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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Britain’s planned new nuclear reactors will produce twice as much highly radioactive trash as now exists

The nuclear industry and government have repeatedly said the volume of nuclear waste produced by new reactors will truthbe small, approximately 10% of the volume of existing wastes; implying this additional waste will not make a significant difference to finding a GDF for the wastes the UK’s nuclear industry has already created. However, the use of volume as a measure of the impact of radioactive waste is highly misleading.

A much better measure would be the likely impact of wastes and spent fuel on the size or “footprint” of a GDF. New reactors will use so-called ‘high burn-up fuel’ which will be much more radioactive than the spent fuel produced by existing reactors. As a result it will generate more heat, so it will need to be allocated more space in the GDF’s disposal chambers. So rather than using volume as a yardstick, the amount of radioactivity in the waste – and the space required in a GDF to deal with it – are more appropriate ways of measuring the impact of nuclear waste from new reactors.

radioactive trashThe activity of existing waste – mostly stored at Sellafield amounts to 4,770,000 TBq. The proposed reactors at Moorside would produce spent fuel and ILW with an activity of around 4,206,012 TBq making a total of 8,976012 TBq stored in Cumbria. However the activity of spent fuel and ILW stored at new reactor sites outwith Cumbria would amount to 15,586,988 TBq – almost twice as much. And if we assume that the reactors at Bradwell goahead it will probably be more than twice as much.

NuClear News No 90 4. Nuclear Waste Updates  The Department of Business, Energy and flag-UKhighly-recommendedIndustrial Strategy – BEIS – (formerly called ‘DECC’) was planning to hold two public consultations, on the draft National Policy Statement for a Geological Disposal Facility and on Working With Communities based on the work of the Community Representation Working Group, this autumn, but the uncertainty caused by recent turbulence in the wider political environment means that these now look likely to be delayed until early 2017.

Energy Minister Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe hailed a “nuclear renaissance” when she addressed the Office for Nuclear Regulation Industry Conference in Cumbria. She said that as well as Hinkley Point C and proposals for new reactors at Moorside the Government is “going further, with proposals to develop 18GW of nuclear power across six sites in the UK.”

She said the Government would be launching a new siting process for a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) in 2017. The Whitehaven News reported that the site for the GDF would almost certainly be in West Cumbria, but this was not in the Minister’s published speech. (1)

Just to finally knock on the head the idea that most of the nuclear waste is in Cumbria already so we might as well build the GDF there, nuClear News has done some number crunching:

Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM) has developed a detailed inventory of radioactive waste for disposal in its proposed GDF which it calls the ‘Derived Inventory’. This inventory is subject to uncertainty due to a range of factors such as uncertainty about the life of the AGR reactors and what happens to the UK’s plutonium inventory, and, of course proposals for new reactors.

The Derived Inventory is therefore updated periodically to take into account new information. RWM published a new 2013 Derived Inventory in July 2015. This can be compared with the previous 2010 Derived Inventory to obtain further information about the impact of a new reactor programme. The table below is from an RWM report which does just that. (2)

The 2010 inventory showed a derived inventory (2010 DI) which did not include any spent fuel or other waste from new reactors and an upper inventory (2010 UI) – which did include spent fuel and wastes from a 10GW new reactor programme. On the other hand the 2013 Derived Inventory has only one set of figures which includes spent fuel and waste from a 16GW new reactor programme. As mentioned above this could increase in future to take account of the fact that the Government now anticipates the size of the new reactor programme will be 18GW, to allow for the latest additional to the proposed fleet – Bradwell B. Beyond that there are ambitions to build between 7 and 21GW of Small Modular Reactor (SMR) capacity by 2035.

The nuclear industry and government have repeatedly said the volume of nuclear waste produced by new reactors will be small, approximately 10% of the volume of existing wastes; implying this additional waste will not make a significant difference to finding a GDF for the wastes the UK’s nuclear industry has already created. However, the use of volume as a measure of the impact of radioactive waste is highly misleading.

A much better measure would be the likely impact of wastes and spent fuel on the size or “footprint” of a GDF. New reactors will use so-called ‘high burn-up fuel’ which will be much more radioactive than the spent fuel produced by existing reactors. As a result it will generate more heat, so it will need to be allocated more space in the GDF’s disposal chambers. So rather than using volume as a yardstick, the amount of radioactivity in the waste – and the space required in a GDF to deal with it – are more appropriate ways of measuring the impact of nuclear waste from new reactors. The total activity measured in Terabecquerels (TBq) of the 2010 Derived Inventory, (not including any wastes from new reactors) was 4,770,000 TBq.

The total activity given in the 2013 Derived Inventory, which includes waste and spent fuel from a 16GW new reactor programme, was 27,300,000 TBq. Not all of this huge increase in activity is down to new reactors. For instance there is a big jump in the activity of legacy spent fuel and 3,700,000 TBq from spent mixed plutonium-uranium oxide (MoX) fuel – a category which does not appear at all in the 2010 inventory. However, 19,793,000 TBq is activity from new reactor wastes and spent fuel. So the activity of radioactive waste from a new reactor programme would be roughly four times the activity in the total 2010 inventory.

Of course this figure is for a 16GW new reactor programme. For an 18GW programme the total activity of spent fuel and intermediate level waste would be about 22,267,125 TBq or almost five times the activity of existing waste.

