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‘Lacking in scientific rigour’: Damning verdict of marine expert on UK’s Nuclear Waste Services seismic testing plan

Radiation Free Lakeland (RFL) and the Nuclear Free Local Authorities
(NFLA) have announced the publication of a report by a renowned marine
expert which is highly critical of Nuclear Waste Services’ (NWS) proposal
to carry out a seismic survey in the Irish Sea to further a plan for an
offshore nuclear waste dump.

The report, ‘The West of Copeland Acoustic
Airgun Survey Proposal: A critical analysis Review Briefing’, was
commissioned by Radiation Free Lakeland and supported wholly through
financial contributions made by members of the public concerned about the
harm that could be caused to marine life by seismic testing.

The report was written by Tim Deere-Jones, a highly-regarded marine radioactivity and
pollution researcher and consultant who has been working independently in
this field since 1983. The NWS, an operating division of the Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority, is responsible for finding a site for a
so-called Geological Disposal Facility, either below ground or beneath the
seabed.

This nuclear waste dump will be filled with the toxic radioactive
waste that is the legacy of Britain’s seven decades of the civil nuclear
power production; much of it will remain radioactive for many tens of
thousands of years.

Three search areas in Cumbria, falling within the local
authority areas of Allerdale and Copeland and offshore up to 22kms, are
under consideration. Seismic testing will enable NWS to determine if the
geology beneath the bed of the Irish Sea is suitable to host a repository
for the nuclear waste.

This involves firing blasts of sound from air guns
below the waves every 10 seconds for four weeks or longer. This sound
penetrates under the ocean floor to help scientists discover more about the
suitability of the geology to store nuclear waste. Seismic testing can
seriously impair the health of marine life, which in the Irish Sea includes
whales, dolphins, porpoises, and seals, but some scientific reports also
suggest that even tiny shellfish and plankton can be adversely impacted,
hazarding the whole marine ecosystem.

NWS have claimed an exemption from
the requirement to seek a Marine Licence from the MMO citing their survey
as furthering ‘scientific research’ and in so doing have prevented
public analysis of their proposals or commentary from academics and marine
welfare organisations.

 NFLA 27th June 2022

June 28, 2022 Posted by | oceans, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

The whole idea of a GDF (geological disposal facility) is flawed thinking and needs to be revisited.

John Laband   https://www.facebook.com/groups/radiationfreelakeland 27 June 22, The whole idea of a GDF (geological disposal facility) is flawed thinking and needs to be revisited. CoRWM (committee on radioactive waste management) must face up to the harsh reality that there is no informed expert opinion that doesn’t acknowledge that the physical barrier between the environment and the high level waste material (spent nuclear fuel rods) will likely break down long before the radioactivity has decayed to safe levels.

What went wrong was the way the committee, 10 yrs ago, dealt with all the alternative suggestions for dealing with the waste material and there were about 10 of them. It literally drew a red line through each of the alternative suggestions and there was no discussion about their merits.

The excuse given was that at the time there was no worldwide precedent or experience of each of them. The exception was the GDF plan which already existed in the USA at Yucca mountain in Nevada and the WIPP pilot project in New Mexico. So the UK approach was to jump on that bandwagon and CoRWM has spent the intervening time trying to induce local communities into accepting their plan for an underground nuclear dump. Including attaching the idea to a plan for an undersea coal mine.

Unfortunately for CoRWM the Yucca mountain site has been abandoned. There is nothing there now except a boarded up exploratory tunnel and an accident has happened at the WIPP site leading to radioactive contamination on the surface.

In addition the US is no longer adding to its fund to provide a national disposal site. It has gone back to dry storage of waste on site in concrete casks.

In my opinion CoRWM needs to abandon it’s one track policy and go back to the drawing board and look at all suggested schemes in detail. In the meantime safe modern storage facilities need to be constructed on the surface and a moratorium adopted on the production of anymore waste from fission reactors.

Cancel any further expansion of nuclear electricity generation and scale down existing facilities to zero. We cannot at the moment handle the mounting pile of high level radioactive waste.

June 28, 2022 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

What happened at Santa Susana? — Beyond Nuclear International

A meltdown contaminated a community. A fire made it worse

What happened at Santa Susana? — Beyond Nuclear International A 1959 meltdown and a 2018 fire compounded a tragedy
By Carmi Orenstein
When the United Nations Human Rights Council officially recognized access to “a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment” as a basic human right earlier last October, it was an acknowledgement fifty years in the making. It was backed by an international grassroots effort, with the journey to the final vote including the voices of more than 100,000 children around the world and multiple generations of allies pushing against powerful corporate opposition. 
Just about the time that this half-century-long campaign to enshrine the right to a safe environment kicked off, a story about the horrific violation of this same human right and its cover-up emerged in a community near my own childhood home in Southern California.

 In 1979, a UCLA student named Michael Rose uncovered evidence of a partial nuclear meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL) in the Simi Hills outside of Los Angeles. The SSFL, formerly known as Rocketdyne, played key government roles throughout the Cold War, developing and testing rocket engines and conducting experiments with nuclear reactors. Today, as the result of a recently published peer-reviewed study that represents the dogged efforts of both professional researchers and a team of specially trained citizens, we have solid evidence of the spread of dangerous contamination from that site.

Santa Susan Field Laboratory 1958

Working with nuclear safety expert and then-UCLA professor Daniel Hirsch, Rose discovered documentation that the partial nuclear meltdown had occurred at SSFL twenty years earlier in 1959, releasing up to 459 times more radiation into the environment than the infamous meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor in Pennsylvania. Unlike the Three Mile Island facility, the SSFL reactors lacked containment structures—those tell-tale concrete domes that surround commercial nuclear power plants to prevent radiation spread in case of a nuclear accident. 

In addition to the 1959 meltdown, at least three of the site’s other nuclear reactors experienced accidents (in 1957, 1964 and 1969), and radioactive and chemical wastes burned in open-air pits as a matter of practice. A “hot lab,” which may have been the nation’s largest, was also located at SSFL, and, in 1957, it burned and was known to have spread radioactivity throughout the site. A progress report from the period states, “Because such massive contamination was not anticipated, the planned logistics of cleanup were not adequate for the situation.”

The rest of this story is an object lesson in what happens when the right to a safe environment is not universally acknowledged and when secretive, long-forgotten toxic legacies of the Cold War meet the unpredictable chaos of the current climate crisis. Real people are harmed in ways that are not easily remediable—including, perhaps, members of my family.

The radioactive contamination of the surrounding environment caused by the partial nuclear meltdown at the 2,849-acre SSFL site was not cleaned up by the time of Rose’s revelation. Nor was the extensive toxic chemical contamination on site. It is still not cleaned up. Thus, when the climate chaos-fueled Woolsey Fire erupted at, and burned through, the SSFL in 2018, the flames served to spread the contamination even further. The fire quickly burned 80 percent of the SSFL property, and onward, all the way to the ocean. Pushed by high winds and uncontained for nearly two weeks, the Woolsey Fire killed three people outright and destroyed over 1,600 structures.

