Archive for May, 2015

Sault Ste. Marie on a risky route? (May 2015)

SooToday.com – Wednesday, May 27, 2015: Sault Ste. Marie could one day find itself on the route used by trucks or trains to transport high-level radioactive waste from southern Ontario nuclear power plants to Northern Ontario.

Several Northern Ontario communities, such as White River, have expressed interest in gathering more information about developing a special underground cavern to store high-level radioactive waste because of the direct and indirect jobs such a cavern would create (such as construction and monitoring of the site).

“If (communities such as) Sault Ste. Marie don’t take notice it may be too late to complain later on it wasn’t consulted,” said Dr. Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR) president, speaking to SooToday in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Edwards is scheduled to speak at a public information session in White River Wednesday evening, and at another information session in Pic Mobert First Nation scheduled for Thursday.

Pic Mobert First Nation has voiced its concerns, stating the area in question is on traditional First Nations territory.

Read story by Darren Taylor at SooToday.com at http://www.sootoday.com/content/news/details.asp?c=92155

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What if we all adopted the nuclear industry’s interpretation of a ‘planned’ project? (May 2015)

Business Spectator – May 27, 2015

Youd have to wonder how nuclear energy receives such a wave of fandom from some quarters, particularly in the business and conservative press.

If you search the definitive list of reactors on Wikipedia, youll find that reactors are being decommissioned globally at a rate of knots, and many more are set to be decommissioned in the not too distant future. This includes the entire fleet in Germany and a significant portion but unspecified number of reactors in Japan.

If you looked further, youd find that you could count the total number of reactors built in 2014 and 2015 on just one hand. In that period there was activity predominately in China — with its centralised state control avoiding the scrutiny the technology gets everywhere, outside a lone reactor in Argentina being the exception — but you could hardly get excited as that project was started when first of the Generation Ys were still in nappies in 1981.

So youve got a few plants getting built at a much slower pace than planned in China, and a bunch of plants planned all over the place. But as is the case with almost all nuclear plans in the last 25 years, theyve gone nowhere. They are plans (if a dream is a plan), but are not likely to be plants.

So why do we hear about these so called plans over and over?

The answer is the stockmarket: the uranium juniors and the speculative stocks. Get rich quick by backing a speculative exploration license holder, or someone whos got as far as doing a desktop of some geology somewhere on earth.

Its these guys who really need the uranium story to continue. Without it they dont exist; all those pieces of paper that were going to create multi-millionaires are worth nothing. The trick here for them is to keep everyone believing that nuclear and hence the appetite for uranium is rocketing on.

Thats why there are so may projects being planned or under construction but nothing substantial ever getting built and delivered.

Let’s compare to renewables….

Read story at http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2015/5/27/renewable-energy/what-if-we-all-adopted-nuclear-industrys-interpretation-planned

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EDITORIAL: Radioactive waste disposal a challenge without end? (Japan) (May 2015)

The government has changed its basic policy on the disposal of radioactive waste produced during the processing of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants.

This was an invitation-based approach whereby it waited for local governments to volunteer to host a final disposal site for nuclear waste. That policy was pursued for seven years.

Now the government will switch to taking the initiative in selecting candidate sites.

A law that took effect in 2000 created the current program to build a facility to deal with high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. But no local government has offered to host a disposal site except for Toyo, a town in Kochi Prefecture, which later withdrew its application due to fierce opposition from residents.

Japan’s nuclear power generation system, which lacks a plan for final disposal of its radioactive by-products, has been lampooned as a “condominium without a toilet.” Clearly, the government needs to play the leading role in determining a final disposal site.

This is especially important in light of the government’s determination to maintain a certain level of electricity production with atomic energy as well as moves to restart offline nuclear reactors.

If nuclear power generation continues, the amount of radioactive waste will keep growing.

The government’s waste disposal plan calls for finding a tract of land sufficiently large to bury more than 40,000 units of vitrified nuclear waste (liquid nuclear waste turned into glass).

The only way to prevent an increase in nuclear waste is to initiate a policy of phasing out nuclear power generation. Otherwise, the program will require an expansion of waste disposal facilities.

Another problem with the government’s plan is that it is based on the assumption that the nuclear fuel recycling program, which is effectively bankrupt, will be kept alive.

The government claims the program will help reduce the volume of nuclear waste. Even if it can reprocess spent uranium fuel, however, the program will face the formidable challenge of how to reprocess and dispose of mixed oxide fuel, or MOX fuel, made from reprocessed plutonium blended with uranium.

That’s because there is no prospect of fast-breeder reactor technology, which is crucial for the fuel recycling program, having any practical use.

The government is right in saying that a solution to the problem of nuclear waste disposal can no longer be postponed to the next generation.

If a disposal site is not determined, radioactive waste will have to be stored within the premises of the existing nuclear power plants.

As long as the government sticks to the policy of maintaining nuclear power generation, however, there will be no real solution to the problem.

Nuclear waste is buried more than 300 meters underground. But waste should be buried in a way that makes it possible to recover it in the future, given that all sorts of problems may arise or better and safer technology to dispose of waste could be developed.

Nuclear waste keeps emitting high-level radiation that is harmful for human health for tens of thousands of years.

To make matters worse, public trust in the safety of nuclear power generation has been shattered by the catastrophic accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

It is vital to establish a reliable system to respond to unexpected situations concerning stored nuclear waste.

The government plans to select “scientifically promising locations” for waste disposal from the list of candidates that doesn’t include volcanic zones, areas with faults or areas of soft ground. Then, the government will make proposals to the local governments concerned.

To avoid exerting too much pressure on local governments to accept its proposals, the way the government tackles this challenge needs to be based on an unconventional approach.

It will be impossible to persuade a local community to accept a plan to build a waste disposal facility in its area by simply stressing the necessity of such a site.

It is crucial for the government to ensure solution-oriented dialogue with local communities by revealing all of the related problems.

–The Asahi Shimbun, May 26
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201505260033

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Ontario First Nations demand a say over nuclear waste storage (May 2015)

First Nations in Northern Ontario say municipalities are opening their doors to the federal organization that is looking for a place to dump nuclear waste but most of the sites being proposed lie outside municipal boundaries on traditional treaty land.

Isadore Day, the Lake Huron Regional Grand Chief, has written to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to ask her government to talk directly with First Nations and to come to a fair and acceptable resolution about the location of the $24-billion Deep Geological Repository for the waste generated by nuclear reactors.

Environmental groups and some local residents reacted angrily earlier this month when a federal review panel agreed that a repository far below ground near Kincardine, Ont., could be used to store low-and intermediate radioactive nuclear waste including clothing and used parts.

But the hunt for a place to permanently store used fuel bundles, a far more contentious form of the hazardous material, continues. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has narrowed its search to nine municipalities three in the southwestern part of Ontario and six in the North.

Those municipalities have all told the organization they are willing to explore the possibility of being a host site for the repository that will take decades to build and will store the spent nuclear fuel bundles for 400,000 years or more until they are safely non-toxic. Having the site nearby will mean increased jobs and improved infrastructure for a community.

All of the municipalities that finished the preliminary phase of the assessment received a $400,000 sustainability and well-being payment from the NWMO for showing leadership on a difficult national public policy issue.

But, even though it is the municipalities that are being consulted and compensated, most of the sites being considered for the dump lie well outside of their jurisdictions on traditional First Nations territory, said Mr. Day.

The actual sites being looked at are on treaty lands and municipalities have no say about what happens on those lands, Mr. Day says in his letter to Ms. Wynne. This matter is a discussion that must take place between treaty partners.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Wynne said the province is committed to working with its aboriginal partners, including Mr. Day, and will continue to monitor the work of the NWMO to make sure the interests of Ontarians are protected.

Mr. Day and other First Nations leaders say they will not negotiate with the organization even though it has created a division to reach out to aboriginal communities. The First Nations are not eligible for the sustainability and well-being paid to the municipalities, but they can tap into a fund to further their understanding about nuclear waste.

Bob Watts, the director of aboriginal community relations for the NWMO, said the reaction to date among First Nations has been mixed.

Some have ignored us and some have said were not interested in learning, said Mr. Watts. Some have been very interested in learning and have gone on dry storage tours to see how nuclear fuel is being managed now.

The mandate of the organization demands that it reaches out to indigenous groups. And the changing legal landscape, including recent Supreme Court decisions, will require that rights holders be consulted, said Mr. Watts.

Municipalities that have invited the organization to discuss the possibility of having a nuclear dump site nearby can remove themselves from the process at any time. When asked whether a First Nation would have a similar right to refuse to have the waste site on its traditional territory, Mr. Watts said that position would be taken into account in terms of the likelihood of being able to work with communities in that area.

Mr. Day said the site selection process has been fraught with controversy and will not result in the support that is being sought from First Nations. The social contract is not with municipalities, he said. Its with treaty nations.

GLORIA GALLOWAY , OTTAWA ­ The Globe and Mail, Published Thursday, May. 21 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

Read story at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ontario-first-nations-demand-a-say-over-nuclear-waste-storage/article24540670/

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Low-level radioactive waste storage vaults open at Dounreay, Scotland (May 2015)

21 May 2015 – Dounreay – Nuclear decommissioning company Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) has begun placing nuclear waste in a vault built specifically for storing low-level radioactive waste (LLW) at Dounreay nuclear power station in Caithness, Scotland.

The plant, which opened on the Scottish coast in 1957, was closed in 1994. Decommissioning of the nuclear reactors, reprocessing plant and associated facilities has been the responsibility of DSRL since 2008, and it is expected that all radioactive wastes will have been safely packaged for long-term storage or disposal by 2025.

It was announced on Tuesday (19 May) that the first lot of LLW had been successfully placed in two on-site storage vaults, built by construction company GRAHAM.

In April this year, active commissioning began at the encapsulation plant where a container holding LLW was filled with cement-based grout. It is this container, and packages of demolition LLW (which were previously in storage at the Dounreay site) that have been placed in the LLW vaults.

Vault 1 will now be used mainly for lightly contaminated rubble produced from demolition work at Dounreay, while Vault 2 will store all remaining LLW that requires more engineered packaging to be dealt with safely, and for which special disposal procedures have been developed.

A further two LLW vaults are expected to be finished by 2020, but DSRL has said that it is planning to bring the construction programme forward within the overall portfolio of site projects.

Once all six of the planned vaults have been sealed and the surface restored, access to parts of the site will be restricted until 2300 to allow radioactivity in the ground to decay.

UK still without storage capability for higher-level radioactive waste

This news comes amid growing concern over the lack of long-term radioactive waste facilities in the UK. For example, the UK still does not have any storage capability for higher activity radioactive waste (HAW).

Currently, all radioactive waste (including nuclear waste) in the UK is contained in surface-level stores across the country. Indeed, the UKs largest nuclear processing site at Sellafield in Cumbria (where 70 per cent of the UKs total nuclear waste either arises or is reprocessed) is scheduled to be decommissioned over the next decade, fuelling the urgency for finding suitable ways of dealing with nuclear waste, especially as a report released by the National Audit Office in November 2012 condemned the existing storage of nuclear waste at the Sellafield site as outdated.

However, to date, the UK has not implemented a final disposal solution for HAW that would obviate the need for future intervention and would ensure that no harmful amounts of radioactivity are released to the environment at any point in the future.

Despite this, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), decided that what it calls geological disposal burying it deep beneath the ground is the safest way to manage HAW. But the search for a viable nuclear waste storage facility stalled last year, after councillors from Cumbria, the last remaining community to volunteer to host the site, voted against continuing the search for a site to potentially host the £12-billion underground disposal facility in the area.

To counter this from happening again, in March 2015 Parliament passed new legislation that gives central government the ultimate responsibility for siting radioactive waste repositories in England.

As posted at http://resource.co/article/low-level-radioactive-waste-storage-vaults-open-10148

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Yucca Mountain: Despite talk of revival, obstacles remain (May 2015)

May 19, 2015 – WASHINGTON Depending on the headline you choose, the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage project in Nevada has either been “revived,” or it is “coming off the mat” or it’s “back on the agenda.”

A flurry of activity in recent weeks has created the impression the Yucca project has come back to life.

But a closer examination shows numerous hurdles remain that would take years to overcome before the facility 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas could start receiving the nuclear waste and spent nuclear fuel being stored at more than 75 sites in 33 states

Read story at http://www.rgj.com/story/news/2015/05/19/yucca-mountain-despite-talk-revival-obstacles-remain/27548683/

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Senate panel gives boost to Texas firm’s bid to store nuclear waste (May 2015)

May 19, 2015 – WASHINGTON­: The Texas company seeking to store the nations high-level spent nuclear fuel got a boost today, when a Senate subcommittee forwarded to the full appropriations committee a bill that would authorize the Department of Energy to contract with a private company to store some of that spent and highly radioactive nuclear waste. (The video above is from the companys February presentation on its plans.)

The bill authorizes a pilot program to remove spent fuel from permanently decommissioned nuclear sites, seen as a first step to eventually designating a storage site for all the fuel being kept on the sites of active nuclear power plants.

Waste Control Specialists, a subsidiary of a Dallas-based holding company previously owned by the late Harold Simmons and still controlled by his family, wants to store the waste at its vast facility in rural Andrews County. Already there are tons of low-level radioactive waste, but this program would be much different. Americas nations spent nuclear fuel has never been shipped away from the sites where it was generated before.

For decades, the plan has been to permanently store the waste under Yucca Mountain in Nevada, but that plan has been stalled for years.

In February, the company announced plans to formally request a permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build such a facility.

Since then, however, a second firm, located just across the state line in New Mexico, has announced similar plans. Two rural New Mexico counties have formed a partnership to make a pitch for accepting the nuclear waste, and the states governor has sent a letter to the Department of Energy expressing support.

On Tuesday, WCS President Rod Baltzer praised the Senate in a blog post. He said the Energy Department will have to first take title to any waste that leaves a federal plant before a private firm could risk accepting it.

I am thrilled that this language has been included in the initial subcommittee markup. Senators Alexander and Feinstein are the Senate leaders on this issue and to have their support for this important project is very gratifying, Baltzer said. We all realize that securing a pathway for the Department of Energy to take title to the waste and contract with a storage site is the first issue that must be addressed and this is a good start.

The subcommittee approval sends the $35.4 billion measure, of which the waste provisions are only one small part, to the full committee for consideration on Thursday

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As posted at http://bizbeatblog.dallasnews.com/2015/05/senate-panel-gives-boost-to-texas-firms-bid-to-store-nuclear-waste.html/

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