Sludge - not so glorious - sludge...
Our thanks to the members of the Yakima Herald-Republic
editorial board - Sharon J. Prill, Bob Crider, Frank Purdy and Karen
Troianello – for this.
The U.S. Department of Energy didn’t exhibit undue alarm a
year ago when word came that an underground storage tank at the Hanford nuclear
reservation was leaking radioactive
waste. The agency blamed construction problems for the leak and said it
“seems unlikely” that other tanks would spring a leak.
Many of these tanks are decades-old single-walled shells
that have leaked and are a stopgap solution for storing 53 million gallons of
nuclear waste. The material is a legacy of plutonium production for the
Manhattan Project. A vitrification plant is being built to convert the waste
into glasslike logs for permanent storage, but the plan is years behind
schedule and billions of dollars over budget. So now the waste sits in the
tanks as a mud like sludge, and officials hope most of it stays put and doesn’t
leak into the ground.
Once in the ground, the waste would pose a danger to
groundwater and the neighbouring Columbia River, which forms the northern and
eastern borders of the reservation. Nobody wants this to happen, and since the
discovery of the leak a year ago, the Energy Department has started inspecting
the tanks more frequently.
The 1989 Tri-Party agreement signed by the
Energy Department, federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state
Department of Ecology stipulates that the federal government is responsible for
the cleanup. But the short-term financial outlay is minimal compared to the
long-term cost of contamination of the Columbia River, which holds immense
economic and environmental importance to the Northwest. Images: Crosscut / Newstalk KIT (11/3/14)
Carlsbad, Part 2...
Our thanks to the people at RT US for this leaky tale
down Mexico way…
highest ever levels of radiation have been detected at a New Mexico
nuclear waste repository. The latest readings come hot on the heels of a
radiation leak that triggered a lockdown of the entire facility recently.
monitoring the area around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New
Mexico, picked up trace elements of radioactive materials in the air. Russell
Hardy, director of the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Centre
said the readings of americium and plutonium were the highest ever detected at
the disposal site.
Air filters were activated at the plant as a
precaution and workers were barred from entering the facility. Officials stated
that no radiation had escaped to the surface.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is one of the world’s three deep repositories
for nuclear waste left over from the production and testing of atomic weapons.
It buries the waste over 600 meters underground in tunnels hewn out of salt
Spokeswoman Deb Gill told the LA Times:
“We are emphasizing there is no threat to human health and the
environment.” However, she did say that officials know very little about
the extent of the problem or how to solve it. Allaying fears over the
situation, Russell Hardy said that the New Mexico State University is
monitoring air, ground and water samples from in and around WIPP. He added that
there had only been four incidents in the past where radiation had been
detected and levels were so low "you could eat it and it wouldn't hurt
you." Images: Inquirer / Current Argus (24/2/14)
Load up that waste - we are on our way to New Mexico!
Matthew L Wald, writing for the New York
Times, looks down a very deep hole for us…
Half a mile beneath the desert surface, in Carlsbad,
NM, in thick salt beds left behind by seas that dried up hundreds of millions
of years ago, the Department of Energy is carving out rooms as long as football
fields and cramming them floor to ceiling with barrels and boxes of nuclear
The salt beds, which have the consistency of crumbly
rock so far down in the earth, are what the federal government sees as a
natural sealant for the radioactive material left over from making nuclear
weapons. The process is deceptively simple: Plutonium waste from Los
Alamos National Laboratory and a variety of defense projects is packed into
holes bored into the walls of rooms carved from salt. At a rate of six inches a
year, the salt closes in on the waste and encapsulates it for what engineers
say will be millions of years.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, WIPP for short, is
drawing new attention in the New Mexico desert. At a time when the effort to
find a place for highly radioactive civilian and military wastes is at a
near-standstill, officials say the site might be a solution.
The material buried at the plant is limited by law to
plutonium waste from making weapons. The waste from spent nuclear fuel, which
is far more radioactive in its first few centuries, is not permitted. But
experts say that proper testing and analysis might show that the salt beds at
WIPP are a good home for the radioactive waste that was once meant for Yucca.
Some people despair of finding a place for what
officials call a high-level nuclear “repository”, but Allison M. Macfarlane, a
geologist who is chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said WIPP
proves it can be done.
“The main lesson from WIPP is that we have already
developed a geologic repository for nuclear waste in this country, so we can in
the future,” she said. The key, she said, is a site that is acceptable to both
scientists and the local community.
Images: Jeff T Green (Getty images) / Michael Stravato (NY Times) (11/2/14)
Are you sure fracking's such a good idea???
Spencer Hunt, writing recently for the Columbus
Dispatch, does a bit of fracking for us.
Pennsylvania environmental officials tested creek mud near a fracking
wastewater-treatment plant last year, they found radiation
at levels 45 times higher than federal drinking-water standards.
the plant owner prepares to dredge radium from Blacklick Creek, Pennsylvania
officials are examining other radiation problems related to Marcellus shale
fracking. They’re testing tons of cast-off rock and drilling sludge sent to
Pennsylvania landfills and liquid waste routinely trucked to Ohio disposal
is experiencing a similar drilling boom in which drillers are pulling up
radioactive waste from wells. Although it’s unknown how much radiation there
is, there are some standards already in place. That’s why state officials say
they have no plans for similar surveys or precautions.
advocates say the law ignores radiation hazards in liquid waste and makes it
easier to dump some waste into landfills without testing. “We have a health
risk to be considered. In Ohio, we’re just ignoring it,” said Julie
Weatherington-Rice, a senior scientist with Bennett & Williams
Environmental Consultants in Columbus.
shale drilling and fracking began in Ohio in late 2010, concerns about water
and air pollution, landowner rights, even earthquakes took centre stage. A
public debate about the effectiveness of Ohio’s property, pollution and health
safeguards continues unresolved.
Radiation is now increasingly listed among
environmental advocates’ top concerns.
Images: CBS Local / Marcellus (30/1/14)
New home wanted for missile waste - pronto!!
Whitmire, reporting for the Mansfield News Journal, tells a
Wednesday, J.R. Rice, director of the City of Mansfield’s Codes and Permits
Department, said he will issue a demolition order on Allen Hogan’s house at 663
Fifth Avenue in Mansfield, Ohio. Hogan
said he will appeal the demolition order with the Mansfield City Planning
woes at the spacious property began in 1994 when he bought 2,180 pounds of
scrap magnesium at an auction in Columbus and trucked it back to Mansfield. He
contends the metal was misidentified and given to a Defense Department office
in Columbus, which then sold it to Hogan’s company, Autojumble. Hogan said he
unknowingly took possession of radioactive waste from a former Minuteman
discovered the materials were radioactive in 1996 when he sent some cars and
metal to be crushed at a Canton site where a Geiger counter was used. In 1997,
U.S. Air Force officials organized a three-week cleanup at his property.
In 1999, Hogan filed a $10 million lawsuit
against the government, claiming the continued presence of radioactive
materials on his 663 Fifth Ave. property constitute a nuisance. He lost the
case on appeal. Since then he has found 50 pounds of radioactive material on
parts of his property, he said. Images:
Take My Trip / Mother Nature Network (24/1/14)
What's all the fuss? It looks fine to me...
reporting for the International Business Times, packs her bucket and
spade for this…
State health officials from California
have debunked claims raised by an Internet video posted on YouTube, which
pointed out dangerously high radiation levels in the sands of Pacifica
State Beach. The author of the video linked the radiation from the
crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.
tests show that elevated levels of radiation at Half Moon Bay are due to
naturally occurring materials and not radioactivity associated with the
Fukushima incident," Wendy Hopkins, spokeswoman of the California Department of Public Health, said.
video showed an unidentified man carrying a commercial Geiger counter. The
device displayed levels of radiation as the man walked along the beach shores.
It showed the levels rose to "alert" levels. The video's author said
he has been taking radiation measurements in the area for over two years.
"Someone going around with a Geiger counter is likely to discover these
great variations in levels from time to time," Edward Morse, a Berkeley
nuclear engineering professor, was quoted by online portal Politix.
"That's absolutely no correlation with anything that happened in
Sythe, CEO for International Medcom, which designs and manufactures Geiger
Counters, supported the findings. "The radionuclides are in the NORM class
of radioactive substances, not from Fukushima," he said. When he saw the
video, he immediately asked a sample of sand from the beach and had it tested.
He said they are convinced whatever radiation levels found were not linked to
“If the sand were contaminated by radiation from
Fukushima it would show cesium-137 which is reported to be the major health
concern in Fukushima." Images: Trekaroo / Mightymac
More disposal tales... today - Washington State
thanks goes to King 5 news, Seattle and Nicholas K Geranios,
reporting for the Associated Press for this one…
U.S. Department of Energy intends to retrieve nearly all the highly
radioactive waste stored in underground tanks on the Hanford Nuclear
Reservation and convert it into a glass-like substance for permanent disposal,
according to a decision that was published Friday.
The decision covers the nation’s biggest collection
of radioactive waste, held in 177 underground tanks at the sprawling
reservation near Richland that has been engaged in environmental cleanup for
the past two decades. The material is left over from the production of
plutonium for nuclear weapons.
The document said the Energy Department intends to
retrieve 99% of the stored waste and close up the tanks. It’s necessary to
remove the radioactive material to avoid future leaks into groundwater and
other safety concerns, the decision says.
The dangerous waste will eventually be converted into
a glass-like substance at a $12 billion plant whose construction on the Hanford
site is stalled by safety concerns. The glassy logs are intended to be buried
in a national repository, the location of which is still undetermined.
The tanks will be “landfill closed,” which means they
will be filled with grout, stabilized and left in place. It was deemed too
expensive and dangerous to have workers actually dismantle the highly
radioactive tanks, said Suzanne Dahl, tank waste manager for the state
Department of Ecology.
“We cannot have people up there with
blowtorches,” she said. Images: US Dept of
Energy / Groundwater UK (16/12/12)
Lake Huron Indian Nation unhappy about new nuke dump plans
Martha Troian, reporting for Indian Country
Today, brings us this…
controversial proposal to bury nuclear
waste a half mile from Lake Huron’s shoreline in Ontario is proceeding
over indigenous objections in a plan that has repercussions on both sides of
the U.S.– Canada border.
to the plan, which would inter low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste
about 2,230 feet underground in solid rock, is sparking opposition from
Indigenous Peoples and U.S. politicians alike. “We have a long list of
fears, legitimate fears in our community about these facilities, interaction
with our rights, our interests and our way of life,” said Saugeen Ojibwe Nation
Chief Randall Kahgee.
Saugeen Ojibwe is one of several indigenous communities opposing the
application of Ontario Power Generation for a license to store nuclear waste in
an underground facility. Ontario Power, a public company owned by the
provincial government, is one of the largest power generators in North America.
It wants to construct a deep geologic repository for storing low and
intermediate-level nuclear waste within the municipality of Kincardine. The
repository would be located at an existing nuclear site known as the Bruce
Generating Station, where there is already a nuclear waste-management facility.
The waste in question is stored there above ground, or in shallow pits.
Kincardine agreed to host the waste in return for $35.7
million that Ontario Power will pay the town and some neighbouring communities
over 30 years. The facility would store low and intermediate-level nuclear
waste from the power generator’s nuclear plants. Materials include the ashes of
items used at nuclear facilities such as mops, clothes, floor sweepings and
gloves. The site has been studied and analysed by engineers, geologists,
geoscientists and hydrologists and is safe for this purpose, Ontario Power
But this is not enough for Kahgee, whose Saugeen
Ojibwe Nation lies on the shores of Lake Huron. “We've been very careful how
we've manoeuvred ourselves with respect to this project,” said Kahgee. “Our
people should not have to shoulder the burden for the industry forever. That is
something that is not contemplated in our treaties… Images: John Flesher (AP/ Indian Country Today) /
Dounreay Site Restoration (13/12/13)
This could almost qualify to be 'No place to go...'
John Wildermuth writing for the pages of SF
Gate starts packing…
two dozen families are being forced from their Treasure Island homes so the
Navy can clean up toxic material buried in the old
waste disposal site beneath
the townhouse units.
letter we got last week was the first we heard of it," said Paris Hayes
(shown here with his wife, Lucinda) who has lived in his Bayside Drive unit for
more than 10 years.
residents will be moved out in stages, with the first group leaving in April
and the last gone by July. The affected residents of the six targeted
buildings will meet with Treasure Island officials Tuesday night to learn
details of the relocation plan and to express concerns about the effort. While
the island is owned by the Navy, there is an agreement once the cleanup is
completed to turn it over to the city for a $1.5 billion
Nov. 25 letter sent to the affected households said little more than that they
would likely be provided with new housing on the island and that the cleanup
doesn't mean their homes were unsafe. The letter added that ‘This work is
part of the Navy's ongoing cleanup of buried and currently inaccessible
low-level chemicals that were identified in prior assessments.’
while the letter said the cleanup was not related to recent efforts to seek out
radioactive material left from the man-made island's decades as a Navy base,
crews will be removing low-level sources of radiation. In the past couple of
years, however, there have been suggestions that larger, "hotter"
debris might be found elsewhere on the island.
The Navy is (currently) conducting surveys to
see if any radioactive material has migrated from the dump site. Images: SF Gate (Michael Macor) / Beta News (6/12/13)
If it's not Nevada, let's move on to Utah...
Amy Joi O'Donoghue, writing for Desert News,
is looking for somewhere to store some used uranium.
figuring out if it is going to be safe to allow large quantities of depleted
uranium to be buried in the desert 65 miles west of Salt Lake City, the state
of Utah has to contemplate a long list of "what ifs" that could
happen - and over a long, long period of time. There are events like war,
meteor strikes, volcanic activity, the return of large lakes like Lake Bonneville
every 16,000 years and even, to some degree, the threat to stable disposal
caused by burrowing ants.
Solutions is proposing to dispose of 3,507 metric tons of depleted
uranium at Clive, Tooele County, and it could be the nation's
repository of its inventory of 700,000 more tons of the radioactive waste,
which is a by-product of nuclear production material.
state has to sign off on the disposal, requiring the company to complete a
"performance assessment" that looks at how well its disposal site
will weather all sorts of events and conditions. The prospect of Utah receiving
the unique waste stream has been a contentious and complicated issue for
regulators, who have had to grapple with the idiosyncrasies of possibly
receiving such a unique waste stream.
the federal regulators, such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, have yet to
craft a rule on the storage of this brand of radioactive waste, leaving Utah to
forge out on its own with building a framework that is protective of public
health and the environment.
problem posed by the storage of depleted uranium stems from its increasing
radioactivity - it continues to get "hotter" over time, peaking at
2.1 million years and staying at the level for billions of more years. Utah regulators required Energy Solutions to
come up with contingencies in its storage plans that document how its site would
fare for a period of 10,000 years - and beyond that looking at "deep
time" scenarios until it reaches peak radioactive levels.
The scenarios contemplate vulnerabilities to the
public, from off-highway vehicle users, military at the Utah Test and Training
Range and the lone resident caretaker at the rest stop off I-80 at the
Aragonite exit (shown above). Images: Douglas C. Pizac,
(AP) / Flickr (14/11/13)
You can visit, but don't eat the dirt - what??
Mat Hufman reporting for the Las Vegas
Sun goes off-road for this anniversary.
Along Highway 50 east of Fallon, Nevada, at the former Old
Middlegate Station travellers and desert rats swap stories.
current one is about the nuclear
bomb that was detonated nearby, 50 years ago almost to the day. This
occurred between Fallon and Middlegate in a lifeless-looking place called GZ
Canyon. There are a few man-made structures that show the continued presence of
the Navy, but other than a military jet screaming overhead from Fallon Naval
Air Station, there’s not much else but grey scrub brush and quiet.
hard enough and you’ll notice a concrete pad, badly cracked, and twisted hunks
of rusted metal. These are the detritus of a nuclear blast, 1,200 feet below in
the granite hillside, set off Oct. 26, 1963. This was the government’s Project
Shoal, a 12.5-kiloton blast (equivalent to 12,500 tons of TNT) to study how to
detect deep underground nuclear testing in other countries.
Shoal site is one of two places in the state outside of the Nevada Test Site
where the government exploded nuclear weapons. The other site, Project
Faultless in Nye County, northeast of Warm Springs, has an 8-foot-high drill
casing with a small plaque describing the test. The remoteness of the area,
roughly 50 miles from Fallon in the Sand Springs Mountains, is a key reason why
this place was chosen.
the state and federal government say there’s no immediate concern about
radiation here. There is significant damage and radiation down several hundred
feet, but on the surface, the general advice is that you’ll be fine as long as
you don’t dig deep or eat the dirt. The 50th anniversary of the blast passed as
the others have, with few people noticing.
The only real reminder of the test is the name:
The initials in GZ Canyon stand for ground zero. Not that you’d ever find it…Images: Mat Hufman (Las Vegas Sun) / The Centre For
Land Use Interpretation (4/11/13)
I hope these containers aren't bound for the Kara Sea...
Found on the pages of
The Moscow Times, so 'spasibo’ to them…
Large-scale Soviet nuclear
tests, dumping of spent fuel and two scuttled nuclear-powered
submarines are a major source of pollution in the Arctic Ocean,
a Russian research institute has said.
There are 17,000 containers
and 19 vessels holding radioactive waste submerged in the Kara Sea,
as well as 14 nuclear reactors, said a report passed by Russia
to the Norwegian authorities in 2012, according to Bellona,
an environmental group that acquired a copy of document.
The sinking of nuclear
material and scuttling of ships used to be widespread practice.
Of particular worry now is the Soviet nuclear submarine, K-27,
scuttled in 1981 in the Kara Sea. The boat, equipped with two
nuclear reactors, was filled with bitumen and concrete before being sunk,
according to the Russian Nuclear Safety Institute, to ensure that it
would lie safely on the ocean floor for 50 years. That period is
nearly up. Last year, speakers at a joint seminar with Bellona
and state nuclear company Rosatom warned that a nuclear reaction
could occur on the K-27.
"Before that, no-one knew about
the danger," Igor Kudrik, a nuclear safety expert
at Bellona said. Images: Commons
Wikimedia / Barents Observer (24/10/13)
Stand back! Things may get a bit wet around here...
Thanks to AFP for this ‘watery’ tale…
workers at Japan's crippled Fukushima
nuclear power plant were doused with radioactive water from a desalination
system Wednesday, the plant's operator said. The fluid splashed onto the men
when they accidentally removed a pipe connected to the system.
water did not come into contact with their faces so there is a little
possibility that the workers ingested" any of the water, a TEPCO
spokeswoman said, adding there were five other workers present at the time.
pipe was reconnected and the leak stopped within an hour of the initial
incident, the utility said in a statement. The system is designed to desalinate
contaminated water once it has been treated to reduce its caesium content. It
is then stored in tanks on the site.
incident will do little to improve the commonly held view that TEPCO is making
a mess of cleaning up the world's worst nuclear accident for a quarter of a
century. Earlier this week it was revealed a worker had accidentally switched
off power to pumps keeping broken reactors at a steady temperature.
radioactive water is being stored in around 1,000 tanks, which have been the
source of leaks recently. Some contaminated water has made its way into the
sea, the company has admitted.
TEPCO has so far revealed no clear plan for the
water stored on site, but experts have said that ultimately it will have to be
dumped in the Pacific, once it has been scoured of the worst of its radioactive
load. This suggestion faces opposition from fishermen, environmental groups and
neighbouring countries. Images: Gawand /
Yahoo News (10/10/13)
There's plenty more (Jelly) fish in the sea...
huge cluster of moon
jellyfish forced the Oskarshamn plant, the site of one of the world's
largest nuclear reactors, to shut down by clogging the pipes conducting cool
water to the turbines.
of the plant on the Baltic coast in south-east Sweden had to scramble reactor
No 3 on Sunday after tons of jellyfish were caught in the pipes. By Tuesday,
the pipes were cleared of the jellyfish and engineers were preparing to restart
the 1,400MWe boiling water reactor, said a spokesman.
biologists said they would not be surprised if more jellyfish shutdowns
occurred in the future. It's true that there seems to be more and more of these
extreme cases of blooming jellyfish," said Lene Moller, a researcher at
the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment. "But it's very difficult
to say if there are more jellyfish, because there is no historical data."
He added that the biggest problem was that there
was no monitoring of jellyfish in the Baltic Sea to produce the data scientists
needed for decisions on tackling the issue. Images:
Lionel Cironneau (AP) /News 168 (2/10/13)
I know there is a bit of radiation here, but, really??
We’ve not heard from our friend Annette Cary at the Tri-City
Herald for a while, so we’ll put that right with this little gem…
radiation readings that caused an emergency to be declared last month
at Hanford came from old contamination, according to Hanford officials. No
evidence of a new leak from the system being used to retrieve waste from a
Hanford tank or from the system's transfer hoses was found.
investigation concluded that insulating blankets that had shielded radiation on
an area about 4 square inches shifted, causing the elevated beta radiation
readings during routine monitoring, Kevin Smith, manager of the Department of
Energy Hanford Office of River Protection, said.
River Protection Solutions, the DOE contractor for the tanks farms, has
completed an assessment of the Tank C-101 sluicer, where the elevated reading
was recorded and the surrounding area and found no additional contamination or
exposure to the environment, according to Smith. The contamination was on the
concrete cover block near the base of the C-101 sluicer transfer hose cover
sluicer is part of the system being used to empty radioactive and hazardous
chemical waste from the single-shell tank and transfer it to a newer
double-shell tank for storage until it can be treated for disposal. Because the
abnormal reading could have been caused by a leak, workers at the C Tank Farm
evacuated and workers in central Hanford and near the K Reactors were ordered
to take cover indoors.
Work is expected to resume this week to pump
waste from Tank C-101 and a second C Farm tank, C-110, where waste was being
removed before the abnormal radiation readings were detected. Before work
restarts, the hot spot will be covered.Images: Cre a Vapeur / Beta News (5/9/13)
Santa Maria - Susana's getting messy!!
are getting messy at Santa
Susana research facility, reports the Santa Maria Times…
Californian environmental groups sued state regulators last week over the
cleanup of a former nuclear research lab, saying low-level radioactive waste
was improperly shipped to landfills.
Watchdog, along with other groups, filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County
Superior Court against the Department of Public Health and Department of Toxic
Substances Control, which oversees the cleanup at the Santa Susana Field
about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Santa Susana was once home to nuclear
research and rocket engine tests. Responsible parties including Boeing Co.,
NASA and the U.S Energy Department have been working with state officials to
meet a 2017 deadline to rid the nearly 2,900-acre site of contaminated soil.
their complaint, the groups contend that materials from several buildings that
were demolished were sent to landfills and metal recycling shops that are not
licensed to accept radioactive waste. They also sought a temporary restraining
order to stop Boeing from tearing down a plutonium fuel fabrication building on
the hilltop complex.
is paramount that the public be protected from toxic, and in this instance
radioactive, harm," Liza Tucker of Consumer Watchdog said in a statement.
Officials at the toxic control agency rejected
the allegations, saying that debris sent offsite posed no threat to human
health or the environment. Stewart Black, a deputy director at DTSC, said the
state followed the rules in the demolishing and disposal of old buildings. Images: Puroserve / Enviro Reporter (12/8/13)
Finally!! A Nice Nugget...
bald eagles have hatched in a nest on the Hanford
nuclear reservation, for possibly the first time in more than 50 years.
officials are not aware of bald eagles producing eggs on the site since it was
established during World War II, according to Department of Energy spokesman
Cameron Salony. It's the first known bald eagle nesting attempt at Hanford in
young birds are estimated to be about 10 weeks old and already stand about 31
In February, Mission Support Alliance officials
surveyed for bald eagles on the site and spotted 13 adults and three juveniles.
Bald eagles are considered juveniles until they are about five years old, when
their mottled brown-and-white plumage turns to dark brown and they develop the
distinctive white head and tail of an adult. Bald eagles were listed as an
endangered species in 1967, but have since been removed from the list as their
population has recovered. They still are covered by the Eagle Protection Act,
and disturbing them can be considered a violation of the act.
The two young eagles at Hanford almost are ready
to fly. Fish and Wildlife says eaglets make their first unsteady flights about
10 to 12 weeks after hatching and leave the nest within a few days after that
first flight. However, they'll likely remain in the vicinity of the nest for
several weeks after fledging. Image: Justin Wild (MSA) / The Independent (5/7/13)
Prussian blue, anyone...?
Lyndsey Smith and Michael Sandelson,
reporting for the pages of The Foreigner based in Norway, take a look at
some sheep for us.
Agricultural Authority reports the number of sheep requiring ‘foddering down’
following 1986’s Chernobyl
disaster appear to be decreasing. 1,914 sheep had to undergo this
procedure last year, with 196 claims for compensation. This is “a marked
reduction from 2011”, according to them.
down’ involves the animals being fed a controlled caesium-free diet, sometimes
laced with a caesium binder (known as Prussian blue) six weeks prior to
slaughtering. Over two million sheep on a national basis have had to undergo
this process since the disaster, and Norway is still counting the cost of the
are particularly fond of mushrooms, which are known to accumulate caesium. 1986
saw a bumper crop of these, and major amounts of radioactive meat had to be
destroyed. Images: Miranda Metheny / The Guardian (25/6/13)
Another case of 'You've put What? Where?' Down Under
Miles Kemp, writing for Adelaide Now
in Australia, takes a look at some interesting documents for us…
released under the Freedom of Information Act show the Environment Protection
Authority has approved 36 facilities to store radioactive
waste, eight years after the State Government refused to allow a secure
waste dump to be built in the far north of the state.
the EPA has refused to tell the public where the material, some held by private
companies, is kept - even by postcode. Mr Brokenshire, a representative of
Family First, said it was unacceptable that the EPA would not reveal where the
waste was being stored. He commented: “The fact that it took a year to come up
with a simple list shows how ineffective the whole system is.”
2005 the State Government refused to allow a national storage facility to be
located in the far north of South Australia, despite it being selected as the
best location geologically. One known example of the known storage are 21
barrels of medium to high-level radioactive material stored in a tin shed in
the heart of Arkaroola, an Outback sanctuary the State Government wants on the
World Heritage list.
A spokeswoman for the EPA said it had a register
of 789 radiation sources but most were still in use. “Some of these sources are
in storage as waste. The majority of the sources are used in the industrial and
scientific/medical setting.” Images: News Ltd / Aussie
Heritage Tours (17/6/13)
TIMBER!!! down Chernobyl way...
cutting down a few thousand trees in the Chernobyl area? Time to dig out that
radiation suit – again! Our thanks to the pages of RIA Novosti for this crazy
scientists want the former-Soviet republic to restart tree-felling in areas
affected by the world’s worst nuclear power disaster at the Chernobyl
nuclear power plant, a Belarusian academic said on Thursday. The timber growing
in these forests has an increased radioactive nuclides content only in its
surface layers, mostly in the bark. This bark can be stripped using
domestically-made mobile bark-stripping systems,” Alexander Kovalevich,
director of the Forest Institute at the Belarusian Academy of Sciences was
quoted as saying by the Belta state news agency.
said timber could be safely procured in forests with a radiation contamination
level of up to 40 curies per square km.
Modern machinery will shield workers from
radiation, he argued. “At present, about 27 percent of timber is procured with
the use of harvesters and this share will rise to 70 percent by 2015. A driver
working in the cabin of this vehicle is fully protected from the viewpoint of
radiation safety,” he said. Images: RIA Novosti
(Andrey Alexandrov) / Sammy D Vintage (7/6/13)
US asks Canada: "You want to store what?? Where??"
grateful thanks to Fox28 for this little gem we found today…
lawmakers have questions about a proposed Canadian underground nuclear
waste repository near Lake Huron.
state Senate resolution that was introduced by Democratic Sen. Hoon-Yung
Hopgood of Taylor passed Wednesday. Lawmakers worry that the facility might
affect the Great Lakes, and they want Congress to help ensure Michigan's
concerns are fully resolved.
Power Generation has proposed the facility. The Detroit News reports that a
public comment period for the company's environmental impact statement comes to
an end on Friday. Hearings and other steps are expected before approval is
The storage facility for low - to medium - level
nuclear waste would be built in Kincardine, across Lake Huron from the Michigan
shoreline. Images: Summit Post /
Groundwater UK (27/5/13)
Today's Special: Caesium, Plutonium & Americium...
Emily Parsons, reporting for The Whitehaven
News was up for a pizza…
so-called Pizza Cumbriana was created eight years ago by Core (Cumbrians
Opposed to a Radioactive Environment), to highlight their concerns about plans
by Italy to ship more
irradiated (spent) fuel to Sellafield for reprocessing.
illustrate the environmental damage caused by such trade, Core presented the
embassy with a unique West Cumbrian “pizza”, complete with a topping of mud and
seaweed collected from a public footpath crossing the River Esk estuary.
analysis of the material by the University of Manchester had shown the topping
to contain levels of radioactivity that would be illegal in Italy and which, in
the UK, would classify it as Low Level Waste (LLW).
condemned pizza was swiftly removed by the Environment Agency and has
languished ever since with other LLW at the Atomic Energy Research
Establishment at Didcot, Oxford. Now it has been finally transported by road to
its rightful resting place to the Low Level Waste disposal facility at Drigg.
Forwood, Core spokesman, said: “Burying our pizza at Drigg is proof positive
that some of west Cumbria’s coastal areas are nothing more than nuclear
A report produced by Harwell Scientifics Ltd for
the Environment Agency entitled ‘Analysis of a Pizza Comprising of Sediment’
(RD 0693) confirmed the presence of high levels of Caesium 137, Americium 241,
and Plutonium 238, 239 and 240. Images:
Whitehaven News / Photaki (30/4/13)
Mamma Mia - we're off the menu!!
This comes from the English news section of Xinhau…
above the ruled thresholds have been detected in Italy's boars, local reports
radioactive isotope of the element cesium was found following routine
surveillance on tongue and diaphragm from boars in Italy’s northern Piedmont
region, according to a statement published on the health ministry's website.
samples were from wild boars captured during the 2012-2013 hunt season. On 27
of them, cesium-137 levels were above the ruled threshold, established as the
upper limit after nuclear incident.
quoted by the ANSA news agency estimated that the radioactive isotope may
derive from the Russian Chernobyl nuclear power plant, after the 1986 accident.
said that two nuclear sites in Piedmont region, the Trino Vercellese station
dismantled in 1987 and an experimental site in the Saluggia area, as well as
toxic waste, may also be at the origin of the findings.
cesium-137 is an artificial radionuclide produced by nuclear fission, and is
released from nuclear sites," said the head of the Enea Radiation
Protection Institute, Elena Fantuzzi. However, she added that the presence of
cesium-137 is continuously monitored at the national level and the amounts
detected "have never been worrying."
In her view, it is also important to consider
whether the metabolism of boars may facilitate the accumulation of the
radioactive isotope above the limits considered as safe. Images: Shutterstock / Wine Tours (15/3/13)
Fishing in Japan? I don't think so...
nice people at UPI have a cautionary fishing tale for us…
fish caught near the Fukushima
nuclear plant contained levels of radioactivity 5,100 times above the state-set
safety limit, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
Greenling fish, caught in the small harbour by the plant damaged in the March
2011 earthquake and tsunami, contained 231,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium
per pound, Kyodo News reported Friday.
someone were to eat around 2 pounds of fish with this level they would be
exposed to about 7.7 millisieverts of internal radiation, about the dose
received in a full-body CT scan.
has set up a 6-foot-tall net at the seafloor of the harbour, which has been
significantly contaminated with radioactive substances, to prevent bottom fish
from swimming out.
During efforts by Tepco to rid the harbour of
all fish, a Spotbelly rockfish containing 125,000 becquerels of radioactive
cesium per pound was also caught, officials said. Images: Alaska in pictures / Photo Travels (3/3/13)
We heard about the nuke plant closure - do you need some help?
We thought we’d have a positive Nuclear Nugget today, thanks
to those nice folks at Reuters and Saundra Amrhein…
The decision earlier this month to retire a nuclear
plant near Crystal River, Florida - potentially costing hundreds of
jobs and lost revenue - has residents banking on the lure of the endangered
manatee. "We'll always have tourism, we'll always have manatees. That's a
huge draw," said Michele Bunts, manager of Cracker's Bar, Grill &
Tiki. As the nation's only place where people can legally swim with manatees,
Crystal River draws tourists from around the world for a chance to snorkel with
the sea cows, which can be 10 feet long and weigh between 800 and 1,200 lbs
(364 to 545 kg).
About 600 people could lose their jobs once the plant is
eventually retired, but there will be plenty of work for at least the next five
to seven years. The plant would then transition into a "mothballed-type
status" for another 20 to 25 years.
Store and restaurant owners were hoping to recoup lost
business if Duke chose to decontaminate the plant, adding more workers.
Instead, the company announced on Feb. 5 it planned to pursue another option,
safely storing the plant for several decades to let nature help with the decay
before cleaning out the rest of the radiation.
River Mayor Jim Farley acknowledged that the county as a whole might take a hit
should many employees be reassigned out-of-state and if property tax income
drops if Duke does not replace the nuclear facility with a natural gas plant. But he predicted that ongoing
plans for the springs will make the area a bigger eco-tourism attraction than
it already is.
"It's not going to be a disaster,"
Farley said. "I think we're going to be able to cope. Images: Beach Chair Scientist /Gottus Realty (15/2/13)
Okay - what's making the Geigers tick at Aston Down?
Reports are being reviewed about the presence of radioactive
substances at the former MoD airfield at Aston Down, Gloucestershire,
following new claims of contamination.
2005, the findings of a Land Quality Assessment identified the presence of
radiological materials and artefacts in two hangars but campaigners are
concerned because only one type of survey - focussing on gamma radiation - was
Sally Morgan, of the Aston Down Action Group, said: "Alpha and beta
radiation is highly toxic if ingested and not as easily detectable as gamma
radiation." Stroud District Council has confirmed that its environmental
health team has been reviewing previously submitted reports concerning the
possible presence of radioactive materials.
A spokesman said: "The reports do not
directly refer to the monitoring of alpha and beta radiation. To ensure that we
have the best advice and appropriate action is taken, we are referring the
matter to the Health Protection Agency as the experts on radiological matters."
Images: Stroud News & Journal / Watch Talk (8/2/13)
Note to UK - should we really start fracking?
Rachel Morgan’s recent report on the pages of Times
Online raises some worrying thoughts on the by-products of fracking. Here
is a small extract …
new evidence pointing to potentially dangerous
levels of radiation in fracking wastewater, questions arise over just
who regulates this stuff. The short answer: No one, really.
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or U.S. Department of Transportation
step in, because this water is often transported across state lines? Does the
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation regulate the tanker trucks being
driven around on the state’s roads? What about the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission, which monitors every radioactive molecule emanating from nuclear
answer, it seems, is a resounding no from every regulatory body except perhaps
from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. State DEP
officials say that yes, they are in charge of regulating the handling,
transport and disposal of wastewater from natural gas drilling. But those same
officials said they do not measure radium concentrations in fracking
wastewater, a position they held until their announcement Thursday that they
plan to launch a yearlong study of radioactive waste from the drilling
procedure formally known as hydraulic fracturing.
EPA is studying fracking’s impact on drinking water sources, with intentions to
release the full report in 2014. The plan will take into account the
potentially radioactive material that can be released from the shale by
fracking. The study was done in the early 1990s and tested wastewater from
conventional wells, when the salty brine was used to de-ice roads. That permit,
DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday said, expired in 2010 and was not renewed. He also
said the DEP has never allowed brine from fracked wells to be used on the
“The study found no problems with the water,”
Poister said. “Radiation was barely detectable but not deemed a hazard in any
way.” Images: Evan Witek
(The Times) / BGS.AC (28/1/13)
Want to see some Atlantic Salmon? Best check out Connecticut Yankee...
We thought it was time for a nice, positive tale today,
thanks to the folks at World Nuclear News.
A US government conservation agency has purchased
land next to the decommissioned Connecticut
Yankee nuclear power plant to expand its nature reserve there.
US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have bought a 15-hectare portion of land
from the plant. The land will become part of the Salmon River Division of the
Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, which will then cover some 168
hectares. The Salmon River is recognized by the FWS as a high-priority area for
fisheries, and is one of three federal Atlantic salmon restoration areas in the
state of Connecticut. Extensive beds of aquatic plants in the Salmon River
Division provide significant over-wintering, spawning and feeding habitat for a
large number of fish species, including commercial finfish and shellfish.
Yankee president and CEO Wayne Norton commented, "The success of this land
transaction is due to the cooperative efforts of the FWS and grassroots
organizations in the Haddam community and to the fact that this separately
acquired parcel of land adjacent to the original plant property was never
associated with site-related operations, nor needed for used fuel storage
Only a small part of the former plant site -
hosting the dry cask storage facility where some 1000 used nuclear fuel
assemblies from the reactor's operating life plus some contaminated metals are
kept - remains under Nuclear Regulatory Commission licence. Connecticut Yankee
retains responsibility for the security and protection of the storage
facility's two-hectare site until a national used nuclear fuel disposal
facility is available, when it would be removed. Images: Connecticut Yankee / Paul Nicklen (National
I'm sorry - I swear someone said Emmerdale...
west Cumbrian community fears it may be chosen to host an underground store for
Britain's nuclear waste. Samantha Parker, reporting for ITV,
has the full report.
householders say the area is one of only a few places where the geology is
thought to be suitable. A protest group has been set up and all 276 households
will be asked for their views in a referendum. A public meeting was held at the
local pub where villagers were able to speak to those for and against the plans
before casting their votes. The majority say they haven't been properly
is disputed by members of the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely partnership who
spent three years gathering the opinions of those living in west Cumbria.
30th January the executives of the three local councils of Allerdale, Copeland
and the county council will meet to decide whether to go through to the next
stage of the process and look for a possible site. If they agree extensive work
will be undertaken to find an area with a suitable geology.
councils say no area has been identified as being suitable at this stage. If
the councils do vote for some or all of west Cumbria to go through to the
siting stage the west of the county can still withdraw at any stage until
building work begins.
The views of the people of Ennerdale will be
sent to all three councils ahead of their meetings on 30th January. Images: NOEND / Mediastudies (7/1/13)
Invasion of the black boxes in Wyoming
Abrahm Lustgarten, reporting for ProPublica,
wanders the Great Plains for this one.
a lonely stretch at the edge of the Great Plains is a crowning escarpment
called the Pumpkin Buttes. The land appears bountiful, but it is straining to
produce enough sustenance for the herds of cattle and sheep on its arid
prairies. "It's a tough way to make a living," said John Christensen,
whose family has worked this private expanse, called Christensen Ranch, for
more than a century.
has made ends meet by allowing prospectors to tap into minerals and oil and gas
beneath his bucolic hills. But from the start, it has been a Faustian bargain.
dry as this land may be, underground, vast reservoirs hold billions of gallons
of water suitable for drinking, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency. Yet every day injection wells pump more than 200,000 gallons of toxic
waste from uranium mining into Christensen's aquifers.
a conflict between state and federal regulators over whether to allow more
mining at Christensen Ranch (and the damage that comes with it) has pitted the
feverish drive for domestic energy against the need to protect water resources
for the future. Twenty-five years ago, the EPA and Wyoming officials agreed
that polluting the water beneath Christensen Ranch was an acceptable price for
producing energy there.
the last five years, as regulators have vacillated over what to do, John
Christensen’s property has been speckled with thousands of small, mysterious
black boxes. From each dark cube, a mixture of chemicals is pumped into the
ground to dissolve the ore and separate out the uranium so that it can be
sucked back out and refined for nuclear fuel.
Horses graze behind a gate on a dirt road that
winds across this 35,000-acre tract, 50 miles south of Gillette, Wyoming.
Nearby, a small metal sign is strung to a cattle guard with chicken wire:
"Caution. Radioactive Material." Images: Abrahm Lustgarten, / FRROLE (28/12/12)
Friends of the Earth turn tourist guides...
