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On Cape Cod, a nuclear nightmare arrives

On Cape Cod, a nuclear nightmare arrives,   https://news.yahoo.com/column-cape-cod-nuclear-nightmare-095201547.html, Brent Harold Columnist, Mon, January 17, 2022, 

We’re living in E.F. Schumacher’s nightmare future.

Fifty years ago, before there was much nuclear power to worry about, before Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, or Fukushima, he was already worrying about it in his 1973 book “Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered.” The book was ranked by The Times Literary Supplement as one of the 100 most influential books published since World War II.

It’s striking that the main argument against using nuclear energy was there from the very start.

“The biggest cause of worry for the future is the storage of the long-lived radioactive wastes,” he wrote. “In effect, we are consciously and deliberately accumulating a toxic substance on the off-chance that it may be possible to get rid of it at a later date.”

No amount of convenience or efficiency — or profits — he argued “could justify the accumulation of large amounts of highly toxic substances which nobody knows how to make ‘safe’ and which remain an incalculable danger to the whole of creation for historical or even geological ages. To do such a thing is a transgression against life itself.”

We are in that “later date” and as we know, there still is no solution to the problem of how to get rid of the radioactive waste that is a systematic byproduct of generating nuclear energy .

We are in that future Schumacher warned against.

A few years ago, when Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant was still limping along, a documentary titled “Containment” played in Wellfleet, showing in convincing detail the nuclear future Schumacher warned against, especially the ongoing problem of containment of lethal radioactive wastes.

There is no mopping up as with oil spills. You don’t flush this, clean it up and move on. There is no getting rid of the mess we’ve made. All we can do is try to contain it, on and on farther into the future than the 10,000 years often cited as the age of “civilization” — perhaps longer than our species has been around.

There’s an interesting segment in the film about attempts to come up with a sign to warn our distant descendants of the lethal mess we have bequeathed them.

Containment is the job and the company that owned Pilgrim, when it closed the plant, handed the job of cleanup and containment off to a company named Holtec, which thought it could make a go of it while making a profit for its shareholders.

Containment is the job. But only in its first year or two, Holtec recently announced, almost off-handedly, that it was considering dumping a million gallons of radioactive waste in our Cape Cod Bay. ”What?” asked many. “Can they get away with that?”

Apparently they are within their legal rights. Certainly, the company has emphasized it has no obligation to be guided by those whose lives will be most affected by it.

In reaction to the outcry Holtec has said it will put off the dumping for a spell. To make us feel better it noted that Entergy had for years, when Pilgrim was still operating, been dumping radioactive water in the bay.

Fifty years ago Schumacher wrote: “It was thought at one time that these wastes could safely be dumped into the deepest parts of the oceans…but this has since been disproved…wherever there is life, radioactive substances are absorbed into the biological cycle.”

Containment is the job. Dumping a million gallons of radioactive waste into Cape Cod Bay seems like the opposite of containment.

Once again, as with Entergy, we find ourselves in the situation of having our present and future safety in the hands of a bottom line-oriented company.

Call it a nuclear energy problem. Call it a corporation/capitalism problem. It is both.

There is a decades-long history of opposition to Pilgrim. Diane Turco and others founded Cape Downwinders in the early 1990s, a group that worked toward the shuttering of Pilgrim..

This newspaper kept Cape citizens informed with its strong coverage of the deterioration of Pilgrim and wrote editorials advocating its closure.

The closure of the plant in 2019 was considered by activists a victory and there has been a natural tendency (for people whose name isn’t Diane Turco) to become complacent about the still-dangerous site. Certainly it does seem less glamorous being the first generation of citizens, of who knows how many, to practice ongoing wariness about containment and the company in charge of it. But that’s the reality of our situation.

A place to start getting involved or re-involved is a gathering for a speak-out on Jan. 31 at 5 p.m. at Plymouth Town Hall Great Room, to be followed at 6:30 p.m. by a meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel.

Brent Harold, a Cape Cod Times columnist and former English professor, lives in Wellfleet. Email him at kinnacum@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: pilgrim nuclear plant and holtec’s plan to dump contaminated water.

January 18, 2022 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Why joint US-South Korean research on plutonium separation raises nuclear proliferation danger 

 Why joint US-South Korean research on plutonium separation raises nuclear
proliferation danger by Frank N. von Hippel. South Korea, like the United
States, has long relied on nuclear power as a major source of electric
power.

As a result, it has amassed large stores of spent nuclear fuel and,
as in the United States, has experienced political pushback from
populations around proposed central sites for the spent fuel. South Korea
also has a history of interest in nuclear weapons to deter North Korean
attack.

 Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 13th Jan 2022

https://thebulletin.org/2022/01/why-joint-us-south-korean-research-on-plutonium-separation-raises-nuclear-proliferation-danger/

January 15, 2022 Posted by | - plutonium, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Factoring in the full cost of the radioactive wastes, the price to pay for nuclear power is astronomic.

The price to pay for nuclear power is too high,  https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/letters/the-price-to-pay-for-nuclear-power-is-too-high-readers-letters-3520498 Tim Flinn, Garvald, East Lothian, 10 Jan 22,

It doesn’t seem 30-odd years since I went with a group of sixth form A Level physics students on a tour of Dunbar’s Torness nuclear power station, now scheduled for decommissioning.

Most of them now have their PhDs and families of their own, but hopefully they all share my view that nuclear electricity remains the most toxic and expensive domestic fuel in regular use – and will remain so unless and until the problems associated with its deadly wastes are finally solved.

As things stand now the next 500 human generations will be stuck with the human and financial costs consequent upon coping with the radioactive detritus of the very first nuclear electricity generated some 80 years ago. Factoring in inflation the final price of just a single nuclear kWh will total more £s than there are particles in the universe. If anyone doubts that, let them do their own sums, or get a copy of mine (I hope they can cope with logarithms and discounting cash flows).

If the investment into nuclear energy (originally so we could keep up with the Jonses and have our own A and H bombs) had instead been ploughed into research and development of clean, safe, renewables we would long ago have had endless energy to spare and green devices to export. But we didn’t and so we haven’t. To replace one nuclear power station with yet another is to refuse to learn. Are we that stupid still?

January 11, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

Just the bare 144 years of above-ground storage for UK’s Chapelcross Intermediate Level Nuclear Waste

The question for policy makers is do we really want to contemplate building new nuclear power stations when the legacy will be with future generations for 102 years, nearly two and a half times beyond any new nuclear plant’s operational life. The cost of nuclear electricity generation is high and future costs of dealing with the legacy are also passed on to at least four future generations.

 Following on from a previous article on Hunterston B which was shut down last Friday I decided to have a look at one of the smaller nuclear power stations in Scotland to see how work was progressing on decommissioning.

Chapelcross nuclear power station occupies a 92 hectares site on the location of a former World War II training airfield in Annan. Chapelcross had 4 Magnox reactors, each with a 48MW output. Chapelcross was linked to sister plant Calder Hall in Cumbria which is now the site of the NDA’s
Sellafield operation.

Calder Hall closed in 2003 and Chapelcross in 2004. Both plants were originally operated by the UK Atomic Energy Authority. Their main purpose was to produce weapons-grade plutonium although they also generated electricity for the National Grid. By 1st April 2019, Chapelcross had been defuelled and all High Level Waste moved to Sellafield.

At that point, almost three years ago, the Intermediate Level Waste as well as LLW had still to be dealt with. The VLLW would appear to be close to the end of the decommissioning process. The LLW is destined for containers in Cumbria and the estimated 4,900 cublic metres of Intermediate
Level Waste will be left onsite in specially constructed containers for a period of 120 years, pending a Scottish Government decision around 2145 on disposal of the containers and contents.

The interim storage facility for storing Intermediate Level Waste at Chapelcross began 2014 and was completed by May 2021 when the first ‘package’ was placed in the facility. In announcing this progress Magnox Ltd and the NDA said in a news release; “The Interim Storage Facility (ISF) can hold over 700 waste packages of four different approved package types, and will be filled over
the next five years as part of decommissioning work. Standing at 57m long and 23m wide, it has been constructed to safely and securely store packages for 120 years.”

Work on the Intermediate Level Waste which is due to complete in 2026. The storage facility is then sealed for 120 years when a decision will be made by the Scottish Government on final disposal of ILW storage and contents.

Whilst it can be argued that the core decommissioning work will take around 22 years, the end game is still 120 years away making 144 years in total for final clearance at the site. Chapelcross operated for 44 years.

The ILW will remain on the site until 2146 although the buildings will be long gone by then. It is essential we deal with the legacies of the past and do so to the highest possible standard because we owe that to our own and future generations.

The question for policy makers is do we really want to contemplate building new nuclear power stations when the legacy will be with future generations for 102 years, nearly two and a half times beyond any new nuclear plant’s operational life. The cost of nuclear electricity generation is high and future costs of dealing with the legacy are also passed on to at least four future generations.

