Sunday, March 2, 2014

US Nuclear Crisis News -- March 2 , 2014 ( yes , we have major ongoing nuclear issues here in the Homeland and not just literal fallout from Fukushima debacle ) .... Focus on Hanford and Washington State , WIPP and New Mexico ........ Both situations are exceedingly dangerous and the news of said dangers just nor being provided to the public by the government or media

Energy News - US / Canada ......


NBC: Head of radiation testing program on West Coast says Fukushima plume could threaten ecosystems — The effect on marine life? “We don’t know, whatever is in the kelp will get in bodies of those animals also” (VIDEO)

US Gov’t: Never faced challenge like this, but “not giving up hope” at WIPP; Salt from contaminated mine to be sold as feed to dairy farms — TV: “Residents flat out concerned for their safety”; “I want to believe them… but I don’t” — Reuters: ‘Falling slabs’ may have breached waste drums (VIDEO)

NPR: Rapidly unfolding situation at cracked dam has engineers scrambling — Experts troubled over ‘slip’ in structure — Official “didn’t answer question” about dam near Hanford nuclear site — Major employer in area obviously worried — “Spring snow melt will swell river” — NBC: “Crack in Dam Repairs Itself”

Gundersen: WIPP whistleblowers say mine collapsed directly on highly radioactive waste — ‘Many’ canisters may have failed — Unfiltered plutonium and americium escaped for equivalent of 30 minutes — Residential areas exposed (VIDEO)

Subsidence concerns at WIPP nuclear dump — Over 100 operating oil and gas wells within mile of site, a ‘very active’ area — Reserves ‘directly underneath’ buried waste — Fracking to take place nearby? (VIDEO)




“WIPP release story doesn’t add up… accident is unbelievable” — New tests show “high level” release underground — “Contains things far more radioactive than High Level Waste” — “I want to hear what really happened down there” (VIDEO)

WIPP Expert: Nuclear waste is getting out above ground — Plutonium / Americium found in “every single worker” on site when leak began — New Mexico officials ‘totally unsatisfied’ with lack of info from Feds — “We don’t know how far away it’s gone” — Continuing threat for long time to come (AUDIO)

TV: Is cracked dam a ticking time bomb? “Next 24-48 Hours Critical” — “Preparing for worst-case scenario” — No ‘immediate’ threat — Feds monitor structure, ‘sudden release’ possible — “Very few have faced this” — NPR: New photo shows ‘pronounced curve’ — Docks near Hanford nuke site closed (VIDEO & PHOTO)




NPR: Operators struggle with major crack in dam; Spillway could topple — AP: “Extends all 65 ft across monolith”; About 20 miles from Hanford nuclear site — TV: “Pretty crazy… one of biggest dams in state, going to be a catastrophe if something happens” (VIDEO)

Reports: Plutonium can escape from unfiltered shafts at WIPP — ‘Freakish’ accident “could have long-term effects” — “Anxiety coursing among the people” — ‘Nuke industry profiteers’ tell us “don’t worry, it’s safe… one of deadliest substances known to man” — Future of dump in jeopardy




Emergency plan activated after ‘massive’ crack found in dam near nuclear site — Official: ‘Serious problem’; Failure risk ‘sufficiently high’ — NOAA: “Potential for rapid increase in flows” — Gov’t: Flooding could release radioactive waste from Hanford (VIDEO)

CNN: “Horrible medical mystery… alarming rate of birth defects” in Washington — Babies missing parts of brain, skull — Mother outraged at gov’t — Nurse: “It’s very scary… absolutely something going on” — Cluster surrounds most polluted US nuclear site, yet never mentioned by media or officials (VIDEO)

Report: Officials backtrack on threat to public from WIPP leak — Now only “pretty sure” population centers are safe — Group calling for outside help, independent scientists to collect radiation samples — TV: Fears in Texas Panhandle; “Material could’ve been pushed up this direction” (VIDEO)

Massive die-off of oysters and scallops in Pacific Northwest: “Millions of shellfish dying” — Never seen anything like it — “By July mortality hit 95 to 100 per cent” — “Deformed shells, smaller in size” — “Cause is unknown, but ocean acidification is main suspect” (AUDIO)

Most likely a ‘worst-case scenario’ at WIPP — NPR: ‘Huge chunk’ of salt believed to have crushed drums of radioactive waste — ABC: “Investigators now admit problem is serious” — NYT: Plutonium, americium can bombard organs “for rest of person’s lifetime” (VIDEO)

New tests show plutonium reached millions of times normal levels at WIPP site — Concern air filters at plant may not have worked — Gov’t accused of lying about radiation leak (VIDEO)

CBC: Radioactive particles arrive ‘far earlier than predicted’ for N. America — Mag: ‘Plumes stretch 4,800 miles across ocean!’ — Experts: There’s great alarm… Legitimate concern… Expected to dilute, but don’t really know — US Govt: ‘Monitoring beaches for debris from Fukushima nuclear disaster’ (VIDEO)

