Nuclear Facility dangers abound during severe Earth Changes

Nuclear plant in Taiwan catches fire

Nuclear plant in Taiwan catches fire
A loud noise was heard at midnight around the plant as the turbine released steam into the sky during the process, Taipower said. (Representative Photo)
BEIJING: Taiwan has shut down two reactors after a fire broke out at a nuclear power station in southern Taiwan shortly before midnight on Sunday.
The incident has caused no radioactive leak and no personnel have needed to be evacuated, Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) said in a statement on its website. 

The fire began inside an auxiliary electrical transformer at the Third Nuclear Power Plant in Pingtung County, setting off an alarm at 11:58pm, Taipower said. It was put out by the plant's own firefighters within 17 minutes of its occurance, it said. 

A loud noise was heard at midnight around the plant as the turbine released steam into the sky during the process, Taipower said. 

Taipower said preliminary investigations suggest that it will take two weeks to get the second reactor operational again. The transformer, which was one of a number of devices supplying electricity to the plant, has been damaged due to short circuit. 

The accident is expected to affect China's ambitious plans that include launching eight new nuclear power plants this year besides granting approvals for another set of six new plants. The government aims to build capabilities for producing 30,000 megawatts by 2020. 

Chinese nuclear experts have argued that the country has the best safety standards in place after the government recently lifted the ban on new plants, which was imposed after Japan's Fukushima accident in 2011. 

Giving details of the accident, Taipower said that another reactor in the affected plant, the No. 1 reactor is unaffected. 

The second reactor, which has a electricity generating capacity of 951 megawatts, has been in operation since May 1985. 

Taiwan has three nuclear power plants in operation and another one under construction. There has been much public debate about whether the island should become a nuclear power-free society, particularly in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

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Egypt nuclear reactor in Cairo to begin June 21st and is already having problems, leaking radiocative materials.  Employees were forbidden to speak of the problems the facility is having.  It's a go.......... to open.views">

Uploaded by NibiruMagick2012 on Jun 6, 2011

The Anshas nuclear reactor, located on the outskirts of Cairo, has leaked ten cubic meters of radioactive water for the second time in a year, according to Samer Mekheimar, the former director of the Nuclear Research Center's atomic reactions department. Mekheimar submitted a note to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, saying the leakage took place on 25 May as a result of operating the reactor without taking into account safety precautions. He also said the Atomic Energy Agency kept the incident secret and threatened to fire the staff if they talked about it. "The fact that the reactor was by mere chance not operated the next day saved the area from environmental disaster," he wrote. "All ministries were changed after the revolution, except the Ministry of Electricity and Energy," he added. "It still kept the same minister and his deputies from the dissolved ruling party." Meanwhile, sources at the Nuclear Safety Authority said they were denied entry to the reactor to conduct an inspection. Director of the Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed al-Kolaly, said that levels of radiation inside the reactor are normal, and that the International Atomic Energy Agency has praised the reactor

Egypt nuclear reactor to begin operation this month
Saturday Jun 4, 2011 - 17:06

Fort Calhoun, NE -- OPPD declares notification of unusual event at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Station.

Neb. nuke plant declares emergency due to flooding

ZetaTalk: Nuclear Reactor Accidents

Written November 27, 2010

Perhaps that we can expect incidents at nuclear stations during the 7 of 10 events, i.e. in SE Asia on achievement of a 7/10, in the west and the north of the S America during its roll, during rupture of the New Madrid fault line, in the western Europe during a tsunami? I assume that earthquakes and tsunami can present some problems on nuclear pollution even before the pole shift. Any comments of the Zetas?

After the Chernobyl disasters it is understandable that mankind is nervous about the coming pole shift and the potential of nuclear disasters in their nearby power stations. We have encouraged all to contact the operators of these facilities, and advise them of the coming disasters, encouraging them to shut down the facilities at the first sign of major quakes and the like. We have explained that to a certain extent we, as benign aliens under the control of the Council of Worlds, can step in and remove the explosive potential from these power stations, as we have from nuclear bombs held by the US, by Russia, and by other nations. In a shutdown procedure, bolts that inhibit the nuclear reaction are dropped between the reactor rods, stopping the nuclear reaction cold. This is a simplistic explanation, as the power plant controls run on electricity which can surge or fail, thus interfering with a shutdown. Such electrical surges or failure, happening during a shutdown, has been associated with nuclear accidents at Chernobyl, and SL-1 for example. As the hosing from the magnetic tail of Planet X continues to waft over the Earth, such surge and brownout can be expected. We predict that many nuclear power plants will be shut down, permanently, during the Earth changes leading into the pole shift, due to a combination of earthquake threats or damage and electrical surge and brownout. The grid will, in any case, be down after the pole shift, so this is only an early loss. As to flooding of reactors during the Earth changes or the pole shift tides, other than interfering with the electrical controls, this does not create, in and of itself, a disaster. Water is used to cool the reactor rods. It is the absence of water, due to the pumps being inoperable, that is a problem.

All rights reserved:

ZetaTalk: Nuclear Call
written February 4, 2012

The issue of whether benign alien assistance will come during disasters, neutralizing nuclear facilities, comes up often, understandably. Those who currently live near nuclear facilities worry constantly about sudden earthquakes or operator neglect, which can cause a meltdown with consequent radiation pollution far and wide. Fukushima is the latest example. As the earthquakes are on the increase, and the 7 of 10 scenarios about to afflict those countries which have utilized nuclear power extensively, this concern will only increase.

The answer in these matters, which we have repeatedly explained, is first that the Element of Doubt must be maintained. This is an aspect of the gradual awakening of mankind to the alien presence that ensures that contactees will not be savaged by those in panic, fearing for their lives. In the past, the establishment - MJ12 composed of the CIA, military intelligence, and the very wealthy - withheld information on their preliminary contact with aliens. Where they claimed they were saving the public from panic, this move was self serving as they wanted alien technology for themselves, and also did not want to be knocked from their perch in the eyes of the public.

Rather than reassure the public about the alien presence, the old MJ12 deliberately moved to foster fear in the public. Hollywood has been enlisted to produce a stream of movies showing aliens landing to eat people, colonize the Earth, and infect and takeover human bodies and minds. The old MJ12 likewise harassed and monitored contactees, to control the plethora of books and videos being produced by enthusiastic contactees. The Element of Doubt at base is to protect the growing army of contactees, whom the establishment fears. What it their threat? That they challenge the legitimacy of the establishment to lead, creating a secret network, an information exchange taking place on space ships among contactees, which the establishment is powerless to stop.

Enter the nuclear power plant issue, which is a legitimate concern even among those in the establishment. As the pace of the Earth changes has picked up, our answers have moved from being vague in 2008, stressing that this is in the hands of man, to hinting by 2010 that the collective Call from many in the Service-to-Other would make a difference and that alien interference would be allowed, to admitting after Fukushima in 2011 that some interference had occurred.

Has the degree of concern from Service-to-Other souls on Earth, giving a collective Call on this matter, made a difference? Unquestionably. From the start of ZetaTalk we have stressed that matters such as a healing only take place as a result of a Service-to-Other call. Those who Call for themselves, out of self interest, are ignored. The collective Call out of concern for others, made by those in the Service-to-Other on Earth, have and will make a difference on the nuclear power plant issue.

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Comment by Tracie Crespo on March 24, 2023 at 1:56pm

Nuclear plant near Minneapolis leaks radioactive water for second time in months

Story by Christine Fernando, USA TODAY  20m ago

nuclear plant near Minneapolis is shutting down after its owners announced water containing a radioactive material was leaked for a second time. The plant's owner said there is no danger to the public.

The leak of hundreds of gallons of water containing tritium was found this week at the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant, the utility company Xcel Energy said in a Thursday statement. The same plant leaked 400,000 gallons of water containing tritium in November, but the company didn't disclose the spill to the public until this month.

Cooling towers release heat generated by boiling water reactors at Xcel Energy's Nuclear Generating Plant on Oct. 2, 2019, in Monticello, Minn. Minnesota regulators said Thursday, March 16, 2023, that they're monitoring the cleanup of a leak of 400,000 gallons of radioactive water from Xcel Energy's Monticello nuclear power plant in late November 2022. The company said there's no danger to the public.
Cooling towers release heat generated by boiling water reactors at Xcel Energy's Nuclear Generating Plant on Oct. 2, 2019, in Monticello, Minn. Minnesota regulators said Thursday, March 16, 2023, that they're monitoring the cleanup of a leak of 400,000 gallons of radioactive water from Xcel Energy's Monticello nuclear power plant in late November 2022. The company said there's no danger to the public.© Evan Frost, AP

The new leak appeared to be coming from a temporary fix to the original leak, which came from a pipe between two buildings and was detected by routine groundwater monitoring systems, Xcel Energy said.

How did new leak happen at Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant?

After the first leak, the company began capturing water from the leaking pipe and rerouting it back into the plant for re-use as a short-term solution. This plan was intended to prevent new tritium from reaching groundwater until Xcel Energy could install a replacement pipe during a regularly scheduled refueling outage in April, the company said.

But after equipment found a new leak and discovered the temporary solution was no longer capturing all of the leaking water, the company decided to shut down the plant "to allow it to more quickly perform the repairs needed to permanently resolve" the leak.

Leak poses no risk to public, Xcel Energy says

The company does not expect the shutdown to affect customers' electric service, Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy–Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said. Clark also said in a statement that the leak poses no risk to the public or environment.

Readings from over two dozen on-site monitoring wells have found that the leaked water remained fully contained on-site and has not been detected outside of the facility or in any local drinking water, according to the company.

Xcel Energy also said the leak of hundreds of gallons is much smaller than the original leak and "will not materially increase the amount of tritium the company is working to recover."

So far, the company has recovered about 32% of the tritium released. This process is expected to continue through next year, Xcel Energy said. It is unclear when the plant will resume operations.

New leak announced day after it was found

The new leak was announced Thursday, a day after it was discovered.

Meanwhile, the first leak was discovered last year and reported to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the state on Nov. 22. It was only made public this month.

"We understand the importance of quickly informing the communities we serve if a situation poses an immediate threat to health and safety," Xcel Energy said in a statement earlier this month. "In this case, there was no such threat."

State officials also said they waited to get more information about the leak before making it public.

What is tritium?

A radioactive isotope of hydrogen, tritium occurs naturally in the environment and is a common byproduct of nuclear plant operations, according to the NRC. It emits a weak form of radiation that does not travel very far in the air and cannot penetrate human skin.

"Everyone is exposed to small amounts of tritium every day because it occurs naturally in the environment and the foods we eat," the agency said.

While nuclear plants spill tritium from time to time, the NRC said the leaks usually remain limited to the plant property or involve low offsite levels that do not affect public health or safety.

Contact Christine Fernando at or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nuclear plant near Minneapolis leaks radioactive water for second t...

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on December 18, 2020 at 4:15am

Hackers Breached US Nuclear Security Administration which Maintains...

Hackers Breached US Nuclear Security Administration which Maintains US Nuclear Stockpile

December 17, 2020 at 6:39pm

US officials announced this week the Nuclear Security Administration was among the entities breached by state-sponsored hackers in the SolarWinds breach.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on Sunday night issued Emergency Directive 21-01, in response to a KNOWN COMPROMISE involving SolarWinds Orion products.

This was only the fifth Emergency Directive issued by CISA under the authorities granted by Congress in the Cybersecurity Act of 2015.

No doubt, the liberal media, and deep state will likely blame Russia.
But we all know who did this.

Politico reported:

The Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, have evidence that hackers accessed their networks as part of an extensive espionage operation that has affected at least half a dozen federal agencies, officials directly familiar with the matter said.

On Thursday, DOE and NNSA officials began coordinating notifications about the breach to their congressional oversight bodies after being briefed by Rocky Campione, the chief information officer at DOE.

They found suspicious activity in networks belonging to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories in New Mexico and Washington, the Office of Secure Transportation at NNSA, and the Richland Field Office of the DOE.

The hackers have been able to do more damage at FERC than the other agencies, and officials there have evidence of highly malicious activity, the officials said but did not elaborate.

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on December 4, 2020 at 8:49pm

Lithuanians Urged To Stockpile Food Amid Reports Of Nuclear Power I...

Lithuanians Urged To Stockpile Food Amid Reports Of Nuclear Power Incident

Dec 03, 2020, 10:30 AM CST

Days after reports emerged that the newly opened Belarus nuclear power plant suffered an incident, authorities in neighboring Lithuania told the Baltic country’s population on Thursday to stock up on food in case of an incident at the nuclear power facility in Belarus, which is just 30 miles away from Lithuania’s capital city Vilnius.

“We recommend that the population create a stock of essential products for three days,” Mindaugas Bayarunas, a representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Lithuania, said on the national radio on Thursday, as carried by Russian news agency TASS.

“The functions of all responsible authorities are clearly defined, but it will take some time until they come to help people, so everyone should be ready,” Bayarunas said.

Lithuanian authorities recommend people stock up on canned goods, water, sugar, and cereals.

Belarus has just launched the Astravets nuclear power plant, with Russian help and technology. Lithuania has long opposed the construction and operations of the plant, which is located near the Belarus-Lithuania border and is just 50 kilometers away from Lithuania’s capital.

The Astravets nuclear power plant was built by Russian state firm Rosatom and was financed by Moscow with a $10 billion loan.  

Despite safety concerns raised by Lithuania, Belarus launched the nuclear power plant in early November. Lithuania immediately cut off electricity imports from Belarus.

Days after its inauguration, the Astravets nuclear power plant halted electricity output after voltage transformers had reportedly exploded. A couple of weeks later, the power plant resumed operations.

Earlier this week, an NGO in Belarus, Ekodom, reported that the cooling system of the first reactor had been damaged.

“Due to an unopened valve, when pumping out the [cooling liquid] at the end of the tests, the tank of the emergency cooling system of the first reactor was damaged,” Ecohome said.

On Thursday, the energy ministry of Belarus admitted that “need has been identified” to fix the steam covers of the emergency cooling system.

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on November 16, 2020 at 9:16pm

Incident reported at Belarus nuclear plant

November 16, 2020

Belarus, Astravyets: Belarus’ nuclear plant in Astravyets, some 50 km from Vilnius, suffered a technical incident that put the facility out of operation, according to sources of the country’s independent media outlet

Lithuania’s transmission system operator, Litgrid, confirmed that the plant has been out of operation since Sunday midday. The nuclear plant started producing electricity on 3 November, just five days before the incident.

Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko took part in the opening of the plant on 6 November, where he said the launch of the Astravyets NPP was as “ordinary” as building a metro.

According to sources at, several voltage-measuring transformers outside of the nuclear reactor exploded during the incident.

On 9 November, the Belarusian Energy Ministry said that “a need to replace the measuring equipment arose” during testing.

The radiation levels in Lithuania are normal, according to Ramunė Stasiūnaitienė from the country’s Radiation Protection Centre.

“Residents have no reason to be concerned or take their iodide tablets,” she stated.

Lithuania’s State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) said the plant is still undergoing testing. However, “we have also received no information about the  next steps to launch the plant”, said VATESI in a written comment.

Lithuania has been one of the most ardent critics of the nuclear plant built by the Russian state atomic corporation Rosatom and funded by a loan from the Kremlin.

Vilnius says the plant is unsafe and was built in breach of international safety standards. Minsk denies all allegations.

To prepare for the launch of the plant, Lithuania has staged evacuation drills in the border areas, located less than 20 km from the nuclear plant. The country has also ceased all electricity trade with Belarus, a move that Moscow called “discriminatory”.

The Baltic states are gearing up to switch from the Russian-controlled BRELL electricity grid that also includes Belarus, and synchronise with the continental European system by 2025.

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on November 3, 2020 at 1:27am


Mystery smoke spews from North Korea nuke plant crippled by typhoons sparking fears of Fukushima-style disaster

SMOKE has been spewing from a North Korean nuclear plant as it undergoes repairs after being damaged in a typhoon.

Experts have warned the reactor could be another Fukushima-style disaster waiting to happen after satellite pictures showed it took a battering by storms.

The Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Centre appeared to have been damaged after a dam which regulates water for the reactor's cooling system was breached.

New satellite images show smoke emanating from a building just south of the uranium enrichment plant.

The building was used to recover and purify uranium from yellowcake, a type of concentrated uranium powder, says specialist website 38 North.

But the site says it’s now is unclear what is taking place.

Meanwhile, repair work is continuing at the cooling water reservoir overflow dam in the Kuryong River.

Imagery from October 27 shows the dike-like structure is complete and the water levels have risen to cover the intake cisterns for the reactors.

A trench sheeting has been installed along the dam breach, forming a solid steel wall capable of stabilizing the dam.

Kim's two reactors at the site were luckily switched off amid the flooding as part of ongoing talks with the US and the regime's great rivals South Korea.

One is a Soviet Union-style reactor, which has been operating intermittently since 1986.

And the other is an experimental reactor, which has not yet been fully switched on since construction started in 2009.

It has previously been warned shoddy safety could cause a catastrophe impacting 100million people.

Damage caused by typhoons that battered North Korea's west coast show the potentially devastating vulnerability of the site, experts say.

They compared the risk to the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan.

North and South Korea, eastern China, south eastern Russia, and Japan's west coast could all be exposed to radiation.

The fear is that the reactor is susceptible to incidents like in Fukushima

While some experts downplayed the immediate threat, they said the damage highlights the potential for the country's crumbling nuclear infrastructure to cause a catastrophe.

Tom Plant, director of proliferation and nuclear policy at the Royal United Services Institute, told The Sun Online the site is “creaking” and doesn’t meet modern safety standards.

He said: “There is a danger of nuclear accidents at these sites, we cannot rule out radiation leakage or fallout.

Mr Plant said: "The real risk is if they were in the middle of operations and there was a huge flood and it knocked out the pumps like it did in Fukushima."

He added: “If for some crazy reason they tried to operate under conditions where the cooling wasn’t working, then all the bad things would happen.

“And there are residual safety concerns about the reactors. The old one is very old and even well regulated reactors of that vintage do not meet modern safety standards.”

The few scientists who have visited the site have also previously noted the reactors appear to be outdated and built using substandard materials.

It has also been warned the highly secretive North Korea's reluctance to engage with other nations could cause a Chernobyl-style information blackout in a disaster.

Soviet Union officials famously failed to announce the infamous nuclear accident at the plant in Ukraine until the West had already detected a radiation cloud over Europe.

Dr Ramon Pacheco-Pardo, an associate professor in international relations at King's College London, said the site was “susceptible to incidents like in Fukushima”, where the site was left “a no-go area where it’s not safe to live anymore”.

"The fear is that the reactor is susceptible to incidents like in Fukushima," he said.

"Japan was ultimately able to contain the damage, but even then it was still left a no-go area and its not safe anymore to live there.

"If there was bigger damage to Yongbyong than there is currently, North Korea would not be able to contain the problems."

The expert questioned how safe the North Korean reactors are even without damage given the secretive state's lack of resources and apparent lax safety procedures.


North Korea's Soviet-style reactor is 34 years old, right at the end of its operational life, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Dr Pacheco-Pardo explained the reactor should have been decommissioned and replaced, but this is not an option for cash-strapped North Korea.

And should there be a disaster, he suggested it is likely North Korea would only notify China and Russia, leaving the West and its allies to find out themselves.

But he added it's unlikely North Korea will seek to restart the reactors any time soon as it battles the aftermath of the typhoon, famine, and the coronavirus pandemic.

In a report published in 2018, Dr Oleg Scheka, who previously worked for coordinating environmental cooperation between Russia and North Korea, laid out the dire threat posed by a North Korean nuclear disaster.

He noted Russian experts who helped North Korea build industrial facilities noted the regime's "willingness to cut corners" on safety for the sake of speed.

Dr Scheka warned 100million people across the Koreas, Russia, China and Japan could be impacted by a reactor failure in North Korea.

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on October 14, 2020 at 6:40pm

DOE Investigates Small Fire Oct. 4 At Los Alamos Neutron Science Center

Work involving a small electricity capacitor bank which caught fire Oct. 4 at the Los Alamos Neutron Accelerator Facility in Area 53 at Los Alamos National Laboratory remains suspended pending the completion of an investigation into the fire’s cause, a Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration spokesperson said Friday.

The Los Alamos Fire Department responded to the incident at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) along with LANL personnel.

“Given the fully-charged nature of the capacitors in the room, the decision was made not to fight the fire directly and monitor the event. Once the fire extinguished, LANL personnel secured the room in a safe configuration and LAFD was able to extinguish all hot spots,” the NNSA spokesperson said.

The report on the incident says LAFD received a fire alarm from the affected room and responded. After the decision was made not to fight the fire until after the capacitors could be safely discharged, the fire was allowed to extinguish itself which took about six hours.  LAFD and radio frequency personnel entered the room to discharge the capacitor bank and eliminate any remaining hot spots. LAFD extinguished all hot spots and RFE personnel secured the room in a safe configuration. The report states that the fire was contained within the capacitor room.

A capacitor bank is a group of connected capacitors each containing hazardous electrical energy. A capacitor is similar to a battery in that the energy it contains must be discharged prior to handling the capacitor. For a capacitor bank, the report says discharging is accomplished by connecting the positive and negative terminals of each capacitor in the bank with a shorting device. LANSCE Operations personnel de-energized the capacitor bank remotely by lowering a metal bar across the capacitor terminals and tripped the breakers for any other electrical components in the room.

LAFD personnel evaluated the fire through a window and determined that the room was not safe to enter because the capacitors remained potentially charged and presented a significant electrical hazard. LAFD posted a fire watch to monitor the fire.

Following an Oct. 5 fact finding, it was noted that the LANL Chief Electrical Safety Officer determined that all proper procedures were followed and no personnel had been exposed to or potentially exposed to an electrical hazard.

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on September 16, 2020 at 11:46pm

Hanford Has a Radioactive Capsule Problem

Researchers still don’t have a way to neutralize the former nuclear-weapons complex’s 1,936 capsules of radioactive cesium and strontium

At the Hanford Site, capsules of cesium and strontium are stored in concrete pools, whose water glows blue as the radioactive materials decay.

At the vast reservation known as the Hanford Site in south-central Washington state, much of the activity these days concerns its 212 million liters (56 million gallons) of radioactive sludge. From World War II through the Cold War, the site produced plutonium for more than 60,000 nuclear weapons, creating enough toxic by-products to fill 177 giant underground tanks. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which controls Hanford, is pushing to start “vitrifying,” or glassifying, some of that waste within two years. The monumental undertaking is the nation’s—and possibly the world’s—largest environmental cleanup effort. It has been going on for decades and will take decades more to complete.

But the tanks are not the only outsize radioactive hazard at Hanford. The site also houses nearly 2,000 capsules of highly radioactive cesium and strontium. Each of the double-walled, stainless-steel capsules weighs 11 kilograms and is roughly the size of a rolled-up yoga mat. Together, they contain over a third of the total radioactivity at Hanford.

For decades, the capsules have resided in a two-story building called the Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility (WESF). Inside, the capsules sit beneath 4 meters of cooling water in concrete cells lined with stainless steel. The water surrounding the capsules glows neon blue as the cesium and strontium decay, a phenomenon known as Cherenkov radiation.

Built in 1973, the facility is well beyond its 30-year design life. In 2013, nuclear specialists in neighboring Oregon warned that the concrete walls of the pools had lost structural integrity due to gamma radiation emitted by the capsules. Hanford is located just 56 kilometers (35 miles) from Oregon’s border and sits beside the Columbia River. After leaving the site, the river flows through Oregon farms and fisheries and eventually through Portland, the state's biggest city.

In 2014, the DOE’s Office of the Inspector General concluded that the WESF poses the “greatest risk” for serious accident of any DOE facility that’s beyond its design life. In the event of a severe earthquake, for instance, the degraded basins would likely collapse, draining the cooling water. In a worst-case scenario, the capsules would then overheat and break, releasing radioactivity that would contaminate the ground and air and render parts of the Hanford Site inaccessible for years and potentially reach nearby cities.

The Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility at Hanford, where the capsules are stored, is well beyond its planned 30-year life.
Photo: U.S. Department of Energy
The Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility at Hanford, where the capsules are stored, is well beyond its planned 30-year life.

“If it’s bad enough, it means all cleanup essentially stops,” says Dirk Dunning, an engineer and retired Hanford expert who worked for the Oregon Department of Energy and who helped flag initial concerns about the concrete. “We can’t fix it, we can’t stop it. It just becomes a horrible, intractable problem.”

A conceptual illustration shows the Capsule Storage Area, now under construction at Hanford. Cesium and strontium will be stored in 16 to 20 dry casks on a concrete pad, next to the existing WESF
Illustration: U.S. Department of Energy
A conceptual illustration shows the Capsule Storage Area, now under construction at Hanford. Cesium and strontium will be stored in 16 to 20 dry casks on a concrete pad, next to the existing WESF.

To avoid such a catastrophe, in 2015 the DOE began taking steps to transfer capsules out of the basins and into dry casks on an outdoor storage pad. The plan is to place six capsules inside a cylindrical metal sleeve; air inside the cylinder is displaced with helium to dissipate heat from the capsules. The sleeves are then fitted inside a series of shielded canisters, like a nuclear nesting doll. The final vessel is a 3.3-meter-tall cylindrical cask made of a special steel alloy and reinforced concrete. A passive cooling system draws cool air into the cask and expels warm air, without the need for fans or pools of water. The cask will sit vertically on the concrete pad. Eventually, there will be 16 to 20 casks. Similar systems are used to store spent nuclear fuel at commercial power plants, including the Columbia Generating Station at Hanford. The agency has until 31 August 2025 to complete the work, according to a legal agreement between the DOE, the state of Washington, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

When the transfer is completed, DOE estimates the new facility will save more than US $6 million per year in operating costs. But it’s intended only as a temporary fix. After 50 years in dry storage—around 2075, in other words—the capsules’ contents could be vitrified as well, or else buried in an unspecified deep geologic repository.

Even that timeline may be too ambitious. At a congressional hearing in March, DOE officials said that treatment of the tank waste was the “highest priority” and sought to defer the capsule-transfer work and other cleanup efforts at Hanford. They also proposed slashing Hanford’s annual budget by $700 million in fiscal year 2021. The DOE Office of Environmental Management’s “strategic vision” for 2020–2030 [PDF] noted only that the agency “will continue to evaluate” the transfer of capsules currently stored at the WESF.

And the COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the department’s plans. The DOE now says it “will be assessing potential impacts on all projects” resulting from reduced operations due to the pandemic. The department’s FY2021 budget proposal calls for “safely” deferring work on the WESF capsule transfers for one year, while supporting “continued maintenance, monitoring, and assessment activities at WESF,” according to a written response sent to IEEE Spectrum.

Unsurprisingly, community leaders and state policymakers oppose the potential slowdowns and budget cuts. They argue that Hanford’s cleanup—now over three decades in the making—cannot be delayed further. David Reeploeg of the Tri-City Development Council (TRIDEC) says the DOE’s strategic vision and proposed budget cuts add to the “collective frustration” at “this pattern of kicking the can down the road.” TRIDEC advocates for Hanford-related priorities in the adjacent communities of Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco, Wash. Reeploeg adds that congressional support over the years has been key to increasing Hanford cleanup funding beyond the DOE’s request levels.

How did Hanford end up with 1,936 capsules of radioactive waste?

The cesium and strontium inside the capsules were once part of the toxic mix stored in Hanford’s giant underground tanks. The heat given off by these elements as they decayed was causing the high-level radioactive waste to dangerously overheat to the point of boiling. And so from 1967 to 1985, technicians extracted the elements from the tanks and put them in capsules.

Initially, the DOE believed that such materials, especially cesium-137, could be put to useful work, in thermoelectric power supplies, to calibrate industrial instruments, or to extend the shelf life of pork, wheat, and spices (though consumers are generally wary of irradiated foods). The department leased hundreds of capsules to private companies around the United States.

One of those companies was Radiation Sterilizers, which used Hanford’s cesium capsules to sterilize medical supplies at its facilities in Decatur, Ga., and Westerville, Ohio. In 1988, a capsule in Decatur developed a pinhole leak, and 0.02 percent of its contents escaped—a mess that took the DOE four years and $47 million to clean up. Federal investigators concluded that moving the capsules in and out of water more than 7,000 times caused temperature changes that damaged the steel. Radiation Sterilizers had removed temperature-measuring systems in its facility, among other failures cited by the DOE. The company, though, blamed the government for shipping a damaged capsule. Whatever the cause, the DOE recalled all capsules and returned them to the WESF.

The WESF now contains 1,335 capsules of cesium, in the form of cesium chloride. Most of that waste consists of nonradioactive isotopes of cesium; of the radioactive isotopes, cesium-137 dominates, with lesser amounts of cesium-135. Another 601 capsules contain strontium, in the form of strontium fluoride, with the main radioactive isotope being strontium-90.

Cesium-137 and strontium-90 have half-lives of 30 years and 29 years, respectively—relatively short periods compared with the half-lives of other materials in the nation’s nuclear inventory, such as uranium and plutonium. However, the present radioactivity of the capsules “is so great” that it will take more than 800 years for the strontium capsules to decay enough to be classified as low-level waste, according to a 2003 report by the U.S. National Research Council. And while the radioactivity of the cesium-137 will diminish significantly after several hundred years, cesium-135 has a half-life of 2.3 million years, which means that the isotope will eventually become the dominant source of radioactivity in the cesium capsules, the report said.

Workers at Hanford continue to monitor the condition of the capsules by periodically shaking the containers using a long metal gripping tool. If they hear a “clunk,” it means the inner stainless-steel pipe is moving freely and is thus considered to be in good condition. Some capsules, though, fail the clunk test, which indicates the inner pipe is damaged, rusty, or swollen, and thus can’t move. About two dozen of the failed capsules have been “overpacked”—that is, sealed in a larger stainless-steel container and held separately.

Moving the capsules from wet storage to dry is only temporary

The DOE has made substantial progress on the capsule-transfer work in recent years. In August 2019, CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company, one of the main environmental cleanup contractors at Hanford, completed designs to modify the WESF for removal of the capsules. In the weeks before COVID-19 temporarily shut down the site in late March, crews had started fabricating equipment to load capsules into sleeves, transfer them into casks, and move them outside. A team cleaned and painted part of the WESF to make way for the loading crane. At the nearby Maintenance and Storage Facility, workers were building a mock-up system to allow people to train and test equipment.

During the lockdown, employees working remotely continued with technical and design reviews and nuclear-safety assessments. With Hanford now in a phased reopening, CH2M Hill workers recently broke ground on the site of the future dry cask storage pad and have resumed construction at the mock-up facility. Last October, the DOE awarded Intermech, a construction firm owned by Emcor, a nearly $5.6 million contract to build a reinforced-concrete pad surrounded by two chain-link fences, along with utility infrastructure and a heavy-duty road connecting the WESF to the pad.

However, plans for fiscal year 2021, which starts in October, are less certain. In its budget request to Congress in February, the DOE proposed shrinking Hanford’s annual cleanup budget from $2.5 billion to about $1.8 billion. Officials sought no funding for WESF modification and storage work, eliminating $11 million from the current budget. Meanwhile, the agency sought to boost funding for tank-waste vitrification from $15 million to $50 million. Under its legal agreements, the DOE is required to start glassifying Hanford’s low-activity waste by 2023.


Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on September 2, 2020 at 5:21am


Pike County school district asks feds to move middle school away from radiation

Sept 1 2020

A school district in Piketon is requesting help from the U.S. Department of Energy to build a new middle school, according to a letter drafted last week. That’s because radioactive isotopes were detected two miles downwind from a former uranium enrichment facility.

Just a week into the school year, with Zahn’s Corner Middle School students crammed in elementary and high schools, a letter has been drafted in hopes of securing federal funding to re-build the school at a new location.

That’s because since the decommissioning and cleanup of a former uranium enrichment plant was sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Energy started in 2017, there have been radioactive isotopes detected at the school located two miles downwind from the facility.

“While the levels are debatable, there is very little question that the presence of these dangerous contaminants are not ‘natural’, nor can they be attributed to ‘background’ radiation,” wrote Wes Hairston, superintendent of Scioto Valley Local School District in a letter to DOE Secretary Dan Brouillette dated Thursday.

“The community, including the County Health Department, is extremely concerned with the continuation of the construction and on-site disposal near the middle school. The continuation of work on this site will most certainly emit more of these dangerous elements into the air and into the school.”

The DOE has issued numerous statements about the former plant, located 73 miles south of Columbus, saying that numerous tests “show results significantly below regulatory safety limits and no radioactivity detected above naturally occurring levels.” They have said the school and community are safe. The DOE did not respond to a request to comment when asked about the letter.

The letter comes after The Dispatch reported on DOE Secretary Brouillette’s visit to Columbus. At the time, Brouillette told The Dispatch, “We stand ready to assist the school system in any way that they would see fit. Our door remains open.”

“We appreciate your willingness to provide support, as suggested in your recent response to a question posed by a reporter with the Columbus Dispatch,” Hairston told Brouillette in the letter.

The middle school was closed by the district in May 2019 after neptunium-237, a radioactive isotope, was detected by DOE air monitors across the street from the school.

Enriched uranium was detected inside the school’s air ducts and ceiling tiles during an inspection.

The district was not made aware of the isotopes detected in 2017 until two years later. That’s the same year cleanup efforts began at the plant. This year, DOE disclosed a 2018 detection of americium, another radioactive isotope, according to the school district.

In late July, DOE released its most-recent annual environmental assessment report where the federal agency summarizes and provides results of thousands of tests.

The levels in the report were “well below the levels at which you have to take action to protect the public,” David C. Ingram, chair of the physics and astronomy department at Ohio University who specializes in nuclear science, said in a recent interview.

Despite the figures cited in the report and DOE’s assurances, the community has every right to be concerned about exposure though, Ingram added. That’s because the annual report uses averages.

“One analogy I use is that if I was to put a small piece of radioactive material in the corner of a big field, very close to that piece of radioactive material it could be a hazard, particularly if somebody picked it up, or breathed it in,” he said. “Whereas I could take all that material and spread it across the field and come up with a number which is well below causing concern.”

When asked about using averages, DOE said in a statement: “The annual dose calculations in (environmental reports) are based on the worst-case exposure scenario for a member of the public. The maximum concentrations of radionuclides detected in various media (e.g., sediment, soil, vegetation, etc.) were used in dose calculations even if these media-specific maximum concentrations do not occur throughout the year or even at the same location. DOE’s conservative approach fairly assesses any risk to the community.”

A third-party assessment funded by DOE is still pending. It could be another year before that study is completed. That study will include samples on both public and private property inside a six-mile radius from the plant.

There is no such thing as a safe level for radioactive isotopes, said Jennifer Chandler, a former environmental scientist who worked for DOE and is now a village council member in Piketon.

“Even though (DOE) may say, `We don’t think the levels are high enough.′ There’s no `such thing as a safe level,” Chandler said.

The school district is already petitioning the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission in hopes of getting land to build a new middle school with the state’s help. They have not been given an answer on their request.

Some state and federal offices are waiting for those third-party study results before taking action to help the community.

When the Ohio Democrat’s office was pressed about whether he will push to fund a new school, the following statement was issued: “Sen. Brown shares the concerns of the community and looks forward to reviewing the third-party assessment on Zahn’s Corner Middle School.”

A spokesman for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Dan Tierney, had a similar response. “We are awaiting the results of the third-party testing before any decisions are made.”

In the meantime, students at Zahn’s Corner continue to wait.

“This problem was not created by our school district. And our district does not have the financial means, or the moral imperative to solve it,” Hairston wrote Brouillette.

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on September 2, 2020 at 1:15am

Nuclear Regulators Inspecting Turkey Point After Reactor Shut Down

Published September 1, 2020 at 5:29 PM EDT

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent a team of inspectors to Turkey Point this week after one of Florida Power and Light’s aging nuclear reactors shut down three times over four days.

The week of Aug. 17, plant operators manually shut down Unit 3, the older of the two reactors licensed in 1972, twice after seeing warning signs, said NRC spokesman Roger Hannah. The unit then automatically shut down a third time, he said.

“This is probably a very poor analogy, but it's like cars that have automatic braking systems,” he said. “If you see that you're going to hit something, you're probably better to put your foot on the brake than wait for the car to implement the automatic braking system. “

In these uncertain times, you can rely on WLRN to keep you current on local news and information. Your support is what keeps WLRN strong. Please become a member today. Donate now. Thank you.

When operators spotted trouble in two instances, they shut down the unit.

Having three shut downs in such quick succession caught regulators' attention. Typically, reactors are flagged if they have three shutdowns during 7,000 hours of operation.

In this case, Hannah said, inspectors considered the way the shutdowns happened.

“Once our staff determined that it met that threshold, we decided that a special inspection was appropriate,” he said.

Inspectors will be at the plant through the week and likely take six weeks to file their findings.

In an email, FPL spokesman Peter Robbins said operators initially shut down the reactor to repair a part of the plant not connected to the nuclear plant.

“The additional shutdowns happened as we determined that additional work and repairs were needed,” the statement said. “In all three cases, the reactor was shut down in a matter of seconds, and all safety systems responded as designed.”

Nuclear regulators relicensed the two nuclear units last year, making them the first in the 1970s-era fleet of nuclear reactors built in the U.S. to win a third extension. Originally, licenses covered 40 years. By the time the latest license expires, the units will be twice as old as their original approval.

The aging plant has drawn criticism from neighbors and environmentalists who worry regulators failed to fully consider sea rise and troubled cooling canals that have been blamed for polluting Biscayne Bay. In Miami-Dade County, commissioners called for them to be retired.

The canals were originally a compromise reached with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the 1970s after the agency raised concerns over the plant polluting the bay. The canals were dredged across nearly 6,000 acres to act as a radiator to provide water to cool the plant. A deeper canal was dredged along the western border to prevent canal water from leaking into groundwater. But as canal water grew saltier and sank, the deeper canal failed.

Canal water has now spread more than three miles inland, threatening drinking water supplies for the Florida Keys.

Last week, Monroe County joined a lawsuit originally filed by the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority and Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association challenging a new pollution permit for the plant. The permit, which had not been renewed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for 10 years, allows canal water to seep into groundwater.

“To extend a cooling canal system, which is unique in the world for any power plant, logically tells us that may not be the safest route to go,” said Capt. Steve Friedman, commodore of the guides association. “It’s creating a plume of massive saline water risking the Biscayne aqueduct. So you tell me what’s right.”

The canals are now in the midst of a Miami-Dade County ordered clean-up expected to cost ratepayers at least $176 million.

The three shutdowns at the plant in August is higher than expected and “fairly unusual,” Hannah said.

Nationwide, special site inspections at nuclear plants occur about five or six times a year, he said.

While on site, inspectors will talk to operators and look at operation logs.

“They will look at whether equipment may have been an issue. At this point, we just don't know,” he said. “And certainly that's one of the questions that we will ask is, 'Did the equipment operate the way it should have?'”

Comment by Starr DiGiacomo on August 29, 2020 at 8:40pm

Scottish nuclear power station to shut down early after reactor problems

August 29 2020

Exclusive: EDF Energy to close Hunterston next year after spending £200m on repairs

Hunterston nuclear power station, one of the UK’s oldest remaining nuclear plants, is to close down next year, earlier than expected, after encountering a series of safety-critical problems in its reactors.

Industry sources told the Guardian that EDF Energy, the state-owned French operator of Hunterston, decided at a board meeting on Thursday afternoon that the plant would stop generating electricity in late 2021, at least two years earlier than planned.

The energy company had hoped to keep generating electricity from the 44-year-old nuclear plant on the Firth of Clyde until 2023, after ploughing more than £200m into repairing the reactor.

Hunterston, which first began generating electricity in 1976, has been offline since 2018 after inspectors discovered 350 microscopic cracks in the reactor’s graphite core.

In October last year the Ferret, an investigative website, reported that at least 58 fragments and pieces of debris had fallen off the graphite blocks as the cracks worsened. It quoted the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) as saying this had created “significant uncertainty” about the risks of debris blocking channels for cooling the reactor and causing fuel cladding to melt.

After a two-year investigation, the ONR said on Thursday that reactor 3 at Hunterston would be allowed to restart as planned, but it would only be allowed to generate electricity for approximately six months.

EDF then plans to apply next spring to extend its life for one final six-month run. EDF said it would begin the process of decommissioning Hunterston no later than the first week of 2022.

EDF also operates Scotland’s second nuclear power station, Torness, on the east coast south of Edinburgh. Running since 1988, its two reactors can produce up to 1.2GW of electricity. It is due to remain operational until 2030 at the earliest.

Hunterston’s closure has reignited concern over energy policy. Both the UK and Scottish governments aim to increase low-carbon energy supplies to help meet climate goals.

Gary Smith, the regional secretary of the union GMB Scotland, said the job losses from the closure “would pose massive long-term challenges for what is quite a deprived area of Scotland. The Scottish government now has a huge problem with its energy policy: more imported gas will be burnt to keep the lights on. Renewables on their own won’t do that.”

The Scottish National party government in Edinburgh has an anti-nuclear policy but has backed efforts to extend the life of Hunterston and Torness, while phasing out coal-fired power stations and building up renewable sources in Scotland.

In 2016 Scotland’s two nuclear stations produced 43% of its electricity. In 2018, the year Hunterston went offline after the reactor cracks were uncovered, that fell to 28%.

Richard Dixon, the director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “In terms of energy security, clearly there’s no problem. Its reactors haven’t been running and the lights haven’t gone out. What’s more urgent now is to build up renewables and energy efficiency, to make sure the gap left by Hunterston is filled by zero-carbon electricity or energy saving.”

Simone Rossi, EDF’s UK chief executive, said the decision to shut the nuclear plant “underlines the urgent need for investment in new, low-carbon nuclear power to help Britain achieve net zero and secure the future for its nuclear industry, supply chain and workers.”

Across the UK there are eight operational nuclear power plants, which generate a steady supply of electricity about two-thirds of the time. In total they supplied 18.7% of the UK’s electricity in 2018, down from just over 20% the year before. All but one are due to close within the next decade.

Tom Greatrex, the chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said a nuclear programme would help create “tens of thousands of secure, skilled and well-paid jobs” while helping to meet the UK’s future electricity demand, which is projected to quadruple in the coming decades.

EDF said in a letter to the local community this month that it had invested more than £200m in investigating whether Hunterston’s graphite reactor would remain safe under a range of worst-case scenarios, including a one-in-10,000-years seismic event, which is much larger than the UK has ever recorded.

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