Tag Archives: Nuclear

TEPCO fails to restart Fukushima water decontamination process

TEPCO fails to restart Fukushima water decontamination process TEPCO fails to restart Fukushima water decontamination process

The water decontamination process at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has once again been halted, only about six hours after the plant’s operator TEPCO announced it was resuming the purification process following a previous failure.
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Six days ago, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) detected a failure in what is known as the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). The company said that up to 900 tons of water, which had not been sufficiently cleaned in the ALPS equipment, flowed into a network of 21 tanks that were holding 15,000 tons of treated water. Not only have the 21 tanks been rendered unusable, but all 15,000 tons of previously cleaned water has to be retreated.

TEPCO said it restarted two of three lines used to clean toxic water at around 04:00 GMT on Monday. A third line remained offline while crews examined a filter defect, AFP reported.

Yet shortly before 10:00 GMT, TEPCO suspended the ALPS of the two units after finding about a half liter of leaked water at a tank designed to measure levels of radioactive materials in the processed water, according to Jiji Press. TEPCO said in a press release that there were no new leaks outside the system, though.

The difficulties only mark the latest challenges TEPCO has faced since March 2011, when a 9.0 megathrust earthquake triggered a subsequent tsunami that resulted in a badly-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The ALPS system was developed to dramatically curb the radiation level of highly contaminated water that is accumulating at the plant. The ALPS consists of 14 steel cylinders through which the contaminated water is filtered. After the filtering, waste materials like the absorbent and remaining sludge are transferred to high-integrity containers (HICs) that are transported to a temporary storage facility.

The ALPS can remove 62 different types of radionuclides, including strontium and cobalt, from contaminated water. While the system cannot remove tritium – a radioactive isotope of hydrogen – the purification of water through the system is expected to reduce damage levels if water leaks from storage tanks.

The equipment, which is supposed to be able to treat up to 750 tons of contaminated water a day, has been undergoing trial runs since March 2013. The system, however, has been plagued with problems from the outset. The latest glitch and subsequent recontamination was caused when one of the three ALPS lines failed to remove radioactive substances to a sufficient level.

In mid-January, TEPCO warned that nuclear radiation at the boundaries of the damaged facility had jumped to eight times the government safety guidelines, while only a week into the new year, plant operators once again had to stop using its systems to decontaminate radioactive water. Compounding their problems at the time, a crane used to get rid of the container from the ALPS ceased functioning.

TEPCO has struggled to manage a growing volume of contaminated water at the plant. About 436,000 cubic meters of contaminated water is stored at the site in about 1,200 tanks.

Source: RT

New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation

New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation 2 New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation

Positive results for radiation exposure were found in 13 workers following a leak at the United States’ first underground nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad, New Mexico, an Associated Press report stated.
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Officials said that all employees were checked for external contamination before they left the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) facility the day the leak occurred, but that biological samples were also taken to test for the possibility that they were breathing in radioactive particles.

The US Department of Energy and the Nuclear Waste Partnership, which manages the plant’s daily operations, are expected to hold a press conference on Thursday to discuss the test results.

“It is important to note that these are initial sample results,” the DOE and Nuclear Waste Partnership said in a joint statement. “These employees, both federal and contractor, will be asked to provide additional samples in order to fully determine the extent of any exposure.”

According to CNN, Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) spokesman Donavan Mager said the number of people exposed to radiation could not be confirmed due to the privacy rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. He did say the test results suggest exposure to the synthetic, radioactive metal americium.

The preliminary test results come just days after more airborne radiation was detected in the area surrounding the plant. Earlier this month, WIPP officials noticed a sharp rise in radiation levels, which they connected to a leak inside one of its underground tunnels. The plant is one of three deep nuclear repositories around the globe, storing nuclear waste 600 meters below the earth’s surface.

Since the WIPP’s creation in 1999, this is the first time it has been known to release any radioactive material. Officials told the AP that it may take weeks to learn what caused the leak. Even before this incident, a salt truck caught fire in a separate part of the facility, but that is believed to be unrelated.

Despite the record levels of radiation detected around the area, the DOE stated the readings fall “well below” the standards outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency, and that they do not pose a public or environmental threat.

New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation New Mexico nuclear plant workers exposed to radiation

On Monday, the DOE’s Joe Franco and the NWP’s Farok Sharif held a community meeting to ease public fear over the situation. In response to a question from a local resident, Franco said, “there is no risk from this event that would be a hazard to you or your children.”

Regardless, the AP noted that Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) will ask the EPA to send portable air monitors to Carlsbad as a precaution.

“The health and safety of the Carlsbad community and WIPP personnel are my top priority,” he said.

Source: RT

Study claims USS Reagan crew exposed to extremely high levels of radiation near Fukushima

Study claims USS Reagan crew exposed to extremely high levels of radiation near Fukushima Study claims USS Reagan crew exposed to extremely high levels of radiation near Fukushima

A new report on the nuclear crisis that started to unfold in Fukushima, Japan almost three years ago suggests that American troops who assisted with disaster relief efforts were exposed to unheard of radiation levels while on assignment.
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Kyle Cleveland, a sociology professor at Temple University Japan, makes a case for that argument in an academic paper published in the Asia-Pacific Journal this week titled Mobilizing Nuclear Bias: The Fukushima Nuclear Crisis and the Politics of Uncertainty.

According to Cleveland, transcripts from a March 2011 conference call obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that United States servicemen on the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier experienced radiation levels 30-times above normal during relief operations that week.

During that March 13 phone call, Cleveland wrote, Troy Mueller — the deputy administrator for naval reactors at the US Department of Energy — said the radiation was the equivalent of “about 30 times what you would detect just on a normal air sample out at sea.”

“So it’s much greater than what we had thought,” Mueller reportedly warned other American officials after taking samples on the Reagan. “We didn’t think we would detect anything at 100 miles.”

After Mueller made that remark, according to Cleveland’s transcript, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman asked him if those levels were “significantly higher than anything you would have expected.”He responded yes.

When Poneman later asked Mueller, “how do the levels detected compare with what is permissible,”Mueller said those on the scene could suffer irreversible harm from the radiation within hours.

“If it were a member of the general public, it would take — well, it would take about 10 hours to reach a limit,” he said. At that point, Mueller added, “it’s a thyroid dose issue.”

If people are exposed to levels beyond the Protective Action Guideline threshold released by the Energy Department, Cleveland acknowledged in his report, radiation could have ravaged their thyroid glands.

When approached for comment by reporters at the website NextGov, however, Navy spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Flaherty said in an email that the crewmembers aboard the USS Reagan were never at danger of such exposure.

“Potentially contaminated personnel were surveyed with sensitive instruments and, if necessary, decontaminated. The low levels of radioactivity from the Fukushima nuclear power plant identified on US Navy ships, their aircraft, and their personnel were easily within the capability of ship’s force to remedy,”Flaherty said

The latest report, NextGov’s Bob Brewin wrote, comes only days after the attorneys representing 79 USS Reagan crewmember filed an amended lawsuit in California against Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO., which has been accused of negligent with regards to maintain the Fukushima nuclear facility ahead of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that started the emergency.Attorneys for those servicemen are asking TEPCO for $1 billion in damages, and say that the infant child born of one of the crewmembers since the incident has a rare genetic disorder likely brought on by radiation exposure.

Attorneys in that suit say that “up to 70,000 US citizens [were] potentially affected by the radiation,” and might be able to join in their suit.

Source: RT

Nuclear site whistleblower fired after complaining about safety conditions

Nuclear site whistleblower fired after complaining about safety conditions Nuclear site whistleblower fired after complaining about safety conditions

The termination of a safety manager from a Washington state nuclear facility this week marks the second time in four months that a whistleblower was fired from there after speaking out.
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Donna Busche, 50, was fired Tuesday morning by URS Corp, a federal subcontractor hired by the United States government to build a $12.3 billion plant that will make glass from the waste being held at the old Department of Energy-owned Hanford Nuclear Reservation in the southeastern part of the state. Construction of the plant is currently on hold because of safety concerns, and the facility has been previously referred to as the most-polluted nuclear weapons production site in the US.

Busche’s termination this week comes nearly five years after she first started working at the plant. Most recently she was employed there as a manager of environmental and nuclear safety at the facility’s construction site, and directed a staff of 140 engineers, scientists and technicians, according to the Los Angeles Times, often raising concerns about safety issues at Hanford during her half-decade tenure. Now she says her willingness to speak honestly about her work there is what got her into trouble.

URS says they had cause to terminate Busche, and told her it was due to “unprofessional conduct.” She is already speaking out about the matter, though, and says she lost her job because her employer wanted to retaliate in response to comments she made publically about the plant in the past.

Busche has been vocal for years about conditions at Hanford. In October 2010 she testified before the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent federal agency, and made remarks about Hanford contrary to those offered by her superiors at the Department of Energy. She later said she was “openly admonished by former DOE Assistant Secretary Inés Triay for her testimony,” and the following year filed a complaint of discrimination with the Department of Labor alleging her employer retaliated against her for reporting problems at Hanford. The Labor Department is currently considering that complaint, while the Department of Energy has been tasked with investigating the safety claims made by Busche before her termination.

Walter Tamosaitis, a colleague of Busche’s who also raised safety concerns about the plant, was fired last October from URS after 44 years of employment. On Tuesday, Busche told the Associated Pressthat she has expected for a month now that she would be the next to go.

We raised technical issues and have received harassment, retaliation. The fact that he was terminated, it sent a resounding message to me, right? And heightened my sense of awareness that I was probably next,” she told CBS News last year after her co-worker was removed from the job.

Right now I will take a deep breath, file for unemployment and start another lawsuit for wrongful termination,” she added this week to the AP.

According to URS, however, they were in the right to fire Busche this week. “We do not agree with her assertions that she suffered retaliation or was otherwise treated unfairly,” the company said in a statement to the AP, adding Busche was terminated for reasons unrelated to the safety concerns. “Ms. Busche’s allegations will not withstand scrutiny,” the company said.

URS gave me no reason for my termination other than ‘unprofessional conduct.’ They gave me no documentation. They gave me no explanation,” Busche told CBS News.

Now she says the contractor’s actions are causing a chilling effect among other URS workers who are worried about speaking up.

One of my previous subordinates says that they’re actually afraid of getting fired for doing their job,” Busche told CBS.

Nuclear site whistleblower fired after complaining about safety conditions 2 Nuclear site whistleblower fired after complaining about safety conditions

 

When CBS covered a waste leak at Hanford last year, they reported that the federal government spends around $2 billion annually on cleaning up the nuclear site — or about one-third of what the country spends on its entire nuclear cleanup operations.

Source: RT

New Mexico nuclear waste site has ‘radiological event’

new mexico nuclear leak New Mexico nuclear waste site has ‘radiological event’

Officials are monitoring the levels of airborne radiation at the deep underground facility in southeastern New Mexico where the US government disposes of its low-grade nuclear waste.

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Air samples were taken around the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) after a monitoring system detected traces of radiation on the underground levels of the facility around 11:30 pm Friday night, the US Department of Energy said in a news release.
The 139 workers above ground at the time of the incident were ordered Saturday to remain where they were as a precaution. None of the employees tested positive for radioactive contamination, and all non-essential personnel were released, Department of Energy spokesman Roger Nelson said.

Nelson said the cause of the leak remains a mystery, since inspection crews have not yet gone underground. He added that he was not sure when that would happen.

Surface samples show no sign of radiation, thus suggesting the leak was “not significant,” he said.

But officials aren’t taking any chances.

“We are going to take measurements and make sure we understand it” before sending down a team, Nelson said.

US Rep. Steve Pearce issued a statement, saying: “WIPP has acted quickly and cautiously to ensure the safety of personnel and the local community.”

The incident comes on the heels of an underground truck fire at the facility that prompted an evacuation. Six workers were treated for smoke inhalation on Feb. 5.

Asked if the incidents were related, Nelson said: “I just can’t think of a scenario where there would be a relationship.”

WIPP is the country’s only deep nuclear waste facility. It takes plutonium-contaminated waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory and other federal nuclear projects.

It is located approximately 26 miles (42 kilometers) east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, in a region known as the southeastern New Mexico nuclear corridor, which also includes the National Enrichment Facility near Eunice.

Source: RT

 

TEPCO reveals record cesium level in Fukushima No. 1 well

fukushima1 TEPCO reveals record cesium level in Fukushima No. 1 well

A record high level of radioactive cesium has been found in groundwater beneath the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, it operator TEPCO revealed.
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On February 13, Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported 37,000 becquerels of cesium-134 and 93,000 becquerels of cesium-137 were detected per liter of groundwater sampled from a monitoring well earlier that day.

Water samples were taken from the technical well, located next to the second power unit, some 50 meters from the coast. These figures (the total reading) are the highest of all the cesium measurements taken previously.

Experts do not rule out that radioactive water is leaking from an underground tunnel, which is located close to the second power unit on the seashore.

However, no exact reason for such a significant increase of radioactive cesium content in the groundwater has been given so far.

Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun reported that the amount of radioactive chemicals seems to be increasing. On Feb. 12, the same sampling well had produced a combined cesium reading of 76,000 becquerels per liter.

Earlier Japan’s nuclear regulator slammed the stricken Fukushima plant operator for incorrectly measuring radiation levels in contaminated groundwater at the site.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) accused TEPCO of lacking basic understanding of measuring and handling radiation almost three years since the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

On Thursday, fears of new leaks surfaced in Japanese media, as the same newspaper reported two cracks in a concrete floor of the No. 1 facility near radioactive water storage tanks.

TEPCO suggested some contaminated water from the melting snow may have seeped into the ground through the cracks, stretching for 12 and 8 meters.

The leakage of radiation-contaminated water is posing a major threat to Japan’s population and environment and to the international community since the March 2011 disaster.

Source: RT

Fukushima radiation levels underestimated by five times – TEPCO

fukushima Fukushima radiation levels underestimated by five times   TEPCO

TEPCO has revised the readings on the radioactivity levels at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant well to 5 million becquerels of strontium per liter – both a record, and nearly five times higher than the original reading of 900,000 becquerels per liter.
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Strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope of strontium produced by nuclear fission with a half-life of 28.8 years. The legal standard for strontium emissions is 30 becquerels per liter. Exposure to strontium-90 can cause bone cancer, cancer of nearby tissues, and leukemia.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. originally said that the said 900,000 becquerels of beta-ray sources per liter, including strontium – were measured in the water sampled on July 5 last year.

However, the company noted on Friday that the previous radioactivity levels had been wrong, meaning that it was also likely reading taken from the other wells at the disaster-struck plant prior to September were also likely to have been inaccurate, the Asahi Shimbum newspaper reported.

The Japanese company has already apologized for the failures, which they said were a result of the malfunctioning of measuring equipment.

TEPCO did not mention the radioactivity levels of other samples of both groundwater and seawater taken from between June and November last year – which totaled some 140.

However, the erroneous readings only pertain to the radiation levels measured in water – readings taken to measure the radiation levels in air or soil are likely to have been accurate.

In the basement of the station, the drainage system and special tanks have accumulated more than 360,000 tons of radioactive water. The leakage of radioactive water has been an ongoing problem in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant.

TEPCO also said on Thursday that 600 liters of contaminated water – which had 2,800 becquerels of beta-ray sources per liter in it, leaked from piping leading to a tank at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

A record high level of beta rays released from radioactive strontium-90 was detected at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant beneath the No. 2 reactor’s well facing the ocean, according to the facility’s operator who released news of the measurements mid-January.

TEPCO measured the amount of beta ray-emitting radioactivity at more than 2.7 million becquerels per liter, Fukushima’s operator said as reported in the Japanese media.

In March 2011, an earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit Japan’s coast, damaging the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The catastrophe caused the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the facility, leading to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

The water used to cool the reactors has been leaking into the soil and contaminating the ground water ever since. Some of the radioactive water has been escaping into the Pacific Ocean.

Source: RT