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Animals and Radiation

Animals are particularly susceptible to radiation exposure. New studies around the Chornobyl reactor accident site have found reduced numbers of certain species and impacts to genetics.

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Tuesday
Jun042013

Tritium contamination of growing stockpile of radioactive water leads to outcry against release to Pacific at Fukushima Daiichi

Gray and silver storage tanks filled with radioactive wastewater are sprawling over the grounds of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Kyodo News, via Associated Press.In an article entitled "Flow of Tainted Water Is Latest Crisis at Japan Nuclear Plant," the New York Times has reported that continuing leaks of groundwater into the rubblized Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is causing a flood of radioactively contaminated water requiring a sprawling -- and ever growing -- complex of water storage tanks.

As the New York Times reports:

'...But the biggest problem, critics say, was that Tepco and other members of the oversight committee appeared to assume all along that they would eventually be able to dump the contaminated water into the ocean once a powerful new filtering system was put in place that could remove 62 types of radioactive particles, including strontium.

The dumping plans have now been thwarted by what some experts say was a predictable problem: a public outcry over tritium, a relatively weak radioactive isotope that cannot be removed from the water.

Tritium, which can be harmful only if ingested, is regularly released into the environment by normally functioning nuclear plants, but even Tepco acknowledges that the water at Fukushima contains about 100 times the amount of tritium released in an average year by a healthy plant...

...The public outcry over the plans to dump tritium-tainted water into the sea — driven in part by the company’s failure to inform the public in 2011 when it dumped radioactive water into the Pacific — was so loud that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally intervened last month to say that there would be “no unsafe release.”

Meanwhile, the amount of water stored at the plant just keeps growing.

“How could Tepco not realize that it had to get public approval before dumping this into the sea?” said Muneo Morokuzu, an expert on public policy at the University of Tokyo who has called for creating a specialized new company just to run the cleanup. “This all just goes to show that Tepco is in way over its head.”...'

It should be pointed out that tritium is not a "relatively weak radioactive isotope," but rather a relatively powerful one, once incorporated into the human body. Tritium is a clinically proven cause of cancer, birth defects, and genetic damage.

It must also be corrected that ingestion is not the only pathway for tritium incorporation -- inhalation, and even absorption through the skin, are hazardous exposure pathways.

Tuesday
May142013

Coalition of local residents and environmental groups confronts Congress, NRC, and Entergy at Palisades' front entrance

When Rep. Upton and NRC Commissioner Svinicki refused to meet with the coalition, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps helped organize a vigil at Palisades' front entrance. He dressed as the Little Dutch Boy. His sign reads "Have Finger--Will Plug Radioactive Leak," and "Wooden Shoe Rather Use Wind Power?!" Palisades' latest leak happened amidst west Michigan's Dutch American annual tulip time festivals. Photo credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio.While U.S. Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Commissioner Kristine Svinicki, toured Entergy's problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor, a coalition of concerned local residents and environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, vigiled and protested at the front entrance.

Upton and Svinicki were visiting the atomic reactor in the aftermath of a 82.1-gallon spill of radioactive water into Lake Michigan. The leak came from the Safety Injection Refueling Water (SIRW) storage tank, which has been leaking for over two years. Although the investigation continues, it appears that a crack in a weld on a tank floor nozzle is at least partly to blame this time around. For the first year, the leak had been kept quiet by Entergy and NRC staff. Even the Chairman of NRC, Greg Jaczko, was not told about it, even during his tour of the troubled plant on May 25, 2012. A few weeks later, based on whistleblower revelations, U.S. Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) made public that the leakage was into the control room, and that safety culture among the workforce had collapsed at Palisades: 74% of the workforce,including management, felt that reporting safety problems would solve nothing, while inviting intimidation and harassment -- and so do not report safety problems!

Beyond Nuclear has posted extensive media coverage from the vigil at its Nuclear Reactor Safety website page.

Wednesday
May082013

NRC "looking at the potential implications" of radioactive goldfish found deep in the heart of FirstEnergy's Perry atomic reactor in Ohio

As reported by the Associated Press, two radioactive goldfish, swimming in radioactive reactor coolant water in a lemonade pitcher, were discovered by workers in a steam tunnel deep in the heart of FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) problem-plagued Perry atomic reactor on the shore of Lake Erie northeast of Cleveland.

