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Repeated earthquakes all too close to proposed U.S. nuclear waste dump site

Earthquakes repeatedly striking proposed US nuclear waste site

Officials fear deadly radioactivity could seep into earth if another high-magnitude quake strikes Nevada desert, Independent, Emma Snaith, 19 July 19

Repeated earthquakes could risk releasing deadly radioactivity into the earth if plans for a nuclear waste site in go ahead in Nevada’s desert, the state’s governor has warned.

Tens of thousands of tons of highly radioactive used nuclear reactor fuel are due to be transferred from 35 US states to a new facility in the Mojave Desert.

The Yuka Mountain nuclear waste repository is set to store this material deep within the earth.  

But a series of recent earthquakes in the Mojave Desert has raised concerns about the safety of storing radioactive waste at the facility. 

On 4 July, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake ruptured the earth in the desert, which stretches across the California-Nevada border.

The force of the quake cracked buildings, sparked fires, damaged roads and caused several injuries in southern California. It was followed by a 6.4-magnitude temblor two days later.

In the wake of the earthquakes, the governor of Nevada Steve Sisolak said he was committed to “fighting any continued federal effort to use Nevada as the nation’s nuclear dumping ground”.

Mr Sisolak sent a letter to the energy secretary, Rick Perry, urging him to reconsider the location of the facility.

……. In governor of Nevada’s letter to Mr Perry, he included the opinions of James Faulds at the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and Graham Kent at the seismological laboratory at the University of Nevada.

They urged for more research to be conducted into the seismic activity at the Yuka Mountain site. “The Ridgecrest earthquake sequence, which began July 4 and has yet to subside, clearly highlights the importance of such studies,” Mr Faulds and Mr Kent said. 

A recent ranking compiled by the US Geological Survey found Nevada was the US state with the fourth highest level of seismic activity after Alaska, Wyoming and Oklahoma.

Additional reporting by AP


July 20, 2019 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

San Onofre nuclear power station: nuclear waste moves from wet pools to dry storage

Nuclear waste moves from wet pools to dry storage at San Onofre

1 down, 43 to go before the plant’s cooling pools are empty and its dry storage system is full By TERI SFORZA | | Orange County Register July 18, 2019  It took the better part of two days, but Canister No. 30 — a 50-ton behemoth full of spent nuclear waste — was successfully moved from a fuel-handling building, rolled across the bluff on a giant transporter, then inserted into its steel-and-concrete vault in the Holtec Hi-Storm UMAX dry storage system at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

The delicate, deliberate dance was originally projected to wrap up by early morning Wednesday, July 17, but finished up about 6 a.m. Thursday. And as far as majority owner and operator Southern California Edison is concerned, that’s just fine and dandy……..

Critics continue to worry about the integrity of those canisters — which have scratches from their descent into the vaults — over what could be decades in the San Onofre’s salty seaside atmosphere. They demand that the waste be moved from what they deride as a “beachfront nuclear waste dump” immediately, but that requires action from a federal government that has dithered on the issue for some 70 years.

The road to here

San Onofre’s reactors powered down in 2012 after tubes in its brand-new steam generators cracked, resulting in a small radiation leak. After local opposition to restarting it appeared insurmountable, San Onofre was shuttered for good in 2013.

The plant will be dismantled – a $4 billion job that’s expected to take at least another decade – and all the spent fuel currently cooling in its spent fuel pools will be transferred to dry storage by next year……..

July 20, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Maine Bill for grants to local governments to offset costs of STRANDED nuclear wastes

Bill would help Maine town offset cost of storing nuclear waste by The Associated Press Monday, July 15th   WISCASSET, Maine (AP) — A proposal before the U.S. Senate would seek to help communities around the country that face the expensive problem of storing spent nuclear fuel.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois are calling the proposal “the STRANDED Act.”

That stands for “Sensible, Timely, Relief for America’s Nuclear Districts’ Economic Development.”

The proposal calls for economic impact grants to local governments to offset the impacts of stranded waste. Communities would be eligible for $15 per kilogram of spent nuclear fuel stored.

Collins says the town of Wiscasset has endorsed the proposal. Wiscasset is the location of decommissioned Maine Yankee nuclear plant.

Collins says a permanent solution for the waste is also needed.

The co-sponsors of the bill include Maine’s other senator, independent Sen. Angus King.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Wyoming lawmakers quietly see $billions in storing spent nuclear fuel. 

Lawmakers quietly explore storing spent nuclear fuel.  Wyo File,  July 12, 2019 by Angus M. Thuermer Jr.     Wyoming legislative leadership voted by email Monday to explore temporarily storing spent nuclear fuel rods in the state, a prospect one senator says could bring in $1 billion a year.

A legislative committee has appointed six of its members to investigate the idea with the U.S. Department of Energy, Sen. Jim Anderson (R-Casper) told WyoFile on Friday. Anderson is co-chairman of the Joint Minerals Business and Economic Development Committee which received approval and funding from the Legislative Management Council in an unannounced vote to study the issue before the next legislative session begins in early 2020. ………

The state is looking for other revenue options, Anderson said, and “this is a way.” The federal government could pay up to $1 billion a year for the temporary storage, he said, depending on the size and scope of a Wyoming project. That’s the amount the federal government offered last time Wyoming considered the issue about 15 years ago, he said.

Anderson couldn’t immediately name the six members who serve on the subcommittee that will engage DOE, but he said it’s unlikely the group would report at the next minerals committee meeting in August. More likely there would be a presentation in November, he said……….

The spent fuel rod casks would be temporarily stored in Wyoming on their way to a permanent storage site at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.  ….

The Wyoming effort is specific regarding fuel rods only, he said. “There’s nothing here about storing nuclear waste,” Anderson said. Storage might be for 5-10 years, he said……..

The old uranium sites are out of the way, Anderson said.

“Nobody will ever see it,” he said of a storage site. “Nobody even knows where it is,” he said of the locations at Gas Hills and the Shirley Basin. “They’ll never see it and there’s no danger from the casks.”

Wyoming might have to build some infrastructure, he said, like a fence around the casks. The state could offer both the old mine sites, he said, potentially increasing revenue.

“Environmental terrorists” sure to object

Wyoming’s previous attempts to bring some types of nuclear storage to the state were blocked by environmental groups, Anderson said.

During an earlier effort to bring nuclear material to Wyoming “the environmental terrorists came out against it and stopped it in its tracks,” he said. That opposition likely remains.

“I think they’ll be back terrorizing us again,” Anderson said.

Wyoming people will likely welcome such a project, Anderson said, given the potential $1 billion or more annual revenue stream. …….

On the Management Council, Sens. Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower), Dan Dockstader (R-Afton), Drew Perkins (R-Casper) and Bill Landen (R-Casper) plus Reps. Greear, Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale), and Speaker of the House Steve Harshman (R-Casper) supported the minerals committee request, Obrecht wrote.

Sens. Mike Gierau (D-Jackson), Liisa Anselmi-Dalton (D-Rock Springs, Chris Rothfuss (D-Laramie) opposed the measure along with Reps. Eric Barlow (R-Gillette), John Freeman (D-Green River) and Kathy Connolly (D-Laramie), according to Obrecht’s email.

The Management Council vote was taken by email, Obrecht said. The motion includes funds to support the investigation, but WyoFile could not immediately ascertain how much.

Gierau outlined his opposition to the measure.   “I like a billion dollars as much as the next guy, but some things are not for sale,” he told WyoFile. He pointed to efforts through the state’s  Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming and other programs to diversify the state’s economy.

“Of all the things we want to do… I just don’t see this as a winning proposition, on an environmental, social or personal level,” he said.

He noted the close vote on the Management Council and said he would continue his opposition.

“I will do my best to make sure it’s not as close on the floor,” he said.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Dangerously unacceptable nuclear waste dump plans for Texas

Mining Awareness 11th July 2019 The proposed nuclear waste dump for Texas is by “Interim Storage Partners“– a joint venture between Waste Control Specialists (WCS),
which was sold to J.F. Lehman, and French State owned Orano (formerly
Areva). The only good things that we can say about this plan, as opposed to
competitor Holtec, is that in the event of a nuclear waste disaster, we
know where France can be found, whereas we may not be able to find
Holtec’s Krishna Pal Singh. In the event of a leak, it will be easier to
recover an above ground canister. Both plans are dangerously unacceptable,

July 15, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear Waste In The Arctic

July 13, 2019 Posted by | ARCTIC, oceans, Russia, wastes | 2 Comments

In the 1980s Hungarian villagers defeated a nuclear waste dump plan. Can they do it again?

July 13, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

For 6 years, Potentially Dangerous Nuclear Waste Was Shipped to Nevada as Low Level Wastes

DOE Was Shipping Potentially Dangerous Nuclear Waste To Nevada Site For Years
Energy officials told Gov. Steve Sisolak that the Nevada National Security Site received shipments from 2013 to 2018 that could contain “reactive” material.
By Sanjana Karanth, 12 July 19

The U.S. Department of Energy shipped potentially dangerous nuclear material incorrectly labeled as low-level radioactive waste into Nevada for several years, the state’s governor announced.

statement from Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) on Wednesday said the department sent a total of 32 shipments to the Nevada National Security Site between 2013 and 2018 that were supposed to be low-level radioactive waste from a facility in Tennessee. (The DOE told the Las Vegas Review-Journal later on Wednesday that there were actually nine shipments that had 32 containers.)

But DOE Deputy Secretary Daniel Brouillette told Sisolak on July 3 that some of those shipments may have included “reactive” material, which can release large amounts of thermodynamic energy.

Sisolak’s office said DOE officials have not confirmed that the shipments definitely contained reactive materials, which he said “would trigger additional safety concerns,” but the department did confirm Wednesday to the Review-Journal that the shipments were not in compliance with the security site’s waste acceptance criteria.

On July 5, Sisolak and Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) and Jacky Rosen (D) sent a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry citing the risks posed to Nevada’s residents and environment and demanding that the DOE immediately correct the waste disposal mistake and create new procedures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“These egregious acts ― whether acts of negligence or indicative of something else ― are unconscionable and have potentially put the health and safety of Nevadans and our environment at unacceptable risk,” the letter stated.

The security site has been a place to permanently dispose of what the DOE categorizes as low-level radioactive waste, which can include materials like rags, construction debris and other equipment exposed to radioactive material. The site also takes in some forms of “mixed low-level waste,” which can contain some hazardous waste such as garbage and sludge. The governor’s office said mixed low-level waste is more strictly regulated and requires treatment prior to disposal and a more protective disposal method than low-level waste.

The shipments in question were not properly labeled to indicate which materials were low-level waste and which were more dangerous.

Federal officials, including from the National Nuclear Security Administration, gave an in-person briefing to Sisolak on Tuesday regarding the department’s findings and proposed response. During the briefing, the governor referred to an incident last year in which the DOE shipped half a metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium to the same security site and didn’t give notice until months later.

Yet again, the DOE has violated its mission, broken Nevadans’ trust and failed to follow its own compliance procedures,” Cortez Masto and Rosen said in a joint statement Wednesday. “We intend to immediately determine whether the mixed waste shipped to Nevada poses a hazard to the health and safety of Nevadans and will take every action necessary to hold the DOE accountable.”

DOE officials told the Review-Journal that they are launching an internal investigation to figure out how the shipments were miscategorized for six years, and will temporarily suspend all planned future shipments from the Tennessee facility. 


July 13, 2019 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Recycling nuclear waste still itself produces nuclear waste

Recycle everything, America—except your nuclear waste    By Allison MacfarlaneSharon Squassoni, July 8, 2019 Americans have come late to the game on responsible consumerism, but they are making up for lost time with a passionate obsession about waste.  It’s no coincidence that Fox News, CNN, YouTube and USA Today have all reported that the deepest solo ocean dive found plastic waste seven miles below the surface, in the Mariana Trench.

Now that Americans are “woke” about waste in general, they may turn to the specific kind produced by the nuclear energy industry. Plans to revitalize US nuclear power, which is in dire economic straits, depend on the potential for new, “advanced” reactors to reduce and recycle the waste they produce.  Unfortunately, as they “burn” some kinds of nuclear wastes, these plants will create other kinds that also require disposal. At the same time, these “advanced” reactors—many of which are actually reprises of past efforts—increase security and nuclear weapons proliferation risks and ultimately do nothing to break down the political and societal resistance to finding real solutions to nuclear waste disposal.

The current nuclear dream is really no different from previous ones of the last 70 years: the next generation of reactors, nuclear power advocates insist, will be safer, cheaper, more reliable, less prone to produce nuclear bomb-making material, and more versatile (producing electricity, heat, and perhaps hydrogen), without creating the wastes that have proved almost impossible to deal with in the United States.  The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act specifically describes the advanced reactors it seeks to support as having all those positive characteristics.  This newest burst of enthusiasm for advanced reactors is, however, largely fueled by the idea that they will burn some of their long-lived radioisotopes, thereby becoming nuclear incinerators for some of their own waste.

Many of these “advanced” reactors are actually repackaged designs from 70 years ago.  If the United States, France, the UK, Germany, Japan, Russia, and others could not make these reactors economically viable power producers in that time, despite spending more than $60 billion, what is different now?  Moreover, all of the “advanced” designs under discussion now are simply “PowerPoint” reactors: They have not been built at scale, and, as a result, we don’t really know all the waste streams that they will produce.

It’s tempting to believe that having new nuclear power plants that serve, to some degree, as nuclear garbage disposals means there is no need for a nuclear garbage dump, but this isn’t really the case. Even in an optimistic assessment, these new plants will still produce significant amounts of high-level, long-lived waste. What’s more, new fuel forms used in some of these advanced reactors could pose waste disposal challenges not seen to date.

Some of these new reactors would use molten salt-based fuels that, when exposed to water, form highly corrosive hydrofluoric acid. Therefore, reprocessing (or some form of “conditioning”) the waste will likely be required for safety reasons before disposal. Sodium-cooled fast reactors—a “new” technology proposed to be used in some advanced reactors, including the Bill Gates-funded TerraPower reactors—face their own disposal challenges. These include dealing with the metallic uranium fuel which is pyrophoric (that is, prone to spontaneous combustion) and would need to be reprocessed into a safer form for disposal.

Unconventional reactors may reduce the level of some nuclear isotopes in the spent fuel they produce, but that won’t change what really drives requirements for our future nuclear waste repository: the heat production of spent fuel and amount of long-lived radionuclides in the waste. To put it another way, the new reactors will still need a waste repository, and it will likely need to be just as large as a repository for the waste produced by the current crop of conventional reactors.

Recycling and minimizing—even eliminating—the waste streams that many industries produce is responsible and prudent behavior. But in the context of nuclear energy, recycling is expensive, dirty, and ultimately dangerous.  Reprocessing spent nuclear fuel—which some advanced reactor designs require for safety reasons—actually produces fissile material that could be used to power nuclear weapons.  This is precisely why the United States has avoided the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel for the last four decades, despite having the world’s largest number of commercial nuclear power plants.

Continuing research on how to deal with nuclear waste is a great idea. But building expensive prototypes of reactors whose fuel requires reprocessing, on the belief that such reactors will solve the nuclear waste problem in America, is misguided. At the same time, discounting the notion that a US move into reprocessing might spur other countries to develop this same technology—a technology they could secretly exploit to produce nuclear weapons—is shortsighted and damaging to US national and world security.

July 11, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, safety, wastes | Leave a comment

Belgium’s green party demands review of nuclear waste storage project

Belgium’s green party demands review of nuclear waste storage project

July 9, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, wastes | Leave a comment

Huge expenses of the project to cover the destroyed Chernobyl nuclear reactor 

Inside new £1,300,000,000 structure built over destroyed Chernobyl nuclear reactor     Georgia Diebelius [excellent photos]  3 Jul 2019   Anew structure built to confine the Chernobyl reactor at the centre of the world’s worst nuclear disaster was previewed for the media yesterday. Reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded and burned April 26, 1986. The complex construction effort to secure the molten reactor’s core and 200 tons of highly radioactive material has taken nine years to complete under the control of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The structure itself cost £1.5 billion and the entire shelter project cost £2.2 billion. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development managed a fund with contributions from 45 countries, the European Union and £715 million in the bank’s own resources.‘

This was a very long project,’ said Balthasar Lindauer, director of the bank’s Nuclear Safety Department

He said Ukraine was a big contributor, contributing €100 million in cash along with expertise and personnel. Journalists were invited to view the new safe confinement shelter ahead of the handover to Ukrainian authorities.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

Washington State setting its own deadlines for cleaning up Hanford wastes

State sets own deadlines for cleaning up Hanford wastes  By Associated Press, July 2, 2019, RICHLAND — The state of Washington is setting new deadlines to clean up a former plutonium production site that contains a massive quantity of radioactive waste.

Such deadlines are usually set through negotiations among the Washington Department of Ecology, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

But the Tri-City Herald reports that the state has become frustrated with a lack of legally-binding deadlines related to the 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground storage tanks on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The Energy Department had not negotiated the deadlines as required by 2015.

Among other things, the state is requiring the Energy Department to design new underground storage tanks by 2023.

DOE has long objected to building new tanks.

Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

12,500th Shipment Of Nuclear Waste to USA’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

WIPP Facility Receives 12,500 Shipment Of Nuclear Waste   CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) 3 July 19, — The federal government’s underground nuclear waste repository in New Mexico has received its 12,500th shipment since operations began two decades ago.

The U.S. Energy Department made the announcement Tuesday, saying the shipment arrived at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant just before midnight on June 27.

The shipment originated at Idaho National Laboratory.

The repository is licensed to take Cold War-era waste generated by decades of bomb-making and defense-related nuclear research. The waste includes gloves, clothing, tools and other materials contaminated with radioactive elements.

In all, more than 178,500 containers have been trucked over 14.9 million miles to the repository from sites around the country since 1999. The waste is entombed in disposal rooms carved out of an ancient salt formation about half a mile down.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Settlement Talks Collapse in $200-Million Lawsuit over Savannah River Plutonium

BY DAN LEONE,  3 May 19, After settlement talks collapsed, a federal judge this week cleared the way for a long-awaited decision in a $200-million lawsuit between South Carolina and the Department of Energy over the federal government’s failure to remove plutonium from the state. The… (subscribers only)

July 4, 2019 Posted by | - plutonium, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Push to bribe Nevada residents to accept Yucca Mt as nuclear waste dump

Proponents of nuclear waste dump have a new strategy: Just buy us off, Las Vegas Sun, By Judy Treichel 2 Jul 19,  A new tactic is coming to light in the decades-long effort by other states to get a nuclear waste dump rammed into Nevada. And like other strategies in that effort, it’s astonishing — in a bad way.

An opinion piece in a national newspaper suggested that the best way to get Nevadans to stand aside and let high-level radioactive waste roll into Yucca Mountain would be to pay rent to each of us once a year for 10 years.

What a terrible deal: We would give up all ability to fight any injustice or infringement of the rules while waste was transported through our state. We’d get just 10 years of rent payments for a facility that is supposed to house waste for a million years.

More preposterous yet, the suggested amount is $500 per year per person, which looks more like a small tax refund than a hedge against a facility that could easily lead to a calamity. If a nuclear waste train passing behind the resort corridor in Las Vegas derailed — as a train in Northern Nevada did recently — the damage to our economy could be very severe and long lasting.

But to even suggest that we would consider a payoff in exchange for accepting the nation’s nuclear waste is offensive. The suggestion assumes that we are stupid.

That’s wrong. We are not only knowledgeable, but also experienced on this issue. Nevada learned a painful lesson during and after atomic weapons testing. It took 50 years of begging and legal action for some of the victims’ families to finally be paid a set sum. We are not going to walk into that situation again, regardless of the amount of the bribe.

Another large fallacy in the thinking of those who would plot to buy Nevadans is the belief that Yucca Mountain is a repository, ready and waiting for the nation’s waste.

Yes, billions were spent there but all that is there is a tunnel where some experiments were done. There are no waste emplacement tunnels or receiving facilities. In addition to the money spent over a 20-year period, the Department of Energy estimates that over $100 billion of new money would be needed.

In addition to the huge amounts of money that Congress would have to appropriate year after year, the time required to get to an operational Yucca Mountain repository is significant. …..

July 2, 2019 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment