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International

Beyond Nuclear, while U.S. based, recognizes that the issue of nuclear power, particularly in relation to climate change and reactor expansion, has become an international issue. Multi-national corporations, often with foreign ownership, have taken over every facet of the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining to waste disposition. Beyond Nuclear is currently engaged in supportive efforts in a number of different countries.

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Wednesday
Dec142016

SRS Watch: Internal DOE Documents Reveal Details of Highly Unusual Canadian Spent Fuel Dropping Incident at Savannah River Site

[Please note that the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS) and Canada's Chalk River Nuclear Labs are also proposing truck shipment of highly radioactive liquid waste from a medical isotope production reactor in the province of Ontario, to South Carolina, U.S.A. In fact, the highly radioactive liquid waste is bound for reprocessing at the H-Canyon at SRS, just as was the solid irradiated nuclear fuel bundle dropped at SRS's L-area spent fuel facility -- until it was dropped, that is. This begs the question: is DOE ready to safely ship, and SRS ready to safely handle, highly radioactive liquid waste? The likely motivation for the highly radioactive liquid waste truck shipments in the first place is to keep H-Canyon reprocessing capability on life support, thanks to the $60 million SRS would be paid, compliments of the Canadian government (unwitting Canadian taxpayers, that is!)]

Savannah River Site (SRS) Watch released the following press release:

Savannah River Site Watch

For Immediate Release

December 14, 2016 

Internal DOE Documents Reveal Details of Highly Unusual Canadian Spent Fuel Dropping Incident at Savannah River Site; Squabbling Amongst SRS Officials over Follow-Up Meetings

SRS Official States Delay in Shipment of Liquid High-Level Waste from Canada has DOE Headquarters “In a Lather”

FOIA Documents & Photos Received by SRS Watch on December 13, 2016 are Linked Here

Columbia, South Carolina – Details about the unexpected dropping of a highly radioactive spent fuel bundle in the L-Reactor storage pool have come to light in documents released under a Freedom of Information Act request by Savannah River Site Watch (SRS Watch).   The incident, which occurred on July 12, 2016, involved a drop of Canadian NRX research reactor spent fuel as it was being moved in the storage pool in the old L-Reactor, where spent nuclear fuel from research and medical isotope reactors is stored. The incident resulted in a “timeout” in spent fuel handling operations. During evaluation of the incident, DOE expressed concern about the situation impacting the shipping schedule of more NRX spent fuel from the Chalk River Labs in Ontario.   An “L-Area Technical Review Board” was convened the review the incident, which appears to have been caused by lifting cables twisting and falling free from lifting slots in the fuel assembly, causing the fuel to release and fall back into a storage basket.  Though the event was unanticipated and could have damaged the fuel, DOE has reported no such damage and no release of radioactive materials. The height of the drop is unclear but appears to be between 8-10 inches and 2 feet.

“As damage to the spent fuel could have had negative impact to workers and operation of the L-Area spent fuel facility, it is imperative that DOE adjust its procedures to make sure such a potentially harmful incident never happens again,” said Tom Clements, director of SRS Watch.  “DOE must now fully inform that public as to what steps it’s taking to improve spent fuel handling procedures in the aftermath of the incident involving dropping of the Canadian spent fuel.”

An “Occurrence Report” dated July 13 called event the “Inadvertent NRX Fuel released from Fuel Tool.” That report summarizes the event:

On July 12, 2016, during the unloading and bundling of National Research Experimental (NRX)-5 fuel from the NRX basket in the unloading station, an NRX fuel assembly was being removed from basket position 4. After the fuel assembly was raised 24 inches for fuel identification per procedure, the assembly became disengaged from the NRX tool and fell back into its original basket position. Fuel handling was stopped and a timeout was called. Limiting Conditions for Operations 3.1.4 was entered to allow Spent Fuel Project (SFP) Engineering and Nuclear and Criticality Safety Engineering to determine status of compliance with the nuclear safety data sheet. SFP Engineering is inspecting the NRX tool in use to help determine the cause of the disengagement.

After the timeout – “Limiting Condition for Operation” (LCO) was called, the “Spent Fuel Project (SFP) Engineering” and “Nuclear and Criticality Safety Engineering” groups were called in to analyze the situation and determine the cause for the fuel to be dropped.  Their final report was not released in the FOIA documents sent to SRS Watch.

The FOIA documents reveal a testy email exchange between DOE officials ensued after the incident as there was argument over who was authorized to attend incident-review meetings and if the incident would impact NRX spent fuel shipments from Canada.  The internal squabble arose as the L-Basin is operated by DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) and the spent fuel “take-back” program in under the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), causing officials to clash over their respective jurisdictions.

Of note, in a July 15 email from the NNSA official, concern was expressed about attention being drawn to the issue of shipment from Canada of NRC and NRU reactor spent fuel and that of liquid high-level nuclear waste, which DOE calls “Target Residue Material” in order to downplay the fact that it is a deadly brew of highly radioactive isotopes:

“My HQ is always very interested in the NRU/NRX and TRM shipment schedule and perceived hiccups.  The TRM delays are what’s really got them in a lather, unfortunately that means the NRU/NRX program is getting a little additional attention.  Once the TRM gets going, I’m hopeful NRU/NRX will fall a bit off the radar (fingers crossed).”

###

Notes:

FOIA documents and photos on NRX spent fuel incident, received vial mail on December 13, 2016, are linked here:

http://www.srswatch.org/uploads/2/7/5/8/27584045/foia_nrx_spent_fuel_incident_dec_1_2016.pdf  

Contact: Tom Clements Director,

Savannah River Site Watch Columbia, South Carolina

tel. 803-834-3084

cell 803-240-7268

srswatch@gmail.com

http://www.srswatch.org/

https://www.facebook.com/SavannahRiverSiteWatch

Wednesday
Dec142016

Coverup at French Nuclear Supplier Sparks Global Review

As reported by Reuters, and Tweeted by Scott Stapf of the Hastings Group: Nine U.S. reactors linked to French scandal over falsified documents over nuclear parts.

The Reuters article mentions one U.S. nuclear power plant by name:

One U.S. plant with parts from Le Creusot is Dominion Resource Inc's Millstone station in Connecticut, which has had a pressurizer from the French forge in service in Unit 2 since 2006.

Dominion spokesman Ken Holt said that when Areva manufactured the pressurizer for Millstone they performed some additional heat treatment, but did not tell Dominion.

Another U.S. nuclear power plant that may be implicated, according to the article, is FirstEnergy's Beaver Valley in Pennsylvania:

Another plant that may be affected is FirstEnergy Corp's Beaver Valley station in Pennsylvania. Beaver Valley has steam generators and reactor vessel heads manufactured by Spain's Equipos Nucleares SA, or ENSA, which FirstEnergy said may contain some subcomponents from Le Creusot.

The article also reports:

There are nine U.S. plants with parts from Le Creusot, but the NRC did not immediately name them.

No explanation is given for why NRC will not name th implicated nuclear power plants, other than the obvious -- to save the plants bad publicity, and increased public and media scrutiny. 

Such a lack of transparency and accountability by the NRC -- an agency largely to entirely captured by the industry it is supposed to regulate -- is a key part of the collusion that the Japanese Parliament concluded in 2012 was the root cause of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in that country. But such collusion exists in spades in the United States, as well. 

But Areva supplies nuclear safety equipment worldwide, not just in the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal has also reported on this story, in an article entitled "Coverup at French Nuclear Supplier Sparks Global Review."

Mycle Schneider, lead author of the annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal, warning “Likely we have seen only the tip of the iceberg.”

Wednesday
Nov302016

Environmental coalition rebuts DOE attempt to have case dismissed re: highly radioactive liquid waste truck shipments

On Nov. 22nd, Diane Curran of Washington, D.C. and Terry Lodge of Toledo, OH -- legal counsel for an environmental coalition that includes Beyond Nuclear -- filed a motion in the Washington, D.C. federal district court, entitled MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS' OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND PLAINTIFFS' CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (see corrected version, dated Nov. 29, 2016).

Dr. Gordon Edwards (Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility) and Dr. Marvin Resnikoff (Radioactive Waste Management Associates) provided expert declarations in support of the coalition's case (click on links at their respective names, above, to see the declarations).

In short, Dr. Edwards testified that a mere couple of ounces, out of just one of the 150 shipments, could radioactively contaminate the massive Georgetown Reservoir, the drinking water supply for the District of Columbia, at very unsafe levels, rendering it unsafe to drink. Dr. Resnikoff testified that the woefully inadequate standards for seals, valves, and O-rings on the jury-rigged shipping containers risks failure and leakage, even in the event of a below-design basis fire temperature and duration.

This is the latest filing in the environmental coalition's challenge against the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) unprecedented scheme to truck highly radioactive liquid wastes. 100 to 150 high-risk truck shipments -- from Chalk River Nuclear Lab, Ontario, Canada to Savannah River Site, South Carolina, U.S.A., more than a thousand miles -- could begin as soon as mid-February, 2017 if the DOE gets its way, and the legal appeal dismissed. The most likely border crossing points include Buffalo and Thousand Island, NY, although DOE is keeping routes and timing secret under a cloak of security.

Tuesday
Nov222016

New Quake Tests Resilience, and Faith, in Japan’s Nuclear Plants

Tuesday
Nov222016

With a Meeting, Trump Renewed a British Wind Farm Fight

As reported by the New York Times, President-Elect Donald J. Trump is engaging in personal business matters that violate ethical standards as incipient "Leader of the Free World," the highest office in the U.S. And Exhibit A is Trump's advocacy, during a meeting with U.K. Brexit leaders, against an off-shore wind turbine farm on the Scottish coast that Trump holds would mar the view at the golf course he owns.

But aside from the ethical violations of a president-elect leveraging his office to advance his own business interests -- at the expense of the public good -- there is that question of wind turbines marring the view. Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), addressed this very issue during a late October 2008 (on the eve of Barack Obama's election) Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy book tour in Michigan. As began a Beyond Nuclear op-ed published in the Muskegon Chronicle at the time:

One of the objections raised against wind turbines is the impact they have on the view. But Dr. Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, who spoke last month in Kalamazoo, put it well. He said we have four choices when it comes to our energy future. We can either: do without electricity; experience catastrophic climate change, if we continue to burn fossil fuels unabated; risk radioactive disasters and nuclear weapons proliferation if we expand nuclear power; or, deal with the view.

More.