Lake Huron site is best suited for nuclear waste bunker: OPG report

The Ontario Power Generation is planning on burying nuclear waste about 1.2 kilometres from Lake Huron, sparking criticism from environmental groups and Indigenous communities.

Canadian Press | A new report from Ontario Power Generation overwhelmingly affirms the utility’s long-held position that the best place for a nuclear-waste bunker is on the Lake Huron shoreline.

One of the biggest problems with burying the hazardous waste somewhere else would come from having to truck it up to 2,000 kilometres, increasing the risk of radiological accidents and pollution, the 143-page analysis concludes.

The only minor advantage — amid a sea of disadvantages — to locating a bunker elsewhere might be less disturbance of Indigenous heritage sites, such as burial grounds, the report finds.

Even so, the overall impact on Indigenous peoples will probably be lower if the deep geologic repository is built, as proposed, at the Bruce nuclear plant near Kincardine, the report states.

“There is the potential that the total risk may be increased on Indigenous peoples if the (facility) is constructed at an alternate location,” the report states. “This (is) due to the introduction of a new facility in an area previously without a nuclear facility, as well as the transportation of wastes to that facility.”

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By COLIN PERKEL, The Canadian Press, Tues., May 30, 2017, as posted at https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/05/30/lake-huron-site-is-best-suited-for-nuclear-waste-bunker-opg-report.html

OPG submits answers for additional questions on proposed nuclear waste facility

Kincardine News | Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has submitted its responses to 23 information requests from the federal government about a proposed Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) for the permanent disposal of low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste from its generating stations.

“We support a rigorous process of due diligence, to ensure that this important project is carefully examined before approval,” said Lise Morton, OPG’s vice president of Nuclear Waste Management in a release.

Morton noted that, since 2011, OPG has responded to 608 information requests on the DGR.

“We believe we have answered all questions in a thorough and timely manner,” she said.

The latest information requests were made April 5 by the Canadian Environment Assessment Agency (CEAA).

Earlier this year, it led a period of review by the public, Indigenous communities and several federal departments of three OPG reports completed in December 2016. The reports were about alternate locations for the DGR, cumulative effects of a potential nearby DGR for highlevel waste, and all environmental commitments made in OPG’s plan. OPG’s responses are posted on the CEAA website. The follow up questions were part of the normal review process.

Most of the questions involved matters of elaboration or methodology in comparing three possible locations for the DGR.

OPG’s preferred location is at the Bruce nuclear site, where ideal geology exists for safely isolating nuclear waste 680 metres below ground in stable, dry rock. Alternate locations in the Canadian Shield or Southwest Ontario, while technically feasible, would result in greater environmental effects and higher costs, as well as a project delay of 15 years or more, while offering no additional benefits in safety.

OPG has a responsibility to future generations to safely and permanently dispose of the waste produced by 40 years of electricity generation from nuclear energy.

A federal Joint Review Panel, which held record-long hearings, concluded in 2015 that the Bruce site was appropriate. It recommended the project proceed “now rather than later.”

The CEAA will report its recommendations to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, who is expected to decide in 2017 whether to approve the project’s Environmental Assessment.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 2:54:43 EDT PM as posted at http://www.kincardinenews.com/2017/05/30/opg-submits-answers-for-additional-questions-on-proposed-nuclear-waste-facility

OPG Fails Again to Make the Case for Nuclear Waste Burial

Citizens groups say that Ontario Power Generation has failed again to make a convincing case in support of their scheme to burial radioactive waste on the shore of Lake Huron, but they say that the federal review agency is also failing in its job, given their decision to omit public participation from the review of OPG’s newest report, released today.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency posted OPG’s most recent response to information requests about their burial project Monday evening, but has told public interest groups who have participated in last six stages of the project review that there will be no opportunity for them to have input into whether OPG had satisfied the Agency’s April 5th request for additional information.

As posted at http://mailchi.mp/42f548ecbea8/news-release-opg-fails-again-to-make-the-case-for-nuclear-waste-burial

Microbially-induced corrosion of carbon steel in a geologic repository environment

Thesis Abstract: Low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste (LLW/ILW) is produced during the operation and decommission of nuclear power plants. At the Olkiluoto power plant, LLW/ILW is disposed of in an underground repository excavated into the bedrock 60–100 m below sea level. The metallic portion of this waste is typically made of carbon steel and stainless steels.

In anoxic conditions, such as the groundwater at the Olkiluoto repository site, carbon steel corrosion rate is very slow unless the groundwater is highly acidic or microbial activity is high, altering local conditions to corrosion inducing direction. Microorganisms are able to accelerate general corrosion as well as induce localized corrosion forms and stress corrosion cracking as conditions under the biofilm can differ markedly from those in the adjacent environment. Critically, corrosion of metallic waste can release radioactive nuclides into the groundwater and threaten the long-term integrity of the storage site.

The objective of this research was to determine the importance of microbially- induced corrosion (MIC) of carbon steel placed in deep geological repository containing LLW/ILW. The structure and function of microbial communities in the deep biosphere are still poorly understood but could have important consequences for the long-term storage of radioactive waste in underground repositories.

MIC of carbon steel in anoxic groundwater was studied in the laboratory and in situ in experiments with exposure time ranging from 3 months to 15 years. MIC was examined using gravimetric and electrochemical techniques complemented by molecular biology and surface characterization methods.

It was shown that conditions beneath the microbial biofilm accelerated corrosion rate of carbon steel, especially localized corrosion, and that microbial activity in deep groundwater is enhanced by the presence of carbon steel. Naturally- occurring microorganisms in deep groundwater environments have a great affinity for the surface of carbon steel and rapidly form a biofilm. Phylum proteobacteria, beta- or deltaproteobacteria depending on the experiment, were in the majority in the biofilm forming bacterial community. Archaeal biofilm was formed by phylas Euryarchaeota (DHVE) and Thaumarcheota (MBGB). However, corrosion was inhibited in concrete-encased environments, due to high alkalinity and calcium carbonate concentration in the environment. In many cases, LLW/ILW repositories contain concrete materials, which according to the present results hinders the corrosion at least in the beginning of repository time scale.

http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-38-8544-1, Author: Rajala, Pauliina. Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Food and Environmental Sciences. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (article-based). Belongs to series: URN:ISSN: 2242-1203

The Buffalo News: Gillibrand, Higgins petition Energy Department to rethink N-waste transport

Buffalo | The first of about 150 shipments of high-level liquid nuclear waste between Ontario and South Carolina began last month.

It’s unclear whether the flatbed tractor trailer carrying a cask with a uranium solution containing cesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium-239 crossed the Peace Bridge. The route taken is apparently classified for national security reasons. But just the specter of it has local congressional officials demanding a review from U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Brian Higgins, in a joint statement Thursday, asked Perry to overturn the Obama administration’s approval of the shipments from Chalk River, Ont., to the Savannah River Site, a U.S. Dept. of Energy nuclear reservation in Aiken, S.C.

“We are concerned that there was not a full Environmental Impact Statement to examine the potential risks associated with shipping liquid uranium prior to the decision to allow these shipments to proceed,” Gillibrand and Higgins wrote to Perry.

The letter added: “Highly radioactive material has never been transported over public roads in liquid form.”

The shipments are expected to proceed over the next four years.

One of the possible routes outlined to the federal government would take the shipments into the United States at the Peace Bridge to the Niagara Thruway through downtown Buffalo to the mainline Thruway toward Erie, Pa., and south from there.

The shipments, which were to start last September, were delayed by a lawsuit by several environmental groups seeking the same environmental assessment requested by Gillibrand and Higgins.

A federal judge ruled against the environmental groups in February, paving the way for the start of the shipments last month.

The first one didn’t proceed unscathed, according to an April 21 report by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

“An unexpected hotspot” was reported at the South Carolina facility when one of the containers from the cask was removed into another piece of shielded equipment there, the report stated.

T.J Pignartaro, May 18, 2017, http://buffalonews.com/2017/05/18/gillibrand-higgins-petition-energy-department-rethink-n-waste-transport/

Trump administration dropping nuclear waste burial test

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The U.S. Department of Energy is abandoning a test meant to determine whether nuclear waste can be buried far underground because of changes in budget priorities, the agency said Tuesday.

A spokeswoman said in a statement that the agency doesn’t intend to continue supporting the Deep Borehole Field Test project, which was meant to assess whether nuclear waste could be stored in approximately 3-mile-deep holes. Officials had stressed it wouldn’t involve the use of actual nuclear waste.

Federal energy officials said in December that companies were exploring potential sites for the test in South Dakota, Texas and New Mexico. Only one company would have eventually carried out the field test.

The project’s contract dictated that after the project was completed, the borehole would have been permanently sealed and the land restored.

Local officials in North Dakota and South Dakota had previously rebuffed project organizers over nuclear waste concerns.

South Dakota U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem in a statement applauded the Energy Department’s move, saying that she and local community members were deeply concerned about doing testing in “our backyard” to see whether boreholes could store nuclear waste.

“I am grateful to the Trump administration for hearing the concerns raised by these communities and subsequently withdrawing consideration of this proposal,” Noem said.

U.S. Sen. John Thune said in a statement that he’s glad the Trump administration has decided to end the project in the wake of strong public opposition. A spokesman for Gov. Dennis Daugaard said in a statement that he didn’t object to the test as long as it wouldn’t have led to nuclear waste storage in South Dakota.

The proposed site in South Dakota was in Haakon County. Edward Briggs, chairman of the county commission, said he was neutral toward the project.

“They claimed that this thing was strictly a research hole,” said Briggs, who wasn’t fully convinced it wouldn’t have meant future nuclear waste storage. “Your gut instinct tells you that’s where it would probably lead to in 10-15 years.”

Todd Kenner, CEO of RESPEC, a company pursuing the South Dakota site, said that the company is reaching out to local community leaders to inform them of the decision.

The Trump administration on Tuesday sent Congress a federal spending plan that seeks $120 million to revive the mothballed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, which is hugely unpopular in Nevada and was largely stopped by the efforts of former Democratic Sen. Harry Reid.

Waste from commercial reactors in the U.S. now is stored onsite at nuclear power plants. The waste generated from defence activities is kept at a few secure locations.

James Nord, The Associated Press, THE CANADIAN PRESS Published May 23, 2017, as posted at http://thechronicleherald.ca/business/1471557-trump-administration-dropping-nuclear-waste-burial-test

On the Nuclear Wasting of South Carolina

Chalk River – The Canadian shipments of nuclear waste to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site are currently underway. Without effect, the Anishinabek Nation and Iroquois Caucus have asked the Canadian Government to forego transporting the hazardous materials, and to downgrade the nuclear waste at home in Chalk River. This was also suggested by Savannah River Site Watch in South Carolina to spare from the chance of irradiation of people, land, rivers and water between the two sites.

With Department of Energy permission (sic) Indonesia is able to downgrade its nuclear waste at home. An environmental coalition of Savannah River Site Watch, the Sierra Club, Beyond Nuclear, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Lone Tree Council, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Environmentalists Inc., has tried unsuccessfully to stop the transport through court action. American courts remain unable to protect the people from the risks of nuclear energy. Joining the American groups in requests to government were the Canadian groups of Sierra Club Canada Foundation, National Council of Women of Canada, Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, Durham Nuclear Awareness, whose combined efforts proved equally ineffective.

The transport of the 23,000 litres scheduled is considered hazardous due to the distance, through populated areas, and possibly faulty lead “pigs” (containers). In the first batch delivered to the Savannah River Plant this April a “hot spot” was found in the side of a container. Supposedly the site has facilities to re-process highly enriched uranium. Yet it is also said that the State has no way to dispose of the plutonium waste already on hand at the site, modestly estimated at 13 tons in 2016 (Unofficial estimates of plutonium at SRS run as high as 30 tons). In March 2016 there was public resistance to the shipment of 331Kg of weapons grade plutonium waste from Japan to the Savannah River Site. In 2014 Nights Lantern noted the report of agreement between the German nuclear industry and U.S. Department of Energy to store German nuclear waste. See also “Nuclear Notes: the Savannah River Watershed”.

Historical note: as South Carolina becomes an irrecoverable holding area and dumping ground for nuclear waste, scarred since the 1950’s by radiation from uranium processing, overburdening the Savannah River Site is likely to further endanger the habitat of Georgia and South Carolina. Families of all races are victim. Both white and Black Racism and the hatreds of historically separated groups work against the South cohering in a unified resistance. Actions such as the Georgia Prison Strike or the Free Alabama Movement suggest there is unity when the oppression becomes terminal. The region’s people need to be informed. Background.

Partial sources online. The original source of this article is nightslantern.ca Copyright © J. B. Gerald, nightslantern.ca, 2017

By J. B. Gerald, Global Research, May 22, 2017, as posted at http://www.globalresearch.ca/on-the-nuclear-wasting-of-south-carolina/5591354

Nuclear emergency plans lacking in Ontario, groups allege

MPP Marie-France Lalonde said the government is consulting with the public on updating its response plan.

Queen’s Park, May 18 | Ontario needs a better plan to deal with large-scale nuclear accidents, says a coalition of environmental groups. From evacuation procedures to protecting drinking water — even public awareness in communities near nuclear plants — the province’s response is full of gaps, said Shawn-Patrick Stensil of Greenpeace, on behalf of the 40 organizations.

“With more than half of Ontarians living near a nuclear station that could be harmed in the event of a nuclear accident, Ontario is unprepared for a large nuclear emergency on the Great Lakes,” he said at Queen’s Park on Thursday, adding the province needs to model a plan based on an accident the size of the one in Fukushima, Japan.

Community Safety Minister Marie-France Lalonde said the government is consulting with the public on updating the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan (PNERP).

“The safety and security of every Ontarian is our top priority. Nuclear power has been the backbone of Ontario’s electricity supply for over 40 years and we are proud that our CANDU reactors have an impeccable safety record,” she said in a statement. “Nevertheless, we have developed a comprehensive plan — the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan (PNERP) — in partnership with municipalities and the federal government, to ensure that Ontarians are safe in the extremely unlikely event of a nuclear emergency” that is updated every four years.

“As part of this ongoing review process, we are incorporating lessons learned from past nuclear emergencies such as Fukushima, to ensure that we are using the most up-to-date … practices.”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government “needs to look really hard at what some of those recommendations are and assure people — particularly those living around the nuclear facilities, but also assure the rest of us — because many of those facilities are on our Great Lakes.”

Ontario is responsible for emergency planning at nuclear stations in Pickering, Darlington, Bruce Power in Kincardine, Ont., Chalk River Laboratories in Laurentian Hills/Deep River, Ont., and FERMI 2 in Amherstburg, Ont.

By Kristin RushowyQueen’s Park Bureau, Thu., May 18, 2017, as posted at
https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/05/18/ontario-unprepared-for-nuclear-emergency-environmentalists-warnnuclear-emergency-plans-lacking-in-ontario-groups-allege.html

Plan to entomb Manitoba’s nuclear waste worries environmentalists

‘It does not look like a safe proposal to put this dangerous radioactive waste … close to the Winnipeg River’

CBC News| Pinawa was once the home of the largest nuclear research facility in Western Canada. Established in 1963, the lab employed nearly 1,300 people at its peak, but research gradually dwindled and the lab was closed in the mid-1990s.

And what happens here could set a precedent for the rest of Canada, said environmentalist Anne Lindsey.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission held an information sessions on the second floor of Winnipeg’s Millennium Library Tuesday from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, a multinational consortium, is on contract to Natural Resources Canada to manage nuclear waste in Pinawa and Chalk River, Ont.

Proposed radioactive waste disposal site in Chalk River raises concerns
It wants to entomb the toxic waste and defunct research reactor in Pinawa, about 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. The CNSC confirmed that has never been done before in Canada.

Manitoba’s High-level Radioactive Waste Act states that no person shall:

a) Store waste that was not produced or used for research in Manitoba.

b) Provide facilities for the storage of spent nuclear fuel, not intended for research purposes, that was produced at a nuclear facility or in a nuclear reactor outside Manitoba.

c) Provide interim storage for more than seven days.

d) Store nuclear waste or nuclear fuel underground or in an environment that is not continuously monitored. There must be reasonable human access to the containers.

e) Provide facilities for the disposal of high-level radioactive wastes in Manitoba.

Lindsey said the proposal goes against the original plan to remove highly contaminated waste and contain the rest but keep it accessible.

Proposal ‘runs contrary to Manitoba law’: NDP

There’s been a plan in place since 2012 to remove all the highly radioactive components from the reactor and parts of the reactor itself to some future disposal site, which is to be determined because one doesn’t yet exist in Canada, Lindsey said.

And it’s illegal in Manitoba to dispose of high-level nuclear waste.

“So what they were going to do is remove all the high-level components and deal with the less radioactive or the lower-level wastes that were left behind. That has changed,” she said.

“Now the proposal is to just entomb the entire reactor, including all the parts that were probably contaminated … to entomb it in some kind of grout and leave it there right on the banks of the Winnipeg River.

“So that’s a pretty significant change from what was planned before [and] we feel that is probably contravening the law of Manitoba.”

Rob Altemeyer, the provincial NDP’s environment critic, was at the Tuesday morning information session.

“The biggest concern here is that the proposal to bury this damaged nuclear facility in concrete permanently runs contrary to Manitoba law,” he said.

“The Manitoba High-level Radioactive Waste Act says quite clearly you are not allowed to permanently bury radioactive waste in Manitoba, particularly if no one can access the site and make sure that everything is OK.”

1978 accident caused leak of coolant

​The reactor was used for various research purposes but never to produce electrical power for Manitoba. It did, however, use nuclear fuel and in 1978 there was an accident that caused a leak of coolant that contaminated parts of the reactor that weren’t supposed to be exposed, Lindsey said.

The proposal calls for the reactor to be entombed “in some kind of grout” but there’s not a lot of information available about what type of grout would be used, she said.

“It does not look like a safe proposal to put this dangerous radioactive waste so close to the surface in this questionable sort of grouted environment so close to the Winnipeg River,” Lindsey said.

“The issue here really is whether or not it can be kept away from water, because once water gets into it, the flow of water in that site is toward the river.”

Pinawa is the site of Atomic Energy of Canada’s Whiteshell laboratories, once the largest nuclear research facility in Western Canada.

Established in 1963, the lab employed nearly 1,300 people at its peak, but research gradually dwindled and the lab was closed in the mid-1990s.

“The used fuel in Pinawa has been taken out of the reactor and I’m pretty sure it’s stored on site in concrete bunkers and it’s being monitored. So it’s retrievable,” Lindsey said. “So if there is a leak they’ll detect it, they can quickly get in there and change up the protection.

“The problem with putting it a little bit underground and grouting it is if a leak is detected, it would be very hard to retrieve it to repackage it. So it’s kind of taking a big risk.”

Kevin Lee, a senior regulatory policy officer at the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, said information sessions like Tuesday’s are an important outreach activity before a licensing review takes place.

“We want to make sure that when people want to make a representation before the commission that they do so in an effective manner and they know how they should go about doing that,” he said.

CBC News Posted: May 16, 2017 8:21 AM CT Last Updated: May 16, 2017 5:52 PM CT, as posted at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/nuclear-waste-pinawa-environmentalists-1.4116669

Whiteshell reactor could be entombed

Change to decommissioning plan being considered

Winnipeg Sun | The Whiteshell Reactor No. 1 hasn’t operated since 1985, but now the issues of how to properly decommission the former nuclear research reactor and its nuclear waste are arising.

The current proposal from Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) would see all high-level nuclear waste shipped to a CNL site in Chalk River, Ont., while the structural components of the reactor, such as the vessel and piping, would remain entombed underground within a modified cement capsule. According to the CNSC, this is a process that has occurred before in the U.S.

“(This) is a change over what they have on their existing detailed decommissioning acts,” said Robert Barker, Senior Project Officer of the CNSC’s Wastes and Decommissioning Division.

The CNSC already has a decommissioning licence, which has allowed for redundant buildings to be demolished, and for new waste-handling sites to be built. But this licence expires in December 2018, and the CNSC has plans to apply for renewal by September 2017. With the renewal of the licence comes the opportunity to change the parameters of the decommissioning process.

“With that process, we will consider their application to change the approach for and allow for in situ decommissioning,” said Barker. “At this point we only have the project description, we don’t have the licence application, and we don’t have the environmental impact statement. So we can’t really assess whether that would be an acceptable approach or not. But it will be done in due process.”

The CNSC assured that despite the environmental assessment being done federally, the licensee is required to meet all government regulations, whether federal or provincial.

The current Manitoba law states that “no person shall provide storage for high-level radioactive waste or spent nuclear fuel underground or in an above-surface environment that is not subject to continuous monitoring, as agreed between the government and the research facility, and that does not provide reasonable human access to the containers in which the waste or nuclear fuel is contained.” It also does not allow for facilities to be provided for the disposal of high-level radioactive wastes in Manitoba.

Information sessions will be held at the Pioneer Club of Lac du Bonnet on May 18 from 1-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.


JASON FRIESEN, THE WINNIPEG SUN, TUESDAY, MAY 16, 2017 08:12 PM CDT, as posted at http://www.winnipegsun.com/2017/05/16/whiteshell-reactor-could-be-entombed