Today, public knowledge of the original disaster and its continued radioactive and toxic legacy is still patchy. The silence that surrounded the catastrophe in 1959 gave way to intermittent waves of focused media attention, celebrity involvement, and inquiry and outcry on the part of elected officials in the years since the 1979 expose. These have been followed by whistleblower accounts from former workers, and various forms of citizen activism. While occasional news of confidential legal settlements addressing illness and contamination breaks through, the Santa Susana disaster is hardly a household name—including among those of us who grew up in its shadow. 

The suburbs on either side of the SSFL, in Ventura County and a western edge of Los Angeles County, are still expanding. More than 500,000 people currently live within about ten miles of the site. Parents vs. SSFL is the dynamic, parent-led group currently at the helm of public monitoring of, and demand for, a comprehensive cleanup. On their social media sites, one often sees public comments from nearby residents along the lines of why were we not told?

To be sure, the history of site ownership and responsibility is complex and makes redress of grievance vexing. Although Rocketdyne owned the facility at the time of the meltdown, most of the site is now owned by Boeing. However, some of the property is owned by NASA, who in turn leases parts of its property as SSFL to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the lead regulatory agency for remediation, entered into a Consent Order with these “responsible parties,” in 2007. In 2010, stricter agreements were signed with DOE and NASA to clean up the properties for which they are responsible to “background levels.” 

In 2017 a legally binding agreement deadline for completion of cleanup was blown by, with no meaningful cleanup begun. In 2018 the Woolsey Fire came roaring through. That fire is now documented to have redistributed radioactive materials and toxic chemicals in surrounding areas. Non-binding, confidential negotiations with Boeing were just announced early this year. It is a confounding and maddening journey to anyone attempting to follow.

As Melissa Bumstead, co-founder of Parents vs SSFL, said in a Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles press release about the new study: “The bottom line is, if SSFL had been cleaned up by 2017 as required by the cleanup agreements, the community wouldn’t have had to worry about contamination released by the Woolsey Fire.” …………………………………….

UCLA professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Suzanne E. Paulson also weighed in. Speaking to a reporter the next year, Paulson explained

Assuming that radioactive material was in the soil [and] vegetation burned, it is reasonable that it traveled 30 miles downwind, and some of it got deposited in downwind areas… When soil and vegetation burn, the material in them, including metals [and] soil minerals, end up in the aerosol particles that make smoke look dark and hazy. They are small enough that they can remain in the atmosphere for up to a week and as a result can be widely dispersed.

At the end of 2018, just weeks after the Woolsey Fire was finally extinguished, work commenced on the independent study that was ultimately published online in early October and would appear in the December 2021 issue of the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. This paper represents the work of community-volunteer citizen scientists who were trained to collect dust and ash samples in a 9-mile radius throughout the rural, urban, suburban, and undeveloped mountainous area around the SSFL. Their data collection was followed by the slow and careful work of scientific analysis. In a society whose governmental structures and policies decidedly are not guided by the Precautionary Principle today, and where there are no efficient mechanisms by which to correct past regulatory errors—no matter how grave—these volunteers and their three research leaders have provided powerful, incriminating evidence with which the community and its allies will push forward for the cleanup. 

…………………………. “Woolsey Fire ash did, in fact, spread SSFL-related radioactive microparticles.” The authors also wrote, “Excessive alpha radiation in small particles is of particular interest because of the relatively high risk of inhalation-related long-term biological damage from internal alpha emitters compared to external radiation.”……………………………………………..

How did the entities with knowledge and power continue to delay and obstruct while the population boomed and crept up the hillsides near the SSFL, knowing full well that powerful human health hazards were there to meet the communities, new and old? The statement by DTSC proclaiming that no contaminants were carried, while the Woolsey Fire was still burning, smacks of the most brazen regulatory capture. …………………………….. Carmi Orenstein is Program Director at Concerned Heath Professionals of New York.    https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/4098311628

June 27, 2022 Posted by | climate change, incidents, Reference, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

The UK is searching the sea for a nuclear dump site with huge risks to marine life

 ”Protections clearly mean nothing when the nuclear waste industry wants to pave the way to a deep nuclear dump.”

By Charlie Jaay  •  euro news green,  22/06/2022

A new report delivers a damning verdict on the proposed seismic blasting in the Irish Sea.

The UK government’s Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) is set to carry out seismic surveys off the Cumbrian Coast between July and August this year. 

They are looking for a place to dispose of the waste produced by Britain’s nuclear reactors.

The report, commissioned by Radiation Free Lakeland, calls for these plans to be postponed, claiming the impact assessment by NWS is “deeply inadequate” and “lacking in appropriate scientific and academic rigour”.

What is seismic blasting?

Seismic blasting is a process that allows scientists to find out more about the geography of the sea bed. Loud, repetitive blasts of sound are produced from an underwater airgun – like a powerful horn – and their echoes are measured to map the underwater rocks

The airgun will fire every 10 to 15 seconds, throughout the survey period of around one month.

The surveys, commissioned by NWS, will be looking into the possibility of locating a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF). Deep under the seabed, this facility will be used to dispose of the UK’s toxic legacy of high level nuclear waste – the highly radioactive byproducts of nuclear reactors. 

Shearwater GeoServices, the company which last year saw the high court put an end to its work on South Africa’s ecologically sensitive Wild Coast, is carrying out the investigations.

According to a freedom of information request, a licence of exemption to carry out these surveys was given to NWS for ‘scientific research’. But Radiation Free Lakeland says the survey is not for ‘scientific research’ but a plan to dispose of nuclear waste.

“We commissioned an independent report because we need to counter the PR spin from the nuclear waste industry who are calling the seismic testing ‘non-invasive scientific research,’” says Marianne Birkby, Founder of the campaign group.

She argues that, rather than seismic blasting for scientific purposes, the plans facilitate a commercial venture for a “deep nuclear dump for heat generating nuclear waste.”

A limited company that wants to enable ever more nuclear waste from new nuclear builds, Radioactive Waste Management, is behind it, Birkby claims.

“Despite the marine protections this part of the Irish Sea has, it is an outrage that independent environmental impact assessments have not been carried out. Protections clearly mean nothing when the nuclear waste industry wants to pave the way to a deep nuclear dump.”

In response to the claims, NWS says “there is no requirement to undertake a public consultation for these surveys.”……

Seismic surveys can devastate marine life

Low frequency sounds generated by a single seismic airgun can extend over large distances, particularly in deeper waters.

They have been recorded at locations up to 4,000 kilometres from the source, and can blanket areas of up to 300,000 square kilometres with noise. Studies have shown that, because seismic surveys can disturb, injure or kill a wide variety of marine life, they can impact entire ecosystems.

Zooplankton are the base of the marine food chain and are extremely important to our ocean’s health. They are also very vulnerable to these loud noises, according to scientists.

Researchers have found that seismic surveys significantly increase the death rates of zooplankton in the 1.2 kilometre range they tested, killing all larval krill in the range.

Radiation Free Lakeland’s report says the surveys will take place when zooplankton populations are expected to be high. These creatures provide a food source for a wide variety of organisms including baleen whales, basking sharks and fish which, in turn, feed many other species.

Many other marine animals rely on sound for survival too. Seismic testing can interfere with basic functions such as communication, navigation, feeding and mating.

“Noise exposure can be a problem for a wide variety of Cetaceans-dolphins, porpoises and whales,” according to the Zoological Society of London’s Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme.

“Noise related impacts have also been causally linked to many cetacean stranding and mass stranding events globally.”

The NWS investigation will focus on a survey area five to 20 kilometres off the Cumbrian coast in the north west of England in an area of approximately 250 square kilometres. The proposed GDF may extend over an area of 25 kilometres square, deep beneath the seabed.

This region is one of a number of designated Marine Conservation Zones in the Irish Sea. It has protected habitats and is home to a number of European protected species, such as sea turtles, minke whales, common and bottlenose dolphins, and harbour porpoises…………………

Marine habitats are already under huge pressure from pollution, irresponsible development and bottom trawling – as well as the consequences of climate change, she explains.  Joan Edwards. Director of Policy at the Wildlife Trusts

We are concerned about the implications of seismic testing in the Irish Sea, which evidence shows can be devastating for marine life.”

The report claims many of the hugely important marine species found in the area have not been studied for their sensitivity to seismic surveys.

A ‘marked lack of transparency’ from Nuclear Waste Services

Marine radioactivity researcher and consultant Tim Deere-Jones is the author of Radiation Free Lakeland’s report. He says that NWS’s licence application for the seismic survey is characterised by “a marked lack of transparency.”

We are concerned about the implications of seismic testing in the Irish Sea, which evidence shows can be devastating for marine life.”

The report claims many of the hugely important marine species found in the area have not been studied for their sensitivity to seismic surveys.

A ‘marked lack of transparency’ from Nuclear Waste Services

Marine radioactivity researcher and consultant Tim Deere-Jones is the author of Radiation Free Lakeland’s report. He says that NWS’s licence application for the seismic survey is characterised by “a marked lack of transparency.”

The UK government, similar to many others, favours deep geological disposal to deal with the most radioactive waste – whether deep below ground or deep beneath the seabed.

However, there are still many concerns about this £53 billion (€62 billion) facility in the Irish Sea, which has not been tried or tested and provides no guarantees of safety. https://reliefweb.int/report/world/let-us-move-towards-world-without-nuclear-weapons

June 23, 2022 Posted by | oceans, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan to Give Plutonium from Spent Fuel to France, – (but the high level wastes must be returned to Japan)

 https://www.nippon.com/en/news/yjj2022062000945/japan-to-give-plutonium-from-spent-fuel-to-france.html  Tokyo, June 21 (Jiji Press)–The Japan Atomic Energy Agency will give France plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel from its Fugen advanced converter reactor, officials have said.

The agency will conclude a contract with a French nuclear company this month at the earliest, according to the officials.

The French side is expected to reprocess the spent nuclear fuel from the reactor, which is in the decommissioning process, in the central Japan prefecture of Fukui.

On Wednesday, the Japanese and French governments exchanged notes on the transportation and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and the return of high-level radioactive waste to Japan.

The two sides agreed to start the removal of 731 spent nuclear fuel assemblies from Fugen in April 2023 and complete the work by the end of March 2027.

June 21, 2022 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan | Leave a comment

Sellafield, Britain’s most dangerous building, in the decades-long process of getting its nuclear waste cleaned up.

Britain’s most dangerous building is finally to be made safe after
engineers began removing nuclear waste from an ageing silo left over from
the arms race of the Cold War. Sellafield, at the edge of the Lake District
in Cumbria, has taken the first steps in a project described as the nuclear
industry’s equivalent of putting a man on the moon.

It has spent the past
two decades searching for a solution to the seemingly intractable problem
of cleaning up 10,000 cubic metres of radioactive sludge housed inside a
concrete silo. Known as Magnox, the silo was built in the late 1950s to
receive waste from Britain’s atomic weapons development programme, as
well as its growing fleet of nuclear reactors.

Today it holds roughly 80
per cent of all of Britain’s nuclear waste. For decades the waste has
been dissolving into a highly dangerous and potentially explosive mix
within a building no longer fit for purpose, leading to it being described
as the “most hazardous building in western Europe” – a description
Sellafield itself uses.

In 2005 a leak containing 20 metric tons of uranium
and 160kg of plutonium was discovered to have escaped from one of the
containers. The Office for Nuclear Regulation, the public watchdog, has
designated the building “an intolerable risk”.

This week, the plant
removed the first batch of waste from one of the silo’s 22 compartments
using a robotic arm specially designed for the task. The radioactive
material is then encased in cement, immobilising it to prevent any leakage,
and placed inside a metal container designed to store it permanently. The
project, which has been 20 years in the making and will take an estimated
further 20 years to complete, costs roughly £2 billion a year. Phil
Hallington, head of policy at Sellafield, described the project as the
nuclear industry’s equivalent of putting a man on the moon.

 Times 16th June 2022

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nuclear-waste-removal-begins-at-sellafield-power-plant-xlcmskffn

June 18, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

Indigenous groups challenge New Brunswick’s costly radioactive waste legacy

Difficulty, cost of managing radioactive waste underlined by hearings,  https://nbmediacoop.org/2022/06/08/indigenous-groups-challenge-new-brunswicks-costly-radioactive-waste-legacy/ by Kim Reeder and Susan O’DonnellJune 8, 2022

The recent re-licencing hearing for New Brunswick’s Point Lepreau nuclear reactor highlighted the difficulty and cost of managing the province’s long-lived legacy of radioactive waste.

Most of the radioactive materials generated by the Lepreau nuclear facility were never found in nature before the discovery of nuclear fission 83 years ago.

The Point Lepreau facility, however, has produced – and will continue to produce – thousands of tons of these toxic radioactive materials in the form of high, intermediate and low-level radioactive waste which must be kept isolated from all living things for a period of time that dwarfs the span of recorded human history.

When the Point Lepreau reactor was first built, the materials used in the core area – the metal, the concrete, even the heavy water that fills the vessel – were ordinary, non-radioactive materials. However, these items have all been transformed into extremely radioactive material during the normal operation of the reactor.

In fact, because these materials are so toxic, once the plant is shut down, NB Power has a plan to let the facility sit for approximately three decades before dismantling it, a strategy referred to as ‘deferred decommissioning’. During this time, referred to as the ‘dormancy’ period, the radioactivity will decrease significantly. However, the radioactivity will still be sufficiently high as to require handling by robotic equipment and careful packaging so as not to deliver a lethal dose of radiation to an unshielded worker or the environment.

The second consideration is that currently, no waste disposal site exists for the Point Lepreau facility itself, which will become thousands of tons of radioactive rubble, classified as intermediate and low-level waste. By deferring decommissioning, NB Power avoids the need to store and monitor the wastes until a disposal facility becomes available. As well, they avoid potential double-handling of wastes to meet unknown future disposal facility requirements.

NB Media Co-op’s Harrison Dressler described in a previous article that during the re-licencing hearing for Point Lepreau, a main focus of the Peskotomuhkati Nation’s intervention reflected their concerns about the lack of adequate planning for the toxic decommissioning waste. The Nation is and always has been opposed to producing and storing radioactive waste on its territory, which includes Point Lepreau.

The Nation does not want the regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), to ‘approve’ NB Power’s inadequate plan and financial guarantee for decommissioning Point Lepreau.

The Nation’s expert on the topic, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility president Gordon Edwards, compared NB Power’s financial guarantee with an OECD study of dozens of reactors that have already been dismantled. In his report, Edwards notes that NB Power’s financial guarantee is less than 40 percent of what is needed according to the OECD study. Indeed, the total amount NB Power plans to set aside is more than a billion dollars less than what the OECD estimates is likely required.

NB Power’s current decommissioning plan assumes much of the decommissioning waste will be sent off-site to a licensed facility for permanent disposal. Currently no such facilities exist, which is recognized as an industry challenge.

Edwards also found that NB Power has so far made no effort to locate a repository to receive the decommissioning waste, which is solely the responsibility of NB Power and the provincial government. Without a storage site, and without adequate funding, where will it all go?

During the re-licencing hearings in May, both the CNSC and NB Power were questioned by the regulator about the unrealistic nature of their plan, considering the plan assumes there will be a permanent home for this waste – and that no plans are being made for such a facility.

CNSC staff explained that the current plan is all that is required under Canadian law, and NB Power said that because of the deferred decommissioning strategy, they have a long time to figure out a solution to the problem. Experience shows, however, that NB Power and the New Brunswick government are already late in starting the effort, if they indeed do intend to have a site approved in the 2050s. Lepreau is scheduled to be shut down around 2040.

At the CNSC hearing, the Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc., and Kopit Lodge – representing Elsipogtog First Nation – also raised similar concerns about radioactive waste. The Wolastoq Nations did not participate in the hearing. However, in March 2021, the traditional Wolastoq Grand Council issued a declaration against producing more radioactive waste at Point Lepreau. No Indigenous community in Canada – or elsewhere – has so far declared itself in favour of storing radioactive waste on its traditional territory.

Without a dramatic increase in the financial guarantee that NB Power must accumulate while the reactor is still earning money by selling electricity, and without a concerted effort to develop a concrete long-term strategy for New Brunswick’s radioactive waste legacy, both the Peskotomuhkati Nation and the New Brunswick population will be left with a permanent dump for radioactive waste right on the shore of North America’s Natural Wonder: the Bay of Fundy.

Kim Reeder, a senior policy analyst with the RAVEN project at the University of New Brunswick, coordinated the CNSC intervention for the Passamaquoddy Recognition Group. Susan O’Donnell, the lead researcher for RAVEN, also participated at the CNSC hearing.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, wastes | 1 Comment

Canada’s nuclear waste liabilities total billions of dollars. Is a landfill site near the Ottawa River the best way to extinguish them?

Gordon Edwards, an activist and consultant with the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, accused CNL of obscuring the origin and hazardous nature of much of the waste. He said the worst of it includes cobalt-60 imported into Canada from other countries by private companies. He questioned why taxpayers should pay for its disposal.‘They’re not being up front in telling people where these wastes are coming from,”

This is big business: Ottawa sends AECL more than half a billion dollars annually to pay for remediation efforts alone.

“It’s just piled right on top of a sloping hillside surrounded by wetlands, one kilometer from the Ottawa River,” “It would be hard to come up with a worse technology and site for permanent nuclear waste disposal.

The Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ proposed site for disposing radioactive waste has opponents watching with apprehension. Here’s what you need to know about the Near Surface Disposal Facility

  GLOBE AND MAIL,  MATTHEW MCCLEARN, 6 June 22, DEEP RIVER, ONT.   One glance at Building 250 confirms that its demolition will be complicated.

Workers clad in protective gear are busy removing its asbestos cladding, which has been gridded off in orange ink into alphanumerically labelled boxes. The four-story wood structure cannot simply be knocked down with a wrecking ball. Before methodical dismantling can begin, virtually every plank, floor covering and panel must be studied and characterized.

Building 250 is one element of a multi-billion-dollar headache for the federal government. It’s among the oldest buildings at Chalk River Laboratories, 200 kilometers northwest of Ottawa, which long served as Canada’s premier nuclear research facility. Today the facility’s operator, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), is addressing the resulting radioactive waste. It has already torn down 111 buildings, but Building 250 is among the most hazardous: it contained radioactive hot cells and suffered fires that spread contaminants throughout.

CNL needs a specially designated place to dispose of this hazardous detritus. This week, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission held final hearings for its environmental review of the Near Surface Disposal Facility (NSDF), CNL’s proposed landfill site for radioactive waste on what is now a thickly wooded hillside at Chalk River. Its decision is expected sometime around the end of this year, and no small number of opponents are watching with apprehension.

Continue reading

June 7, 2022 Posted by | Canada, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear Contaminated Water From Fukushima Should Never Be Out Of One’s Mind

Nuke Contaminated Water From Fukushima Should Never Be Out Of One’s Mind,  https://nation.com.pk/2022/06/07/nuke-contaminated-water-from-fukushima-should-never-be-out-of-ones-mind/ By Zhou Dingxing.  Jun 7, 2022,  In 2011, the “3/11” earthquake in Japan caused the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant reactor core, unleashing enormous amounts of radioactive material. The operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), decided to pour in seawater to cool the reactor and contain the leakage. And because the used seawater became highly contaminated with radioactive material, TEPCO had to put it in storage tanks. A decade on, the nuclear contaminated water generated by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant are about 150 tons per day in 2021, and will reach the upper limit of the storage tank capacity of 1.37 million tons in the spring of 2023.

According to estimates by the Japan Centre for Economic Research, it will cost 50-70 trillion yen (about $400-550 billion) to scrap and decontaminate the reactor, the bulk of which goes to the treatment of contaminated water. So in April 2021, the Japanese government announced that the problem of increasing amounts of nuclear contaminated wastewater would be addressed by dumping it into the sea. On May 18, 2022, the Japan Atomic Energy Regulatory Commission granted initial approval for TEPCO’s ocean dumping plan.

After the Fukushima nuclear accident, the Japanese government set up the “Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation” (NDF), which is an official agency with 50.1 percent of TEPCO’s voting rights, in order to prevent TEPCO from going bankrupt. In other words, TEPCO is now under direct jurisdiction and control of the Japanese government. It is not hard to see that both TEPCO and the Japanese government are the masterminds behind the nuclear contaminated water dumping plan, because for them, this is the most expedient, cost-effective and trouble-saving way. Japan would need to spend only 3.4 billion yen (about $27 million) according to this plan. But the threat to nature, the environment and human life as a result of such reckless actions was probably never on their minds.

NUCLEAR CONTAMINATED WATER IS NOT NUCLEAR TREATED WATER

Monitoring data collected in 2012 showed that the concentration of Cesium in the waters near Fukushima was 100,000 becquerels per cubic meter, which is 100 times higher than what was detected in the Black Sea after the Chernobyl nuclear leak. Ten years later in 2021, 500 becquerels of radioactive elements per kilogram of weight could still be detected in the flat scorpionfish caught by Japanese fishermen off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, or five times higher than Japan’s own standards. In the 11 years since the nuclear disaster, one or two thyroid cancer cases have been reported for every 60,000 children in Fukushima Prefecture, much higher than the normal rate.

