Archive for May, 2017
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
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
‘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
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
Sarnia, 16 May | Opposition groups are sounding the alarm as truckloads of liquid nuclear waste have started arriving in the United States, transported from Ontario’s Chalk River Nuclear Lab.
Between 100 and 150 loads of the highly radioactive material in puncture and thermal-tested casks are expected to move – potentially over the Blue Water Bridge – over four years, opponents say, in armed convoys en route to the Savannah River site in South Carolina for solidification.
Crossings into New York from Ontario represent the most direct path, but the United States Department of Energy has said the routes will be varied for security reasons.
“I wouldn’t want to be stopped in traffic sitting beside that,” said Joanne Rogers, chief of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation.
“What if there was an explosion? What if it got into an accident on the bridge? It goes into our water,” she said.
In February the Anishanabek Nation Grand Council – representing 40 communities in Ontario including Aamjiwnaang – and the Iroquois Caucus released statements opposing the plan by U.S. and Canadian governments to truck the 23,000 litres of nuclear waste south.
Critics have questioned why the solidification isn’t done in Canada, to lower the risk of contaminating drinking water in the event of a spill.
“There’s just so much that everybody should be concerned about,” said Rogers.
Meanwhile a memo made public May 12 from the U.S. Defence Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) notes the first shipment happened the week of April 21, and one of the containers the waste was transferred into in South Carolina didn’t provide adequate shielding from radiation.
“Just that the shipments had begun is newsworthy enough we think, but low and behold, they had a problem with the transfer from the shipping cask,” said Kevin Kamps, an activist with anti-nuclear group Beyond Nuclear.
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley Tuesday renewed his concern about the risk to the Great Lakes.
“We could be one of the crossings,” he said, noting another major concern is inadequate long-term planning by the nuclear industry.
“(It) has made billions (of dollars) over the years creating power, and they never appeared to have a long-term plan on how to deal with all these materials and do it safely,” he said.
Kamps has called the truckloads of waste, including weapons-grade uranium and radioactive isotopes generated via medical isotope production “mobile Chernobyls on steroids.”
Returning the uranium to the U.S. stems from a 2012 commitment by the Government of Canada to repatriate the weapons-based material for liability and nuclear non-proliferation reasons, according to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
Shipping it in liquid form is unprecedented, Kamps has said.
The transaction comes with a $60-million payout from Atomic Energy Canada Limited, for processing and management, an AECL spokesperson said last summer, noting Canada does not have the technology or facilities to reprocess the material for use in fuel power reactors.
By Tyler Kula, Sarnia Observer, Tuesday, May 16, 2017, as posted at http://www.theobserver.ca/2017/05/16/blue-water-bridge-a-potential-crossing-for-us-bound-liquid-nuclear-waste
New York, 16 May | The first of more than a hundred anticipated shipments of liquid nuclear waste recently arrived in South Carolina from Canada. Congressman Brian Higgins renewed his opposition to using New York State’s international crossings, citing concerns over public safety.
Others are equally concerned, following the revelation in a government report that shielding used to handle that first shipment was inadequate.
The plan to transport liquid Highly-Enriched Uranium across the border for processing in the U.S. was first unveiled four years ago. Numerous environmental groups sued last August to block the plan, expressing concern that the U.S. Department of Energy had not conducted thorough studies to ensure safety. A federal judge sided with the DOE this past February.
“The labels … obscure the fact that this liquid waste is highly radioactive,” said Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, in a prepared written statement. “As I testified in court filings, a very small amount – just a few liquid ounces – of this highly radioactive stew of fission products such as Cesium-137, if spilled, could render an entire large city’s drinking water supply unsafe to drink.”
Congressman Brian Higgins was also among those opposed to the shipment plan. While the route of the anticipated shipments was not revealed it was believed the Peace Bridge was the most likely candidate. The Thousand Islands was considered another highly likely crossing point.
Higgins noted that the Peace Bridge is among the busiest crossings along the US-Canada border and is undergoing construction work that makes the span even busier.
“When you have traffic delays like you do it becomes a target, potentially, for terrorist activity,” said the congressman. “Now there’s a general knowledge that they may be shipping liquefied nuclear waste on the Peace Bridge. That underscores the concern we should have here in Western New York, relative to national security and a potential environmental disaster.”
Several environmental groups, including the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility and Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, have pointed out that a U.S. federal agency has documented an incident during processing at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. According to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent federal agency that oversees the Department of Energy’s defense nuclear sites, an unexpected “hotspot” was found while personnel at Savannah River processed the first shipment. It was determined that a container known as a “pig” – often times made of lead or depleted uranium – was not providing adequate protection.
(Click here for the DNFSB report)
Back in Western New York, Higgins said the effort continues to address the planned entry of nuclear waste into Western New York.
