Call for Congress to act on this urgent issue.
“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.”
Excerpt from Orange county register:
“Unlike the reactor cores, the spent fuel pools are not protected by redundant emergency makeup and cooling systems and/or housed within robust containment structures having reinforced concrete walls several feet thick,” Dave Lochbaum, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Nuclear Safety Project, told senators.
“Thus, large amounts of radioactive material – which under the (Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982) should be stored within a federal repository designed to safely and securely isolate it from the environment for at least 10,000 years – instead remains at the reactor sites.”
These “spent fuel pools” were initially designed to hold about one reactor core’s worth of fuel, Lochbaum said. But since the feds have failed miserably to fulfill their promise to permanently dispose of this dangerous waste, some pools are holding up to nearly nine times that amount.
Finally, there is a glimmer of hope that – more than 30 years after the Nuclear Waste Policy Act passed, and 15 years after the feds guaranteed they’d start accepting the waste – paralysis and dithering might give way to action.
In June, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and three other senators introduced the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2013, “a bipartisan, comprehensive plan for safeguarding and permanently disposing of tens of thousands of tons of dangerous radioactive nuclear waste currently accumulating at sites dispersed across the country,” including areas at risk of earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters, they said in a prepared statement.”
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.”