 Newsnet 10th Jan 2022

 https://newsnet.scot/news-analysis/nuclear-decommissioning-chapelcross-a-timeline/

 

January 11, 2022 Posted by | thorium, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Russia’s secret nuclear waste city – Ozersk, City 40

Russian city hiding chilling Cold War secret from world  https://www.9news.com.au/world/ozersk-city-40-secret-russian-city-cold-war-graveyard-of-the-earth/9644dcbb-e94f-44c6-b69e-4e3e4ca96455

By Richard Wood • Senior Journalist Jan 9, 2022 There has been a “slow-motion” disaster unfolding over the past 70 years at one of Russia’s most secretive sites. Ozersk, codenamed City 40, was the birthplace of the former Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons program at the dawn of the Cold War.

On the surface, it was a clean modern city that boasted good housing, spacious parks and high quality schools to attract the country’s top nuclear scientists.And its purpose was seen as so important that Russian authorities effectively hid it from the rest of the country and the world. But while, the work of Ozersk’s army of scientists developing Russia’s plutonium supplies was cloaked in secrecy, its environmental impact proved harder to contain.Today its legacy of radiation pollution has earned Ozersk the title ‘Graveyard of the Earth’.

Building Russia’s nuclear shield

Ozersk’s origins can be traced to the US dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 at the end of World War II.

Alarmed at the terrifying new weapon of mass destruction, Russian leader Josef Stalin ordered his scientists to build a nuclear arsenal to combat the American threat.The Mayak plant deep in the Urals was founded in 1948 to develop essential large scale plutonium supplies for the Soviet atomic bomb. The work needed hundreds of workers.

Ozersk was founded nearby, initially as a sort of shanty town of wooden huts to house the workers. But over ensuing yeas, it grew to become a modern city of 100,000 people, with many of its citizens working at the Mayak plant.

‘Plutopias’

US environmental historian Kate Brown has described Ozersk and its counterpart nuclear cities in the US as “Plutopias”, a merging of the words plutonium and utopia. Professor Brown, who wrote Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters, told Nine.com.au that Ozersk residents were the envy of most Russians.

‘When I wrote about plutopia, I mean by that special, limited-access cities exclusively for plutonium plant operators who were well paid and lived comfortably. The people who lived in them were ‘chosen’,” Professor Brown said.”The plutonium cities such as Ozersk provided wonderful opportunities because not only was the housing very cheap and the wages very good, but the schools were good.”

But in Cold War Russia this all came at the price of intrusive security and curbs on personal freedom.Ozersk did not appear on maps and its citizens were struck from the national census.Residents were even forbidden to contact families and friends for up to years.

And for decades, the city was ringed by barbed wire fences and guard posts and entry was strictly controlled.

Lake of Death’

Professor Brown said both the Russians and American governments were prepared to cut corners in their dash to develop an edge in nuclear weapons.

And in 1957 one of the cooling systems at the Mayak plant, near Ozersk, failed, causing one of the tanks that contained the plant’s nuclear waste to overheat and explode.

While there were no casualties from the blast itself, more than 20 million curies of nuclear waste were swept up by the wind and scattered around the nearby countryside.The full effects of the Mayak radiation release and other incidents took years, even decades to become fully apparent, Professor Brown said.

The plutonium disasters were not big, explosive overnight affairs. They were slow-motion disasters that occurred over four decades,” she sai d.Officials from the Mayak plant also ordered the dumping of its waste into nearby lakes and rivers, which flow into the the Arctic Ocean.

Prof Brown said one of the lakes near Mayak has been so heavily contaminated by plutonium that local people have renamed it the ‘Lake of Death’.

‘Cover up’

The scale of the pollution was hushed up by Russian authorities for decades.

“Thanks to exhaustive efforts by the Soviet government and the already secretive nature of the location, for a long time, no one outside of the Ozersk area was even aware that it happened.

“It wasn’t until renegade Soviet scientists exposed the cover-up in the 1970s that scientists started to grasp the extent of the disaster.”

Radioactive spills have also happened at other secret Russian military and industry sites.In August 2019 a brief spike in radioactivity was recorded following a mysterious and deadly explosion at the Russian navy’s testing range in Nyonoksa on the White Sea.The explosion killed two servicemen and five nuclear engineers.

Campaigners expose contamination

Today the Mayak plant now serves the more peaceful purpose of reprocessing spent radioactive fuel.In Ozersk many restrictions have been eased, with residents free to leave when they want.

But the city is still surrounded by thick walls and guard fences, and entry by outsiders is strictly controlled by government officials.And while efforts have been made to clean up the environment, radiation pollution remains a threat to the health of residents.

recent study showed that Ozersk residents are more than twice as likely to develop lung, liver, and skeletal cancers and far more likely to experience chronic radiation syndrome.Prof Brown says Russian environmental activists still face threats and persecution for exposing the radiation levels.

“They’ve paid a heavy price in terms of prosecution by the state and receiving threats of fines and even jail,” she said.  “But they were determined to expose what really was disaster by design.”