Officials: More may be affected by WIPP radiation release — TV: They don’t know how serious it is or how it affects community; Could take months to fix leak — CBS: Ceiling collapse or punctured canister suspected; Still in ‘guinea pig’ stage; EPA monitors requested in area (VIDEO)

TV: “Disturbing new development in WIPP radiation leak, surprising words today” — “What went wrong and why, those are some of the questions swirling around” — County official calls it ‘a disaster’ (VIDEOS)

TV: Most shocking thing is how US gov’t was “very concerned” about Fukushima radiation hitting West Coast and affecting Americans — Public told that everything fine (VIDEO)

Expert: Gov’t officials ‘very possibly’ know Fukushima is a worldwide disaster and just not revealing it — Columnist: “They can’t neglect the truth because they fear a panic outbreak… I’m panicking because there isn’t a panic” (AUDIO)





Hanford......



http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2014/mar/01/papers-show-concern-raised-about-hanford-storage/




March 1, 2014 in City

Papers show concern raised about Hanford storage tanks

‘Significant’ flaws found in newer ones
Nicholas K. Geranios Associated Press

Associated Press photo
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, center left, answers questions from reporters in Richland before touring the Hanford Nuclear Reservation on June 19.
(Full-size photo)
There are “significant construction flaws” in some newer, double-walled storage tanks at Washington state’s Hanford nuclear waste complex, which could lead to additional leaks, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.
Those tanks hold some of the worst radioactive waste at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site.
One of the 28 giant underground tanks was found to be leaking in 2012. But subsequent surveys of other double-walled tanks performed for the U.S. Department of Energy by one of its Hanford contractors found at least six shared defects with the leaking tank that could lead to future leaks, the documents said. Thirteen additional tanks also might be compromised, according to the documents.
Questions about the storage tanks jeopardize efforts to clean up radioactive waste at the site. Those efforts already cost taxpayers about $2 billion a year.
“It is time for the Department (of Energy) to stop hiding the ball and pretending that the situation at Hanford is being effectively managed,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wrote Friday in a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
Energy Department officials in Richland said the agency continues to make thorough inspections of the tanks, and has increased the frequency of those inspections.
“They used to be reviewed every five to seven years,” said Tom Fletcher, the Energy Department’s assistant manager for tank farms. “Now we are moving to a three-year time frame.”
The department is in the process of inspecting the final eight double-walled tanks at Hanford that have not been analyzed since the leak was detected in late 2012, Fletcher said Friday.
No new leaks have been found, he said.
“If there are changes or improvements we need to make in the program, based on what we learn, to make sure we capture the risks that exist on the tank farms, we will make them,” Fletcher said.
He added the Energy Department continues to examine the benefits of building new storage tanks at Hanford.
Tom Carpenter of the citizen watchdog group Hanford Challenge said he wasn’t surprised that more of the double-walled tanks are in danger of leaking.
“These tanks have an engineered design life, and we are reaching the end,” Carpenter said. “It’s bad planning that they don’t have new tanks up and running.”
While new tanks are expensive, cleaning up a leak is more expensive, he added. “The price for cleaning up the environment once this stuff gets out there is incalculable.”
Hanford contains some 53 million gallons of high-level radioactive wastes from the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons. They are stored in 177 underground storage tanks, many of which date back to World War II and are single-walled models that have leaked. The 28 double-walled tanks were built from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Current plans call for transferring wastes from leaking single-walled tanks to the newer and bigger double-walled tanks, where the waste will be stored while a $13 billion plant for treating the waste is constructed. But the treatment plant is plagued with design problems and construction has stalled.

And......


http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2023019385_wanapumdamxml.html





Originally published February 28, 2014 at 7:17 PM | Page modified February 28, 2014 at 9:35 PM

‘Serious problem’: 65-foot crack found in Columbia River dam

Inspectors found a 65-foot crack in a dam below Vantage on the Columbia River, prompting the Grant County PUD to begin lowering water levels.

Seattle Times environment reporter
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A massive crack in a major Columbia River dam poses enough of a risk of dam failure that Grant County authorities have activated an emergency-response plan.
Officials said there is no threat to the public from the crack in the Wanapum Dam, which is just down stream from where Interstate 90 crosses the river.
But utility managers are lowering water levels a total of 20 feet because they fear the structure otherwise could endanger inspectors trying to get a better handle on how seriously the dam is damaged.
“At this point we already know there’s a serious problem,” said Thomas Stredwick, spokesman for the Grant County Public Utility District (PUD). “We want to make sure the spillway is stable enough that inspectors are safe when inspecting it.”
Earlier this week, an engineer noticed a slight irregular “bowing” above the spillway gates near where cars can drive across the dam.
When divers finally took a look under water they found a 2-inch-wide crack that stretched for 65 feet along the base of one of the dam’s spillway piers.
After analyzing the data gathered by the divers and plugging it into computer models, the PUD determined late Friday afternoon that the failure risk was high enough that they needed to officially start notifying other government agencies and downstream water users.
“This is a situation that’s really changing as more information becomes available,” Stredwick said. “But there’s no immediate threat to public safety.”
Wanapum, just below The Gorge Amphitheatre and the hamlet of Vantage, is in a rural area. Failure would primarily impact fisherman, orchardists, farmers, boaters — and, of course, power generation. Wanapum currently can generate more than 1,000 megawatts of power.
PUD officials have lowered the water 6 feet behind the dam since discovering the problem earlier in the week, leaving many boat ramps above the dam inaccessible.
Authorities plan to let water levels drop another 14 feet by Monday.
So far the PUD has been able to continue meeting all of its power needs, but Wanapum is such a big electricity generator the utility may ultimately have to turn to buying power on the open market.
Even if the dam doesn’t fail, the significance of the damage is likely to require extensive repairs and that, too, could impact the entire Columbia River system.
“All these dams coordinate to generate energy on a regional scope,” Stedwick said. “If Wanapum is impacted, that has impacts on dams up stream as well as below.”
Officials with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) declined to comment on the potential impact to power generation because they did not want to unduly influence energy markets.
But Kevin Wingert, a BPA spokesman, said the immediate impact would be an increase in flow from Priest Rapids Dam downstream, which would temporarily exceed the low flows needed to protect chinook salmon redds (nesting holes) through the Hanford Reach area.
He expected flows to return to normal once the drawdown was completed.
Wanapum Dam was built in 1959 and is more than a mile long. The piers supporting its 10 spillway gates are each 65 feet wide, 126 feet tall and 92 feet deep.



WIPP....




Major Nuclear Dump Has Leaked, But Does US Gov't Have a Plan B?

Experts warn that troubled repository does not bode well for U.S. strategy for disposal of waste from nuclear weapons development

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

A shipment of radioactive waste makes its way to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico (Photo: Los Alamos National Laboratory / Flickr Creative Commons)A radioactive leak from a New Mexico underground nuclear dump that was championed as a safe long-term repository calls into question the federal government's overall approach to disposing of dangerous waste from nuclear weapons production, experts warn.
"This leak just proved that out of sight is not out of mind," said Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer and nuclear safety advocate at Fairewinds Associates and former nuclear industry executive turned whistleblower, in an interview with Common Dreams. "You can have a problem when you get this stuff underground, and then what do you do?"
The federally-owned Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southeastern New Mexico, which stores nuclear waste deep beneath the earth's surface in salt formations, is the only underground repository for materials above the lowest level of radiation. It is the bedrock of the U.S. government's current approach to dispose of military-generated plutonium-contaminated transuranic waste from decades of nuclear bomb production and testing. Since it became operational in 1999, WIPP has collected this waste from across the United States, including Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico.
The Department of Energy declares on their website that "WIPP has set the standard for safe, permanent disposal of long-lived radioactive defense wastes."
Yet, this standard has been called into question since a series of mishaps forced the facility to halt its operations. On February 5th, a vehicle caught on fire underground, forcing the evacuation of the facility and sending six workers to the hospital with smoke inhalation-related injuries. On February 14th, an alarm detected a suspected radiation leak which has since been confirmed to have released radioactive particles into the air.
The DOE and Nuclear Waste Partnership, the contractor that operates WIPP, admit that they do not yet know what caused the leak or what its health impacts will be. The DOEannounced Wednesday that 13 workers tested positive for radiation, yet they say many more tests are needed and the number of people contaminated could rise.
At a packed town meeting in nearby Carlsbad earlier this week, residents expressed concern about the leak, with some vocalizing skepticism over WIPP officials' claims that radiation levels and health risks are low. New Mexico residents have long complained that WIPP, as well as nuclear waste transport across the state, puts local communities at risk, including the Native American reservations, school districts, and highways the waste passes through en route to the repository.
Meanwhile, the halt in WIPP operations is leaving waste stranded across the United States, "including the last of nearly 4,000 barrels of toxic waste that Los Alamos National Laboratories has been ordered to remove from its campus by the end of June," theAssociated Press reports.
"This is a very significant failure," said Don Hancock, Director of the Nuclear Waste Program at the Southwest Research and Information Center, in an interview with Common Dreams. "Does this mean geologic repositories will never work? No. It just means they haven't worked yet."
Gundersen says that the U.S. government "does not really have a strategy" for safely disposing of the massive amount of nuclear waste that has already been generated, let alone the waste produced by current and future nuclear production. "The strategy is really just to put the waste wherever they can," he said.
"We've generated an enormous amount of waste already," added Gundersen. "It's like buying a house and having the carpenter promise to put in a toilet in 100 years. This has been the American policy approach."

H/T Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle





Carlsbad situation way, way worse than reported


ENE-News: New tests show plutonium reached millions of times normal levels at WIPP site . . .

Note – salt caverns have some vulnerabilities with . . .  decay. They are not granite.


From ENE-News story above comment … it is not a run-away rumor that the USAF ordered those radiation suits. PROOF