“We’ve filed a Notice of Hazardous Conditions with all of the respective departments. In the event there is a problem, the federal government would be accountable because of negligence,” Higgins said. “We’re taking every action necessary to to protect the public right here in Western New York.”
By MICHAEL MROZIAK • 17 May 2017, as posted at http://news.wbfo.org/post/higgins-renews-concerns-over-canadian-nuclear-waste-shipments-through-nys
Savannah River, 15 May | Only a few months after the end of a lawsuit opened the doors for the U.S. Department of Energy to start shipments of high-level, liquid radioactive waste from Canada to Savannah River Site, the first shipment emitted radiation from containers meant to protect workers from radiological exposure.
In a weekly inspection report released Friday by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, a container used to transport the material from the shipping cask into the processing facility was reportedly discovered to be “hot.”
“Hot” is a term used to describe an environment or an area in which radioactive emissions are present and does not mean that a physical leak of materials occurred. The shipments contain highly enriched uranium from medical isotope production at Chalk River in Ontario .
“Each container of HEU is pulled from the shipping cask into a shielded “pig” that provides radiological shielding for H-Canyon personnel,” the report stated. “After loading a pig, radiological protection (RP) identified an unexpected hotspot on the side of the pig indicating that the pig was not providing adequate radiological shielding.”
According to a Department of Energy spokesman, when the shipping casks arrive, they are placed into the “pig” containers, essentially lead-lines buckets, to allow the material to be moved while providing additional shielding for workers.
“The unprecedented truck shipments of high-risk, highly radioactive liquid waste have stoked controversy and concern since the proposal was first revealed four years ago, leading to a federal lawsuit by an environmental coalition last August,” said Kevin Kamps, spokesman for Beyond Nuclear.
Beyond Nuclear was a leading group in that lawsuit aimed at stopping the shipments. The lawsuit, which was dismissed by a judge in February, asked the Energy Department to conduct a full environmental assessment on the highly radioactive waste, transported in liquid for the first time.
The DOE had previously completed an environmental assessment for transportation of highly enriched uranium, but in solid form. The coalition thought that wasn’t good enough and initiated a lawsuit, but the judge disagreed. Now that the first shipments have arrived, coalition members say they wonder if their fears haven’t already been realized.
“Unfortunately, the incident with the handling the Canadian waste on its arrival at SRS gives the H-Canyon team a black eye for flubbing the very first shipment after years of costly preparation,” said Tom Clements, director of SRS Watch and member of the coalition.
The lawsuit alleged the forecast route from Chalk River in Ontario to SRS would cross a number of waterways that provide millions of people with drinking water. Considered the most likely border crossing by the coalition, the Rainbow Peace Bridge in Buffalo, N.Y., is a tourist attraction listed as a high-risk terrorism target by the Department of Homeland Security. The potential crossing site brought action from Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., who introduced legislation to try and force the DOE to study issues and potential hazards with the radioactive liquid shipments.
The Energy Department said the containers are not only certified by government regulatory agencies, but are also subjected to inspections.
“The material is shipped to the SRS facility in NRC certified containers, within an NRC licensed shielded Cask. The shipping cask must meet stringent radiological screening release limits before they can be sent from the facility at Chalk River. All shipments are subject to a further radiological survey prior to entering the United States,” the Energy Department said in a release.
The DOE noted shipments are also subject to “intensive” radiological screenings when they are received at SRS. The DOE spokesman said all workers were wearing protective equipment when the emission was discovered because of potential hazards. He said no workers were in danger.
According to the supplemental analysis of the material and planned shipments, completed by the DOE in 2015, there are approximately 6,000 gallons to be shipped in 100-150 shipments. The material would be processed through H-Canyon, the nation’s only active, full-scale nuclear chemical separations facility.
That process would recover the remaining highly enriched uranium left behind during creation of the medical isotopes. The remaining waste will be pumped into high level radioactive waste tanks already holding 35 million gallons of radioactive sludge and salt waste. But, the DOE said because the material is already liquid, very little waste will be produced.
The DNFSB did not report any physical leakage of material and the DOE confirmed there was no leak. There are currently no indications of radiation being emitted from the outside of the shipping containers, and nothing near the trucks was exposed during the shipment.
The shipping casks are designed to withstand accidents up to 20 times more severe than the average car wreck. Each cask is certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for being placed in service.
The DOE did not make public the schedule of shipments due to safety concerns, but shipments of highly enriched uranium are expected to continue. Clements called for an update from the Department of Energy at the next Citizens Advisory Board meeting May 23-24 in Augusta.
Posted May 15, 2017 08:01 pm, By Thomas Gardiner Staff Writer, as posted at http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/2017-05-15/container-emits-radiation-during-liquid-nuclear-waste-transfer