The Japanese government and TEPCO have repeatedly claimed that nuclear contaminated water is “safe” to be dumped into the ocean because it would go through the multi-nuclide removal system (Advanced Liquid Processing System, ALPS). But it is only the radioactive substance called “Tritium” that has reached this standard. And what Japan doesn’t say is that, even after treatment, the water still contains other radioactive substances such as Strontium 90 and Carbon 14 that cause genetic mutation in the ecosystem.

Since the release of the ALPS-related report, the Japanese government has not held any briefings or hearings for the public. And in order to justify the dumping plan, the Japanese government contacted citizen and groups to ask them to stop using the words “nuclear contaminated water”, and use “nuclear treated water” instead. Vigorous public relations (PR) efforts have also been carried out to whitewash the plan. In the 2021 budget of the Japanese Reconstruction Agency, PR expenses related to the Fukushima nuclear accident have increased to 2 billion yen (around $16 million), over four times than the previous year figure. The money has been used on professional teams to weaken and remove negative public opinion in Japan and abroad about the nuclear contaminated water through various propaganda programs.

Furthermore, TEPCO’s track records for handling the nuclear accident have been filled with deception and distortion. In 2007, TEPCO admitted that it had tampered with data and concealed potential safety hazards in a total of 199 regular inspections of 13 reactors in its nuclear power plants since 1977, including the cooling system failure in the Fukushima nuclear accident. One week after the 2011 nuclear accident when experts had already made the judgment that the cores of Units 1 to 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant had melted, the company still refused to announce the truth to the public, and instead chose to use “core damage,” a term that was significantly less alarming. With a past so bad it is hard to make one believe that TEPCO will dump “safe” nuclear contaminated water into the sea.

WAVES OF OPPOSITION AT HOME AND ABROAD

The Japanese government has so far failed to provide sufficient and credible explanations on the legitimacy of the nuclear contaminated water dumping plan, the reliability of nuclear contaminated water data, the effectiveness of the purification devices, and the uncertainty of the environmental impact. To promote the plan under such circumstances has only brought about wide criticism and questions by various communities in Japan and beyond.

Up to 70 percent of the people in Fukushima Prefecture have expressed opposition to the dumping plan. Konno Toshio, former president of Fukushima University, was opposed to advancing the ocean dumping plan without prior understanding at home and abroad, because this plan could affect future generations and must be treated with great caution. The fishery cooperatives and local councils in Miyagi Prefecture, which is adjacent to Fukushima Prefecture, believe that the dumping of nuclear contaminated water into the ocean may affect the safety of local aquatic products and cause significant economic losses to related industries. Already, 180,000 people in Japan have signed the petition to the Japanese government to adopt disposal options other than ocean dumping.

Vladimir Kuznetsov, academician at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, said that radioactive substances in the nuclear contaminated water can only be partially filtered, and the treated water still contains extremely dangerous radionuclides, which will pollute marine life and spread to the entire ocean through fish migration. This will gravely harm the global marine environment and cause serious harm to the health of people in the periphery. According to a research model established by GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, half of the Pacific Ocean will be polluted in less than 57 days if nuclear contaminated water is dumped at the speed announced by Japan.

Voices of justice

Japan’s ocean dumping plan of nuclear contaminated water is a serious threat to the marine environment, and it damages marine interests of the neighbors and other littoral countries. It also violates multiple international conventions such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Assistance in Nuclear Accidents or Radiation Emergencies, and the Convention on Nuclear Safety as well as principles of the international law. Many countries, including China, have expressed concern over or opposition to it.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement criticizing the Japanese government for not consulting with or providing any related information to its neighbors when the decision was made, and expressing grave concern over Japan’s dumping of nuclear polluted water into the ocean. The South Korean Foreign Ministry summoned the Japanese ambassador to Seoul to make a serious protest against Japan’s unilateral decision while large crowds gathered in front of the Japanese embassy to protest. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has launched an assessment of Japan’s plan.

The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly pointed out that Japan’s dumping of nuclear contaminated water into the ocean is extremely irresponsible, and demanded that Japan fully consult with neighbouring countries, other stakeholders, and relevant international institutions to find a proper way to dispose of the nuclear contaminated water, before which the dumping into the ocean shall not be initiated.

The ocean is a treasure for all mankind and our home for survival. It is essential for sustainable development and our future. To dump nuclear contaminated water from Fukushima into the ocean is a major issue that bears on the environment for human survival and health, it is not just Japan’s internal affairs. Although keenly aware of the grave harm to the global marine environment caused by the dumping of such water into the sea, Japan has attempted to push through the plan without exhausting all other safe methods. Such an opaque and irresponsible approach is unacceptable, let alone trusted by countries in the region and the larger international community.

The author is a scholar on international studies

June 7, 2022 Posted by | Japan, oceans, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Thin-walled nuclear waste containers – not really very secure

Greg Phillips, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch 4 June   The biggest piece of BS that jumped out at me [in this pro nuclear article] is the bolded section:

“…Nuclear waste containers have been tested over the last 40 years by running them into concrete bunkers at 80 mph, being dropped onto huge steel spikes, burned in jet fuel fires at thousands of degrees, and sunk deep in water for weeks. These things are as strong as humans can make them.”

ONLY TRANSPORT CONTAINERS HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED TO THE ABOVE TESTS. THE THIN WELDED CONTAINERS PLACED INTO A PROTECTIVE OUTER SHELL OF CONCRETE. THE PRESSURISED THIN INNER CONTAINERS ARE VENTED TO OPEN AIR TO LET HEAT ESCAPE. ANY LEAK FROM A FAILED WELD WILL ESCAPE TO THE ENVIRONMENT.

Excuse the caps, but too many people have been fooled by such pro-nuclear propaganda. Pictured at top is a thin welded canister – a fully laden canister would not survive a drop of a few metres.

Those nuclear waste containers pictured above are like hermit crabs, a hard exterior shell with vulnerable internals. The thin welded canister is placed into the concrete outer shell, which has vents to keep the canister cool. So any weld failure, crack can lead to radioactive contamination into the atmosphere. If the vents of the outer shell get blocked, the temperature of the fuel will rise to 400C+. If the pressurised Helium leaks out the temperature will rise. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052

June 6, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, safety, wastes | Leave a comment

U.S. government must increase the cleanup of Hanford’s very toxic nuclear wastes

In a worst case scenario, cleanup of Hanford might not be completed for another 150 years, or possibly never, Inslee wrote. He pointed out that Hanford’s older single-walled storage tanks are between 58 and 78 years old, which exceeds their designed lifespan of 20 to 30 years. At least two of those tanks are known to be leaking radioactive and other hazardous waste into the ground.

Inslee: Feds need to increase nuclear waste cleanup funds. https://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/business/national-business/article262083272.html    By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS and TED WARREN Associated Press June 03, 2022  Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has recently criticized the slow pace of cleaning up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, toured the former nuclear weapons production site on Thursday and said more federal money is needed to finish the job. Hanford created more than two-thirds of the nation’s plutonium for nuclear weapons, including the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, at the end of World War II. Left behind was the most contaminated nuclear site in the nation. Inslee wants the Biden administration to request $3.76 billion for Hanford cleanup in fiscal 2024, up from its current request of $2.52 billion for fiscal 2023. The $3.76 billion would help meet legal obligations, including court-ordered cleanup deadlines.

“We need the federal government to step up to the plate and do it’s job,” Inslee said Thursday. “This is an environmental justice issue.” Much of the waste is stored in 177 aging underground tanks, some of which are leaking.

The 580-square mile (1,500 square kilometer) Hanford site is located near Richland in southcentral Washington state. In a May letter to the director of the Office of Management and Budget at the Biden White House, Inslee wrote that Hanford budgets need to be far higher to avoid disaster, meet legal obligations and prevent the cleanup from continuing until as late as 2178, if not longer. “As the earliest possible date for cleanup continues to extend farther into the future, the harms to the surrounding communities and the danger of catastrophic impacts to the Pacific Northwest are occurring right now,” Inslee, a Democrat, said in the May 23 letter to OMB Director Shalanda Young.

In a worst case scenario, cleanup of Hanford might not be completed for another 150 years, or possibly never, Inslee wrote. He pointed out that Hanford’s older single-walled storage tanks are between 58 and 78 years old, which exceeds their designed lifespan of 20 to 30 years. At least two of those tanks are known to be leaking radioactive and other hazardous waste into the ground.

In addition. a tunnel storing highly contaminated equipment partially collapsed five years ago, and the collapse of a second waste storage tunnel was averted at great expense two years later, he wrote. “If the idea of investing in the cleanup today is unpalatable, consider this — whether calamity comes in the form of a release of radiation, groundwater contamination reaching the Columbia River, harmful exposures to workers at the site, or something else, the bill will eventually come due,” Inslee wrote. Relying on DOE data, Inslee said that even if cleanup is sufficiently funded every year, the earliest cleanup would be completed is 2064, but it could stretch to 2178 or later, if it ever is completed.

Each year that Hanford is underfunded adds 18 months to three years to the cleanup timeline as taxpayer dollars end up being spent on maintaining aging facilities and responding to emergency infrastructure failures, he said. “The slower this pace goes, the more it’s going to cost the American taxpayers,” Inslee said Thursday.

In a Senate subcommittee hearing in May, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm defended the administration’s latest budget request for Hanford, telling Washington’s Democratic Sen. Patty Murray it had to balance cleanup needs at all DOE sites. About a third of the nation’s defense-related environmental cleanup money goes to Hanford. ___ Geranios reported from Spokane, Washington.

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

If we bury today the repulsive nuclear wastes, why do we pass it on to others to deal with?

At the recent local elections three of the five candidates for the West
Caithness ward listed on their leaflets building more nuclear reactors at
Dounreay alongside complaints about potholes in the roads as their
priorities. They all got in. None of them took up my suggestion that they
could fill all the potholes in Caithness with nuclear waste.

I suspect none of them had given much thought to nuclear waste at all, which is something
they had in common with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority when
they built Dounreay in the 1950’s.

Unfortunately the waste problem is now
critical, in more ways than one. The Dounreay dome, the reactor protective
casing structure, also known as the sphere and the golf ball, has been a
feature of the north Caithness coast for almost 60 years. The Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has recommended that the DFR be
decontaminated by 2022 (the schedule has slipped) so it can then be
demolished.

In 2007, Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL), the company
that manages the site, released the results of public consultation on
future uses for the dome. Suggestions included turning it into a hotel,
museum and even a nightclub.

However, because the structure is contaminated
with worrying levels of radioactivity and due to high maintenance costs, it
was decided to demolish it. So, sadly, no glowing raves or very long
radioactive sleeps or trips back into a memory that begins in 1955 and will
never end as the nuclear waste, dome and all, will be buried at a nuclear
dump site at nearby Buldoo.

What language, I wonder, will they put on the
steel door of this addition to the ancient burial mound culture of
Caithness? At an underground facility, a bit like Buldoo, assuringly called
“The Waste Isolation Plant”, the US government buries all kinds of
nasty waste from its nuclear weapons production 600 metres below the rocks
of New Mexico. In 20 years time, when the dump has been stuffed to the
gunnels with nuclear crap, the US government will have to seal the steel
and concrete entrances and place signs saying “Danger Zone!” all around
them.

The problem, as Serhii Plokhy, the author of “Atoms and Ashes: From
Bikini Atoll to Fukushima”, has pointed out, is that the underground
store will still be contaminated in 300,000 years, and no one can predict
what language our descendants will read or speak at that time, or what
messages might convince them not to dig into the New Mexico rocks. In the
1990s nuclear security experts proposed symbols, earthworks and mounds of
rubble designed to convey an appropriate sense of menace to anyone
stumbling on the area.

The intended message the US government wanted to
broadcast was: “This place is not a place of honour. No highly esteemed
deed is commemorated here. Nothing valued is here. What is here was
dangerous and repulsive to us. This message is a warning about danger.”
The hard question Serhii Plokhy, who is also a professor of Ukrainian
history at Harvard University where he also serves as the director of the
Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, asks is, “If what we bury today in
the New Mexico desert – the waste created by our nuclear ambitions – is
so repulsive to us, why do we pass it on to others to deal with?”

 Bella Caledonia 2nd June 2022

June 4, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste from small modular reactors

Lindsay M. Krall https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6962-7608 Lindsay.Krall@skb.seAllison M. Macfarlane https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8359-9324, and Rodney C. Ewing https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9472-4031Authors Info & Affiliations

May 31, 2022  Small modular reactors (SMRs), proposed as the future of nuclear energy, have purported cost and safety advantages over existing gigawatt-scale light water reactors (LWRs). However, few studies have assessed the implications of SMRs for the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. The low-, intermediate-, and high-level waste stream characterization presented here reveals that SMRs will produce more voluminous and chemically/physically reactive waste than LWRs, which will impact options for the management and disposal of this waste. Although the analysis focuses on only three of dozens of proposed SMR designs, the intrinsically higher neutron leakage associated with SMRs suggests that most designs are inferior to LWRs with respect to the generation, management, and final disposal of key radionuclides in nuclear waste.

Abstract

Small modular reactors (SMRs; i.e., nuclear reactors that produce <300 MWelec each) have garnered attention because of claims of inherent safety features and reduced cost. However, remarkably few studies have analyzed the management and disposal of their nuclear waste streams. Here, we compare three distinct SMR designs to an 1,100-MWelec pressurized water reactor in terms of the energy-equivalent volume, (radio-)chemistry, decay heat, and fissile isotope composition of (notional) high-, intermediate-, and low-level waste streams. Results reveal that water-, molten salt–, and sodium-cooled SMR designs will increase the volume of nuclear waste in need of management and disposal by factors of 2 to 30. The excess waste volume is attributed to the use of neutron reflectors and/or of chemically reactive fuels and coolants in SMR designs. That said, volume is not the most important evaluation metric; rather, geologic repository performance is driven by the decay heat power and the (radio-)chemistry of spent nuclear fuel, for which SMRs provide no benefit. 

 SMRs will not reduce the generation of geochemically mobile 129I, 99Tc, and 79Se fission products, which are important dose contributors for most repository designs. In addition, SMR spent fuel will contain relatively high concentrations of fissile nuclides, which will demand novel approaches to evaluating criticality during storage and disposal. Since waste stream properties are influenced by neutron leakage, a basic physical process that is enhanced in small reactor cores, SMRs will exacerbate the challenges of nuclear waste management and disposal.

In recent years, the number of vendors promoting small modular reactor (SMR) designs, each having an electric power capacity <300 MWelec, has multiplied dramatically (12). Most recently constructed reactors have electric power capacities >1,000 MWelec and utilize water as a coolant. Approximately 30 of the 70 SMR designs listed in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Advanced Reactors Information System are considered “advanced” reactors, which call for seldom-used, nonwater coolants (e.g., helium, liquid metal, or molten salt) (3). Developers promise that these technologies will reduce the financial, safety, security, and waste burdens associated with larger nuclear power plants that operate at the gigawatt scale (3). Here, we make a detailed assessment of the impact of SMRs on the management and disposal of nuclear waste relative to that generated by larger commercial reactors of traditional design.

Nuclear technology developers and advocates often employ simple metrics, such as mass or total radiotoxicity, to suggest that advanced reactors will generate “less” spent nuclear fuel (SNF) or high-level waste (HLW) than a gigawatt-scale pressurized water reactor (PWR), the prevalent type of commercial reactor today. For instance, Wigeland et al. (4) suggest that advanced reactors will reduce the mass and long-lived radioactivity of HLW by 94 and ∼80%, respectively. These bulk metrics, however, offer little insight into the resources that will be required to store, package, and dispose of HLW (5). Rather, the safety and the cost of managing a nuclear waste stream depend on its fissile, radiological, physical, and chemical properties (6). Reactor type, size, and fuel cycle each influence the properties of a nuclear waste stream, which in addition to HLW, can be in the form of low- and intermediate-level waste (LILW) (68). Although the costs and time line for SMR deployment are discussed in many reports, the impact that these fuel cycles will have on nuclear waste management and disposal is generally neglected (911).

Here, we estimate the amount and characterize the nature of SNF and LILW for three distinct SMR designs. From the specifications given in the NuScale integral pressurized water reactor (iPWR) certification application, we analyze basic principles of reactor physics relevant to estimating the volumes and composition of iPWR waste and then, apply a similar methodology to a back-end analysis of sodium- and molten salt–cooled SMRs. Through this bottom-up framework, we find that, compared with existing PWRs, SMRs will increase the volume and complexity of LILW and SNF. This increase of volume and chemical complexity will be an additional burden on waste storage, packaging, and geologic disposal. Also, SMRs offer no apparent benefit in the development of a safety case for a well-functioning geological repository.

1. SMR Neutronics and Design………………

2. Framework for Waste Comparison………….

3. SMR Waste Streams: Volumes and Characteristics………….

………….. 

3.3.2. Corroded vessels from molten salt reactors.

Molten salt reactor vessel lifetimes will be limited by the corrosive, high-temperature, and radioactive in-core environment (2324). In particular, the chromium content of 316-type stainless steel that constitutes a PWR pressure vessel is susceptible to corrosion in halide salts (25). Nevertheless, some developers, such as ThorCon, plan to adopt this stainless steel rather than to qualify a more corrosion-resistant material for the reactor vessel (25).

Terrestrial Energy may construct their 400-MWth IMSR vessel from Hastelloy N, a nickel-based alloy that has not been code certified for commercial nuclear applications by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (2627). Since this nickel-based alloy suffers from helium embrittlement (27), Terrestrial Energy envisions a 7-y lifetime for their reactor vessel (28). Molten salt reactor vessels will become contaminated by salt-insoluble fission products (28) and will also become neutron-activated through exposure to a thermal neutron flux greater than 1012 neutrons/cm2-s (29). Thus, it is unlikely that a commercially viable decontamination process will enable the recycling of their alloy constituents. Terrestrial Energy’s 400-MWth SMR might generate as much as 1.0 m3/GWth-y of steel or nickel alloy in need of management and disposal as long-lived LILW (Fig. 1Table 1, and SI Appendix, Fig. S3 and section 2) [on original]…………

4. Management and Disposal of SMR Waste

The excess volume of SMR wastes will bear chemical and physical differences from PWR waste that will impact their management and final disposal. …………………….

5. Conclusions

This analysis of three distinct SMR designs shows that, relative to a gigawatt-scale PWR, these reactors will increase the energy-equivalent volumes of SNF, long-lived LILW, and short-lived LILW by factors of up to 5.5, 30, and 35, respectively. These findings stand in contrast to the waste reduction benefits that advocates have claimed for advanced nuclear technologies. More importantly, SMR waste streams will bear significant (radio-)chemical differences from those of existing reactors. Molten salt– and sodium-cooled SMRs will use highly corrosive and pyrophoric fuels and coolants that, following irradiation, will become highly radioactive. Relatively high concentrations of 239Pu and 235U in low–burnup SMR SNF will render recriticality a significant risk for these chemically unstable waste streams.

SMR waste streams that are susceptible to exothermic chemical reactions or nuclear criticality when in contact with water or other repository materials are unsuitable for direct geologic disposal. Hence, the large volumes of reactive SMR waste will need to be treated, conditioned, and appropriately packaged prior to geological disposal. These processes will introduce significant costs—and likely, radiation exposure and fissile material proliferation pathways—to the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle and entail no apparent benefit for long-term safety.

Although we have analyzed only three of the dozens of proposed SMR designs, these findings are driven by the basic physical reality that, relative to a larger reactor with a similar design and fuel cycle, neutron leakage will be enhanced in the SMR core. Therefore, most SMR designs entail a significant net disadvantage for nuclear waste disposal activities. Given that SMRs are incompatible with existing nuclear waste disposal technologies and concepts, future studies should address whether safe interim storage of reactive SMR waste streams is credible in the context of a continued delay in the development of a geologic repository in the United States.

Supporting Information

Appendix 01 (PDF)

Note

This article is a PNAS Direct Submission. E.J.S. is a guest editor invited by the Editorial Board.

References……………………………..  https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2111833119

June 2, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, wastes | Leave a comment

Palisades atomic reactor’s shutdown for good, leaving high risk radioactive wastes

No More Risk of Reactor Core Meltdown, No More Radioactive Waste Generation, but Significant Waste and Contamination Risks Continue

Beyond Nuclear, Kevin Kamps, COVERT TOWNSHIP, MI and TAKOMA PARK, MD, MAY 21, 2022–“We are thankful that Palisades shut down before it melted down. The 51-year old atomic reactor has the worst embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the U.S., which was at increasing risk of catastrophic failure due to pressurized thermal shock. To accommodate Palisades’ operation, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) simply weakened and rolled back the safety standards, multiple times over decades. Palisades also has a severely degraded reactor lid, and worn out steam generators that needed replacement for the second time in the reactor’s history. All three were major pathways to core meltdown, which an NRC commissioned report, CRAC-2 (short for Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences, also known as the 1982 Sandia Siting Study or as NUREG/CR-2239) estimated would have caused a thousand peak early fatalities (acute radiation poisoning deaths), 7,000 peak early radiation injuries, 10,000 peak cancer deaths (latent cancer fatalities), and $52.6 billion in property damage. When adjusted for inflation alone, property damages would have surmounted $150 billion in Year 2021 dollar figures.  

And as Associated Press investigative reporter Jeff Donn wrote in his four-part series “Aging Nukes,” shortly after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe began in Japan in 2011, populations have soared around U.S. atomic reactors, so casualties would now be even higher. Donn cited reactor pressure vessel embrittlement and pressurized thermal shock risk as the top example of NRC regulatory retreat. Thank goodness no such nuclear nightmare unfolded at Palisades during its operations, but Consumers Energy (from 1971 to 2007) and Entergy (from 2007 to 2022) were willing to take those risks on the shoreline of the Great Lakes, drinking water supply for more than 40 million people in eight U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a very large number of Native American First Nations downstream and downwind, as well as up the food chain. Now, by definition, once the irradiated nuclear fuel is removed from the core, a reactor meltdown cannot happen at Palisades.

But the likely more than 700 metric tons of forever deadly irradiated (euphemistically called spent or used) nuclear fuel, containing more than 1,800 pressurized water reactor assemblies, and comprising more than 150 million curies of hazardous radioactivity, still represent a very significant risk. The vast majority is still stored in the indoor wet storage pool, at risk of a loss of cooling water leading to a catastrophic radioactivity release to the environment. While transfer of irradiated nuclear fuel into dry cask storage represents an increase in safety, it involves the movement of very heavy loads over the pool, and must be done very carefully. In October 2005, a 107-ton transfer cask containing irradiated nuclear fuel dangerously dangled over the pool for two days, and was nearly dropped from its crane by operator error. Had that happened, the ensuing pool fire could have dwarfed even CRAC-II’s casualties and property damage figures cited above, as Palisades’ pool is not even located in a radiological containment structure. Recently, in its careless rush job to empty a storage pool, Holtec, which plans to takeover at Palisades by the end of June, with NRC’s complicit rubber-stamp, caused a radioactive water spill that doused and dosed a worker at its Oyster Creek, New Jersey decommissioning project. In 2018, Holtec’s flawed dry cask storage design at San Onofre, California nearly caused a 50-ton loaded canister to fall nearly 20-feet. For these and many other reasons, Beyond Nuclear, Don’t Waste Michigan, and Michigan Safe Energy Future have legally challenged Holtec’s takeover of Palisades. But the NRC has refused for 15 months to grant us our day in court. We do call for expedited transfer of irradiated nuclear fuel out of the vulnerable pool, but not into Holtec’s dubious and defective dry casks, but rather into safe and secure Hardened On-Site Storage, in order to protect health and environment for the decades the irradiated nuclear fuel will likely be stuck at Palisades with nowhere to go. But Palisades’ shutdown for good means no more high-level radioactive waste will be generated there, which is a very good thing.

Due to all the risks above, Governor Whitmer and Energy Secretary Granholm’s unwise last-second scheme to bail out Palisades with many hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, and keep it operating for nine more years, must be stopped. So too is Holtec CEO Krishna Singh’s bait and switch to construct and operate a so-called Small Modular (Nuclear) Reactor at the Palisades site an outrageous, high-risk non-starter.

It is now time to safeguard and secure the high-level radioactive waste stored on-site, to clean up the widespread radioactive contamination of the property before it further threatens Lake Michigan and adjacent groundwater aquifers, and to carry out a just transition for the workforce and host region, into the long overdue clean, safe, and affordable renewable and efficient energy system of the future.”e a so-called Small Modular (Nuclear) Reactor at the Palisades site an outrageous, high-risk non-starter.

May 30, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

 Where will Europe store its radioactive waste?

 Euronews,   By Tim Gallagher  with Reuters  27/05/2022 –

A row is brewing in the Balkans as tensions mount over plans for a nuclear waste storage facility.

Croatia’s plan to store radioactive waste near its border with Bosnia is facing mounting opposition from its neighbour due to concerns the plant could have potentially devastating health and environmental impacts.

The site near the River Una, a Danube tributary, was chosen in 2018. In a bid to halt the plan, Bosnia responded by declaring their land closest to the location a nature reserve.

This scheme gained little ground and as the grand opening draws closer, Bosnians are growing increasingly concerned about the possible consequences on their pristine rivers and organic farming industry, not to mention public health.

“We fear the main impact of this devastating proposal will be on people’s lives and on the environment,” says Mario Crnkovic, an ecologist in the town of Novi Grad on the Bosnian side of the border, about one kilometre from the earmarked site.

Croatia has dismissed the concerns, but critics note that the government has yet to publish any health or environmental risk assessment of the proposal.

The area is prone to flooding and subject to regular seismic activity. It’s also still being cleared of landmines left over from the Balkan wars in the 1990s.

Diplomatic incidents over nuclear waste

The Balkans row is not the only diplomatic incident to happen over nuclear waste disposal in recent years.

In 2020 the Belgian government announced they had received recommendations for seven sites for underground disposal of nuclear waste, but didn’t specify where they were.

It wasn’t long before suspicions were aroused in Luxembourg, with the Luxembourgian environment minister, Carole Dieschbourg, stating they would be in the area of Namur, Dinant and Stavelot, close to their border with Belgium.

“That is right on our doorstep,” the minister announced, as she raised potential dangers to locals and accused the Belgian government of contravening the Espoo convention which regulates trans-border environmental impact reporting……………..

Where will nuclear waste be stored in the future?

Russian soldiers taking Chernobyl Nuclear plant by force during their invasion of Ukraine brought the dangers of unsafe nuclear waste to the forefront of the public imagination.

Most operational-storage facilities for nuclear waste are at surface level, with the UK, France, and Spain all making use of these short-term solutions.

However, the consensus for the future is that nuclear waste is best stored in a geological disposal facility (GDF) deep beneath our feet. Here in a space 700 – 1000 metres underground, spent reactors will be safely treated and sealed into rock structures with cement, leaving them to decay over hundreds of thousands of years.

Previous mooted suggestions of sending waste to space or burying it beneath the ocean floor have been abandoned, but there is an ongoing issue of how to warn future generations of the dangers of waste sites.

With no guarantee that today’s languages will be spoken or current iconography will be recognisable in thousands of years, it’s a risk that still-dangerous toxic waste could be accidentally opened up by curious archaeologists of the future.

In the 1980s the US government assembled the Human Interface Taskforce to work out how to prevent such a disastrous occurrence. One of their recommendations was to create fake myths and legends to ward off the curious.

Do communities want GDFs?

This toxic issue doesn’t just cause problems along borders, but often sees locals hotly contest proposals for GDFs near their communities by their own governments.

In the UK the country’s first GDF (which will store the 20th century waste currently stored in Sellafield, Cumbria) has been marketed as a big infrastructure project which will bring jobs and prosperity, leading to a bidding war between several different remote locations.

However, residents are not so keen on the idea of playing host to a poisonous repository, with retirees in the Lincolnshire village of Theddlethorpe proving particularly vocal.

Meanwhile in the sleepy French village of Bure, clashes between protestors and police over a GDF deep inside the clay soil of the region have led to much concern over potential nuclear leakage……………. https://www.euronews.com/green/2022/05/27/croatia-s-plans-for-radioactive-waste-worry-neighbouring-bosnia

May 28, 2022 Posted by | EUROPE, wastes | Leave a comment