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Samuel Lawrence Foundation loses court case to keep spent fuel pools as safety backup at San Onofre nuclear station

Judge tosses out lawsuit that sought to stop San Onofre nuclear plant dismantlement,  Ruling says Coastal Commission properly granted permit, San Diego Tribune,  BY ROB NIKOLEWSKI , . 20, 2021 

Deconstruction work at the now-shuttered San Onofe Nuclear Generating Station — known as SONGS for short — will continue after a judge in Los Angeles County turned back a lawsuit filed by an advocacy group that looked to put a halt to it.

Deconstruction work at the now-shuttered San Onofe Nuclear Generating Station — known as SONGS for short — will continue after a judge in Los Angeles County turned back a lawsuit filed by an advocacy group that looked to put a halt to it.

In a 19-page decisionLos Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff ruled last week the California Coastal Commission acted properly when it granted a permit in 2019 to Southern California Edison — the operators of the plant — to proceed with dismantlement efforts.

The Samuel Lawrence Foundation filed the suit, arguing the commission violated its own regulations and provisions by issuing the permit………….

Samuel Lawrence Foundation president Bart Ziegler said in an email that his group “will continue to push for strict monitoring, protocols and handling facilities at Edison’s nuclear waste dump.”

The heart of the lawsuit centered on two spent fuel pools that are scheduled to be torn down.

At commercial nuclear power plants, when the highly radioactive fuel rods used to generate electricity lose their effectiveness, operators place the assemblies in a metal rack that is lowered about 40 feet into a “wet storage” pool, typically for about five years, to cool.

Edison has since taken the assemblies out of the pools, placed them into stainless steel canisters and moved them into two “dry storage” facilities on the north end of the plant. One facility holds 50 canisters and another, more recently constructed site, holds 73 canisters.

Edison says now that the spent fuel has been transferred to dry storage, the pools are unnecessary and should be dismantled.

The Samuel Lawrence Foundation argued Edison should keep the pools in case the canisters ever get damaged or degrade over time………..

Despite issuing the permit and related measures, the commission has complained about being put in a tough position.

Edison says now that the spent fuel has been transferred to dry storage, the pools are unnecessary and should be dismantled.

Schwartz said until the federal government comes up with a long-term storage site, “we are forced to live with the increased risks of storing (waste) on our coast. Commissioners and staff have communicated to the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) the urgency of moving these spent fuel facilities out of the coastal hazard zone, and we will continue to press the NRC on this issue.”

There are 3.55 million pounds of used-up fuel in the canisters at SONGS, which is located between the Pacific and Interstate 5.

But keeping the waste on-site is not unique to San Onofre. About 80,000 metric tons of spent fuel has stacked up at 121 commercial nuclear sites in 35 states………..

Under a “special condition” agreed to in 2015, the commission is allowed by 2035 to revisit whether the storage site should be moved to another location in case of rising sea levels, earthquake risks, potential canister damage or other scenarios……

SONGS’ dismantlement began in March 2020 and is expected to take about eight years to complete. Roughly 2 billion pounds of equipment, components, concrete and steel will be removed from the plant.

The two distinctive containment domes, each nearly 200 feet high, are scheduled to come down around 2027.

About 450,000 tons of material labeled low-level nuclear waste will be shipped — mostly by rail — to a disposal facility in Clive, Utah. Another 35 tons of low-level waste will get shipped by truck to a facility in the West Texas town of Andrews.

According to Edison’s plans, all that will remain at SONGS will be two dry storage facilities, a security building with personnel to look over the waste, a seawall, a walkway connecting two beaches north and south of the plant, and a switchyard with power lines. The rest of the property will revert to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/energy-green/story/2021-09-20/judge-tosses-out-lawsuit-that-sought-to-stop-san-onofre-nuclear-plant-dismantlement

September 21, 2021 Posted by | decommission reactor, Legal, wastes | Leave a comment

New Mexico backs Texas in opposing nuclear fuel storage


New Mexico backs Texas in opposing nuclear fuel storage
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APN News, By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, 17 Sept 21, ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Top New Mexico leaders say they’re open to “most anything” that would prevent spent nuclear fuel and other high-level waste from being stored indefinitely in the state, including legislation like a measure recently adopted by Texas to prevent the shipping and storage of such waste.

The renewed criticism this week of planned temporary storage facilities in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico came as federal regulators just granted a license for the proposed operation in Texas.

Interim Storage Partners LLC plans to build a facility in Andrews County that could take up to 5,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel rods from power plants and 231 million tons of other radioactive waste.

In New Mexico, Holtec International is awaiting approval of its license application for a facility that initially would store up to 8,680 metric tons of uranium. Future expansion could make room for as many as 10,000 canisters of spent fuel over six decades.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, and other top officials already have submitted comments in opposition to the multibillion-dollar proposal on their side of the state line and to the Texas project. New Mexico also is suing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, claiming it hasn’t done enough to vet Holtec’s plans.

Lujan Grisham’s office said it would be open to exploring legislation and to seeking funding that could boost efforts by New Mexico regulators to push back administratively……..

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has a similar stance and tweeted this week that “’Texas will not become America’s nuclear waste dumping ground.”……..https://apnews.com/article/business-environment-and-nature-texas-new-mexico-5963107ed241ad5e1a07c8217e691117

September 18, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Latest on America’s plutonium ”pits” costly fiasco

Stumbling plutonium pit project reveals DOE’s uphill climb of nuclear modernization, https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/572477-stumbling-plutonium-pit-project-reveals-does-uphill-climb-of  BY TOM CLEMENTS, — 09/15/21   

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is mounting a full-court press for the “modernization” of the nuclear weapons production complex, an effort packed with capital-intensive projects on which contractors thrive. A cornerstone of modernization, a new plant to make the plutonium “pits” for new nuclear weapons already faces problems. Yet, Congress and the Biden administration are moving ahead despite gathering storm clouds.

“Pits” are the hollow plutonium spheres that cause the initial nuclear explosion in all U.S. nuclear weapons. New pits would first go into the new W87-1 warhead for a new missile, the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), meant to replace the U.S.’s current ICBMs. Second in the queue is a submarine launched missile. Both weapons have their detractors, but pits could prove to be their ultimate stumbling block.

The new pit plant will be at DOE’s sprawling Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. Already SRS’s plans face massive cost increases and schedule delays, causing skepticism in Congress.

In 2020, NNSA presented an initial cost estimate of $4.6 billion for the SRS pit plant. By June of this year that cost estimate had more than doubled to a stunning $11 billion. Timelines continue to slip as well. NNSA has quietly admitted in its fiscal year 2022 budget request that the original 2030 operational date to produce 50 pits had slipped until between 2032 and 2035.  

While more schedule setbacks loom, the NNSA has tried to save some time by cutting corners. The most obvious is the rushed manner in which they conducted a legally required environmental analysis of the project. In their haste, NNSA failed to analyze environmental justice concerns and impacts of pit production across the DOE complex. Of paramount concern, disposal of plutonium waste has not been reviewed. Public interest groups filed a lawsuit against DOE on June 29, demanding preparation of a required Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. A response to the lawsuit is due on Sept. 27. 

None of this should be surprising. SRS lacks pit production experience and has a record of problems. Perhaps that is why the NNSA is also having the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico to also produce pits. That lab has been assigned to ramp up its current pit production with a goal of producing 30 pits per year by 2026 ¾ a tall task for a facility plagued by plutonium-handling problems.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, knows all of this. He highlighted the agency’s chronic inability to carry out modernization projects earlier this year saying, “in nearly every instance, NNSA programs have seen massive cost increases, schedule delays, and cancellations of billion-dollar programs. This must end.”

On Aug. 31, when speaking about pit production in a Brookings Institution virtual event, Smith went further saying that “Savannah River sort of gives me an involuntary twitch after the whole MOX disaster. I don’t trust them.” 

And what a disaster it was. MOX was a plutonium fuel plant at SRS that NNSA wasted $8 billion on before termination in 2018. Smith’s mistrust is well placed— his committee should investigate the failed construction of the MOX plant before handing the same facility billions more for a new project.

In the event at Brookings, Smith defended his lack of action on pits and the GBSD, saying that decisions about them are in a “tactical pause” until the cost of the SRS plutonium bomb plant is clearer and as we wait and see if President Biden will honor his pledge to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons, of which almost 4,000 are deployed or in active reserve. 

Of course, Smith is incorrect as there is no pause in either the projects or the spending. If he wants a real pause, he must act. Without strong leadership and oversight, the programs could quickly develop the same inertia as MOX leaving us with another multi-billion fiasco with nothing to show for it.

He and his colleagues should fight to reduce fiscal year 2022 funding authorization in the National Defense Authorization Act for the SRS pit plant ($710 million), Los Alamos pit production ($1 billion) and the W87-1 warhead ($691 million for NNSA and $2.6 billion for the Department of Defense). He should review the reuse of 15,000 existing pits stored at DOE’s Pantex Plant in Texas. He should also demand a proper environmental review of pit production.

Waiting for Biden is an inadequate strategy. Action is needed now by Chairman Smith and Congress to increase our collective security by fulfilling their leadership responsibilities. Requiring a true pause on pit production would not only stop money from being wasted on this project but would act as a wake-up call that nuclear weapons projects don’t have a blank check from Congress.

Tom Clements is the director of Savannah River Site Watch a public interest organization in Columbia, South Carolina, which monitors U.S. Department of Energy management of weapon-usable materials, nuclear weapons production, and clean-up of high-level nuclear waste, with a focus on the Savannah River Site.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Texas to fight on against dumping of spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County

In a statement before the NRC’s announcement this week, Hadden said opponents would “keep fighting” even if the new license were issued. She said legal challenges remain, and she expressed hope that Texas’ attorney general would fight to protect people. A county commissioners’ body in Andrews County, Texas, also backed a resolution against high-level nuclear waste storage this year, local CBS affiliate KOSA reported

Nuclear waste in the oil patch? Feds spark clash with Texas  E and E News, By Edward Klump | 09/15/2021 A site in West Texas now has a federal license to store spent nuclear fuel, setting up a potential showdown with state leaders who oppose the prospect of attracting high-level radioactive waste from across the country.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced the license for Interim Storage Partners LLC to build and operate an interim storage facility in Andrews County, Texas, on Monday — just days after Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill seeking to restrict nuclear waste storage in the state.

Yesterday, Abbott tried to use the new license in the Permian Basin oil patch to hammer President Biden, though an application for the site was filed in 2016, and the Trump administration didn’t kill the project.

“The Biden Admin. is trying to dump highly radioactive nuclear waste in west Texas oil fields,” Abbott said on Twitter. “I just signed a law to stop it. Texas will not become America’s nuclear waste dumping ground.”

David McIntyre, an NRC spokesperson, declined to comment on the governor’s criticism but said in a statement this week that the “licensing decision was made according to the applicable federal statutes and regulations after thorough, multi-year technical and environmental reviews.”

The drama is being watched by the electricity sector, as nuclear power plants continue to store spent fuel on-site without a permanent U.S. repository. Yucca Mountain in Nevada has failed to garner enough sustained support to be an option (E&E Daily, July 22). In the meantime, backers of the Interim Storage Partners, or ISP, site in West Texas and a separate project in eastern New Mexico from Holtec International have pursued interim storage proposals that could last for decades.

The NRC said this is the second license it has issued for a consolidated storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. The first was in 2006 for a different facility that wasn’t built. A decision on Holtec’s application for a site in Lea County, N.M., is expected in January, according to the nuclear safety regulator. Opposition to Holtec’s plan has been bubbling up in New Mexico, as well.

It remains to be seen how the West Texas proposal will proceed from here. ISP could directly challenge Texas’ stance, or it could take a more conciliatory, wait-and-see approach before seeking to move ahead.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, in response to a question from E&E News yesterday, said its “role is to NOT issue authorizations under TCEQ purview as directed in the bill language” if permits are requested for a high-level radioactive waste facility in the state such as the ISP site.

In a statement yesterday, ISP noted that the “proposed facility would be located adjacent to Waste Control Specialists’ existing low-level nuclear materials disposal facility in Andrews County, Texas.” ISP is a joint venture of Waste Control Specialists and Orano USA, along with some support from a technology provider called NAC International. A revised license application was submitted in 2018.

ISP said the federal authorization was based on a through, multiyear review. The venture didn’t indicate its next move or provide responses to questions posed by E&E News.

“The extensive analyses concluded that this facility’s commercial interim storage and transport operations satisfy all environmental, health, and safety requirements without negative impact to nearby residents or existing industries,” ISP said in its statement.

Critics have noted safety worries for people who live in West Texas, as well as concerns about transporting nuclear waste across the country.

“There were no surprises in NRC’s announcement, by Twitter, about approving the license for deadly nuclear waste storage in Texas,” Karen Hadden, executive director of the Sustainable Energy & Economic Development Coalition, said in a statement to E&E News. “There was no acknowledgement of the overwhelming opposition throughout Texas. Just the federal government steamrolling our state to benefit a private company.”

‘Really interesting times’

In a statement before the NRC’s announcement this week, Hadden said opponents would “keep fighting” even if the new license were issued. She said legal challenges remain, and she expressed hope that Texas’ attorney general would fight to protect people. A county commissioners’ body in Andrews County, Texas, also backed a resolution against high-level nuclear waste storage this year, local CBS affiliate KOSA reported……….  https://www.eenews.net/articles/nuclear-waste-in-the-oil-patch-feds-spark-clash-with-texas/

September 16, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Protests against nuclear storage plans that could kill the tourist industry

Protesters warn nuclear storage plans could kill tourism as council moves
forward with talks. Protesters are unhappy after county councillors agreed
to talk to the government company behind a potential nuclear waste disposal
site in Lincolnshire. Lincolnshire County Council’s Environment and
Economy Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday morning agreed to join a working
group to look at Radioactive Waste Management’s (RWM) potential plans for
a Geological Disposal Facility in Theddlethorpe. Campaigners against the
plans who gathered outside the council before the meeting, however, are not
happy with the decision and have said moving the plans forward creates
uncertainty for local businesses and residents.

 Lincolnite 14th Sept 2021

Protesters warn nuclear storage plans could kill tourism as council moves forward with talks

September 16, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, opposition to nuclear, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Italy launches national debate on nuclear waste disposal

The opening plenary session of Italy’s National Seminar, which aims at
deepening the analysis of the technical aspects related to the national
repository for radioactive waste and technological park project with all
interested parties, was held yesterday. The National Seminar, a series of
consultative meetings, follows the publication in January of a list of 67
potential sites for a radioactive waste storage facility.

 World Nuclear News 8th Sept 2021

https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Italy-launches-national-debate-on-waste-repository

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Italy, wastes | Leave a comment

Responses to Candidate Questionnaire: Radioactive Waste in the Ottawa Valley — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

September 13, 2021 We asked federal candidates from all parties in 13 ridings in West Quebec, Eastern Ontario and Ottawa the following questions: Will you oppose the current plans for a radioactive waste disposal facility at Chalk River and reactor entombment at Rolphton, Ont.? Will you ensure that decisions on radioactive waste disposal in the […]

Responses to Candidate Questionnaire: Radioactive Waste in the Ottawa Valley — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

September 14, 2021 Posted by | Canada, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

NRC issues license to store ‘spent nuclear fuel’ in Andrews  

NRC issues license to store ‘spent nuclear fuel’ in Andrews  

Photo of Midland Reporter-Telegram

Midland Reporter-Telegram Sep. 13, 2021  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported Monday that it has issued a license to Interim Storage Partners LLC to construct and operate a consolidated interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in Andrews.

The license authorizes the company to receive, possess, transfer and store up to 5,000 metric tons of spent fuel and 231.3 metric tons of Greater-Than-Class C low-level radioactive waste for 40 years, according to a NRC release. The company has said it plans to expand the facility in seven additional phases, up to a total capacity of 40,000 metric tons of fuel. Each expansion would require a license amendment with additional NRC safety and environmental reviews.

nterim Storage Partners is a joint venture of Waste Control Specialists LLC and Orano USA. ISP intends to construct the storage facility on property adjacent to the WCS low-level radioactive waste disposal site already operating under a Texas license. Information about the license application and the NRC staff’s reviews is available on the NRC website, according to the news release. The licensing documents will be available on this page as well.

The NRC’s announcement Monday came days after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation to ban high-level nuclear waste from the state of Texas. Odessa Republican Brooks Landgraf was the author of House Bill 7, which was filed in response to an effort to bring the nation’s high-level radioactive waste to a low-level radioactive material disposal facility in Andrews County.

Landgraf, in a statement, offered the following about the NRC’s issuing of the license:

“The Biden administration, through the NRC, would cause a violation of Texas law if their license results in the storage or disposal of spent nuclear fuel or any other high-level radioactive waste. I expect that the State of Texas will deploy our available resources to enforce our laws. Prior to the passage of HB 7, the State of Texas had no leg to stand on if it became necessary to fight back against the Biden administration. HB 7 is our weapon against high-level waste.”

The spent fuel and waste must be stored in canisters and cask systems, the NRC stated. The canisters and cask systems must meet NRC standards for protection against leakage, radiation dose rates, and criticality, under normal and accident conditions. The canisters are required to be sealed when they arrive at the facility and remain sealed during onsite handling and storage activities….

This is the second license issued by the NRC for a consolidated storage facility for spent nuclear fuel, according to the NRC. The first, Private Fuel Storage, was issued in 2006, but the facility was never constructed. The agency is currently reviewing an application from Holtec International for a similar facility proposed for Lea County, New Mexico. A decision on that application is currently expected in January 2022 https://www.mrt.com/news/local/article/NRC-issues-license-to-store-spent-nuclear-16455955.php

September 14, 2021 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors, uranium mining, nuclear fuel chain, reprocessing, dismantling reactors – extract from Expert Response to pro nuclear JRC Report


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………… If SMRs are used, this not least raises questions about proliferation, i.e. the possible spread of nuclear weapons as well as the necessary nuclear technologies or fissionable materials for their production.    ………..

By way of summary, it is important to state that many questions are still unresolved with regard to any widespread use of SMRs – and this would be necessary to make a significant contribution to climate protection – and they are not addressed in the JRC Report. These issues are not just technical matters that have not yet been clarified, but primarily questions of safety, proliferation and liability, which require international coordination and regulations. 

  • neither coal mining nor uranium mining can be viewed as sustainable …….. Uranium mining principally creates radioactive waste and requires significantly more expensive waste management than coal mining.
  • The volume of waste arising from decommissioning a power plant would therefore be significantly higher than specified in the JRC Report in Part B 2.1, depending on the time required to dismantle it

    Measures to reduce the environmental impact The JRC Report is contradictory when it comes to the environmental impact of uranium mining: it certainly mentions the environmental risks of uranium mining (particularly in JRC Report, Part A 3.3.1.2, p. 67ff), but finally states that they can be contained by suitable measures (particularly JRC Report, Part A 3.3.1.5, p. 77ff). However, suitable measures are not discussed in the depth required ……..

    Expert response to the report by the Joint Research Centre entitled “Technical assessment of nuclear energy with respect to the ‛Do No Significant Harm’ criteria in Regulation (EU) 2020/852, the ‛Taxonomy Regulation’”  2021

    ”…………………3.2 Analysing the contribution made by small modular reactors (SMRs) to climate change mitigation in the JRC Report   
      The statement about many countries’ growing interest in SMRs is mentioned in the JRC Report (Part A 3.2.1, p. 38) without any further classification. In particular, there is no information about the current state of development and the lack of marketability of SMRs.

    Reactors with an electric power output of up to 300 MWe are normally classified as SMRs. Most of the extremely varied SMR concepts found around the world have not yet got past the conceptual level. Many unresolved questions still need to be clarified before SMRs can be technically constructed in a country within the EU and put into operation. They range from issues about safety, transportation and dismantling to matters related to interim storage and final disposal and even new problems for the responsible licensing and supervisory authorities 


    The many theories frequently postulated for SMRs – their contribution to combating the risks of climate change and their lower costs and shorter construction periods must be attributed to particular economic interests, especially those of manufacturers, and therefore viewed in a very critical light

    Today`s new new nuclear power plants have electrical output in the range of 1000-1600 MWe. SMR concepts, in contrast, envisage planned electrical outputs of 1.5 – 300 MWe. In order to provide the same electrical power capacity, the number of units would need to be increased by a factor of 3-1000. Instead of having about 400 reactors with large capacity today, it would be necessary to construct many thousands or even tens of thousands of SMRs (BASE, 2021; BMK, 2020). A current production cost calculation, which consider scale, mass and learning effects from the nuclear industry, concludes that more than 1,000 SMRs would need to be produced before SMR production was cost-effective. It cannot therefore be expected that the structural cost disadvantages of reactors with low capacity can be compensated for by learning or mass effects in the foreseeable future (BASE, 2021). 


    There is no classification in the JRC Report (Part A 3.2.1, p. 38) regarding the frequently asserted statement that SMRs are safer than traditional nuclear power plants with a large capacity, as they have a lower radioactive inventory and make greater use of passive safety systems. In the light of this, various SMR concepts suggest the need for reduced safety requirements, e.g. regarding the degree of redundancy or diversity. Some SMR concepts even consider refraining from normal provisions for accident management both internal and external – for example, smaller planning zones for emergency protection and even the complete disappearance of any off-site emergency zones. 

     The theory that an SMR automatically has an increased safety level is not proven. The safety of a specific reactor unit depends on the safety related properties of the individual reactor and its functional effectiveness and must be carefully analysed – taking into account the possible range of events or incidents. This kind of analysis will raise additional questions, particularly about the external events if SMRs are located in remote regions if SMRs are used to supply industrial plants or if they are sea-based SMRs (BASE, 2021). 

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    September 13, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decommission reactor, EUROPE, Reference, reprocessing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster, Uranium | Leave a comment

    Radiation, nuclear wastes, transportation, uncertainties – extract from Expert response to pro nuclear JRC Report

    The DNSH-related TSCs state, among other things, that the repository facility must guarantee that the waste is contained and isolated from the biosphere. This also applies if extreme natural phenomena occur such as earthquakes, tornadoes, floods or the loss of technical barriers. 

    ……  nuclear energy has been used for several decades, but there is still no repositoryfor high-level radioactive waste operating anywhere in the world. Responsibilities are therefore passed on to following generations and they are restricted in their freedom of choice. Section 6 of this expert response will deal with this matter in greater detail. 

    General results of the reviewThe JRC Report contains unfounded generalisations at many points. Conclusions are drawn from individual, selected examples and their global validity is assumed. Readers without any detailed specialist expertise will find it hard or impossible to recognise this.


    .……….  The JRC presents the disposal of high-level radioactive waste as a completely resolved problem by citing the example of the disposal projects in Finland and France. This largely ignores the fact that the Finnish repository is still under construction and the licence application from the operational company has already been delayed on several occasions. Both countries are still years away from starting to operate the facilities. 

    The JRC Report does not mention the aspect of transportation in its presentation of the life cycle analysis. This would have been necessary for a conclusive overall presentation of all the aspects of nuclear power.

    the JRC Report states that a closed fuel cycle provides the advantage of significantly reducing the space required for a deep geological repository for HLW. It is necessary to add here that not only the volume, but also the decay heat at the time of disposing of the waste is relevant for the size of the disposal facility (KOM, 2016, p. 227). Additional low- and intermediate-level waste would also be produced and this would increase the disposal volume.

    Expert response to the report by the Joint Research Centre entitled “Technical assessment of nuclear energy with respect to the ‛Do No Significant Harm’ criteria in Regulation (EU) 2020/852, the ‛Taxonomy Regulation’” 2021

    “”………… 4.6 Ionising radiation and its impacts on people’s health and the environment during all the life cycle phases (apart from disposal and transportation)The JRC Report largely restricts itself in Part A 3.4 to the “impact of ionizing radiation on human health” (JRC Report, Part A 3.4.1, p. 167ff) and the environment (JRC Report, Part A 3.4.2, p. 173ff). The impact of emissions of non-radioactive substances is only considered at one point (publication [3.4-1]). ……..


    The figures quoted for the radiation exposure of human beings in Part A 3.4.1 of the JRC Report are plausible. It is correct that human exposure to radiation as a result of the civil use of radioactive materials and ionising radiation is low in comparison with radiation exposure from natural sources and its range of variation. However, the report does not match the latest findings in radiation protection when specifying average effective doses per head of the population for nuclear facilities and installations. According to the latest recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), the so-called “representative person” in the sense of the ICRP has to be considered an individual in the population, who is exposed to higher levels of radiation because of his or her lifestyle habits. 

    5 Criterion 2 in the Taxonomy Regulation – the DNSH criteria: disposal of radioactive waste, transportation, research and development The subject of disposing of radioactive waste is considered in this section. It professionally examines the scientific statements in the JRC Report about the topics of storage (section 5.1 of this expert response), disposing of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste (section 5.2), disposing of high-level radioactive waste (section 5.3), transportation (section 5.4) and research and development (section 5.5). Sub-headlines have been used to interconnect the subsections 


    ……….. The JRC Report does not adequately consider the fact that no successful, deep geological disposal of high-level radioactive waste, including the permanent seal, has yet been introduced anywhere in the world. 


    5.1 Interim storage of radioactive waste The JRC Report generally fails to provide any basis for the findings that are listed in the Executive Summary of the report related to storing radioactive waste. As a result, questions must be raised about the transparency of the conclusions that are drawn

    …………..  the assessment of interim storage consistently takes place according to the standard adopted by the JRC, which, however, is inadequate from an expert point of view. For beyond design basis events it is impossible to exclude that uncontrolled discharges of radioactive substances and therefore considerable effects on the environment may occur through incidents and accidents or by some other intrusion involving third parties (e.g. terrorist attacks) when operating storage facilities; a risk therefore remains. A holistic assessment of using nuclear energy must therefore include a risk assessment related to these events too (cf. section 2.1 and 2.2.1 of this expert response). 

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    September 13, 2021 Posted by | EUROPE, radiation, Reference, spinbuster, wastes | Leave a comment

    Texas bans storage of highly radioactive waste, but a West Texas facility may get a license from the feds anyway

    The new law may soon be in conflict with federal regulators. A decision from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on one company’s license could come as early as Monday.

    BY ERIN DOUGLAS  TEXAS TRIBUNE,  SEPT. 10, 2021  Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday night signed a bill into law that attempts to block a plan to store highly radioactive nuclear waste at a site in West Texas.

    House Bill 7 effectively bans highly radioactive materials from coming to Texas, targeting one company’s plan to build such a facility near the New Mexico border in Andrews County.

    But, the new state law may soon be in conflict with federal regulators. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is advancing the company’s application for a license to allow the high-level nuclear waste to Texas, and a decision from the federal agency could come as early as Monday, a spokesperson with the commission said.

    For years, environmental and consumer advocates have protested a proposal by a West Texas company, Waste Control Specialists, to build with a partner an interim storage site for high-level nuclear waste, which is mostly spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants. Waste Control Specialists has been disposing of the nation’s low-level nuclear waste, including tools, building materials and protective clothing exposed to radioactivity, for a decade in Andrews County.

    Scientists agree that spent nuclear fuel, which is currently kept on-site at nuclear power plants, should be stored deep underground, but the U.S. still hasn’t located a suitable site. The plan by the WCS joint venture, Interim Storage Partners, proposes storing it in above-ground casks until a permanent location is found. Spent nuclear fuel can remain radioactive for tens of thousands of years.

    The joint venture, Interim Storage Partners, applied to the NRC for a license to store spent nuclear fuel — the most dangerous type of nuclear waste — on a site adjacent to that existing facility until a permanent underground repository is built. No such facility currently exists in the U.S…………

    The legislation includes a ban on disposing of high-level radioactive waste in Texas other than former nuclear power reactors and former nuclear research and test reactors on university campuses (nuclear power plants must keep the waste generated from operations on-site until a long-term disposal site is created). The law will also bar state agencies from issuing construction, stormwater or pollution permits for facilities that are licensed to store high-level radioactive waste.

    Environmental groups applauded the state law: “We hope [the law] sends a clear message to the feds: We don’t want it,” said Adrian Shelley, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, in a statement.

    Karen Hadden, director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition, an alliance of businesses and organizations that has long opposed the nuclear waste facility, said in a statement that the law will “prevent unnecessary transportation risks nationwide.”

    Landgraf said in a statement that the state law should halt the construction of a site to store high-level nuclear waste because the law now bars the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from issuing the state permits that would be necessary to construct such a facility. He said the law protects Texas from “becoming the storage site for the entire country’s high-level radioactive waste.”   https://www.texastribune.org/2021/09/10/texas-nuclear-waste-ban/

    September 11, 2021 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

    Texas Legislature passes Bill to prevent import and storage of high level nuclear waste

    A bill passed by the Texas Legislature could ban the storage of high-level
    nuclear waste in the state and could prove a path to similar efforts in
    neighboring New Mexico. House Bill 7 was passed by the Texas House of
    Representatives on an 119-3 vote Sept. 2 and unanimously by the Texas
    Senate. The bill was sent to Gov. Greg Abbott for a signature and which
    would create a new state law. If enacted, the bill would expressly prohibit
    the state from issuing permits to construct or operate a facility to store
    nuclear waste within the state, with the exception of existing nuclear
    facilities like power plants that store the waste on-site.

     Carlsbad Current Argus 9th Sept 2021

    https://eu.currentargus.com/story/news/local/2021/09/09/could-new-mexico-follow-texas-ban-radioactive-nuclear-waste-storage/5759271001/

    September 11, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

    San Onofre’s nuclear waste buried under the beach – the best example of the failure of the nuclear industry and its poor outlook for the future

    A combination of failures:’ why 3.6m pounds of nuclear waste is buried on a popular California beach, Guardian, Kate Mishkin 24 Aug 21, 

    The San Onofre reactors are among dozens across the United States phasing out, but experts say they best represent the uncertain future of nuclear energy.

    It’s a combination of failures, really,”

    Spent fuel is stored at 76 reactor sites in 34 states

    It’s a self-reporting industry,” Hering, the retired rear admiral, said. “And they simply can’t be trusted.”


    More than 2 million visitors flock each year to California’s San Onofre state beach, a dreamy slice of coastline just north of San Diego. The beach is popular with surfers, lies across one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the Unites States and has a 10,000-year-old sacred Native American site nearby. It even landed a shout-out in the Beach Boys’ 1963 classic Surfin’ USA.

    But for all the good vibes and stellar sunsets, beneath the surface hides a potential threat: 3.6m lb of nuclear waste from a group of nuclear reactors shut down nearly a decade ago. Decades of political gridlock have left it indefinitely stranded, susceptible to threats including corrosion, earthquakes and sea level rise.

    The San Onofre reactors are among dozens across the United States phasing out, but experts say they best represent the uncertain future of nuclear energy.

    “It’s a combination of failures, really,” said Gregory Jaczko, who chaired the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the top federal enforcer, between 2009 and 2012, of the situation at San Onofre.

    That waste is the byproduct of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (Songs), three nuclear reactors primarily owned by the utility Southern California Edison (SCE).

    Buried waste

    Federal regulators had already cited SCE for several safety issues, including leaking radioactive waste and falsified firewatch records. But when a new steam generator began leaking a small amount of radioactivity in January 2012, just one year after it was replaced, it was SCE’s most serious problem yet. A subsequent report from the NRC’s inspector general found federal inspectors had overlooked red flags in 2009, and that SCE had replaced its own steam generators without proper approval. SCE tried to fix the problem but decided in 2013 to shut the plant down for good.Activists thought they had scored a victory when the reactor shut down – until they learned that the nuclear waste they had produced would remain on-site……

    Without a government-designated place to store the waste, the California Coastal Commission in 2015 approved the construction of an installation at San Onofre to store it until 2035In August 2020, workers concluded the multi-year burial process, loading the last of 73 canisters of waste into a concrete enclosure.

    San Onofre is not the only place where waste is left stranded. As more nuclear sites shut down, communities across the country are stuck with the waste left behind. Spent fuel is stored at 76 reactor sites in 34 states, according to the Department of Energy.

    Handling those stockpiles has been an afterthought to the NRC, the federal enforcer, said Allison Macfarlane, another former commission chair.

    “It was not a big topic at the NRC, unfortunately,” Macfarlane said. “In the nuclear industry in general the backend of the nuclear cycle gets very little attention. So it just never rises to ‘oh this is a very important issue, we should be doing something.’”

    Plenty of risks, and not enough oversight

    The waste is buried about 100ft from the shoreline, along the I-5 highway, one of the nation’s busiest thoroughfares, and not far from a pair of faults that experts say could generate a 7.4 magnitude earthquake.

    Another potential problem is corrosion. In its 2015 approval, the Coastal Commission noted the site could have a serious impact on the environment down the line, including on coastal access and marine life. “The [installation] would eventually be exposed to coastal flooding and erosion hazards beyond its design capacity, or else would require protection by replacing or expanding the existing Songs shoreline armoring,” the document says.

    Concerns have also been raised about government oversight of the site. Just after San Onofre closed, SCE began seeking exemptions from the NRC’s operating rules for nuclear plants. The utility asked and received permission to loosen rules on-site, including those dealing with record-keeping, radiological emergency plans for reactors, emergency planning zones and on-site staffing.

    San Onofre isn’t the only closed reactor to receive exemptions to its operating licence. The NRC’s regulations historically focused on operating reactors and assumed that, when a reactor shut down, the waste would be removed quickly.

    It’s true that the risk of accidents decreases when a plant isn’t operating, said Dave Lochbaum, former director of the nuclear safety project for the Union of Concerned Scientists. But adapting regulations through exemptions greatly reduces public transparency, he argued.

    “Exemptions are wink-wink, nudge-nudge deals with the NRC,” he said.

    In general, it’s not really a great practice,” former NRC chair Jaczko said about the exemptions. “If the NRC is regulating by exemption, it means that there’s something wrong with the rules … either the NRC believes the rules are not effective, and they’re not really useful, or the NRC is not holding the line where the NRC should be holding line,” he said.

    Close calls

    In 2015, the NRC tried unsuccessfully to revise its decommissioning rules and reduce the need for exemptions. But commissioners never acted, despite a 2019 Office of Inspector General audit that questioned whether the rule would ever see the light of day and that estimated that eliminating exemptions could save the NRC, utility and taxpayers about $19m for each reactor.

    In general, it’s not really a great practice,” former NRC chair Jaczko said about the exemptions. “If the NRC is regulating by exemption, it means that there’s something wrong with the rules … either the NRC believes the rules are not effective, and they’re not really useful, or the NRC is not holding the line where the NRC should be holding line,” he said.

    Meanwhile, at San Onofre, two close calls drew the ire of activists and townspeople. In 2018, workers found a loose piece of equipment in one of the canisters, causing a 10-day work stoppage to ensure the error didn’t pose a threat to the public. In a separate incident several months later, a canister filled with radioactive waste became wedged when employees were loading it into the ground and nearly dropped 18ft. The second incident was not made public until a whistleblower brought it up at a community event.

    After these incidents, the NRC cited SCE for failing to ensure equipment was available to protect the canister from a drop, and failing to notify the NRC in a timely manner. In a memo, NRC staff told SCE it was “concerned about apparent weaknesses” in managing storage oversight. SCE was fined $116,000 but permitted to continue loading casks within one year.

    Another concern is that the CEO of Holtec, the manufacturer of the canisters, told a 2014 community meeting that the canisters are difficult to repair. “It’s not practical to repair a canister if it were damaged,” Kris Singh said.

    According to a plan the California Coastal Commission approved in July 2020, SCE will also inspect two of the 73 buried canisters every five years, and a test canister every two and a half years, starting in 2024.

    But critics say they are not confident SCE would self-report given the utility’s record. “It’s a self-reporting industry,” Hering, the retired rear admiral, said. “And they simply can’t be trusted.”……….. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/24/san-onofre-nuclear-power-plant-radioactive-waste-unsafe

    September 9, 2021 Posted by | Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

    Protests as France sends latest shipment of used nuclear fuel to Japan 

    Protests as France sends latest nuclear shipment to Japan   https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210908-protests-as-france-sends-latest-nuclear-shipment-to-japanActivists from environmental group Greenpeace protested against a shipment of reprocessed nuclear fuel that was set to leave France for Japan on Wednesday for use in a power plant.

    The load of highly radioactive Mox, a mixture of reprocessed plutonium and uranium, was escorted by police from a plant near the port of Cherbourg to the dockyard in the early hours of the morning.

    A handful of Greenpeace activists waved flags and signs with anti-nuclear logos as they camped out on Tuesday night to wait for the heavy-goods truck transporting the high-security cargo.The Mox from French nuclear technology group Orano is destined for a nuclear plant in Takahama in Japan and is the seventh such shipment from France since 1999.
    Japan lacks facilities to process waste from its own nuclear reactors and sends most of it overseas, particularly to France.

    The country is building a long-delayed reprocessing plant in Aomori in northern Japan.

    “Orano and its partners have a longstanding experience in the transport of nuclear materials between Europe and Japan, in line with international regulations with the best safety and security records,” Orano said in a September 3 statement.

    The fuel is being shipped by two specially designed ships from British company PNTL.

    September 9, 2021 Posted by | France, Japan, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

    We mustn’t kick the radioactive nuclear waste can down the road any longer. It’s time to tackle the problem head-on.

    The current reality, as stated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is that a repository might never materialize, saddling nuclear plants with storing spent fuel onsite indefinitely.

    Creating more U.S. nuclear plants and deadly waste is insane when we can’t guarantee the safety of either existing aging plants or the 80,000-pluss metric tons of spent fuel already generated. The argument that nuclear is needed to address global warming reflects the same foolhardy mindset — ignoring adverse long-term impacts for short-term gains — that created the climate crisis in the first place.

    We mustn’t kick the radioactive nuclear waste can down the road any longer. It’s time to tackle the problem head-on.  

    Opinion: Investing in More Nuclear Power Can’t Be Our Solution to Climate Change  https://timesofsandiego.com/opinion/2021/09/03/investing-in-more-nuclear-power-cant-be-a-solution-to-the-climate-crisis/ by Sarah Mosko, Two days agoIf you live in Orange or San Diego County, hopefully you’re aware that San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has been turned into a nuclear waste dump for the foreseeable future. If you live on planet earth, you’re wise to be tracking domestic and foreign moves to increase reliance on nuclear energy.

    The United States ushered in the atomic age in 1945 by dropping a uranium bomb on Hiroshima and a plutonium bomb on Nagasaki. We now have 3.6 million pounds of these and other lethal radioactive elements sitting on the beach at San Onofre in temporary canisters, scheduled to remain there indefinitely.

    No one has figured out how to safely dispose of deadly nuclear waste. Yet, to combat the climate crisis, the United States and the world propose to create more of it by extending the life of existing nuclear power plants and building new ones. Has the world learned nothing from the catastrophes of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima?

    Since San Onofre closed down in 2013, controversy has swirled around the dry waste storage systems selected by the plant’s operator, Southern California Edison.

    As is true of all U.S.’s nuclear plants, San Onofre wasn’t designed for nuclear waste storage after decommissioning. The Nuclear Waste Act of 1982 mandated construction of a deep geological repository to store the nation’s spent fuel for the hundreds of thousands of years it remains deadly. However, as hopes for a repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain collapsed out of concern about groundwater contamination, talk turned to creating “interim” storage sites in Texas and New Mexico, though those states are balking at the prospect too.

    The current reality, as stated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is that a repository might never materialize, saddling nuclear plants with storing spent fuel onsite indefinitely.

    As of last August, all of San Onofre’s spent fuel was transferred into 123 dry storage canisters, each with the potential to release as much highly radioactive Cesium-137 as was released during the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

    San Onofre’s canisters are thin-walled (5/8 inch) stainless steel and susceptible to “stress corrosion cracking” in a marine environment. They weren’t designed for safe maintenance, inspection, storage or transport.

    The potential consequences of cracks are far worse than small radiation releases into the atmosphere: Canisters are filled with helium expressly to limit corrosion and prevent explosions triggered by air or water getting inside.

    Contrast this with thick-walled (10-19 inches) casks used in most countries which aren’t susceptible to stress corrosion cracking and are designed for maintenance, inspection, storage and transport.

    Continue reading

    September 6, 2021 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment