Finland “approves” nuclear depository plan (February 2015)

Sunday 15 February 2015 – The Chemical Engineer

Plan to bury waste in bedrock can be safe

Richard Jansen-Parkes

FINNISH regulators have given final approval to a plan to build a nuclear waste depository and processing plant beneath Olkiluoto Island.

The plan calls for spent nuclear fuel from the nuclear power plants of Teollisuuden Voima and Fortum to be packed in copper canisters and then embedded in the bedrock beneath the island at a depth of up to 450 m.

After several years considering the proposal, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland (STUK) has told the government that the facility can be built to be safe.

We have already assessed that the operational and long-term safety of the nuclear waste facility are on a sufficiently high level for granting the construction licence, explains STUK section head Jussi Heinonen.

This is a new type of facility, which is why the appropriate approach is to progress in phases and, at the same time, assess and elaborate the designing of the facility on the basis of the accumulating knowledge.

For example, we will gain more detailed knowledge about the local characteristics of rock at the final disposal depth once the construction of the facility begins.

The plants designer Posiva, a waste management specialist jointly owned by Finnish nuclear companies Fortum and TVO, says that it is now able to carry out detailed engineering work on the designs. It estimates that building the facility will cost approximately 3bn (US$3.4bn), and that it will be processing waste for around a century.

According to Posiva, the first preparations for the disposal project began in the 1980s, and the Finnish parliament first gave its in-principle approval to the project 14 years ago. STUK has been considering the companys construction licence since late 2012.

The government still needs to approve an operating licence before the proposed repository can start processing waste. Posiva says it expects to apply for that licence in 2020.

Only one drum involved in WIPP release (February 2015)

13 February 2015 – World Nuclear News

Photographs taken inside the underground Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) have confirmed that a single waste drum was the source of the contamination incident that has stopped operations at New Mexico facility since February 2014.

Project Reach’s 90-foot boom is positioned over waste containers in the underground facility as its remotely operated video camera collects evidence (Image: WIPP)

The information was gathered through a project known as Reach, which has been using a specially designed and manufactured 90-foot (27 meter) composite boom equipped with a high resolution camera. All this was installed on a movable cradle and mounted on a support structure, allowing operators to examine waste stacks from floor to ceiling and from wall to wall. Waste at WIPP is stacked in six columns, with each column consisting of up to three layers of transuranic waste containers.

Initial analysis of the pictures obtained by Reach indicates that no additional breached waste containers contributed to the February 2014 incident. Ted Wyka, chairman of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Accident Investigation Board (AIB), said that the evidence obtained supported the idea that a single drum, referred to as LANL68660, was the source of the radiological release.

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Handwritten note could be source of WIPP incidents (February 2015)

Current Argus – By Sarah Matott POSTED:   02/12/2015 01:00:00 AM MST

Bad note taking and miscommunication at Los Alamos National Laboratory is what led to the mishandling of the transuranic waste drum that resulted in the Feb. 14, 2014 radiological release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

It had been suspected as early as last May the chemical reaction of one of the drums was caused due to using the wrong type of kitty litter to treat the waste.

The information was in a report by Department of Energy’s Inspector General released in September 2014, and was originally reported by the Albuquerque Journal last week.

The report confirmed that the kitty litter is part of what led to the chemical reaction of the waste drums at WIPP, but more so the wrong kitty litter was used because of handwritten note that called for “an organic” absorbent, instead of “inorganic.”

The use of organic kitty litter was implemented in August 2012 for the treatment of TRU waste at LANL, however, the Inspector General’s report shows that LANL officials do not seem to know when or how the use of organic kitty litter was permitted.

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