We thought we’d go
all public spirited again, this time thanks to the pages of Green Left,
of the Earth have released a press statement, announcing their Radioactive Exposure Tour which will take place from Friday March 29 to
Sunday April 7, 2013.
tours have exposed thousands of people first-hand to the realities of
“radioactive racism” and to the environmental impacts of the nuclear industry.
travelling from Melbourne to Adelaide we will head through Port Augusta and
visit the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Then we'll travel north to the SA desert,
we'll visit BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine at Roxby Downs, the largest
uranium deposit in the world.
watch sunset over Lake Eyre and see the Mound Springs - oases that are fed by
the underlying Great Artesian Basin and host unique flora and fauna. Sadly,
some of the Mound Springs have been adversely affected or destroyed altogether
by the massive water taken for the Olympic Dam mine. The water is taken from
Arabunna land and we'll hopefully get to spend time with Arabunna elder Kevin
Buzzacott, co-president of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance.
hear first-hand accounts of the British nuclear bomb tests from Maralinga
veteran and whistle-blower Avon Hudson. After stopping for a swim at Coward
Springs, we'll head east and camp in the beautiful Gammon Ranges and visit the
not-so-beautiful Beverley uranium mine.
costs are: concession A$500 - waged A$750 - solidarity A$950. If cost is a
barrier, contact the organisers to discuss funding ideas.
If you're interested in joining in the 2013
Radioactive Exposure Tour, contact email@example.com " Images: foe.org.au
/ Eco News (12/12/12)
New program launched to clean up Navajo land
Jenny Kane, writing for the Carlsbad
Current Argus, brings us some good news.
More than 70 years after Navajo land first was poisoned by
the mining and milling of uranium
ore, its people have a chance to right some of those wrongs.
20 students will graduate from a new program that trains Navajo to help in the
cleanup of uranium. The program teaches students how to measure and detect
radon, one of the toxic products of uranium. They also are trained in a 40-hour
hazardous waste and emergency response course, first aid, cardiopulmonary
resuscitation, and basic job skills.
than 100 applicants tried to get into the class offered on the Navajo Nation.
Only about 20 were selected for the three-week training, which is preceded by a
physical and mental test. Though the recruitment of Navajo into the cleanup
force is new, the effort has been in the works for decades and is expected to
continue for years.
material began contaminating the Navajo Nation's land and water during the
1940s, when uranium was in high demand by the federal government.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Navajo Environmental Protection
Agency have teamed since 2007 to clean up sites scattered across the 27,000 square
miles of the reservation. Their priorities are uranium-contaminated water
sources and structures.
30 percent of the Navajo population does not have access to a public drinking
water system and may be using unregulated water sources with uranium
contamination, according to the EPA. Images: Stormy cs / TrekEarth (6/12/12)
It's Radon testing time here in Port Hope
time to go public-spirited again, this time thanks to the Northumberland
View, based in Ontario, Canada.
Hope Area Initiative contractors will be in the field and back visiting 450
local residents later this month as testing continues to prepare for the future
cleanup of historic low-level radioactive waste.
field work will take place at the 450 properties that were monitored for radon
gas this past summer. Phone calls to property owners to schedule the
appointments will start during the week of November 19, and home visits will
begin during the last week of November.
will use the personal identification number that has been assigned to each
property owner as a security measure. The testing is part of the Port Hope
Project Radiological Survey program that will survey 4,800 properties – every
property in Ward 1 Port Hope and select properties in Ward 2 – over the next
four years. Also this month, field investigations will be carried out at the Peter
Street Interim Mound and at the St. Mary’s School property to determine the
extent of future clean-up activities required.
these investigations begin, staff from the PHAI Management Office will visit
nearby neighbours and businesses to provide them with background information
about the work and to answer any questions they may have. Communication with
the property owners where the work is being done has already taken place.
expect very little impact that anyone will notice from these on-site
investigations,” said Walter Van Veen, Port Hope Project Director. “Our aim is
to complete the work with minimal disturbance and inconvenience to the property
owners and businesses.”
The radiological investigations are being
carried out by three contractors engaged by the PHAI MO as follows: Residential property investigations - SENES
Consultants Limited of Richmond Hill; Peter Street Interim Mound, St. Mary’s School
property and Caroline Street Park - Franz Environmental of
Waste Management Facility abandoned pipeline - Genivar Inc.
of Markham. Images: Photo Travel
Pages / Coastline Housing (16/11/12)
Hurricane warnings for USA East Coast - an update...
Bloomberg reported the following on
Saturday, October 27th,courtesy of Global Research.
‘Because of the size of Hurricane
Sandy, we could see an impact to coastal and inland plants’ Neil
Sheehan, a Philadelphia-based spokesman for the US NRC, said by phone
Saturday. He added: ‘We will station
inspectors at the sites if we know they could be directly impacted.’
The NRC met Saturday to discuss
the necessary precautions to take for the storm. As of 2pm New York time, Sandy had winds of 75 (121km) per hour
according to the National Hurricane Centre in Miami. It was about 430 miles south/south east of Charleston, SC. The current Hurricane Centre track calls for
the system to come ashore just south of Delaware Bay October 30th.
provides a list
of the nuclear reactors and utilities in Sandy’s potential path. Many of
the plants listed have had problems in the past – for example: Surry has
recently been plagued by problems with the coolant system, valves and damage
from a tornado; Calvert Cliffs was knocked offline by the last
hurricane and Indian Point is widely recognized as one of the nation’s
worst nuclear plants. Image: The Guardian (29/10/12)
Another 40 years storage? Not on my watch...
David Shaffer, reporting recently for the Star
Tribune, goes native for this worrying environmental report.
regulators are partially opening the door for a Minnesota Indian tribe to
challenge Xcel Energy's request for a 40-year extension on its license to store
radioactive waste in casks on the site of the Prairie Island nuclear
power plant near Red Wing, Minn.
the staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the Prairie Island Indian
Community (many of whose members live next to the plant) shouldn't be allowed
to raise one of its main issues and that the environmental questions about
longer-term storage have been inadequately studied.
NRC pointed out that the tribe should be able to raise other safety issues
regarding radioactive waste in the pending licensing case. But Xcel Energy
Inc., the plant's owner, in a separate filing, argued that none of the tribe's
safety-related contentions should be considered.
June, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck
down NRC's waste-storage policy, saying the lack of a national nuclear waste
repository means that spent nuclear fuel "will seemingly be stored on site
at nuclear plants on a permanent basis."
That ruling has emboldened the Prairie Island
tribe to petition for an expanded study of the risks of storing spent fuel rods
in casks for decades longer than intended. Yet the NRC said the commission
wants to avoid such plant-by-plant reviews until regulators can consider the
waste-storage issue more broadly. Images: Jim Seida (MSNBC) / NRC (1/10/12) (Pictured: Doreen Hagen, president of the Prairie Island Indian Community Tribal Council)
Wild? That's all I need - an anti-radiation scrub down...
comes from the Mainichi News. A professor is planning to attach radiation
measuring devices to wild monkeys to create radiation maps of forests
contaminated by the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster.
the contamination of forests is difficult ... For the sake of a detailed
investigation, we'll have wild monkeys help us out," said Fukushima
University professor Takayuki Takahashi, who is planning the project. The
radioactive contamination levels of the forests that cover around 70 percent of
Fukushima Prefecture are still not clear.
investigation will be carried out together with a wildlife protection centre.
Wild monkeys in highly contaminated areas like Iitate or Namie will be
captured, have devices to measure radiation with GPS functionality attached to
their necks, and then be released back into the wild. After about a month of
recording air radiation levels, the devices will be remotely detached and their
to Takahashi, wild monkeys move in groups and live in territories covering
around four hectares. Starting with one monkey, Takahashi hopes to then expand
to use more of the animals and increase the size of the area covered.
October last year, a test was done using a measuring device on a wild monkey in
the city of Fukushima, but after the apparatus was recovered a problem with it
prevented data from being accessed. Currently, Takahashi is working on
improving the measuring devices with an aim to resuming tests in the fall.
"The Ministry of Education, Culture,
Sports, Science and Technology is conducting radiation monitoring with
aircraft, but it is not getting detailed radiation amounts, so an early
investigation is necessary. If all goes well with the monkeys, I would also
like to use wild boars or dogs," said Takahashi. Images: Bird Quest Tours / National Geographic (19/8/12)
Keep 2075 free, we may need some digging done...
Matt Chorley, writing for The Independent,
checks out potential burial sites…
burial of radioactive
nuclear waste is to be fast tracked by the government despite warnings
about the risks.
have revealed an "enduring ambition" for Britain's first burial of
waste from nuclear power stations to happen as early as 2029, instead of 2040
as originally planned. Opponents warn
acceleration of the idea will mean cutting corners, and over-riding the views
of people living near burial sites.
idea of entombing waste from reactors deep underground was first raised by the
Labour government six years ago, with the emphasis on "voluntarism".
Councils were encouraged to come forward and offer to host the radioactive
matter. But the coalition wants the process to move faster, and has asked the
Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) to carry out research into "the
potential options for acceleration".
waste would be buried in containers at depths of up to 1,000m with both metal
and the natural rock preventing radiation being released.
year NDA said it had "confidence" the 2075 and 2130 dates could be
brought forward, but shifting the 2040 date to 2029 was "more
challenging" and required consideration of other approaches which bring
"a higher degree of programme risk".
a new report on Implementing Geological Disposal, seen by The Independent
on Sunday, reveals the government is determined to press ahead with
acceleration, despite "the inherent risks". "Acceleration
remains an enduring ambition for ministers but no decisions will be taken until
NDA's further work is complete," it said.
Dr Douglas Parr, Chief Scientist at Greenpeace
UK, said: "Acceleration of plans for burying nuclear waste could only be
achieved by by-passing proper consideration of hazards or railroading local
communities." Images: The
Independent / Macstories (30/7/12)
Does anyone know the opposite of 'NIMBY' ??
Heidi Ulrichsen, reporting for Northern Life
in Canada, wonders where she can get hold of some warning barrier tape (we can
help you there, Heidi…)
When the Municipality of Wawa first decided to explore the
possibility of hosting the country's nuclear
waste, a group of citizens had what Mayor Linda Nowicki calls an
“immediate knee-jerk response.”
The organization only works with communities
interested in potentially hosting the facility – it doesn't approach any
communities itself. The process to find a suitable project site is expected to
take about eight years. Given the consultations, regulatory approvals and
construction time lines, the NWMO estimates the earliest this facility will be
in place is 2035.
Wawa, located about seven hours away
from Greater Sudbury, on the shores of Lake Superior, is one of several
communities being courted by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO)
as a potential site for its project deep beneath the earth.
For Nowicki, it's worth it for Wawa to consider the idea hosting the deep
geological repository, given the potential economic benefits down the road.
By the mayor's own admission, the town's economy isn't doing well, with the
mining, forestry and tourism industries taking a hit in recent years. “The
project has the potential to bring great economic return in the long term,”
Nowicki said. “I view it as a business opportunity and an economic development
”At the same time, citizens have a responsibility to come up with a long-term
solution for the country's nuclear waste. Every one of us in this country is
benefiting from the production of electricity from the nuclear reactors. We all
have a moral responsibility to deal with that waste for future generations.” Images:
anythingradioactive / SLACC (19/7/12)
Grim tales from the woods Chernobyl style..
Patrick Evans, reporting for the BBC,
takes a walk in the woods.
Much of the 30km exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant
is pine forest, and some of it so badly contaminated that a forest fire could
create a devastating radioactive smoke cloud.
the region is slowly getting back to normal. People are returning to farm this
once booming agricultural area. It is happening inside the exclusion zone too.
Chernobyl Forestry Enterprise is now planting small new pine stands which it
plans to harvest in 80 years' time. But there are serious problems with the
rest of Chernobyl's extensive pine plantations.
damages easily and these dying radioactive plantations are considered too
dangerous and expensive to clear. If ignited, one expert likens the potential
effect to setting off a nuclear bomb in Eastern Europe. Wind could carry
radioactive smoke particles large distances, not just in Ukraine, but right
across the continent.
fighters in Chernobyl have one of the least enviable jobs in the world. They
spend all day up rusty Soviet watchtowers, which sway in the wind like tin-box
metronomes, and act as conductors to the huge lightning storms, often sparking
Their equipment is very basic. They believe they know when
they are fighting a radioactive fire - they experience a tingling, metallic
sensation in their skin - but they do not fully understand the serious dangers
of being exposed to superheated radioactive particles.
Their job description still belongs to heroic Soviet ideals
- they must put the blaze out, no matter the personal consequences…Images: BBC
What's that noise? Just 300 railroad cars on their way to S.Carolina
Sammy Fretwell, writing for The State in
South Carolina, suits up for this one.
company wants to send 300 railroad cars of radioactive
dirt from New Jersey to South Carolina for burial in a mega garbage
dump near Bishopville, rather than dispose of the waste in the Northeast.
shipments from Sayreville, N.J., to South Carolina would be unprecedented for
the mountainous waste dump, a nationally known landfill designed to bury
household garbage instead of toxic waste.
questions remain unanswered about the disposal plan, but this much is known:
dumping the soil would require extra precautions at the Lee County landfill.
The radioactive soil poses threats to public safety not normally found in
household garbage, records show. While the radioactivity in the dirt is
classified as naturally occurring, the natural levels were “technically
enhanced’’ at an industrial site in northern New Jersey, regulators said. As a
result, that concentrated and increased the radiation levels, said regulators
in South Carolina.
State law could, under certain circumstances, allow the disposal of such
material in Lee County, but state regulators acknowledge risks. Sayreville’s
plan to send radioactive soil to the Lee County landfill is the latest issue
raising concerns about the megadump that towers over Interstate 20 in eastern
dump has for years accepted more out-of-state garbage than any other landfill
in South Carolina and has been a source of citizen complaints. Kent Coleman, director
of DHEC’s waste management division, said the amount of the radioactive-laden
soil is substantial and worth careful scrutiny. He said some slightly
radioactive material occasionally has gone to landfills in small amounts, but
never 300 train cars.
records do not detail the health hazards. The volume is a very key issue, in
addition to the fact that it is radioactive material and needs special
consideration,’’ Coleman said. “The volume is a big issue in terms of how it is
The landfill likely would need to bury the
radioactive New Jersey dirt under a deeper cover of soil than is now required
for garbage. Household trash can be buried under several feet of soil at a
landfill, but the radioactive dirt from New Jersey might need to be buried
under 30 feet, Coleman said. The material also would have to be covered up
immediately after it was dumped in the landfill. Images:
wltx.com / How Stuff Works (1/7/12)
Radioactive? Me? I find that hard to swallow...
Victoria Brenan, writing for The Whitehaven
News, looks out her mosquito repellent.
mosquitoes are being blamed after contaminated swallow droppings were
discovered at Sellafield. An Environment Agency report revealed that bird
droppings from around the swallows’ nesting site were found to be radioactively
is believed the swallows, which are nesting in the transport section at the
atomic complex, were contaminated by eating mosquitoes that fly above
Sellafield’s radioactive storage ponds. A spokesman for the plant said checks
at the nesting area showed the radiation dose was the “indistinguishable from
natural background radiation found in any work place, on or off a nuclear
site”. An anti-nuclear spokesman, however, said the birds were carrying “a
highly toxic message” back to South Africa when they migrate at the end of the
said the radiation level was so low it did not require any protective clothing
to be worn and said they were putting in place measures to reduce the birds’
access to certain facilities.
Ltd is aware of the potential issue for birds to become contaminated with low
levels of radioactivity as a result of historic operations at Sellafield,” a
spokesman added. “Monitoring and
analysis has shown that the contamination poses no threat to health as
there is no direct pathway for exposure to members of the public.”
Martin Forwood, of Cumbrians Opposed to a
Radioactive Environment (CORE), said the “much-loved ay from the National Academies of Science showed
tuna was showing up off the coast of California. The levels of
radioactive cesium and potassium were elevated, and the source was
Best not drink the water in Texas for a while
Our thanks to Forrest Wilder, reporting for the Texas
Observer, for this somewhat worrying environmental tale deep in the heart
of – well – you know where…
Rep. Lon Burnam, a Fort Worth Democrat, called on the Texas Attorney General to
allow the public release of confidential information related to a West Texas radioactive
waste dump owned by Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons.
said the documents, obtained after a two-and-a-half-year battle with the Texas
Commission on Environmental Quality, show "serious public health and
safety risks" from the dump. Waste Control is awaiting final sign-off from
TCEQ to open the Andrews County facility. The company has made no secrets about
its plans to become a national site for the burial of radioactive waste but has
been beset by critics who say the dump is dangerously close to water tables and
possibly the Ogallala Aquifer.
a general sketch of the confidential TCEQ documents, Burnam said they discussed
the "location of nearby groundwater tables, the margin of safety in the
event of groundwater contamination, what solutions were and were not considered
and the possible risk to the public of radiation.”
In a letter to Attorney General Greg Abbott, Burnam asked
for a decision on whether the "top secret" information is
confidential under law. "I think the public has a right to know,"
said Burnam. "I think public health and safety is involved in this right now.
It's very immediate that TCEQ shouldn't allow Waste Control to open its dump
until the company answers questions about the water”. Images:
Diane Poteet / CS / Texas Observer
New nuclear dump plans spark Spanish protests
Looking for a cheap Spanish property? Well, the pages
from The Olive Press could help…
Rajoy’s new government has announced a €700 million nuclear
waste dump for a village near Madrid, provoking mixed reaction from
residents and green groups. The dump, to be built in the small
town of Villar de Canas, is expected to create 300 new jobs – an obvious
blessing for its residents given Spain’s current 21 per cent unemployment rate.
in this small village 135 km south-east of the capital have welcomed the news,
with its mayor saying it was like ‘winning the lottery’.Those in nearby
villages, however, are considering taking legal action against the plan.
are also critical, saying the project is likely to cost nearly three times what
the government has proposed, and that transporting waste to the site will be
plan was originally voted in 2004, but the location decision was delayed by
Zapatero’s government amid protests.
Nuclear power currently provides around 20 per
cent of Spain’s electricity.“Radioactive waste has been generated for decades
and will continue to be for years because Spain is not in a position to do
without nuclear power,” said an Industry Ministry statement. Images: Actualidad / Tumbit Spain (2/1/12)
Could Fukushima fall-out be affecting Alaska's wildlife?
found this rather sad post-Fukushima environmental article on the pages of
Global Research recently.
in Alaska are investigating whether local seals are being affected by radiation
from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
of ring seals (pictured) have washed up on Alaska's Arctic coastline since July, suffering
or killed by a mysterious disease marked by bleeding lesions on the hind
flippers, irritated skin around the nose and eyes and patchy hair loss on the
animals' fur coats.
at first thought the seals were suffering from a virus, but they have so far
been unable to identify one, and tests are now underway to find out if
radiation is a factor.
recently received samples of seal tissue from diseased animals captured near St
Lawrence Island with a request to examine the material for radioactivity,"
said John Kelley, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Marine Science at the
University of Alaska Fairbanks.
is concern expressed by some members of the local communities that there may be
some relationship to the Fukushima nuclear reactor's damage," he said. The
results of the tests would not be available for "several weeks."
tests have not picked up any evidence of elevated radiation in US Pacific
waters since the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which caused multiple
fuel meltdowns at the Fukushima plant and forced tens of thousands of people to
evacuate the surrounding area.
Scientists from the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have been
seeking the cause of the diseased seals for weeks, but have so far found no
answers. Images: National
Geographic / Tidbits Trinkets
Lovely but lethal invasion at St Lucie
Stapleton, writing for the Palm Beach Post, takes a cautious
look at a recent event. A massive influx of
jellyfish shut down the St. Lucie nuclear power plant in late August,
but it is only now that nuclear regulators, wildlife officials and marine
researchers are learning that the event also killed several tons of protected
goliath grouper. Jellyfish invasions of this magnitude are rare. Biologists at
the plant could recall only three other similar events in the past 30 years.
spokesman with Florida Power & Light said the public was never in danger
during the Aug. 22 event. The plant, which is designed to withstand the impact
of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, was shut down for two days because of the jellyfish
invasion and to repair a leak that was discovered in another pump after the
shutdown, Doug Andrews said.
four-day event began Aug. 22. The plant's three intake pipes, located almost a
quarter-mile offshore, began sucking in an unusually large number of moon
jellyfish. Travelling through the pipes at about 4.6 mph, the jellyfishes'
poisonous tentacles broke off. For fish trapped in the plant's intake canal,
the situation became lethal. Unable to escape the canal, the poisonous tentacles
attached to their gills, which became grossly swollen. Biologists from Inwater
Research Group poured white vinegar on the gills of the giant grouper in an
attempt to save them. Ten were rescued before divers were forced out of the
water after they, too, were stung.
spokesman Andrews said the utility removed the fish as quickly as possible
because of "concerns about the spread of bacteria and disease." He
cited the company's sea turtle protection program as evidence of the company's
concern for wildlife and research, adding that the company has accumulated the
longest documented record of sea turtle biology in the country.
"FPL takes its responsibility to protect
the environment very seriously," Andrews said. "We're just as
bothered when they die as anybody." Images:
Thomas Cordy (Palm Beach Post) / Edit International (12/12/11)
Oh well, it looks like I'm back on the menu...
James Meikle, writing for the Guardian,
collects his sheepdog for this one.
2012, hundreds of British sheep farms – all but eight of them in Wales – could
finally see the end of safety measures imposed as a result of radioactive
fallout from the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl 25 years ago.
Food Standards Agency (FSA) is proposing lifting restrictions originally placed
on 9,800 upland farms and more than 4m sheep in north Wales, including in the
Snowdonia national park, Cumbria, southern Scotland and Northern Ireland after
rain clouds dumped contaminated material from the blast in Ukraine, then part
of the USSR, 1,600 miles away.
agency says the risk from radioactivity to consumers eating lamb or mutton is
now "very low" and that controls on 334 farms in Wales, some no
longer with sheep on them, and eight in Cumbria should be lifted. The FSA
launched a formal consultation on its proposal on Thursday. This closes in
February so restrictions still involving about 250,000 sheep will not be lifted
until well into next year.
Since June 1986 when the present restrictions were imposed,
farmers have had to call in officials to check their sheep for caesium, the
main radioactive element, every time they want to move the animals off the
hills for market.
Welsh government welcomed the move, saying: "While food safety is of
paramount importance both in terms of public health and for continued confidence
in the Welsh farming and food sector, we support the evidence-based
approach the FSA have taken to assessing risk of exposure to the public from
the effect of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster."
Its statement added: "Levels of
radiocaesium recorded in sheep have fallen well below the level of any serious
risk to the consumer, and the controls currently in place go beyond the already
stringent European food safety law requirements - which could be viewed as
overly restrictive." Images: Almay (Guardian) / Idependent (18/11/11)
What's the matter with you? It's the Grand Canyon, stupid...
found this worrying environmental report on the pages of the Idaho Mountain
Express & Guide recently, so our thanks to them.
Obama administration has proposed a 20-year ban on uranium mining
on lands bordering the Grand Canyon. Opponents to the ban argue that mining
would create jobs, and would not represent a threat to the canyon. Proponents
of the ban agree with Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Tucson, who said simply, "It's
the Grand Canyon, stupid."
Theodore Roosevelt, whose devotion to the American landscape earned him a place
on Mount Rushmore, wrote, "In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural
wonder, which so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout
the rest of the world. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it
in your own interest and in the interest of the country—to keep this great
wonder of nature as it now is." In other words, do no harm.
There are certainly those who do not see it that way. If we
need power, as demonstrated by the rising price of uranium, so what if the land
that holds that uranium happens to be held in the public trust and lies next to
the Grand Canyon?
Sen. John McCain of Arizona really were a maverick of the Teddy Roosevelt
variety, as he frequently says he is, he should be fighting to preserve the
park and the land around it from any threat. He would not allow any risk to
this natural treasure.
McCain and the rest of the Arizona congressional delegation have chosen to
support the interests of the extractive industries, including a company
controlled by the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom, which is not even required to
pay royalties to the United States.
Anyone who has ever stood on the rim of the
canyon knows why Interior Secretary Ken Salazar should never give in to
powerful mining interests, no matter what the rationale - It's the Grand
Grand Canyon National Park / Wikimedia (10/11/11)
Just in case you thought we only ever mention the USA...
Fellowes, writing for Peterborough Today, mans the
barricades. Residents angry at the decision to allow nuclear
waste to be dumped near their village have raised £10,000 to help fund
a legal battle, which campaigners (right) hope will overturn the decision to allow the
waste to be dumped at Augean’s East Northants Resource Management Facility, in
case is due to be heard at the High Court in London on November 2.
well as fundraising, campaign group Waste Watchers are appealing for local
people who oppose the decision to travel down to London for the court case to
show their support for the legal challenge.
Leuchars, a member of Waste Watchers, said: “King’s Cliffe, which is more than
90 miles from the nearest decommissioned nuclear facility, and several hundred
miles from others, has now become effectively the national disposal site. There
has been no government strategy behind this; it is a purely random choice, and
it bodes ill for the future of the nuclear programme to which this government
has recently committed itself.”
appeal came after Northamptonshire County Council rejected the firm’s plans in
March. More than 3,000 people signed a petition against Augean’s scheme. At the
time of Mr Pickles’ decision a spokesman from DCLG said that as the King’s
Cliffe site was an existing landfill site which handles hazardous waste,
granting temporary permission for more waste to be disposed of there “would not
be harmful to the community”.
The decision means that the site can be used to
treat rubble and soil from dismantled nuclear sites and there are restrictions
on the amount of waste that the site can accept. Images: Alison Bagley /Peterborough Today (20/10/11)
Let's hope this cave is going to be big enough...
The following report
was found on the pages of YLE.fi, so our thanks to them.The project director of
3 nuclear power plant, TVO Senior Vice President Jouni Silvennoinen,
insists there is no space for waste from utilities other than TVO or Fortum in
the Onkalo underground disposal site on Finland's west coast.
(or ‘cave’) is being dug into the bedrock near the Olkiluoto power station by
Posiva, which is 60 percent owned by TVO and 40 percent by Fortum. The latter
utility owns two commercial reactors in Loviisa on the south-east coast, and
has applied to build a third. TVO has two operating reactors on Olkiluoto, an
island in the municipality of Eurajoki, on the west coast between Rauma and
is the first country in the world to attempt to build a safe permanent storage
place for nuclear waste, at an estimated cost of some three billion euros.
Similar repositories are planned in Sweden – where this so-called multi-barrier
deep geological disposal system was devised – and France, but construction has
In the meantime, most of the world’s spent fuel
rods are being temporarily stored in tanks of water – a practice being
increasingly called into question since last spring’s Fukushima disaster. There
are now some 1900 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste being held in interim
storage in Finland. Images: YLE (4/10/11)
Remind me again - just how many marine animals need to be killed this year???
Those good people at the BBC in Scotland wade through
the murky waters of The North Sea for this one. Returning contaminated seabed near a nuclear
site to a "pristine condition" could do more harm than good,
according an environmental watchdog.
particles were flushed into the sea through a liquid discharge pipe
from Dounreay in the 1970s.The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa)
had recommended in 1998 that the seabed off the Caithness plant be cleared of
all the pollution.
its board has now conceded that this may not be achievable. Board members have
agreed with Sepa officers that not all the particles posed a risk to health and
to recover all these could cause greater harm to the environment.
environmental watchdog has asked that the clean-up continue where practically
possible and be balanced against the risk of damaging habitats. In a statement,
Sepa said: "It is now widely accepted that a literal return to a pristine
condition is a far from simple or even achievable concept. By the summer of
this year 2,300 particles had been recovered from the seabed and beaches.”
July, Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) reported that provisional tests
suggested 38 out of 351 particles found in the latest sweep posed a significant
health risk. Trying to achieve it might also cause more harm than good.
On another issue related to pollution, DSRL has
been discussing with Sepa the possibility of significantly reducing the numbers
of animals its tests. Fish, crabs, lobsters and periwinkles are tested for
potential radioactive contamination. More than 22,000 marine animals a year are
caught and killed to check species are not being harmed by discharges from the
nuclear site in Caithness. Images: BBC / The
There's a serious lack of Nimbyism in Ontario
on the pages of the Northumberland News in Ontario, Canada
the editor: Re:
Derrick Kelly's letter of Aug. 17, 2011 'Leave LLRW where it is'.
it is too late to stop the PHAI (Port Hope Area Initiative) process.
residents of Port Hope should have insisted on a referendum on whether or not
to have the LLRW (low level radioactive waste) buried here permanently at the
time the decision was made by the council of the day. We will continue to have
the stigma in spite of the billions of taxpayers' money being wasted on this
LLRW's location in town was well known and constantly monitored. The PHAI signs
that greet one at the Hwy. 401 exit at Toronto Road are not the most welcoming
sight for visitors.
spite of the $10 million given to Port Hope for keeping it here, we have not
seen any obvious benefits. The stigma will continue to affect property values.
New business is unlikely to locate here resulting in even higher property
only fear mongering, but complacency by us, the citizens, in not demanding a
referendum, has contributed to the negative perception of Port Hope by
outsiders. This perception will get worse once the LLRW starts being
transported to its new location.
old saying 'Let sleeping dogs lie', i.e., leave the LLRW where it is, was never
Florence Neill, Port Hope. Images: Style North / Ceasefire (Canada) (19/8/11)
Getting wetter - a continuation of the previous troubles in Omaha
Mutikani, John Crawley and Michael Avok have filed the following
story on the pages of Reuters.
tear on Sunday in a temporary berm allowed Missouri River flood waters
to surround containment buildings and other vital areas of a Nebraska nuclear
plant, but reactor systems were not affected.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said the breach in the 2,000-foot
inflatable berm around the Fort Calhoun station occurred around 1:25 a.m. local
time. More than 2 feet of water rushed in around containment buildings and
electrical transformers at the 478-megawatt facility located 20 miles north of
shutdown cooling and spent-fuel pool cooling were unaffected. The plant,
operated by the Omaha Public Power District, has been off line since April for
activated emergency diesel generators after the breach, but restored normal
electrical power by Sunday afternoon. Buildings at the Fort Calhoun plant are
watertight, the agency said. It noted that the cause of the berm breach is
Chairman Gregory Jaczko and other officials planned to visit the site on
Monday. Jaczko will also visit the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville,
Nebraska, another facility that has been watched closely with Missouri River
waters rising from heavy rains and snow melt.
But water levels in that area 80 miles south of
Omaha are receding, relieving worries that water will rise around the
Brownville plant. Images: Reuters / Connecticut
Mop Company (27/6/11)
A 'Notification of Unusual Event' down in Omaha - Omaha???
J. Laukaitis, writing for the Lincoln
Journal Star, mans the sandbags...
Omaha Public Power District declared a low-level emergency on Monday at
Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station due to rising Missouri River waters.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project the river level elevation at the plant
site is expected to reach 1,004 feet above mean sea level later this week, and
is expected to remain above that level for more than one month.
notified the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and emergency management
agencies in Nebraska and Iowa of the declaration. Such a "Notification of
Unusual Event" is the least serious of four emergency classifications that
are standard in the U.S. nuclear industry, OPPD said in a news release.
Calhoun Nuclear Station will not move out of this emergency classification
until it is confident the water will remain below the 1,004-foot level.
In addition to the existing flood-protection at
the plant, OPPD employees and contractors have built earth berms (man-made
mounds of earth, in case you were wondering) and sandbagged around the
switchyards and additional buildings on site. Images:
Will Kincaid / Bismark Tribune / Nebraska Watchdog (7/6/11)
How do you solve an old problem like spent nuclear fuel?
Per Nyberg, reporting for the pages of CNN,
raises an old problem…
the energy source itself, it's the question that won't go away: what can be
spent nuclear fuel? Sweden believes it has the answer.
plan is to bury the country's expected 12,000 tons of nuclear waste in
corrosion-resistant copper canisters under 500 meters of crystalline bedrock.
There it will remain isolated from human contact for at least 100,000 years.
idea, which still needs final approval, was developed by Swedish Nuclear Fuel and
Waste Management company (SKB) - a collective of Sweden's nuclear power
three decades of research, SKB believes that Osthammar in central Sweden is the
perfect final resting place for the country's nuclear waste. Not only is the
1.9 billion year old bedrock ideal says SKB, but the locals are largely in
favour of the plan and it is close to the nuclear power plant at Forsmark. The
latest poll showed that 88% of Osthammar residents are in favour of having the
storage site in their community.
have a complicated relationship to nuclear power. Following the Three Mile
Island incident in the U.S. in 1979, Sweden voted to shut down all its nuclear
reactors by 2010.
However the decision was overturned by a new
government and only two reactors were decommissioned. Today Sweden's 10 nuclear
reactors produce almost half of the country's electricity. (25/4/11) Images:
Flickr / DW World
Dodgy monitors in US raise safety questions
Mike Lee, reporting for the San Diego Union-Tribune,
takes a look at the state of America’s radiation stations.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said again Monday that Americans aren't
exposed to unsafe levels of radiation, but malfunctioning
federal monitors in San Diego and elsewhere have lead to calls for
investigations into the status of the safety net.
of the EPA's radiation sampling stations nationwide weren't operating on March
11 when Japan was hit by an earthquake and tsunami that crippled nuclear
reactors and created the release of radiation. The air samplers are part of a
system called RadNet and public interest has swelled in recent weeks as people
looked for information about radioactive fallout from Japan.
officials said the San Diego radiation station in Kearny Mesa is working
properly even though online charts suggested something still wasn't right on
Monday because they aren't similar to others for Southern California.
"This appears to be a display issue on the website, which we are working
to address," agency spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said in an email. “That
monitoring system has been problematic since November, which it went offline
because of a damaged "flow controller" and a broken on-board
computer; it was back in action March 19.”
RadNet monitors are specialty instruments and the parts are not easily
replaced, We placed an order for the parts in November and considered options
to temporarily fix the monitor, however the options available to us would not
have maintained the integrity or quality control of the monitor. (29/3/11) Images: KVAL / Naples News
Yet more tales of depleted uranium left hanging about- this time from Springfield, Mass
This came to us in a roundabout way today, courtesy of
the Associated Press -- A Massachusetts official says environmental
experts are investigating the possible presence of radioactive depleted uranium
at the site of the historic Springfield Armory after the U.S. Army and Nuclear
Regulatory Commission said they don't have documents proving they've removed
Bureau of Environmental Health Director Suzanne Condon said Wednesday solid
depleted uranium coated a round added to a larger munition used for military
testing and training in the 1960s at the site, now home to the Springfield
Technical Community College and other facilities.
Depleted uranium typically causes kidney ailments. Condon says the public
health risk is low because any uranium likely would be in chunks, not a form
that could be inhaled.
The Springfield Armory began as a major arsenal under George Washington in the
Ten inspectors will conduct radiology tests Thursday and Friday. (23/3/11) Images: How Stuff Works / Popart UK
As we abuse our carbon footprints this week, here's something else to worry about
to Press TV for this sorry environmental tale that may have passed
you by recently.
A campaign group monitoring the UK's nuclear plants at
Sellafield has accused the government of breaking an international nuclear pollution
group said the increased activity in the nuclear fuel reprocessing plants at
Sellafield violates the UK's commitment to an international agreement to
decrease the seas' radioactive pollution. The government's Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has planned a “crash program” of reprocessing
which will double discharges of radioactive waste from Sellafield, Cumbria into
the Irish Sea.
The government would be violating its commitments to “progressive and
substantial reductions of discharges” under the Oslo-Paris (Ospar) convention,
which seeks to limit pollution of the north-east Atlantic, critics said. The
report, by anti-nuclear group Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment
(Core) , estimates that discharge of plutonium into the sea from Sellafield
will rise from 120 gigabecquerels a year to more than 250. There will be
similar increases in the levels of radioactive isotopes caesium-137 and
cobalt-60 compared with the past five years, it says.
Core's spokesman, Martin Forwood, accused the NDA of "breathtaking
complacency" and demanded an end to reprocessing. (23/2/11) Images: University of Liverpool/ South West Sea
Does Indiana want nuclear power plant? Not very likely!
thanks goes to John Russell and the Indystar for this one.
strong opposition from environmentalists, senior citizens and consumer groups,
an Indiana Senate committee on Thursday endorsed legislation that encourages
the construction of coal-fired and nuclear
power plants in Indiana and would allow utilities to quickly recover
certain costs from customers.
wide-ranging measure, supported by major utilities across Indiana, passed the
Senate Utilities and Technology Committee along party lines after three hours
of heated discussion. Six Republicans, including Chairman Jim Merritt of
Indianapolis, voted in favour, and two Democrats voted against. The bill now
moves to the full Senate for consideration.
than a dozen organizations showed up to oppose the measure, including
environmentalists, large industrial customers, wind power advocates, the AARP
and consumer groups.
The Indiana Cast Metals Association, which
represents foundries across the state, said the bill allows too many
"trackers," or mechanisms that allow utilities to automatically pass
along the cost of federal mandates without sufficient oversight from the
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. "Energy costs are a top concern of
our members," said Blake Jeffery, the association's executive director. (18/2/11) Images: Hello Indianapolis / WCSI
Who are you calling bird-brained - new research at Chernobyl
Matt Walker, reporting for BBC Earth News, suits up to join the
scientists at Chernobyl.
Birds like the Marsh
Warbler (pictured) living around the site of the Chernobyl
nuclear accident have 5% smaller brains, an effect directly linked to
lingering background radiation. The finding comes from a study of 550 birds
belonging to 48 different species living in the region.
Brain size was
significantly smaller in yearlings compared to older birds. The discovery was
made by a team of researchers from Norway, France and the US.
exclusion zone has been set up around the site of the accident, but scientists
have been allowed inside to gauge the impact the radiation has had on the
ecology of the region.
their latest study, the scientists used mist nets to collect birds from eight
woodland sites around Chernobyl, which have seen a decline in the numbers of
larger animals and small invertebrates living within.
After controlling for the differences between
species, they found that the birds had brains 5% smaller on average compared to
birds not exposed to background radiation. (9/2/11) Images:
Marek Szczepanek (BBC) / Vermont Guardian
Sellafield emergency could threaten Norwegian wildlife & livestock - oh deer...(geddit?)
Our thanks to the North West Evening Mail for
this one. An emergency at Sellafield could threaten the Norwegian food
industry, a report has claimed.
report, published by Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, claims a fire or
explosion at the West Cumbrian site could disperse around one per cent of the radioactive
waste stored at the site. Goats and sheep are thought to be some of the
most at-risk animals, though caesium expelled during an explosion would also
affect vegetation, it is suggested.
report also claims reindeer husbandry (management) would be severely affected.
report says: “The environmental consequences for Norway following a
hypothetical accident at Sellafield – with a release of one per cent of the
total assumed inventory contained in the B215 HASTs – will according to our
model predictions be severe, particularly in connection to sheep and goat
to 80 per cent of all lambs could be exceeding the food intervention level for
radiocaesium the first few years after the fallout, with 30-40 per cent likely
to be above for years or even decades. There
will, consequently, be a need for extensive countermeasures in large areas for
A spokesman for Sellafield Ltd played down the
findings of the report. (2/2/11) Images:
Science Blogs / Life
This should really be filed under Leaks & Spills, but we fancied a change...
Yet another tale of leaking, this
time courtesy of our friends at the Brattleboro Reformer in Vermont.
Both the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Vermont Department of Health
have indicated a new leak of tritiated water may have been found at Vermont
Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon.
"It doesn't appear to have any
connection to the original leakage from last year," said Neil Sheehan,
spokesman for the NRC.
"It's evident that either
groundwater can follow the human-made channels or it's another system or
components that are leaking," said Bill Irwin, chief of radiological
health for the Vermont DOH.
Both have said the level of tritium
in the ground water, 9,200 picocuries per litre, poses no danger to public
health. A spokesman for Yankee said engineers have no information to indicate
whether this discovery is evidence of a new leak.
"We have a reading we don't
understand," said Larry Smith, Yankee's director of communications.
"And we are investigating to see what it means." (28/1/11) Images: New York Daily News / sneigwh.blogspot
Look busy - this is costing someone £1billion...
Tim Webb reporting for The Observer gets his chequebook out.
Nuclear operators will
have to pay the first £1bn towards the cost of any accident in the UK – seven
times more than the current cap on their liabilities – the government will
propose today (Monday). Energy secretary Chris Huhne told the Observer that he
wanted to introduce the new rule to ensure that there would be no public
subsidy for nuclear power.
Currently, any operator of a nuclear site only
has to pay the first £140m towards clean-up
costs, with the taxpayer contributing the rest. Huhne said: "The
government is determined to provide certainty to low carbon investors, but
there will be no public subsidy for nuclear power which is a mature technology.
We are taking steps to reduce any risk of the taxpayer having to pick up the
tab for new nuclear [power] further down the track. We've already set out how
operators will be required to put aside money from day one for their eventual
clean-up and waste storage, and now we're increasing substantially the
liability to be taken on by operators." (24/1/11)
Images: The Telegraph / Washington Post
Told you we shouldn't have discarded Yucca Mountain plan...
Rob Pavey reporting for the Augusta Chronicle brings us this
River Site could help solve the nation's nuclear waste challenges, but
it should not become a permanent dumping ground, members of a national study
panel were told Friday.
"I'm not going to let my state, or our
sister state, be left holding the bag without one hell of a fight," U.S.
Sen. Lindsay Graham told members of the Blue Ribbon Commission.The panel,
created by the Obama administration, was asked to develop new policies for
disposing of high-level defense waste and spent nuclear fuel.
During a day-long meeting in Augusta, the
group heard from an array of speakers, many of whom criticized the government's
controversial decision to abandon its Yucca Mountain project in Nevada, which
was designed as a permanent repository for 70,000 tons of spent fuel from the
nation's 104 commercial reactors.
"It was a short-sighted decision with
devastating consequences," Graham told the commission, which is co-chaired
by former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft. (14/1/11) Images: GA Moonbat / Jackie Ricciardi (Augusta
The skies at night may be glowing bright (green), deep in the heart of Texas - again!
Anna M. Tinsley and the Star Telegram bring us another
environmental scare story.
An Austin judge on Thursday
blocked an eight-member commission from deciding whether to allow as many as
three dozen states to ship low-level radioactive
waste to a remote West Texas site, sending countless loads of
contaminated materials through North Texas.
Travis County Judge Jon Wisser signed a
temporary restraining order against the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste
Disposal Compact Commission, apparently preventing a vote Tuesday on rules to
guide the shipment of the radioactive material to a Waste Control Specialists
facility in Andrews County, about 350 miles west of Fort Worth.
"We are opposed to the expansion of the
site," said Timothy Gannaway, founder and director of the Promote Andrews
advocacy group that sought the restraining order. "We're a little worried
about what the next step might be. If we give a little here, are they going to
ask next to transport waste here from other countries? At what point do they
stop asking for more?"
"It's too much, too fast, too soon, if at all," said Bob Gregory, a
commission member and chairman and CEO of the Austin-based Texas Disposal
Systems. "I don't think we are ready to do this at all at this time
because it was never the intent of the Texas or Vermont legislatures ... to
open this facility up to all the states in the nation." (7/1/11)
Images: Associated Press (Star Telegram)
Will UniStar Nuclear keep its New Year's resolutions -opponents don't think so!
Meghan Russell, writing for the pages of Southern Maryland
Newspapers Online, starts the new
year with this.
As Maryland crawls another year closer to
the proposed 2015 run date for Calvert
Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant's third reactor, the parties involved with
seeing its fruition may have another item to add to their list of New Year's
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Atomic
Safety and Licensing Board released a report responding to a new contention
submitted in June by five environmental groups challenging UniStar Nuclear
Energy's CC3 project. The board's three-judge panel reviewed the contention and
admitted one aspect must be further addressed in the NRC staff's draft
environmental impact statement for the project - that is, the ASLB agreed more
discussion is needed on possible alternative solutions to nuclear power, as
required by the National Energy Policy Act.
The environmental groups who raised the
contention include the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Beyond
Nuclear, Public Citizen's Energy Program and Southern Maryland Citizens
Alliance for Renewable Energy Solutions.
Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight
Project for Beyond Nuclear, said he was thrilled the ASLB agreed with the
argument that alternatives to nuclear energy on the East Coast were not
sufficiently addressed. "If [the NRC and UniStar] want to go ahead with a
new nuclear reactor and the risks that are associated with nuclear power, they
simply needed to look at less harmful alternatives and they didn't do
that," Gunter said. "They didn't even look at and evaluate the
offshore potential for wind on the Maryland-Virginia coast. They looked down
south and picked a spot in North Carolina; they deliberately looked at a less
productive centre for wind resources." (3/1/11) Images: The Resilient
Earth / Somdnews.com
Thorium traces found in NY 'not dangerous' - okay...
Joe Anuta runs a Geiger
Counter over this environmental tale found on the pages of Your Nabe NY.
A city agency announced that it found radioactive material
in and around a Ridgewood building, and will continue to test the site. Area
officials said that the material was left over from the World War II-era
nuclear experiment known as the Manhattan Project.
The Ridgewood building, which houses auto repair
and iron working shops between the addresses of 11-27 and 11-29 Irving Ave.,
was entirely occupied by the Wolff-Alport Chemical Corp. during the war.
Gary Giordano, district manager for Community Board 5, relayed the announcement
at a meeting Dec. 15, but said the material is not dangerous. “It was a site
for the Manhattan Project in the ’40s, and there is radioactive pollution at
the site,” he said. “From what we can tell, what is on the site is not a
significant risk to workers that are there or in the surrounding community.”
When America joined the allies, the company - along with many others in the
industrial sector - was asked to help with the war effort, according to Vincent
Arcuri Jr., chairman of the community board.
“It didn’t matter what kind of business it was. Every business was turned over
to the war effort,” he said.(29/12/10) Images:
Joe Anuta / Thorium Energy Alliance
If you thought things were bad here...
Found on the pages of Bloomberg Business Week and
reported by Francois de Beaupuy. At least 200,000 cubic litres of radioactive
waste has leaked at the Areva SA-operated Somair uranium mine in Niger,
Greenpeace said in an e-mailed statement recently.
“Almoustapha Alhacen who carried out an inspection of the
spill for NGO Aghir in’Man confirmed to Greenpeace that two hectares have been
contaminated by the spill since Dec. 11.” Paris-based Areva SA, a maker of
nuclear reactor, was the world’s largest miner of uranium ore in 2009. Last
year, the company extracted 8,626 tons of the radioactive material, which is
processed to make nuclear fuel.
Somair is a subsidiary of Areva which produced 1,808 metric
tons of uranium in 2009, according to Areva’s website. The company plans to
increase its production to 3,000 tons in 2012, the website says.
Patricia Marie, Areva’s head of press office, couldn’t
immediately comment when contacted by telephone.(24/12/10) Images: 2 Space / Areva
Not so much deep in the heart of Texas as deep in nuclear waste...
Karen Hadden, reporting for the pages of My San Antonio,
casts her eye over the news that parts of Texas could be used for dumping
Texas is at risk of becoming the nation's radioactive
waste dumping ground. The Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal
Compact Commission is pushing forward a rule that essentially invites 36 or
more states to dump radioactive waste in Texas. It would go to the Waste
Control Specialists' site in Andrews County in West Texas.
The commission should instead limit the site
to waste from the Compact states — Texas and Vermont. Financial and safety
risks are being ignored in the rush to approve the rule, which has no limits on
volume or curies of radiation. Texas has liability for imported radioactive
waste and 15 state legislators have asked for time to review the increased
financial and environmental risks, but the Compact Commission is trying to vote
on the import rule right away.
Radioactive waste could travel by rail and
on major highways throughout our state and no one has analysed whether
emergency responders throughout Texas are equipped to deal with accidents
involving radioactive waste. Everything but the fuel rods from nuclear
reactors can go to a “low-level” radioactive waste dump, including nuclear
reactor vessels, poison curtains that absorb core radioactivity, and
radioactive sludge and resins. No radioactive element is excluded.
Staff at the Texas Commission on
Environmental Quality recommended denying the Compact site license. They said:
“groundwater is likely to intrude into the proposed disposal units and contact
the waste from either or both of two water tables near the proposed facility.”(13/12/10) Images: News West 9
New nuke plant for Anglesey? Not very healthy...
Martin Shipton reporting for the Western
Mail/Wales online, pays a visit to Anglesey.
Anti-nuclear campaigners are
stepping up their opposition to the building of a new nuclear power station in
Wales after a new report warned of serious
Dutch nuclear expert Jan Willem
Storm van Leeuwen warned in his report that economic imperatives would be likely
to drive safety standards down, increasing the risk of radioactive leaks. But
the biggest continuing problem would be the difficulty of storing nuclear waste
securely and safely on a permanent basis.
The issue is politically highly
sensitive in Anglesey, where there are hopes that a new nuclear power station
will create hundreds of badly needed jobs. Labour Environment Minister Jane
Davidson has called for a full public inquiry into the Wylfa proposal.
Part of the report says: “The
only way to prevent disastrous exposure of the public to human-made
radioactivity on an unprecedented scale is to immobilise the radioactive waste
physically and to isolate it from the biosphere in deep geologic repositories,
lasting at least a million years.
“To deal with the global
radioactive waste at the current rate of generation, about every year a new
large deep geological repository has to be opened, at an estimated cost of at
least 10bn euros each. To dispose of the existing radioactive wastes from the
past, dozens of deep geologic repositories would be required.””(6/12/10)
Okay - where did all the water go?? Just ask Exelon
Cindy Wojdyla Cain reporting for The Herald News does a bit of
pond spotting for us.
Five years after radioactive
tritium leaks from the Braidwood Nuclear power station, in Illinois,
became public, suspicion and frustration continue to fester among some of the
people who live in the shadow of the Exelon plant.
The latest concern is for area ponds that are drying up.
When Exelon Nuclear pumps water from a pond contaminated with tritium, water
levels go down in nearby privately owned ponds, plant neighbours say.
Tom Zimmer doesn’t think so. When the Exelon pumping first
started a couple of years ago, the water level in Zimmer’s nearby pond dropped
about five feet. In recent months it has gone down even more, so much so that
his fishing dock sits high above the water. Zimmer, who lives off Cemetery
Road, worries that the shrinking water level will soon affect the area’s
shallow drinking water wells, too.
Exelon’s pond pumping is part of the company’s tritium
remediation plan. The radioactive isotope tritium, a by-product of the nuclear
power process, leaked from pipes that were supposed to carry water from the
plant to the Kankakee River.(1/12/10)
On the move - Part 1: Australia
to the News.com au web pages for this sorry environmental tale we found
on their web pages recently.
has been revealed that nearly 6000 tonnes of radioactive
waste will be dug up from one of Sydney's wealthiest harbourside
suburbs, trucked across the city and dumped near Penrith.
Secret documents show soil from
a former uranium smelter in Hunters Hill, previously proven to be hazardous in
tests by nuclear experts, has been reclassified as safe by the state government
to be disposed of in landfill.
Special sealed trucks will begin
rolling across the city from early next year to dump the waste at Kemps Creek
SITA, the private owner of the
Kemps Creek waste site, will be paid A$3.5 million to take an estimated 5830
tonnes of radioactive waste, the documents show. Documents also show that key
government departments have already been briefed to expect worried locals to
protest outside Kemps Creek waste facility and possibly try to stop trucks
Penrith councillor Tanya Davies,
the Liberal candidate for Mulgoa, says the area will not cope being
"Labor's dumping ground for Sydney's waste", and plans to protest
We're still not going to say 'water, water', etc...
Josh Stilts, reporting for the Brattleboro
Reformer, brings us another tale of woe from the troubled Vermont Yankee
sample taken from a former drinking water well at Vermont Yankee Nuclear
Power Plant was contaminated with tritium, according to the Vermont
Department of Health.
no tritium was detected at the deepest range of the well, 360 feet, a single
sample, collected on Oct. 2 from the 200 and 220 foot range indicated a tritium
concentration of 1,380 picocuries-per-litre, a spokesman for the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission said.
Construction Office Building well goes down about 360 feet and penetrates a
bedrock aquifer and is much deeper than the groundwater monitoring wells on
this single data point indicates a detectable amount of tritium in the
Construction Office Building well, it's insufficient information on which to
draw any conclusion as to the impact of the tritiated groundwater plume on the
bedrock aquifer," Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission said. "Clearly more work is necessary to determine the
significance of the sample.
which owns and operates the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, received test
results Friday afternoon that the water contained 1,040 picocuries-per-liter of
tritium and sent notifications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the
State of Vermont Department of Health. Split
samples were provided to both agencies for independent analysis. (11/10/10)
Well, 2m tons gone, now there's just this lot left to shift...
Judy Fahys reporting
for the Salt Lake Tribune dons her party hat for this celebration.
Hundreds of people celebrated their collective
efforts last week at hauling away from the edge of the Colorado River more than 2 million
tons of uranium-mill
waste, roughly as much debris as the rubble of the World Trade Center
Day after day, the unsightly pile of uranium tailings from
the old Atlas Corp. mill is being whittled away, just as locals, environmentalists and downstream water users had
been begging for years.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” said Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison,
enthusing that the first 18 months of actual tailings removal had gone so
smoothly. “Who would have thought that they could move 2 million tons in that amount
of time?” The celebration signaled a big shift in this postcard-pretty redrock
town where, for decades, the 130-acre tailings pile has dominated the valley’s
Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson wrote to U.S.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu to ask for sustained funding so the $1 billion
project can be completed by the congressionally mandated deadline of 2019. The
Utah Democrat, whose letter is co-signed by eight other members of Congress,
thanked Chu for the $108 million in stimulus funds that made it possible to
hire 200 people to speed up the work over the past year. He also said $70
million to $90 million is needed in the next budget year to stay on track. (4/10/10)
First, check the beach for any stray critters, then move along...
Paul Sisson, reporting for
the North County Times in California, gets back to nature for us.
enormous vehicle that began hauling heavy freight to the San
Onofre Nuclear Generating Station early Thursday morning looked
unstoppable as it trundled slowly up the beach, but the operation was actually
at the mercy of Mother Nature and whatever creatures she might place in the
California Edison, the majority owner of the San Onofre power plant, is under
scrutiny from several government agencies as it brings its cargo through some
of California's most pristine beaches, home to a half-dozen endangered species.
Not only does it have to get out of the way of any creatures, but should any
damage occur, SoCal Edison must repair it.
any of those endangered critters - from the western snowy plover to the 2-inch
tidewater goby - appear in the path of the massive transport crawler's tanklike
treads, everything grinds to a halt: and no prodding with sticks to get a poky
sea turtle or floating goby out of the way - everyone waits until the wildlife
decides to go. Long before this trip started, biologists combed the seven-mile
path up the beach looking for all environmentally sensitive areas. They marked
the nesting areas of various native birds, including the California least tern,
western snowy plover and California gnatcatcher. Additional surveys occur just
before each move.
So far, said Brian Metz, Edison's supervisor of
environmental services, the transport effort has damaged 0.34 acres of coastal
sage scrub on the bluffs near the Las Pulgas exit at Interstate 5. After the
last generator reaches the plant, Edison will have to replant double the amount
that the crawlers damaged. The additional brush will be installed at the San
Dieguito Lagoon near Del Mar, he said, where Edison is almost finished with a
large restoration effort connected with a different project. (27/9/10)
Exelon Nuclear turns its hand to replenishing fish stocks
Heitz, reporting for the Quad City Times dons his waders
for a bit of fishing.
cartoons, fish that grow up in waters around nuclear power plants end up with
three eyes or some other deformity. In reality, Exelon
Nuclear's Quad-Cities Generating Station in Cordova, Ill., operates the
only privately owned fish hatchery on the Mississippi River and has reared and
released about 6 million healthy fish since 1984.
work hard to be responsible environmental stewards," said Jeremiah Haas, a
biologist at the nuclear plant. "We continue to work with local and state
officials to stock the Mississippi River and various lakes in Illinois and Iowa
to help the ecosystem and provide long-term stability to the bass population in
the plant decided to discharge the water directly back into the Mississippi, a
grate was built to keep out debris. However, fish sometimes get stuck in the
grate and die. To make up for the losses to the ecosystem, the plant struck a
deal with state and national environmental officials to operate a fish hatchery
on the premises.
Dave Bergerhouse, a research assistant professor from
Southern Illinois University, said he's proud of what Exelon is doing.
"The idea of putting something back into a resource is something all
industries should be doing."(1/9/10)
Finland on alert as Russian situation worsens
We found this slightly worrying environmental report on the pages of YLE, based in Finland.
Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) says that possible radioactive
fall-out from Russian peat and forest fires do not pose a health threat in
Finland. Hannele Aaltonen from STUK says that the amount of radioactive
substances released from burning plants is so small that it will not cause
Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu warned last Thursday that peat and forest
fires devastating southeast Russia may release radioactive substances. However,
Aaltonen from STUK believes that there’s no danger for people in Finland, or
people even close to the fires. “It’s such a small amount radioactive substances
that is being released into the air through combustion gas that it won’t be
harmful to health. Other smoke related gasses are far more dangerous. The
amount of radiation that plants absorb from the ground is fairly small and it
won’t be in any form hazardous to health.”
to Aaltonen, the radioactive substances from the 1986 Chernobyl accident are
deeper in the soil. Current plants might get some of that through their roots
but this is negligible compared to the original amounts just after the accident
radiation situation is normal and substantial radioactive emissions would be
detected straight away by testing air quality with appropriate equipment.(11/8/10)
Mutterings in Utah over waste storage
The Salt Lake Tribune reports on
an important storage issue. A federal judge has wrapped the knuckles of
Department of Interior officials who denied a lease to build a huge parking lot
for casks of highly
radioactive nuclear waste on the reservation of the Skull Valley Band
of the Goshutes in Tooele County. A reading of the decision persuades us that
the judge had ample grounds to send deliberations on the lease and an
associated right of way back to DOI for further review.
But procedural errors do not change the most important facts
about this project, namely, that it would unjustly saddle Utah with storing the
nation’s highly toxic spent fuel from commercial nuclear reactors. Utah does
not create this waste, and its people should not bear the risk of storing it,
If the dry-cask storage method that would be employed by
Private Fuel Storage, a consortium of electric utilities, is as safe as the
project’s advocates claim, it would be safer to store the spent nuclear fuel
rods near the reactors that use them rather than transporting them hundreds or
thousands of miles across the country to a glorified parking lot in Utah’s
Skull Valley near a military bombing range.
Utah officials and members of the state’s congressional
delegation must continue to employ every method and tactic available to assure
that this project is never built. They thought they had successfully driven a
stake through its heart four years ago when Interior denied approval to a
25-year lease, with an option to renew for another 25 years, between the Skull
Valley Band and PFS. The department also denied a right of way for a facility
on federal land where shipping casks would be transferred from railroad cars to
trucks for their final 24-mile journey to the storage site.(6/8/10)
Entergy and Indian Point indulge in some fish preservation
Abby Luby writing
for the NY Daily News goes for a spot of fishing.
owner of the Indian
Point Nuclear Power Plant is angling for another chance to save Hudson
utility company Entergy has been under the gun since the state charged it
violated water quality standards by flushing heated water into the river,
killing a billion fish a year. The Department of Environmental Conservation has
mandated that Entergy install a new cooling system or shut down in 2015.
the first of many DEC hearings this week to overturn its ruling, Entergy argued
that a less costly "wedgewire" screen system would keep fish alive.
want the DEC to allow us to argue the merits of wedgewire over cooling
towers," said Entergy spokesman Jim Steets. "Cooling towers would
have very significant negative impacts."Others argued that Hudson River
fish are thriving and Indian Point doesn't need to replace their cooling
Point sucks in 2.5 billion gallons of river water daily to cool its two
reactors. Entergy has paid for studies that show minimal impact on Hudson River
aquatic life. Critics like Robert Kennedy Jr.'s Riverkeeper have said wedgewire
screens would still trap small fish and wouldn't lessen thermal impact on the
Uranium mine in New Mexico causes bother with Native neighbours
Thousands of feet under a hot patch of sand and brush is
buried a deposit of uranium so
rich it could revive a hardscrabble New Mexico town pocked with vacant lots and
mining industry and those residents of the area who are eager for an influx of
jobs see the plateau around Mount Taylor near the town of Grants in the
northwest corner of New Mexico as an irresistible opportunity for economic
to local Native Americans whose ancestors lived in the area centuries before
European settlement, Mount Taylor is a central part of their culture and
religion. They are fighting to ensure that archaeological sites, their cultural
heritage and water supply be protected.
are opposed outright to new excavation and have watched helplessly as mining
projects move ahead. While state and national agencies recognise their cultural
claim to the land, the law gives them virtually no power to halt mining.
an Indian nation, we're taught to respect mother earth, and [when] you see
somebody doing that, it's like somebody putting a knife in you," said
Albert Riley, a Laguna Pueblo tribal official and religious leader.(21/7/10)
Thinking of holidaying in Cumbria? Don't forget to pack the Geiger Counter!
and Star web site reports on trouble brewing in Cumbria.
Anti-nuclear protesters have reacted angrily to a report suggesting that the burial
of nuclear waste is the only safe method of disposal. The Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority wants communities to volunteer to host underground
repositories in return for investment in community projects.
Copeland council, Allerdale
council, Cumbria County Council and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority are
discussing the possibility of having a geological waste facility, which would
provide long-term storage for highly-active nuclear waste from across the UK,
in Copeland or Allerdale.
The authorities have argued that,
due to the existing economic and environmental impacts on the region, it is
vital west Cumbria is involved in the process that decides what happens. But
members of Radiation Free Lakeland, an activist group run by Marianne Birkby,
have branded a potential site “the worst possible option” for the region.
Ms Birkby said: “The government
really needs to listen to advice of independent experts not from the Department
of Energy and Climate Change. A storage facility in Copeland or Allerdale is
the worst possible option, the risks are huge.”
She went on to say: “There is no
telling on the impact of a site in 10 years, let alone 10,000 – which is how
long it would be there. The government is desperate to get the waste out of
sight and out of mind so they can push ahead and create a nuclear new-build. We
are being coerced into accepting a geological waste facility.”(14/7/10)
Radon at Balmoral? One doesn't think so...
One was going to run a different story
today, but one thought this was better, thanks to The Daily Telegraph. The Queen's
Deeside home is in an area exposed to potentially harmful levels of radon
gas. She is among 3,000 residents in parts of Aberdeenshire to be
offered the free tests.
The highest numbers of homes affected
are in Aberdeenshire - followed by the Highlands, Orkney and the Borders. A
risk map shows that the Balmoral estate is in an area where the percentage of
homes at or above the action level is between 10 and 30, the second highest
A spokesman for the Health Protection
Agency (HPA) said Balmoral was in the area of properties to be offered the free
tests - but declined to say on confidentiality grounds if it had accepted the
offer. But so far one in three homes that received the offer in letters sent
last month have accepted.
radioactive gas is known to increase the lifetime risk of lung cancer and is
particularly prevalent in Deeside, from Banchory all the way out to Ballater. (7/7/10)
We're slightly shaken up in Vermont, but everyone says that everything is fine - so that's okay..
A case of shake, rattle and roll in Vermont last
week – courtesy of the Battleboro Reformer.
monitors on desks at Central Vermont Public Service Corp. in Rutland shuddered
Wednesday afternoon moving from side to side, thanks to a magnitude-5.0
earthquake in Canada at about 2:30 p.m. that shook a region stretching as far
west as Michigan and into New England.
Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon reported an "unusual event," the
lowest of four levels of emergency classification. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said the earthquake wasn't felt in the
control room but was in other parts of the site; Yankee officials said there was
no evidence of damage to the plant. Vermont
Emergency Management spokesman Mark Bosma said no reports of damage had been
Time to leave oil dependency behind? Debate rages on in Sweden
reporting for The Daily Telegraph brings us this.
a debate in which Sweden's need for climate friendly, low carbon energy clashed
with environmental concerns over atomic energy, Swedish MPs narrowly voted to
build new nuclear reactors on Thursday night.
few months ago, the climate threat dominated the environmental debate. Now it
is the oil disaster in the Mexican Gulf that is sparking the world's interest
and horror," said Andreas Carlgren, the Swedish environment minister during
a heated debate. “Both are really two sides of the same coin, namely, we must
leave the dependency on oil and fossil energy behind."
will begin next year to replace the 10 ageing reactors that still produce 40
per cent of Sweden's electricity.
Sweden's centre-Left opposition, currently running neck and neck with the
government in opinion polls ahead of elections is September, have vowed to
reinstate the ban. "We will tear it up," said Tomas Eneroth, a
Swedish Social Democrat spokesman.
1980, Swedes voted in a referendum to phase out existing reactors by 2010 and
fears of nuclear power were heightened by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.(21/6/10)
Not so much fly fishing - more fly ash down at Oak Ridge
As we aren’t around for a couple of days this week,
we thought we’d leave you this fishy tale from our good friend Frank Munger who
writes for the Knoxville News Sentinel – hi, Frank!!
fish in the Clinch and Emory rivers exposed to fly ash from the massive spill
in December 2008 appear to be generally healthy - so far. That's the early
assessment from researchers at Oak
Ridge National Laboratory who've been studying the fish since soon
after the spill, which dumped more than 5 million cubic yards into the Emory
and the embayment adjacent to the Kingston Fossil Plant.
after the spill, some areas of the waterways were essentially lost because of
the enormous amount of fly ash. Those results were largely due to the physical
impact of the fly ash, not because of the exposure to contaminants.
effects of toxic pollutants associated with the fly ash - such as selenium -
may not be easily evaluated in the near term, according to the ORNL
information. Selenium is known to cause reproductive problems in fish,
especially young fish. In order to look more closely at that, ORNL researchers
have started a project at their Aquatic Ecology Lab, where fish embryos and
larvae will be exposed to TVA's fly ash and evaluated.(14/6/10)
Tennant Creek argument triggers Federal Court legal challenge
Things are turning nasty at
Tennant Creek, as Lindsay Murdoch Darwin reports for the Brisbane
Times. Aboriginal traditional owners have initiated a Federal Court legal
challenge to plans by the federal government to build Australia's first
national radioactive waste dump near Tennant Creek, in the Northern
Territory. Mark Lane Jangala, a senior elder of the Ngapa clan, says he and
many other senior elders were not consulted about the nomination of their land.
The traditional owners have
instructed a legal team that includes the lawyers George Newhouse and Julian
Burnside, QC, and lawyers from Maurice Blackburn to begin proceedings
challenging the government and the Northern Land Council, which nominated the
site on behalf of one Ngapa clan group.
The offer of the land in return
for one clan receiving A$12 million in cash and other benefits has bitterly
divided Aboriginal family groups in the Tennant Creek region. The government
and the land council have refused to make public an anthropological report the
land council says shows that one clan owns the nominated 1.2 square kilometre
site 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek.
However, the court action will
centre on a finding by the Aboriginal Land Commissioner in 2001 that five owner
groups have joint and overlapping traditional ownership of the land. The
Maurice Blackburn senior associate Martin Hyde said most traditional owners
were not given the opportunity to make an informed decision. 'If you are going
to take away people's land in perpetuity and fill it with radioactive waste,
you have a legal and moral obligation to ask the owners first and seek their
informed consent.' (9/6/10)
Is there anywhere in the USA where you can drink the water??
O Williams writing for the Colorado Independent, brings us
another American clean-up report.
and local politicians cheered a Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and
Safety order late Thursday directing Denver-based Cotter Corp. to begin
curtailing drinking water contamination from an inactive Jefferson County
uranium mine this summer.
pollution revealed to be more than 13 times state standards was contaminating
Ralston Creek, and the state rejected a cleanup plan proposed by Cotter, which
owns the Cotter Mill uranium processing facility near Canon City and several
uranium mines around the state.
mining division required Cotter to begin water treatment at its Schwartzwalder
uranium mine west of Arvada by July 31. “The mining division took bold and
decisive action to protect our drinking water,” Jefferson County Commissioner
Kathy Hartman said in a release. “I am pleased to see immediate action to
protect Ralston Reservoir.”
of people depend on clean water from Ralston Reservoir, and we can’t afford for
Cotter to drag its feet cleaning up their mess,” said Matt Garrington, program
advocate with Environment Colorado and a Jefferson County resident. “The mining
division deserves praise for taking strong action.”
levels at the mine itself exceeded 1,400 times Colorado water quality
Dodgy radioactive water hits south New Jersey's water aquifiers
to the Associated Press for this one. Radioactive
water that leaked from the nation's oldest nuclear power plant has now
reached a major underground aquifer that supplies drinking water to much of
southern New Jersey, the state's environmental chief said Friday. The state
Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the Oyster Creek Nuclear
Generating Station to halt the spread of contaminated water underground, even
as it said there was no imminent threat to drinking water supplies.
department launched a new investigation Friday into the April 2009 spill and
said the actions of plant owner Exelon Corp. have not been sufficient to
contain water contaminated with tritium.
is found naturally in tiny amounts and is a product of nuclear fission. It has
been linked to cancer if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin in
large amounts. "There is a problem here," said environmental
Commissioner Bob Martin. "I am worried about the continuing spread of the
tritium into the groundwater and its gradual moving toward wells in the area.
This is not something that can wait. That would be unacceptable."
tritium leaked from underground pipes at the plant on April 9, 2009, and has
been slowly spreading underground at 1 to 3 feet a day. At the current rate, it
would be 14 or 15 years before the tainted water reaches the nearest private or
commercial drinking water wells. But the mere fact that the radioactive water —
at concentrations 50 times higher than those allowed by law — has reached
southern New Jersey's main source of drinking water calls for urgent action,
Martin said. (10/5/10)
Bats in the belfry? Nope, try an old uranium mine, maybe...
Mike Gorrell and the Salt Lake
Tribune go slightly batty in Utah.
are unlikely to find abandoned uranium mines as desirable places to roost, but
if they do, two state agencies have established a procedure for dealing with
state Division of Wildlife Resources, which is charged with managing bats in
Utah, and the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining (DOGM), which is responsible for reclaiming
abandoned mines, have signed an agreement that lays out ways in which DOGM can
seal old mines dangerous to people without hurting any bat populations found
cases where surveys find bats living in an abandoned uranium mine, the agreement
specifies that the divisions will confer on an acceptable approach, with
Wildlife Resources' officials having the final say. In many cases, the
agreement will allow Oil, Gas and Mining officials to use grates to keep people
out but let bats enter and exit.
a bat survey confirms a mine is not being used by bats, said Luci Malin,
administrator of DOGM's abandoned mine program, "we may close it using the
method we think best protects the public. Wildlife Resources' willingness to
provide us this flexibility will enable us to work more efficiently in
protecting unwary adventurers from the dangers of an abandoned mine." (28/4/10)
Spent Swedish waste destined for bedrock caves under the Baltic Sea
John Tagliabue, reporting
for The Scotsman turns his sights on Sweden.
seaside town of Osthammar is competing for the right to become Sweden's
permanent storage site for radioactive
waste. Eighty per cent of the town's 21,000 inhabitants are in favour
of the facility and Osthammar is one of two finalists among Swedish communities
vying for the right to host the nuclear waste dump.
Sweden would seem an unlikely setting for such a competition as the country
turned its back on nuclear power in the 1980s after less than 20 per cent
approved of it in a referendum. But it has reversed course recently and is now
planning to begin building new nuclear reactors, adding to the ten it already
Legislation requires that before any new plants are built, the Swedish Nuclear
Fuel and Waste Management Company, SKB, must create permanent storage space for
the radioactive waste the reactors produce. SKB found 18 of 20 possible towns
near proposed sites intrigued by their proposition. Then it had to whittle the
list down to two, Osthammar and Oskarshamn, both already the sites of nuclear
SKB plans an elaborate, expensive system for storing the spent fuel, encasing
it in steel blocks that will then be covered by solid copper and deposited in
caves carved into bedrock about 1,500ft under the Baltic Sea.(16/4/10)
Muckaty's nuclear plans divides traditional owners
on the web pages of the Sydney Morning Herald.
owners of land that could house a nuclear waste dump have protested against the
plan, saying they were excluded from the process.
federal government is considering Muckaty Station, near Tennant Creek in the
Northern Territory, for a facility that would store low and intermediate level
radioactive waste. The land was nominated by the Ngapa traditional owners, one
of five family groups who are custodians of the land: however, others oppose
250 people including traditional owners and anti-nuclear campaigners marched in
Tennant Creek on Saturday, directing their anger at both Resources Minister
Martin Ferguson and the Northern Land Council (NLC) - who they say overlooked
them. Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney told
AAP the deal was far from done, with the traditional owners who oppose the plan
examining legal avenues.
no way the NLC or Minister Ferguson can say with any conviction or confidence
that there is consent for this plan," Mr Sweeney said. "These people
have profound connections with this land and the government's position is
becoming increasingly untenable."
government's National Radioactive Waste Management Bill 2010, which underpins
the planning process for the dump, is being examined by a Senate committee. The
committee will sit in Darwin on April 12.(7/4/10)
Haverigg wind farm under threat from new nuke build
May, reporting for Sky News reports on the fate of a wind farm in the Lake
just 100 metres from the Lake District border, the small community-owned
Haverigg wind farm in Kirksanton is one of the most efficient in the country.
land has made the Government shortlist of 10 sites judged potentially suitable
farm co-owner, Colin Palmer, told Sky News the turbines would have to be
demolished if the plans go ahead because of underground cables. Mr Palmer said:
"There are very few wind farms like Haverigg. It's a very windy and
productive site that's much favoured locally. "It contributes to
Government targets for renewabl
e energy so it makes no sense to lose it."
Government wants new nuclear power in place in Britain by the end of 2025 as
part of the transition to getting more of our energy from low carbon sources.
Energy companies were invited to nominate sites by March 2009 and a shortlist
of 10 sites was announced last November.The company proposing the power station
denies the fate of Haverigg wind farm is set.
spokesman for RWE said: "Our plans for nuclear development in Cumbria are
at an early stage. "Should we go ahead with a planning application for a
new station, we'd first carry out an exhaustive process of detailed studies and
full consultation with everyone affected."(24/3/10)
Lithuania's protest over Belarus new nuke build near Vilnius
The following is from a (very
long) report by Andrei Ozharovsky, reporting for the pages of Bellona
and translated by Maria Kaminskaya
At a public hearing that took place in Vilnius on
March 2 to discuss the potential environmental impact of the
Ostrovets Nuclear Power Plant under planning in
Belarus, participants voiced a strong opposition to the idea of having a new
nuclear site just 50 kilometres from the Lithuanian capital. They followed with
a request that the Lithuanian Ministry of Environment make an official notation
of their disapproval of the experimental Russian project in the meeting’s
new nuclear power plant in the town of Ostrovets in Belarus’ Grodno Region has,
for some time, been touted aggressively by Belarusian authorities. The idea has
sparked grave concerns both among the Belarusian population and across the
border in Lithuania. The new site’s mere proximity to the Lithuanian capital,
however, is not the only reason why Lithuanians felt compelled to gather a
public hearing. Both countries are parties to the 1991 Convention on
Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context. Since the new plant
is projected to be built just 23 kilometres off the Belarusian-Lithuanian
border, it stands to reason that any harmful potential impact it may have will
also extend on the environment and well-being of the population of Lithuania.
twenty representatives from Belarusian ministries and other governmental
entities came to attend the hearing in Vilnius. The authors of the official
environmental impact statement were also among the participants. The delegation
was brandishing the same old Preliminary Report to try and convince the
Lithuanians of the project’s safety.(15/3/10)
Radon found in school
going to run a different nugget today, but this came to our attention in a
round about way. So thanks to Gerry
Duffy reporting for The Scottish Sun. Here it is in its entirity...
school was closed after experts found high levels of a killer nuclear gas in
classrooms. All four pupils were moved from Cabrach Primary in Moray after the
discovery of colourless radon.
Last night one source said of the find: "It's scary to think that
so much of this gas was in a school - the parents must be terrified."
The school will be closed
until the Easter holidays next month while an underground pump is built to
safely release the gas into the atmosphere. Staff and kids will stay at another
primary until then
which is used in nuclear power, occurs naturally in all rocks and soils.
Exposure can lead to lung cancer in severe cases. A Moray Council spokesman
said: "We are working closely with the Health Protection Agency and Health
and Safety Executive to carry out remediation work."(10/3/10)
Watch out for those gulls - they may be radioactive!
North-West Evening Mail brings us this unusual environmental tale. Seagull
eggs are being destroyed at Sellafield to control the bird population amid radiation
fears. A specialist company is pricking the eggs in a bid to keep the
A Sellafield spokesman said the
strategy is working so other methods, such as culling with poisoned bait, are
not being looked at for the immediate future. The last time birds were poisoned
on site was in 2008 when 39 birds were killed.
It was reported in national
newspapers this week that an intensive culling programme was being considered
at the site as bosses were struggling to tackle the ever-increasing numbers of
seagulls. But that was strongly denied by the Sellafield spokesman. He said
there has been a 30 to 40 per cent year-on-year reduction in the number of
gulls on the site and that proves egg-pricking is working. He added that if the
company needs to look at further culling methods in the future, it will do.
“There are concerns that they have
been swimming in open ponds containing plutonium and radioactive waste, some of
which dates back to Britain’s atomic weapons programme of the 1950s and 1960s.”
Gulls flying around the site can become contaminated with radioactivity – such
as when they fly into open fuel storage ponds.
But the spokesman stressed any
contamination is so low it would not threaten public health. He said: “We are
aware of the potential for gulls to become contaminated with low levels of
radioactivity as a result of the operations at Sellafield.” (3/3/10)
US 'engaged in economic racism towards Native Americans'
Talk’, reporting for Health News Digest, brings us this.
tribes across the American West have been, and continue to be, subjected to
significant amounts of
radioactive and otherwise hazardous waste as a result of living near
nuclear test sites, uranium mines, power plants and toxic waste dumps.
In some cases tribes are actually hosting hazardous waste on
their sovereign reservations - which are not subject to the same environmental
and health standards as U.S. land - in order to generate revenues. Native
American advocates argue that siting such waste on or near reservations is an
“environmental justice” problem, given that twice as many Native families live
below the poverty line than other sectors of U.S. society and often have few if
any options for generating income.
“In the quest to dispose of nuclear waste, the government
and private companies have disregarded and broken treaties, blurred the definition
of Native American sovereignty, and directly engaged in a form of economic
racism akin to bribery,” says Bayley Lopez of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
He cites example after example of the government and private companies taking
advantage of the “overwhelming poverty on native reservations by offering them
millions of dollars to host nuclear waste storage sites.” (22/2/10)
New cooling towers needed at Oyster Crerek - Exelon not happy
Moore writing for the pages of the Ashbury Park Press goes
and diverting devices that save fish from the Oyster
Creek nuclear plant's cooling water intake are "about as good as
it can get" in modern techniques, and the reactor's major impact on
Barnegat Bay is with the tiny organisms that get sucked in and destroyed, a top
state environmental official told a state Senate committee Monday.
fishermen and environmental groups have insisted for years the power plant is
reducing numbers of clams and fish in the bay.
the issue is more entrainment than impingement," said Nancy Wittenberg, an
assistant commissioner in the state Department of Environmental Protection,
referring to the intake of fish eggs and larvae. A system of fish ladders and
chutes — what "I like to call an amusement ride for fish" — screen
out and bypass the larger animals, releasing them back into the plant's canal
that flows to Oyster Creek, Wittenberg said.
the only way to reduce the entrainment losses of tiny life stages is to reduce
the daily needs for water by constructing cooling towers, she told the state
Senate Environment and Energy Committee.The DEP has proposed a new permit for
the plant discharge that would require cooling towers; Oyster Creek operator
Exelon Corp. has warned it will close the plant if it is forced to build the
towers, saying that expense would make the reactor uneconomical. (10/2/10)
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Local authorities say no to nuclear dumps in Spain
Pinedo, writing for those nice people at Reuters, sets her
sights on Spain. At least seven small Spanish towns had submitted bids to build
waste dump, but opposition from
regional authorities cast doubt over the long-delayed project.
a dozen towns in all have bid for the dump, most with populations of 500 or
less, all hoping the 700 million euro (£615 million) plan will bring
much-needed jobs in a country with some of the longest dole queues in Europe.
Spanish voters generally shun nuclear power and regional authorities, wary of
the project, have substantial autonomy from the central government and some
have announced their opposition.
am willing to take every political, social and legal measure, whatever it
takes, to stop the nuclear dump being built in Castilla-La Mancha," said
Jose Maria Barreda, who is government head in the central-southern region. He
has ordered his legal team to study the legality of lodging an appeal against
two small councils in his region who tendered bids this week.
counterpart in northeastern Catalonia, Jose Montilla, opposes a bid by the town
of Asco (pictured) home to two of Spain's eight nuclear power
stations."Catalan power stations produce 40 percent of all of Spain's
power. We've done our bit," he said. (5/2/10)
Minnesota mad at non-collection of waste
Davis, reporting for the Pierce County Herald web pages
has a slight clean up problem.
cities hosting nuclear power plants and some legislators are tired of federal
officials' refusal to pick up the waste as they promised decades ago.
you had a garbage man who didn't show up for 28 years, would you continue to
pay the bill?" Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights, asked, as he told
members of his Minnesota House Commerce and Labor Committee about his proposal
to divert money now going to the federal government for nuclear waste
storage and use it in Minnesota instead.
plan would take the nearly $14 million Xcel Energy now sends the federal
government annually for nuclear storage and divide it two ways. Half would be
saved for cleanup when nuclear waste no longer is stored in Minnesota; the
other half would fund a new commission to manage nuclear waste and help local
communities pay for power plants' public safety needs.
nuclear power plants are near Red Wing and Monticello, with radioactive waste
being stored near the reactors. Red Wing and the adjoining Prairie Island
Indian Community are the most affected by nuclear waste, with 625 tons stored
next to two reactors now. 2,450 tons of
radioactive waste may be stored there by 2045.
