Archive for category Accidents

Fallout from Japan disaster continues (February 2015)

Paul Gorman, The Press, NZ – February 20, 2015

[Excerpt – Read Story]

The one-in-1000 year tsunami generated by that gargantuan quake smashed into coastal parts of the northeastern coast of Honshu, and 14-metre-high surges ultimately caused a meltdown or partial meltdown (depending on who you believe) at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station.

Before the accident, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) nuclear plant had the capacity to generate 4680 megawatts of electricity, making it more than four times as big as Huntly power station, New Zealand’s largest plant, or nine times the size of Benmore power station. Its six reactors were among 54 operating in Japan and generating about 30 per cent of the country’s electricity. It was one of the 15 largest nuclear power stations in the world.

In a nutshell, sea-water swamped the generators, the cooling systems failed, temperatures in the reactors rose above 2500 degrees Celsius, fuel rods melted and then the roofs of the reactor structures exploded, allowing gases to vent into the atmosphere. Radioactive material also leaked from damaged pipes into soil and the sea.

Japan’s first nuclear emergency was declared and more than 100,000 people living within 20 kilometres of the power station were evacuated from an exclusion zone which is still in place, although some have recently chosen to move back inside it. Food supplies and water downwind of the plant were heavily irradiated and there was panic as far away as Tokyo about contamination.

GROWING CONCERNS

On the International Nuclear Event Scale, the Fukushima-Daichi disaster rates just below Chernobyl as the world’s worst nuclear accident. It has been classified as a seven on a scale of seven for the “major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures”.

As well as failures and partial meltdowns at other nuclear plants caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, there has been a string of other accidents over the past 30 years, many of which the populace was unaware of due to information being suppressed or concealed, or even falsified by Tepco officials in the case of cracks found in 13 of its 17 reactor covers in 2002.

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Only one drum involved in WIPP release (February 2015)

13 February 2015 – World Nuclear News

Photographs taken inside the underground Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) have confirmed that a single waste drum was the source of the contamination incident that has stopped operations at New Mexico facility since February 2014.

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Project Reach’s 90-foot boom is positioned over waste containers in the underground facility as its remotely operated video camera collects evidence (Image: WIPP)

The information was gathered through a project known as Reach, which has been using a specially designed and manufactured 90-foot (27 meter) composite boom equipped with a high resolution camera. All this was installed on a movable cradle and mounted on a support structure, allowing operators to examine waste stacks from floor to ceiling and from wall to wall. Waste at WIPP is stacked in six columns, with each column consisting of up to three layers of transuranic waste containers.

Initial analysis of the pictures obtained by Reach indicates that no additional breached waste containers contributed to the February 2014 incident. Ted Wyka, chairman of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Accident Investigation Board (AIB), said that the evidence obtained supported the idea that a single drum, referred to as LANL68660, was the source of the radiological release.

Read story at http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/WR-No-further-drums-involved-in-WIPP-release-1302157.html 

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Handwritten note could be source of WIPP incidents (February 2015)

Current Argus – By Sarah Matott POSTED:   02/12/2015 01:00:00 AM MST

Bad note taking and miscommunication at Los Alamos National Laboratory is what led to the mishandling of the transuranic waste drum that resulted in the Feb. 14, 2014 radiological release at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

It had been suspected as early as last May the chemical reaction of one of the drums was caused due to using the wrong type of kitty litter to treat the waste.

The information was in a report by Department of Energy’s Inspector General released in September 2014, and was originally reported by the Albuquerque Journal last week.

The report confirmed that the kitty litter is part of what led to the chemical reaction of the waste drums at WIPP, but more so the wrong kitty litter was used because of handwritten note that called for “an organic” absorbent, instead of “inorganic.”

The use of organic kitty litter was implemented in August 2012 for the treatment of TRU waste at LANL, however, the Inspector General’s report shows that LANL officials do not seem to know when or how the use of organic kitty litter was permitted.

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