Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major Energy and Environmental News and Commentary affecting the Nuclear Industry.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

France Announcement on Areva Strategy, EDF Linkup Seen in April

France Announcement on Areva Strategy, EDF Linkup Seen in April


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-31/france-announcement-on-areva-strategy-edf-linkup-seen-in-april

When Is the Next Ice Age?


When Is the Next Ice Age?

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/29963-when-is-the-next-ice-age-it-may-come-sooner-than-we-think

Investors Spent a Record $2 Trillion on Renewables, Report Says


Investors Spent a Record $2 Trillion on Renewables, Report Says

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2015/03/investors-spent-a-record-2-trillion-on-renewables-report-says?cmpid=rss

Satellite data indicates sea levels rising faster than expected

Satellite data indicates sea levels rising faster than expected:
Scientists analysing satellite data warn that rises in sea level are increasing threats to coastal cities and food security

Nuclear Matters Statement on Closure of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Facility


Nuclear Matters Statement on Closure of Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Facility

Unintended Consequences of Poorly Designed Market Structure and Government Policies Lead to Premature Shutdown
http://www.nuclearmatters.com/news/press-releases/nuclear-matters-statement-on-closure-of-vermont-yankee-nuclear-power-facility

US Hopes Russia to Attend 2016 Nuclear Security Summit

US Hopes Russia to Attend 2016 Nuclear Security Summit



http://sputniknews.com/us/20150331/1020230493.html

A Closer Look at Hungary's $10.9-Billion Nuclear Deal With Russia


A Closer Look at Hungary's $10.9-Billion Nuclear Deal With Russia

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/a-closer-look-at-hungarys-109-billion-nuclear-deal-with-russia/518209.html

Russian analyst urges nuclear attack on Yellowstone National Park and San Andreas fault line


Russian analyst urges nuclear attack on Yellowstone National Park and San Andreas fault line

http://www.smh.com.au/world/russian-analyst-urges-nuclear-attack-on-yellowstone-national-park-and-san-andreas-fault-line-20150331-1mbl14.html

First New Nuclear Unit in U.S. in Nearly 20 Years Is on Track to Begin Operating in 2015

First New Nuclear Unit in U.S. in Nearly 20 Years Is on Track to Begin Operating in 2015


http://www.powermag.com/first-new-nuclear-unit-in-u-s-in-nearly-20-years-is-on-track-to-begin-operating-in-2015/

The nuclear power generation

The nuclear power generation

Various concerns have been expressed in terms of political instability and growing extremism in Pakistan, which increases the risk of outsiders' access to nuclear facilities and materials

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/31-Mar-2015/the-nuclear-power-generation

The Future of U.S.-ROK Nuclear Cooperation

The Future of U.S.-ROK Nuclear Cooperation


http://blogs.cfr.org/asia/2015/03/30/the-future-of-u-s-rok-nuclear-cooperation/

GE Hitachi Opens Under-Vessel Simulation Center

GE Hitachi Opens Under-Vessel Simulation Center


http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2015/03/31/ge-hitachi-opens-under_2d00_vessel-simulation-center-033101.aspx#.VRriU-HlxbI

Belarusian nuclear safety agency to expand cooperation with WENRA

Belarusian nuclear safety agency to expand cooperation with WENRA


http://eng.belta.by/all_news/economics/Belarusian-nuclear-safety-agency-to-expand-cooperation-with-WENRA_i_80642.html

Amec Foster Wheeler Wins EDF Energy UK Nuclear Power Station Deal

Amec Foster Wheeler Wins EDF Energy UK Nuclear Power Station Deal


http://www.lse.co.uk/AllNews.asp?code=ss2d686i&headline=Amec_Foster_Wheeler_Wins_EDF_Energy_UK_Nuclear_Power_Station_Deal

China Restarts Nuclear Power Plant Construction

China Restarts Nuclear Power Plant Construction


http://uraniuminvestingnews.com/21325/china-restarts-nuclear-power-plant-construction.html

Justices divided over EPA mercury limits

Justices divided over EPA mercury limits
The Supreme Court's conservative justices cast doubt on the Obama administration's first-ever regulations aimed at reducing power plant emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants.
Read Morehttp://www.power-eng.com/articles/2015/03/justices-divided-over-epa-mercury-limits.html?cmpid=enl-poe-weekly-march-31-2015

VIDEO: One nuclear power steam generator’s trip to the Summer plant site

VIDEO: One nuclear power steam generator’s trip to the Summer plant site
New video from Westinghouse Electric shows the journey the one steam generator took from the port of Charleston, South Carolina to the site of two Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer site in Jenkensville.
Read Morehttp://www.power-eng.com/articles/2015/03/video-one-nuclear-power-steam-generator-s-trip-to-the-summer-plant-site.html?cmpid=enl-poe-weekly-march-31-2015

Senate Oil Export Hearing Panelists Debate National Security And Limited Refinery Capacity

Senate Oil Export Hearing Panelists Debate National Security And Limited Refinery Capacity

By Enerknol Research
As Default Deadline Nears, Congress Continues Debate Debt Ceiling Plan
Insight for Industry – U.S. Crude Oil Export Restrictions Cause Refining Mismatch and Light Oil Price Discount The dramatic increase in domestic oil production over the past decade – facilitated by drilling technology improvements – has rekindled the crude oil export debate. Allowing crude oil exports would provide an additional market for light crude derived

Wave Energy Still Looking for a Game-Changing ‘First’

Wave Energy Still Looking for a Game-Changing ‘First’

By Pete Danko
danko LIMPET
Doesn’t anyone remember LIMPET? Agucadoura? Despite what you might have read, the Carnegie Wave Energy project at Garden Island, off Perth, Australia, is not the world’s first grid-connected wave power station, nor the first grid-connected wave power array. The 500-kilowatt-rated LIMPET – that’s Land Installed Marine Power Energy Transmitter – commissioned in spring 2001 on

Green Charge Networks, Itochu Look To Scale Up Behind-The-Meter Batteries

Green Charge Networks, Itochu Look To Scale Up Behind-The-Meter Batteries

By GreenTech Media
General Images Of Electric Vehicle Recharging And Battery Changing Station In Beijing
Japanese giant could help startup compete with Stem, Tesla, others in burgeoning energy storage market.  GTM Research predicts that behind-the-meter batteries could expand to make up nearly half of the rapidly growing U.S. energy storage market by decade’s end — and there’s also great potential for international growth in solar-rich and energy-constrained countries like Germany

Crude-By-Rail Still Outcompetes Pipelines In The Bakken

Statement From U.S. Energy Secretary Moniz On Mexico’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets

Statement From U.S. Energy Secretary Moniz On Mexico’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets

By Dr. Ernest Moniz | U.S. Department of Energy
Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing For Ernest Moniz For Energy Secretary
“We warmly welcome the announcement by the Government of Mexico on new greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. The commitment Mexico has made today sends a strong signal of Mexico’s determination to do its share in helping the world reduce emissions globally; it stands as an example for countries around the world to follow as they

Best Reactor Type for the U.S.

ANNOUNCEMENT
AMERICAN NUCLEAR SOCIETY
NORTHEASTERN SECTION
Meeting Notice
           
Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Speaker: Student Debate, Participating Schools: MIT, UML, WPI

TOPIC:   Best Reactor Type for the U.S.
Please note the Meeting Flysheet is attached for posting on BBs.
Please register by 6:00 pm on April 9th
For meeting information and reservations go to: http://local.ans.org/ne
Send questions and reservation changes to Liz Canty: ecanty2707@gmail.com

LOCATION: MIT Building 66, Room 110
(See directions on website)

Meeting Charges (Payable at Meeting, Checks or Cash only-Food service included):
Members: $22.00
Students: $10:00
Member Spouse: $22.00
Non-members: $27.00
Membership Dues (2014 -15 Season): $20.00 (good through 8/2015)
Schedule:
5:30 pm: Registration/ Social Hour
6:00 pm: Food Service
6:45 pm: Presentations
8:30 pm: Awards
No Show Advisory:
We are charged according to the head-count provided prior to the meeting. No-shows hurt ANS-NE financially. If you need to cancel after signing up, please give us notice before noon on the day before the meeting. Please note if you make reservations and don’t show up, we will end up paying for your dinner. If your plans change, please let us know ahead of time, otherwise, we will be asking you for the full payment.

Antarctica just had its warmest day on record

Antarctica just had its warmest day on record
Esperanza Base, Argentina (UPI) Mar 30, 2015 - Global warming continues to have its most pronounced effects on Earth's polar regions. Last week in Antarctica, those effects set a new record. On Tuesday, March 24, temperatures on the southern continent reached the low 60s, according to reports from Weather Underground. Thermometers at Argentina's Esperanza Base, on the northern tip of Trinity Peninsula, recorded a high of 63.5 degre ... morehttp://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Antarctica_just_had_its_warmest_day_on_record_999.html

What took decades to destroy in oceans took millennia to recover

What took decades to destroy in oceans took millennia to recover
Davis CA (SPX) Mar 31, 2015 - Ocean ecosystems that experience rapid upheaval because of climate change can take thousands of years to recover, according to an examination of fossilized ocean fauna on the seafloor by the University of California, Davis. The study, published online March 30 in the Early Edition of the journal PNAS, is the first record of disturbance and recovery of seafloor ecosystem biodiversity in res ... morehttp://www.terradaily.com/reports/What_took_decades_to_destroy_in_oceans_took_millennia_to_recover_999.html

Deadly Japan quake and tsunami spurred global warming, ozone loss

Deadly Japan quake and tsunami spurred global warming, ozone loss
Washington DC (SPX) Mar 31, 2015 - Buildings destroyed by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake released thousands of tons of climate-warming and ozone-depleting chemicals into the atmosphere, according to a new study. New research suggests that the thousands of buildings destroyed and damaged during the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan four years ago released 6,600 metric tons (7,275 U.S. tons) of gases stored i ... morehttp://www.terradaily.com/reports/Deadly_Japan_quake_and_tsunami_spurred_global_warming_ozone_loss_999.html

Massive study explores ocean response to abrupt climate change

Massive study explores ocean response to abrupt climate change
San Francisco CA (SPX) Mar 31, 2015 - A 30-foot-long core sample of Pacific Ocean seafloor is changing what we know about ocean resiliency in the face of rapidly changing climate. A new study reports that marine ecosystems can take thousands, rather than hundreds, of years to recover from climate-related upheavals. The study's authors - including Peter Roopnarine, PhD, of the California Academy of Sciences - analyzed thousands ... morehttp://www.terradaily.com/reports/Massive_study_is_first_to_explore_historical_ocean_response_to_abrupt_climate_change_999.html

Climate change does not cause extreme winters

Climate change does not cause extreme winters
Zurich, Switzerland (SPX) Mar 31, 2015 - Cold snaps like the ones that hit the eastern United States in the past winters are not a consequence of climate change. Scientists at ETH Zurich and the California Institute of Technology have shown that global warming actually tends to reduce temperature variability. Repeated cold snaps led to temperatures far below freezing across the eastern United States in the past two winters. Parts ... morehttp://www.terradaily.com/reports/Climate_change_does_not_cause_extreme_winters_999.html

Argentina, Bolivia sign agreement to develop nuclear energy

Argentina, Bolivia sign agreement to develop nuclear energy
Argentina and Bolivia have signed a cooperation agreement to promote and develop infrastructure and institutions for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the Bolivian ministry of hydrocarbons and energy said on 28 March.http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-Argentina-Bolivia-sign-agreement-to-develop-nuclear-energy-31031504.html

France's larger reactors OK for 40 years, says regulator

France's larger reactors OK for 40 years, says regulator
French nuclear regulators have found no generic elements that would compromise the safety of the country's 1300 MWe nuclear reactors over a 40-year operating life.http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Frances-larger-reactors-OK-for-40-years-says-regulator-3103157.html

A path towards innovating nuclear energy

A path towards innovating nuclear energy
At the heart of the modern energy debate is a struggle between the need for more energy globally, while simultaneously achieving lower emissions. Nuclear energy is uniquely positioned to help respond to these duelling necessities, but innovative advancements must overcome considerable barriers, writes Todd Allen.http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/V-A-path-towards-innovating-nuclear-energy-31031501.html

Three Upcoming Nuclear Conferences

Small Modular Reactors - USA - 2015

Nuclear Decommissioning Conference Europe May 2015



In exactly two weeks I’ll be listening to a keynote presentation from Jamie Mallon, Nuclear Development Manager at PSEG in one of the first sessions at the 5th Annual Small Modular Reactor Summit 2015 (April 14-15, Charlotte NC).

It’s not too late to secure your seat for this executive session and 36 others - simply go ahead and secure your place here

At the world’s largest SMR dedicated meeting we will critically examine the central regulatory and economic stumbling blocks to SMR deployment and plot the nuclear industry’s critical next steps towards the first reactor roll-out.
  • Vice President - Exelon Generation
  • Chief SMR Design Engineer - China Nuclear Power Engineering
  • Director - Nuclear Development Ameren Missouri
  • President - Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Energy
  • Snr. Project Manager - Electricite de France
  • CEO - Areva
  • Snr. Research Consultant - K.A.CARE
  • Senior Scientist - U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • Senior Vice President - KEPCO E&C
  • Assistant Director - Division of Fossil Energy Development (Kentucky)
These industry leaders have already booked their places – I hope to meet you in Charlotte too!
Kind regards,

Kerr

Kerr Jeferies
Project Director
Nuclear Energy Insider
+44 (0) 20 7375 7565
kjeferies@nuclearenergyinsider.com



Nuclear Decommissioning Conference Europe May 2015

Atomic Experts to Visit Fukushima in April to Check Contaminated Water

Atomic Experts to Visit Fukushima in April to Check Contaminated Water
Moscow (Sputnik) Mar 31, 2015 - International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts are set to visit Japan from April, 17 to April, 21, 2015 to obtain detailed data on contaminated water management at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, an IAEA press release said Monday. "The Japanese government requested the visit in order to provide the IAEA with further explanations on measures against contaminated wat ... morehttp://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/Atomic_Experts_to_Visit_Fukushima_in_April_to_Check_Contaminated_Water_999.html

Mideast Nuclear Projects: A Mix of Progress and Perils

Posted: 31 Mar 2015 04:00 AM PDT
With a nuclear regulatory structure and agency modeled after the US NRC, the United Arab Emirates announced that its Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has submitted an application for an operating license for the first two units at the Barakah nuclear power station.read morehttp://theenergycollective.com/dan-yurman/2211426/mideast-nuclear-projects-report-mix-progress-and-perils?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The+Energy+Collective+%28all+posts%29

PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY’S ANSWER TO FRIENDS OF THE EARTH HEARING REQUEST

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
BEFORE THE COMMISSION
In the Matter of:
PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC
COMPANY
(Diablo Canyon Power Plant, Units 1 and 2)
)
)
)
)
)
)
Docket No. 50-275-LR
Docket No. 50-323-LR 
 
PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY’S ANSWER TO
FRIENDS OF THE EARTH HEARING REQUEST




http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1427/ML14279A617.pdf

Saying Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station has made great strides, feds releasing it from special oversight

Saying Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station has made great strides, feds releasing it from special oversight


http://www.omaha.com/news/metro/saying-fort-calhoun-nuclear-station-has-made-great-strides-feds/article_4bf6587e-d715-11e4-a565-83e8500dd7f7.html

Nuclear Spent Fuel Expert Describes Vermont Yankee Dry Cask Safety

Nuclear Spent Fuel Expert Describes Vermont Yankee Dry Cask Safety


http://atomicinsights.com/nuclear-spent-fuel-expert-describes-vermont-yankee-dry-cask-safety/

NuScale Power Completes Full-Scale Upper Module Mockup

NuScale Power Completes Full-Scale Upper Module Mockup

In-Service Inspection Evaluation to Begin in May 2015


http://finance.yahoo.com/news/nuscale-power-completes-full-scale-203000186.html

Ex-U.S. nuclear chief says tritium water at Fukushima No. 1 can be dumped safely

Ex-U.S. nuclear chief says tritium water at Fukushima No. 1 can be dumped safely


http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/31/national/former-u-s-nuclear-chief-says-tritium-water-at-fukushima-no-1-can-safely-be-dumped-in-sea/#.VRrPZOHlxbJ

Regulators plan to drop case at closed San Onofre nuclear power plant

Regulators plan to drop case at closed San Onofre nuclear power plant


http://www.dailynews.com/business/20150330/regulators-plan-to-drop-case-at-closed-san-onofre-nuclear-power-plant

Congressmen question validity of MOX study

Congressmen question validity of MOX study


http://www.aikenstandard.com/article/20150331/AIK0101/150339974


 Wilson Letter To Secretary Moniz On Aerospace MOX Study
http://www.nucleartownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/FFRDC-Letter-with-Rep.-Brady.pdf

NRC Blog Update: CRUD: Another Acronym Bites the Dust

Thomas Wellock
Historian
Chalk River Unidentified Deposits (CRUD). The nuclear industry loves its acronyms, and the myth behind CRUD—a term for corrosion particles that become radioactive—is almost as fabled as Safety Control Rod Axe Man (SCRAM). But in reality, crud, like scram, is not an acronym at all, but popular slang appropriated by Manhattan Project personnel.
The idea that crud was an acronym came from a 1959 article by Commander E.E. Kintner. In 1953, Kintner headed the Advanced Design Group under Hyman Rickover developing the Mark I prototype reactor for the first nuclear powered submarine, the Nautilus. To verify that the reactor’s fuel elements would not corrode, Kintner recalled, samples were placed in a research reactor located at Chalk River, Canada. After several months of irradiation, the fuel elements were covered in deposits—Chalk River Unidentified Deposits. This was worrisome since the deposits might block the flow of coolant around the fuel causing them to overheat and melt. While the problem was resolved by adjusting water chemistry, “CRUD” lived on as an acronym for radioactive deposits.
Crud was a term used early by the Hanford Engineering Works. Seen here is the site’s F Reactor complex under construction. Photo courtesy of the Department of Energy
Crud was a term used early by the Hanford Engineering Works. Seen here is the site’s F Reactor complex under construction. Photo courtesy of the Department of Energy
Kintner likely did not know that by 1953 the word crud had already been in use for nearly a decade at Atomic Energy Commission facilities. The word appeared in a technical manual as early as May 1944 at in the Hanford Engineering Works in Washington State. The manual described the use of chemical treatments “to seep insoluble ‘crud’ and mud from the solution.” By 1947, “crud” was a common enough in the AEC that reports from Hanford and Oak Ridge no longer used quotation marks to describe the “crud deposition problem.” Thus, CRUD is really an example of a backronym — where words are identified to fit the letters of an existing word.
So, why was “crud” used to describe radioactive deposits in the first place? Crud was a common word well before World War II that likely derives from the Welsh cryd, meaning disease or plague. By the early 1930s, crud became slang for unpalatable food, filth, a sloppily dressed man or an illness, as in, “I’ve got the crud.” By World War II, soldiers called any unknown illness “the crud,” and a comic book of the era featured a Corporal Crud as one of its characters.
It seems likely that the negative connotations of crud made it a fitting descriptor for contamination associated with radioactive deposits. The etymology of scram and crud, then, reveals how Manhattan Project workers tried to make sense of the uncommon new world of the atom through common language.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fukushima Update 3/30/15

Fukushima Update 3/30/15 –

F. Daiichi unit #2 will have high-resolution Muon tomography… Tepco discovers fuel pool gate doors out of position in unit #3… Tepco says it will disclose all data on radiation levels at F. Daiichi… Two experts find that radiation exposures from Fukushima isotopes in the Pacific will not cause health damage… An exclusion zone town holds a community festival… A recent Fukushima 4th anniversary article contains an important graphic on protective measures along the Pacific shoreline… The Japan Times calls for punishment of Tepco for the recent rainwater runoff issue.

http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-accident-updates.html

Frequently Asked Questions: Leaking underground tanks at Hanford



Frequently Asked Questions: Leaking underground tanks at Hanfordv

http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/nwp/sections/tankwaste/closure/pages/tank_leak_FAQ.html

Ecology knows the public and the news media want and deserve answers about leaking tanks at Hanford, so we have created this page to answer some of the most common questions. Please submit other questions you would like to see answered by emailing hanford@ecy.wa.gov or calling 1-800-321-2008. 

Questions and Answers:

Please click a question from the list to view the answer.
  1. Updated! - 11/06/2013 How many tanks are leaking and when did they start?
  2. What is the threat to public health?
  3. What are the options for dealing with leaking tanks?
  4. How are the tanks monitored?
  5. Wasn't all the liquid pumped out of the SSTs years ago?
    If so, why are these tanks leaking again?
  6. What has been done to slow tank leaks?
  7. What has been done to keep water from intruding into the tanks
    and prevent contaminants from moving toward groundwater?
  8. How hard is it to get the waste out of tanks? 
  9. If the waste is pumped out of the tanks, where will it go? Don't you need additional storage space? If so, how much time and money is it going to take to build new tanks?
  10. Updated! - 11/06/2013 Is there any good news about Hanford tanks?
  11. Why didn't Ecology know about the leaks sooner?
  12. Will Ecology take enforcement actions if USDOE does not act soon?

Updated! - 11/06/2013 1) How many tanks are leaking and when did they start?

Single-shell tanks B-203 and B-204 under construction. (Click image to enlarge.)

Single-shell tanks T-111, T-203, and T-204 under construction. (Click image to enlarge.)
Between October 2012 and February 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) reported that 7 of the 177 underground storage tanks at Hanford are leaking.
The Washington State Department of Ecology only knows when USDOE reported these leaks, not when the leaks actually started. (Note that 67 tanks leaked at least one million gallons in the past. See Question 5: Wasn't all the liquid pumped out of the SSTs years ago? If so, why are these tanks leaking again? for more information.)
Of the 6 single-shell tanks that were thought to be actively leaking, USDOE now (November 6, 2013) says an analysis of the data indicates that only one of those tanks (T-111) is leaking. USDOE’s reportsindicate that evaporation is the likely cause of the decreasing waste levels in the other 5 tanks.  
Ecology reviewed drafts of these reports, and we agree with the findings for 4 of the 6 tanks that evaporation is the likely explanation for declining waste levels. On the other tanks, we believe further analysis is necessary to determine why waste levels are falling. 
Tanks in Question
  • Double-shell tank (DST) AY-102, first reported 10/18/12. Waste is leaking into the space between the waste tank, or the inner shell of the double-shell tank, and the secondary containment shell. This space, called the annulus, was designed to contain leaks.
  • Single-shell tanks (SSTs) reported by then-Secretary of Energy Steven Chu (replaced by Ernest Moniz) to Washington Governor Jay Inslee:
    • B-203, reported 2/22/13
    • B-204, reported 2/22/13
    • T-111, reported 2/15/13
    • T-203, reported 2/22/13
    • T-204, reported 2/22/13
    • TY-105, reported 2/22/13

2) What is the threat to public health?

No immediate or near-term health risks are associated with Hanford’s tank leaks.
  • The tanks are underground, five to eight miles from the Columbia River, in an isolated area far from any homes or farms. 
  • There is no route for the leaked waste to travel from Hanford to agricultural areas, so there is no risk of food crop contamination.
  • Hanford’s groundwater is about 200 to 300 feet below the tanks, so the new leaks will take decades to reach it.
  • The groundwater pump-and-treat facilities in the center of Hanford are keeping the majority of pre-existing groundwater contamination from moving toward the Columbia River.  
However, the fact that there is no immediate threat to health does not minimize the state's concerns, because any leaks add to future groundwater problems. These leaks underscore the importance of retrieving and treating tank waste as quickly as possible to mitigate the chance of further releases to the environment. 

A worker in the annulus, or space between the inner and outer tanks, of double-shell tank AY-102 during construction. (Click image to enlarge.) 

Impermeable surface barrier placed over Hanford's T Tank Farm in 2008. (Click to enlarge.)

3) What are the options for dealing with leaking tanks?

The single-shell tanks (SSTs) are all unfit for use and decades past their design life. It would be impossible to repair and upgrade the SSTs to meet current regulatory standards. Some options for addressing leaks include: 
  • Increasing monitoring and sampling. 
  • Developing new retrieval technologies.
  • Constructing surface barriers over SST farms. In 2008, an interim barrier was constructed over part of T Tank Farm, where three of the leaking SSTs are located, to protect against precipitation entering tanks and to keep that precipitation from pushing contaminants closer to the groundwater. Construction of additional barriers is a possible solution to slow the spread of leaked tank waste. 
  • Building new tanks. We had assumed that the double-shell tanks (DSTs) were still sound and could accept waste from SSTs. However, the leak from the inner shell of AY-102 has led us to re-evaluate that assumption. To move the waste out of that DST and the SSTs, USDOE may have to build new DSTs. Washington, Oregon, and the Hanford Advisory Board have urged USDOE to start the process to build new DSTs at Hanford. However, obtaining funding and designing and constructing new tanks would likely take at least 10 years.
  • Removing liquid waste from DST AY-102 with a portable evaporator.
  • Disposing some of the waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. Because the Waste Treatment Plant designed to treat Hanford’s tank waste will not start up for at least six more years, USDOE is exploring other options to treat and dispose of this waste. It may be possible to classify the waste in five of the six leaking SSTs as transuranic waste (meaning literally “after uranium,” this waste contains alpha-particle-emitting radioactive isotopes with atomic numbers higher than 92, uranium's atomic number). If this was done, then the waste would be retrieved from the tanks, dried, packaged, and shipped to WIPP for disposal. But this process would, optimistically, take at least two to five years. 

4) How are the tanks monitored?

Monitoring of the tank waste is difficult in part due to the high radiation and harsh chemical environment inside most tanks.  Access to the insides of the tanks is limited.   
All of the tanks have monitoring instruments inside them. This is a requirement of the Tri-Party Agreement. However, analyzing the monitoring data is a complex process, and it can be difficult to detect very small changes in waste levels in tanks that do not have much liquid or solid waste.   
The existing in-tank monitoring equipment is imperfect, but no better systems have been identified. U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) can currently only monitor the surface level at one location in each tank. Most tanks have annual monitoring requirements. If they have an Enraf® gauge, they are monitored continuously. One data point is gathered each day. 
For tanks with liquid observation wells, a neutron probe is used quarterly to gather data. It was a look at long term trends of that data  something USDOE had never done before — that led to the conclusion there must be new leaks.
External tank monitoring can be used to detect releases to the environment but is much more expensive to implement and also has limitations on its usefulness. It is being done, but Ecology is looking for ways to improve the monitoring process. (See Single-Shell Tank System Leak Detection and Monitoring Functions and Requirements, RPP-9937, Rev. 3, for more information.) 

5) Wasn't all the liquid pumped out of the SSTs years ago? If so, why are these tanks leaking again?

Hanford’s single-shell tanks were interim stabilized between 1978 and 2010. Ecology sued the  U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) to finish interim stabilization in 1999 through a Consent Decree. The interim stabilization process removed as much pumpable, or free, liquid as was “practicable.”  Practicable means pumping was continued until the rate was very low — less than 0.05 gallons per minute.   
Solid waste, called saltcake, that remains after liquid waste is pumped out. (Click to enlarge.)

However, liquids drain very slowly through the saltcake and sludge, and there was only one pumping location per tank.  Over time, additional liquids can drain to the pumping location, so liquids still in the tanks can only be pumped after they migrate to the pumping location.   
Tanks are buried under 7 to 10 feet of soil to shield workers from radiation. This safeguard also limits access to the waste in the tanks. The pipes extending from the ground, called risers, are the only entry port to remove waste for safer storage and treatment unless modifications are made. Some tanks met interim stabilization requirements because they didn’t have that much waste in the first place. Six tanks were administratively interim stabilized after pumping equipment failed and was too expensive to replace.  
In addition, precipitation has entered some tanks and increased the liquid volume, a process known as intrusion. 
After reviewing monitoring data, USDOE now knows that some of the tanks have continued to show decreases in waste levels. Ecology would like USDOE to use better monitoring equipment and to prove that existing equipment is in good working condition. 

6) What has been done to slow tank leaks?

All free liquids were pumped from the single-shell tanks to newer double-shell tanks from the 1970s to the 1990s, leaving solid saltcake and slurry (mixture of liquid and solid waste) in the tanks. However, liquids drain very slowly through the saltcake and sludge, and there is only one pumping location per tank.  Over time, additional liquids drain to the pumping location, so liquids still in the tanks can only be pumped after they move to the pumping location.

7) What has been done to keep water from intruding into the tanks and prevent contaminants from moving toward groundwater?

Most raw water pipelines to the single-shell tank (SST) farms were cut and capped between 2001 and 2002. Leaky water distribution lines next to tank farms were also pressure tested. If these lines were not needed or failed the test, they were either remediated or removed from service to further limit the amount of water moving through the soil, a driving force in contaminant migration. 
Water intrusion into SSTs has been reduced, but monitoring data continues to indicate intrusion in some tanks. The sources of intrusion are being investigated and stopped where possible. Engineering controls were installed to prevent rain or snowmelt from forming puddles or ponds over, or in the vicinity of, the tanks. Surface covers were installed over some tank farms, and berms were built on the ground surface to direct water away from the tank farms. 

8) How hard is it to get the waste out of tanks?

Cutaway diagram showing the inside of a single-shell tank and its external access points.(Click to enlarge.) Removing waste from Hanford's tanks is difficult for many reasons:
  • Access to the tank waste is very limited.  The tops of the tanks are 7 to 10 feet underground, and openings into the tanks are limited. Double-shell tanks (DSTs) have more access points than single-shell tanks (SSTs). Regardless, all work is done remotely using video cameras and robotic equipment. 
  • The waste is usually very radioactive and contains many chemicals, creating an environment that limits the types of equipment that can be used. For instance, electronic equipment can be burned out by radiation.
  • Workers must rely on only one or two cameras in each tank to view waste and retrieval equipment. 
  • The waste in the tanks is not homogeneous and can have varied properties at different locations in the tank. The solid waste is generally broken up using high pressure spray (existing liquid waste is constantly recirculated so more waste isn't created). The liquid is also used to transport waste from SSTs to DSTs.
  • Retrieval technologies continue to evolve, but retrieval rates are still limited. 
  • Waste can only be moved to a tank with the appropriate space and chemistry. 
Cutaway diagram showing the inside of a double-shell tank and its external access points. (Click to enlarge.)In addition to the above challenges, pumps and other equipment break, the weather can become too hot for workers to be safe in protective gear or too cold for equipment to work properly. When equipment operates smoothly and weather conditions are safe for workers, tank retrieval work continues around the clock. 

9) If the waste is pumped out of the tanks, where will it go? Don't you need additional storage space? If so, how much time and money is it going to take to build new tanks?

A shortage of space in Hanford’s double-shell tanks is a concern, especially because one of them is leaking. Ecology is not convinced that current storage is adequate to meet legal and regulatory requirements for tank retrievals and Waste Treatment Plant operations.   
The state and the federal governments must have a thorough and candid discussion about the need for additional storage tanks. The U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) estimates that it could take a minimum of 7 to 10 years and cost around $100 million per tank to build new tanks. But we can’t wait that long. We will be working with USDOE to consider options for accelerating that process. 

Updated! - 11/06/2013 10) Is there any good news about Hanford tanks?

The news that at least 4 single-shell tanks appear not to be actively leaking is encouraging, but it does not mitigate the need to remain vigilant in protecting future public health and our environment from Hanford waste. The U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) has a responsibility to prevent waste from leaking into the environment, and to promptly address any tanks that are found to be leaking. We know that many of these single-shell tanks have leaked in the past and that future leaks are highly likely if the federal government does not act to get this waste retrieved and treated in a timely manner. 
In addition, active retrieval is ongoing, and a variety of technologies are being used in C Tank Farm, also known as Waste Management Area C (WMAC).  The 2010 Consent Decree between Washington State and USDOE sets September 2014 as the deadline to complete waste retrieval from all 16 C Farm tanks, but USDOE has said that deadline is in jeopardy. 

11) Why didn't Ecology know about the leaks sooner?

All of the tanks have monitoring instruments inside them. This is a requirement of the Tri-Party Agreement. However, the analysis of the monitoring data is a complex process, and it can be difficult to detect very small changes in waste levels because the SSTs do not have much liquid. 
In double-shell Tank AY-102, the leak is too small to observe noticeable changes in liquid level.  Ecology will be working with the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) to see if there are better leak detection methods that can track small changes. 
It is USDOE’s responsibility to analyze tank monitoring data and then deliver the raw data and their findings to Ecology. Ecology then reviews their findings and independently analyzes the data.  Ecology will be working with USDOE and its contractors to ensure that their data evaluation procedures are updated for more accurate analysis to reflect current conditions. 
In this case, because of the serious nature of decreasing and increasing tank levels, we are expediting the process by working jointly with USDOE to review their analyses. 

12) Will Ecology take enforcement actions if USDOE does not act soon?

The U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) is acting by developing a path forward. Of course, Ecology always has the option to take enforcement actions and uses them when necessary.

IER Supports MSR Development in Ohio | Jon Morrow | LinkedIn

IER Supports MSR Development in Ohio | Jon Morrow | LinkedIn

Safety and Science Drive U.S.-South Korean Nuclear Cooperation

Safety and Science Drive U.S.-South Korean Nuclear Cooperation


http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottasnyder/2015/03/30/safety-and-science-drive-u-s-south-korean-nuclear-cooperation/

Electric system reliability at risk in Ohio: Marvin S. Fertel

Electric system reliability at risk in Ohio: Marvin S. Fertel


http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/electric_system_reliability_at.html

Technology to look inside Fukushima reactors faces challenge

Technology to look inside Fukushima reactors faces challenge


http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2015/03/technology-to-look-inside-fukushima-reactors-faces-challenge.html

IPE Views: Is nuclear power's potential too great to ignore?


IPE Views: Is nuclear power's potential too great to ignore?


http://www.ipe.com/news/esg/ipe-views-is-nuclear-powers-potential-too-great-to-ignore/10007246.article

Another Major Getting Out Of The Oil Sands Business

Another Major Getting Out Of The Oil Sands Business


http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Another-Major-Getting-Out-Of-The-Oil-Sands-Business.html

After Fukushima: Japan's 'nuclear village' is back in charge

After Fukushima: Japan's 'nuclear village' is back in charge

Public opposition to nuclear power in Japan remains strong, writes Jim Green, but piece by piece, Shinzo Abe's right-wing government has been putting the country's infamous 'nuclear village' back in control - boosted by draconian press censorship laws, massive interest-free loans, and a determination to forget all the 'lessons' of Fukushima. Is another big accident inevitable?



http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2810545/after_fukushima_japans_nuclear_village_is_back_in_charge.html

Part II: Nuclear Power Stations Need Testing for Concrete Damage – Comment Deadline Monday, March 30th, 11.59 ET

Part II: Nuclear Power Stations Need Testing for Concrete Damage – Comment Deadline Monday, March 30th, 11.59 ET



https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/part-ii-nuclear-power-stations-need-testing-for-concrete-damage-comment-deadline-monday-march-30th-11-59-et/

Mideast nuclear projects report a mix of progress and perils

Mideast nuclear projects report a mix of progress and perils


http://nuclearstreet.com/pro_nuclear_power_blogs/b/neutron-bytes/archive/2015/03/29/mideast-nuclear-projects-report-a-mix-of-progress-and-perils.aspx

New Mexico nuclear enrichment plant OK'd for expansion

New Mexico nuclear enrichment plant OK'd for expansion


http://www.newschannel6now.com/story/28645095/new-mexico-nuclear-enrichment-plant-okd-for-expansion

Nation’s biggest nuclear firm makes a play for green money

Nation’s biggest nuclear firm makes a play for green money


http://fuelfix.com/blog/2015/03/28/nations-biggest-nuclear-firm-makes-a-play-for-green-money/

Obama's big brain on Iran

Obama's big brain on Iran


http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/237279-obamas-big-brain-on-iran

U.S. Support for Nuclear Energy at 51%

U.S. Support for Nuclear Energy at 51%


http://www.gallup.com/poll/182180/support-nuclear-energy.aspx

New poll reveals Washington state opinions on nuclear energy


New poll reveals Washington state opinions on nuclear energy

https://northwestcleanenergy.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/new-poll-reveals-washington-state-opinions-on-nuclear-energy/

Wine Country’s Nuclear Threat

Wine Country’s Nuclear Threat

A nuclear facility in Washington state’s prime wine country is leaching radioactive groundwater and is one natural disaster away from Fukushima 2.0.


http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/28/hanford-nuclear-site-could-be-threatening-washington-state-s-best-vineyards.html

The Rare Earths Problem: A U.S. Solution

The Rare Earths Problem: A U.S. Solution


http://whchronicle.com/?p=2838

The Reid-Obama Bargain

The Reid-Obama Bargain

Harry shut down the Senate because Barack shut down the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.



http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-reid-obama-bargain-1427664573

Finally! We Can Get Moving On Disposing Of Our Nuclear Waste

Finally! We Can Get Moving On Disposing Of Our Nuclear Waste


http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/03/30/finally-we-can-get-moving-on-disposing-of-our-nuclear-waste/

FAS Roundup March 30th, 2015

FAS Roundup: March 30, 2015
Image courtesy of Shutterstock 
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From the Blogs


H-Bomb History Published Over Government Objections: Physicist Kenneth W. Ford, who participated in the design of the hydrogen bomb in the early 1950s, has published a memoir of his experiences despite the objections of Energy Department reviewers who requested substantial redactions in the text. “Building the H Bomb: A Personal History” was released this month, and provides an eyewitness account of several crucial episodes in the development of the hydrogen bomb.

Growing Data Collection Inspires Openness at NGA: A flood of information from the ongoing proliferation of space-based sensors and ground-based data collection devices is promoting a new era of transparency in at least one corner of the U.S. intelligence community: the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Recently, ODNI stated that the U.S. intelligence community should make “information publicly available in a manner that enhances public understanding of intelligence activities, while continuing to protect information when disclosure would harm national security.” But some intelligence agencies have chosen a different path.

Cybersecurity Information Sharing: A Legal Morass Says CRS: There are several pending bills that would promote increased sharing of cybersecurity-related information — such as threat intelligence and system vulnerabilities — in order to combat the perceived rise in the frequency and intensity of cyber attacks against private and government entities. A new report by the Congressional Research Service finds that this information sharing is easier said than done due to conflicting and incompatible laws and policy objectives.

DoD Cut Security Clearances by 15% in Last Two Years: The Department of Defense has reduced the number of employees and contractors who hold security clearances in the past two years by more than 700,000, a cut of 15%. This previously undisclosed data was reported in the latest quarterly report on the implementation of the Insider Threat Program.
 

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