Kanook August 22nd, 2013

We live in an extremely unique time, whereas our world has become much more transparent than even 30-years-ago, this through the expanding worldwide-web and its associated social media sites, information no longer sits secluded from the public eye as someone makes a determination on whether or not the public in general can either absorb its content or its impact on society in general. Unless you are hopelessly bound to this political process or that one, you have to wake up each day and fall flat on your face not to realize that as whole our society faces a serious problem when it comes to the disposal of the radioactive isotopes created in nuclear power reactors world-wide. That is unless we figure out a method like society did in the TV series, Space: 1999 with Marin Landau and his wife Barbara Bain in the mid-1970s, even that experienced a catastrophic end. Proponents of nuclear power industry point with pride at its ability to generate electricity without all the pollution associate with fossil fuel, neglecting to mention the disposal of the by-products created in the rods by the heating of the uranium. Since Dec 20 th, 1951 when 100 kW of power was generated near Arco, Idaho at the experimental nuclear reactor man has never looked back in his quest of generating electricity with the power of the atom. Today nuclear fission power stations generate approximately 13% of the worlds electricity, within 437 operational power reactor in 31 countries, albeit some are not producing electricity.

Although the ratio of nuclear accidents to those of fossil fuel is wide, in terms of lives lost per unit of energy, society has so far dodged the bullet in the number of lives lost through a nuclear calamity. Sitting just below the horizon is the huge accident at Fukushima123 – a cost that just may come due sooner than expected – a cost that won’t be cheap when it comes to unplanned evacuations, unleashed radiation in our atmosphere and into the Pacific Ocean. What is the makeup of nuclear power generation’s radioactive waste? We all know it is hazardous to most forms of life and the surrounding environment, and as such is regulated by government agencies in order to protect human health and the environment. Most of us who have completed high school physics also know that radioactivity decays over time, in this we understand that it has to be isolated and confined in appropriate “garbage dumps” for a prescribed time – until it is no longer a hazard. Not many of you that visit the city by the Golden Gate realize that sitting 27-miles west of the well known bridge lying on the sea-bed in and around the Farallon Islands (a Wildlife Sanctuary) are over 17,800 rusting 55-gallon drums of low-level radioactivity waste from the Hunters Point shipyard, deposited over a period of time between 1946 and 1970. In effect becoming the first and largest offshore nuclear waste dump in the United States. Today, in Western society, such dumping is prohibited, whereas there are strict regulations designed to manage the waste, detailing its segregation and storage for 1) short-lived waste, 2) near-surface disposal for low and some intermediate level stuff, 3) deep burial, 4) portioning / transmutation requirements for the high-level waste. Theoretically, there are noted waste and management policies for “most” developed countries established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (“IAEA”), put to the pen in the Joint Convention on the Safety or Spend Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. There are four levels of radioactive waste:

1 2

http://www.scribd.com/doc/161458105/Fukushima-Not-Over-Yet http://www.scribd.com/doc/91853872/Fukushima-Disaster 3 http://www.scribd.com/doc/92579981/Politics-and-LIes-Nuclear-Industry

1) 2) 3) 4)

Low-level Waste (“LLW”) this applies to contaminated clothing, tools, filters, rags, medical tubes, and many other items. Waste incidents to reprocessing (“WLR”) waste products that result from reprocessing ‘spent nuclear fuel’ High-level Waste (“HLW”) waste that is ‘irradiated’ or ‘used’ nuclear reactor fuel Uranium mill tailings (“UMT”) residues remaining after the processing of natural ore to extract uranium and thorium.

Over the first 40-years nuclear waste (of which some had a half-life [“HL”] more than one-million-years) was kept in various types of temporary storage. There are primarily four fission products that are the most worrisome; 1) Tc-99 (HL-211,000 years) Technetium-99 is an isotope of technetium that over a period of time will decay to ruthenium-99, emitting beta particles but no gamma rays. It is the most significant long-lived fission product of uranium fission, producing the largest fraction of the “total” long-lived radiation emissions of nuclear waste. 2) I-129 (HL-15.7 million years) Produced in significant amounts with a yield of 0.706% per fission of U-235, because it is long-lived and relatively mobile in the environment it is extremely dangerous and requires permanent containment in a deep geological “dump” – it is considered to have the highest radionuclide of the most potential impact. 3) Np-237 (HL-2 million years) Neptunium-237 is another dangerous byproduct of nuclear reactors and plutonium production, it is ingested via the atmosphere and absorbed via the digestive tract – eventually morphing into the bone structure where it is slowly released. 4) Pu-239 (HL-24,100 years) Plutonium-239 is an isotope of Plutonium, where it is the primary fission isotope used in Nuclear Weapons, it is also used as an un-stable fuel in nuclear reactors. It is also a byproduct, where is normally created via nuclear reactions of individual atoms of one of the isotopes of uranium in the fuel rods. It is noted that one pound of Plutonium spread evenly across the globe would eventually kill all the inhabitants of the planet. “one-pound”

Although Fukushima is a growing risk of nuclear criticality, nothing compares as to the spend-nuclear-fuel in the United States, noted as being the largest concentration of radioactivity on the planet at 71,000 metric tons (71,000 x 2204 lbs), and to top it off since the Yucca Mountain repository bit the dust due to the proximity to active faults, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission now allows reactor operators to store four times more waste in their spent-fuel-pools than designed to handle. Compare each spent-fuel-pool at Fukushima holds 100 metric tons, each US pool now holds 500-700 metric tons – whereas one single pool fire would release hazardous amounts of radioactivity effecting 17-22,000 square miles making the area un-inhabitable – this, again, from “one” pool fire. Dr Helen Caldicott recently explained “there’s far more radiation in each of the cooling ponds than there is in each reactor itself…Now the very short-lived isotopes have decayed away to nothing. But the long-lived ones, the very dangerous ones, Cesium, Strontium, Uranium, Plutonium, Americium, Curium, Neptunium, I mean really dangerous ones, the long-live ones – that’s what the fuel pools hold.” As for mainstream media and Fukushima, reports are making their way across the headlines that the reported leakage of radiated contaminated water is much worse than being reported by TEPCO and the Japanese government. Information from the site describes water leaking from all over the site, whereas there is NO accurate figures for radiation levels.

At a news conference last week, Shunichi Tanaka (head of Japan’s nuclear regulatory authority) brief statement supports the information trickling from Fukushima in stating, “I fear that there will be further leaks. We should assume that what has happened once could happen again, and prepare for more. We are in a situation where there is no time to waste.”

Around 1,000 tanks have been built to hold the contaminated water, tanks that “they” say are now at 85% capacity, with “each” tank designed to hold 234,000 gallons of fluid. Walk with me on the math here, last week we were informed (besides the leaking tank) that over 300 tons (a minimum quoted value) of contaminated water was flowing per hour into the Pacific for the last 2.5 years, 300-tons per hour equals 70,159 gallons per hour, for 8,766 hours equals 1,537,535,080 gallons – folks that is 1.54 billion gallons. Now 1,000 tanks at capacity can hold 233,863,424 gallons or 234 million gallons, 1.54 billion minus 234 million equals 1.30 billion gallons – (where did 1.3 billion gallons go), in other words (GET A GRIP) the 300 ton-per hour, it appears its overflow, those tanks are full. Oh well you say they’re only adding 400 ton per day, well again if you own a device that can do math plug in 400 x 2000 and divide by 8.552 =

2,245,089 gallons, now multiply this times 913.12 x 2,245,089 = 1,640,486,435 or 1.64 billion gallons – still convinced that the water is just leaky out from the ground water – hell people they got a water storage problem, solution – lets some of run into the sea. In other words or values it would take only 104 days to fill the 1,000 tanks, and CONSIDER that until the tanks were in place where did the sea water go?

Yet the word on the TEPCO/JAPANESE government “street” is that the quantities of water we’re dealing with are gigantic, what is worse is the water leakage is everywhere, not just from the tanks. It is leaking out from the basements, it is leaking out from the cracks all over the place – NO BODY CAN MEASURE THAT.” The “curtain” from which TEPCO and its government regulators have peeked out from behind lately, as they continue to shift figures and circumstance around in TEPCO’s denial that any water was running into the sea has some up-on-step, as you should be. Now it seems as a last minute dodge the inventors of the Datsun 240-Z grudgingly raised the leak problem on the Nuclear Incident Level from a 1 to a 3, on the International scale that measures the “severity” of atomic accidents. Good Grief!? With good reason scientists and scholars across the free world are more than concerned that the problem is a great deal worse than either TEPCO or the Japanese government is willing to admit, albeit the free world press only

eludes to the fact of the enormous amounts of water (400 tons per day) are used to cool the reactor cores and their spend-fuel-pools, again check the math. Since Fukushima (which pushed the public into the eye of the storm concerning nuclear waste) we have learned (the hard way) that the IAEA is not a public agency concerned about your health, but an agency dedicated to promoting the use of Nuclear Power, a skilled agency in deflecting the concerns of the public – as stated in their agency charter. Walking down the rose-filled garden of Nuclear Power filled with its advocates and the corporate structures along with the IAEA are the regulatory agencies of all countries. In 2003 a multidisciplinary International Team examined the possibility of terror attacks on world wide nuclear facilities including those in the USA. They made public their report 4, which called for the transferring of the spent-fuel from the pools into dry-cask storage5. The “report” recommends that 75% of the spend-fuel-rods be removed from each pool and stored in ultra-thick concrete bunkers capable of withstanding aerial impact – a process that would take about ten-years and would “reduce” the average inventory of radioactivity at risk by a factor of four. More than 30 million highly radioactive “spent-fuel-rods” are in vulnerable storage pools at reactors in the USA. 51-sites contain some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the Planet – all in unsafe conditions open to attacks and natural disaster. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”) [USA] attempted to “suppress” the IPC report, although the National Academy of Sciences “agreed” that a fire in an overloaded spent-fuel-pool would be catastrophic – the NRC also attempted to “block” the Academy’s response. With continuous funds from the nuclear industry it has become more than apparent that the NRC serves the industry, not the public, and by controlling the purse strings, Congress has “forced” the NRC to “greatly curtail its regulatory programs”, now move across the Pacific and multiply this process by 100 and you will encounter the nuclear regulatory program in Japan. It is

http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/reducing_the_hazards_from_stored_spent_powerreactor_fuel_in_the_united_states 5 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_cask_storage

because of this incestuous relationship that we see the mainstream media downplaying the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima. CONSIDER “the atomic bomb that exploded over Hiroshima created about 2000 “curies” of radioactivity. The spent fuel pools at the Vermont Nuclear Plant in the US are said to hold over 75 million curies. 2000 vs 75,000,000 – and that is “just” one US nuclear plant, out of 104, not including the undisclosed research locations – while you’re at it wonder about the nuclear locations that sit on or near geological faults. Like many college campuses today the Fukushima complex was built on a maze of trenches (concrete channels/tunnels) that house cables and the pipes necessary to transport electricity and water, some of the pipes in the tunnels lead to the Pacific because the power plant, like “all” others in Japan need seawater for cooling purposes – keep in mind not to release the contaminated water but for the flow of seawater around the manifolds. It is these tunnels under the damaged reactor buildings, that are now transporting the contaminated seawater to the ocean. The latest news release states that over 10 trillion “bequerels” of radioactive “strontium” and 20 trillion “becquerels” of “Cesium-137” along with other radioactive isotopes have been flowing into the Pacific Ocean since May 2011. The three reactors that have had “core meltdowns” are being flooded with water in hopes the cooling keeps the leaky units stable, but now highly radioactive water is now leaking into the basements of the buildings, whereby it is mixing with groundwater that is penetrating the concrete walls of the 40-year-old plant.

30-trillion “becquerels” are accounted for, TEPCO has stated that the water in the trenches adds to the estimate of the groundwater and contributes to the flow into the Pacific. The 30-trillion value is 100 times more than TEPCO had been allowing to enter the sea “each year” before the crisis. The subsequent admission that in addition to the daily flow of now restated 300 tons (per day, instead of per hour) which is 70,159 gallons a day, add the 300 tons of filtered water leaking from the 1000 each tank farm. Although the leaked water has been cleaned of Cesium it still contains “other” harmful materials including “tritium”. Add to this admission that the water is reaching the Pacific and that instead of one leak TEPCO had identified two other tanks are suspected of leaking and that instead of 6 millisieverts “per hour” dumping into the ocean has raised the value to 96 millisieverts per hour, the minimum amount of human exposure “per 5-years” is 100 millisieverts. TEPCO “says” it has been loosing ten-tons (2,339 gallons) per day over the last 30-days from the “tank”, a statement that is raising eyebrows outside of the tightly wound nuclear industry whereas it seems that a leak of this magnitude should not have gone un-noticed before Aug 19 th, 2013. TEPCO is pointed at the “temporary 3rd” of the 1000 tanks that were “bolted” together with their plastic seams, instead of the reliable welded tanks. Diehard to the end TEPCO rejects the concept that water may be going into the ground through cracks in the concrete base, their rejection based on the assumption that the concrete is not permeable – ignoring the assumption that the concrete has cracked. Dr Ken Buesseler is a senior scientist at

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who has examined the waters around Fukushima, said “It is not over yet by a long-shot. We’ve been saying since 2011 that the reactor site is still leaking whether that’s the buildings and the ground water or these new tank releases. There is NO WAY to contain all of this radioactive water on site. Once it gets into the groundwater, like a river flowing to the sea, you can’t really stop ground water flow. You can pump out water, but how many tanks can you keep putting on site?” Across the industry there are more than a few nuclear scientists and engineers that are concerned of the vulnerability of the plant, mainly pointing at the enormous amount of stored water and the nuclear bundles in the spent-fuel-pools, holding their breath that another large earthquake does not shake and twist it way through the plant. One such concern voiced by Dr Buesseler that some of the other isotopes like Strontium-90, which is highly mobile, leaching its way through the sediments in the groundwater. “They are entering the ocean at levels that then will accumulative in seafood and will cause “new” health concerns.” With regard to the “spent-nuclear-fuel-rods”, Mycle Schneider states, “these contain far more radioactive Caesium than was emitted during the explosion at Chernobyl. There is absolutely no guarantee that there isn’t a crack in the walls of the spent-fuel-pools. If salt water gets in, the steel bars would be corroded. It would basically explode the walls, and you cannot see that; you can’t get close enough to the pools.” Mitsuhei Murata the former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland has made a call for the withdrawal of the Tokyo Olympic bid, with a follow through letter to the United Nations secretary general noting that the “official radiation figures” published by TEPCO cannot be trusted. In his letter he stated that he is extremely worried about the “lack” of the SENSE OF CRISIS in Japan and the nuclear industry abroad. Mycle Schneider shares his view and is calling for an International Task Force for Fukushima, again reminding us all of the “everything is just fine” attitude of the Japanese government saying, “the Japanese have a problem asking for help. It is a big mistake; they badly need it.”

It is not like the rest of the world faithfully follows the guidelines (however money driven) dealing with Nuclear Waste, not hardly. Within the borders of Washington State sits a site that is home to 66% of the USA’s high-level radioactive waste, and is classified as the “most” contaminated nuclear site in the USA – oh wait it is also the focus of the nation’s largest environmental cleanup – note it is the “focus” not necessarily a “work-in-progress” site. Hanford, to the dismay of some, is not a completely shutdown site, as it has within its border the “Columbia Generating Station” (“CGS”) an electrical generating facility owned and operated by “Energy Northwest” (a consortium of Pacific Northwest public utilities) it used to be called Washington Public Power Supply System or WPPSS6, as it is better known by the residents of Washington and Oregon. The CGS site went on-line December – 1984 and today provides around 10% of the states generating capacity, it is the only remaining power reactor in the Pacific Northwest – smack dab in the middle of the countries most contaminated Nuclear Waste site. In addition to the CGS site are two “scientific” research and development centers, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory 7 and the LIGO Hanford Observatory8, some say one dedicated to learning how people with three legs will walk, and the other how these people will effect the surrounding gravity waves. Between 1944 and 1971 several tera-becquerels of long-lived isotopes were pumped into the Columbia River “everyday”, radiation that was identified as being from Hanford on the Washington and Oregon coast. The plutonium separation process also resulted in the release of radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere, carried via the wind to southwestern
6 7

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=5482 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Northwest_National_Laboratory 8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LIGO

Washington and eastern Oregon, along with into Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia – the radionuclides were heavy in iodine-131 – the heaviest releases were between 1945 an 1951. It is a well known fact that radionuclides made their way into the food chain via contaminated fields to be ingested by dairy cows and humans, who drank the milk and consumed the veggies. “Most” of the airborne releases were part of Hanford’s “routine” operations, with a few accidental massive releases along with some NOT SO ACCIDENTAL like the one in 1949, an intentional release known as “Green Run”9 which released over 12,000 curies of iodine-131 over a period of 2-days, damn the bomb set-off over Hiroshima only spread 2000 curies. Remember part of Hanford’s “routine” operation pumping radioactive material into the Columbia, between 1944 and 1947 they released an estimated 685,000 curies of radioactive iodine-131 into the majestic Columbia – phew. Beginning in the 1960s, scientists with the US Public Health Service published what little data they had on the radioactivity of Hanford, 25-years later in response to an article in the Spokane Spokesman Review the Dept of Energy announced its intent to “declassify” its environmental records on Hanford. In February 1986 they release 19,000 pages of heavily redacted unavailable historical documents on Hanford’s operation. From these documents the Washington State Dept of Health in collaboration with the citizen-led Hanford Health Information Network (“HHIN”) publicized data as related to the health effects of Hanford’s operation – bottom line, the residents who lived downwind and downstream of Hanford had been exposed to elevated


doses of radiation that placed them at an increased risk of various cancers and other related diseases. Today the most significant task in front of Hanford is either stabilizing or removing 53 million gallons of high-level radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks (which bubble over from time-to-time), no longer are there concerns of it leaching into the Columbia – the concern is when? Sixty of these UG Tanks have been known to leak waste into the surrounding area, including the groundwater – although it is “reported” that by 2008 “most” of the liquid waste has been transferred to more secure double-walled- shelled tanks -– wait! 2.8 million gallons along with 27 million gallons of salt cake and sludge remain in single wall tanks. Now scheduled to be removed by 2040. Nearby aquifers contain an estimated 270 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater – the agencies involved in order to calm the fears of anyone living alongside or watering their crops from the Columbia assure us that the waste is expected to reach the river in 12 to 50 years, the assurance part “if the cleanup does NOT proceed on schedule”. Keep in mind that Hanford also contains 25 million cubic feet of solid radioactivity material (or a cubic block that has 292.4 feet to a side), that’s a lot of stuff. Those double-walled tanks? On April 3rd, 2013 published correspondence between Senator Ron Wyden (remember him he visited Fukushima) asked the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board about the risks posed at Hanford, where their response showed they were “concerned” about the hydrogen gas buildup within the walls of a tank – in particular those with double walls. “All the double-shell tanks contain waste that continuously generates some flammable gas, the gas will eventually reach flammable conditions if adequate ventilation is not provided.” As of the noted date there are no adequate safeguards in-place, prompting the board to state if there was an explosion it would, “have considerable radiological consequences, endanger personnel, contaminate portions of the Tank Farms, and seriously disrupt the waste cleanup mission.” No mention of the contamination spreading to the surrounding area – I guess they all seem to believe that Hanford exists under a protective bubble. 10 Keep in the back


of your mind that Hanford’s double-shelled tanks contain some of the “deadliest” mixtures of nuclear and chemical waste left over from WWII and the Cold War era of “plutonium” production. 11 The public has been made aware of the dangers of Spent-Fuel-Pools at Fukushima, yet few know the make up of the possible danger they represent or the composition of the spend-nuclear-fuel composition. It varies, depending on what was put into the reactor, how long the rods were used to operate the reactor, and how long the waste has been sitting out-of-the reactor. The figure represents the heavy metal composition of 4.2% enriched nuclear fuel before and after running for 3-years, the minor actinides include Neptunium, Americium, and Curium. Notice that 93.4% of the Uranium is still remaining when the fuel assembly exits the reactor and is placed in the cooling pond, the “minor actinides” are very long-lived nuclides, an area of serious concern when it comes to storing them – most for more than 100,000 years. As a high-school graduate who remembers your physic’s class you know that when atoms split, the smaller remaining atoms are “often” radioactive. It is these remaining atoms that make up nuclear waste and generate “decay heat”. There is NO KNOWN WAY to get rid of these atoms, other than storing them until they decay to stability. 12

11 12

http://www.nwtrb.gov/reports/wastemgt.pdf http://www.whatisnuclear.com/articles/waste.html#composition

Have a nice day. James L Bradley

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