Japan Says Fukushima Nuclear Plant Worker Diagnosed With Cancer (October 2015)

Construction worker’s leukemia could have been caused by radiation exposure

TOKYO—A construction worker at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has cancer that could have been caused by radiation exposure, the government said Tuesday in announcing the first compensation award to be granted in such a case.

By Mitsuru Obe, The Wall Street Journal,Updated Oct. 20, 2015 11:44 a.m. ET, as posted at http://www.wsj.com/articles/japan-says-fukushima-nuclear-plant-worker-diagnosed-with-cancer-1445333714

U.S. DOE team crafting strategy for moving, storing reactor waste (October 2015)

The Obama administration is preparing plans for transporting used reactor fuel to temporary storage sites and creating a federal corporation to oversee the process, according to sources and documents obtained by Greenwire.

The Department of Energy has assembled a team of a dozen or so staffers to “lay the groundwork” for transporting spent reactor fuel from closed nuclear power plants to not-yet-identified interim storage sites, team leaders said in a Sept. 2 presentation to the Office of Nuclear Energy.

The goal is to build a “foundation” for the organization that would oversee waste disposal, documents say.

The administration launched the “Nuclear Fuel Storage and Transportation Planning Project” three years ago under a strategy to build a pilot interim storage site by 2021, a larger interim site by 2025 and a new geologic repository by 2048.

The Sept. 2 presentation provides a new window into those plans.

Andrew Griffith, DOE’s associate deputy assistant secretary for fuel cycle technologies in the Office of Nuclear Energy, will lead the effort. He’ll report to John Kotek, the acting assistant secretary of nuclear energy, who’s being vetted today by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for the full-time appointment (E&E Daily, Oct. 19).

Other key team members: Mark Nutt, a nuclear engineer at Argonne National Laboratory; Rob Howard, a senior project engineer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Melissa Bates, a DOE engineer who works on nuclear fuels and transportation.

In the near term, the group has been tasked with developing options for interim storage, establishing a database to characterize material that would go into the new waste management system, finding ways for the public to comment on storage and transportation options, and preparing for a pilot interim waste-storage facility.

DOE lists 13 closed nuclear plants where almost 18,000 used nuclear fuel assemblies are being held in dry storage casks — large concrete vessels — waiting for final disposal.

The department has expressed interest in moving forward with interim storage as a way to stave off costly lawsuits DOE faces for failing to uphold 1980s agreements to take possession of waste piling up at reactors across the country. Damages could be more than $20 billion by 2020 and up to $500 million annually after 2020, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

There have been rumors about the DOE team and the administration’s focus on finding temporary solutions for the country’s 70,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel circulating among industry officials for several weeks.

One industry source praised DOE for its effort to find storage options for reactor fuel after disassembling the Yucca Mountain, Nev., repository program five years ago.

“Since 2010, the department hasn’t done a great deal on the back end of the fuel cycle, when Yucca was halted,” the source said. “This is finally seeing some action on their part to move forward. While not with Yucca Mountain, which the industry, of course, would like … they’re beginning to plan and think about consolidated storage.”

The presentation raises the question of whether DOE is considering proposals for interim storage in Texas and New Mexico, the source said.

Waste Control Specialists, a Dallas-based company whose former owner, billionaire Harold Simmons, once dubbed President Obama the most “dangerous man in America,” unveiled plans earlier this year to build the nation’s first private, temporary storage site for spent reactor fuel in arid West Texas.

And in New Mexico, Holtec International Inc. has proposed an underground storage facility to store casks of used fuel.

But the industry source also made clear Yucca Mountain must be part of the DOE package.

“The two — consolidated storage and Yucca — they can go forward together. And if they go forward, they need to do so together,” the source said. “Consolidated storage is not a solution in itself. You need the repository, but the repository isn’t going to be open for a couple decades at least.”

Legal authority

As DOE inches toward resolving the country’s waste issues, it faces constraints.

DOE has been warned by government watchdogs that it lacks clear legislative authority for consolidated interim storage or permanent disposal at a site other than Yucca Mountain. Nor can the department transport spent reactor fuel to temporary sites, the Government Accountability Office has said.

GAO also found the department would need to buy new equipment and fund costly upgrades if it were to pursue moving nuclear waste by rail.

“The federal government’s ability to site, license, construct and operate a consolidated interim storage facility not tied to Yucca Mountain depends on new legislative authority,” according to a GAO report to a House subcommittee.

A Republican congressional aide agreed DOE faces constraints under the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act, and the department’s activities on interim storage could trigger concern on the Hill as GOP lawmakers and the Nuclear Energy Institute have called for a federal thumbs-up or -down on Yucca Mountain before any other option is pursued.

“I think there would be concern about how far and what exactly they’re trying to do that goes beyond the limits of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act,” the aide said. “It’s important DOE maintain a semblance of activity on the used fuel management program, but there are limits to how much generic work can be done in this space until you actually start. Whether it’s interim or whether they want to move toward a repository, they need to have legal authority to do that.”

But DOE is aiming to align its activities with the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, a presidential panel that called on Congress three years ago to develop nuclear storage sites and dumps.

The commission also warned that narrowly focusing on the development of Yucca Mountain would exacerbate a policy impasse that has stranded nuclear waste across the country (Greenwire, Feb. 1, 2012).

A DOE spokesman said the team is part of a strategy the department unveiled in March for tackling defense and commercial nuclear waste separately (E&ENews PM, March 24).

“Based on this announcement a team has been developing plans and performing technical analysis of various components of an integrated waste management system, as well as evaluating the Department’s next steps in the consent-based siting process,” Bartlett Jackson said in an email.

“The Department believes that siting of any facility for storage or disposal of nuclear waste should be done in a consent-based fashion consistent with the phased, adaptive, and consent-based approach that has been endorsed by the National Academies and the [Blue Ribbon
Commission] and is an essential element of the administration’s Strategy for the Management and Disposal of Used Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste.”

Hannah Northey, E&E reporter, Greenwire: Tuesday, October 20, 2015, as posted at http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060026610

NWMO Holding “Phase Two” Meeting in Blind River October 19th (October 2015)

As posted:
Residents in the Blind River area can learn more about the next phase to dispose of nuclear waste. Blind River and Elliot Lake are two area communities interested in accepting the waste which would be encased and buried deep underground. Later this month the Nuclear Waste Management Organization is holding a phase two meeting in Blind River. The meeting will explain things like the kind of activity people can expect to see over the next few years. The meeting is October 19th at the waste management office on Woodward from 6:30pm to 7:30pm.

As posted at http://www.myalgomamanitoulinnow.com/5722/nuclear-waste-disposal-meeting-set/

Incidents at Fermi require action | “unexpected change in the water in the spent fuel pool” (October 201 5)

Fermi 2 nuclear power plant (Monroe News file photo)

Operators at the nuclear reactor at DTE Energy’s Fermi 2 nuclear power plant noticed unexpected changes recently as the plant remains shut down.

Guy D. Cerullo, manager of nuclear communications for DTE Energy, said during one of the maintenance activities, operators noticed an “unexpected change in the water in the spent fuel pool,” where used fuel is stored.

“Operators took immediate actions to isolate the drain path and stop the flow,” he said. “The water level in the fuel pool stayed constant throughout this time.”

That incident occurred at 9:56 a.m. Sunday

On Friday, maintenance technicians were performing checks on the discharge flange and found several bolts were not torqued properly.

“The plant has 15 safety relief valves,” Mr. Cerullo explained. “While working on one of them, personnel noted that 12 of 16 bolts on a discharge flange for the valve were not adequately torqued or tightened.”

Mr. Cerullo said the safety relief value worked “as designed” during the recent plant operations and shutdown.

“We are investigating the issue now and do not have any conclusions yet,” he said.

The two recent incidents are unsettling to local anti-nuclear activists.

Michael Keegan of Don’t Waste Michigan issued a statement Monday saying “yesterday morning the Fermi 2 experienced a very serious unusual event with the potential to drain the reactor vessel.”

By Danielle Portteus, As of Tuesday, October 6, 2015, 01:51 p.m.. Read story as posted at http://www.monroenews.com/news/2015/oct/06/incidents-fermi-require-action/
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Town set for nuclear waste forums | CNSC in White River (October 2015)

The agency that would give an operating licence to a proposed underground nuclear-waste storage facility will host two information forums next week in White River.

The town is one of the remaining Northern areas still considering the project despite protests from locals and First Nation groups.

Formerly the Atomic Energy Control Board, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission says it’s an “independent regulator” that “would only issue a licence (for a storage site) if it is safe to do so.”

The planned White River forums follows several other forums the commission has hosted in various Northern communities since 2010.

The commission is separate from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, which since 2002 has been searching for a suitable underground storage site for 50,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel bundles — enough to fill six hockey rinks up to the boards.

The proposed facility, which would go into service by 2035 at the earliest, is expected to create between 400 and 600 permanent jobs.

Manitouwadge, Hornepayne and Ignace also remain on the list of Ontario communities still willing to consider having the site on their turf, and have so far each received $400,000 for their trouble.

Receiving the money from the NWMO doesn’t mean the towns must accept a nuclear-waste storage site; they can spend the funds as they see fit for “community projects.”

This spring, a local White River citizens group staged a protest against the storage-site proposal.

Proponents “think we should do the noble thing and accept the waste for the good of the country, but I don’t want it here,” protest organizer Jennifer Jacques said at the time.

“We live up here for a reason. Everyone around traps, or goes hunting and fishing.”

White River Mayor Angelo Bazzoni earlier said he “encouraged the community to become involved as we learn together with the NWMO and our neighbours about the potential impacts of the project on our region if it were to be implemented here.”

NWMO is funded by Ontario Power Generation, NB Power Nuclear, Hydro-Quebec and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.

The White River information forums to be hosted by the commission are to take place Oct. 14 at the town’s seniors’ club on Spruce Street.

The forums are set for 1-3:30 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

As Posted: Tuesday, October 6, 2015 6:00 am | Updated: 6:00 am, Tue Oct 6, 2015 at http://www.chroniclejournal.com/news/local/town-set-for-nuclear-waste-forums/article_b3fa6ba4-6bdf-11e5-8b8f-575faee35df2.html

Town set for nuclear waste forums By Carl Clutchey, CJ staff chroniclejournal.com |