Fatal rockfall at planned French repository site (January 2016)

One person was killed and another injured today by a tunnel collapse within an underground laboratory operated by French waste management agency Andra. The laboratory, near Bure in the Meuse/Haute Marne area, is assessing the site for its suitability to house a national radioactive waste repository.
According to an Andra statement, the working face of the gallery within the laboratory collapsed at 12.20pm. Geophysical surveys were being carried out at the time and the rockfall is believed to have happened as drilling was taking place. The gallery has now been evacuated and its stability is being assessed.

Andra said it is analyzing the overall causes of the accident, whilst a police investigation under the supervision of the prosecutor of the municipality of Bar-le-Duc has been launched to determine the precise circumstances.

France plans to construct the Centre Industriel de Stockage Géologique (Cigéo) repository – an underground system of disposal tunnels, known as galleries – at a depth of some 500 metres in a natural layer of clay near Bure. The facility is to be financed by radioactive waste generators – EDF, Areva and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission – and managed by Andra.

Some 2700 cubic metres of high-level radioactive waste and about 40,000 cubic metres of long-lived intermediate-level radioactive waste is to be disposed of in the Cigéo facility. Between them these contain 99% of the radioactivity from nuclear power generation that has provided the majority of France’s electricity over the last few decades.

No radioactive material has yet been placed within the facility, which is awaiting the government’s final investment decision. Andra has been conducting work in the underground laboratory to determine the suitability of the site for the planned Cigéo repository.

26 January 2016, Researched and written, by World Nuclear News, as posted at http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Fatal-landslide-at-planned-French-repository-site-2601165.html

One dead in mudslide at French nuclear waste site (January 2016)

Bure, France: One person was killed on Tuesday in a mudslide at a laboratory of France’s national nuclear waste management agency in the northeast of the country, the emergency services said.

Another person suffered minor injuries in the incident at Bure near Nancy.

The site is being prepared to receive highly radioactive nuclear waste, which would be stored at a depth of 500 metres (1,650 feet).

The two people involved in the incident were in a tunnel currently being dug at the site, a spokesman for the emergency services said.

Officials said no nuclear waste was at the site at the time of the incident.

Psychological counselling was offered to employees at the facility.

The nuclear waste site, which has been heavily criticised by environmental groups, is part of a 25 billion euro ($27 billion) project designed to stock the three percent of France’s radioactive waste that is most dangerous.

The project is planned to begin in 2025 but is still awaiting the full go-ahead from the government.

It is spread over a site that includes four small villages, provoking concerns from residents that they might be exposed to radioactivity.

AFP, January 27, 2016 – 12:00:00 am, as posted at http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/news/international/367822/one-dead-in-mudslide-at-french-nuclear-waste-site

US public views sought on waste siting consent (January 2016)

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has invited public comment by 15 June on a consent-based approach to siting facilities for the storage and disposal of used commercial nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

An Invitation for Public Comment was issued in the US Federal Register on 23 December and the first of a series of public meetings was held in Washington DC on 20 January.

A Blue Ribbon Commission was tasked with developing alternative strategies after the US administration shelved the program to develop a national repository for used fuel at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. A strategy for the USA’s management and disposal of used nuclear fuel and high-level waste was then drawn up.

The strategy outlines an integrated waste management system starting with the development by 2021 of a pilot interim storage facility to accept used fuel from reactors that have already closed. This would be followed by the development of a larger interim storage facility by 2025. Finally, one or more long-term geologic repositories would be developed by 2048. A consent-based approach to siting the facilities is to be taken throughout the decision making process.

The current consultation process aims to seek public input to help to decide how to define “consent”. The DOE has asked specifically for input on how it can best ensure that the site selection process is fair. It has also asked for input on which models and experience it should use in designing its process – consent-based models for siting nuclear waste facilities are being used in Canada, Finland and Sweden – and who should be involved in the site selection process. It also asks what information the public and communities feel they would need to enable them to participate in the site selection process.

The initial meeting was chaired by undersecretary for science and energy, Lynn Orr, and involved a keynote presentation, panel discussion, question-and-answer sessions and poster session. Public meetings are due to take place in Chicago in March and Atlanta in April, with further meetings to be announced.

Two private sector proposals for interim storage solutions – a consolidated interim storage facility in Texas, led by Waste Control Specialists, and an interim used fuel storage facility proposed by Holtec International and the Eddy-Lea Alliance of New Mexico – are also being developed.

26 January 2016, Researched and written by World Nuclear News, as posted at http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/WR-US-public-views-sought-on-waste-siting-consent-2601167.html

At least 1 killed in tunnel collapse at France’s planned nuclear waste storage site (January 2016)

A tunnel at a French nuclear waste storage facility under construction has collapsed, killing at least one person and injuring another, French media reported, citing rescue teams.

The incident happened on Tuesday afternoon in Bure, northeastern France, at an underground laboratory of the National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (Andra), which didn’t immediately comment on the incident.

The two victims, including a seriously injured person, are still trapped 500 meters below the ground, with emergency services trying to reach them, Reuters reported, citing local fire service.

Scheduled for an authorization decree in 2018 and industrial commissioning in 2025, the facility – if approved – is expected to bury France’s most dangerous, highly-radioactive nuclear waste. The project, estimated to cost €25 billion ($27 billion), is awaiting the government’s final investment decision, but testing works with deep shafts and some future installations have already begun at the site.

Stored in underground layers up to 500 meters deep, the waste to be buried at the site accounts of some 3 percent of the total volume of waste produced by French reactors, but concentrate some 99 percent of the radioactivity and must remain confined for around 100,000 years before it’s not dangerous to humans, according to Ouest France.

Published time: 26 Jan, 2016 15:27Edited time: 26 Jan, 2016 16:22, at https://www.rt.com/news/330201-france-nuclear-waste-collapse/

France Bure: Rock slide kills one at nuclear waste site (January 2016)

A rock slide has killed one person and injured another at a site for nuclear waste in north-eastern France.

Both were in a tunnel at the site in Bure, about 138 miles (223 km) east of Paris, when part of a rock face collapsed, emergency officials said.

Workers were evacuated and an investigation is under way. There was no nuclear waste at the location at the time of the rock slide, officials said.

The facility is being tested to store radioactive waste deep underground.

France is heavily dependent on nuclear energy and the site is required to house the most dangerous material.

The underground repository scheme is due to begin in 2025 but is still awaiting the government’s final decision.

BBC – January 26, 2016 – As posted at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35415456

One dead and another badly injured after nuclear waste storage tunnel collapse (January 2016)

PERSON has died and another has been badly injured after a nuclear waste storage site tunnel collapsed.

The incident happened at the nuclear waste storage plant in Bure, France

The storage facility in Bure, northeastern France, is currently under construction at an underground laboratory of the National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (Andra).

Fire services said the two victims, including a seriously injured person, are trapped 500 metres below the ground as emergency services attempt to reach them.

Officials from the Strasbourg prefecture said the front of a tunnel being drilled about 500 metres deep had collapsed while measurements were being taken.

Andra’s deep geological storage project was designed to bury France’s highly radioactive nuclear waste hundreds of metres underground for about 100,000 years, before it is not dangerous to humans anymore.The nuclear waste plant is run by Andra

One person was killed in the collapse

The Government’s final investment decision on the £18.8billion project is not expected before 2020, but Andra has already dug deep shafts to test the soil and its future installations.

France is the largest producer per capita of nuclear power in the world, with 75 per cent of the country’s total electricity production coming from fission-electric power stations.

By Alix Culbertson, Express, PUBLISHED: 00:00, Tue, Jan 26, 2016 | UPDATED: 21:33, Tue, Jan 26, 2016, as posted at http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/638276/dead-injured-nuclear-waste-storage-tunnel-collapse-France

Used fuel discussions in Bruce and Huron counties to enter screening process, with bore-holes possible (January 2016)

Three local communities will see extensive evaluations for long-term nuclear fuel storage in 2016 and beyond.

The sedimentary rock layers of Bruce and Huron counties are being researched as an option to contain the radioactivity by Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), with Bruce County’s Huron-Kinloss, South Bruce and Huron County’s Central Huron in the running as they enter the ‘Initial Screening’ during Step 2 of the 9-step process. [CORRECTION:

Practical, site testing and evaluation are planned in the coming months and years of the investigation in the region, alongside other Canadian communities in the running.

Like many other nuclear-powered nations, Canada has chosen a scientific-based path to deal with its growing used fuel stockpile and southern Bruce and Huron counties are a part of that research under both a national, and international microscope.

NWMO’s Paul Austin said communicating the safety case to the public is the biggest challenge, from the geological science, environmental protection, project design and engineering to transportation of nuclear waste.

“All these features need to be brought together so we can make a solid safety case,” said Austin, who worked as a journalist for most of his career.

Both Austin and Marie Wilson, another former journalist and nuclear waste consultant, staff the NWMO’s ‘Learn More’ centres from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Ripley (Huron-Kinloss Wed-Fri), Teeswater (South Bruce Tues-Wed) and Clinton (Central Huron Mon-Wed) to provide information through interactive displays, information boards and individual/group presentations. They both welcome invitations to present their information, and are planning presentations as the year progresses, he said, with events like the 2015 Ripley Reunion demonstrated as a “busy time” for them to share their knowledge of the project.

