Nuclear waste probed in Senate Committee | Mobile Augusta

An excerpt from the Augusta Chronicle on fate of highly radioactive waste:

The intent of the 2013 Nuclear Waste Administration Act is to implement recommendations from a blue-ribbon committee formed after the Obama administration halted a planned repository in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.

The bill, which goes before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on July 30, outlines “consent-based” siting policies that require support of state and local governments before waste storage or processing facilities can be established.

The legislation recommends no specific locations for “consolidated interim storage” of spent nuclear fuel, but Savannah River Site in South Carolina has already been discussed as a possible venue.

In March, consultants hired by the SRS Community Reuse Organization, an economic development consortium, unveiled a $200,000 study concluding that the site’s H Canyon processing facilities and history of nuclear involvement make it suitable for such programs.

The SRS Citizens Advisory Board has become involved in similar discussions. Its waste management committee voted 12-10 for a position paper opposing the idea. That draft resolution is scheduled for a formal vote by the full board Tuesday.

Until a solution is found, spent fuel will continue to accumulate at commercial power plants, which now store about 75,000 tons of the material on-site in pools or above-ground casks.

Viewpoints: Nuclear waste bill endangers public health – Viewpoints – The Sacramento Bee

New legislation introduced by Senator Feinstein “squanders bipartisan efforts” to mitigate storage of highly nuclear wastes. Lessons from Japan tell us engineers still need to figure out transference of rod pools to dry castes storage.

A major push in the eighties to solve this was the Monitored Retrievable Storage (MRS) facility in Tennessee for interim fix and long term storage in Yucca Mountain Arizona. Here is excerpt from Sacramento Bee:

In an April 8, 2011, letter that Feinstein sent to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, she said: “The lesson from Japan’s disaster is that we must be prepared to respond to unanticipated threats,” imploring that he “seriously consider regulatory policies that would encourage the movement of nuclear fuel, once sufficiently cool, out of spent fuel pools and into dry cask storage systems. I am concerned that current Nuclear Regulatory Commission policies allow excessive re-racking and densification of radioactive fuel within spent fuel pools.”

We strongly support Feinstein’s early position on this critical issue. Getting as much highly radioactive waste as possible out of these weakly reinforced pools and into safer storage has been a stated priority of nuclear power experts, including the NRC’s new chairwoman, Alison Macfarlane. In a bizarre twist, a June NRC staff report concluded that pool-based storage of irradiated fuel is adequate and there is only a one in 10 million years chance of a severe earthquake causing a radioactive release from the pool examined in the study. Contradicting this latest study, in 2007 the NRC concluded that a spent fuel pool crack caused by an earthquake at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station could result in a lethal dose of radiation being released within a 10-mile radius of the plant. We ignore these “black swan” events, such as those which occurred in Japan, at great peril.

Feinstein and her colleagues would be wise to also address the immediate safety issues of spent fuel waste at reactor sites, rather than leave our state’s safety hostage to a vague process of identifying voluntary waste sites that could take many years to complete.

FERC glitch & NY Constitutional Pipeline

Excerpt from article by Joe Mahoney in The Daily Star:

Scores of residents in Delaware, Schoharie and Chenango counties have already officially signaled to FERC they’d like to have intervenor status.
In one motion to become an intervenor, filed Monday, Nancy Turick of East Meredith, said she has lived for the past 14 years in a house that is now about a half-mile from the pipeline pathway.
Turick wrote that she believes the pipeline will lead to local natural gas extraction, and that the project is unnecessary. Other existing pipelines, she contended, can transport the gas to the Boston and New York City markets.
“I believe that it will drastically alter the rural character of the community and transform it into an industrial area,” Turick wrote.
The company is hoping that FERC approves the project within the next year so that it can commence constructing the 122-mile natural gas transmission system after July 1, 2014. The company has said it believes the project will be completed by March 2015, a deadline that project critics say is destined to be missed.
About 1,400 laborers would work on the installation of the pipeline if the project is approved, according to the pipeline planners. An additional 1,000 jobs would result from spillover activity generated during the building of the pipeline.
The project is a partnership of four players in the energy industry: Williams Partners, Cabot Oil & Gas, Piedmont Natural Gas and WLG Holdings. Williams holds the biggest share in the venture, with 41 percent.

Maritime Nuclear Plant launching 2016 | Environment News Service

Past maritime accidents in 1957 and 1967 may make many nervous about the launching of the Russian Federation’s floating nuclear plant. Many other countries are interested in this technology but is the Arctic environment ready for another accident? However, the vessel is supposedly tsumani proof and based on icebreaker vessels accustom to Arctic conditions. Here is excerpt from Environmental News Service report:

“Mass production of similar floating nuclear power plants is scheduled for the near future.

The “Academician Lomonosov’s” technology is based on the USSR’s construction of nuclear-powered icebreakers.

The Russian media is speculating that the floating nuclear power plants will first be used in remote areas of the northeastern Arctic Russia and the Far East, as these regions currently suffer from a lack of energy, slowing their development.

Each 21,000 ton vessel will have two “modified KLT-40 naval propulsion reactors” that will provide up to 70 megawatts of electricity or 300 megawatts of heat, sufficient for a city with a population of 200,000 people.

Additionally, the floating nuclear power plants can provide water desalination services capable of supplying up to 240,000 cubic meters of fresh water per day.

Those with historical memories will recall accidents with a Soviet-era nuclear icebreaker that released radioactivity into the environment.

Launched in 1957, the “Lenin,” the USSR’s first nuclear powered icebreaker, was powered by three OK-150 reactors. In February 1965, there was a loss of coolant incident, and some of the fuel elements melted or deformed inside reactor number two. The debris was removed and stored for two years, and subsequently dumped in Tsivolki Bay near Novaia Zemlia.

The second accident was a cooling system leak, which occurred in 1967, shortly after refueling.

Not a reassuring development for the Soviet Arctic environment.

“Academician Lomonosov’s” keel was laid in April 2007 at the Sevmash shipyard in Severodvinsk on the White Sea, but the project was later transferred to the Baltiskii Zavod shipyard.

The 21,500 ton hull of the “Academician Lomonosov” was launched in 2010, although construction work was frozen in mid-2011 because of bankruptcy proceedings against the shipyard.

The company was acquired by state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation and Rosenergoatom, thenuclear power station operations subsidiary of Atomenergoprom, a holding company for all Russian civil nuclear industry, signed a new contract with the Baltiskii Zavod shipyard for completion of the “Academician Lomonosov.”

The vessel is equipped with two modified KLT-40 reactors but has no engines, so it needs to be towed into place. The floating nuclear power stations are to be mass-built at shipbuilding facilities and then towed to a destination point in coastal waters near a city, town or industrial enterprise

The Baltiskii Zavod shipyard stresses that The “Academician Lomonosov” and its successors are all designed with a safety margin exceeding all possible threats, which makes their nuclear reactors invulnerable to tsunamis and other natural disasters. They shipyard claims the ships meet all the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency and do not pose a threat to the environment.

The shipyard states that 15 nations, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Algeria, Namibia and Argentina have expressed interest in buying floating nuclear power plants.

The “Academician Lomonosov” will be sent to Vilyuchinsk, Kamchatka for operational testing. Rosatom then aims to construct seven more FNPPs by 2015, with four of them likely to be located on the northern coast of Siberia’s Yakutia.

Other Arctic areas provisionally scheduled to receive FNPPs include port cities along the Russian Federation’s arctic coastal Northern Sea Route and Pevek in Chukotka.

An added benefit of the FNPP as envisaged in Moscow is that the provision of nuclear power to the Arctic and Far East will free up more oil and natural gas for foreign export, allowing the Russian Federation to generate additional hard currency.”

Just say ‘no’ to nuclear waste – The Post and Courier

This debate over what to do with high level nuclear waste has taken many iterations including the Monitored Retrievable Storage plan in Tennessee in the 1980s. It would appear that we are no closer to a solution some 30+ years later. Here is an opinion piece supporting citizens groups to say no to Savanna processing facility as an interim waste sight. I am not advocating this pro or con for this opinion, just informing citizens on status of debate. Excerpt from the Post and Courier reads as follows:

“Yucca Mountain, Nev., was supposed to provide a permanent disposal site, and the federal government had spent $15 billion preparing it when the Obama administration pulled the plug on it.

President Obama subsequently named a Blue Ribbon Commission to consider other solutions.

The commission concluded that existing on-site storage would be adequate for the present and cited interim storage at a central site as a solution down the road. In doing so, the commission underscored the importance of hearing from local communities about interim disposal of high-level waste before making a commitment.

So the citizens advisory board, composed of South Carolina and Georgia residents who live near SRS, would do well to put the federal government on notice.

Besides the “no waste” option, the board is expected to consider supporting additional waste disposal, assuming there would be some benefit attached.

That could include, for example, the possibility of a reprocessing facility for high-level waste. Such a project would provide new investment and jobs.

The citizens group would do better to say that enough is enough, considering the extent to which Savannah River Site already has accommodated the disposal of defense waste. For example, SRS agreed to take 34 tons of weapons grade plutonium for conversion into mixed-oxide fuel that can be used in commercial reactors. The process would render the material unusable for weapons, as part of a nuclear non-proliferation agreement between the U.S. and Russia.

But the MOX facility could be jeopardized by cost overruns. If it isn’t built, SRS could end up providing long-term storage for that additional waste stream, as well as the waste already generated on site.

Once nuclear waste is brought to SRS, it can be expected to remain indefinitely, absent a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain.

SRS was designed as a production facility, not a waste dump. The citizens committee should tell the administration just that with a preemptive rejection of any more waste disposal plans.”

IJC meeting Niagara County

The International Joint Commission’s 6 commissioners explained and debated new lake management plan at public hearing in Niagara County Fairgrounds. Excerpt from Daily News Online:

“State Sen. George Maziarz saw little difference between the new plan and the IJC’s 2011 offering, which was scrapped before it could be approved by the American and Canadian governments.
‘‘We think the plan is the same as Bv7, which was rejected by every community on the southern and eastern lake shores,’’ Maziarz said. ‘‘This plan will hurt the southern shore of Lake Ontario.’’
Despite the harsh welcome in Lockport, the plan does have a diverse array of support from environmentalists, conservationists, residents and commercial interests. Bryan Smith, the program director of the Buffalo-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said more than 7,000 residents of lakeshore areas have offered petitions and letters in support of implementation.
‘‘We must take action to restore our most important resource — the Great Lakes,’’ Smith said. ‘‘The time is now.’’
The IJC’s report on the new plan cites reduced impacts on lakeside residents and costs related to flooding and shoreline erosion compared to Plan Bv7 while generating 65,000 acres of improved wetland habitats for birds, fish, turtles and mammals.
A video played at the hearing says the range lake levels will have ‘‘more natural’’ variability under the new plan but less severity.”

In Kola Bay, a “nuclear island” | Barentsobserver

As the ‘nuclear island’ strategy is implemented, environmentalists are asking if security and safety are really being addressed. More comments on this are welcome. Is reclamation of nuclear materials the point of transport to Mayak Siberia or mere permanent disposal? What is capacity of this facility? Is this Yucca Mountain of Siberia? Here is excerpt from CBC:

“According to Bellona, a total of 650 metal containers with nuclear waste materials have been moved to the island, from where they later will be shipped across the fjord to the Saida Bay storage site.

The Saida Bay floating dock for nuclear wastes, and first of all reactor compartments, was built with support from the German state and opened in 2006. 

The “nuclear island” project includes new safety systems, radiation monitoring, additional ventilation and far more limited access to personnel. The facility also includes a technological complex, a container-type storage system for radioactive waste, and an onshore building with an aqueduct system, Bellona reports. The facility has a price tag of nine billion rubles (€271 million) has been 85 percent financed by foreign investors.

The construction of the island will boost nuclear security in the area. However, environmentalists still argue that the new facility could create a feeling if false safefy among the local population. Commenting on the project, Bellona Murmansk leader Andrey Zolotkov underlines that the deadly waste remains in the immediate vicinity of Murmansk downtown. 

“The noun “island” imparts the notion that the facility will far away,” he says. “Really, however, it will all be at Atomflot, a mere two kilometers from Murmansk and its 300,000-strong population”.

According to Atomflot General Director Mustafa Kashka, his company is also about to finish the construction of a shore-based facility for unloading of spent nuclear fuel from ships, a unit which will make redundant the highly irradiated Lotta nuclear service vessel. The spent fuel will subsequently be sent to the Mayak chemical plant in Siberia.”

Technically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive matetial – Observer

Tara Kinsell reports on TENORM stuck in Greene County. Fracking in Pennsylvannia is generating such waste. This material includes biproducts from oil and gas exploration and pumping. A more permanent solution to transportation and storage needs to be found to contain or reclaim radioactive materials. Here is an excerpt:

It isn’t like we are taking nuclear fuel rods. It is mostly medical waste and low level drill cuttings coming up from deep digs, not really high level radiation,” Poister said. “The problem lately is making sure it doesn’t leach into the ground so it doesn’t become a larger problem. Obviously you don’t want that stuff sitting on site. It is supposed to be safely disposed of.”

He said there are stringent guidelines that must be followed when dealing with TENORM.

Companies face fines when they are out of compliance. However, looking at fines for various infractions, including some for failure to properly dispose of or clean up waste that threatened polluting waters of the commonwealth, resulted in fines of just a few thousand dollars. It seems like a drop in the bucket for wells that are raking in millions.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) estimates the United States may produce more than 1 billion tons of TENORM annually from all sources. Large quantities of TENORM are currently undisposed of with much of it existing in abandoned mine sites across the country, according to the NRC.

Poister said TENORM is part of the reason the DEP launched a study in January to look at naturally occurring levels of radioactivity in materials associated with oil and gas development.

Flowback waters, treatment solids, drill cuttings, transportation issues, storage and disposal of drilling wastes and levels of radon in natural gas are being looked at, along with the potential of exposure to industry employees and the public.