“What is usually referred to as nuclear waste is used nuclear fuel in the shape of rods about 12 feet long. For four and a half years, the uranium atoms that comprise the fuel rods are split apart to give off the heat that turns water into steam to spin turbines to make electricity. After that, nuclear plant workers move the used fuel rods into pools of water to cool.”
Congress wants to ‘bury’ Nevada in nuclear waste?
The floating plant, the first of its kind in the world, will then be loaded with nuclear fuel before being towed to the Arctic port of Pevek in the summer of 2019, where it will be put into service.
How did I miss this? LA Times reporting – here is an excerpt:
“There were no injuries, no radiation release and no threat to public safety, officials said.
“Staff is seeking to determine the cause of the fault,” Bowling told the Los Angeles Times. He said there is a replacement transformer available and that it will be installed.
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission activated its incident response in Arlington, Texas, after operators declared an “Unusual Event” at the site. That designation is the lowest of four emergency levels, Bowling said.
Arkansas Nuclear One, located along the Arkansas River, has two units which produce a total of more than 1,823 megawatts of power, or about 30% of the state’s usage. Only Unit 2 is down, while Unit 1 is unaffected.
Entergy, based in New Orleans, serves 2.8 million homes and businesses in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.”
Warning – I am going to get normative here – politics should be solving nuclear waste storage issues not impeding it despite budget constraints. The clean up of liquid highly radioactive waste is not just a burden on future generations. The whole earth suffers. Here is an excerpt from the NYT about the delays in cleanup of this highly liquid nuclear bomb waste at the Savannah nuke plant, in the lowlands of SC. Implication for storage of Hanford’s similar waste is also effected. The waste is left over from the cold war race to make nuclear bombs. Does Iran and other power seeking nations understand the problems and complexity that go along with producing weapons grade plutonium for bombs? Here is an excerpt from the NYT:
“At Savannah, the Energy Department did succeed in building the world’s largest factory for stabilizing the liquid bomb waste, done by mixing it with molten glass and pouring it into stainless steel canisters, 10 feet high by two feet across. The stabilized waste should then last for millenniums.
The department has also perfected a technique for separating nearly all of the troublesome radioactive materials from salts in the underground tanks to reduce the volume that must be mixed with the molten glass. The rest of the radioactive material is mixed with cement that will bind it up for centuries. Last year the factory began the business of making the canisters and produced 325 of them — a respectable fraction of the 7,824 department officials say will be needed.
Over the years, production at the factory has become smoother as machines run more hours of the year and parts that were expected to last for only four or five years have been used successfully for 10. Such longevity is an important factor at a place where the radiation fields are so intense that all the work has to be done by remote control.
But because of the budget constraints, the factory intends to produce only another 125 canisters for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
Employment at the waste site, which once ensured stronger political support for the Energy Department in this conservative state, has dropped to 1,800 workers who manage the tanks and processed the liquid wastes, from 2,200. Another vast construction project here — a factory to turn weapons plutonium into reactor fuel — is faltering because of technical issues and budget problems, which may be another reason that state officials feel free to challenge the Department of Energy.
The tanks, which hold 750,000 to 1.3 million gallons each, sit under artificial hills, and above them is a forest of industrial equipment, some a half-century old. The equipment is used to carry off the heat the waste generates from radioactive decay. The equipment also vents and scrubs the explosive gases the waste produces. Steam is used to heat air, which is then pumped around the tanks to keep the tanks dry and inhibit rust.”
South Carolona is seeking millions of $ for the failure of Federal government to meet cleanup goals. Short-sighted GOP congressmen have committed a very serious and expensive problem with sequestration and military spending cap here. Saving money in the short term has increased costs for the future by jeopardizing health of people and surrounding environment and wildlife for generations and eons to come. If this is not a priority here in the USA then imagine this problem in the former Soviet republics and other states with nuclear capabilities. Warning – I am going all normative here again -Iranian people and their leaders should think about these issues before continuing to develop nuclear grade plutonium for bombs, God forbid, they will never use.
An article “Old nuclear reactors seen as growth opportunity” in the Idahostatesman.com describes the decommissioning process of a civilian nuclear plant. Decommissioning is referred to as ‘razing’. Here is an excerpt from article:
“Razing a plant is tricky business. Radiation can seep into the concrete, pipes and metal of plant structures, and workers must be able to break down the units without exposing themselves, or the public, to contamination. Plants often sit idle for decades before being torn down, to let radioactive material decay.
“The whole objective of decontamination is to get the dose levels as low as possible so you can do the dismantlement work,” Christine King, director of nuclear fuels and chemistry at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., said in a phone interview.
During a reactor decommissioning, the plant operator transfers radioactive fuel rods to cooling pools and, ultimately, to so-called dry casks for storage. Workers clean contaminated surfaces by sandblasting, chemical sprays and hydrolasing, a process that involves high-pressure water blasts, according to King.
“You do get to a point that you need someone to come in that has the equipment and the technology to actually dismantle the components,” she said. “That typically is hired out.”
New Orleans-based Entergy hasn’t determined the schedule or the cost for taking apart the Vermont Yankee reactor, though the company plans to let it sit long enough to let radiation decay, according to plant spokesman Rob Williams.
“The complete decommissioning process is likely to take decades,” he said in an e-mail.
When such work begins at a plant, it can create business for companies including EnergySolutions Inc. of Salt Lake City and Waste Control Specialists LLC of Dallas, both closely held, and Idaho’s US Ecology Inc. The companies dispose of low-level radioactive waste, including components and buildings at nuclear power plants.
The work doesn’t include removing the 65,000 tons of radioactive fuel that are now stored at about 75 operating and closed reactor sites across the country. The fuel will probably remain until lawmakers establish a plan for temporary or permanent disposal.
House Republicans have said the U.S. should resume its work on the Yucca Mountain repository, a move that President Obama’s administration and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., oppose.”
To read more go to:
Oliver Milkman reporting on Austrailan policy makers crafting terminal policy on disposal of low level nuclear waste. Apparently they are backing off original plan to dump it on indigenous peoples’ territory. Here is an excerpt from The Guardian:
“The government risks breaching an international agreement if it goes ahead with a controversial nuclear waste dump in a remote part of the Northern Territory, conservationists say, with Labor Senate candidate Nova Peris calling for the plan to be dropped.
Conservationists claim that the Muckaty dump, near Tennant Creek, would be in contravention of the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, which states that nations must “ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent”.
The basis of this consent is currently being challenged in the federal court, with a directions hearing set to take place in Melbourne on 26 August.
Opponents of the dump have waged a lengthy battle against the Northern Land Council, responsible for nominating the Muckaty site, which they claim didn’t have the full consent of Indigenous communities before striking a $12m deal to choose the location eight years ago.
Gary Gray, the resources minister who recently visited the site, told Guardian Australia that the government would not push ahead with the Muckaty site until the case was resolved. Anti-dump campaigners have welcomed this, given that the case could take several years to conclude.
However, Gray added: “The government is not considering the viability of other sites. Under the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012, only volunteer nomination sites may be considered for a facility.”