They plan to expand their outreach even further in 2016. Austin said they want the public to get involved, ask questions and create an ongoing conversation to help the process evolve over time through social input. Regardless of the level of knowledge a person has on the topic, NWMO seeks to educate and inform through both visual means and literature they provide.

Communicating the plan for safe transportation of used fuel has both garnered attention, and been a focus of communication by the NWMO. The organization, independent of the nuclear industry, continues to provide details about its technology and plans to the public via open houses, group presentations, or scheduled visits to the Learn More centres.

Five other communities in Ontario remain of the original 21 communities that volunteered, with 13 dismissed from the process due to factors ranging from location, to geology, to community support. Others still involved in northern Ontario include include the areas of Blind River/Elliot Lake, Hornepayne, Ignace, Manitouage and White River.

Austin said bore hole drilling is a possibility for each of the communities, along with sonar-like technology that can outline the geologic conditions in the region far better than what can be done in the Canadian Shield in the north.

“If people see (test drill) rigs in their communities in 2016-2017, don’t come to the conclusion the site has been picked,” said Austin, who emphasized a final site selection is years of consultation and research away.

The new information will help lead the NWMO closer to a conclusion though, as it will be paired with data currently available from oil and gas exploration, and bore holes from Ontario Power Generation’s low and intermediate nuclear waste deep geologic repository (OPG DGR) currently awaiting federal construction approval. Additional bore holes from new field studies would help confirm the consistency of the geologic conditions, as they change across the landscape.

“Some info is available, but we have to be careful what we think we know is true,” Austin said of the geology. “New field studies would be helpful and add a voice to our technology, so we can better understand and engage people.”

Even if the three sites don’t pass the next phase of research, for whatever reason, the information gathered will be added to Canada’s mandated plan for the long-term management of nuclear fuel, an underground repository, chosen by the public through extensive research and consultation.

Austin said the federal decision on the OPG DGR for low and intermediate nuclear waste at the Bruce nuclear site will play a role in decision-making, (as it excludes nuclear fuel under order of a binding OPG-Municipality of Kincardine agreement.)

The NWMO’s plan is constantly changing due to technological and social changes, as it was designed. The Canadian organization is on par with other nations involved in an ‘active site selection process’ including the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Russia, China, India and Japan, which have all choses geological repositories as their option for long-term used fuel management.

Austin said Finland is the furthest along in the world so far, having received its construction license for a nuclear fuel repository under the ocean, on Nov. 12, 2015. Sweden as also selected a site and in implementing the process through nuclear regulators, and France is moving ahead with a site as well.

“We’re not alone,” said Austin, who said each nuclear nation is sharing its research on nuclear repositories, so all can be on equal ground in finding a nuclear waste solution. “There is no competitive edge.”

The United States, Mexico, Brazil, Netherlands, Ukraine, Italy and Korea have decided to build a DGR as their option, but are currently not in process.

Nuclear-powered nations Belgium, Spain, Argentina, South Africa, Australia and Pakistan have yet to make a decision on their nuclear waste direction.

Since 2011 the European Commission has asked member states to conduct reports on when, where and how it will construct and manage repositories, which were to be implemented in 2015.

Most recently Canada selected a new design for used nuclear fuel bundles to be copper-encased, and sealed within ‘radiation trapping’ bentonite clay layers to be filled within constructed underground corridors. Austin said the technology would allow any Canadian community that is selected the ability to construct the technologies needed, on-site, creating jobs and preventing additional transportation costs.

A ‘Centre of Excellence’ will be part of the discussion for the community that is selected, as it would become a facility employing techological and social research demostration programs, along with scientific research, engineering, geoscience, environmental, economic and cultural impact assessment of the so-called ‘Adaptive Phased Management (APM) program chosen to move forward as Canada’s used nuclear fuel solution. It could also act as a training centre to help employ and retain local residents that could number at about 700 jobs over multiple generations.

“We could built the plant in Huron-Kinloss, or wherever, because Canada has the technology and resources to build these (nuclear fuel storage vessels),” Austin said. “We need to know what that’s going to mean to these communities. It’s a collaboration and we’re relying on input from citizens.”

Lengthy discussions are still to be had on the social, economic and environmental impacts such a project could have over the thousands of years the waste remains radioactive. This is also an ongoing point of contention for opponents of nuclear waste storage in the Great Lakes basic, which the NWMO address as part their ongoing community outreach.

“There’s an awful lot of information, so it’s important that we’re good communicators,” he said.

Canada has over 2.6 million fuel bundles in wet and dry storage, the majority at the OPG Western Waste Management Facility (WWMF) at the Bruce nuclear site (1.1 million). Others are located on site at Pickering and Darlington sites in Ontario, Gentilly in Quebec, Point Lepreau in New Brunswick, and Atomic Energy of Canada sites in Whiteshell, Manitoba, Chalk River, Ontario the historic Douglas Point site, also in Bruce County.

For more information call 519-386-6711 or visit nwmo.ca

By Troy Patterson, Kincardine News and Lucknow Sentinel,Wednesday, January 20, 2016 11:53:39 EST AM, as posted at http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2016/01/20/used-fuel-discussions-in-bruce-and-huron-counties-to-enter-screening-process-with-bore-holes-possible

6,000-page megapetition dumps on nuke vault plan at Kincardine (January 2016)

A petition — so big that, with accompanying comments, it would have run 6,000 pages — is in the federal environment minister’s in-box to argue against a deep nuclear waste storage vault along the Great Lakes near ­Kincardine.

The document represents “a very strong voice” opposed to the underground nuclear-waste repository, said Beverly Fernandez, head of Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump, which has lobbied against the plan by provincial electricity producer Ontario Power Generation (OPG).

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is expected to rule this spring whether to endorse OPG’s plan, already green-lighted by a federal review panel, to bury low-grade radioactive waste from Ontario’s nuclear plants in a proposed limestone vault deeper than the CN Tower is high.

The petition has the backing of Southwestern Ontario’s ranking mayor, Mike Bradley of Sarnia, who worked with organizers. He notes his city is the largest along Lake Huron, its shore a little more than a kilometre from where the deep-burial vault would be drilled in the Bruce Peninsula’s rock.

“I would like the new Trudeau government to send a strong environmental message about being protectors of the Great Lakes and deny application for the repository,” Bradley said Wednesday.

OPG says the rock below lands at the Bruce Power station — the provincially owned but privately run complex that is the world’s largest operating nuclear plant — is impermeable, so stable it hasn’t changed in tens of millions of years.

The waste would include dry material that has come into contact with the nuclear-generating process, but would not include spent fuel rods.

But critics say if there’s a need for below-ground nuclear-waste storage, it shouldn’t be anywhere near the Great Lakes, a source of drinking water for 40 million people in Canada and the U.S.

More than 180 Canadian and U.S. communities representing about 20 million people, including Toronto and Chicago, have logged their opposition to the proposal.

Read full story

By Debora Van Brenk, The London Free Press, Wednesday, January 20, 2016 10:18:37 EST PMWith files by Dan Brown, The London Free Press

Petition opposing nuclear waste burial sent to Canadian leaders (January 2016)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Opponents of a plan to bury waste from nuclear power plants less than a mile from Lake Huron have submitted a petition with more than 92,000 signatures to Canada’s top environment official.

Ontario Power Generation wants to bury 7.1 million cubic feet of low-
and intermediate-level nuclear waste about 2,230 feet deep near Kincardine, Ontario.

The company says the waste would be entombed in rock and wouldn’t endanger the lake. But opponents contend it’s too risky.

A Canadian advisory panel endorsed the project last year. But after the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a decision was delayed until March 1.

Beverly Fernandez of a group called Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump says the petition was sent this week to Catherine McKenna, the minister of Environment

The Associated Press, Published Thursday, January 21, 2016 7:12AM EST, as posted at http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/petition-opposing-nuclear-waste-burial-sent-to-canadian-leaders-1.2746110

German jibe at ‘dirty’ Swedish nuclear waste site (January 2016)

The chairman of Germany’s nuclear waste committee sharply criticised Sweden’s proposed site for radioactive waste on Tuesday (19 January).

“I have seldom seen such a disorderly and also dirty situation as there,” Michael Mueller told a group of journalists at a seminar organised by non-profit organisation Clean Energy Wire.

Sweden is planning to store highly radioactive waste underneath the site of a nuclear plant in the coastal town of Forsmark, around 100 km north of Stockholm.

Last year, Finland approved the construction of an underground repository at the island of Olkiluoto, and other countries have yet to begin the process of selecting a site where radioactive waste can be stored permanently.

Michael Mueller leads Germany’s commission on the storage of highly radioactive waste materials, which is in charge of defining criteria on the basis of which the German government can decide where to build its long-term storage facilities for radioactive waste.

He said a European approach to the problem was preferable but unlikely.

“I think it would be good if there was a European solution, but only if everybody accepts the standard that we go for the best possible solution. But if I look at Europe now, I see that the positions diverge so widely that I find it very hard to imagine a European solution is possible,” he said.

“I can tell you, with our commission we have travelled to different countries. What I saw in Sweden, I didn’t really find this very convincing. Even less in Finland, where it seems the solution is you buy a peninsula, you start drilling and see what happens. This is nothing that would be possible in Germany.”


By Peter Teffer, EU Observer, Berlin, 20. Jan, 16:55 as posted at https://euobserver.com/energy/131924