery shell penetrated the hull, sinking the sub and killing the crew. Photos courtesy of Terry Kerby, Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory. August 2003.

Fifty-Seven Years Later: America’s Worst Nuclear Submarine Disaster, By Robert Eatinger,  Friday, April 10, 2020, Fifty-seven years ago today, America suffered its first, and in terms of fatalities its worst, loss of a nuclear-powered submarine. Yet, much of the information about that disaster and the Navy’s subsequent investigation has remained outside of public view. That may change this year.
On April 10, 1963, the nuclear-powered fast attack submarine USS Thresher (SSN 593), the first of a new class of submarine, was lost at sea when it sank while conducting a deep dive test some 220 miles east of Cape Cod. All 129 crew members and civilians on the Thresher perished with her. Later that day, the commander in chief of the United States Atlantic Fleet ordered a court of inquiry to investigate Thresher’s sinking. The court of inquiry issued its report in June 1963 but was unable to determine what caused Thresher to sink. The court of inquiry did opine, however, that a flooding casualty in the Thresher’s engine room was the most probable cause of Thresher’s sinking. The court of inquiry encouraged further study.
Over a half-century later, very little of the record of the court of inquiry has been publicly released even though the Navy undertook a declassification review of the records in April 1998 with a stated purpose to declassify and release information from these records to the public “whenever possible.” That review came to naught when in February 2012, after up to 75 percent of the records had been declassified, the Navy changed course, deciding it would not make a public release of the records. Instead, the Navy said the records were “available for public release through” a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Last year, retired Navy Captain James Bryant, who had commanded a Thresher-class submarine in the 1980s, learned that Arlington National Cemetery planned a September 2019 dedication ceremony for a memorial to the 129 lives lost with the Thresher. As a result, Bryant, who now investigates, lectures and writes about the loss of the Thresher and the accuracy of the investigating court of inquiry, submitted a FOIA request in April 2019 to the Navy for records about the loss of the Thresher, specifically including the record of the court of inquiry. He requested expedited processing, hoping the Navy might release the records before the Thresher memorial’s dedication ceremony. In July 2019, after exhausting his administrative appeals, Bryant filed a FOIA lawsuit.

In February this year, Judge Trevor N. McFadden of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the Navy to review 300 pages of documents a month starting April 30 and by the end of every month thereafter, and to begin rolling productions of documents starting on or before May 15 and every month thereafter.

Therefore, during this 57th anniversary year of the Thresher’s sinking, the American public, including the families of the 129 men who lost their lives, may finally begin to see the Navy’s documents on the loss of the Thresher and the record of the court of inquiry that investigated that loss. How much of the information in these documents the Navy will choose to release is a separate matter. The Navy may continue to keep as much information as possible from the public as allowed by law, may use its discretionary authority to release as much information as possible to the public, or may take an approach somewhere in between. What one can say with some degree of confidence, however, is that some amount of these records will be released in full or with redactions before the 58th anniversary of the loss of the USS Thresher.

April 11, 2020 Posted by | incidents, Legal, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment