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Amid opposition, Japan takes 1st step to release nuclear waste water into ocean

China slams Tokyo’s ‘irresponsible’ actions on Fukushima’s contaminated water, urging safe disposal

Alperen Aktas  |07.06.2023

Despite mounting pressure, Japan has begun injecting seawater into a drainage tunnel of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant as a first step to release treated radioactive wastewater into the ocean.

The tunnel was filled with water on Tuesday, triggering a sharp response from the Chinese mission in Tokyo.

Japan plans to release treated radioactive wastewater into the ocean, triggering opposition and concerns from local fishing communities and neighboring countries.

“The harm caused by the discharge of nuclear water into the sea is immeasurable,” China’s diplomatic mission in Japan said in a statement.

“Workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are sending seawater into an underwater tunnel that has been built to release treated and diluted water from the facility into the ocean,” Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported.

“Once filled with seawater, the tunnel will guide treated water from the plant to a point about 1 kilometer offshore.”

The water release system is nearing completion, with the exception of a reservoir that will store treated water prior to its release. The utility aims to finish all construction tasks by the end of June……………………

Urging Japan not to put future generations at risk, the Chinese Embassy stressed that besides ocean discharge, formation injection, steam discharge, hydrogen discharge, and underground burial are also viable options. However, it is “irresponsible” for the Japanese side not to seriously consider and show other extermination options.

Zhang Kejian, Chairman of China Atomic Energy Authority, also criticized Japan’s “extremely irresponsible” act.

Japan disregarded the concerns of its people and other countries, providing no scientific answers or consulting with neighbors and stakeholders, he said at an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors meeting held on Monday in Austria.

A signature campaign was launched in South Korea last week to oppose Japan’s intended discharge of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The campaign was initiated by South Korea’s leading opposition Democratic Party in the capital Seoul.

DP Chairman Lee Jae-Myung expressed his concerns, questioning how the president and the ruling party can support Japan and grant them immunity and permission to dispose of hazardous nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean.

Japan unveiled the water discharge plan in April 2021, triggering massive criticism from China, South Korea, North Korea, the island nation of Taiwan, and international bodies, including the UN…………………….


June 8, 2023 Posted by | Japan, oceans, wastes | Leave a comment

  Detailed evidence exposes Japan’s lies, loopholes in nuclear-contaminated wastewater dumping plan

Japan’s existing ocean discharge plan and evaluation are based on the assumption that the nuclear-contaminated wastewater can meet discharge standards after treatment.

But unfortunately, the data released by TEPCO showed that as of September 30, 2021, some 70 percent of the then 1.243 million cubic meters of ALPS-treated nuclear-contaminated wastewater still failed to meet the criteria, 18 percent of which even exceeded the standards 10 to 20,000 times over

Firstly, the types of radionuclides that TEPCO monitors are relatively few, making it far from being able to reflect the correct radionuclide dispersion in the contaminated wastewater.

The Fukushima nuclear-contaminated wastewater, coming from the wastewater which was directly in contact with the core of the melted reactor, theoretically contains all the hundreds of types of radionuclides in the melted reactor, such as fission nuclides, a uranium isotope, and transuranic nuclide.

But TEPCO at first only listed 64 types of radionuclides including H-3 and C-14 as a (data) foundation for the works including monitoring and analysis, emission control, and environmental impact assessment. These 64 radionuclides did not include the uranium isotope and certain other α-nuclides, which have long half-lives while some are highly toxic.

TEPCO’s exclusion of the radionuclides mentioned above has greatly compromised the effectiveness of its monitoring work, as well as the credibility of its environmental impact assessment result.

“TEPCO’s plan of only monitoring a few types of radionuclides is unscientific,” the insider told the Global Times.

Later, during the review process of the IAEA Task Force in 2022, TEPCO changed the number of radionuclide types it was monitoring and analyzing to 30, and then decreased it to 29 this year. This is far from enough to provide a complete assessment of the extremely complex nuclides in the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated wastewater.

Secondly, there are missing activity concentration values for multiple radionuclides in TEPCO’s monitoring scheme.

TEPCO’s public report on the 64 radionuclides only provides activity concentration values for 12 radioactive nuclides other than tritium, while over 50 other nuclides do not have specific activity concentration values. The report, while only offering gross α and gross β values, doesn’t disclose the respective concentration levels of many highly toxic radionuclides in the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated wastewater, such as Pu-239, Pu-240 and Am-241. 

“[TEPCO’s] current plan only monitors some of the nuclides and the gross α and gross β values, which cannot accurately indicate the fluctuations or changes in the activity of each nuclide after treating the contaminated wastewater due to the fluctuation of the nuclide source term composition,” said the insider. 

This operation of TEPCO has largely increased the uncertainty of the [nuclide] source item information of the nuclear-contaminated wastewater, and thus greatly increases the difficulties of making subsequent monitoring plans and marine ecological environmental impact assessment.

Thirdly, TEPCO didn’t make conservative assumptions in many aspects of its monitoring data, and some of the assumptions it made were somewhat “negligent.”

In the process of treating the nuclear-contaminated wastewater, the slight particle shedding of chemical precipitants and inorganic adsorbents in the ALPS may cause some radionuclides to exist in a colloidal state.

Therefore, TEPCO’s assumption that all nuclides in nuclear-contaminated wastewater in the ALPS are water-soluble is obviously invalid, said the insider. “TEPCO should scientifically and comprehensively analyze whether colloidal nuclides are present in the nuclear-contaminated wastewater based on the long-term operation experience of its ALPS system,” he noted.

Huang Lanlan Jun 05, 2023

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Photo: VCGAs the date for Japan’s planned dumping of nuclear-contaminated wastewater into the ocean approaches, a Pandora’s Box threatening the global marine ecosystem is likely to be opened. 

The Japanese government announced its decision on April 13 to release the nuclear-contaminated wastewater from the storage tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the sea. Starting from 2023, the discharge is scheduled to last about 30 years. This decision has garnered widespread attention and sparked great concern across the globe.

While Japanese authorities are busy colluding with some Western politicians in boasting about the discharge plan, Fukushima residents, international experts in ecology, and various stakeholders around the world have kept calling for Japan to reconsider and modify its flawed plan.

Japan’s attempt to “whitewash” the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated wastewater release plan failed again at the Group of Seven (G7) summit in May. The joint statement of the summit did not explicitly state nor allude to the G7 members’ “welcome” of the current dumping plan due to strong opposition. Instead, it only reiterated support for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) review of Fukushima’s treated water release.

An insider familiar with Japan’s dumping plan recently told the Global Times that he has many concerns and doubts about the plan. The insider provided detailed evidence exposing Japan’s lie that whitewashes its dumping plan. He also revealed many loopholes in the plan that the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) have refused to talk about or even deliberately concealed from the public.

All provided evidence considered, it is apparent that, currently, Japan is incapable of properly handling the nuclear-contaminated wastewater dumping. The toxic wastewater processed by the Japanese side cannot currently meet international discharge standards, and the country’s reckless behavior, if not stopped and corrected in time, may cause irreparable damage to the global ecosystem.

“There are still many unresolved issues with the source terms of the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated wastewater,” the insider said. 

“If the Japanese government and TEPCO continue to have their own way, it may cause improper discharge of nuclear-contaminated water, and that must be taken seriously,” he noted, calling on the two sides to be open, transparent, and honest in solving the problem.

Disappointing data monitoring

Japan’s current plan of releasing nuclear-contaminated wastewater into the sea, though superficially reasonable at first glance, cannot hold up to close scrutiny. Its monitoring on the source terms of the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated wastewater is incomplete, and the data it collects is likely unreliable, observers told the Global Times.

In February 2022, the IAEA Task Force released its first report, the IAEA Review of Safety Related Aspects of Handling ALPS-Treated Water at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The report clearly stated that the Task Force “commented on the importance of defining the source term for the discharge of ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) treated water in a sufficiently conservative yet realistic manner.” 

Source terms of contaminated water include the composition of radionuclide and the activity of simulation of nuclides dispersion. As the premise of marine environmental monitoring, the accuracy and reliability of the source term-related data is crucial. However, Japan’s data statistics and monitoring on the source terms are disappointingly full of loopholes. 

Continue reading

June 7, 2023 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Japan, radiation, Reference, wastes | 1 Comment

Tritium found beyond safe limits in treated Fukushima wastewater

 A type of radioactive isotope in the over 1.3 million tons of wastewater
being collected at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant and planned
for discharge by as early as this summer has been found at levels beyond
those earlier suggested to be safe by the Japanese government, a wastewater
safety review report by the International Atomic Energy Agency showed

According to the report, which corroborated analyses of the treated wastewater by six laboratories including the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, the activity concentrations of tritium in the treated water were estimated to be at least 148,900 becquerels per liter.

The wastewater filtered through Japan’s Advanced Liquid Processing System at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station contained more tritium than what was stipulated in Japan’s national regulatory standards for discharge, 60,000 becquerels per liter……………………………………………

 Korea Herald 1st June 2023

June 4, 2023 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, oceans, radiation, wastes | Leave a comment

$528 Billion nuclear clean-up at Hanford Site in jeopardy

The government now appears to be seriously considering whether it will be necessary to leave thousands of gallons of leftover waste buried forever in Hanford’s shallow underground tanks, according to some of those familiar with the negotiations, and protect some of the waste not in impenetrable glass, but in a concrete grout casing that would almost certainly decay thousands of years before the toxic materials that it is designed to hold at bay.

At site after site, the solution has come down to a choice between an expensive, decades-long cleanup or quicker action that leaves a large amount of waste in place.

A Poisonous Cold War Legacy That Defies a Solution

NYT, By Ralph Vartabedian, Reporting from Richland, Wash., May 31, 2023

From 1950 to 1990, the U.S. Energy Department produced an average of four nuclear bombs every day, turning them out of hastily built factories with few environmental safeguards that left behind a vast legacy of toxic radioactive waste.

Nowhere were the problems greater than at the Hanford Site in Washington State, where engineers sent to clean up the mess after the Cold War discovered 54 million gallons of highly radioactive sludge left from producing the plutonium in America’s atomic bombs, including the one dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki in 1945.

Cleaning out the underground tanks that were leaching poisonous waste toward the Columbia River just six miles away and somehow stabilizing it for permanent disposal presented one of the most complex chemical problems ever encountered. Engineers thought they had solved it years ago with an elaborate plan to pump out the sludge, embed it in glass and deposit it deep in the mountains of the Nevada desert.

But construction of a five-story, 137,000 square-foot chemical treatment plant for the task was halted in 2012 — after an expenditure of $4 billion — when it was found to be riddled with safety defects. The naked superstructure of the plant has stood in mothballs for 11 years, a potent symbol of the nation’s failure, nearly 80 years after the Second World War, to deal decisively with the atomic era’s deadliest legacy.

The cleanup at Hanford is now at an inflection point. The Energy Department has been in closed-door negotiations with state officials and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, trying to revamp the plan. But many fear the most likely compromises, which could be announced in the coming months, will put the speed and quality of the cleanup at risk.

The government now appears to be seriously considering whether it will be necessary to leave thousands of gallons of leftover waste buried forever in Hanford’s shallow underground tanks, according to some of those familiar with the negotiations, and protect some of the waste not in impenetrable glass, but in a concrete grout casing that would almost certainly decay thousands of years before the toxic materials that it is designed to hold at bay.

“The Energy Department is coming to a big crossroads,” said Thomas Grumbly, a former assistant secretary at the department who oversaw the early days of the project during the Clinton administration.

Successive energy secretaries over the last 30 years, he said, “have slammed their heads against the wall” to come up with a technology and budget that would make the problem go away not only at Hanford, but also at other nuclear weapons sites around the country.

Plants in South Carolina, Washington, Ohio and Idaho that helped produce more than 60,000 atomic bombs have tons of radioactive debris that will be radioactive for thousands of years. And unlike nuclear power plants, whose waste consists of dry uranium pellets locked away in metal tubes, the weapons facilities are dealing with millions of gallons of a peanut butter-like sludge stored in aging underground tanks.

Two million pounds of mercury remain in the soils and waters of eastern Tennessee. Radioactive plumes are contaminating the Great Miami aquifer near Cincinnati.

At site after site, the solution has come down to a choice between an expensive, decades-long cleanup or quicker action that leaves a large amount of waste in place.

Hanford, some 580 square miles of shrub-steppe desert in south-central Washington State, is the largest and most contaminated of all the weapons production sites — too polluted to ever be returned to public use. But the problem is urgent, given the risk of radionuclides contaminating the Columbia River, a vital lifeline for cities, farms, tribes and wildlife in two states……………………………………………………………………………………………………

“The closer you get to the bottom of those tanks, the more radioactive, toxic and dangerous waste is,” said Geoffrey Fettus, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has sued the government over the Hanford cleanup………………………………………………………………. more

June 2, 2023 Posted by | USA, wastes | 1 Comment

Proximity principle – nuclear waste should be stored as near as possible to the point of generation

Groups opposed to nuclear waste burial go to Queens Park, Toronto

Two anti-nuclear waste activist groups present a petition calling for the Ford government to implement a proximity principle for nuclear waste storage.

Clint Fleury 31 May 23 NWONewsWatch,

TORONTO — Two activist groups opposing the storage of nuclear waste in a deep geological repository are calling on the Ford government to mandate that a proximity principle to have the material stored cosser to where it is generated.

Members of We the Nuclear Free North in Northern Ontario from Northwestern Ontario and Protect Our Waterways – No Nuclear Waste in Southwestern Ontario have collected 1,141 signatures, with the petition presented in Queens Park on tuesday by Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Lise Vaugeois, Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.

“Their plan is not very well defined for the deep geological repository and it has several questionable areas. One of which is an option for a shallow cavern, which if approved, could see nuclear waste being moved into the area before the deep geological repository is complete and in operation,” said Charles Faust, a representative with We the Nuclear Free North.

Faust argued that the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s plan to transport nuclear waste from power plants to a deep geological repository is “questionable.”

“I want you to remember 1,694. That’s the number of kilometres that it takes for a one-way trip from the average site of nuclear waste storage in Southern Ontario to the Ignace area — 1,694 kilometres,” Faust said. “They’re proposing two to three trucks a day, every day, for 50 years. That’s to deal with the 50,000 tonnes that are out there right now that they are looking for a place to be deposited.”

According to Faust, the concern with the transportation of nuclear waste is that Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s transportation phase is still in the early stages of development.

Bill Noll, a representative with Protect Our Waterways, expressed concern that once the nuclear waste reaches its destination, the fuel bundles will be sent to a repackaged facility and then stored in the repository.

“The repackaging facility is really unique. No other countries, Sweden, Finland, or any other country that I am aware of, is actually thinking about repackaging capability in what is a very small container,” said Noll.

Noll claimed the issue with nuclear waste is the spent heat that is generated.

“This is one of the real issues with the whole idea of how long it will last. It is a function of how much heat will be generated and how much damage that heat will do to not only the rock, but the container itself,” Noll said.