January 10, 2022 Posted by | Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Spain, wastes | Leave a comment

Very quietly, NRC plans mass shipments of high level radioactive waste.

Critics of the proposed licensing are demanding that the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board halt the Holtec licensing because it is illegal. 

Plans for Mass Shipments of High-Level Radioactive Waste Quietly Disclosed https://www.counterpunch.org/2022/01/07/plans-for-mass-shipments-of-high-level-radioactive-waste-quietly-disclosed/ BY JOHN LAFORGE

How far is your house or apartment from a major highway, or railroad line? Do you want to play Russian roulette with radioactive waste in transit for 40 years?

Last month US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff quietly reported preparing for tens of thousands of cross-country shipments of high-level radioactive waste from nuclear reactors to the desert Southwest. The oft-disparaged US infrastructure of decrepit of roads, faulty bridgesrickety rails, and rusty barges may not be ready for such an onrush of immensely heavy rad waste casks.

Continue reading

January 10, 2022 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

BBC Report on Closure of Hunterston B Fails to Mention that All the Nuclear Crapola will Come to Cumbria

BBC Report on Closure of Hunterston B Fails to Mention that All the Nuclear Crapola will Come to Cumbria. Radiation Free Lakeland.  JANUARY 8, 2022 BY MARIANNEWILDART  Radiation Free Lakeland have long argued for the closure of the cracked nuclear plants that EDF are running long past their planned lifetimes. Yesterday one of these cancer factories, Hunterston B was closed down because of the dangerously cracked graphite cores. The BBC report below toots a trumpet about the electricity produced by Hunterston but makes no mention at all of the 46 years of radioactive emissions and the fact that the resulting nuclear wastes (low, intermediate and high level wastes) and “cleaned up” infrastructure ( heading to landfill, incineration, recycled radioactive scrap metal, Drigg and proposed Deep Nuclear Dump ) will be dangerous to all life on the biosphere for so many generations to come. Yes lets toot a trumpet for the closure of a dangerous nuclear plant but the massive radioactive footprint of Hunterston will live on long after the limited use of electricity!

Hunterston B nuclear power plant closes down after 46 years

By Kevin Keane
BBC Scotland’s energy correspondent 7th Jan 2022  The Hunterston B nuclear power plant in North Ayrshire has been shut down for the final time after generating electricity for 46 years.

The plant’s original 25-year lifespan was extended by more than two decades.

But the final closure was brought forward after cracks were found in the graphite bricks which make up the reactor cores.

A small group of former workers gathered at the power station at midday to see the final shut down.

The site, owned by EDF Energy, will now begin a three-year process of defueling with the spent nuclear fuel sent to Sellafield for reprocessing. After that, the site will be handed over to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority…………

The cracks were first spotted in two graphite bricks in the reactor in 2014.

By 2018, a total of 350 bricks had been affected although the Office for Nuclear Regulation subsequently gave permission to operate at much greater numbers.

Each of the two reactor cores is made up of 3,000 bricks which form vertical channels for nuclear fuel and control rods to slide in and out.

The concern was that too many cracks, combined with a rare seismic event, could affect the structural integrity of the core and prevent it being shut down in an emergency.

The Hunterston A plant, which is already closed, comprised two 180MWe Magnox reactors.

It began operation in 1964. Reactor 2 shut down in December 1989 and Reactor 1 in March 1990.

Construction of Hunterston B began in 1968 and reactors 3 and 4 began operating in February 1976 and March 1977……

Reactor 3, a 490MWe advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR), was permanently closed down on 26 November.

Hunterston Reactor 4 – also a 490MWe AGR – has now shut down……….

Similar cracks are expected to develop there and at several other similar sites in England. In December, EDF Energy announced that Torness would close two years earlier than planned in 2028 because of the issue. https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2022/01/08/bbc-report-on-closure-of-hunterston-fails-to-mention-that-all-the-nuclear-crapola-will-come-to-cumbria/

January 10, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

Concerns in New Mexico, about taking in out-of-state nuclear waste, as Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has limited space.

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant criticized for accepting out-of-state nuclear waste, Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus,  8 Jan 22, About 200 shipments of nuclear waste were sent to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant repository near Carlsbad last year for disposal in an underground salt deposit, but New Mexico officials continued criticism that most of the shipments were coming from out of state.

Waste disposed of at WIPP is known as transuranic (TRU) nuclear waste, made up of clothing materials and equipment irradiated during nuclear activities at U.S. Department of Energy facilities across the nation.

TRU waste is shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in northern New Mexico, but also from sites like Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho or Savannah River Site in North Carolina.

Of the 210 shipments recorded in 2021, per DOE records, 55 or 26 percent came from LANL. Another 21 came from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, eight came from Savannah River, two came from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and one came from Waste Control Specialists in Andrews, Texas.

The other 123 shipments, or about 58 percent of WIPP shipments last year were from Idaho National Laboratory, where research is conducted on nuclear reactors.

In total, 74 percent or about three quarters of WIPP’s shipments last year came from out of state. 

The State of Idaho entered into a settlement agreement with the DOE in 1995 to prioritize waste shipments from its national laboratory to an out-of-state location: the WIPP site in New Mexico.

But that prioritization is a problem for New Mexico Rep. Christine Chandler (D-43).

Her district represents Los Alamos County, home to LANL, and Chandler said because New Mexico accepts the risk of the waste, its facilities that generate nuclear waste should be given top priority for disposal.

“I feel very strongly that since the WIPP is in New Mexico, and New Mexico accepts the risk for operating that plant that NM waste should be prioritized,” Chandler said. “That would mostly mean from LANL.

“They have a settlement with Idaho and so shipments from there are prioritized to the detriment of actual active sites like LANL.”……………………………..

Chandler’s concerns were echoed in a recent letter from NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney to the Government Accountability Office calling for federal oversight of DOE decisions related to the shipment priorities. 

The Idaho settlement, Kenney argued, was entered without public input from New Mexicans who he said would bear the risk of disposal. 

“The practice of DOE (Office of Emergency Management) solely managing waste shipments to WIPP from around the U.S. without first discussing with New Mexico stakeholders – including NMED as its regulator – now merits immediate congressional oversight,” Kenney wrote.

Other than pressuring federal regulators, Chandler said the State of New Mexico and lawmakers have little recourse to reprioritize disposal at WIPP to benefit their state.

“Truthfully, there is very little we can do. Most of the issues at Los Alamos are driven by federal law. Mostly, it’s placing pressure on the DOE to do the right thing for the state of New Mexico,” Chandler said.

“They need to recognize that LANL is the leading lab and it needs the Department’s full support in all things including clean up.”

Realigning shipment priorities could be achieved through the pending 10-year renewal of WIPP’s operating permit with NMED, said Don Hancock at Albuquerque-based watchdog group Southwest Research and Information Center.

He said regardless of priority for wastes from specific facilities, there is not enough room at WIPP for all the DOE’s waste and the federal government should develop alternate repositories.

WIPP is presently the nation’s only deep-geological repository that can dispose of nuclear waste off-site from where it is generated.

“The State of New Mexico now needs to be pushing on other approved repository sites to be permitted,” Hancock said. “They need to enforce the capacity limits. The DOE and Congress are going to have to start looking at alternatives.”…………   https://www.currentargus.com/story/news/local/2022/01/07/wipp-criticized-accepting-out-state-nuclear-waste/9078220002/

January 10, 2022 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

UK: Blackburn and Darwen Council approving and old nuclear dump site for commercial development ?

A CONTROVERSIAL development site which residents and politicians fear is
above buried nuclear waste has been kept in the latest version of a
borough’s planning blueprint.

Blackburn with Darwen Council included the 94
acres of countryside near the M65’s Junction 5 in its draft local plan
published last year as suitable for employment uses.

But residents and WestPennine Tory councillor Julie Slater fear nuclear waste was dumped down old
mineshafts in the 1950s. Now following a consultation a new version of the
blueprint has been published and the the green belt land between Belthorn
and Guide remains earmarked as ideal for commercial and job-creating
development.

 Lancashire Telegraph 7th Jan 2022

https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/19829132.controversial-blackburn-nuclear-waste-site-kept-local-plan/

January 10, 2022 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Hunterston nuclear station shut down – then comes the long cleanup

A at the stroke of midday on Friday,
January 7, the North Ayrshire Hunterston B nuclear plant will be shut down with the simple push
of a button. In the high-security control room, director Paul Forrest will
step forward and trigger the end for one of Scotland’s last nuclear power
stations.

Environmental campaigners said the final shutdown of Hunterston B
– which started producing electricity 45 years and 11 months ago – was
“inevitable”. Lang Banks, the director of WWF Scotland, said the plant
had become “increasing unreliable”, arguing that growth in renewable
energy means nuclear power is no longer required.

Mr Banks said the “repeated failure to solve the problem of hundreds of cracks in the
graphite bricks surrounding the reactor core means the closure of
Hunterston B was inevitable”. He added: “Thankfully Scotland has
massively grown its renewable power-generating capacity, which means
we’ll no longer need the electricity from this increasingly unreliable
nuclear power plant. “As the expensive and hazardous job of cleaning up
the radioactive legacy Hunterston leaves in its wake now begins, Scotland
must press on with plans to harness more clean, renewable energy.”

 STV 7th Jan 2022

January 10, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor | Leave a comment

UK’s Heysham nuclear plant to shut down two years earlier than planned

  The Heysham 2 nuclear power station in Lancashire is set to shut down for
good two years earlier than planned following a new assessment. The power
station, the fuel for which is made at the Springfields factory at Salwick,
will now stop generating power in 2028. In 2016, the site’s operational
life was extended by seven years to 2030 as no new power station projects
were in the pipeline and nuclear is needed to maintain a steady base load
for the electricity grid.

 Blackpool Gazette 9th Jan 2022

https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/business/consumer/lancashire-nuclear-power-station-to-close-two-years-early-3518764

January 10, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

Maori workers exposed to radiation in cleaning up USA’s failed nuclear reactor in Antarctica

Detour: Antarctica – Kiwis ‘exposed to radiation’ at Antarctic power plant,  https://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/detour-antarctica-kiwis-exposed-to-radiation-at-antarctic-power-plant/NY5WTQ72JF4OFUW4F35ZSUCB6U/ 8 Jan, 2022 By Thomas Bywater, Thomas Bywater is a writer and digital producer for Herald Travel

In a major new Herald podcast series, Detour: Antarctica, Thomas Bywater goes in search of the white continent’s hidden stories. In this accompanying text series, he reveals a few of his discoveries to whet your appetite for the podcast. You can read them all, and experience a very special visual presentation, by clicking here. To follow Detour: Antarctica, visit iHeartRadio, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The Waitangi Tribunal will consider whether NZ Defence Force personnel were appropriately warned of potential exposure to radiation while working at a decommissioned nuclear reactor in Antarctica.

It’s among a raft of historic claims dating from 1860 to the present day before the Military Veterans Inquiry.

After an initial hearing in 2016, the Waitangi Tribunal last year admitted the Antarctic kaupapa to be considered alongside the other claims.

“It’s been a bloody long journey,” said solicitors Bennion Law, the Wellington firm representing the Antarctic claimants.

Between 1972 and the early 1980s, more than 300 tonnes of radioactive rubble was shipped off the continent via the seasonal resupply link.

Handled by US and New Zealand personnel without properly measuring potential exposure, the submission argues the Crown failed in its duty of care for the largely Māori contingent, including NZ Army Cargo Team One.

“This failure of active protection was and continues to be in breach of Te Tiriti o Waitangi,” reads the submission.

The rubble came from PM3A, a portable nuclear power unit on Ross Island, belonging to the US Navy. Decommissioned in 1972, its checkered 10-year operating history led it to be known as ‘Nukey Poo’ among base inhabitants. After recording 438 operating errors it was shut off for good.

Due to US obligations to the Antarctic Treaty, nuclear waste had to be removed.

Peter Breen, Assistant Base Mechanic at New Zealand’s Scott Base for 1981-82, led the effort to get similar New Zealand stories heard.

He hopes that NZDF personnel involved in the cleanup of Ross Island might get medallic recognition “similar to those who were exposed at Mururoa Atoll”. Sailors were awarded the Special Service Medal Nuclear Testing for observing French bomb sites in the Pacific in 1973, roughly the same time their colleagues were helping clear radioactive material from Antarctica.

A public advisory regarding potential historic radiation exposure at McMurdo Station was published in 2018.

Since 1975 the Waitangi Tribunal has been a permanent commission by the Ministry of Justice to raise Māori claims relating to the Crown’s obligations in the Treaty of Waitangi.

The current Military Veterans’ Kaupapa includes hearings as diverse as the injury of George Nepata while training in Singapore, to the exposure of soldiers to DBP insecticides during the Malayan Emergency.

Commenced in 2014 in the “centenary year of the onset of the First World War” the Māori military veterans inquiry has dragged on to twice the duration of the Great War.

Of the three claimants in the Antarctic veterans’ claim, Edwin (Chaddy) Chadwick, Apiha Papuni and Kelly Tako, only Tako survives.

“We’re obviously concerned with time because we’re losing veterans,” said Bennion Law.

Detour: Antarctica is a New Zealand Herald podcast. You can follow the series on iHeartRadio, Apple PodcastsSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

January 8, 2022 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, health, indigenous issues, New Zealand, wastes | Leave a comment

The world’s greatest garbage dump – space !

441,449 LOW EARTH ORBIT SATELLITES. Operating, Approved and Proposed …………………..

THE WORLD’S LARGEST GARBAGE PIT
And not only do thousands of whole satellites threaten the heavens, but a phenomenal amount of debris orbits the earth as a result of satellites colliding, or exploding, or otherwise being destroyed while in space. During the 64 years that humans have been launching rockets, the protective blankets of the ionosphere and magnetosphere have become the Earth’s largest garbage pit.

According to the European Space Agency there are, in orbit around the Earth today, 7,790 intact satellites, of which 4,800 are functioning. Since 1957, there have been more than 630 breakups, explosions, collisions, and other satellite-destroying events. This has resulted in the creation of more than 9,700 tons of space debris. There are, in orbit today:

  • 30,430 debris objects presently being tracked
  • 36,500 objects larger than 10 cm in size
  • 1,000,000 objects from 1 cm to 10 cm in size
  • 330,000,000 objects from 1 mm to 1 cm in size

EFFECTS ON OZONE, EARTHQUAKES, AND THUNDERSTORMSOzone  In a 2020 paper titled “The environmental impact of emissions from space launches: A comprehensive review,” Jessica Dallas and her colleagues at the University of New South Wales wrote that “ozone depletion is one of the largest environmental concerns surrounding rocket launches from Earth.”
In 2021, there were 146 orbital rocket launches to put 1,800 satellites into space. At that rate, to maintain and continually replace 100,000 low-earth-orbit satellites, which have an average lifespan of five years, would require more than 1,600 rocket launches per year, or more than four every day, forever into the future.

2020 and 2021 witnessed two of the largest Antarctic ozone holes since measurements began in 1979. The 2020 hole was also the longest-lasting on record, and the 2021 hole was only a few days shorter; larger than the continent of Antarctica, it began in late July 2021 and ended on December 28, 2021. Everyone is still blaming chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were banned by the Montreal Protocol in 1978. Nobody is looking at rocket launches, of which there were more in 2020 and 2021 than in any previous year. In addition to the 146 orbital launches in 2021, there were 143 sub-orbital launches of rockets to over 80 kilometers in altitude, for a total of 289 high-altitude launches for the year, or almost one every day.
Earthquakes and Thunderstorms

Earthquakes and Thunderstorms
In 2012, Anatoly Guglielmi and Oleg Zotov reviewed evidence that the global use of electricity has an effect on both seismic activity and thunderstorms……………………………………………  Everyone is so focused on a virus, and on antennas on the ground, that no one is paying attention to the holocaust descending from space. https://www.cellphonetaskforce.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/441449-Low-Earth-Orbit-Satellites.pdf

January 6, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, technology, wastes | Leave a comment

Xcel in Minnesota wants to use different nuclear waste casks from the approved TN-40 type

Xcel seeks change in Prairie Island nuclear waste storage

The Minneapolis-based utility says it’s not seeking to store more spent nuclear fuel at the plant than the amount it was authorized in 2009. But Xcel wants flexibility to use a different type of storage cask as long as the design is approved by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. News Tribune,  By: Kirsti Marohn / MPR News, Jan. 4, 2022

BRAINERD, Minn. — Xcel Energy is asking state regulators for permission to change how it stores radioactive waste at its Prairie Island nuclear plant in Red Wing, Minnesota.

The Minneapolis-based utility says it’s not seeking to store more spent nuclear fuel at the plant than the amount it was authorized in 2009. But Xcel wants flexibility to use a different type of storage cask as long as the design is approved by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Changing the storage technology likely would cut costs and make it easier to transport the waste to a future storage site outside of Minnesota, said Pam Gorman Prochaska, Xcel’s director of nuclear regulatory policy.

“That’s really the motivating factor behind this change request,” she said. “It’s saving our customers money, and it’s the ability to move the fuel off site sooner.”

Xcel’s request comes amid ongoing debate over what to do with growing stockpiles of spent fuel at the nation’s nuclear reactors, which can remain radioactive for thousands of years.

The federal government’s past efforts to establish a permanent storage site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, stalled in the face of local opposition. The Biden administration recently announced plans to look for interim storage sites in communities that agree to accept it.

Meanwhile, a private company recently received approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an interim storage site in Texas, but it’s facing opposition from political leaders. A second interim storage site in southeast New Mexico is also seeking NRC approval…….

Xcel plans to continue operating the Prairie Island nuclear reactors through the end of their current licenses, which expire in 2033 and 2034. The utility says it hasn’t yet decided whether to seek an extension.

Change of design

In 2009, the Public Utilities Commission authorized Xcel to more than double the amount of waste it stores at Prairie Island to 64 casks. Currently, 47 casks at the plant have been loaded with spent fuel, Prochaska said.

The casks used to store waste at Prairie Island are a bolted metal cask known as TN-40, chosen in 1989. Prairie Island is the last plant still using that design, Prochaska said.

Most plants in the U.S. — including Monticello — are using a system of welded steel canisters that slide into a concrete bunker, she said.

Xcel says switching to a different cask design could allow the spent fuel to be transported to an off-site storage facility sooner.

The two interim storage sites in Texas and New Mexico could accept the canisters, but are not authorized to accept TN-40 casks, Prochaska said.

Local impacts

The Minnesota Department of Commerce decided that Xcel’s request warranted a supplemental environmental review, because it represents new information and raises environmental justice concerns related to the nearby Prairie Island Indian Community.

Heather Westra, a consultant for Prairie Island’s tribal council, which has objected in the past to storing nuclear waste at the plant, said the tribe doesn’t have specific safety concerns about Xcel’s request to switch cask designs, but is hoping that the change will speed up the movement of waste off Prairie Island.

“Whether you put an additional 20 TN-40 casks or 20 type-to-be-determined, the material is still there,” she said. “And so the larger problem still exists that the material is there, and it’s not going anywhere.”

Like other host communities, the tribe receives very little benefit from having a nuclear plant right next door, just 700 yards from the nearest homes, Westra said.

“This situation was not one of the tribe’s creation, but it’s nevertheless something that the tribe is burdened with,” she said.

Prochaska said a draft environmental impact statement will be completed early next year, and will be followed by additional public hearings before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission decides on the request.

“Whether you put an additional 20 TN-40 casks or 20 type-to-be-determined, the material is still there,” she said. “And so the larger problem still exists that the material is there, and it’s not going anywhere.”

Like other host communities, the tribe receives very little benefit from having a nuclear plant right next door, just 700 yards from the nearest homes, Westra said.

“This situation was not one of the tribe’s creation, but it’s nevertheless something that the tribe is burdened with,” she said.

Prochaska said a draft environmental impact statement will be completed early next year, and will be followed by additional public hearings before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission decides on the request.

Xcel also is seeking to extend the Monticello plant’s license until 2040, and is requesting authorization from the Public Utilities Commission to increase the amount of spent fuel stored there. That process could take two years, Prochaska said.  https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/business/energy-and-mining/7339515-Xcel-seeks-change-in-Prairie-Island-nuclear-waste-storage

January 6, 2022 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Progress in nuclear waste cleanup at Idaho nuclear site

US close to ending buried nuke waste cleanup at Idaho site, KEITH RIDLER, Associated Press, Jan. 3, 2022,

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A lengthy project to dig up and remove radioactive and hazardous waste buried for decades in unlined pits at a nuclear facility that sits atop a giant aquifer in eastern Idaho is nearly finished, U.S. officials said.

The U.S. Department of Energy said last week that it removed the final amount of specifically-targeted buried waste from a 97-acre (39-hectare) landfill at its 890-square-mile (2,300-square-kilometer) site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory.

The targeted radioactive waste included plutonium-contaminated filters, graphite molds, sludges containing solvents and oxidized uranium generated during nuclear weapons production work at the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado. Some radioactive and hazardous remains in the Idaho landfill that will receive an earthen cover.

The waste from Rocky Flats was packaged in storage drums and boxes before being sent from 1954 to 1970 to the high-desert, sagebrush steppe of eastern Idaho where it was buried in unlined pits and trenches. The area lies about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of the city of Idaho Falls.

The cleanup project, started in 2005, is named the Accelerated Retrieval Project and is one of about a dozen cleanup efforts of nuclear waste finished or ongoing at the Energy Department site.

The project involving the landfill is part of a 2008 agreement between the Energy Department and state officials that required the department to dig up and remove specific types and amounts of radioactive and hazardous material.

The agency said it removed about 13,500 cubic yards (10,300 cubic meters) of material — which is the equivalent of nearly 50,000 storage drums each containing 55 gallons (208 liters).

Most of the waste is being sent to the U.S. government’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico for permanent disposal. Some waste will be sent to other off-site repositories that could be commercial or Energy Department sites.

The Energy Department said it is 18 months ahead of schedule in its cleanup of the landfill.

“The buried waste was the primary concern of our stakeholders since the beginning of the cleanup program,” Connie Flohr, manager of the Idaho Cleanup Project for the Energy Department’s Office of Environmental Management, said in a statement. “Completing exhumation early will allow us to get an earlier start on construction of the final cover.”……

The Lake Erie-sized Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer supplies farms and cities in the region. A 2020 U.S. Geological Survey report said radioactive and chemical contamination in the aquifer had decreased or remained constant in recent years. It attributed the decreases to radioactive decay, changes in waste-disposal methods, cleanup efforts and dilution from water coming into the aquifer.  https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/US-eyes-finish-of-buried-nuclear-waste-cleanup-at-16746645.php

January 4, 2022 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment