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Waste Transportation

The transportation of radioactive waste already occurs, but will become frequent on our rails, roads and waterways, should irradiated reactor fuel be moved to interim or permanent dump sites.

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Saturday
Aug202016

Fire could be disaster for train carrying nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain

Judy Treichel, executive director of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, and longtime watchdog on the proposed Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dump, has published an op-ed in the Las Vegas Sun.

It describes the cautionary tale a raging wildfire in the Cajon Pass is, for the risks of some 900 high-level radioactive waste train shipments that would traverse that dangerous railway in the future, if the nuclear power industry lobbyists get their way, and the Yucca dump is ever opened.

Thursday
Aug182016

Media coverage re: highly radioactive liquid waste truck shipments from Canada to U.S.

Political cartoon by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo NewsThe following media outlets have reported on this story: Aiken Standard; Bloomberg/BNA; Buffalo News; Courthouse News Service; Radio Canada International; Radio Canada International interview with Dr. Gordon Edwards of CCNR; Sarnia Observer; Mountain Xpress; WBFO; WIVB; The Voice.

A political cartoon by Adam Zyglis appeared in the Buffalo News (see left, or click here for a larger format version).

Tuesday
Aug162016

Kamps' prepared statement for press conference re: highly radioactive liquid waste truck shipments from Canada to U.S.A.

Ottawa Citizen map showing one of the more likely shipping routes from Chalk River, ON to SRS, SC for highly radioactive liquid waste truck shipments. (See larger sized map linked at end of entry.)Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, delivered a statement to members of the news media on a press conference call sponsored by NIRS. An environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, has filed a lawsuit seeking to block up to 150 unprecedented truck shipments of highly radioactive liquid wastes, from Chalk River Nuclear Labs in Ontario, Canada through multiple states, to Savannah River Site nuclear weapons and radioactive waste complex in Aiken, South Carolina, U.S.A.

See the press release and invitation to a NIRS-hosted press tele-briefing here. (The audio recording from the tele-briefing is available online. See below in the Update.*)

See the environmental coalition's lawsuit (Complaint), and associated exhibits, here.

See additional background documents here.

(Full size, legible route map -- see above left -- linked here. Another potential route, this one through the Buffalo, NY border crossing, is shown in a 2013 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission document.)

Friday
Aug122016

Lawsuit filed seeking to block truck shipments of highly radioactive liquid wastes from Canada to South Carolina

August 12, 2016:

COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND ADMINISTRATIVE RELIEF, PRELIMINARY AND PERMANENT INJUNCTIONS;

Exhibit A (February 27, 2013 public comment letter, to DOE, Re: Need for New Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Unprecedented Import from Canada to the Savannah River Site of Liquid High-Level Waste Containing Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU); Possible Programmatic EIS Needed if Shipments from Other countries are being Eyed);

Exhibit B (March 2013 Supplement Analysis, by Savannah River Site, Spent Nuclear Fuel Management, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Environmental Management, Savannah River Operations Office, Aiken, South Carolina; DOE/EIS-0279-SA-01 and DOE/EIS-0218-SA-06);

Exhibit C (Amended Record of Decision (ROD), March 29, 2013, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Spent Nuclear Fuel Management at the Savannah River Site, David Huizenga, Senior Advisor for Environmental Management [FR Doc. 2013–07994 Filed 4–4–13; 8:45 am], Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 76, Friday, April 5, 2013, Notices, pages 20625 to 20628);

Exhibit D (Rep. Higgins letter to Secretary Moniz, July 16, 2014; U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY-26), Committee on Homeland Security, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, to Ernest Moniz, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy);

Exhibit E (AG Schneiderman letter to Secretary Moniz, July 25, 2014; State of New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, letter to Ernest Moniz, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy);

Exhibit F (DOE/EIS-0218-SA-07, Supplement Analysis for the Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel Acceptance Program, Highly Enriched Uranium Target Residue Material Transportation, U.S. Department of Energy, November 2015).

Monday
Aug012016

Documents re: unprecedented truck shipments of Highly Radioactive Liquid Waste (HRLW), from Chalk River, Canada to SRS, SC

Backgrounder entitled No Highly Radioactive Liquid Waste on Public Roads, by Anna Tilman, Vice-President, International Institute of Concern for Public Health, and Gordon Edwards, President, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR). [See also May 14, 2013 entry below.]
Backgrounder on Chalk River highly radioactive liquid waste to SRS by Dr. Gordon Edwards, Chair, Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, followed by Niagara-Wheatfield (New York) Tribune article dated March 18, 2016 entitled "Higgins asks feds to keep HEU shipments out of Western New York." [See also March 19, 2016 entry below.] 
DOCUMENTS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER:

May 17, 1996:
U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Record of Decision May 17, 1996 FRN [Federal Register Notice]
http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/nepapub/nepa_documents/RedDont/EIS-0218-Final-ROD-1996.pdf
July 25, 1996:
DOE's Revised Record of Decision July 25, 1996 FRN
July 19, 2000:
December 1, 2004:
DOE's Revised Record of Decision December 1, 2004 FRN
August 25, 2008:
January 23, 2009:
DOE's Revised Record of Decision for EIS-0218, FRN [Federal Register Notice]
April 5, 2013:
DOE's Amended Record of Decision for EIS-0279, Related to EIS-0218 

May 14, 2013:

Backgrounder entitled No Highly Radioactive Liquid Waste on Public Roads, by Anna Tilman, Vice-President, International Institute of Concern for Public Health, and Gordon Edwards, President, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR).

May 20, 2013:

Letter from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to contractor Secured Transportation Services, including a map showing the most likely highway routes for the highly radioactive liquid waste (HRLW) shipments from Chalk River, Ontario, Canada to Savannah River Site, South Carolina, via the Buffalo, New York border crossing.

July 16, 2014:

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins' (D-NY-26) letter to Energy Secretary Moniz; Congressman Higgins is the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security's Ranking Member, and also serves on the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

July 25, 2014:

Letter from New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, to U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, re: his "office's serious concerns regarding the proposed multiple shipments by truck of extremely radioactive highly enriched uranium in liquid form from Chalk River, Ontario, Canada to the Department of Energy's Savannah River facilities near Aiken, South Carolina." The AG points out that more environmental review should have been done, given the unprecedented risk of the highly radioactive liquid waste shipments.

June 4, 2015:

Memo by Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., President, CCNR, to Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), re: CNSC Technical Assessment Report: "NAC-LWT Package Design for Transport of Highly Enriched Uranyl Nitrate Liquid."

November 2, 2015:

There was a cask caddy* mishap at Chalk River which was kept secret. It involved the same cask model (NAC-LWT, Nuclear Assurance Corporation-Legal Weight Truck), with a similar caddy, to be used for the highly radioactive liquid waste, to be shipped from Chalk River to SRS in South Carolina. (Also see December 18, 2015 entry, immediately below.)

(*Caddy, or caddie, is defined at Dictionary.com as a container, rack, or other device for holding, organizing, or storing items; any rigidly structured, wheeled device for carrying or moving around heavy objects. In this particular case, the heavy object being wheeled, carried or moved was high-level radioactive waste!)

The caddy failure at Chalk River was due to poor quality welding on the NAC (Nuclear Assurance Corporation) caddy, used to transfer solid irradiated nuclear fuel rods from a spent (irradiated) nuclear fuel bay ("wet" storage pool) to a waiting NAC-LWT (Legal Weight Truck) cask – the same type of cask to be used in the proposed shipments of highly radioactive liquid waste from Chalk River to SRS. The bottom of the fully-loaded caddy unexpectedly fell open, dropping irradiated nuclear fuel rods to the bottom of the spent fuel bay (high-level radioactive waste storage pool). That there are quality assurance concerns with NAC equipment when used for solid highly radioactive fuel rods heightens concerns when equipment from the same company is to be used to load and deliver highly radioactive liquid waste from Chalk River to SRS.

December 2, 2015:

DOE Listing of Documents Related to EIS-0218, and Chronology

 

December 18, 2015:

Non-Compliance report for NAC-LWT major caddie assembly equipment failures, due to welding failures, in the loading process at Chalk River reactor NRX, with broken fuel falling to bottom of pool on November 2, 2015. The same NAC-LWT Package design as would be used in the HEUNL/highly radioactive liquid waste shipments, and placed in that docket showing non compliance with the Certificate of Compliance. See:  https://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/webSearch2/main.jsp?AccessionNumber=ML16005A115 

(Also see November 2, 2015 entry, immediately above.)

January 11, 2016:

Cameco notified the CNSC of a transport accident involving uranium yellowcake that took place on Highway 4 near Swift Current, Saskatchewan. See the CNSC incident bulletin. While highly radioactive liquid waste was not involved (by definition, its shipment is unpredented, in North American history, as of the date of the writing of this entry), note that "Transport/In Transit events" with various kinds of nuclear materials shipments have happened before, and after, January 11, 2016 as well. More will undoubetedly occur in the future. Highly radioactive liquid wastes would be among the most risky nuclear materials ever transported in North American history.

The Southwest Booster reported on this story.

January 18, 2016:

Michael Keegan of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes pointed out that, although the shipment from Chalk River to SRS is often ballparked at 1,000 miles in distance, that the shipments -- which could take various routes -- could actually approach 1,300 miles in distance.
See precise MapQuest links to Savannah River Site, from Chalk River, re: the following routes: (1) East of Lake Ontario; (2) Through Buffalo, NY; (3) Through Port Huron, MI (please note, additional routes are possible).
(1) East of Lake Ontario (shortest distance: 1,179 miles)
Chalk River, Ontario to Savannah River Site, SC  (three potential routes, of 1,179 miles,1,187 miles, and 1,218 miles in distance):
(2) Through Buffalo, NY (shortest distance: 1,186 miles)
Chalk River, Ontario to Buffalo, NY (two potential routes of 356 or 363 miles in distance)
and then
Buffalo, NY to Savannah River Site, SC (one route of 830 miles)
(3) Through Port Huron, MI (shortest distance: 1,297 miles)
Chalk River, Ontario to Port Huron, MI (one route of 434 miles in distance)
and then
Port Huron, MI to Savannah River Site, SC (two potential routes, of 863 or 903 miles in distance)

 

January 21, 2016:

Memo by nuclear physicist Marvin Resnikoff, Ph.D.., Radioactive Waste Management Associates, to NRC, re: the agency's approval of the NAC-LWT CoC (Nuclear Assurance Corporation-Legal Weight Truck Certificate of Compliance): page 1; page 2.

(Drs. Resnikoff and Edwards have calculated that there are four times higher concentrations of radioactive cesium (a muscle-seeking hazardous radionuclide, including human heart tissue) in the highly radioactive liquid waste proposed to be shipped from Chalk River to SRS than in the liquid high-level radioactive waste storage tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation (nuclear weapons production site) in the State of Washington.)

January 28, 2016:

Concerned citizens in both the U.S. and Canada brought the cask caddy failure to light, not the NRC nor the CNSC. Brennain Lloyd of Northwatch asked the question of the CNSC, that led to a hearing and the public notice that the NAC-LWT cask caddy had a failure during loading last autumn. 

See the Webcast of the CNSC Meeting at http://download.isiglobal.ca/cnsc/2016-01-28/archive_2016-01-28-4M.mp4.html, which includes a discussion of the incident at Chalk River in which the cask caddy bottom dropped out in the fuel pool. (If you have trouble with the link, the archived webcasts for January 28 are also posted at
http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/the-commission/webcasts/archived/january-2016/index.cfm)

The relevant item is labeled "Update from CNSC Staff on component failure during preparation for transport of spent NRX fuel rods at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Oral presentation by CNSC staff, Round of questions."

The CNSC President and Commissioners were visibly upset, not only because Chalk River Nuclear Lab had not told CNSC staff about the incident for a month, and had not told Savannah River Site about the failure in advance of its receipt of a package in the same container that was shipped just 12 hours after the bottom fell out of the cask caddy (in a different cask, but of the exact same design), but also because the CNSC had only found out about it a few days before the January 28th public meeting.

(Along similar lines, on July 18, 2016, as reported by the Globe and Mail, an anonymous whistleblower from within the CNSC staff revealed that major elements of the CNSC staff regularly withhold vital, safety-significant information from the CNSC President and Commissioners, regarding nuclear power licensing decisions. Also see July 18, 2016 entry below.)

February 22, 2016:

In response to this U.S. Federal Register Notice placed by DOE (https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/02/22/2016-03572/proposed-subsequent-arrangement), Tom Clements of SRS Watch wrote:

The US DOE is proposing the in-situ down-blending of US-origin HEU liquid solutions in Indonesia to LEU (less than 20% U-235).  This appears to be what we have proposed for the last 2+ years for the liquid HEU-bearing HLW at Chalk River (a larger volume than the Indonesia material, I assume), in order that it not be shipped to SRS for reprocessing, with by-product waste into the SRS tanks. Why the double standard?  $$$$ from Canada to help keep the H-Canyon operational appears to be guiding the decision-making on the Canadian liquid HLW.  I'd also guess the US wants to present this as another "success" at the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.

The DOE Fed. Reg. Notice stated:

This subsequent arrangement concerns the alteration in form or content of 1.3 kg of U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU), 1.21 kg of which is in the isotope of U-235 (93 percent enrichment) and currently located at PT Industri Nuklir (PT INUKI) in Serpong, Indonesia, through down-blending to reduce its enrichment to less than 20 percent U-235. The purpose of the down-blending of the HEU is to achieve permanent threat reduction by eliminating HEU from Indonesia. PT INUKI will down-blend the HEU contained in 514 bottles of irradiated HEU targets in liquid form and 14 containers of un-irradiated liquid HEU used in the plating process for medical isotope production, on-site at the Pusat Penelitian Ilmu Pengetahuan dan Teknologi facility in Serpong. The quantity of uranium will increase from 1.3 kg to 6.72 kg while the U-235 enrichment will decrease from 93 percent to 18 percent. The down-blend operation is scheduled to last for approximately three months. (Red emphasis added)

To this, Dr. Gordon Edwards of CCNR responded:

What has been agreed to be done in Indonesia is EXACTLY what they should be doing in Canada with the liquid HEUNL.  In both cases (Indonesia and Canada) they have weapons-grade uranium (93 percent enriched) in liquid form resulting from the irradiation of HEU targets for medical isotope production.

Indonesia also has unirradiated HEU in liquid form "used in the plating process for isotope production".  I presume (without actually knowing) that the same is true at Chalk River.  The targets themselves are not MADE of HEU but are simply "plated" (or coated) with HEU, and I suppose the plating process would require HEU in liquid form.

The "down blending" process is achieved by blending depleted uranium (U-238) in liquid form with the existing liquid waste, which will dilute the HEU (mainly U-235) to a lower concentration of U-235, thereby making it LEU (low enriched uranium). Notice that the amount of uranium will increase by a factor of about 5 and 1/4; almost all of that added uranium is U-238.

The total amount of HEU dissolved in the liquid tank at Chalk River is  about 170 kilos, while the amount of HEU in solution in Indonesia is 1.3 kilos.  So Canada has a lot more stuff, but it's just a question of scale.

March 19, 2016:

Backgrounder on Chalk River highly radioactive liquid waste to SRS by Dr. Gordon Edwards, Chair, Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, followed by Niagara-Wheatfield (New York) Tribune article dated March 18, 2016 entitled "Higgins asks feds to keep HEU shipments out of Western New York."

July 18, 2016:

As reported by the Globe and Mail, an anonymous whistleblower from within the CNSC staff revealed that major elements of the CNSC staff regularly withhold vital, safety-significant information from the CNSC President and Commissioners, regarding nuclear power licensing decisions. This calls into question whether the CNSC staff has been entirely forthcoming regarding the safety of the proposed highly radioactive liquid waste shipments, and thus whether the CNSC President's and Commissioners' approvals of the shipments are safe and sound decisions.

July 29, 2016:

"A Look Inside: H Canyon is Savannah River Site Mission Cornerstone," by Thomas Gardiner, Aiken Standard.

August 24, 2016:

As reported by World Nuclear News, DOE SRS is returning its H-Canyon reprocessing facilities to full operability.