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What to do about the Nuclear Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)

March 20, 2016

Analyses of the accidents by the DOE have documented a lack of a ‘safety culture’ at WIPP.

The current regulatory period of 10,000 years is short relative to the 24,100-year half-life of plutonium-239, let alone that of uranium-235, which has a half-life of 700 million years.

Policy: Reassess New Mexico’s nuclear-waste repository, Nature  Cameron L. Tracy,  Megan K. Dustin & Rodney C. Ewing 13 January 2016

Proposals to bury plutonium from nuclear weapons must address chemical interactions and intrusion risks. More than 600 metres below ground near Carlsbad, New Mexico, is the world’s only operating deep geological repository currently accepting transuranic nuclear waste: that contaminated by elements heavier than uranium. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), run by the US Department of Energy (DOE), is used to dispose of laboratory equipment, clothing and residues from the nation’s nuclear-defence programme. In the past 15 years, around 91,000 cubic metres (equivalent to covering a soccer field to a depth of about 13 metres) of such transuranic waste, mostly of relatively low radiation levels, has been placed there.

The main contaminants are long-lived isotopes of plutonium (mainly plutonium-239, with a half-life of 24,100 years, and plutonium-240, with a half-life of 6,560 years) and shorter-lived isotopes of americium and curium. In rooms carved out of a 250-million-year-old salt bed, the waste is stored in hundreds of thousands of plastic-lined steel drums. The repository is now at about half of its planned capacity and is to be sealed in 2033.

The DOE is responsible for performing safety assessments to ensure that WIPP will not exceed limits on exposure to radioactivity, as set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for 10,000 years.

But new demands are emerging. An arms-control agreement with Russia made in 2000 obliges the United States to dispose of 34 tonnes of plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons1. Following the terms of the agreement, the United States planned to convert the material into a fuel — mixed (uranium and plutonium) oxide, or MOX — to burn in commercial nuclear-power plants. But faced with soaring construction costs for a MOX fabrication facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the DOE has commissioned evaluations of alternatives2.

The most recent report3, published in August 2015, recommends burying the weapons’ plutonium at WIPP. Judging the repository’s performance to have been “successfully demonstrated”, the DOE’s Red Team expert panel proposes that the 34 tonnes of weapons plutonium can be added to WIPP once it has been diluted to low concentrations comparable to that of the transuranic waste at WIPP.

In fact, WIPP’s safety record is mixed. On 14 February 2014, a burst drum released small quantities of plutonium and americium to the surface (with a radioactivity of around 100 millicuries, or 3.7 gigabecquerels)4. Airborne radioactive material reached the surface through the ventilation system and spread 900 metres from the repository’s exhaust shaft. Twenty-one workers were exposed to low levels of radioactivity, the highest dose equivalent to that from a chest X-ray. Nine days earlier, smoke from a burning truck filled the underground workings and shaft, damaging mechanical, electrical and ventilation systems.

The DOE says that such accidents do not compromise the long-term performance of the repository. We agree that they need not — if lessons are learned. Our concern is not the events’ severity but that they were unanticipated. These accidents illustrate how difficult it is to predict potential failures of such a disposal system over millennia. For example, assumptions about the repository’s geochemistry or the likelihood of drilling into it can lead to underestimates of the risks.

Before expanding WIPP’s plutonium inventory, the DOE must examine more carefully its safety assesment for performance that stretches to 10,000 years and beyond.

Culture of complacency

The 2014 radioactive leak at WIPP was caused by heat from a chemical reaction in a drum4. Plutonium-contaminated nitrate salts, a waste product of plutonium purification at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico, reacted with an organic, wheat-based commercial cat litter used as an absorbent for liquid wastes. The heat popped the lid. Although sensors detected the released radioactivity and diverted exhaust air through filters, some radioactive material leaked through. WIPP operators sealed the leak in the filtration system and sealed off the room in which the leak occurred. The breached drum remains in the repository.

“We cannot be certain that future inhabitants of the area will even know WIPP is there.”

Analyses of the accidents4 by the DOE have documented a lack of a ‘safety culture’ at WIPP. The facility’s successful operation for 15 years had bred complacency. The failures were wide-ranging: in safety assessments, control of drum contents, installation and maintenance of equipment, and preparation for an accident. An investigation of the drum-packaging procedure, for example, found “no evidence that any type of technical evaluation occurred” when selecting the organic absorbent material, even though its incompatibility with nitrate salts had been raised at LANL during waste packaging4……..

Long-term safety

WIPP’s present safety assessment addresses two scenarios: first, undisturbed performance and, second, human intrusion, such as inadvertently drilling through the repository in search of oil and gas6. The first foresees that after closure, the salt into which the repository is built will deform and flow around the drums to encase the waste. The model assumes that no fluids, such as brine, are present and that the site remains geologically isolated. Although the drums will be crushed, the radioactive material will be locked in the dry, solid salt, with no way to release radioactivity to the biosphere. Reliance on the geological barrier is so great that the form and composition of the waste is assumed to be unimportant; it need not even be treated.

Human intrusion could release radioactivity to the environment6. Salt deposits, layered as sediments or as salt domes, are often associated with mineral and energy resources, such as potash and hydrocarbons — oil and gas. In southeastern New Mexico, exploration for and extraction of these fuels has led to extensive drilling in the Permian Basin, where WIPP is located.

The probability of a borehole piercing the repository in the next 10,000 years is significant. If a borehole were to puncture the repository and a brine pocket, which are known to exist in the Castile geological formation below the Salado salt formation in which the repository sits, fluid may reach the transuranic waste (see ‘Accident risk’). To assess the risk of radioactive release, one must first establish the probability of borehole penetration and determine how the pressurized brine will react with the waste……..

Plutonium disposal

In the case of plutonium-bearing solids, demonstrating chemical inertness presents a huge challenge. In near-surface conditions, plutonium can assume a variety of oxidation states — up to four, each with different solid-state and geochemical behaviours7. Its decay product uranium-235 has two principal oxidation states, U4+ and U6+, each with different geochemical mobility7. This complexity makes it difficult to predict how the actinides will react or be transported.

Also, actinides decay mainly by the emission of α particles (energetic helium nuclei). During each decay, the daughter nucleus recoils and displaces thousands of atoms in the surrounding solid. Over time, this damage accumulates and changes the properties and chemical stability of the material. Radiation effects in actinide-bearing materials have been well documented over the past 20 years8, but are not considered in the Red Team’s evaluation.

The ‘dilute-and-dispose’ proposal to convert weapons-plutonium pits to plutonium oxide for burial in WIPP3 immediately raises safety issues. The extra plutonium nearly triples the current projected plutonium (around 12 tonnes) at closure. The design and safety assessment did not envision such a large amount. WIPP’s capacity would have to expand by 15%1, increasing the likelihood that a borehole will one day intersect it.

And the changed inventory of actinides demands new assessments of interactions with the materials present, including brine and CO2. The amount of plutonium mobilized in brine depends on its solubility, which depends on its form and the amount of CO2 present after reaction with the bags of magnesium oxide.

Next steps

The current regulatory period of 10,000 years is short relative to the 24,100-year half-life of plutonium-239, let alone that of uranium-235, which has a half-life of 700 million years. To accommodate the extra plutonium, the regulatory period might be lengthened, meaning that the probability of human intrusion during this period increases………

proposals to substantially increase the plutonium inventory combined with a failure to revise the safety assessment, particularly the possibility of human intrusion, bear witness to the ease with which policy decisions can disregard the fundamental science — and risk yet another failure.

The Red Team report shows a limited effort to consider or manage inherent risks. The shortcomings of proposals to dispose of weapons plutonium at WIPP mirror the operational failings that led to the 2014 accidents. Before the DOE considers implementing these recommendations, it should look to the repository’s record over the past 15 years of operation and reassess its confidence in the safe performance of the facility over the next 10,000. http://www.nature.com/news/policy-reassess-new-mexico-s-nuclear-waste-repository-1.19135

www.nuclear-news.net was hacked! Not shut down by WordPress

January 25, 2015

hackerHappy news for me!  Somewhat Luddite though I am , I have been able to get to the bottom of thanks mystery. (much thanks to blogger d’un renard). Able to do some security stuff, and get the website up and running again.

I don’t know who hacked my website nuclear-news.net.  However, the rather flattering thought is that it was done by the nuclear lobby –  suggesting that they fear that this website is having an impact.