As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

'...The fishy tale has prompted federal regulators to ask a lot of new questions about morale at Perry and whether plant operators can control access to radioactive areas as required by regulation...

Because of a life-threatening incident during refueling two years ago at Perry in which three contractors were briefly exposed to hard radiation, the NRC has put the plant under a microscope on the issue of worker safety. The agency was already preparing to send squads of inspectors to the plant in June in an effort to determine whether Perry has corrected past shortcomings. Extra inspectors were at the plant earlier during this shutdown.

The company and the NRC said this latest incident is no laughing matter, as in the cartoon TV series "The Simpsons" in which Blinky, an orange fish, supposedly had three eyes from radiation exposure. Whoever was involved in the Perry incident will not get off as easily as nuclear worker Homer Simpson usually does...

"This is not something that happens every day. We want to know why it happened and how it happened," said Viktoria Mitlyng, NRC spokeswoman for the agency's Midwest region. "We are looking at the potential implications." '

Add that one to the "Fission Stories"!

Thursday
Feb212013

Fermi 3 Final Environmental Impact Statement incomplete: intervenors reveal major inadequacies; NRC announces major delays in Safety Evaluation Report; major setbacks projected

An artist's rendition of the ESBWR targeted to be built at Fermi 3On Feb. 19, 2013, the environmental coalition intervening in opposition to the construction and operation of Detroit Edison's proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor filed new and amended contentions in response to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Final Environmental Impact Statement about the proposal. The coalition issued a news release. As environmental coalition attorney Terry Lodge says in the press release, Fermi 3's price tag has skyrocketed to $20 billion.

An important aspect of the environmental intervention is defense of endangered species. An Eastern Fox Snake threatened species contention is set for hearing on the merits before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board this autumn. The construction of Fermi 3, and its new transmission line corridor, could extirpate the species due to stressing (including radiologically) or even killing Eastern Fox Snakes, as well as destroying their habitat. Additional endangered species are present at both the reactor construction site, and along the undeveloped land in the proposed transmission line corridor.

Documents related to environmental intervenors' filing of Feb. 19, 2013 in opposition to the General Electric-Hitachi so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (or ESBWR, see image, left) proposed to be constructed and operated at the Fermi nuclear power plant in Monroe County, Michigan, on the Lake Erie shoreline, as well as documents reveal the major schedule delays afflicting the project:

Intervenors' Feb. 19, 2013 "MOTION FOR RESUBMISSION OF CONTENTIONS 3 AND 13, FOR RESUBMISSION OF CONTENTION 23 OR ITS ADMISSION AS A NEW CONTENTION, AND FOR ADMISSION OF NEW CONTENTIONS 26 AND 27";

Current Fermi 3 COLA Review Schedule (Feb. 15, 2013), showing 2 years and 10 month of delay;

Original Fermi 3 Schedule (June 30, 2009).

Tuesday
Feb052013

"Endangered Snakes Prompt Hearing Over Fermi 3 Nuclear Plant"

An Eastern Fox Snake, an endangered constrictor species indigenous to southeast MichiganThe Monroe Evening News has reported on an environmental coalition's successful bid for hearing before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) in opposition to Detroit Edison's proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore of southeast Michigan.

The coalition is comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.

It contends that the nuclear utility, federal government, and State of Michigan are failing to protect the endangered Eastern Fox Snake species (see photo, left) from extinction due to habitat destruction caused by the construction and operation of a 1,550 Megawatt-electric General Electric Hiticahi so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR), as well as an associated 11-mile long, 300-foot wide transmission line corridor.

The State of Michigan has admitted the reactor construction will involve the largest impact on Great Lakes coastal wetlands in the history of state environmental protection law. Combined with the transmission line's destruction of more than 1,000 acres of undeveloped land, including forests and wetlands, the coalition contends the habitat loss could extirpate the endangered Eastern Fox Snake species in the region. More. 

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