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Plan to keep Three Mile Island nuclear debris dumped in Idaho 

Agency considering storing Three Mile Island nuclear debris in Idaho, AP NEWS SEPTEMBER 18, 2019  BOISE, Idaho (AP— Federal authorities want to store the partially melted core from one of the United States’ worst nuclear power accidents for another 20 years in Idaho.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday it’s considering a request from the U.S. Department of Energy to renew a license to store the radioactive debris from the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant.

The core of a reactor south of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, partially melted in 1979. The commission says continuing to store the debris at the Energy Department’s 890-square-mile site in eastern Idaho that includes the Idaho National Laboratory will have no significant impact.

The license would be good through 2039, four years past an agreement the Energy Department has with Idaho to remove the high-level radio


September 19, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Russia’s nuclear torpedoes at the bottom of the sea

A Dead Russian Submarine Armed with Nuclear Torpedoes was Never Recovered, National Interest, Robert Farley, September 15, 2019

Key point: She rests at a depth of 15,000 feet —too deep to make recovery practical. 

The Bay of Biscay is one of the world’s great submarine graveyards. In late World War II, British and American aircraft sank nearly seventy German U-boats in the Bay, which joined a handful of Allied and German subs sunk in the region during World War I. On April 12, 1970, a Soviet submarine found the same resting place. Unlike the others, however, K-8 was propelled by two nuclear reactors, and carried four torpedoes tipped by nuclear warheads.

The Novembers (627):

The November (Type 627) class was the Soviet Union’s first effort at developing nuclear attack submarines…….
 The Novembers were too loud to plausibly find their way into close enough proximity to a NATO port to ever actually fire a nuclear torpedo in wartime conditions…….
On April 8, K-8 suffered two fires, resulting in a shutdown of both nuclear reactors. The boat surfaced, and Captain Vsevolod Borisovich Bessonov ordered the crew to abandon ship. Eight crew members, trapped in compartments that were either flooded or burned out, died in the initial incident. Fortunately, a Soviet repair vessel arrived, and took K-8 under tow. However, bad weather made the recover operation a difficult prospect. Much of K-8’s crew reboarded the submarine, and for three days fought a life-and-death struggle to save the boat. Although details remain scarce, there apparently was no opportunity to safely remove the four nuclear torpedoes from K-8, and transfer them to the repair ship.
Unfortunately, the loss of power onboard and the difficult weather conditions were too much for the crew to overcome. On April 12, K-8 sank with some forty crew members aboard, coming to rest at a rough depth of 15,000 feet. The depth made any effort at recovering the submarine, and the nuclear torpedoes, impractical……
The loss of K-8 (along with the several accidents that afflicted her sisters) undoubtedly helped the Soviet Navy learn important lessons about distant operations, if only at extraordinary costs in human lives. And her nuclear torpedoes remain at the bottom, an enduring monument to most dangerous missions of the Cold War.

September 16, 2019 Posted by | oceans, Russia, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How to warn distant future generations about nuclear waste?

How do you leave a warning that lasts as long as nuclear waste? Phys Org, by Helen Gordon, 13 Sep 19  “……. First, it is difficult to predict how future generations will behave, what they will value and where they will want to go. Second, creating, maintaining and transmitting records of where waste is dumped will be essential in helping future generations protect themselves from the decisions we make today. Decisions that include how to dispose of some of today’s most hazardous material: high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants.

The red metal lift takes seven juddering minutes to travel nearly 500 metres down. Down, down through creamy limestone to reach a 160-million-year-old layer of clay. Here, deep beneath the sleepy fields and quiet woods along the border of the Meuse and Haute-Marne departments in north-east France, the French National Radioactive Waste Management Agency (Andra) has built its underground research laboratory.

The laboratory’s tunnels are brightly lit but mostly deserted, the air dry and dusty and filled with the hum of a ventilation unit. Blue and grey metal boxes house a series of ongoing experiments—measuring, for example, the corrosion rates of steel, the durability of concrete in contact with the clay. Using this information, Andra wants to build an immense network of tunnels here.

It plans to call this place Cigéo, and to fill it with dangerous radioactive waste. It is designed to be able to hold 80,000 cubic meters of waste……

High-level radioactive waste is primarily, spent fuel from nuclear reactors or the residues resulting from reprocessing that fuel. This waste is so potent that it must be isolated from humans until its levels of radiation, which decrease over time, are no longer hazardous. The timescale Andra is looking at is up to one million years……. Some scientists call this long-lived waste “the Achilles heel of nuclear power,” and it’s a problem for all of us—whatever our stance on nuclear. Even if all the world’s nuclear plants were to cease operating tomorrow, we would still have more than 240,000 tonnes of dangerously radioactive material to deal with.

Currently, nuclear waste is stored above ground or near the surface, but within the industry this is not considered an acceptable long-term solution. This kind of storage facility requires active monitoring. As well as regular refurbishment it must be protected from all kinds of hazards, including earthquakes, fires, floods and deliberate attacks by terrorists or enemy powers.

This not only places an unfair financial burden on our descendants, who may no longer even use nuclear power, but also assumes that in the future there will always be people with the knowledge and will to monitor the waste. On a million-year timescale this cannot be guaranteed.

So, after considering a range of options, governments and the nuclear industry have come to the view that deep, geological repositories are the best long-term approach. Building one of these is an enormous task that comes with host of complex safety concerns.

Finland has already begun construction of a geological repository (called Onkalo), and Sweden has begun the licensing process for its site. Andra expects to apply for its construction license within the next two years.

If Cigéo goes into operation it will house both the high-level waste and what is known as intermediate-level long-lived waste—such as reactor components. Once the repository has reached capacity, in perhaps 150 years’ time, the access tunnels will be backfilled and sealed up. If all goes according to plan, no one will ever enter the repository again……..

For waste buried deep underground, the major threat to public health comes from water contamination. If radioactive material from the waste were to mix with flowing water, it would be able to move relatively swiftly through the bedrock and into the soil and large bodies of water such as lakes and rivers, finally entering the food chain via plants, fish and other animals.

To prevent this, an underground repository such as Cigéo will take great care to shield the waste it stores. Within its walls there will be metal or concrete containers to block the radiation, and liquid waste can be mixed into a molten glass paste that will harden around it to stop leakage…….

Deep geological repositories are designed as passive systems, meaning that once Cigéo is closed, no further maintenance or monitoring is required. Much more difficult to plan for is the risk of human intrusion, whether inadvertent or deliberate.

In 1980, the US Department of Energy created the Human Interference Task Force to investigate the problem of human intrusion into waste repositories. What was the best way to prevent people many thousands of years in the future from entering a repository and either coming into direct contact with the waste or damaging the repository, leading to environmental contamination?

Over the next 15 years a wide variety of experts were involved in this and subsequent projects, including materials scientists, anthropologists, architects, archaeologists, philosophers and semioticians—social scientists who study signs, symbols and their use or interpretation………

In the very long term, though, these plans also have a major drawback: how can we know that anyone living one million years in the future will understand any of the languages spoken today?

Think of the differences between modern and Old English. Who of us can understand “Ðunor cymð of hætan & of wætan”? That—meaning “Thunder comes from heat and from moisture”—is a mere thousand years old.

Languages also have a habit of disappearing. Around 4,000 years ago in the Indus Valley in what is now Pakistan and north-west India, for example, people were writing in a script that remains completely indecipherable to modern researchers. In one million years it is unlikely that any language spoken today will still exist…….