Both activist groups proposed that the solution to their concern would be for the Ford government to implement a proximity principle.

“Nuclear fuel waste should be managed at the point of generation by making on-site storage more robust and adopting a program of rolling stewardship for the long-term management of radioactive at or near its current location,” said Faust……………………………………

During the press conference, Vaugeois called the process of managing Canada’s nuclear waste “undemocratic.”

June 1, 2023 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste disposal site could be built next to power plant, Estonia

ERR News Editor: Mari Peegel, Helen Wright,, 31 May 23

Waste produced by a future nuclear power plant could be stored on the same site, newly published analysis carried out by the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Finance shows.

The government is studying several sites across the country to see if any are suitable for a future small reactor.

After the announcement was made in April, additional research was carried out into the plant’s waste disposal at sites in Loksa, Kunda, Toila, and Varbla.

Now the results show it would be possible to build storage sites for nuclear waste at these locations, said Anna-Helena Purre from Steiger OÜ, who undertook the study.

“We carried out a spatial analysis: We looked at the location of the plant itself in open and closed cooling systems. Secondly, we looked at waste disposal – the low- and intermediate-level waste scenarios – and spent fuel disposal – the high-level waste scenario. These can be buried in deep boreholes, for example,” she said.

The government has not yet decided whether it will build a nuclear power plant and a decision is likely to be made in 2024. Production would start in 2035 at the earliest.

The U.S., France, Canada, UK, Japan, and Germany have stepped up to cooperate with Estonia.

Initially, 15 sites in Toila, Kunda, Loksa, Kuusalu, Viimsi, Paljaassaare, Kakumäe, Saare and Hiiumaa, Varbla and Harku municipalities were under consideration. But taking into account the plant’s socio-economic aspects, sites in places with a decreasing and below-average population far from the capital are preferred.

June 1, 2023 Posted by | EUROPE, wastes | Leave a comment

Gordon Edwards explains and comments on Canada’s policy on radioactive waste and nuclear decommissioning

Until recently, Canada’s stated policy on radioactive waste management consisted of a flimsy 25-year-old statement of 143 words, making no mention of intermediate level waste (such as decommissioning waste) or plutonium extraction (reprocessing).

In 2019, a team of IAEA nuclear experts reviewed Canada’s nuclear regulatory practices and recommended that Canada produce an enhanced radioactive policy statement and articulate an accompanying national radioactive waste strategy for the first time ever.

In 2020 Canada accepted this recommendation and undertook a two year consultation period with hundreds of Canadian organizations and individuals. 

Non-governmental organizations overwhelmingly recommended that Canada should have radioactive waste management and decommissioning agency that is independent of the nuclear waste producers and agencies that promote nuclear power, such as the Natural Resources Department (NRCan).

They also recommended that reprocessing (plutonium extraction) be banned altogether and that careful consideration be given to establishing a classification of radioactive waste materials based on toxicity, mobility, longevity, and radioactive progeny. Special attention was paid to the need for a policy regarding intermediate level wastes such as those resulting from rector decommissioning operations.

In 2022 a draft policy was released for public comment and an alternative policy was recommended by Nuclear Waste Watch, incorporating the policy recommendations mentioned in the preceding paragraphs.

In March 2023, the government — through NRCan, the very department that is obligated to promote nuclear power and uranium mining — released its final radioactive waste and decommissioning policy. That document ignores almost completely the input from civil society over the course of the previous two years. The policy is verbose and rhetorical with very little substance, and with a pronounced pro-nuclear bias.

On May 25, Nuclear Waste Watch hosted a “debriefing” webinar to inform other groups who had also participated in the consultation process of the nature of the government’s policy, and the distressing fact that NRCan has relegated to the nuclear waste producers the task of constructing a radioactive waste strategy for Canada.

Here is a short slide show (bilingual) that summaries and briefly comments on the main features of the Canadian government’s radioactive waste policy:

May 29, 2023 Posted by | Canada, decommission reactor | Leave a comment

Canadian reactors that “recycle” plutonium would create more problems than they solve

Bulletin, By Jungmin KangM.V. Ramana | May 25, 2023

In 2021, nine US nonproliferation experts sent an open letter to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In their letter, the experts expressed their concern that the Canadian government was actually increasing the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation by funding reactors that are fueled with plutonium. Earlier that year, the Federal Government had provided 50.5 million Canadian dollars to Moltex Energy, a company exploring a nuclear reactor design fueled with plutonium. The linkage to nuclear weapons proliferation has also led several civil society groups to urge the Canadian government to ban plutonium reprocessing.

Much of the concern so far has been on Canada setting a poor example by sending a “dangerous signal to other countries that it is OK to for them to extract plutonium for commercial use.” But Moltex plans to export its reactors to other countries raise a different concern. Even if a country importing such a reactor does not start a commercial program to extract plutonium, it would still have a relatively easy access to plutonium in the fuel that the reactor relies on to operate. Below we provide a rough estimate of the quantities of plutonium involved—and their potential impact on nuclear weapons proliferation—to help explain the magnitude of the problem. But there is more. By separating multiple radionuclides from the solid spent fuel and channeling it into waste streams, Moltex reactors will only make the nuclear waste problem worse.

Moltex’s technological claims. Moltex established its Canadian headquarters in the province of New Brunswick after it received an infusion of 5 million Canadian dollars from the provincial government. The company offers two products: a molten salt reactor and a proprietary chemical process that Moltex terms “waste to stable salts” technology. Moltex claims that, by using its chemical process, it can “convert” spent fuel from Canada’s deuterium uranium nuclear reactors (CANDUs) into new fuel that can be used in its reactor design. Moltex essentially claims it can “reduce waste.” In light of the problematic history associated with molten salt reactors, Moltex’s proposed reactors, and especially the chemical process needed to produce fuel, deserve more scrutiny. These will have serious implications for nuclear policy.

In its response to the open letter from the US nonproliferation experts, Moltex dismissed the ability of outsiders to comment, arguing that experts “are not aware of [its proprietary] process as only high-level details are made public.” Moltex has been indeed sparse in what it shared publicly about its technologies. Still, there is much one can surmise from earlier experiences with the processing of spent fuel and from basic science. With some simple calculations based on these high-level details provided by Moltex so far—and taking those at face value, i.e., without evaluating the feasibility of the design or their plans—we show that there is reason to be concerned about the amounts of plutonium that will be used in the reactor.

[Technical explanation here about chemical processes]…………………………………………………………………………….

Moltex’s proposed technology has not yet been evaluated by the International Atomic Energy Agency for how well it can be safeguarded; nor is it possible to evaluate how well the technology can be safeguarded in advance of a final design. But there is good reason to think that a determined country—one that might not play by the rules set by the IAEA—might find a way to divert some plutonium from Moltex’s chemical process to use it in nuclear weapons.

Diversion has been a long-standing concern with pyroprocessing, which is closely related to what Moltex is proposing. …………………………………………………………more

May 27, 2023 Posted by | - plutonium, Canada, technology | Leave a comment

What we know about the federal government’s ongoing nuclear waste plans in New Mexico

Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus

Southeast New Mexico is home to the nation’s only repository for nuclear waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant about 30 miles east of Carlsbad.

At WIPP, transuranic (TRU) nuclear waste from across the country is trucked in and buried in a salt deposit about 2,000 feet underground.

The waste comes from national laboratories and other facilities owned by the U.S. Department of Energy and WIPP is managed by the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management to clean up waste left at generator sites and new waste produced through the agency’s ongoing nuclear activities.

Here are the key takeaways from the federal government’s recent accomplishments and plans for WIPP future.

Air system at WIPP hoped to finish construction

Two projects were underway at WIPP intended to rebuild its underground ventilation system and improve airflows for workers in the underground.

After an accidental radiological release in 2014 air was restricted at the site, limiting personnel in the underground, and slowing progress in emplacing waste for disposal and mining new areas of the facility.

The Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS) project along with a new utility shaft to act as an air intake were expected to increase available air at WIPP from 170,000 cubic feet per minute (cfm) to 540,000 cfm.

In 2023, the DOE said it hoped the primary construction of the SSCVS – a series of building and filters that will clean the air at WIPP before exhausting it at the surface- would be finished in 2023

In 2022, the DOE reported it partially completed constructing the SSCVS’ new filter building.

WIPP’s utility shaft finished this year

Meanwhile, the DOE planned to finish sinking the utility shaft to its planned depth of 2,150 feet underground.

The agency also reported it was 50 percent complete in mining a west access drift for the new shaft as of 2022.

Goal set for 400 shipments of nuclear waste to WIPP in 2023

The DOE said it hoped to send about 400 shipments of TRU waste to WIPP from its generator sites in 2023.

This would be the most shipped to WIPP since the 2014 incident, and subsequent three-year shutdown of WIPP’s underground operations.

Included in this listed priority was also ensuring no backlog of waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in northern New Mexico, in response to pressure from the State of New Mexico that instate facilities be prioritized by the DOE for cleanup.

The DOE estimated it was taking in about two shipments a week from Los Alamos, contending they were sent to WIPP as soon as the drums were ready for transport.

Since opening in 1999, WIPP accepted 1,608 shipments from LANL, about 12 percent of WIPP’s total of 13,460 shipments, according to DOE records.

The DOE completed its 2022 goal, read the report, of 30 LANL shipments.

Where else does WIPP get its waste from?

Other major shippers include Idaho National Laboratory – WIPP’s biggest shipper – with 6,880 shipments sent to the repository opened, about 51 percent of WIPP’s total.

The second-biggest active shipper was the Savannah River site in South Carolina, which sent 1,714 shipments in total during WIPP’s lifetime, records show.

The decommissioned Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site near Denver was the second-biggest overall shipper to WIPP with 2,045 shipments of nuclear waste to the repository.

Nuclear waste retrieved from Texas site could go to WIPP

Buoying the DOE’s priorities at LANL was a goal for this year to retrieve drums of Los Alamos waste from the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) facility in Andrews, Texas and likely prepare them for disposal at WIPP.

The DOE reported after last year it “partially completed” a goal to install equipment needed for this work.

The DOE was originally slated, via an agreement with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), to remove the 74 waste boxes from LANL stored at WCS in 2014 temporarily amid WIPP’s closure as it resumed operations in 2017.

The TCEQ “extended the deadline multiple times” for the waste’s removal from WCS, read a May 2022 letter from the agency to the DOE, or the State of Texas would take “additional enforcement actions.”

Adrian Heddencan be reached at 575-628-5516, or@AdrianHedden on Twitter.

May 25, 2023 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Stanford-led research finds small modular reactors will exacerbate challenges of highly radioactive nuclear waste

Small modular reactors, long touted as the future of nuclear energy, will actually generate more radioactive waste than conventional nuclear power plants, according to research from Stanford and the University of British Columbia.

BY MARK SHWARTZ, 30 May, News Stanford

Nuclear reactors generate reliable supplies of electricity with limited greenhouse gas emissions. But a nuclear power plant that generates 1,000 megawatts of electric power also produces radioactive waste that must be isolated from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years. Furthermore, the cost of building a large nuclear power plant can be tens of billions of dollars.

To address these challenges, the nuclear industry is developing small modular reactors that generate less than 300 megawatts of electric power and can be assembled in factories. Industry analysts say these advanced modular designs will be cheaper and produce fewer radioactive byproducts than conventional large-scale reactors.

But a study published May 31 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has reached the opposite conclusion.

“Our results show that most small modular reactor designs will actually increase the volume of nuclear waste in need of management and disposal, by factors of 2 to 30 for the reactors in our case study,” said study lead author Lindsay Krall, a former MacArthur Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). “These findings stand in sharp contrast to the cost and waste reduction benefits that advocates have claimed for advanced nuclear technologies.”

…………………………………. In the U.S. alone, commercial nuclear power plants have produced more than 88,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel, as well as substantial volumes of intermediate and low-level radioactive waste. The most highly radioactive waste, mainly spent fuel, will have to be isolated in deep-mined geologic repositories for hundreds of thousands of years. At present, the U.S. has no program to develop a geologic repository  after spending decades and billions of dollars on the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. As a result, spent nuclear fuel is currently stored in pools or in dry casks at reactor sites, accumulating at a rate of about 2,000 metric tonnes per year.

Simple metrics

Some analysts maintain that small modular reactors will significantly reduce the mass of spent nuclear fuel generated compared to much larger, conventional nuclear reactors. But that conclusion is overly optimistic, according to Krall and her colleagues.

“Simple metrics, such as estimates of the mass of spent fuel, offer little insight into the resources that will be required to store, package, and dispose of the spent fuel and other radioactive waste,” said Krall, who is now a scientist at the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company. “In fact, remarkably few studies have analyzed the management and disposal of nuclear waste streams from small modular reactors.”

Dozens of small modular reactor designs have been proposed. For this study, Krall analyzed the nuclear waste streams from three types of small modular reactors being developed by Toshiba, NuScale, and Terrestrial Energy. Each company uses a different design. Results from case studies were corroborated by theoretical calculations and a broader design survey. This three-pronged approach enabled the authors to draw powerful conclusions.

“The analysis was difficult, because none of these reactors are in operation yet,” said study co-author Rodney Ewing, the Frank Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security at Stanford and co-director of CISAC. “Also, the designs of some of the reactors are proprietary, adding additional hurdles to the research.”

Neutron leakage

Energy is produced in a nuclear reactor when a neutron splits a uranium atom in the reactor core, generating additional neutrons that go on to split other uranium atoms, creating a chain reaction. But some neutrons escape from the core – a problem called neutron leakage – and strike surrounding structural materials, such as steel and concrete. These materials become radioactive when “activated” by neutrons lost from the core.

The new study found that, because of their smaller size, small modular reactors will experience more neutron leakage than conventional reactors. This increased leakage affects the amount and composition of their waste streams.

“The more neutrons that are leaked, the greater the amount of radioactivity created by the activation process of neutrons,” Ewing said. “We found that small modular reactors will generate at least nine times more neutron-activated steel than conventional power plants. These radioactive materials have to be carefully managed prior to disposal, which will be expensive.”

The study also found that the spent nuclear fuel from small modular reactors will be discharged in greater volumes per unit energy extracted and can be far more complex than the spent fuel discharged from existing power plants.

“Some small modular reactor designs call for chemically exotic fuels and coolants that can produce difficult-to-manage wastes for disposal,” said co-author Allison Macfarlane, professor and director of the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia. “Those exotic fuels and coolants may require costly chemical treatment prior to disposal.”

“The takeaway message for the industry and investors is that the back end of the fuel cycle may include hidden costs that must be addressed,” Macfarlane said. “It’s in the best interest of the reactor designer and the regulator to understand the waste implications of these reactors.”


The study concludes that, overall, small modular designs are inferior to conventional reactors with respect to radioactive waste generation, management requirements, and disposal options.

One problem is long-term radiation from spent nuclear fuel. The research team estimated that after 10,000 years, the radiotoxicity of plutonium in spent fuels discharged from the three study modules would be at least 50 percent higher than the plutonium in conventional spent fuel per unit energy extracted. ……..more

May 17, 2023 Posted by | Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear’s Dangerous Waste Is ‘Rapidly Catching Up’ With Industry

Jonathan Tirone, Bloomberg News, 15 May 23

  • World faces a wave of decommissioning in coming decades: IAEA
  • That will create streams of long-lasting, radioactive waste

Swelling inventories of radioactive waste need to be dealt with more effectively if nuclear energy is to become a key tool in combating climate change, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

While nuclear power stations don’t emit planet-warming greenhouse gases, they do create streams of long-lasting, hazardous waste. It takes engineers and regulators years to plan and execute the decommissioning of a single site, with costs sometimes running into the billions of dollars.

“Even as we look into the future, the past is rapidly catching up,” IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi said Monday at a conference in Vienna, where hundreds … (subscribers only) more

May 17, 2023 Posted by | 2 WORLD, wastes | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dumping not only way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

UK’s Nuclear Waste Services ignore overwhelming local council opposition to siting plan for waste dump.

Candidates opposed to the siting of a Nuclear Waste facility on the border
of Mablethorpe and Theddlethorpe not only took control of all the parish
councils in the search area but also took all of the allocated seats on the
dissstrict council, plus two seats in Sutton on Sea.

Turnout was high for a local election. In Theddlethorpe and Withern 39.6% of those eligible to
vote did so and more than seventy per cent of the voted for Travis Hesketh
(pictured) In Sutton on Sea, Where one Green and one independent anti dump
candidates overturned a Conservative majority, the turnout topped forty per

With such an overwhelming result we wrote to the leaders of both
Lincolnshire County Council and East Lyndsey District Council demanding
that they honour the people’s decision and withdraw from the so-called,
Community Partnership.

We await their decision. However, NWS has spoken to
the press and intend to ignore the result. That makes the second “Test Of
Public Support ” they have chosen to ignore. The first, a survey carried
out by Theddlethorpe Residents Association, showed 85% against with a
turnout of 56%.

Guardians of the East Coast 13th May 2023

May 15, 2023 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Missteps deliver Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez into the hands of the pro-nuclear propagandists – REPROCESSING IS NOT RECYCLING.

In fact, reprocessing irradiated fuel increases the volume of radioactive waste, while reducing only the level of radioactivity. This results in enormous discharges of so-called low- and intermediate-level but still highly radioactive wastes in the form of gases and liquids into the air and the English Channel. It is this that makes reprocessing arguably the dirtiest and most carcinogenic phase of the entire nuclear industry


Congresswoman talked nuclear nonsense, but does that mean she supports it?

Dear AOC, reprocessing is not recycling — Beyond Nuclear International

 “………..the nuclear power propagandists, heralding her as the latest defector from the “Left” to the pro-nuclear power cause…………. But her errors are costly — to her credibility, as well as to the climate cause.

By Linda Pentz Gunter – from Ralph Nader’s new newspaper, the Capitol Hill Citizen, April 23

The progressive Democratic congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has 8.6 million followers on her Instagram account, a number identical to the online readership of the New York Times.

With her rock star-like AOC moniker and plenty of adoring fans, what the U.S. representative from Queens, New York writes or says has an impact. And it needs to be accurate. Presumably that is why Members of Congress deploy a slew of aides, tasked with delivering the details on a likely sometimes overwhelming array of topics.

When it comes to nuclear power, however, the Congresswoman from New York appears to be flying solo. Either that, or her aides are failing to do their homework. AOC’s stance on nuclear power was as confusing — and arguably as confused — during the introduction of the short-lived Green New Deal four years ago as her latest venture on Instagram after her February 2023 trip to Japan. 

In 2019, after a February 7 joint press conference to roll out the blueprint for a Green New Deal alongside fellow Democrat, Senator Ed Markey, AOC’s office published details of the plan with nuclear power explicitly excluded. There was an immediate backlash, after which the reference to nuclear power’s exclusion was abruptly deleted. Asked to explain the switch, AOC told reporters that the Green New Deal “leaves the door open on nuclear so we can have that conversation” and that she herself did not “take a strong anti- or pro-position on it.”

From Japan earlier this year, AOC delivered a series of bubbly Instagram updates, mostly expressing her delight with Japan’s bullet trains. After her visit to the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, site of the devastating March 2011 explosions and triple meltdowns, she put up a series of informational posts, then stumbled badly on the final question, which asked: “France uses nuclear power. How do they manage it differently? They don’t have earthquakes….”

For reasons that remain unclear, other than the French connection, AOC used this opportunity to launch what sounded unmistakably like praise for the end phase of nuclear power production — reprocessing. Only she called it “recycling”, a deliberately misleading industry term that masks the highly polluting operations involved in reprocessing, which takes irradiated reactor fuel and separates the plutonium from uranium in a chemical bath.

She then made a series of points, all of which were either factually or scientifically inaccurate, or both. We reached out to AOC’s press office for a response, but as of press time there was none.

These missteps begged the question as to the source of the Congresswoman’s information. Her use of the term “recycling” suggests that she, like most of her colleagues on the Hill, defers to the nuclear industry itself to sell her a highly sanitized version of its activities. 

This is particularly frustrating coming from an elected official whose raison d’être is to serve as the people’s champion. Had her staff instead opened the door to eminently qualified academics on the subject, such as Princeton physicist, Frank von Hippel, never mind independent experts from the NGO world, they could have saved their boss considerable embarrassment.

Instead, AOC posted that “France recycles their nuclear waste,” even embedding the recycling logo in her text. But reprocessing does nothing of the kind.

Of that irradiated reactor fuel reprocessed at the La Hague nuclear center on France’s Normandy coast, 95% of it contains uranium products too contaminated for further use. This is trucked south for conversion and storage at the Pierrelatte/Tricastin enrichment facility, although for a time, some was shipped to Siberia. Of the remaining 5%, 4% of it is vitrified into glass logs and stored at La Hague. So is almost all of the separated plutonium, 1% of what’s left, now amounting to more than 80 tonnes.

A tiny fraction of that plutonium is “recycled” into something called Mixed-Oxide Fuel (MOX), used in 24 French reactors licensed to carry a 30% MOX fuel load. After fissioning, during which plutonium is once again produced, that waste is again shipped back to La Hague for storage.

AOC went on to explain that France’s “recycling” of nuclear waste had increased “the efficiency of their system.” It is not clear what this vague allusion means, but there is no debate about the extra costs incurred by France in choosing the reprocessing route. As a May 2007 analysis prepared for Public Citizen concluded: “The cumulative cost difference between full reprocessing and no reprocessing amounts to about $25 billion.”

AOC then wrote that French nuclear waste “recycling” was responsible for “reducing the overall amount of radioactive waste to deal with.” In fact, reprocessing irradiated fuel increases the volume of radioactive waste, while reducing only the level of radioactivity. This results in enormous discharges of so-called low- and intermediate-level but still highly radioactive wastes in the form of gases and liquids into the air and the English Channel. It is this that makes reprocessing arguably the dirtiest and most carcinogenic phase of the entire nuclear industry.

AOC also noted that “Japan sends its waste to France and the UK for recycling”. This practice was suspended some years ago, but when it was happening, it comprised more than 160 ship transports of at least 7,000 tons of lethal radioactive cargo, including plutonium, the trigger component for nuclear bombs, an inviting target for terrorists. Most of the reprocessed fuel was then returned to Japan, either in vitrified form or as MOX.

Surely none of this qualifies as recycling?

Needless to say, the pro-nuclear lobby seized on these pronouncements, turning AOC into the latest enviro-convert to the pro-nuclear side. She even garnered headlines in the French press, including in the conservative daily, Le Figaro, where a columnist exhorted French environmentalists to take inspiration from AOC’s epiphany and “abandon their anti-nuclear ideology”.

Newsweek characterized AOC’s Instagram posts as indicative of “The Left’s Changing Position on Nuclear Energy,” in its headline and suggested that “her appraisal of the fuel that provides 19 percent of Americans’ electricity seemed almost warm.”

All of this attention, whether invited or unwanted, prompted yet another ambiguous statement from AOC’s communications director, Lauren Hitt, who told Newsweek “We don’t have any changes in the Congresswoman’s policy posture re[garding] nuclear to announce as of now.”

But what exactly is Rep. Acasio-Cortez’s policy posture on nuclear power? That remains exasperatingly unclear.

May 15, 2023 Posted by | spinbuster, wastes | Leave a comment

Regulator issues permit for New Mexico nuclear waste facility against wishes of  local, state, and federal leaders

By Simon Druker

May 9 (UPI) — The agency that governs nuclear power in the United States issued a permit Tuesday to build a facility to store nuclear waste in New Mexico.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission permit goes against the wishes of both state and federal elected officials.

“I have been strongly opposed to the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste in New Mexico, which would pose serious risks to our communities. But today’s announcement paves the way for New Mexico to be home for indefinite storage of spent nuclear fuel,” Sen. Ben Ray Lujan D-N.M., told The Hill in a statement.

“This approach — over the objections of many local, state, and federal leaders — is unacceptable,” he said.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., in March signed legislation prohibiting the facility from being built by Florida-based Holtec International.

It’s not clear what effect her law would have on the NRC’s federal permit.

Lujan Grisham called on President Joe Biden to intervene.

The NRC permit grants Holtec the right to build the consolidated interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in the state’s Lea County. The company can store 500 canisters, or approximately 8,680 metric tons, of spent nuclear fuel for 40 years.

Holtec said it plans to eventually apply for amended licenses in order to eventually store up to 10,000 canisters or approximately 173,600 metric tons over an additional 19 phases.

The company was founded in 1986 in New Jersey and specializes in manufacturing parts for nuclear reactors. It also offers existing nuclear waste storage services.

Despite having the permit, Holtec is not fully committed to moving ahead with the project.

“We’re still working with our partners and the key stakeholders to understand what our paths are … what our potential options are. Then we’re going to head forward from that,” the company’s director of government affairs and communications Patrick O’Brien told the Albuquerque Journal in an interview Tuesday.

May 12, 2023 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment