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World’s first public database of mine tailings dams aims to prevent deadly disasters

World’s first public database of mine tailings dams aims to prevent deadly disasters

Previously unreleased data offer unprecedented view into mining industry’s waste storage practices


Until now, there has been no central database detailing the location and quantity of the mining industry’s liquid and solid waste, known as tailings. The waste is typically stored in embankments called tailings dams, which have periodically failed with devastating consequences for communities, wildlife and ecosystems.

“This portal could save lives”, says Elaine Baker, senior expert at GRID-Arendal and a geosciences professor with the University of Sydney in Australia. “Dams are getting bigger and bigger. Mining companies have found most of the highest-grade ores and are now mining lower-grade ones, which create more waste. With this information, the entire industry can work towards reducing dam failures in the future.”

The database allows users to view detailed information on more than 1,700 tailings dams around the world, categorized by location, company, dam type, height, volume, and risk, among other factors.

“Most of this information has never before been publicly available”, says Kristina Thygesen, GRID-Arendal’s programme leader for geological resources and a member of the team that worked on the portal. When GRID-Arendal began in-depth research on mine tailings dams in 2016, very little data was accessible. In a 2017 report on tailings dams, co-published by GRID and the UN Environment Programme, one of the key recommendations was to establish an accessible public-interest database of tailings storage facilities.

“This database brings a new level of transparency to the mining industry, which will benefit regulators, institutional investors, scientific researchers, local communities, the media, and the industry itself”, says Thygesen.

The release of the Global Tailings Portal coincides with the one-year anniversary of the tailings dam collapse in Brumadinho, Brazil, that killed 270 people. After that disaster, a group of institutional investors led by the Church of England Pensions Board asked 726 of the world’s largest mining companies to disclose details about their tailings dams. Many of the companies complied, and the information they released has been incorporated into the database.

For more information on tailings dams, see the 2017 report “Mine Tailings Storage: Safety Is No Accident” and the related collection of graphics, which are available for media use.

About GRID-Arendal

GRID-Arendal supports environmentally sustainable development by working with the UN Environment Programme and other partners. We communicate environmental knowledge that motivates decision-makers and strengthens management capacity. We transform environmental data into credible, science-based information products, delivered through innovative communication tools and capacity-building services.

January 27, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, Uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan could decide on fate of radioactive waste water before the Olympics in July

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Japan, wastes, water | Leave a comment

Lawmakers seek safeguards on decommissioning of Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station

January 27, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Tepco estimates 44 years to decommission its Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant.

Japan Times 23rd Jan 2020, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. has estimated that it will take 44 years to decommission its Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant. Tepco presented the outline of decommissioning plans to the municipal assembly of Tomioka, one of the two host towns of the nuclear plant, on Wednesday.

The Fukushima No. 2 plant is located south of the No. 1 plant, which suffered a triple meltdown accident in the wake of the March 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami.

According to the outline, the decommissioning process for the No.
2 plant will have four stages, taking 10 years for the first stage, 12
years for the second stage and 11 years each for the third and fourth

Tepco will survey radioactive contamination at the nuclear plant in
the first stage, clear equipment around nuclear reactors in the second,
remove the reactors in the third and demolish the reactor buildings in the
fourth. Meanwhile, the plant operator will transfer a total of 9,532 spent
nuclear fuel units at the plant to a fuel reprocessing company by the end
of the decommissioning process, and 544 unused fuel units to a processing
firm by the start of the third stage.

January 27, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan | Leave a comment

Ontario landowners sign deal with agency looking to store used nuclear fuel

January 27, 2020 Posted by | Canada, wastes | Leave a comment

In UK “deep disposal” is planned for the mounting, costly and forever problem of nuclear wastes

How To Solve Nuclear Energy’s Biggest Problem  By Haley Zaremba – Jan 22, 2020, Nuclear waste is a huge issue and it’s not going away any time soon–in fact, it’s not going away for millions of years. While most types of nuclear waste remain radioactive for mere tens of thousands of years, the half-life of Chlorine-36 is 300,000 years and neptunium-237 boasts a half-life of a whopping 2 million years.

All this radioactivity amounts to a huge amount of maintenance to ensure that our radioactive waste is being properly managed throughout its extraordinarily long shelf life and isn’t endangering anyone. And, it almost goes without saying, all this maintenance comes at a cost. In the United States, nuclear waste carries a particularly hefty cost.

Last year, in a hard-hitting expose on the nuclear industry’s toll on U.S. taxpayers, the Los Angeles Times reported that “almost 40 years after Congress decided the United States, and not private companies, would be responsible for storing radioactive waste, the cost of that effort has grown to $7.5 billion, and it’s about to get even pricier.” 

How much pricier? A lot. “With no place of its own to keep the waste, the government now says it expects to pay $35.5 billion to private companies as more and more nuclear plants shut down, unable to compete with cheaper natural gas and renewable energy sources. Storing spent fuel at an operating plant with staff and technology on hand can cost $300,000 a year. The price for a closed facility: more than $8 million, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.” 

With the United States as a poster child of what not to do with your nuclear waste, the United Kingdom is taking a much different tack. The UK is currently undertaking what the country’s Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) department says “will be one of the UK’s largest ever environmental projects.” This nuclear waste storage solution comes in the form of a geological disposal facility (GDF), a waste disposal method that involves burying nuclear waste deep, deep underground in a cocoon of backfill, most commonly comprised of bentonite-based cement. This type of cement is able to absorb shocks and is ideal for containing radioactive particles in case of any failure. The GDF system would also be at such a depth that it would be under the water table, minimizing any risk of contaminating the groundwater.

According to reporting from Engineering & Technology, nuclear waste is a mounting issue in Europe and in the UK in particular. “Under European law, all countries that create radioactive waste are obliged to find their own disposal solutions – shipping nuclear waste is not generally permitted except in some legacy agreements. However, when the first countries charged into nuclear energy generation (or nuclear weapons research), disposal of the radioactive waste was not a major consideration. For several of those countries, like the UK, that is now around 70 years ago, and the waste has been ‘stored’ rather than disposed of. It remains a problem.”

In fact, not only does it remain a problem, it is a mounting problem. As nuclear waste has been improperly or shortsightedly managed in the past, the current administration can no longer avoid dealing with the issue. In the past the UK used its Drigg Low-Level Waste Repository on the Cumbrian Coast to treat low and intermediate level waste, but now, thanks to coastal erosion, the facility will soon begin leeching radioactive materials into the sea, although that might not be quite as scary as it sounds.

Back in 2014, the Environment Agency raised concerns that coastal erosion could result in leakage from the site within 100 to 1,000 years, although it was counter-claimed that the levels of radioactivity after such a time would be low enough to be harmless,” Engineering & Technology writes. “This would definitely not be the case for high-level wastes, where radioactivity could remain a hazard into and beyond the next ice age, hence the need for longer-term disposal.” 

Where exactly will that longer-term disposal be based? That’s up for debate. And it won’t be an easy thing to decide, as the RWM says that they will need a community to volunteer to be involved in such a costly, lengthy, and potentially unpopular project. And it’s not just an issue for the current inhabitants of potential locations in the UK, but for many generations to come over the next tens of thousands of years of radioactivity

January 25, 2020 Posted by | UK, wastes | 1 Comment

Sloppy safety and waste management at Electricite de France’s nuclear sites

Improve Nuclear Plant Maintenance Works, Watchdog Says, Francois de Beaupuy, Bloomberg News  (Bloomberg) 24 Jan 2020 — Electricite de France SA and its suppliers must improve maintenance operations at nuclear reactors and waste management because they have lost skills and become sloppy in recent years, the French nuclear safety authority said.

The warning reflects a string of incidents related to substandard manufacturing or installation of equipment at EDF and its suppliers. It underscores the difficulties the French nuclear giant faces in extending the lifetime of aging reactors and building new ones, prompting it to announce an action plan to revamp the industry’s skills.

“There’s a need to reinforce skills and some carelessness among some players in the industry,” Bernard Doroszczuk, chairman of Autorite de Surete Nucleaire, said at a press conference near Paris on Thursday. “There’s a lack of rigor in the oversight of safety by operators,” from manufacturing to welding to equipment tests “which must be corrected.”

Discussions are still going on with EDF regarding safety improvements, including ways to prevent or mitigate the impact outside its plants in case of a severe accident such as the meltdown of the radioactive fuel and its vessel, said Sylvie Cadet-Mercier, a commissioner of the regulator. A spokesman for the utility declined to comment……

January 25, 2020 Posted by | France, safety, wastes | Leave a comment

China’s nuclear ghost city 404 – a personal story

404: The City Left Behind by China’s Nuclear Ambitions, Jan 2020,
An artist goes looking for his past in a Cold War ghost town.   Li Yang grew up in what he thought was a boring town. It was called 404, like the error code, and sat a couple hours from the nearest city, in the sun-beaten Gobi Desert of western China. There was no commercial movie theater—just a zoo with a handful of cages, several small video game arcades, and a skating rink that eventually closed. To Yang, it seemed small and backwards. He dreamed of the day he’d leave and “see the big, outside world,” he says.

But despite the humdrum, 404 wasn’t exactly boring: It was once part of a massive nuclear weapons base in the People’s Republic of China. In 1955, following threats of nuclear attacks from the United States, Chairman Mao Zedong resolved to stock his own atomic arsenal.

The USSR promised to provide blueprints and a prototype for a bomb, and as part of the quest, helped build the Jiuquan Atomic Energy Complex, dubbed Plant 404. Though an ideological squabble caused the Soviets to withdraw just after construction started, China plowed forward. The site hosted the nation’s first nuclear reactor, which generated an estimated .9 tons of weapons-grade plutonium between 1966 and 1984, as well as plutonium processing factories and nuclear warhead workshops. (Later, the complex was converted for use by the civilian nuclear industry.)

China staffed its war complex with the country’s finest scientists, technicians, and other workers, who lived in a closed settlement absent from most maps. Yang’s grandparents and parents moved there in 1958, leaving their home in Beijing to forge a new one on a windy frontier a thousand miles away. At its height, Yang’s parents told him, the town had a population of some 50,000 people.

But by the time Yang was a kid, the population had dwindled. He remembers just about 100 kids in his grade. After dinner, people chatted under a statue of Chairman Mao in the square and took strolls. “Some walked around in the park, others along the half-mile main road,” Yang says. “Because the city was so small, people might meet each other several times in one night, until they were too embarrassed to say hello.”

Yang finally got his wish to leave in 2003, enrolling in college in Sichuan province and eventually settling in Beijing. But as he got older, he started to miss 404 and the simplicity of life there. He couldn’t move home if he wanted to, though. In the mid-2000s, according to Chinese media, residents seeking a better quality of life voted to relocate their housing to the more desirable city of Jiqyuguan.

Yang’s nostalgia grew so strong, though, that in 2013 he packed a couple cameras in his car and drove back to 404 to photograph what remained. The guards let him in since he’d lived there. The town wasn’t entirely empty—some people chose to stay, Yang says—but it was eerily quiet. Yang wandered his old haunts on foot, memories flooding back as he visited his old elementary school classroom, the public baths where he used to shower, and even his family’s former house, now demolished. One of two poplar trees he had planted out front was dead.

He returned three more times to produce the images in his series 404 Not Found. To Yang, they represent the home of his childhood—“the place I want to go back to but can’t,” he says. For others, they’re a fascinating glimpse at a remote town born from geopolitical strife during a period in Chinese history not often seen—however dull it might have seemed to the teenagers who lived through it.

A book on the series is out from Jiazazhi Publishing Project.

January 21, 2020 Posted by | China, environment, PERSONAL STORIES, wastes | Leave a comment

California fights NASA over toxic Santa Susana nuclear site

California, NASA Clash Over Cleanup at Nuclear, Rocket Site,

  • California says the space agency is not adhering to past agreements
  • NASA needs to redraft a cleanup plan, toxics agency says

California’s toxics agency is opposing a revised NASA cleanup plan to remove contamination at a former rocket and energy research site where a partial meltdown happened decades ago, calling the federal agency’s proposal irregular, infeasible, and legally deficient.

It’s the latest fight in a long tussle over the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a 2,850-acre site in Simi Valley near Los Angeles, where an estimated 17,000 rockets engine tests occurred. The lab, which operated from 1948 to 2006, was also home to 10 nuclear reactors where the Energy Department and what is now the Boeing Co. did energy research.

The site experienced a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959, but evidence wasn’t revealed until 20 years later. Cleanup work has been ongoing since the 1960s.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration agreed to a consent order in 2010 with the state Department of Toxic Substances Control requiring soil remediation of the site, which was contaminated with 16 radiologicals like cesium-137, and 116 chemicals.

A final environmental review was completed in 2014, but the space agency issued a separate draft cleanup plan in October based on new data showing more contamination.

The draft plan provides options for how much soil would be excavated. One option, the one that reflects the agreement in original administrative order on consent with the state, calls for excavating 870,000 cubic yards, an increase from the 500,000 cubic yards estimated in the 2014 plan to meet the standard agreed upon with the state. The other options call for removing lesser amounts, down to 176,500 cubic yards. The plan also considers a no-action alternative.

NASA said in the draft supplemental environmental impact statement that it hasn’t chosen a preferred option yet.

In a letter sent to NASA Jan. 8, the Department of Toxic Substances Control asked the space agency to revise its cleanup plans to reflect the original administrative order on consent, known as an AOC.

State Agency Rejects Other Options

“NASA must also be aware that DTSC is not open to considering NASA cleanup alternatives which are non-compliant with the AOC,” the letter said. “DTSC also will not renegotiate the binding AOC soil cleanup commitments to accommodate challenges NASA claims will be posed by the [Santa Susana Field Laboratory] cleanup implementation.”

The letter criticized some of NASA’s options as irregular because they called for decreased cleanup when contamination had ncreased. It called excavating less contaminated soil than called for in the 2010 agreement infeasible.

“NASA has failed to provide a rational explanation or data to support the [DSEIS] irregularities and unexplained reversal,” DTSC wrote, calling the plan “legally deficient.”

In its draft cleanup plan, NASA said it would be hard to find adequate backfill to support vegetation in areas that were excavated.

A NASA spokeswoman said Jan. 14 that the agency was reviewing comments made about the draft plan and valued input from all stakeholders.

“NASA is eager to work with DTSC and the community to implement a cleanup that is based in science, technically achievable, and is protective of the surrounding community and the natural environment,” Jennifer Stanfield wrote in an email.

NASA didn’t immediately respond to a question about other cleanup sites where revisions to agreements were being sought. DTSC couldn’t immediately say if the space agency had sought changes at other state cleanup sites.

Groups Back Cleanup Agreement

Community, environmental, and justice groups say the 2010 plan reached with the state is adequate and that NASA has no authority to decide how much contamination it must remove.

New estimates pointing to more contamination than previously thought also mean NASA should redouble cleanup efforts, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Committee to Bridge the Gap said in a comment letter to NASA about its draft supplemental environmental impact statement (DSEIS).

“The decision by the Trump Administration NASA to issue this DSEIS sets the stage for abandoning huge amounts of chemically hazardous material and would consign this important land in Southern California, set in the midst of millions of California residents, to never be cleaned up,” the groups wrote.

The new plan wasn’t a surprise. A NASA inspector general report issued in March said the cleanup would take too long and would be too costly and stringent. The Department of Energy is also seeking to reduce its cleanup obligations.

For its part, the toxics agency plans to issue a final environmental impact report this summer that “fully complies with and implements” the 2010 agreement, DTSC spokesman Russ Edmondson said in an email.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emily C. Dooley at, To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at; Sylvia Carignan at; Renee Schoof at

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January 18, 2020 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Australian government plans to transport nuclear wastes 1000s of kilometres, a dangerous plan in view of bushfires

Transporting nuclear wastes across Australia in the age of bushfires, Independent Australia, By Noel Wauchope | IN 2020, the final decision on a site for Australia’s interim National Radioactive Waste Facility will be announced, said Resources Minister Matt Canavan on 13 December.

He added:  I will make a formal announcement early next year on the site-selection process.”

With bushfires raging, it might seem insensitive and non-topical to be worrying now about this coming announcement on a temporary nuclear waste site and the transport of nuclear wastes to it. But this is relevant and all too serious in the light of Australia’s climate crisis.

The U.S. National Academies Press compiled a lengthy and comprehensive report on risks of transporting nuclear wastes — they concluded that among various risks, the most serious and significant is fire:…..

Current bushfire danger areas include much of New South Wales, including the Lucas Heights area, North and coastal East Victoria and in South Australia the lower Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas. If nuclear wastes were to be transported across the continent, whether by land or by sea, from the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in Sydney to Kimba in South Australia, they’d be travelling through much of these areas. Today, they’d be confronting very long duration, fully engulfing fires.

Do we know what route the nuclear wastes would be taking to Kimba, which is now presumed to be the Government’s choice for the waste dump? Does the Department of Industry Innovation and Science know? Does the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) know? Well, they might, but they’re not going to tell us.

We can depend on ANSTO’s consistent line on this :

‘In line with standard operational and security requirements, ANSTO will not comment on the port, routes or timing until after the transport is complete.’

That line is understandable of course, due to security considerations, including the danger of terrorism.

Spent nuclear fuel rods have been transported several times, from Lucas Heights to ports – mainly Port Kembla – in great secrecy and security. The reprocessed wastes are later returned from France or the UK with similar caution. Those secret late-night operations are worrying enough, but their risks seem almost insignificant when compared with the marathon journey envisaged in what is increasingly looking like a crackpot ANSTO scheme for the proposed distant Kimba interim nuclear dump. It is accepted that these temporary dumps are best located as near as practical to the point of production, as in the case of USA’s sites.

Australians, beset by the horror of extreme bushfires, can still perhaps count themselves as lucky in that, compared with wildfire regions in some countries, they do not yet have the compounding horror of radioactive contamination spread along with the ashes and smoke.

Fires in Russia have threatened its secret nuclear areas……

Many in America have long been aware of the transport danger:

The state of Nevada released a report in 2003 concluding that a steel-lead-steel cask would have failed after about six hours in the fire and a solid steel cask would have failed after about 11 to 12.5 hours. There would have been contamination over 32 square miles of the city and the contamination would have killed up to 28,000 people over 50 years.

The State of Wyoming is resisting hosting a nuclear waste dump, largely because of transportation risks as well as economic risks. In the UK, Somerset County Council rejects plans for transport of wastes through Somerset.

In the years 2016–2019, proposals for nuclear waste dumping in South Australia have been discussed by government and media as solely a South Australian concern. The present discussion about Kimba is being portrayed as just a Kimba community concern.

Yet, when the same kind of proposal was put forward in previous years, it was recognised as an issue for other states, too.

Most reporting on Australia’s bushfires has been excellent, with the exception of Murdoch media trying to downplay their seriousness. However, there has been no mention of the proximity of bushfires to Lucas Heights. As happened with the fires in 2018, this seems to be a taboo subject in the Australian media.

While it has never been a good idea to trek the Lucas Heights nuclear waste for thousands of kilometres across the continent – or halfway around it by sea – Australia’s new climate crisis has made it that much more dangerous. Is the bushfire apocalypse just a one-off? Or, more likely, is this nationwide danger the new normal?,13465

January 9, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, wastes | Leave a comment

Britain’s £1.2bn cleanup begins, of Berkeley power station, closed 30 years ago

January 6, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, Reference, UK | Leave a comment

Germany To Close All Nuclear Plants By 2022

Germany Aims To Close All Nuclear Plants By 2022,, By Tsvetana Paraskova – Dec 30, 2019, Germany is going forward with its plan to phase out nuclear reactors by 2022 as another nuclear power plant is going offline on December 31.Power company EnBW has said that it would take the Philippsburg 2 reactor off the grid at 7 p.m. local time on New Year’s Eve.

This leaves Germany with six nuclear power plants that will have to close by 2022.

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011, Germany ordered the immediate shutdown of eight of its 17 reactors, and plans to phase out nuclear power plants entirely by 2022.

The Philippsburg 2 reactor near the city of Karlsruhe in southwestern Germany has provided energy for 35 years. The Philippsburg 1 reactor—opened in 1979—was taken offline in 2011.

Over the past few years, nuclear power generation in Germany has been declining with the shutdown of its nuclear plants, while electricity production from renewable sources has been rising.

In January this year, Germany became the latest large European economy to lay out a plan to phase out coal-fired power generation, aimed at cutting carbon emissions—a metric in which Berlin has been lagging in recent years.

A government-appointed special commission at Europe’s largest economy announced the conclusions of its months-long review and proposed that Germany shut all its 84 coal-fired power plants by 2038.

Germany, where coal, hard coal, and lignite combined currently provide around 35 percent of power generation, has a longer timetable for phasing out coal than the UK and Italy, for example—who plan their coal exit by 2025—not only because of its vast coal industry, but also because Germany will shut down all its nuclear power plants within the next three years.

The closure of all nuclear reactors in Germany by 2022 means that Germany might need to retain half of its coal-fired power generation until 2030 to offset the nuclear phase-out, German Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier said earlier this year.

January 2, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, Germany, politics | Leave a comment

Germany’s nuclear phase-out enters final stretch

Germany shuts down atomic plant as nuclear phase-out enters final stretch, DW, 1 Jan 2020, The Philippsburg power station is one of the only plants still operating in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg. Germany has vowed to start decommissioning every nuclear power facility by the end of 2022.Operators began shutting down the Philippsburg nuclear power plant in southern Germany on Tuesday, as the country puts into motion its plan to begin decommissioning all 17 of its atomic energy facilities by the end of 2022. …..

The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan led to widespread anti-atomic-power protests across Germany. Two months after the accident, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that all plants would be closed over the next decade, making Germany the second country after Italy to shut down all of its atomic energy stations.

The German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND) welcomed the news. A BUND spokesman said the group hoped to see the end of nuclear power being “conjured up again and again as a supposed healing charm and climate savior.”

However, Wolfram König, who heads the German government’s office for the nuclear phase-out, warned that the country still faced the great “challenge” of trying to phase out both coal and atomic energy at the same time.

January 2, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany, politics | Leave a comment

U.S. Congress Demands Investigation Into the U.S.’s Nuclear Coffin, The Runit Dome

December 28, 2019 Posted by | OCEANIA, oceans, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA’s Hanford nuclear site could suffer the same fate as Russia’s Mayak – or worse

Massive Nuclear Explosion similar to Kyrshtym by Mayak Can Happen at Hanford if the site is not Monitored and tanks not taken care of.

A Ten Thousand Gallon Tank at Mayak Exploded from Heat Decay. The Heat Deacy was from Strontium 90, Cesium 137, Cobalt 60 and Plutonium Stored in the Underground Tank. The explosion was equivalent to 100 tons of TNT. There are 55 million gallons of the same Radionuclide Mix stored at Hanford, in UnderGround Tanks. They used nitic acid to extract radionuclides at hanford as they did at Kyahym, by Mayak. The nitrates mixed with heat decaying rand hydrogen gas generating radionuclides are very much like the explosive brew that went off in Kyshtym in 1957 and there are 55 million gallons of the explosive brew at Hanford. The heat decay, heat emitting Radionuclides and Hydrogen gas generating explosive mix and the nitrates in the brew are very much at risk for a massive catastrophic chemical-radionuclide explosion . The Kyshtym disaster was a radioactive contamination accident that occurred on 29 September 1957 at Mayak, a plutonium production site in Russia for nuclear weapons and nuclear fuel reprocessing plant of the Soviet Union.

If the exlplosive stew becomes too concentrated and hot, the same thing will Happen there, contaminating a Great Portion of the Pacific NW USA and southe western Canada.

Medvedev, Zhores A. (4 November 1976). “Two Decades of Dissidence”. New Scientist.
Medvedev, Zhores A. (1980). Nuclear disaster in the Urals translated by George Saunders. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-394-74445-2. (c1979)
In 1957 the cooling system in one of the tanks containing about 70–80 tons of liquid radioactive waste failed and was not repaired. The temperature in it started to rise, resulting in evaporation and a chemical explosion of the dried waste, consisting mainly of ammonium nitrate and acetates (see ammonium nitrate/fuel oil bomb). The explosion, on 29 September 1957, estimated to have a force of about 70–100 tons of TNT,[10] threw the 160-ton concrete lid into the air.[8] There were no immediate casualties as a result of the explosion, but it released an estimated 20 MCi (800 PBq) of radioactivity. Most of this contamination settled out near the site of the accident and contributed to the pollution of the Techa River, but a plume containing 2 MCi (80 PBq) of radionuclides spread out over hundreds of kilometers. Previously contaminated areas within the affected area include the Techa river, which had previously received 2.75 MCi (100 PBq) of deliberately dumped waste, and Lake Karachay, which had received 120 MCi (4,000 PBq).
In the next 10 to 11 hours, the radioactive cloud moved towards the north-east, reaching 300–350 km (190–220 mi) from the accident. The fallout of the cloud resulted in a long-term contamination of an area of more than 800 to 20,000 km2 (310 to 7,720 sq mi), depending on what contamination level is considered significant, primarily with caesium-137 and strontium-90. This area is usually referred to as the East-Ural Radioactive Trace EURT

December 21, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Reference, wastes | 2 Comments