Council member Lisa Bayley said that Red Wing is not prepared to become a
long-term nuclear waste storage site. "We need a plan to deal with the
storage and protection of that waste.”(1/2/10)
Maralinga test site returned to former owners
thanks to The Economist for this environmental report. Maralinga looks
much like the rest of Australia’s outback: Up close, there are differences. Its
long, quiet airstrip recalls a time when this was an unlikely epicentre of the
cold war. The desert is still littered with radioactive
plutonium and other fragments of atomic weapons that Britain exploded
more than 50 years ago.
teeming with nuclear scientists and British and Australian servicemen,
Maralinga fell into eerie silence when the tests ended, in the early 1960s.
Then just before Christmas 2009, it returned to life. Dignitaries flew in as
guests of the Maralinga Tjarutja aborigines, a group that had been pushed aside
when their homeland was chosen as a test site. Keith Peters, one of its
leaders, presided over a ceremony to mark the end of his people’s long battle
to reclaim their traditional lands.
Australia agreed to its request for a test site, Britain exploded its first
atomic device off north-west Australia in 1952. Maralinga (an aboriginal word
meaning “place of thunder”), near the transcontinental railway in the state of
South Australia, was chosen later as a better site. Altogether, Britain
conducted 12 atmospheric atomic tests in Australia, including seven at
Maralinga, up to 1957. The worst contamination came from the so-called “minor
trials” of weapons components that took place for another six years. Tests at a
site called Taranaki left plutonium, uranium and beryllium dispersed across the
Some like it hot in Utah - but not the HEAL group..
Judy Fahys, reporting for The
Salt Lake Tribune, brings us this. A Utah environmental group has scheduled
a meeting with Gov. Gary Herbert to press its case that more testing is needed
to make sure depleted
uranium coming to Utah is not too hot.
says it reviewed shipping papers for some Savannah River, S.C., cleanup waste
already in Utah and discovered that the DU, as depleted uranium is often
called, contains reactor waste in concentrations that might top the
radiological hazard limit set in state law. But, according to the group, it's
hard to say for sure because the U.S. Energy Department has sampled too few of
the DU drums from its Savannah River cleanup in South Carolina - just 33 of
least 5,408 drums of Savannah River DU are already buried at EnergySolutions
Inc.'s low-level radioactive waste disposal site in Tooele County. Another
5,000 drums are at the site awaiting additional disposal requirements before
burial, and two more Utah-bound train shipments are on standby in South
President Val Christensen, said his company "is providing a letter to the
Governor correcting HEAL's technical mischaracterizations."(13/1/10)
There's an awful lot of landslides in Brazil - best close down Angra I & II
Today we visit Brazil, courtesy of the BBC’s web
pages. Two nuclear
power stations near a city in southern Brazil hit by deadly landslides
may be temporarily shut down, the mayor has said.
Tuca Jordao, of Angra dos Reis, said main roads had been blocked by landslides
and could obstruct any evacuation in the case of an emergency. He said the
plants - Angra I and Angra II - were not damaged or threatened but should be
shut down as a precaution.
Jordao said that with roads blocked there was no way to quickly evacuate the
city's inhabitants in case of a catastrophe at the nuclear plants.
are no operational problems at Angra I and Angra II... but if landslides
persist in the hills, we'll need to shut them down," said Mr Jordao. (8/1/10)
Time to decide, Canada..
provincial government of Saskatchewan in Canada is expected to indicate soon
whether the province is open for business to nuclear power, according to a
report by Angela Hall on the pages of the Leader Post.
want to clearly send a signal to the people of the province what the
government's thoughts are on the whole uranium
development going forward (and) on the power generation," said
Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd.
said the government will formally respond to a report from the Uranium
Development Partnership that said the province should consider nuclear power
government's response is expected to offer a more definitive answer as to
whether nuclear power is currently seen as a viable option to pursue. The
Ontario-based company Bruce Power has been considering building nuclear
reactors in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Alberta Conservative government this week stated it was open to receiving
private sector nuclear power proposals. But the Saskatchewan Party government
has seemed to cool to nuclear power in recent months, citing concerns over
New Cumbrian waste site 'First of its kind', apparently..
We were going to run this next week: oh, well...
Found on the pages of Materials Handling World web site. Detailed
plans for the creation of a low-level radioactive
waste disposal site in west Cumbria have been submitted to planners.
Endecom UK Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of recycling and resource management
company SITA UK, handed the application to Cumbria County Council following
extensive public engagement, including public exhibitions, presentations,
leaflets and posters. The company proposes to establish a purpose-built and
expertly engineered disposal facility on the derelict former coal quarry for
the safe and secure storage of low and very low level radioactive waste. The
material will be made up of primarily construction and demolition waste, which
will mostly result from the decommissioning of Sellafield.
Development Manager Phil Holland said: "Our proposals for the Keekle Head
site have now been submitted following almost two years of extensive research,
planning, discussion and consultation. "It will be the first of its kind
in the UK and we are therefore delighted to have enlisted the support of
leading French radioactive waste management experts ANDRA, which has offered to
provide design and peer review to our plans. Having operated its facility very
successfully in recent years, it is well-placed to provide international
experience and expertise to the Keekle Head team."
If given the go-ahead, the site would be operated to the highest European
standards and best practise, ensuring no detrimental impact to health, the
environment or the community. It would also be regularly monitored by the
Red Wing & Monticello emergency services want a fistfull of dollars
Kaszuba, reporting for the StarTribune web site in
Minnesota, brings us this controversial environmental tale.
times in the past four years, Red Wing police and fire fighters responded to
emergency calls at the Prairie Island
nuclear plant and in Monticello, a fire department designed for a town
of 11,000 people stood at the ready when a 13-ton valve box controlling steam
pressure collapsed at the nuclear power plant three years ago, shutting it down
with Xcel Energy winning approval to store more radioactive waste at the
plants, officials in Red Wing and Monticello say the added safety risks they
manage as homes to the state's two nuclear power plants are increasing. In a
move already drawing criticism, the two cities are asking that $13 million
currently sent each year by Xcel Energy to the federal government for
radioactive waste disposal instead be kept in Minnesota so that state and local
officials can start planning for how to manage the risk of a nuclear crisis.
proposal is stirring familiar passions over nuclear energy, pitting those who
worry that there is still no long-term solution on nuclear waste storage
against those who see nuclear power as an underused energy source with a long,
mostly safe, track record.
Volunteers needed to house Canadian waste in New Brunswick - interested?
they were to take out a classified ad, it would read something like this:
"Wanted: safe, willing home for
40,000 metric tons of nuclear waste. Must be Canadian. Phone for
what's on offer from Canada's Nuclear Waste Management Organization, the entity
charged with finding a site for the spent fuel produced by Canada’s 22 nuclear
reactors. While they don't advertise in newspapers, NWMO officials were in New
Brunswick province last month holding a public presentation to make communities
aware that they're looking for appropriate candidates to be considered as hosts
for the radioactive materials.
like the United States, is seeking a long-term solution for storing spent
nuclear fuel, which will remain toxic for more than 10,000 years. But the
Canadian approach to finding a central depository site has fundamental
differences, most strikingly that potential host communities must volunteer.
plan aims to avoid local resistance by requiring communities to ask to be
considered as hosts for an underground repository. Volunteers will be given
extensive information on the ecological risks and economic benefits of the
repository, which is expected to cost between $16 billion and $24 billion.
After public endorsement via referendum or other means, the community would
become a candidate for extensive technical review.
Looking for somewhere to dump some nuclear waste (again)? Head north, guv, to Lancashire
This was found on the pages of Lep News this week.
Concerns have been raised that radioactive
rubbish from across the UK will be dumped on the outskirts of a
Lancashire city. SITA UK wants permission for waste from more companies to be
disposed of at Clifton Marsh. Local councillors are worried this will mean
nuclear rubbish from all over the country being buried in Lancashire. If
approved, the application will allow more companies to use the landfill site
for "very low level radioactive waste" (VLLW) and "low level
radioactive waste" (LLW).
Colin Hardman, nuclear regulator for the Environment Agency, said permission
would need to be given before waste was transported to Clifton and said:
"The volumes are too small to justify anything other than road transport.
To some degree, waste can be shipped abroad for treatment, but that is a very
He said radioactive waste arrived at the site in special containers and was
buried under a metre and a half of refuse. He said there were no concerns about
anything arriving at Clifton Marsh "covertly" because everything was
labelled and said: "The radiation levels are generally not a
The Environment Agency is expected to make a decision on the
application next year.
What's for dinner, then? Bears optional at Shattuck wildlife restoration site
Jaffe and the Denver Post get set for some ecological
restoration. Buried in the $33 million cleanup of the radioactive Shattuck Chemical
site in Denver, along South Bannock Street, was a $250,000 settlement for
settlement, with some regional cooperation, has quadrupled to $1 million that
will help refurbish Overland Pond Park and restore wetlands along the lower
South Platte River. "By partnering with local governments and community
groups, we've been able to use that settlement for some ambitious plans,"
said Laura Archuleta, an environmental contaminants specialist with the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service.
Shattuck Chemical Co., which salvaged uranium from defective fuel rods, closed
in 1982, leaving its 6-acre site contaminated with radioactivity. The site was
officially cleaned up under the federal Superfund program in 2006.
the site is in the South Platte River watershed, the restoration efforts are
broad. About 280 acres of wetlands on the Eastern Plains will be restored at a
cost of $818,000, based on an initial $75,000 from the Shattuck settlement.
Adding funds and services to the project are government agencies, private
businesses and landowners, said Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Matt
those participating are Ducks Unlimited, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the
Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District, the Harmony Ditch Co. and
Things get rather dusty in France - 39kg plutonium dusts-worth actually...
Hollinger, reporting for the Financial Times, reports from
France for this one.
Lacoste, the head of France’s Nuclear
Safety Authority (ASN), was taken aback when French politicians
demanded a public inquiry into the country’s nuclear industry a few weeks ago.
He could not understand why his joint letter with two other European regulators
demanding design changes to a new-generation EPR reactor being built in France,
Finland and soon in the UK, should have prompted a storm in a country
traditionally supportive of nuclear power.
letter came in the wake of a series of recent incidents in France, not least
the discovery of 39kg of plutonium dust that had built up over 40 years in
fuel-making facilities run by the Atomic Energy Commission, the state nuclear
research body. The incidents prompted a call from Greenpeace for the “immediate
halt of work on the EPRs in Finland and France”.
independent watchdog insists there is no reason to worry about safety in the
country’s nuclear installations. The ASN records roughly 1,000 incidents a year
and Mr Lacoste says he does not have the impression that there has been an
“unusual accumulation of incidents” this year.
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921 nuke warhead detonations cause underground water contamination
A sea of ancient water tainted by the Cold
War is creeping deep under the volcanic peaks, dry lake-beds and pine
forests covering a vast tract of Nevada.
Over 41 years, the federal government detonated 921 nuclear warheads
underground at the Nevada Test Site, 75 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Each
explosion deposited a toxic load of radioactivity into the ground and, in some
cases, directly into aquifers. When testing ended in 1992, the Energy
Department estimated that more than 300 million curies of radiation had been
left behind, making the site one of the most radioactively contaminated places
in the USA.
They have successfully pressured federal officials for a
fresh environmental assessment of the 1,375-square-mile test site, a step
toward a potential demand for monetary compensation, replacement of the lost
water or a massive cleanup.
In a study for Nye County, where the nuclear test site lies, it’s estimated
that the underground tests polluted 1.6 trillion gallons of water. That is as
much water as Nevada is allowed to withdraw from the Colorado River in 16 years
- enough to fill a lake 300 miles long, a mile wide and 25 feet deep.
Researcher puts his/her foot in it at Montana State - No? How about: What have you stepped in?
Robert Meeder, reporting for the Komu web
pages brings us this cautionary tale: always look where you are walking! A
researcher at Montana State University accidentally tracked phosphorus from a
lab to a few areas across campus recently.
unidentified lab researcher accidentally spilled phosphorus-32,
a radioactive isotope, at a Schlundt Annex laboratory. The researcher then
walked outside, unaware that the chemical spilled onto his or her shoes.
workers used Geiger counters to locate radiation patches. Most of the radiation
was in a dirt filled area, at a corner outside Schlundt Annex,
the biochemistry building. The radioactive dirt will be stored for up to
six months before it can be disposed. Most of the researcher's footprints
have been sealed with black paint to stop any possible contamination from
risk of airborne exposure to phosphorus-32 is minimal, but it is very dangerous
if ingested. The MU Environmental Health and Safety Department and biochemistry
students and teachers declined interviews. After the cleanup, an
investigation will determine if disciplinary action is necessary.
It's yet another 'best bring your geiger counter tale': this time we're heading west to Devon
a holiday in Devon? Best take a Geiger counter with you after reading this
little gem brought to us by those nice people at Ekklesia. Campaigners were expected to rally in
Plymouth at the weekend to demonstrate against plans for a nuclear waste plant in the
city centre. It is thought that if the plans go ahead, the plant would store
dismantled reactor components from the UK's nuclear submarines, possibly for
several decades until a long-term disposal site can be constructed.
are particularly concerned that the site is only 400 metres from a primary
school. There is also concern that both businesses and tourists could be driven
away if Plymouth is identified with the dumping of nuclear waste, thus
affecting the city's economy.
will be risky work never undertaken before in the UK,” explained Dave Webb,
Vice-Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). “The submarines
certainly need to be dismantled - however this should not be in the middle of a
city.” He suggested that, “Instead of blighting Plymouth with the reputation of
being Britain's only city-centre nuclear dump, the government should invest in
a green regeneration strategy for the city, providing long-term sustainable
I was going to say 'water, water everywhere - best bring your geiger counter'; but I won't...
reporting for the Las Vegas Sun, brings us this environmental report
from the Nevada Test Site.
have found radioactive
tritium from nuclear tests in Nevada contaminating groundwater off the
Nevada Test Site for the first time. However, state and federal studies
indicated it would leave the nuclear site within 50 years.
groundwater sample taken in a new well drilled on Air Force land contained tritium
at about 12,500 picocuries per litre below the federal Environmental Protection
Agency Safe Drinking Water Act limit of 20,000 picocuries per litre. A
picocurie is a measure of radiation in liquid.
Energy Department predicted in February that groundwater contamination would
leave the Test Site boundary near Pahute Mesa, in the northwest corner of the
sprawling site about 85 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
occurred naturally in lakes, rivers and public water supplies at between 5 and
25 picocuries per liter before nuclear weapons testing began in 1945 in New
Mexico. Tritium is formed in nature from cosmic rays striking hydrogen. It is
produced in nuclear explosions as well.
plans are to drill six more test wells, at a cost of U$ 5m each, on and near
Pahute Mesa over the next two to three years, said Darwin Morgan, a spokesman
for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which operates the Test Site
for the Energy Department.
EPA to search for uranium 'hot spots' in Arizona
Cole, reporting on the pages of the Arizona Daily Sun
brings us this disturbing environmental tale.
A dump near Tuba City that has been leaching low levels of radioactive
waste into the shallow aquifer finally is getting some federal attention,
if not an actual cleanup yet.
The Environmental Protection Agency plans to fence off a remaining section of
an old dump, near two Hopi villages, and test for hot spots of radioactivity
close by. This includes one area where the agency says uranium levels in the
water exceed what's federally considered safe for drinking water by eight
times. Local villagers who believe their downstream springs are threatened have
long sought a total excavation of the dump.
Uranium-related waste found in the testing will be removed with heavy equipment
beginning in October, and 263 new testing holes will be dug to search for more.
"We're looking for a uranium source in the dump," said Leah Butler,
project manager for the EPA.
The dump, which operated uncontrolled and unlined from the 1950s to 1997, is
located a few miles from a former uranium mill. Altogether, eight test wells at
the former Tuba City dump show uranium levels exceeding what the EPA considers
safe for drinking water.
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Green Party uncover leaks at Aldermaston
Warlow, reporting for the pages of Newbury Today, goes to
Aldermaston for this tale. Campaigners
have called for more transparency after details emerged of a radiation
leak at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Aldermaston.
by Reading Green Party revealed that radioactive contamination was found in a
building at the site on June 29. Although radioactive material is not believed
to have spread beyond the site boundary, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate
(NII) and the Environment Agency were informed of the incident, but the details
were not disclosed to the press and the public.
party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Reading East, Rob White, said:
“AWE does not appear to have learnt any lessons following the July 2007 flood
that crippled the Burghfield nuclear warhead assembly plant. The company’s
instinctive reaction was to cover up the incident and this incident appears to
be more of the same with it not keeping people informed.” He added: “This
creates concerns and we are asking them to be more upfront and honest about
what risks are posed to the public.”
spokeswoman Rachel Whybrow said: “This minor event took place during routine
decommissioning work in a building on the AWE Aldermaston site. When an
internal contamination alarm sounded, monitoring of staff and a survey of the
area was carried out, which confirmed the event posed no threat to staff or the
Possibility of uranium mine close to Grand Canyon upsets locals
Here’s something that I bet you didn’t know – nope, me neither! So
thanks to the Associated Press and the web pages of KSWT 13 in, I
Environmental groups on Tuesday filed a 60-day notice that they
intend to sue the federal Bureau of Land Management over its decision to allow
a uranium mine to reopen north of the Grand Canyon.
Canadian mining firm Denison Mines Corp. says it could reopen its
Arizona 1 Mine about 20 miles from the canyon's northern border by the end of
the year. Dennison received the final state permit needed to move forward last
The BLM says Denison has an approved mine plan and should be allowed
to resume operations. The mine closed about 20 years ago.
But the Centre for
Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust and the Sierra Club argue that the BLM
failed to consider potential impacts to endangered species. They also say the
agency is relying on an outdated and inadequate environmental analysis.
Government plans upset residents of West Cumbria
following is taken from an article on the BBC’s web pages, written by Rachael
Howorth for Radio 4’s Open Country. Eleven potential sites for a new
generation of nuclear
power stations have been short-listed by the government for
development. Nine are next to existing reactors; just two are green-field sites
in West Cumbria.
prospect of skilled jobs coming to this isolated region appeals to some in the
area, but many of those running small businesses fear for their future.
Carter is the researcher for local Labour MP Jamie Reid. He is convinced that
the power station is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this area to become
economically sustainable. If the power station were to go ahead there would be
the opportunity for well-paid, highly-skilled jobs.
he suggests that the Kirksanton site is really a fallback option to be used only
if the site of the existing nuclear facilities at Sellafield, 20 miles up the
coast, proves impossible to build on.
For the sake of U$1bn, would you build a nuclear plant here? Progress Energy would..
The following is an editorial for the Tampa Bay Tribune
we found on the pages of Tampa Bay Online. Gov. Charlie Crist and the
Florida Cabinet's approval of a proposal to build a nuclear
plant in Levy County will cause some environmentalists to howl. But the
plant will produce clean energy and reduce the nation's dependence on oil.
Indeed, those conservationists rightly calling for Florida
to develop alternative energy sources should applaud the addition of the
nuclear facility, which will replace two coal-fired plants. Progress Energy's
Levy County facility will include two 1,100 mega-watt nuclear-powered units.
Florida needs to develop wind, solar, wave and other renewable energy sources.
It also needs to put far more emphasis on conservation, which offers enormous
opportunities for energy savings at little cost.
But nuclear must be part of the energy inventory if Florida
is to seriously reduce carbon emissions yet still meet the needs of some 18
million residents. And Florida Progress officials say nuclear power is far
cheaper to generate than power from other sources. They say the Levy plant will
save ratepayers $1 billion a year.
This is the first nuclear power plant to be approved in
Florida in 33 years. Consider how much more energy self-sufficient and how much
cleaner the state would be had not irrational fears of nuclear power halted its
All packed up and ready to go to Utah - 14,800 drums of waste waiting to be moved
to the Augusta Chronicle for the following. Nearly 15,000 drums of depleted
uranium oxide will be shipped from South Carolina for disposal in Utah
under a contract awarded by the Department of Energy.
14,800 drums of Savannah River Site (pictured) waste will be disposed of at
EnergySolutions’ facility about 70 miles west of Salt Lake City. The shipments
will take place over 14 months, although it was unclear last week when they
would start. The announcement, made by the Energy Department in mid-July, comes
as EnergySolutions fights an effort to place a moratorium on the disposal of
depleted uranium in Utah.
uranium is classified as the least dangerous type of low-level radioactive
waste and has been disposed of for 18 years at the EnergySolutions' facility.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has acknowledged, however, that the material
is different than other low-level waste because it becomes more radioactive
over time for hundreds of thousands of years. The NRC is now studying whether
new rules are needed for its disposal.
Mark Walker said EnergySolutions could also receive depleted uranium from
facilities in Oak Ridge, Paducah and Portsmouth over the next five years.
Hawaii 5-0 it’s not: more like Hawaii Oh no thanks to
this via Honolulu’s Star Bulletin web pages
A preliminary study has concluded the public is not
at risk from depleted
uranium at the Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii’s Big Island, the
The Army conducted the study as part of its licensing
application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a site-specific
environmental radiation - monitoring plan.
According to the report, only three pieces of the
radioactive material have been found at Pohakuloa (right) and the remainder, if any,
likely fell into cracks in the lava. The July 8 report says, "If any
significant quantity of DU was fired at PTA, it is expected to have quickly
migrated through the pahoehoe (smooth ropy lava) and a'a basalt (a type of
rocky cinder) flows and is no longer detectable at the surface."
The migration theory "made me giggle," said Mike
Reimer, a Big Island resident who served 10 years as head of research at the
Colorado School of Mines after a 25-year stint on a uranium project with the
U.S. Geological Survey. "On the basis of that study, they can't come to that
conclusion," Reimer said. "That document they sent to the NRC, I
think, was extremely superficial and often contradictory."
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How much salt would you like with your Tritium sir?
Scott Moore, writing for the pages of Miller McCune, goes down
the mines for this report. Rock salt, at least while it's underground, has two
main properties: It can be soft and easy to mine, and it can form a watertight
seal. This helps explain why the West German government started fork-lifting
thousands of metal drums of "low-to-medium" radioactive waste into an
abandoned salt mine called Asse II during the 1960s.
mine plunges deep into the hills near Braunschweig (aka Brunswick), in the
centre of Germany, and politicians in Bonn regarded it during the Cold War as a
test site for storage of nuclear waste. An overhead layer of rock salt would
shield the mine from groundwater, and the shifting salt itself, over centuries,
would seal up any fractures and finally pack the nuclear waste in a safe
that's not what's happening. Around 12,000 liters of groundwater leak into the
mine every day. Some of it mixes with the radioactive waste. A few weeks ago,
the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) finally admitted that some
brine collected in Asse II had traces of tritium and caesium 137.
last year the German public learned that the group in charge of maintaining
Asse II at the time had known about the accumulation of suspect water since
2005 — and even tried to mitigate the threat to its employees by pumping it to
a deeper level of the mine. Heinz-Jörg Haury, spokesman for the Hemholtz
Institute for Scientific Research, tried to explain in mid-2008 why Helmholtz
had made no public announcement. "We believed no one was in danger, inside
or outside the mine," he said.
Thinking of going to the 2010 Olympics? Better take a Geiger Counter with you, then.
Ted Jeory and David
Jarvis, reporting for yesterday’s Sunday Express, bring us this (if true)
rather scary Olympic tale.
Thousands of tonnes of radioactive
waste is to be buried in a “nuclear bunker” next to the Olympic stadium
under construction in London. Contaminated soil found around old industrial works on the site will be
sealed in a radiation -proof concrete container just 400 yards from the
athletics track and 250 yards from Stratford International rail station. The massive bunker, the size of half a football pitch, will
be built under an approach ramp to a bridge across the River Lee inside the
Olympic Park and next to a site where new homes will be built after the 2012
total of 7,300 tonnes of toxic soil will be buried in the “disposal cell”
between the stadium, the station and the River Lee which drains into the
Thames. It will be lined with a plastic membrane and capped with 4ft of clay.
Liberal Democrat Olympic spokesman Don Foster MP
called on the Olympic Delivery Authority to reveal scientific proof that the
site would be safe for future generations.
A report from radiological consultants Nuvia told
the ODA the overall risk to site workers and future visitors was “negligible”
and within safety standards. But it warned any future housing “would need to be
designed to minimise radon intrusion”. And it added: “Water should not be abstracted
from below the disposal site to water vegetables, etc.”
Perhaps we should put this one under 'Environmental Stuff You Didn't Know'
Gunter, writing for the Ventura County Star web pages brings
us something we definitely didn’t know and I bet you didn’t, either.
16, 1979, just 14 weeks after the Three Mile Island reactor accident, and 34
years to the day after the Trinity atomic test, the small community of Church
Rock, N.M., became the scene of another nuclear
million gallons of liquid radioactive waste and 1,100 tons of solid mill wastes
burst through a broken dam wall at the Church Rock uranium mill facility,
creating a flood of deadly effluents that permanently contaminated the Rio
weeks after the spill occurred, the mine and mill operator, United Nuclear
Corp., were back in business at Church Rock as if nothing had happened. Why is the Church Rock spill - that washed
into gullies, contaminated fields and the animals that grazed there, and made
drinking water deadly - so anonymous in the annals of our nuclear history?
Perhaps the answer lies in where it took place and whom it affected.
Rock was a small farming community of Native Americans, mainly Navajo, eking
out a subsistence living off the arid South-Western land. Nearby,
several-hundred-million gallons of liquid uranium mill tailings were sitting in
a pond waiting for evaporation to leave behind solid tailings for storage. The
long-term effects of this enormous level of radioactive contamination are not
yet known, given that health effects resulting from radiation exposure can take
decades to appear and can affect future generations.
Obama cancels recycling plans - but don't say anything...
Geoff Brumfiel, writing
for Nature.com’s web pages brings us this. Earlier this week, the
administration of President Barack Obama quietly cancelled plans for a
large-scale facility to recycle
nuclear fuel. The move may prove a fatal blow
to the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) set up by previous president
George W. Bush.
US Department of Energy (DoE) set up GNEP in early 2006 to tackle the problems
of nuclear proliferation and nuclear waste. As nuclear power spreads, some
nations will want the ability to produce their own uranium fuel through
enrichment - a process that can also be
used to create material for nuclear weapons. The Bush administration hoped to
limit proliferation of enrichment technologies by creating a guaranteed fuel
supply for non-nuclear weapons states. Through GNEP, countries with enrichment
plants, including France, Russia, and the United States, will guarantee a
supply of fuel to countries that agree not to develop their own enrichment
the fuel is used, the supplying nations will take it back and 'reprocess' it
for use in their own commercial reactors. Plutonium and unused uranium isotopes
can be chemically extracted and put into new fuel pellets that in turn can be
used in specially designed reactors. France, Japan, the United Kingdom and
Russia already reprocess fuel for commercial use, although the United States hasn't
done so since the 1970s.
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Looks lovely, doesn't it? Wrong - there's plutonium in them thar hills!
Moore, reporting for the Daily Camera’s web pages, tells a chilling
environmental tale. The most contentious issue regarding the Rocky Flats
National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
(FWS) plan to open the refuge for hiking, biking, picnicking, school field
trips and other activities. Before public access is allowed at the refuge, the
surface soil needs to be sampled for plutonium content. This type of sampling,
which has never been done at the Rocky Flats site, will demonstrate whether or
is present in breathable particles - its most dangerous form.
to the Denver-Boulder area may not be aware that for almost four decades the
Rocky Flats nuclear bomb factory located about eight miles south of Boulder
produced the explosive plutonium "pit" at the core of every nuclear
warhead in the U.S. arsenal. Routine operations as well as major fires and
accidents released very fine particles of plutonium to the environment both on
and off the plant site.
or ingesting plutonium or taking tiny particles into the body through an open
wound can result in cancer, disruption of the immune system, or harm to the
gene pool. Because plutonium has a half-life of 24,110 years, its presence in
the environment in particles so small they can attach to dust poses a permanent
was halted in 1989 after the FBI raided the plant to collect evidence of
environmental lawbreaking. Plutonium pit production ended permanently in 1992
when the Rocky Flats mission was changed from production to cleanup of a badly
Duck & cover - those 'muddy' wasps have left radioactive nests laying around Hanford
Shanon Dininny, reporting for the Associated
Press brings you, my fellow wasp haters, a tale to chill the blood! If
workers cleaning up the nation's most contaminated nuclear site at Hanford
didn't have enough to worry about, now they've got to deal with radioactive
dauber wasps built the nests, which have been largely abandoned by their
flighty owners, in holes at south-central Washington's Hanford nuclear
reservation in 2003. That's when workers finished covering cleaned-up waste
sites with fresh topsoil, native plants and straw to help the plants grow —
inadvertently creating perfect ground cover for the insects to build their
nests. Nearby cleanup work also provided a steady supply of mud, which the
wasps used as building material.
the nests, which could number in the thousands, are "fairly highly
contaminated" with radioactive isotopes, such as cesium and cobalt, but
don't pose a significant threat to workers digging them up. "You don't
know what you're going to run into, and this is probably one of the more
unusual situations," said Todd Nelson, spokesman for Washington Closure
Hanford, the contractor hired to clean up the area under the oversight of the
U.S. Department of Energy.
wasps largely built their nests in a 75-acre area around H reactor, pulling the
mud from the bottom of a storage basin that once held irradiated nuclear fuel. (15/06/09)
Erm, we've just spilt some Tritium - but, not to worry, it didn't go anywhere
Janssen, writing for Chicago Breaking News, brings us a
rather non-story – but worrying nevertheless.
A radioactive leak at Exelon's Dresden
nuclear power plant has been contained and isn't a risk to public
health, authorities said recently. Leaked tritium (a radioactive by-product of nuclear reaction that can cause
cancer and birth defects) was found Saturday during routine tests at the Grundy
County plant, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
leak is not believed to have left the 1,700-acre plant site. Exelon officials
said leaked tritium has not entered the public water supply. But the company
hasn't found the cause or source of the leak, which was discovered in a
monitoring well and storm sewers at the 37-year-old plant, the oldest
privately-financed nuclear reactor in the United States and not far from the
Kankakee and Des Plaines Rivers.
were digging in the "general area" where a waste pipe is believed to
have failed and are testing other wells at the plant, Exelon spokeswoman Krista
Lopykinski said. "There's no danger to public or staff safety.”
Paul Gunther, of anti-nuclear campaign group Beyond Nuclear, said Exelon has a
history of "trivializing uncontrolled and unmonitored" tritium leaks.
"Where is that contaminated water going to be 10 years from now?"
Gunther said. "Groundwater can move and its movement is hard to predict."(12/6/09)
Where do we store spent fuel? NIMBY row rumbles on in the US
Edward Weaver, reporting for the Ledger’s web pages in Lakeland,
Florida, brings us this. The U.S. has already committed $24 billion to build an
underground repository for nuclear waste at Yucca
Mountain in Nevada, according to the US Department of Energy.
alone has forked over $743 million. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has
submitted a budget to Congress that would sharply curtail funding for the
repository project, and indications are that its future is very much in doubt.
administration's decision to cancel a DOE program aimed at reviving the
recycling of spent-nuclear fuel has confused matters further. The real question
is not "is there a better site for a repository?" but rather
"why not leave the spent fuel where it is and compensate utilities for
60,000 metric tons of spent fuel - often mistakenly called nuclear waste - is
stored at nuclear power plant sites in 35 states, mainly in concrete-and-steel
dry casks. The spent fuel is safe-and-secure, and it could remain where it is
for another few decades at least. Or until the spent fuel can be reprocessed to
produce more electricity, as is being done successfully and safely in other
countries, such as France, Great Britain and Japan.
License delays in Levy County put building works on hold
thanks to Reuters for this update. Progress
Energy's Florida utility will
delay the construction timeline for its U$14 billion nuclear plant in Levy
County and scale back early charges to pay for the plant, the company said
second-largest utility said a 20-month delay in the construction schedule for
two 1,105-megawatt, AP1000 reactors will push commercial operation of the first
unit to 2018, rather than 2016 as currently envisioned. A second reactor at the
site could begin operation about 2020.
schedule change follows a ruling by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that
prevents certain excavation and foundation work until Progress receives a
license to construct and operate the plant, the utility said in a statement.
had hoped to proceed with the foundation work ahead of the issuance of a
license, expected by early 2012.
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New storage plans at Sequoyah upset residents in Oklahoma
Sally Maxwell, Managing
Editor at the Sequoyah County Times, brings us this clean-up tale. The
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved Sequoyah Fuels’ plan to
dispose of contaminated
materials in an on-site cell, a plan opposed by some residents near the
Gore-area plant in Oklahoma. John Ellis, Sequoyah Fuels president, said the NRC
approved the plant’s on-site disposal site Monday, “after 16 years and two
The plant, which at one time processed uranium to use in fuel rods for nuclear
power plants, was closed in 1993 after it was found that portions of the plant
and groundwater were contaminated.
Sequoyah Fuels and its parent company, General Atomics, have been working to
meet the requirements to close the plant ever since. Last week, Ellis said that
the proposed on-site disposal cell will cover about 11 acres in the centre of
the property, which is about 60 acres now. The completed cell will cover about
17 acres, including its slopped sides, and will be about 50 feet tall.
The disposal is expected to cost General Atomics about $28 million and the NRC
has approved the five-year disposal plan for financial reasons, so that the
disposal may be paid for over that time period.
Get the map out, we're changing direction at Eagle Rock
comes from World Nuclear News’
web pages. Areva Enrichment Services (AES) has submitted a
"roadmap" to US regulators defining changes it plans to make to
its licence application in order to double the capacity of the Eagle
Rock Enrichment Facility (EREF).
AES submitted its licence application for the centrifuge uranium enrichment
plant to be built at Bonneville County, Idaho, at the end of 2008. On 31 March
2009 the company informed the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that it
intended to revise the application to double the capacity of the plant from the
originally planned 3.3 million SWU (separative work units, the unit of
measurement for uranium enrichment) to 6.6 million SWU per year.
AES said that it had decided to revise the application to give it the
flexibility to build a bigger plant if market conditions warrant but confirmed
that it does not have any firm plans to do so. "In recent months,
AES' confidence has increased regarding the construction of new reactors both
in the United States and other countries," the company told NRC in its
letter forewarning them of the revision.
Not a very good start to Earth Day, Oyster Creek
Todd B Bates brings us
this environmental tale. Exelon is investigating whether a storage tank
or piping may be the "leak source" responsible for an elevated level
tritium found in water at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant ,
according to a federal official.
owns the plant, which received a 20-year license renewal from the U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission last week. Workers detected 102,000 picocuries of tritium
per litre - five times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard for
drinking water - in water in a concrete vault. A picocurie (in case you didn’t
know) is a measure of radioactivity.
on sampling and analysis of ground water monitoring wells in the vicinity,
Exelon is investigating the potential that the leak source may be the condensate
storage tank or associated piping," according to Neil A. Sheehan, an NRC
Sellafield's B30 is contender for Europe's most contaminated buildings list
Robin McKie, reporting
for The Observer, brings us this worrying tale from Sellafield. Last
week the government announced plans for a new generation of nuclear plants. But
Britain is still dealing with the legacy of its first atomic installation at
Sellafield - a toxic
waste dump in one of the most contaminated buildings in Europe.
B30 is a large, stained, concrete edifice that stands at the centre of
Sellafield. Surrounded by a
three-metre-high fence that is topped with razor wire, encased in scaffolding
and riddled with a maze of sagging pipes and cabling, it would never be a
contender to win an architectural prize. Yet B30 has a powerful claim to fame,
albeit a disturbing one: It is the most hazardous industrial building in
of old nuclear reactor parts and decaying fuel rods, much of them of unknown
provenance and age, line the murky, radioactive waters of the cooling pond in
the centre of B30. Down there, pieces of contaminated metal have dissolved into
sludge that emits heavy and potentially lethal doses of radiation. It is an unsettling place, though B30 is
certainly not unique. There is Building B38 next door, for example - the second
most hazardous industrial building in Europe.
Shake, rattle and roll - Hanford hit by earthquake 'swarm'
Eric Mortenson, reporting for
The Oregonian, gets all shook up with reports of multiple quakes at
been a jittery week at eastern Washington's Hanford
Nuclear Reservation, where more than 100 small earthquakes have been
detected in the past seven days.
quakes are part of an earthquake "swarm" that has puzzled scientists
since it began at the first of the year. As of Friday, monitors at Hanford had
detected more than 700 earthquakes since Jan. 4, said Alan Rohay, senior
scientist and seismologist with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which
operates at Hanford.
quakes haven't disturbed the extensive stores of radioactive waste at Hanford
or interfered with cleanup operations there. The plant processed plutonium for
nuclear weapons during World War II and the Cold War. Highly contaminated
liquid material is stored in underground tanks that have a history of leaks,
and critics are wary of leaks or spills that could migrate to the nearby
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There's plenty of fish in the sea - but not at Dounreay
Just in case you were thinking about a spot of fishing in
Scotland, John Ross, reporting for the Scotsman has this
cautionary (fishy) tale.
A ban on seafood coming from an area near the Dounreay
nuclear site is to stay in place, following a Food Standards Agency review. The
restriction, preventing the removal of fish and shellfish from a 2km exclusion
zone, was imposed in 1997 after the discovery of radioactive particles on the
The order, under the Food and Environment Protection Act, was to ensure any
seafood contaminated by irradiated nuclear fuel did not enter the food chain.
Last year, Dounreay began work using remotely operated vehicles to remove the
worst of the particles that have caused concern for more than quarter of a
century. Up to £25 million will be spent on covering an area the size of 60
football pitches and on monitoring up to the 2020s.
The FSA examined the existing ban in light of the work, but concluded that the
restricted area should remain in place while the work on the seabed is going on
and be reviewed once it is complete. The agency said that, with the
restrictions in place, the risk to food safety remains extremely small.
Vermont Yankee clean? Vermonters don't think so...
following environmental report comes courtesy of Julie Elmore, reporting
for the Burlington Free Press web pages recently. Vermonters have been
witnessing their own magic show on the energy stage in Vermont recently, with
the Legislature and ratepayers as its audience. Throughout the past year, Gov.
Douglas, utilities, Entergy and corporate special interest groups have
presented a steady supply of smoke and mirrors to create an illusion -- the
illusion that Vermont
Yankee is cheap, clean, green and reliable, and still critical to
Vermont's energy portfolio for the next two decades.
the smoke: Vermont utilities continually publicize their efforts to increase
renewable energy and conservation as part of their future energy plans. Yet,
their plans show a small increased investment in renewable energy over a
25-year time span and continued reliance on Vermont Yankee during this same
the mirrors: Vermonters are told we receive cheap and clean energy due in large
part to the cost of purchasing power from Vermont Yankee. In fact, this claim
is based on an old contract and doesn't account for the fact that Vermont
Yankee will cost a lot more after 2012. Nor does it account for the dangers and
cost of cleaning up nuclear waste along the Connecticut River. Nor does it
reflect the intensively high CO2 emissions from uranium mining. Where compared
to renewable alternatives, energy generated from the entire nuclear fuel cycle
releases four to five times more CO2 and is the most polluting energy source,
Now, where did we dispose of that Cesium, Cobolt...? It's here somewhere
Gutierrez, staff writer for Natural News brings us this.
have become a major source of nuclear waste in the United States, producing and
storing millions of radioactive
materials each year with no long-term disposal plan. Experts
increasingly fear that such waste could pose health hazards or be stolen by
terrorists and used to build dirty bombs.
"Instead of safely secured in one place, it's stored in thousands of
places in urban locations all over the United States," said nuclear waste
consultant Rick Jacobi.
Hospitals and other health facilities use radioactive material for a variety of
functions. For example, radiation from cobalt and powdered cesium is used to
sterilize blood and medical equipment, while cobalt is also used to kill
diseased brain tissue.
The federal government has long had a policy that individual states should
build sites where radioactive waste produced in that state can be stored and
disposed of, but failed to create penalties for states that did not comply. As
a consequence, only three such radioactive waste facilities exist in the United
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