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"Low-Level" Radioactive Waste

"Low-Level" waste is a convenient classification and a notorious misnomer as many so-called "low-level" radioactive wastes are extremely long-lived and highly dangerous to health.

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Wednesday
Mar272013

Environmental coalition defends contentions against Fermi 3 proposed new reactor, challenges adequacy of NRC FEIS

Environmental coalition attorney Terry LodgeTerry Lodge (photo, left), Toledo-based attorney representing an environmental coalition opposing the proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor targeted at the Lake Erie shore in Monroe County, MI, has filed a reply to challenges from Detroit Edison (DTE) and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff.

The coalition's reply re-asserted "no confidence" in DTE's ability to safely stored Class B and C "low-level" radioactive wastes on-site at Fermi 3 into the indefinite future, due to the lack of sure access to a disposal facility. it also again emphasized the lack of documented need for the 1,550 Megawatts of electricity Fermi 3 would generate. And the coalition alleged that NRC has failed to fulfill its federal responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as by the illegal "segmentation" of the needed transmission line corridor from the rest of the Fermi 3 reactor construction and operation proposal.

This legal filing follows by a week upon the submission of public comments about NRC's Fermi 3 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The comments, commissioned by Don't Waste Michigan and prepared by Jessie Pauline Collins, were endorsed by a broad coalition of individuals and environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear. The FEIS comments included satellite images of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie in 2012, and in 2011 to 2012, attributable in significant part to thermal electric power plants such as Detroit Edison's Monroe (coal burning) Power Plant, at 3,300 Megawatts-electric the second largest coal burner in the U.S. Fermi 3's thermal discharge into Lake Erie will worsen this already very serious ecological problem.

In the very near future, the environmental coalition intervening against the Fermi 3 combined Construction and Operating License Application (COLA) will submit additional filings on its contentions challenging the lack of adequate quality assurance (QA) on the project, as well as its defense of the threatened Eastern Fox Snake and its critical wetlands habitat. The State of Michigan has stated that Fermi 3's construction would represent the largest impact on Great Lakes coastal wetlands in the history of state wetlands preservation law. 

Monday
Feb042013

Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump!

Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump billboard in Toronto

A new group has formed in opposition to the radioactive waste dump(s) targeted at the Great Lakes shoreline near the Bruce Nuclear Complex in Kincardine, Ontario, Canada. Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump has a website, and has launched a petition drive.

As reported by Bayshore Broadcasting, Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump has also erected a billboard on the Gardiner Expressway in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), in order to draw wider attention to this national -- and even international -- threat. The report, which includes a short audio recording of Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump spokeswoman, Beverly Fernandez, points out "The billboard, on one of Canada’s busiest commuter strips, could be seen by up to one million people a week."

Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump encourages U.S. citizens to sign their petition. The petition is directed to Canada's Minister of the Environment, Peter Kent.

The Bruce Nuclear Complex "hosts" a total of 9 reactors (including a permanently shutdown prototype), one of the single biggest nuclear power plants, and concentrations of radioactive waste, in the world. For decades, all of Ontario's 20 reactors have "temporarily" stored their so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes at Bruce. Low-level radioactive waste has been incinerated. Now, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) proposes burying these low- and intermediate-level radioactive wastes on-site, just 400 meters from the waters of Lake Huron.

To make matters worse, Canada's Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is considering applications from several Bruce area municipalities, which are volunteering to "host" a national high-level radioactive waste dump for all of Canada's 22 atomic reactors. These communities are disproportionately populated by Bruce Nuclear workers. They stand to receive substantial sums of money for being studied, and perhaps ultimately selected, as Canada's national high-level radioactive waste dumpsite. Kincardine, Bruce's "home town," has already received millions of dollars for agreeing to "host" OPG's proposed "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive waste burial dump at the Bruce Nuclear Complex.

In addition to the Bruce region, a number of municipalities in Canada's Lake Superior basin, and further north and west (including the Province of Saskatchewan, with one of the world's single biggest uranium mining industries), have also "volunteered" to "host" Canada's high-level radioactive waste dump.

Proponents have dubbed these proposed dumps "Deep Geologic Repositories," or DGRs. Critics refer to them, sarcastically, as Deep Underground Dumps, or DUDs.

The Great Lakes comprises 20% of the world's surface fresh water. It serves as the drinking water supply for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states (from west to east, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York), 2 Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec), and a large number of Native American First Nations.

Friday
Jan182013

Arnie Gundersen on health hazards of "recycling" radioactive metals into consumer products

Fairewinds' nuclear engineer Arnie GundersenIn the most recent Fairewinds Energy Education weekly podcast, "REPAIRS AT FOUR NUCLEAR REACTORS ARE SO EXPENSIVE THAT THEY SHOULD NOT BE RESTARTED," Fairewinds' nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen (photo, left) lays out the case as to why the atomic reactors at Fort Calhoun, Nebraska on the Missouri River, Crystal River in Florida, and San Onofre Units 2 & 3 in southern California should all be permanently shutdown.

Of these, Fort Calhoun had already gotten a 20-year license extension rubberstamp by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, while Crystal River was deep into the application process for one.

In the second half of the program, Arnie also discusses a recent letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and an accompanying press release, from U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), which expressed strong opposition to U.S. Department of Energy plans to "recycle" radioactive metals and other materials from its nuclear facilities (such as nuclear weapons complex sites, uranium enrichment facilities, national labs, etc.) into consumer products.

Monday
Nov052012

Radioactive steam generators from San Onofre, CA heavy haul trucked through 3 States, dumped in UT

The almost 800,000-pound piece of "slightly radioactive" steel from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station will be moving to a disposal site in Utah through California and Nevada. / KCBSAs reported by KCBS News, a radioactive steam generator has been heavy haul trucked from the southern CA coast, across NV and into UT, before being dumped at the EnergySolutions "EnviroCare" so-called "low" level radioactive waste dump in Clive, UT, not far from the Skull Valley Goshutes Indian Reservation.

The heavy haul truck trailer measured 400 feet long. Heavy haul truck shipments are usually of much shorter duration, as they can only travel at speeds in the single digits of miles per hour.

This shipment's route was kept secret for "security reasons," officials said.

Although Southern California Edison claims little to no radiological risk associated with the shipment, a dental x-ray per hour at a distance of 5 to 10 feet still represents a gamma ray hazard for workers, inspectors, innocent bystanders, and passers by. As NAS has long affirmed, any exposure to radioactivity carries a health risk for cancer, and these risks accumulate over a lifetime.

And, as documented by Dr. Gordon Edwards of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility regarding radioactive steam generators at Bruce Nuclear Complex in Ontario, the radioactive contaminants inside steam generators are significantly hazardous.

As mentioned in the news coverage, the sheer size of the load is also a hazard. At 800,000 pounds, or 400 tons, this shipment is among the heaviest out there on the roads. In 2003, a 290 ton radioactive reactor pressure vessel traveling from northern MI to SC by train so damaged the tracks in SE MI, as well as in the Carolinas, that follow on trains derailed in its wake.

Update, Easter Day, 2013:

A 500-600 ton load dropped by Entergy at its Arkansas Nuclear One plant has killed one worker and injured 8.

Friday
Sep282012

Deep Trouble -- Nuclear Waste Burial in the Great Lakes Basin

The Great Lakes comprise 20% of the world's surface fresh water, and provide drinking water to 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American/First NationsBrennain Lloyd of Northwatch and John Jackson of Great Lakes United will speak at an event, Deep Trouble -- Nuclear Waste Burial in the Great Lakes Basin, sponsored by the St. Clair County Community College and the Blue Water Sierra Club on Sept. 30th in Port Huron, MI. 

The nuclear industry in Canada is currently pursuing approval of their plan to bury 200,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste below the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, and is studying 21 different communities -- 15 of them in the Great Lakes basin -- as possible burial locations for all of Canada's high level nuclear fuel waste.

The presentation will include descriptions of the burial schemes, the hazards for the Great Lakes community, and possible transportation risks, and linkages to U.S. nuclear waste issues.

For more information, please contact Kay Cumbow, Blue Water Sierra Club, (810) 346-4513 or kcumbow@greatlakes.net.

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