Japan to permanently close 5 nuclear power plants

January 23, 2015

Japan to permanently close five more of its remaining 48 “operable” nukes, Beyond Nuclear Jan 15 

In the still growing wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, the Japanese nuclear industry has preliminarily announced they will permanently close five more atomic power plants. Now nearly four years after the multi-unit accident, Japan has maintained “zero nuclear” power generation. This most recent decommissioning announcement reduces the number of the country’s operable —but still not operating—reactors down to 43. All six units at Fukushima Daiichi have been permanently closed including Units 1 through 4 destroyed in the accident as well as the undamaged Unit 5 and Unit 6 (a GE Mark II). The Abe government is struggling to restart some number of the nation’s atomic reactors amidst broad anti-nuclear public and political opposition……..http://www.beyondnuclear.org/the-nuclear-retreat/2015/1/13/japan-to-permanently-close-five-more-of-its-remaining-48-ope.html

nuclear-news.net closed down!

January 22, 2015

civil-liberty-2smOur international website nuclear-news.net has been closed down by WordPress. No explanation given as yet.

In the meantime, this website will take over the work of that site, but in a circumspect, limited way, in case some pro nuclear complainants have been able to find reasons to report nuclear-news.net to WordPress.

p.s Problem now solved (24 Jan 15).  It wasn’t WordPress. It was a hacking job – done by – who knows?

 

The planet’s dramatic temperature rise in the 21st Century

July 14, 2013

The WMO says droughts affect more people than any other kind of natural disaster because of their large scale and long duration. The decade saw droughts across the world, with some of the longest and most severe in Australia (2002 and other years), East Africa (2004 and 2005, resulting in widespread loss of life) and the Amazon basin (2010)

Clear upward trend’ in global temperatures: WMO  ABC News, ALEX KIRBY, 5 July 13,  In the first decade of this century extreme weather, global temperatures and sea level all continued a trend in a “clearly upward direction”, says a new report from the World Meteorological Organisation. 

If you think the world is warming and the weather getting nastier, you’re right, according to the United Nations agency committed to understanding weather and climate.

The World Meteorological Organisation says the planet “experienced unprecedented high-impact climate extremes” in the ten years from 2001 to 2010, the warmest decade since the start of modern measurements in 1850.

Those ten years also continued an extended period of accelerating global warming, with more national temperature records reported broken than in any previous decade. Sea levels rose about twice as fast as the trend in the last century.

A WMO report, The Global Climate 2001-2010: A Decade of Climate Extremes, analyses global and regional temperatures and precipitation, and extreme weather such as the heat waves in Europe and Russia, Hurricane Katrina in the US, tropical cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, droughts in the Amazon basin, Australia and East Africa, and floods in Pakistan.

It says the decade was the warmest for both hemispheres, and for both land and ocean surface temperatures. There was a rapid decline in Arctic sea ice and accelerating loss of net mass from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and from the world’s glaciers.

This melting and the thermal expansion of sea water caused global mean sea levels to rise about three millimetres annually, about double the observed 20th century trend of 1.6 mm per year. Global sea level averaged over the decade was about 20 cm higher than in 1880, the report says.

Global-average atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide rose to 389 parts per million in 2010, 39 per cent higher than at the start of the industrial era in 1750. Methane rose to 1,808.0 parts per billion (158 per cent) and nitrous oxide to 323.2 ppb (20 per cent).

The WMO secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, said: “A decade is the minimum possible timeframe for meaningful assessments of climate change.

Clear upward trend

“WMO’s report shows that global warming accelerated in the four decades of 1971 to 2010 and that the decadal rate of increase between 1991-2000 and 2001-2010 was unprecedented.”

He added: “Rising concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases are changing our climate, with far-reaching implications for our environment and our oceans, which are absorbing both carbon dioxide and heat.”

His reference to the oceans’ role as a sink for CO2 and heat is significant in the present debate about the apparent slight slow-down in the pace of atmospheric warming and the likelihood that the heat is going into the oceans instead…….

The WMO says droughts affect more people than any other kind of natural disaster because of their large scale and long duration. The decade saw droughts across the world, with some of the longest and most severe in Australia (2002 and other years), East Africa (2004 and 2005, resulting in widespread loss of life) and the Amazon basin (2010)…….http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2013/07/04/3796064.htm

Climate Change- world temperatures already at dangerous levels

July 14, 2013

Global Temperature Nearing Dangerous Levels, Says Study
http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/478736/20130614/climate-change-global-warming-carbon-emissions.htm#.UbzW_-dwo6I
Greenhouse gas emissions are dangerously rising at an alarming level.  The abnormally fast growth rate could push the Earth beyond the safe limit in terms of average global temperature.  The report is based on the study conducted by the International Energy Agency (IEA).  Rising temperatures have profound effects on economic growth, agriculture, water and energy supply, and public health.

According to the IEA, carbon emissions increased by 1.4 per cent. This means an additional 31.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide were released into the air.  The IEA is a research group organised by industrialised nations to monitor climate change.

Greenhouse gases are composed of ozone, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide,
methane and water vapour.  These gases in the atmosphere in affect the
Earth’s temperature.  Greenhouse gases absorb and give off within the
range of thermal infrared.
Sustainability

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere work to make life on Earth
sustainable.  The presence of gases keeps the temperatures normal for
life to prosper.  The gases surrounding the Earth also absorb the rays
from the sun which cools and warms the surface of the planet.  The
greenhouse gases work to provide insulation.  The gases work together
to keep the radiation from the sun’s rays from reaching the surface.
For example, carbon dioxide can absorb and emit heat from the sun
effectively.  Without greenhouse gases as insulators, the radiation
from the sun will remain unfiltered.

Absorption Levels

The sun emits radiation all the time and reaches the surface of the
Earth in varying degrees.  Greenhouse gases act as protective layers
to effectively regulate radiation and temperature.  This balance must
be maintained for the environment to be sustainable.  When the balance
is lost, the temperature on the surface of the Earth will rise.  This
will affect all forms of life.
Role in Global Warming

As the population of the planet continues to increase every year, the
greenhouse effect is also being strengthened. The levels of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere are also increasing due to human activity.
Carbon dioxide levels have risen because of the burning of fossil fuel
in industries and deforestation in tropical areas.

The study only shows how governments have put climate change in the
backburner in terms of policy-making.  In Australia, PM Julia Gillard
wrote a joint statement with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the fight
against climate change.

If the West did bomb Iran’s nuclear plant

May 23, 2013

The new study provides the only available scientific predictions to date about what a nuclear attack in the Middle East might actually mean.  Dallas, who was previously the director of the Center for Mass Destruction Defense at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is quick to point out that the study received no U.S. government funding or oversight.  “No one wanted this research to happen,” he adds.

Who Will Drop the Next Nuclear Bomb? We ignore the ever-growing global arsenal of nuclear weapons at our peril. The Nation,  Nick Turse   May 13, 2013   “……. Iranian cities — owing to geography, climate, building construction, and population densities — are particularly vulnerable to nuclear attack, according to a new study, “Nuclear War Between Israel and Iran: Lethality Beyond the Pale,” published in the journal Conflict & Health by researchers from the University of Georgia and Harvard University. It is the first publicly released scientific assessment of what a nuclear attack in the Middle East might actually mean for people in the region.

Its scenarios are staggering.  An Israeli attack on the Iranian capital of Tehran using five 500-kiloton weapons would, the study estimates, kill seven million people — 86% of the population — and leave close to 800,000 wounded.  A strike with five 250-kiloton weapons would kill an estimated 5.6 million and injure 1.6 million, according to predictions made using an advanced software package designed to calculate mass casualties from a nuclear detonation.

Estimates of the civilian toll in other Iranian cities are even more horrendous.  A nuclear assault on the city of Arak, the site of a heavy water plant central to Iran’s nuclear program, would potentially kill 93% of its 424,000 residents.  Three 100-kiloton nuclear weapons hitting the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas would slaughter an estimated 94% of its 468,000 citizens, leaving just 1% of the population uninjured.  A multi-weapon strike on Kermanshah, a Kurdish city with a population of 752,000, would result in an almost unfathomable 99.9% casualty rate.

Cham Dallas, the director of the Institute for Health Management and Mass Destruction Defense at the University of Georgia and lead author of the study, says that the projections are the most catastrophic he’s seen in more than 30 years analyzing weapons of mass destruction and their potential effects.  “The fatality rates are the highest of any nuke simulation I’ve ever done,” he told me by phone from the nuclear disaster zone in Fukushima, Japan, where he was doing research.  “It’s the perfect storm for high fatality rates.”

Israel has never confirmed or denied possessing nuclear weapons, but is widelyknown to have up to several hundred nuclear warheads in its arsenal.  Iran has no nuclear weapons and its leaders claim that its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes only.  Published reports suggest that American intelligence agencies and Israel’s intelligence service are in agreement: Iran suspended its nuclear weapons development program in 2003. ……

According to Dallas and his colleagues, the marked disparity between estimated fatalities in Israel and Iran can be explained by a number of factors.  As a start, Israel is presumed to have extremely powerful nuclear weapons and sophisticated delivery capabilities including long-range Jericho missiles, land-based cruise missiles, submarine-launched missiles, and advanced aircraft with precision targeting technology…….

The number of fatalities at Hiroshima has been estimated at 140,000.  A nuclear attack on Nagasaki three days later is thought to have killed 70,000.  Today, according to Dallas, 15-kiloton nuclear weapons of the type used on Japan are referred to by experts as “firecracker nukes” due to their relative weakness.

In addition to killing more than 5.5 million people, a strike on Tehran involving five 250-kiloton weapons — each of them 16 times more powerful than thebomb dropped on Hiroshima — would result in an estimated 803,000 third-degree burn victims, with close to 300,000 others suffering second degree burns, and 750,000 to 880,000 people severely exposed to radiation. “Those people with thermal burns over most of their bodies we can’t help,” says Dallas.  “Most of these people are not going to survive… there is no saving them.  They’ll be in intense agony.”  As you move out further from the site of the blast, he says, “it actually gets worse.  As the damage decreases, the pain increases, because you’re not numb.”

In a best case scenario, there would be 1,000 critically injured victims for every surviving doctor but “it will probably be worse,” according to Dallas.  Whatever remains of Tehran’s healthcare system will be inundated with an estimated 1.5 million trauma sufferers.  In a feat of understatement, the researchers report that survivors “presenting with combined injuries including either thermal burns or radiation poisoning are unlikely to have favorable outcomes.” …..

The new study provides the only available scientific predictions to date about what a nuclear attack in the Middle East might actually mean.  Dallas, who was previously the director of the Center for Mass Destruction Defense at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is quick to point out that the study received no U.S. government funding or oversight.  “No one wanted this research to happen,” he adds. http://www.thenation.com/article/174295/who-will-drop-next-nuclear-bomb#

Lest we forget – the Hiroshima atomic bomb horror

May 23, 2013

Who Will Drop the Next Nuclear Bomb? We ignore the ever-growing global arsenal of nuclear weapons at our peril. The Nation,  Nick Turse  May 13, 2013 “……..Nuclear Horror: Then and Now The first nuclear attack on a civilian population center, the U.S. strike on Hiroshima, left that city “uniformly and extensively devastated,” according to astudy carried out in the wake of the attacks by the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey.  “Practically the entire densely or moderately built-up portion of the city was leveled by blast and swept by fire… The surprise, the collapse of many buildings, and the conflagration contributed to an unprecedented casualty rate.”  At the time, local health authorities reported that 60% of immediate deaths were due to flash or flame burns and medical investigators estimated that 15%-20% of the deaths were caused by radiation.

Witnesses “stated that people who were in the open directly under the explosion of the bomb were so severely burned that the skin was charred dark brown or black and that they died within a few minutes or hours,” according to the 1946 report.  “Among the survivors, the burned areas of the skin showed evidence of burns almost immediately after the explosion.  At first there was marked redness, and other evidence of thermal burns appeared within the next few minutes or hours.”

Many victims kept their arms outstretched because it was too painful to allow them to hang at their sides and rub against their bodies.  One survivor recalled seeing victims “with both arms so severely burned that all the skin was hanging from their arms down to their nails, and others having faces swollen like bread, losing their eyesight. It was like ghosts walking in procession…  Some jumped into a river because of their serious burns. The river was filled with the wounded and blood.”…… http://www.thenation.com/article/174295/who-will-drop-next-nuclear-bomb#

USA’s EPA weakened, useless guidelines for radiological attacks

May 23, 2013

while the new guide will be subject to a 90-day public comment period once it formally is published in the Federal Register, it has been labeled for “interim use,” meaning it is effective immediately

“a recipe for absolute mayhem in the midst of an emergency,”  “And that’s because of politics.”

EPA RELAXES PUBLIC HEALTH GUIDELINES FOR RADIOLOGICAL ATTACKS, ACCIDENTS, Next GovBy Douglas P. GuarinoGlobal Security Newswire April 9, 2013 After years of internal deliberation and controversy, the Obama administration has issued a document suggesting that when dealing with the aftermath of an accident or attack involving radioactive materials, public health guidelines can be made thousands of times less stringent than what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would normally allow.

The EPA document, called a protective action guide for radiological incidents, was quietly posted on a page on the agency’s website Friday evening. The low-profile release followed an uproar of concern from watchdog groups in recent weeks over news that the White House had privately agreed to back relaxed radiological cleanup standards in certain circumstances and had cleared the path for the new EPA guide.

Agency officials had tried to issue the protective action guide during the final days of the Bush administration in January 2009, but the incoming Obama camp ultimatelyblocked its publication in part due to concerns that it included guidelines suggesting people could drink water contaminated at levels thousands of times above what the agency would typically permit.

The new version of the guide released Friday does not include such dramatically relaxed guidelines its text, but directs the reader to similar recommendations made by other federal agencies and international organizations in various documents. It suggests that they might be worth considering in circumstances where complying with its own enforceable drinking water regulations is deemed impractical.

Such circumstances could include the months – and possibly years – following a “dirty bomb” attack, a nuclear weapons explosion or an accident at a nuclear power plant, according to the guide, a nonbinding document intended to prepare federal, state and local officials for responding to such events. For example, the new EPA guide refers to International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines that suggest intervention is not necessary until drinking water is contaminated with radioactive iodine 131 at a concentration of 81,000 picocuries per liter. This is 27,000 times less stringent than the EPA rule of 3 picocuries per liter.

“This is public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace,” Jeff Ruch, executive director for the watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said in a statement Monday, referring to Peter Sellers’ character in the Stanley Kubrick film of the same name.

Along with other activists, Ruch laid the blame for the document’s perceived shortcomings on Gina McCarthy, the EPA air and radiation chief who is scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday regarding her nomination to become the agency’s next administrator. “If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy, then EPA is in for a long, dirty slog,” Ruch said……..

while the new guide will be subject to a 90-day public comment period once it formally is published in the Federal Register, it has been labeled for “interim use,” meaning it is effective immediately.

Daniel Hirsch, a nuclear policy lecturer at the University of California-Santa Cruz who led a coalition of some 60 watchdog groups against the Bush-era incarnation of the EPA guide, argued the Obama guide is worse than the Bush document in not only ultimately referencing many of the same controversial recommendations, but by forcing the reader to dig through a myriad of other documents to find them.

“What I find particularly tragic is, because it is so corrupt, it now is a useless document,” Hirsch told GSN. “If you have an emergency, you want to go to a protective action guide, look up tables, and know what you’re supposed to do.”

In Hirsch’s view, McCarthy, along with acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe, “moved the most horrible stuff into references” so that “they could somehow claim that it is not identical to the Bush-era PAG.”

The new 86-page guide’s reliance on other documents is “a recipe for absolute mayhem in the midst of an emergency,” Hirsch said. “And that’s because of politics.”

Another controversial aspect of the Bush-era draft of the EPA guide was its embrace of a loosely defined approach to cleanup called optimization, under which decisions about how to permanently restore an area affected by a nuclear incident would not have to be based on the public health guidelines on which the agency usually relies.

According to a draft report recently commissioned by the Homeland Security Department, cleanup decisions under the optimization approach would be based on a target radiation dose range of between 100 and 2,000 millirems of radiation per year, meaning as many as about one in 20 people would be expected to develop cancer from long-term exposure. Historically, the Environmental Protection Agency has not allowed long-term cancer risks greater than one in 10,000 in a worst-case scenario, pursuant to guidelines its Superfund program established in the 1980s…….

Suggestions in the new EPA guide that some radioactive waste might have to be dumped in conventional landfills due to a lack of sufficient space at specially designed sites has also sparked concern among activists.

Diane D’Arrigo, of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, read these suggestions as “an admission that a nuclear power accident could cause major devastation and create enormous amounts of nuclear waste that would exceed all radioactive disposal capacity in the country so would need to go to regular landfills or be burned to disperse into our air and lungs.” She said the new guide was a “step toward making this an ‘acceptable’ practice,” in more routine situations…… http://www.nextgov.com/health/2013/04/epa-relaxes-public-health-guidelines-radiological-attacks-accidents/62381/

From uranium mining to nuclear weapons and disused reactors

April 12, 2013

NUCLEAR INFORMATION 

This site will build items on various topics concerning the nuclear cycle, from uranium mining to nuclear weapons, to the “decommissioning” of old nuclear reactors. We add informational news items as they arrive.

We will also include older news items – that should not be forgotten.

text-nuclear-hazards

For up-to date general nuclear news, go to: