Archive for April, 2014

Swedish Regulator Begins Public Consultation On Repository Project

9.04.2014_No136 / News in Brief

29 Apr (NucNet): Swedens nuclear regulator will take public comments until 31 October 2014 on nuclear fuel and waste management company SKBs plan to build a deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel.

SKB is owned by Swedens nuclear utilities and plans to build and operate the repository for them.

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority has been reviewing SKBs repository application since it was submitted in March 2011, a statement said. The consultation is part of that review process, but it is the government that will make a final decision on whether or not the repository is built.

SKB is planning to build the repository at Forsmark in the municipality of Östhammar, on Swedens east coast.

If construction goes ahead as planned, Forsmark could be the worlds first permanent disposal site for spent nuclear fuel.

The siting process for a deep geological repository in Sweden began some 20 years ago and Forsmark was chosen in 2009.

SKB wants to build an encapsulation facility in Oskarshamn municipality and a final repository at Forsmark. The encapsulation facility will be built next to the existing Clab interim storage facility, and the final repository will be built at a depth of almost 500 metres in the bedrock at Forsmark.

http://www.nucnet.org/all-the-news/2014/04/29/swedish-regulator-begins-public-consultation-on-repository-project

Northwatch | Box 282 . North Bay . P1B 8H2 | Tel 705 497 0373 | www.northwatch.org

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Source of WIPP radioactive release remains unknown; DOE says root cause was “management failulre” (April 2014)

More than two months after a radioactive release began at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant – North America’s only nuclear waste deep burial site – the source remains unknown. The U.S. Department of Energy released a "Phase 1" report on April 24th, stating that while the direct cause of the failure that resulted in radiological release remains unknown, the root cause of the release was NWP’s and DoE Carlsbad field office’s "management failure to fully understand, characterize and control the radiological hazard."

Read the Phase I Report at http://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/04/f15/Final%20WIPP%20Rad%20Release%20Phase%201%2004%2022%202014_0.pdf

Northwatch | Box 282 . North Bay . P1B 8H2 | Tel 705 497 0373 | www.northwatch.org

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WIPP: Report cites poor management, eroding safety culture for nuke dump radiation release (April 2014)

Jeri Clausing / The Associated Press, April 23, 2014 07:22 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Poor management, an eroding safety culture, ineffective maintenance and a lack of proper oversight are being blamed for a radiation release that contaminated 21 workers and shuttered the federal government’s nuclear waste dump two months ago in southeastern New Mexico.

The series of shortcomings are identified in a report to be released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Accident Investigation Board and are similar to those found in a probe of truck fire in the half-mile-deep mine just nine days before the Feb. 14 radiation release from the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) near Carlsbad.

Board chairman Ted Wyka previewed the findings at a community meeting Wednesday, identifying the root cause as a "degradation of key safety management and safety culture."

With the source of the leak still unknown, the Department of Energy’s investigation focused on the response to the emergency and to the safety and maintenance programs in place. Shortcomings were found at almost every step, from a more than 10-hour response to the initial emergency alarm to a bypass in the filtration system that allowed the radiation to escape above ground.

"The bottom line is they failed to believe initial indications of the release," Wyka said.

The report also found that much of the operation failed to meet standards for a nuclear facility; a lack of proper safety training and emergency planning; lagging maintenance; and a lack of strategy for things like the placement of air monitors. Problems with oversight by the Department of Energy also were cited.

RPJC202-42_2014_125035_high.jpg

[This April 2, 2014, image provided by the U.S.
Department of Energy shows workers preparing to enter the Waste Isolation
Pilot Plant facility in Carlsbad, N.M., for the first time since the Feb.
14 radiological release. The operators of this federal government’s
troubled nuclear waste dump are bracing for a scathing report Wednesday,
April 23, 2014, on their response to a radiation release that
contaminated 21 workers and shuttered the southeastern New Mexico
facility two months ago. (AP Photo/U.S. Department of Energy)]

Read the rest of the story at: http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/news/world/report-cites-poor-management-eroding-safety-culture-for-nuke-dump-radiation-release-1.982086#sthash.MCm95x89.dpuf

Northwatch | Box 282 . North Bay . P1B 8H2 | Tel 705 497 0373 | www.northwatch.org

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Search crew finds location but not source of leak at New Mexico nuclear waste storage site (April 2014)

On April 16, more than two months after an underground air monitor detected airborne radiation underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) nuclear waste burial site in Carlsbad, New Mexico, a search team clad in heavy protective gear discovered the location of the contamination.

Since moving in the heavy-duty suits is slow and laborious, and the teams respiratory equipment was running low, the team turned back before pinpointing the exact source of the leak, determining only that it is in a storage unit known as panel seven. This means that more trips to the 2,150-feet-deep panel will be required to find the source and to deal with it.

On the night of February 14, the monitor set off an alert, causing evacuation of the area and a halt to deliveries. Since then, the number of WIPP workers found to be contaminated with radiation has risen from 13 to 21. In addition, increased radiation has been detected in surrounding areas above ground.

The leak followed on the heels of an incident on February 5 in which a salt-hauling truck caught fire underground. 86 workers had to be evacuated. Six were hospitalized for smoke inhalation and seven others were treated on site.

A March 14 DOE (Department of Energy) Office of Environment Management report on the fire identifies shortcomings in the preventive maintenance program, emergency management, and emergency response training and drills by the Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC managing and operating DOE Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M., and it also faults the oversight provided by DOEs Carlsbad Field Office, according to an ohsonline.com article.

The article adds that the report finds the NWP/Carlsbad Field Office emergency management program is not fully compliant with DOEs requirements for a comprehensive emergency management system. While the report identified the direct cause of the incidentthe investigative board identified 21 error precursors on the date of the fire. The truck operators training and qualification were inadequate to ensure proper response to a vehicle fire, and he did not initially notify the Central Monitoring Room that there was a fire or describe the fires location.

Read more at http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/04/21/wipp-a21.html

By D. Lencho, 21 April 2014

Northwatch | Box 282 . North Bay . P1B 8H2 | Tel 705 497 0373 | www.northwatch.org

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How the Nuclear Waste Management Organization targeted Pinehouse (April 2014)

BY D’ARCY HANDE • APR 12, 2014 • Briarpatch Magazine

The Northern Village of Pinehouse, Saskatchewan. Photo: D’Arcy Hande
Early in March, Briarpatch magazine received documents from the Northern Village of Pinehouse, in partial compliance with one of two Freedom of Information requests filed a year ago. Pinehouse is an isolated village of just under 1,400 people, 80 per cent of whom are Cree speaking. The community is located about 500 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

The released documents primarily relate to the dealings of the Pinehouse leadership with the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), a federally mandated consortium designated “to assume responsibility for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel.” In recent years, NWMO has focused on finding a “willing host community” for a radioactive waste depository in more remote northern regions over the Canadian Shield rock formations, whose stability is viewed as more desirable for deep geologic waste storage.

As we’ll see, the correspondence between NWMO and the Village of Pinehouse in northern Saskatchewan sheds important light on the tactics NWMO uses when seeking hosts for Canada’s nuclear waste.

Read story at http://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/view/nwmo 

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Leak from nuclear waste site would be diluted: Experts (April 2014)

Any radioactive leak from a nuclear storage site at the Bruce nuclear plant would be subject to “significant” dilution, says an expert group

By:       John Spears, Business reporter, Toronto Star,    Published on Fri Apr 18 2014

The “immense” waters of the Great Lakes will greatly dilute any radiation-bearing water that might leak from a proposed nuclear waste site on Lake Huron, says an expert group.
Fast-flowing surface water would also dilute leaking radiation, should the site be located in the ancient rock of the Canadian Shield, the group says.

The four-member group has filed a report  with the federal panel examining Ontario Power Generation’s proposal to bury low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste in a limestone formation 680 metres below the surface, on the shore of Lake Huron.

The federal panel  asked the expert group to compare whether it would be better to inter the waste at the Bruce site, or in ancient granite formations in the Canadian Shield.

The question of leakage from the site has heated up with the recent release of radiation  from a nuclear waste site in New Mexico, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP.

The WIPP release does not appear to be related to water leakage  –  it followed an underground vehicle fire in February – but the fact that radiation had escaped at all prompted the federal panel to schedule additional hearings for the Bruce project.

At the WIPP site in New Mexico  work teams have re-entered the underground area, but are advancing in stages. They haven’t yet reached the area where the leak originated, and may not get there for days or weeks.

WIPP officials have drawn up an 11-stage scheme for drafting up a plan to re-open the site, and are only at the fourth stage.

At the Bruce site, the federal panel has been asking what happens if underground water is contaminated by radiation, and then leaks from the site.

The expert group’s report says that wherever the site is developed, any leaking water it will be significantly diluted.

The group says it’s possible that as much as 1,000 cubic metres a year of water contaminated with radiation might leak out of a site – although it rates the likelihood as “highly improbable.” (A thousand cubic meters is equal to a cube measuring 10 metres in each dimension.)

That’s a very small amount, the group says, given that the annual rainfall into Lake Huron is 42 billion cubic metres a year.

And the volume of water already in the lake is 100 times more than the rainfall, or more than four trillion cubic metres.

As for a waste site in Canadian Shield granite, any leakage would flow into active streams and marshlands

“Hence, the volumes of the bodies of water available for dilution at the surface are either immense (Great Lakes) or actively flowing’so the dilution capacity is significant,” the experts conclude.

The dilution capacity for a site at the Bruce or in the Canadian Shield, the experts conclude, are “similar.”

Read more at http://www.thestar.com/business/2014/04/18/leak_from_nuclear_waste_site_would_be_diluted_experts.html Read the rest of this entry »

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Crews find suspected area of radiation leak at WIPP (April 2014)

By JERI CLAUSING, Associated Press | April 17, 2014 | Updated: April 17, 2014 8:18pm

 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) ­ Two months after radiation leaked from the federal government’s half-mile deep nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico, officials said Thursday that crews have found contamination underground in the area where waste was most recently being stored.

Tammy Reynolds, the U.S. Department of Energy’s deputy recovery manager, told a community meeting in Carlsbad that more trips need to be made into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to further investigate the accident, but officials hope to have more information next week.

Crews on their fourth trip into the mine on Wednesday made it into the only active waste storage area and found contamination, Reynolds said. The deeper they went into the area, the more widespread the contamination, she said.

But the crews had to retreat before identifying the possible source because they had been underground for five hours in protective gear that retains heat and the batteries on their respiratory equipment were running low.

Waste at the plant is stored in panels, which are a series of rooms cut out of underground salt beds. Five of those panels are full and have already been sealed. Panel 6 is full but has not yet been sealed. Panel 7 is the current active storage area. Crews made it to both Panels 6 and 7, and they found the contamination in Panel 7, Reynolds said.

“It doesn’t seem to us that the contamination came from Panel 6, that the source came from Panel 7,” she said

The next step is for crews, and possibly robots, to go back down to see if they can identify what caused the leak. Among the potential scenarios: a roof collapse that damaged waste-storage containers or a puncture of a container by a forklift.

The plant has been closed since mid-February, when the leak sent low levels of radiation into the air and contaminated 21 workers.

That happened nine days after a truck hauling salt underground caught fire on Feb. 5. A series of safety shortcomings were cited by a team that investigated the truck fire. It’s unclear if the incidents are related.

The dump is the federal government’s only permanent repository for waste from decades of nuclear-bomb building.

http://www.chron.com/news/science/article/Update-expected-on-leaky-nuke-dump-5409085.php

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