September 14, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, wastes | Leave a comment

Strong drumbeat of opposition to Yucca Mountain nuclear dump continues

  Beyond Nuclear 
As reported by the Las Vegas Sun, a coalition of Nevadans — from Western Shoshone Indians, to environmentalists, to local, state, and federal officials — have come together yet again to express their adamant opposition to the scheme to dump 70,000 metric tons or more of highly radioactive wastes at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. This continues 32 years of resistance, ever since the 1987 “Screw Nevada” amendments to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 singled out Western Shoshone land as the only site in the country to be further considered for an irradiated nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste permanent geological repository. In that time, more than a thousand environmental, and environmental justice, organizations have fought the dump at every twist and turn (see 750 of them listed here). Native Community Action Council secretary Ian Zabarte has achieved hard won, official intervening party status in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Yucca dump licensing proceeding, in his effort to defend Western Shoshone treaty rights. (The photo shows NCAC’s Zabarte at right, and Beyond Nuclear’s Kevin Kamps at left, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., during a youth climate rally in 2018.)
As the Nevada Current reported about the recent forum, calls are growing for Democratic candidates for president to be bold and clear in their opposition to the Yucca dump. Nevada has the first Western presidential campaign caucus, coming just after the earliest contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The Current reports: “At least five current Democratic presidential candidates — Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and [Kamala] Harris — have signed on to [U.S.] Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s [Democrat-Nevada] bill to force the federal government to request Nevada’s consent before storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. Julian Castro, Beto O’Rourke, and Pete Buttigieg have also expressed their opposition to the federal government’s proposal, while Andrew Yang has said he supports it.” The Trump administration is seeking to restart the Yucca Mountain dump project, which the Obama administration wisely cancelled as “unworkable” in 2010 (not to mention scientifically unsuitable, environmentally unjust, non-consent based, inter-generationally unjust, regionally inequitable, etc.!)

September 14, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

No more room for Belgium’s nuclear waste 

No more room for Belgium’s nuclear waste  , Alan Hope, The Brussels Times, 08 September 2019  Belgium has no more room in its storage spaces for low-grade nuclear waste, according to the latest annual report from Belgoprocess, the government agency responsible.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste problem to be explored by China, in giant underground lab

China plans giant underground lab to research nuclear waste, By Julie Zaugg and Nanlin Fang, CNN, September 6, 2019  China is building a laboratory up to 560 meters (1,837 feet) underground in the middle of the Gobi desert to carry out tests on nuclear waste, officials have confirmed.

September 8, 2019 Posted by | China, wastes | Leave a comment

China grapples with problem of its growing nuclear wastes

some analysts and many members of the public remain sceptical about whether it is really safe.

China earmarks site to store nuclear waste deep underground

Researchers will conduct tests at the location in Gansu to see whether it will make a viable facility to store highly radioactive waste safely
Scientists say China has the chance to become a world leader in this field but has to find a way to ensure it does not leak, SCMP, Echo Xie   September 06, 2019  China has chosen a site for an underground laboratory to research the disposal of highly radioactive waste, the country’s nuclear safety watchdog said on Wednesday.

Officials said work would soon begin on building the Beishan Underground Research Laboratory 400 metres (1,312 feet) underground in the northwestern province of Gansu.

Liu Hua, head of the National Nuclear Safety Administration, said work would be carried out to determine whether it was possible to build a repository for high-level nuclear waste deep underground. ……..   [China] needs to find a safe and reliable way of dealing with its growing stockpiles of nuclear waste. …..

Some Chinese scientists said the country had the chance to lead the world in this area of research but others have expressed concerns about safety. ……

Despite broad scientific support for underground disposal, some analysts and many members of the public remain sceptical about whether it is really safe.

Lei Yian, an associate professor at Peking University’s school of physics, said there was no absolute guarantee that the repositories would be safe when they came into operation…….

China is also building more facilities to dispose of low and intermediate-level waste. Officials said new plants were being built in Zhejiang, Fujian and Shandong, three coastal provinces that lack disposal facilities.

At present, two disposal sites for low and intermediate-level waste are in operation in Gansu and Guangdong provinces.


September 7, 2019 Posted by | China, wastes | Leave a comment

A very small nuclear reactor still results in expensive and risky decommissioning

Environmental groups concerned about demolition plan for Saskatoon’s SLOWPOKE-2 nuclear reactor,

Groups worried about transportation of nuclear waste, pouring treated water into sewer,

David Shield
 · CBC News ·Aug 30, 2019 
 Environmental groups from across the country are expressing concerns about the decommissioning of a small nuclear reactor near the University of Saskatchewan campus.

