BEYOND NUCLEAR PUBLICATIONS
Search
JOIN OUR NETWORK

     

     

DonateNow

Environmental Impacts

The entire nuclear fuel chain involves the release of radioactivity that contaminates the environment. Radiation can affect the air, water, soil, plants, animals, places of residence and recreation and elsewhere.

.................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Sunday
Apr202014

"Fukushima No. 1 boss admits plant doesn’t have complete control over water problems"

A photo showing a part of the ALPS system at Fukushima Daiichi, posted at Enformable.comAs reported by Reuters, although Japanese Prime Minister Abe said to International Olympic Committee dignitaries in Buenos Aires last September “Let me assure you the situation is under control” at Fukushima Daiichi, in his successful bid to secure the 2020 Summer Games for Tokyo, it appears he was mistaken.

“It’s embarrassing to admit, but there are certain parts of the site where we don’t have full control,” Akira Ono told reporters touring the plant last week.

Ono is TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi top manager.

He was referring to recent incidents, including TEPCO directly "203 tons [203,000 liters, or about 53,600 U.S. gallons] of highly radioactive water to the wrong building, flooding its basement. Tepco is also investigating a leak into the ground a few days earlier from a plastic container used to store rainwater. In February, a tank sprouted a 100-ton [100,000 liters, about 26,400 gallons] leak of radioactive water, the most serious incident since leaks sparked international alarm last year."

The ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) was fabricated at Fukushima Daiichi by Toshiba with participation by Areva. It is designed to filter out some 60 radioactive substances from the constant flood of radioactive water at the site, including Cs-137 and Sr-90 contamination. However, apart from some test runs, ALPS has largely sat idle for the past two years. Just two days ago, "a ton [about 264 gallons] of radioactive water overflowed from a tank" in the ALPS system.

Thus, 440,000 tons [440,000,000 liters, or more than 116 million gallons] of highly radioactive water has accumulated in some 1,000 hastily built storage tanks, some of which have themselves failed, overflowed, or leaked, releasing large quantities of contamination into the soil, groundwater, and ocean.

Each week, TEPCO adds another two to three 1,000-ton [1,000,000 liters, or more than 264,000 gallons] storage tanks to deal with the non-stop deluge of radioactively contaminated cooling water needed to keep the melted cores in "cold shutdown," as well as the radioactive groundwater it mixes with in the basement levels of the shattered reactor buildings and damaged turbine halls.

Tuesday
Mar252014

Gundersen: Forever deadly radioactive waste, versus renewables

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer, Fairewinds Associates, Inc.As Fairewinds Associates, Inc.'s Chief Engineer, Arnie Gundersen (photo, left), concluded his keynote presentation at the Beyond Nuclear/FOE/NEIS "Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High" conference in Chicago in Dec. 2012:

"What we're seeing is that the cost of solar is plummeting while nuclear is rising," Gundersen said, adding that he often hears the rebuttal that the sun doesn't shine day and night. "But if you believe that man can build a repository to store nuclear waste for a quarter of a million years, surely those same people can find a way to store electricity overnight." ---GAZETTENET.com, November 16, 2012

Gundersen serves as the expert witness for an environnental coalition (Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and Sierra Club, Ohio Chapter) that has challenged the risky, experimental steam generator replacements at Davis-Besse.

An overlapping coalition (including the Green Party of Ohio) has raised the radioactive waste dilemma and the renewables alternative as major arguments against the 20-year license extension at Davis-Besse.

Tuesday
Mar252014

Opponents to 20 more years at Davis-Besse speak out at NRC EIS public comment meetings

Environmental coalition attorney Terry Lodge of ToledoThe environmental coalition opposing the 20-year license extension sought by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) at its problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore east of Toledo has spoken out at NRC Environmental Impact Statement public comment meetings. The coalition issued a press release, focused on the unsolved dilemma created by Davis-Besse's ongoing generation of forever deadly high-level radioactive waste, as well as the renewables alternative (wind power, solar PV, etc.) to a risky, dubious 20 more years of atomic reactor operations.

The press release quoted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps: “The worsening cracking of Davis-Besse’s concrete containment, the corrosion of its inner steel containment vessel, the risks of its experimental steam generator replacement, and its recently revealed Shield Building wall gap are clear signs that this atomic reactor is overdue for retirement and decommissioning.”

The coalition includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio. Terry Lodge of Toledo serves as the coalition's legal counsel.

Tuesday
Mar112014

Chomsky: From Hiroshima to Fukushima, Vietnam to Fallujah, State Power Ignores Its Massive Harm

Noam ChomskyAs reported by Democracy Now! on the Pacifica Radio Network:

World-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and MIT Professor Noam Chomsky traveled to Japan last week ahead of the three-year anniversary of the Fukushima crisis. Chomsky, now 85 years old, met with Fukushima survivors, including families who evacuated the area after the meltdown. "[It’s] particularly horrifying that this is happening in Japan with its unique, horrendous experiences with the impact of nuclear explosions, which we don’t have to discuss," Chomsky says. "And it’s particularly horrifying when happening to children — but unfortunately, this is what happens all the time."

Chomsky also addresses the radioactive contamination of Iraq due to the U.S. military's use of depleted uranium weapons, as well as the lingering health impacts from the Vietnam War due to the U.S. military's use of chemical poisons there.

Monday
Mar102014

Scientists: Test West Coast for Fukushima Radiation

As reported by USA Today, calls are growing for the U.S. federal government to test the Pacific Ocean for Fukushima fallout. Varying models predict Fukushima radioactive contamination plumes in the sea will arrive at the West Coast of North America this summer at the latest, or as early as next month.

A report presented last week at a conference of the American Geophysical Union's Ocean Sciences Section showed that some Cesium-134 has already has arrived in Canada, in the Gulf of Alaska area.

Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer based at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, reports that Cesium-134 serves as a fingerprint for Fukushima.

"The models show it will reach north of Seattle first, then move down the coast," Buesseler said.

Although Buesseler is calling for more federal involvement, he's also taking matters into his own hands. He's launched "How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?" The project will use crowd-sourced money and volunteers to collect water samples along the Pacific Coast, to be shipped across the country to be analyzed.

Similarly, Cal State Long Beach marine biologist Steven Manley has launched "Kelp Watch 2014," which will partner with other organizations to monitor kelp all along the West Coast for Fukushima radiation.

Oregon state park rangers take quarterly ocean water samples to test for radioactivity, according to the article. Their program began in April 2012, tied to monitoring for Japanese tsunami debris washing up on shore.

California also monitors ocean radioactivity near the sole remaining operating nuclear power plant in the state, Diablo Canyon.

The article reports Buesseler saying that current models predict that the radiation will be at extremely low levels that won't harm humans or the environment.

However, this does not comport with the affirmations of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), in multiple reports over decades, that any exposure to ionizing radioactivity, no matter how low the dose, still carries a health risk for cancer. NAS has found that the higher the exposure, the higher the risk of cancer, but there is no threshold below which a radioactive exposure can be called "safe." NAS also has found that these health risks for cancer from ionizinig radioactivity accumulate over a lifetime of exposures.