[Table on original]

These numbers are significant because of the amount of repository space taken up by existing waste mostly located in Cumbria compared with waste stored on reactor sites outwith Cumbria. The NDA has estimated the total repository footprint for a baseline inventory (the total waste expected to be created by the existing programme) of between 5.6 km2 and 10.3km2 depending on the rock-type. However, the footprint from a maximum inventory which includes a 16GW new reactor programme would be between 12.3km2 and 25km2. (3)  [Table on original]

So the activity of existing waste – mostly stored at Sellafield amounts to 4,770,000 TBq. The proposed reactors at Moorside would produce spent fuel and ILW with an activity of around 4,206,012 TBq making a total of 8,976012 TBq stored in Cumbria. However the activity of spent fuel and ILW stored at new reactor sites outwith Cumbria would amount to 15,586,988 TBq – almost twice as much. And if we assume that the reactors at Bradwell goahead it will probably be more than twice as much. http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo90.pdf

December 2, 2016 Posted by | Reference, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Hanford’s nuclear site ‘the most toxic place in America’

Former nuclear site in Washington state is ‘causing workers to develop terminal illnesses’ – and it won’t be cleaned up for another 50 more years (photos) 

  • The Hanford Site in Washington state was used to produce plutonium from 1943 through the end of the Cold War
  • Washington River Protection Solutions is now cleaning up the site 
  • Workers at the site say they are being exposed to radioactive fumes 
  • A watchdog group says that three workers have died as a result of exposure to nuclear waste on the job  
  • Just this year, 61 workers have allegedly been exposed to toxic materials
  • But the government contractor says that everyone who has been checked out for possible exposure has been cleared to return to work 

 

A former nuclear site in Washington state is poisoning workers and threatening the health of those who live around it, according to a new investigation.

Some experts have called the former Hanford nuclear plant ‘the most toxic place in America’ and ‘an underground Chernobyl waiting to happen’.

The site, located in a rural area along the Columbia River, was commissioned by the Manhattan Project to produce plutonium for the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.  

It remained an active nuclear site until the end of the Cold War, when it was decommissioned and the Department of Energy subcontracted Washington River Protection Solutions to start the clean-up.

But current and former workers at the site have told NBC that the underground containers holding the site’s nuclear waste are leaking, and that they have been exposed to the toxic fumes because the company has not given them the right safety equipment.

Their health issues include dementia, nerve damage, memory loss and respiratory problems.

Watchdog group Hanford Challenge says that at least three workers’ deaths have been linked to exposure at the site, but officials with Washington River Protection Solutions have refused to admit they are putting their workers in danger. Those workers are Gary Sall, Deb Fish and Dan Golden.

But several studies show that’s not the case and just this year, 61 workers have allegedly been exposed to toxic materials.

For their story, NBC spoke to DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Whitney, who said that all workers who have been evaluated for possible exposure have been cleared to return to work. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3986750/Former-nuclear-site-Washington-state-causing-workers-develop-terminal-illnesses-won-t-cleaned-50-years.html#ixzz4RctEncj2

December 2, 2016 Posted by | health, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Chernobyl nuclear reactor now encased in steel tomb

Chernobyl reactor entombed in giant steel shield 30 years after worst nuclear disaster in history [Excellent photos] Mirror, 1 Dec 16 Thirty years after an explosion ripped apart the Chernobyl power plant and spewed radioactive dust across Europe, the devastated reactor number four has finally been sealed off.  Built with bolts from Wrexham and overseen by a man from Bury, this gigantic steel shield encases the reactor responsible for the worst nuclear disaster in history.

diagram-Chernobyl-sarcophag

Thirty years after an explosion ripped apart the Chernobyl power plant and spewed radioactive dust across Europe, the devastated reactor number four has finally been sealed off. Six years in the making, the 108-metre-high arch is the largest moveable land structure ever built. Its completion brings an end to a nightmare that has scarred two generations.

At a ceremony inside the radiation exclusion zone in Ukraine, British engineer David Driscoll, 66, told of his vital role as health and safety manager overseeing one of the most daunting construction projects ever undertaken….

The shimmering steel structure looms large over the frozen wasteland rendered uninhabitable by the catastrophe on 26 April, 1986.

More than 200,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the weeks afterwards as the then Soviet Union government slowly reacted to the poisoned legacy of the leak.

Deserted houses by the roadside in the exclusion zone have been slowly devoured by the forest.

In Pripyat, the Soviet city next to Chernobyl, the shells of deserted apartment blocks serve as a permanent reminder of the scale of the catastrophe.

At the top of one tower block is a faded Communist hammer and sickle………

Waterproof and temperature-controlled, the structure is fitted with an overhead crane to allow for the future dismantling of the previous, crumbling Soviet-era shelter and the remains of reactor four.

Igor Gramotkin, director-general of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, said: “We were not building this arch for ourselves.

“We were building it for our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren.

“This is our contribution to the future, in line with our responsibility for those who will come after us.”

Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, said of the completion of the project: “The sliding of the arch over reactor four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is the beginning of the end of a 30-year long fight with the consequences of the 1986 accident.” http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/chernobyl-reactor-entombed-giant-steel-9360959

December 2, 2016 Posted by | Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

Pilgrim Nuclear Station – a disturbing example of America’s radioactive trash crisis

stranded“…….the slow and expensive process of transferring some of the older, colder fuel rods—no longer potent enough to efficiently power the reactor, but still hazardous for millennia—into dry casks. The concrete-and-steel canisters, eighteen feet tall and weighing a hundred and eighty tons, have now begun to line up on Pilgrim’s concrete pad, a football field’s length from the Bay. Many in the scientific and activist communities see dry-cask storage as preferable to pools, but the fear among those in Plymouth and surrounding towns is that the casks will become a permanent fixture on the Cape. As John Mahoney, a town selectman in Plymouth, told us, “They’re going to stand on a concrete pad overlooking Massachusetts Bay for centuries, just like those statues on Easter Island.”…

the spent fuel would be moved from plants in thirty states to a handful of regional, aboveground storage facilities—what Kevin Kamps, a waste specialist at the watchdog Beyond Nuclear, has called “parking-lot dumps.” There the waste would sit, on concrete pads similar to the one at Pilgrim, for twenty, forty, maybe even a hundred years, until the federal government finds a more permanent scheme.

radiation-truckDry casks must be hauled on heavy, slow-moving trucks, or on freight trains, which at times pass through densely populated parts of the country. Moving the casks once is arduous and expensive enough, but the D.O.E.’s proposed solution—bringing them to a temporary way station, then to a final resting place—requires doing it at least twice. “Interim storage is, in my mind, a waste of time, money, and resources,” Gregory Jaczko, a physicist and former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told us.

terroristIn the meantime, the casks are stacking up, vulnerable not only to the powerful storms and rising seas that come with climate change but also to deliberate attack. A terrorist group could sabotage the plant’s power supply or cooling system, mount a direct assault on its personnel, fire a rocket

PILGRIM’S PROGRESS: INSIDE THE AMERICAN NUCLEAR-WASTE CRISIS, New Yorker, By  and NOVEMBER 25, 2016, “…..Pilgrim is one of the worst-rated nuclear facilities in the United States. Ever since it generated its first kilowatt of electricity, in December of 1972, it has been beset with mechanical failures and lapses in safety. In a single four-week stretch this summer, the plant was offline for a total of fifteen days because of a malfunctioning steam-isolation valve, elevated water levels in the reactor, and other problems. For years, Pilgrim’s detractors have kept steady pressure on Entergy and state officials through local protests, a sit-in at the governor’s office, and legal action. Last October, in a partial victory for activists, the company announced plans to shutter the plant, citing the expense of keeping it running in the face of cheap, abundant natural gas and increasingly competitive “renewable-energy resources.” The reactor is scheduled to go dark on May 31, 2019.

In the past two years, Entergy has started the slow and expensive process of transferring some of the older, colder fuel rods—no longer potent enough to efficiently power the reactor, but still hazardous for millennia—into dry casks. The concrete-and-steel canisters, eighteen feet tall and weighing a hundred and eighty tons, have now begun to line up on Pilgrim’s concrete pad, a football field’s length from the Bay. Many in the scientific and activist communities see dry-cask storage as preferable to pools, but the fear among those in Plymouth and surrounding towns is that the casks will become a permanent fixture on the Cape. As John Mahoney, a town selectman in Plymouth, told us, “They’re going to stand on a concrete pad overlooking Massachusetts Bay for centuries, just like those statues on Easter Island.”…

With waste still piling up at Pilgrim and sixty-some sites across the country, the federal government has been forced to pay the nuclear industry hundreds of millions of dollars each year for breach of contract—money that plant operators are not specifically required to spend on storage. “We are really much, much further behind than we were in 1983,” Arjun Makhijani, a nuclear engineer and the president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, said……

The Department of Energy, the agency with ultimate responsibility for the nation’s roughly seventy thousand tons of nuclear waste, has a plan—or, at least, a plan for a plan.  This spring and summer, the D.O.E. held forums in cities across the country, including Boston, to discuss a “consent-based siting initiative.” This initiative—not the identification of places to put the waste, per se, but a framework for gaining buy-in from a mistrustful public—could result in any number of storage scenarios. “We’re trying to continue making progress toward the development of what we call an integrated waste-management system,” John Kotek, the acting assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy, told us.

One option is consolidated interim storage. Under this plan, the spent fuel would be moved from plants in thirty states to a handful of regional, aboveground storage facilities—what Kevin Kamps, a waste specialist at the watchdog Beyond Nuclear, has called “parking-lot dumps.” There the waste would sit, on concrete pads similar to the one at Pilgrim, for twenty, forty, maybe even a hundred years, until the federal government finds a more permanent scheme. The D.O.E. sees this interim plan as a way to relieve communities like Plymouth of their waste burden (and the U.S. government of its payouts to the industry). But critics offer a weighty list of objections, chief among them that removing the waste from one community’s back yard requires putting it in another’s, creating more contaminated sites requiring future cleanup. The D.O.E. expects that some communities will step up and take the waste on anyway, but many people at this summer’s forums accused the agency of using public consent as a substitute for scientific and regulatory rigor.

Once sites are identified, then there’s the problem of transportation. Dry casks must be hauled on heavy, slow-moving trucks, or on freight trains, which at times pass through densely populated parts of the country. Moving the casks once is arduous and expensive enough, but the D.O.E.’s proposed solution—bringing them to a temporary way station, then to a final resting place—requires doing it at least twice. “Interim storage is, in my mind, a waste of time, money, and resources,” Gregory Jaczko, a physicist and former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told us. Diane Turco, who retired early from her job as a special-education teacher to devote more time to the Cape Downwinders—she is now the organization’s president—doubts that the government could make the plan happen anyway. “We think it’s just a big show to placate the public,” she said. “We don’t see it going anywhere.” Some local officials and residents, recognizing that progress is liable to be slow, have asked the government to compensate them for serving as a de-facto nuclear dump.

In the meantime, the casks are stacking up, vulnerable not only to the powerful storms and rising seas that come with climate change but also to deliberate attack. A terrorist group could sabotage the plant’s power supply or cooling system, mount a direct assault on its personnel, fire a rocket from the Bay, or launch a suicide attack from the air—not such a difficult proposition, as Rifkin’s helicopter experiment proved. ….

a radioactive sword of Damocles, to a federal government legally obligated to solve America’s ever-growing nuclear-waste crisis. “If we don’t do something,” Allison Macfarlane, the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 2012 to 2014, said, “if we don’t have a plan, there’s a one-hundred-per-cent guarantee that this stuff gets into the environment.” ….http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/pilgrims-progress-inside-the-american-nuclear-waste-crisis

November 28, 2016 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

The absurdity of continuing nuclear power, with waste disposal unsolved

“The costs associated with rehabilitating WIPP – the only underground nuclear waste repository in the country – have ballooned since 2014.”

whatever method proves the most advantageous in the US, site selection will be an essential and hard-to-navigate obstacle to overcome if the country is ever going to face up to a nuclear waste backlog that is getting longer every year.

text-cat-question

 

Why doesn’t anyone ever suggest just stopping making the stuff?

 

strandedWaste storage: America’s nuclear hot potato  A 2014 leak at a nuclear waste repository in New Mexico has raised far-reaching questions about long-term storage in the US. On top of the political and economic fallout from the incident, it has reignited the debate about finding a permanent storage site for commercial nuclear waste, a problem that looks no closer to a solution than it did 30 years ago. Power Technology by Chris Lo, 21 Nov 16, 

In February 2014, an incident occurred at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico when a 55-gallon drum containing radioactive waste popped its lid, contaminating 3,000ft of underground tunnels at the facility before rising through the exhaust shaft to escape in small quantities into the surrounding desert. The culprit, it was later discovered, was cat litter. The litter was used by the Los Alamos National Laboratory to seal a drum before sending it on to WIPP for storage. The organic absorbent – with which concerns had previously been raised – reacted violently with the nitrates in the waste and caused the leak.

While the US Department of Energy (DOE) was quick to downplay the immediate risks the leak posed to plant workers and nearby communities, the long-term ramifications of the incident – both in terms of direct consequences and wider implications – have added salt to the open wound that is America’s ongoing nuclear waste storage issue.

The plant, which has been used as a long-term storage site for transuranic radioactive waste from US nuclear weapons research and production since 1999, is not scheduled to resume full operations until 2021. The political and economic fallout from the incident could last much longer, with significant knock-on effects for the nation’s fleet of commercial nuclear plants.

WIPP leak: the political and economic fallout

The costs associated with rehabilitating WIPP – the only underground nuclear waste repository in the country – have ballooned since 2014, with delays and complications bringing the total cost of the clean-up to a potential minimum of $2bn, according to analysis published by the Los Angeles Times in August. This puts it on par, in terms of cost, with the clean-up after the infamous partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in 1979.

On top of the approximately $640m cost of the clean-up itself, the expense of potentially extending the facility’s operation for an additional seven years to make up for the prolonged closure could add $1.4bn to the bill.

Further costs include a $74m settlement paid by the federal government to the state of New Mexico for the leak and a truck fire that occurred just days before, as well as the added expense of continuing to store and maintain nuclear research waste at temporary sites such as the Hanford Site in Washington state, which is waiting to ship 24,000 drums of waste to WIPP. The delays caused by the leak also exacerbate already fractious relations between nuclear storage states and the federal government over the need to move waste from temporary processing facilities.

“The costs associated with rehabilitating WIPP – the only underground nuclear waste repository in the country – have ballooned since 2014.” “Safe and successful clean-up of the nuclear waste stored at Hanford is of utmost priority for the people of Washington state and the Pacific Northwest,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee in March 2014, just a month after the WIPP incident. “The federal government has a moral and legal obligation to oversee the successful cleanup of the waste that remains. Fifty-six million gallons of hazardous and radioactive waste continue to be held in Hanford’s storage tanks – now decades beyond their intended use.”

Politically, the loss of the New Mexico site would be damaging to the US government’s commitment to dispose of plutonium, about which it has signed mutual agreements with Russia. This is yet another reason why the DOE seems unwilling to consider abandoning WIPP, despite the huge cost and complex technical issues associated with its repair.

“The facility was never designed to operate in a contaminated state,” said the Southwest Research and Information Center’s director of nuclear waste safety Don Hancock in an interview with the LA Times in August. “It was supposed to open clean and stay clean, but now it will have to operate dirty. Nobody at the Energy Department wants to consider the potential that it isn’t fixable.”

Commercial waste storage: if not WIPP, then where?

Perhaps of most concern to the operators of commercial nuclear power plants is the loss of WIPP as a potential permanent storage site for nuclear waste from the civil energy industry. The facility and its use of salt formations to seal waste has been mooted as a potential frontrunner model to permanently store non-defence, uranium-based nuclear waste from power plants.

The prospect of expanding WIPP to host commercial as well as defence-related waste had been mooted, but this seems highly unlikely given the incident and the plant’s now-compromised situation. This is a problem for the US civil nuclear fleet, which has by now accumulated around 75,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel, at a rate of approximately 2,200 tonnes a year.

The vast majority of this high-level radioactive waste is currently being stored on an interim basis at temporary facilities, usually at the sites of the operating or decommissioned power stations themselves. These sites, which store spent fuel in pools to cool for five years before being transferred to dry casks, are not intended for long-term storage, and their continued use represents both a leak risk and an enormous cost to plant operators, who spend millions to process and maintain waste, and to the government, which is liable for part of these storage costs as a result of industry lawsuits related to its failure to take possession of spent fuel by the required date of 1998. DOE figures put the amount paid in damages to the nuclear energy industry thus far at $4.5bn, with an estimated $22.6bn in future liabilities. As such, the need for a permanent storage site for commercial nuclear waste is acute.

Case in point: WIPP was originally suggested as a replacement for another long-term nuclear storage option that has been on the table in the US since as far back as 1987, when the Nuclear Waste Storage Act of 1982 was amended by Congress to make it the only site under consideration as a permanent solution. That site is Yucca Mountain in Nevada, the development of which is a decades-long saga that has left the US no closer to solving its waste dilemma.    ……

It seems unlikely that Yucca Mountain will go ahead as a permanent storage site after decades of stalwart opposition. The DOE is now considering various technologies and sites after promising in 2015 to develop a new “consent-based” approach to finding a new site. Storage methods such as deep boreholes, salt beds, underground salt domes, and granite and shale repositories are on the table and, in many cases, in active development in Europe and elsewhere. But whatever method proves the most advantageous in the US, site selection will be an essential and hard-to-navigate obstacle to overcome if the country is ever going to face up to a nuclear waste backlog that is getting longer every year. http://www.power-technology.com/features/featurewaste-storage-americas-nuclear-hot-potato-5673043/

November 23, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Savannah River Site could be stuck with stranded nuclear wastes from Canadian research reactor

stranded“We are concerned that DOE is planning to bring more HEU-related waste to SRS over the coming years, with no plan for their removal from South Carolina and without the public being properly informed about these waste-imports and long-term storage and disposition plans,”


Shipments of nuclear material to Savannah River Site could continue http://www.aikenstandard.com/news/shipments-of-nuclear-material-to-savannah-river-site-could-continue/article_52996fce-adc7-11e6-853a-3b61beb03e76.html 
By Thomas Gardiner  tgardiner@aikenstandard.com Nov 18, 2016 

Spent fuel from a research reactor at the University of Alberta in Canada could soon be en route to South Carolina’s Savannah River Site.

According to documentation provided by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, shipping casks for the transfer are being reviewed and a planned shipping route has been approved.

radiation-truckThe exact route through the U.S. begins at the Sweet Grass, Montana, border crossing, and ends near Aiken County at the Savannah River Site. According to Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson Roger Hannah, actual routes are not publicized because of security concerns. However, the journey from Sweet Grass to Aiken County is close to 2,300 miles along major U.S. highways, depending on which cities the route goes through.

The spent fuel is U.S.-origin, highly-enriched uranium. It was used for research in a reactor called a “safe low-power kritical experiment,” or SLOWPOKE reactor. In the documents related to the shipping cask review, the SLOWPOKE reactor core is also included in the review.

The Department of Energy has shipped SLOWPOKE reactor cores in the past, with one now residing at Savannah River Site’s L-Basin.

Tom Clements, director of SRS Watch, said in a release, “In September 2015, a SLOWPOKE core was shipped from Jamaica to SRS, where it is now stored with no long-term disposition plans.”

The new material also would be destined for L-Basin. However, with the scrapped Yucca Mountain project and the backlogged waste isolation pilot plant, or WIPP, it is unclear what pathway exists to get the material back out of South Carolina. In multiple conversations about nuclear material coming into the Palmetto State, Gov. Nikki Haley has repeatedly said she refuses to let South Carolina becoming a nuclear dumping ground.

“We believe it is prudent to halt to shipment of HEU-bearing waste to SRS until such time as a plan is presented for removal of such waste from the site,” Clements said.

“We are concerned that DOE is planning to bring more HEU-related waste to SRS over the coming years, with no plan for their removal from South Carolina and without the public being properly informed about these waste-imports and long-term storage and disposition plans,” he said.

According to NRC documents, cask approval could come in March 2017. If that approval is issued, the material could hit the road in 2018. That timeline matches up with presentation given to the Citizens Advisory Board early this year, that showed shipments from Alberta, Canada, expected in 2018.

The route was approved Nov. 9 and won’t expire until Dec. 31, 2021.

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Canada, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Canadian government to review plan to dump nuclear waste close to Great Lakes

“No matter what process is followed, burying and abandoning radioactive nuclear waste in the Great Lakes Basin will always be a bad idea”  “The Trudeau government’s environmental credibility is on the line.” 

waste-dump-kincardine-ontario

Ottawa to hold public review of new material on proposed nuclear waste dump
OPG to submit information to Canadian government in December 
By Jim Bloch For The Voice, 20 Nov 16  Next month, Ontario Power Generation will submit to the Canadian government new information about its proposed Deep Geological Repository for low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency announced the submission goal in October.

“OPG has stated that it intends to submit the requested information in December 2016,” said the CEAA in a public announcement on Oct. 25.

 OPG’s submission will contain new details about alternative locations for the DGR, an analysis of the cumulative effects the dump could have on the environment and an updated list of OPG’s commitments to reduce “each identified adverse impact” of the DRG.

Canadian Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Katherine McKenna had been expected to make a decision on the dump, proposed for the shore of Lake Huron in the Ontario municipality of Kincardine, by March 1 of this year. Instead. McKenna made her request for more information on Feb. 18……. Continue reading

November 21, 2016 Posted by | Canada, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Europe adopts new rules on disposal of nuclear waste

relevant AustraliaUnder the new law, export to countries outside the EU will be allowed but only under strict and binding conditions.  

The third country must have a final deep geological repository in operation when the waste is shipped. [Ed note: This kind of regulation would finish off South Australia’s crazy plan to commercially import nuclear waste]

At present, such deep geological repositories do not exist anywhere in the world nor is a repository in construction outside of the EU.

Europe Adopts Long-Term Nuclear Waste Storage Law  http://ens-newswire.com/2011/07/19/europe-adopts-long-term-nuclear-waste-storage-law/     BRUSSELS, Belgium, July 19, 2011  For the first time, the European Union has committed itself to the final disposal of its nuclear waste. Heads of government today adopted the radioactive waste and spent fuel management directive, “in order to avoid imposing undue burdens on future generations.”…..

The directive will enter into force at the latest in September of this year. Member States will have two years to transpose its provisions into their national laws.

By 2015, governments must submit their first national programs to the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, which will examine them and can require changes……

Some 7,000 cubic meters of high-level nuclear waste are produced across the EU each year. Most Member States store spent fuel and other highly radioactive wastes in above-ground storage facilities that need continuous maintenance and oversight and are at risk of accidents, such as airplane crashes, fires or earthquakes. Hungary and Bulgaria currently ship nuclear waste to Russia.

In its most controversial provision, the new law allows export of nuclear waste to countries outside the EU. In its initial proposal, the Commission had advocated a complete export ban.

On June 23, 2011, the European Parliament in its plenary session voted in favor of a complete export ban as proposed by the Commission. In a close vote, MEPs backed a ban on exports of nuclear waste to non-EU countries, with 311 votes in favor, 328 against and seven abstentions.

However, the European Council today approved a version of the directive that allows export.

As the legal basis for this directive is the Euratom Treaty, the European Parliament is only consulted, an its opinion is not binding. The final decision is taken only by the Council, composed of the heads of government of every EU Member State and the president of the European Commission.

Under the new law, export to countries outside the EU will be allowed but only under strict and binding conditions.

The third country must have a final deep geological repository in operation when the waste is shipped.

At present, such deep geological repositories do not exist anywhere in the world nor is a repository in construction outside of the EU.

It takes a minimum of 40 years to develop and build a deep geological repository, the Commission said today in a statement on adoption of the new directive.

According to already existing EU laws on the shipment of spent fuels and radioactive waste, the export to African, Pacific and Caribbean countries, as well as to Antarctica, is explicitly ruled out.

Greenpeace EU nuclear policy adviser Jan Haverkamp was critical of the new law, saying shipment of nuclear waste to countries outside the EU should not have been allowed.

“Despite pressure from the European Commission to block exports, the new rules will allow Hungary and Bulgaria, countries that currently have agreements for the export of nuclear waste to Russia, to continue transferring radioactive material,” said Haverkamp.

“European governments have adopted an out of sight, out of mind approach to radioactive waste, but all they are doing is dumping the long-term problem on someone else and putting Europeans at risk by allowing dangerous waste convoys,” Haverkamp said. “Only countries that face the unsolvable problem of radioactive waste head-on by ending their reliance on nuclear power can stop the vicious circle that shifts responsibility to the next generations.”

Under the new directive, national programs have to include plans with a concrete timetable for the construction of disposal facilities, as well as a description of the activities needed for the implementation of disposal solutions, costs assessments and a description of the financing schemes. They will have to be updated regularly.

Safety standards drawn up by the International Atomic Energy Agency will become legally binding.

Information will be made available to the general public and workers, and the public will have opportunities to participate in the decision-making process.

At least every 10 years, Member States are required to invite international peer reviews to exchange experience and ensure the application of the highest standards.

Finally, two or more Member States can agree to use a disposal facility in one of them.

More than 50 years after Europe’s first nuclear power reactor became operational – the UK’s Calder Hall power plant in 1956 – there are still no final repositories for nuclear waste.

Under the Euratom Treaty, the EU has the legal competence to protect the general public from ionizing radiation. The energy mix is a national competence.

The Commission said it will “closely and carefully” monitor the implementation of the new directive, in particular progress made in building disposal facilities for radioactive waste and spent fuel and, if they occur at a later stage, possible exports of radioactive material.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Long term nuclear wastes problem remains unsolved: we should not be producing more of it

Above all, deep disposal should not be upheld as the solution that legitimates new
build.
The existing nuclear legacy is already proving difficult to manage; the uncertainties of time-scale and inventory radioactive trashthat new build would introduce would make the legacy unmanageable.

Why worry about nuclear waste? What has the future ever done for us? Ecologist, Andrew Blowers, 16th November 2016 

The long term problems of what to do with nuclear waste remain entirely unsolved, writes Andrew Blowers. Yet governments and the nuclear industry continue to peddle their untenable ‘bury and forget’ policy of deep geological disposal, which only unloads the toxic legacy of modern day nuclear power and weapons onto uncountable future generations.

In all the recent debate about the future of nuclear energy, one issue, perhaps the most important of all, has been largely ignored.

Yet the problem of dealing with waste and contamination that follows nuclear activity as night follows day afflicts not only those generations that get the dubious benefit of nuclear electricity, but also imposes burdens of effort, risk and cost on generations into the far and unforeseeable future.

That burden will be disproportionately borne by those communities already hosting nuclear facilities as they will be the most likely recipients of any new nuclear development.

There are two primary reasons for neglect of this issue. One is that, in today’s world, there is an emphasis on the short run, on security and jobs and investment for the present and foreseeable future of our children and grandchildren.

Beyond that the future, both environmentally and socially, becomes unimaginable and so a perverse and cavalier disregard of the interests of those bearing the nuclear legacy becomes permissable, even normal.

At worst the needs of the future are subordinated to those of the present (‘what has the future ever done for us?’) while, at best, there is implicitly an assumption that the future will take care of itself, with perhaps a little help…….

All will be well in the best of all possible worlds

Dr Pangloss

This idea that all will be well if only we can bury and forget is the second reason for neglecting the issue of waste in the debate over new build.

The UK Government glibly dismisses the problem of long term management with the casuist assertion that “effective arrangements will exist to manage and dispose of the waste that will be produced from new nuclear power stations.” (DECC, 2011, p.15). Continue reading

November 18, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, wastes | Leave a comment

Europe’s nuclear waste problem areas – Hanford, Sellafield, Le Hague, Gorleben, Mayak ….

radioactive trashWhy worry about nuclear waste? What has the future ever done for us? Ecologist, Andrew Blowers, 16th November 2016 Places on the periphery “…..Hanford, USA. Located in America’s North West, Hanford was the chosen location for the manufacture of the plutonium for the ‘Fat Man’ nuclear weapon that devastated Nagasaki on 9 August, 1945.

In the subsequent Cold War, Hanford’s nuclear activities expanded with nuclear reactors on the banks of the Columbia river, reprocessing ‘canyons’ in the middle of this vast site and a variety of production and experimental facilities scattered around its fringes.

Production at Hanford has ceased but a vast nuclear legacy remains: in the tank farms containing high-level liquid waste and sludge, some leaking towards the Columbia; in the abandoned reactors and decommissioned reprocessing works; and in waste management facilities and clean-up projects scattered around the site.

Cleaning up this legacy is a long-term, costly ($2bn. federal funding a year), intractable and complex task but it is an inescapable one.

Sellafield, UK. Like Hanford, Sellafield’s nuclear legacy stretches back to the beginning of the UK’s military nuclear programme.

On to its compact site is crammed around two-thirds of all the radioactivity from the UK’s nuclear legacy, all the country’s high-level wastes, most of the spent fuel, a stockpile of around 140 tonnes of plutonium and other complex streams of wastes.

These include often unrecorded mixtures of fuel, skips and other highly radioactive debris tipped into the notorious ponds and silos which, in the words of Margaret Hodge, a former Chair of the Public Accounts Committee pose “intolerable risks” to the public and the environment.

Cleaning up this legacy is a task that stretches decades ahead absorbing around £1.7 bn. from the government a year.

La Hague and Bure, France. In France, where three quarters of the country’s electricity is nuclear, much of the legacy is focused around the reprocessing facilities at La Hague at the tip of the Cotentin peninsula in Normandy.

At this remote location spent fuel is reprocessed for recycling in the form of mixed oxide fuel (MOX) or it is vitrified and stored pending disposal.

After several unsuccessful attempts to find a suitable and acceptable site for deep disposal, an underground laboratory at Bure, a nuclear no-man’s land in eastern France, is being stealthily and steadily developed as an underground laboratory though a fully-fledged disposal facility is still a long way off.

Gorleben, Germany. By contrast, there are other places, Gorleben in Germany being one, where resolute and continuing resistance on the part of local communities has prevailed to prevent, or at least restrain, the imposition of the nuclear industry and its unwanted and dangerous legacy.

But Gorleben’s legendary defence of its identity expresses just how difficult it will be for the nuclear industry to extend its reach and colonise greenfield sites.

Elsewhere there are sites such as the Mayak plutonium facilities at Ozersk in Russia, for long a closed city, scene of a major accident in 1957 (Medvedev,1979) and left with a legacy of high levels of environmental pollution in rivers and lakes from its military reprocessing and waste facilities (Brown, 2013).

And there are many other sites, across the world, where the nuclear legacy imposes risk, blight and environmental degradation on local communities. http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988342/why_worry_about_nuclear_waste_what_has_the_future_ever_done_for_us.html

November 18, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, wastes | Leave a comment

British nuclear wastes to remain at old nuclear power plants

wastes-1flag-UKNuclear waste to remain at old UK plants rather than moved off-site
Leaving more contaminated soil and rubble on-site instead of moving it to dedicated dumps is cheaper and allows for quicker clean-ups, say officials,
Guardian, , 10 Nov 16  More contaminated soil and rubble will remain at the sites of Britain’s old nuclear power plants rather than going to a dedicated dump, under government-backed proposals.

But officials said that the sites would not be left in a hazardous state because international radiological standards would still be upheld.

They argued the changes would mean former nuclear sites could be cleaned up more quickly, less waste would need to be moved around the country, and decommissioning would be cheaper than under today’s regime.

Experts were split over the proposals. Some said that it showed the UK did not know what to do with its nuclear waste, but others welcomed it as a way of saving money.

 The government said a change to the Nuclear Installations Act 1965, outlined in a discussion paper last week, is needed now because several sites will reach the final stage of cleanup in the early 2020s, such as Winfrith in Dorset and Dounreay in Caithness.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) currently oversees the licensing of 17 nuclear sites that are slated for decommissioning and cleanup. The final stage involves dealing with large amounts of rubble, concrete, brick and soil, some of which is radioactive and designated low level waste (LLW). That waste currently goes to the UK’s only LLW site, at Drigg in Cumbria, which is almost full……..

nuclear critics said the changes showed the government lacked a long-term plan on nuclear waste.

“It’s another example of how much of the stuff we have and we don’t really know what we’re going to do with it, we’re just leaving it [the LLW]. It’s an appalling choice,” said Dr Paul Dorfman of University College London, who was involved in the decommissioning of Harwell in Oxfordshire, a former nuclear research site which is now partly used as a business park.

“The notion of the acceptability about LLW being just low level: you can say low, but this stuff is dangerous. You don’t want this stuff near you,” he said.

Under the proposed changes, former sites would no longer be considered “nuclear” at the end of their cleanup, and therefore no longer the responsibility of the ONR. Regulation would fall instead to the Health and Safety Executive and environment agencies.

“What the government is suggesting is, they’re turning off the liability but they’re not turning off the risk or hazard,” said John Large, a nuclear consultant who has advised the UK government on nuclear issues.

He said one of the drivers behind the change might be the pressure on the ONR from regulating and overseeing the new nuclear reactors planned in the UK, such as EDF’s new reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset, and the regulator wanting to lighten its load. “I suspect the ONR are cutting their cloth here, I suspect they are hard pushed,” he said.

The government’s discussion paper said the changes could not be made without legislation being amended to allow the ONR to relinquish regulation of sites in their final stages of decommissioning. A public consultation on the proposal is planned in 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/10/nuclear-waste-to-remain-at-old-uk-plants-rather-than-moved-off-site

November 11, 2016 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Advocates Protest  In their letter, the plan’s opponents argue that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 bars the federal government from taking responsibility for interim waste in the absence of a federal repository.

the concept of interim storage came out of the Obama Administration’s Blue Ribbon Commission on nuclear waste.

Elephant--blue-ribbon-commission

Meanwhile, the Energy Department remains decades away from developing a permanent repository.

stranded.At nearly every meeting of the San Onofre Community Engagement Panel, residents line up to ask whether sea air might cause corrosion in the casks, what the chance of leakage is, and who’s responsible if the casks degrade

As the amount of waste grows, so does the government’s liability……….The government’s estimated total liability is $29 billion.”That’s probably low, because it’s getting more expensive to store this stuff,”

Nuclear Plants Closing Early Leave Decades of Toxic Waste Stranded http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-03/decades-of-toxic-waste-stranded-as-nuclear-plants-close-early  ctraywick    markchediak November 4, 2016 —

  • U.S. government has no permanent repository for spent fuel
  • 76,000 metric tons of waste stored at commercial sites Continue reading

November 5, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Ukraine (over) confident of its nuclear waste storage plans

Nuclear Regulation Inspectorate approves preliminary spent nuclear fuel storage facility safety report http://en.interfax.com.ua/news/economic/381495.html, 4 Nov 16,  A panel of Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulation Inspectorate at a Thursday meeting approved a conclusion of the public examination of nuclear and radiation security under a preliminary safety analysis report for the centralized spent nuclear fuel storage facility.

“Thus, the panel confirmed that the spent nuclear fuel storage facility project meets the nuclear and radiation safety requirements. According to a resolution of the panel, some project safety solutions shortly described in the project will be presented in details at the next designing stage,” the press service of national nuclear generating company Energoatom said.

The conclusion will be sent to the State Architectural and Construction Inspectorate of Ukraine.

Energoatom President Yuriy Nedashkovsky said at the meeting of the panel, the discussion of the issues linked to construction of the centralized spent nuclear fuel storage facility should be accelerated.

“Technologies and project solutions selected for construction of the facility meet international spent nuclear treatment requirements and ensure reliable and safe storage of spent nuclear fuel from Ukrainian nuclear power plants (NPPs). The feasibility study of the centralized spent nuclear fuel storage facility passed public environmental examination and obtained a positive conclusion. Today all organization and legal issues related to construction of the storage facility have been settled. A delay with the start of construction would entail further financial losses for Ukraine, while the launch of the facility would considerably increase the country’s energy security,” he said.

Head of State Nuclear Regulation Inspectorate Serhiy Bozhko said that construction of spent nuclear fuel storage facilities is permanent global practice, but today this solution is only an intermediate link in settling the issue of treading spent nuclear fuel in a long-term outlook.

November 5, 2016 Posted by | Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan’s danger: spent nuclear fuel pools

“Reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel is something only about one-fifth of countries operating nuclear power plants are paying any attention to, as most places like the UK and France are either halting operation or considering it,” said von Hippel.

“Declining international prices for low-enriched uranium, the fuel for light-water reactors, mean there is no economic value,” he explained.

If there’s a fire at spent nuclear fuel pool, 24 million would need to be evacuated http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/768290.html by Lee Keun-young, senior staff write Nov.1,2016  Analysis indicates that method of storing spent nuclear fuel presents risk, and is going mostly ignored

More than 24 million people would have to be evacuated if a fire occurred at the water pool holding spent nuclear fuel at the Kori No. 3 Nuclear Power Plant, an analysis indicates.

spent-fuel-pool

“Analysis with HYSPLIT (Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory) model, the computer recognized by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for assessment of atmospheric radiation exposure from a nuclear power plant accident, showed maximum damages covering an area of 54,000 square kilometers or over 50% the national territory, and the evacuation of up 24.3 million people due to leaking of cesium-137 (Cs-137) and other radioactive materials in the event of a fire in the Kori No. 3 reactor spent nuclear fuel water pool,” said senior researcher Kang Jung-min of the US Natural Resources Defense Council in an Oct. 31 debate at the National Assembly on the topic “How dangerous is spent nuclear fuel?”

HYPSLIT code was also the analytical program applied by the US at the time of the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Japan.

Averages from the analysis, which involved the inputting of meteorological conditions for the first weeks of the months January to December 2015, showed large-scale damages in other countries besides South Korea. In addition to the 5.4 million people who would have to be evacuated in South Korea, another 1.1 million would require evacuation in North Korea, 7.9 million in Japan, and 700,000 in China.

“The method of storing spent nuclear fuel in dense water pools presents a serious risk of accident from the loss of cooling functions, not just from an earthquake, tsunami or other natural disaster but also potentially from a terrorist or missile attack,” Kang said.

“To reduce the damage risk, we need to move [spent fuel] into dry storage facilities five to six years after it comes out of the reactor, and to store in a regular rather than dense way,” he added.

Princeton University professor Frank von Hippel noted the same day that “the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported benefits equivalent to just 10% of costs in the case of dry storage, but it also reduced the costs by limiting the danger radius to 80 km and using 1995 figure to calculate life values for cancer deaths.”

“It costs far less to move spent fuel into dry containers than it does to reprocess it,” von Hippel added.

In 2003, the US Congress asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review a plan for keeping spent nuclear fuel in water pool storage for five years before transferring it to dry containers and storing it on open racks. A report was published in 2006, but the NRC did not take action. Its benefit calculations were released only recently after the Fukushima disaster.

“Reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel is something only about one-fifth of countries operating nuclear power plants are paying any attention to, as most places like the UK and France are either halting operation or considering it,” said von Hippel.

“Declining international prices for low-enriched uranium, the fuel for light-water reactors, mean there is no economic value,” he explained.

November 2, 2016 Posted by | Japan, wastes | Leave a comment

Australia’s pivotal role in the global nuclear lobby’s pitch for survival

So – the Australian public dreams on – preoccupied with the Melbourne Cup and other sporting events. And the global nuclear lobby continues its machinations. It would be such a strong selling point, to be able to tell South Asian countries that they can go ahead with nuclear power, as Australia will take out the radioactive trash.

australia-nuclear-toilet

The machinations of the global nuclear lobby  http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/27-27/40006-the-machinations-of-the-global-nuclear-lobby-qdown-underq  Noel Wauchope  , 31 October 2016 

Australia has been pretty much of a forgotten player in the global nuclear “renaissance”.  Not any more.  The big nuclear players – USA, Russia, Canada, France, China , Japan South Korea are busily marketing nuclear technology to every other country that they can.  Strangely enough little ole non-nuclear Australia, (population 23 million) has a starring role to play in all this.

You see, the global nuclear lobby’s problem is – what to do with the radioactive wastes?   I know that the new geewhiz guys and gals are pushing hard for Generation IV reactors that will “eat the wastes”.  The trouble is – there is an awful lot of the stuff. World total of high level radioactive wastes was estimated at 250,000 tonnes in 2010 .  There must be quite a bit more by now.  The other trouble is that even the most geewhiz of the as yet non- existent Gen IV nuclear reactors still would leave a smaller but highly toxic volume of radioactive trash, which would still require disposal.

This leads to a serious marketing issue. If countries such as USA, Japan, Canada, South Korea, are still having trouble dealing with their own domestic accumulation of nuclear waste, how can they persuasively sell nuclear reactors to Asian, Middle Eastern and African countries? The waste problem must be solved!

The wizards of the global nuclear lobby have come up with what they see as the perfect answer. A far away land, with lots of space that’s owned by “unimportant” indigenous people, could import the wastes, and thus remove the problem.  It’s a sort of variant on the old “toilet way down the back”. Continue reading

November 2, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, spinbuster, wastes | Leave a comment