Norway wants to dump nuclear waste on island (August 2015)

Norway’s government wants to dump 1,200 tons of radioactive waste on an island an hour south of Oslo, even though the waste company which owns the site believes it is too dangerous.
According to Norway’s VG newspaper, Norway’s Ministry of Industry has hired a Swedish consultant in order to overall the objections from NOAH, which owns the waste dump on Langøya, and so force it to take radioactive sludge from the Søve mines an hour inland.

“We are reacting very strongly to this,” Stein Lier Hansen, the chief executive of the the industrial trade group NHO, told the newspaper. “It’s simply startling that the ministry is trying to overturn the expert assessments of a private company.”

Sten Arthur Sælør, NOAH’s chairman, said that the government had first approached him about the using he Langøya site last year.

“We made two technical evaluations and both times we concluded that it unfortunately wouldn’t work,” he said.

But Lars Jacob Hiim, a state secretary in the Ministry of Industry, told the newspaper that the Ministry had now hired the state-owned Swedish Defence Research Agency to carry out the assessment.

“It is true that NOAH is wary of storing waste, because of the possibility that the radioactive material might leak into the sea,” he said. “That’s why we put out to tender a project to study whether it is safe to store radioactive waste there.”

The disused limestone quarry on Langøya has since 1993 been used by as landfill for hazardous inorganic waste, and is likely to become full within the next few years, with NOAH planning to move to a new site before 2022.

The radioactive slide at the Søve mines dates back to top-secret nuclear experiments from the immediate post war years.

In 2014, the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) warned the ministry that a permanent dump needed to be found for the radioactive tailings.

Lier-Hansen pointed out that Finland had already developed nuclear dumping facilities where radioactive waste is disposed of deep in the bedrock.

“Placing radioactive waste in the middle of the Oslo Fjord, which is the fjord for two million Norwegians, is about as far from being smart as it’s possible to go,” he said. “At worst, an earthquake give radioactive leakage.”

The Swedish Defence Research Agency is die to deliver its report in Autumn.

Published: 14 Aug 2015 22:55 GMT+02:00 at http://www.thelocal.no/20150814/norway-wants-to-dump-nuclear-waste-on-oslo-island

Nuclear-waste plant whistleblower wins settlement of $4.1 million (August 2015)

He says he was fired for expressing worries about a plan to turn radioactive sludge into glass.

When Walter Tamosaitis warned in 2011 that the Energy Department’s plans for a waste treatment plant at the former Hanford nuclear weapons complex were unsafe, he was demoted and put in a basement room with cardboard boxes and plywood for office furniture.

Tamosaitis had been leading a team of 100 scientists and engineers in designing a way to immobilize millions of gallons of highly toxic nuclear sludge as thick as peanut butter. The sludge, which could deliver a lethal dose of radiation to a nearby person within minutes, is stored in leaking underground tanks near the Columbia River in Washington state.


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Two years later, Tamosaitis was fired after 44 years with San Francisco-based engineering firm URS, which was later acquired by Los Angeles-based AECOM. He filed a wrongful termination suit but encountered some initial legal setbacks, and it looked as if he had been blackballed from the industry.

But on Wednesday, Tamosaitis won a $4.1 million settlement from AECOM, among the largest known legal damages paid out to a whistleblower in the Energy Department’s vast nuclear waste cleanup program.

“It was something I lived with every minute of every day over the last five years,” Tamosaitis, 68, said in an interview. “Hopefully, I have sent a message to young engineers to keep their honesty, integrity and courage intact.”

AECOM spokesman Ed Mayer said the company reached its resolution with Tamosaitis “in order to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation relating to events that occurred over five years ago. The company strongly disagrees that it retaliated against him in any manner.”

Tamosaitis led the research into transforming the toxic and radioactive sludge into solid glass that could theoretically be buried safely for thousands of years. Over time, Tamosaitis said he began to worry that the technology for chemically mixing the sludge was flawed, potentially allowing explosive hydrogen gas to build up inside large tanks and clumps of plutonium to form that could start a spontaneous nuclear reaction.

His warnings, although disputed by his employer, were taken seriously by independent federal safety investigators and by senior Energy Department officials. Within months, department officials said the plant’s design and construction failed to meet federal safety standards.

In 2013, then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu ordered a halt to the construction of two massive processing facilities at Hanford: the pretreatment plant and the high-level vitrification plant that would turn the waste into glass. The suspension continues to this day amid doubts about whether the plants could operate as designed. So far, more than $13 billion has been spent on the project.

Posted August 13, Updated August 14, By Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times, as posted at http://www.pressherald.com/2015/08/13/nuclear-waste-plant-whistleblower-wins-settlement-of-4-1-million/

Germany draws up new plan to dispose of nuclear waste (August 2015)

The German government has presented its plan for permanently disposing of nuclear waste. Critics say the proposal is a tacit admission that it is a bigger problem than it has ever acknowledged before.

Pausing only to get the okay from the cabinet, Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks gave a press conference on Wednesday to present the government’s brand new plan for dealing with radioactive waste.

The plan foresees two locations: one site for low- to medium-radioactive waste is already being converted – the Konrad Shaft, part of a disused iron ore mine near the town of Salzgitter in northern Germany. But the other location, for highly radioactive waste, has yet to be found.

The new news is that Konrad would not be extended, as had been previously proposed, and this unknown new location would therefore also have to house any radioactive waste produced between now and 2022, when Germany plans to shut down its last reactor.

August 12, 2015 – As posted at http://www.dw.com/en/germany-draws-up-new-plan-to-dispose-of-nuclear-waste/a-18645069

Flin Flon city council plans to accept $250K gift (August 2015)

Flin Flon city council is planning a motion to accept a quarter of a million dollars for community projects. Nuclear Waste Management Organization recently announced that Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach would each receive $250,000 in recognition of their work with NWMO. City council must carry a motion to accept the funds and agree to abide by the criteria for how it is spent. The money must go toward a beneficial community project and cannot simply be put into general coffers. Council was expected to pass that motion as early as last Tuesday, August 4, but Mayor Cal Huntley said that due to a staff absence, the resolution was not ready. Huntley reiterated council’s appreciation to NWMO, which worked with area communities as it examined land outside Creighton as a possible site for nuclear-waste storage. In March, NWMO declared Creighton’s geology was unsuitable for the project.

Flin Flon Reminder – August 13, 2015

Read story at: http://www.thereminder.ca/news/local-news/flin-flon-city-council-plans-to-accept-250k-gift-1.2028363#sthash.nGPFB9E2.dpuf

French nuclear waste plan irks Germans near site (August 2015)

France wants to build a permanent nuclear waste storage facility not far from the German border. The plan has irked many in the region, but the government in Berlin sees no need for action.

Nuclear power plants produce radioactive waste, which emits radiation for thousands of years. Even Germany, which is set to phase out nuclear power, is looking for a final repository for its spent nuclear fuel, but has not yet decided on the location. Finding a geologically suitable site is not the problem, but rather, the protests over the location. Nobody wants to live with a nuclear waste dump at their doorstep.

For many decades, France has focused and relied on nuclear power, and now, plant operators are under pressure to find repositories for the radioactive waste.

The French government seems to have its sights set on Bure, a town in eastern France, around 120 kilometers (74 miles) from the German border. There, scientists have spent years investigating whether highly and moderately radioactive waste can be disposed of 500 meters underground. ANDRA, the French national agency for radioactive waste, believes that Bure offers what a repository requires: Nuclear waste can be stored there for 100 years; then, the site can be closed off and ultimately, the nuclear waste can decay there for 100,000 years until the radiation no longer poses a threat to humans.

‘Unbearable coup’

Opponents of the site feel less bothered by the repository itself then by the decision-making process that led to choosing it. In mid-July, the government added a last minute clause to a legislative package promoting business development but did not hold a debate or vote in parliament. And since no other potential nuclear waste sites have been explored in France, critics believe that the Bure location was practically predetermined. The Green party group in the French national assembly calls the procedure an “unbearable coup,” while the nation’s nuclear regulatory body and the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Reactor Safety (IRSN) have expressed “numerous reservations” about the plans.

Read more of “French nuclear waste plan irks Germans near site | Europe | DW.COM | 04.08.2015” at http://www.dw.com/en/french-nuclear-waste-plan-irks-germans-near-site/a-18627896

WIPP will not meet target opening date of March 2016 (August 2015)

New date evaluated based on radiation leak last year

CARLSBAD>> The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s anticipated opening date of March 2016 has been pushed back, WIPP officials said, due to a series of bumps in the recovering process.

A change in Department of Energy’s standards, damage to a key piece of equipment and review of recommendations by the Accident Investigation Board for implementation all played a key role in the decision, which was announced on Friday.

The plant had been closed since a radiation leak was detected in February 2014, and a new opening date is being evaluated based on those challenges.

“We are disappointed that we will not meet the original target date for beginning waste emplacement, but (we) do not want to lose sight of the substantial progress that has been made in the recovery of the WIPP site, including great strides in mine stabilization, radiological risk mitigation and the closure of Panel 6 and Panel 7 Room 7, all of which have significantly increased safety in the underground,” said acting Carlsbad Field Office Manager Dana Bryson in the release.

By Jessica Onsurez and Maddy Hayden

Carlsbad Current Argus jonsurez@currentargus.com; mahayden@currentargus.com

Posted:   07/31/2015 11:08:32 PM MDT

The opening of an underground nuclear waste dump in New Mexico just got delayed indefinitely (August 2015)

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