The Saskatchewan Research Council is applying to dismantle its SLOWPOKE-2 reactor. The demolition would likely happen next year, but before that happens the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will hold a hearing in Ottawa next month to look at approving the plan.

Environmental groups’ concerns about the plan include the intentions to release treated water from the reactor pool into the City of Saskatoon’s sewer system and to send the non-radioactive building materials to a private landfill.

“We don’t know what the cumulative effect or the additive effect of the radioactive burden is going to be of either of those practices,” said Brennain Lloyd, project manager of Northwatch, an environmental group in northern Ontario.

Other concerns include the fate of the reactor pool itself. The proposed plan includes filling the empty pool with concrete, rather than removing the contaminated site completely, as long as the site meets radioactivity guidelines.

Michael Poellet of Saskatchewan’s Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative (ICUCEC) questioned leaving the pool site in the ground.

“The issue there is that the cement in the pool has absorbed radioactivity,” said Poellet. “It’s not assured that the cement will be able to keep that radioactivity within that cement.”

Northwatch, along with the ICUCEC and Nuclear Waste Watch, have all applied to provide comment at the hearing.

The groups said they have important questions, including concerns about eight cubic meters of nuclear waste being transported hundreds of kilometres to a holding facility in South Carolina and parts of the reactor being sent to long-term storage in Chalk River Laboratories in Ontario.

“It’s a big deal project,” said Lloyd. “It seems to have been flying under the radar but it needs to come out out front.” Continue reading

August 31, 2019 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Residents skeptical of plans to dismantle Oyster Creek nuclear plant

Residents skeptical of plans to dismantle Oyster Creek nuclear plant, WHYY, Nicholas Pugliese,

Residents in Ocean County, New Jersey, are skeptical of plans to dismantle the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant, which includes an accelerated timeline for removing the facility’s spent nuclear fuel and storing it indefinitely in casks onsite.

More than 150 people attended a town hall Thursday night to grill representatives from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Camden-based Holtec International, which is overseeing the decommissioning process together with Canadian company SNC-Lavalin.

They also implored U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, who hosted the event, and other elected officials in the audience to hold Holtec accountable. “You need to protect us,” said Barnegat resident Marianne Clemente, 73.

Many questions focused on Holtec’s assertion it can decommission the plant in six to eight years thanks to new technology and streamlined processes. Exelon, the company that operated the plant, had proposed a 60-year timeline.

“What technology miraculously got discovered to take you from 60 years to six years?” Clemente asked.

Other residents raised concerns about the safety of storing spent fuel onsite — a virtual necessity given there are few alternative places to put the waste. Holtec wants to build an interim nuclear waste storage facility in New Mexico but is yet to win federal approval to do so, and the U.S. government has not established a permanent repository.

“Do you have the research and the proof that you can monitor whether or not there is hydrogen gas build-up in those casks once they are sealed?” said Janet Tauro, an environmental activist with the group Clean Water Action. ……

Holtec will host an informational session on Sept. 23 to give residents another chance to ask questions, while the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has a public meeting scheduled on Oct. 3 in Manahawkin to discuss the potential role of a local community advisory board.

Oyster Creek was the nation’s oldest operating commercial nuclear power plant until it shut down last September after 49 years in operation.

Holtec purchased the 650-megawatt facility from Exelon Corporation in July, and with it assumed the plant’s $1 billion trust fund for dismantling the site.

Holtec says a faster decommissioning helps the community because it allows the site to be repurposed. Moving more quickly also would provide profit for Holtec. It’s getting paid from the $1 billion trust fund and it gets to keep any money left over if it costs less than that.

Oyster Creek is not the only site going through this process. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is currently overseeing the decommissioning of about 20 other sites across the country.

That includes one unit at Peach Bottom station in York County, Pa., and one unit at Three Mile Island, in Dauphin County, Pa. Both facilities are still operating with other reactors, although Three Mile Island is scheduled to shut down completely next month

August 31, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Watchdogs ask court to stop Edison from dumping San Onofre plant’s nuclear waste at beach

August 31, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

“Chernobyl on the Seine” – Marie curie’s radioactive legacy

France Is Still Cleaning Up Marie Curie’s Nuclear Waste, Her lab outside Paris, dubbed Chernobyl on the Seine, is still radioactive nearly a century after her death. Bloomberg Business Week , By Tara Patel,  28 Aug 19,


August 29, 2019 Posted by | France, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Who will clean up America’s nuclear wastes in Greenland?

Maine Voices: Long-buried U.S. nuclear waste would complicate any bid for Greenland

Would the U.S. or Denmark be responsible for cleaning up over 47,000 gallons of Cold War-era radioactive waste?

August 26, 2019 Posted by | ARCTIC, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Public Should Comment on New “WIPP Forever” Strategic Plan

Public Should Comment on New “WIPP Forever” Strategic Plan, August 22nd, 2019 The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is the nation’s first geologic disposal site for radioactive and hazardous waste.  But WIPP should not be the only repository.  For decades, federal laws and state agreements and permits have established a limited mission for both the amount of waste allowed and how long the site can operate.  Other repositories are necessary since the nation has no plans to stop production of nuclear weapons that generate the plutonium waste. Other repositories also are required for commercial spent fuel and military high-level wastes.

In recent years, officials with the Department of Energy (DOE) have discussed various ideas to keep WIPP open for at least 50 years – twice as long as the original schedule – and to expand the types and amounts of waste.  One reason for the “WIPP Forever” plan is to avoid telling Congress and the public that it is time to develop other repositories – since no state is asking for those dump sites.

DOE announced the upcoming release of a Draft Five-Year Strategic Plan and public comment meetings in Santa Fe on Monday, August 26th from 3 to 5 pm at the Hotel Santa Fe, and in Carlsbad on Wednesday, August 28th from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Skeen-Whitlock Building.  While WIPP officials acknowledge that more informed public comment happens if the draft plan is released several days in advance, the document may not be available until just before the Santa Fe meeting.

Thus, what exactly is in the five-year plan is uncertain.  But it likely will presume that WIPP continues to operate until at least 2050 and the amount of waste totals at least thirty percent more than the legal limit of 175,564 cubic meters.  It will certainly include adding at least one new shaft and numerous underground disposal rooms beyond those ever included in past designs.  That additional space is for plutonium-contaminated waste previously designated for WIPP that doesn’t fit because of the underground contamination that makes some areas of the underground unusable.  The Plan also could include tons of weapons-grade plutonium and high-level waste that has always been prohibited by federal law and the state permit.

Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, said, “Whatever the specifics of the WIPP Strategic Plan, the public can tell DOE that we do not agree with operating WIPP forever.  People can also tell State officials to enforce the legal limits on the amount and types of waste and set a closing date so that DOE and Congress know that it’s time to plan for either long-term storage at generator sites or new repositories in other states.”

August 22, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Germany shows how it can lead the world in neatly shutting down nuclear power

Spectacular Video Shows Nuclear Power Plant Demolition in Germany

How to demolish a nuclear power plant without blowing it up, By Sheena McKenzie, CNN August 16, 2019 London (CNN Business)This is how you demolish a nuclear power plant German-style. No big red button. No dramatic countdown. No “kaboom!”

August 17, 2019 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

Tower of German nuclear station demolished. The plant was on line for only 13 months

Short-lived German nuclear plant’s cooling tower demolished, BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Aug 9, 2019 

BERLIN — The cooling tower of a former nuclear power plant next to the Rhine River in Germany that was online for just 13 months has been demolished, 31 years after it stopped producing electricity.

Remote-controlled excavators on Friday removed pillars that supported the tower at the Muelheim-Kaerlich plant, near Koblenz. The tower, whose top half had already been removed by a specially designed robot, collapsed under its own weight in a cloud of dust a couple of hours later.

Muelheim-Kaerlich was switched off in September 1988 after 13 months in service when a federal court ruled the risk of earthquakes in the area hadn’t been taken into account sufficiently. After a lengthy legal battle, demolition started in 2004. Operator RWE says nearly all radioactive material had already been removed by then.

August 10, 2019 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment