Nuclear Plant Radioactive Leaks

angelburst29

The Living Force
Thousands of gallons of radioactive waste are estimated to have leaked at a Manhattan Project-era nuclear storage tank in Washington State over the weekend, triggering an alarm and causing one former worker to label it as “catastrophic."

‘Catastrophic’: Up to 3,500 gallons of nuclear waste leak at Washington State storage site
https://www.rt.com/usa/340234-hanford-nuclear-waste-leak-washington/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

The expanded leak was first detected after an alarm went off at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation on Sunday, and on Monday workers were preparing to pump the waste out of the troubled area, AP reported. They were also trying to determine why the leak became worse.

It’s unclear exactly how much waste spilled out, but estimates place the amount at somewhere between 3,000 and 3,500 gallons, according to the Tri-City Herald.

"There is no indication of waste leaking into the environment or risk to the public at this time,” the Washington Department of Ecology said in a statement.

The problem occurred at the double-wall storage tank AY-102, which has actually been leaking since 2011. At the time, the leak was extremely small, and the waste would dry up almost right after spilling out between the inner and outer walls, leaving a salt-like substance behind.

In March, the US Department of Energy began pumping what was left in the storage tank, which originally held some 800,000 gallons of waste. However, during this process – and after the alarms at Hanford went off – workers discovered that the leaked waste between the storage walls had reached a depth of 8.4 inches.

Pumping work on the tank has been halted as officials reevaluate the situation and figure out how to get to the leaked radioactive waste. It’s possible that the leak was made worse when the pumping began, but that has not been confirmed.

While the Department of Energy called the leak “anticipated” and the state Ecology Department said there was no danger to the public, the former Hanford worker who first discovered the leak had a different analysis.

“This is catastrophic,” Mike Geffre told King5 News. “This is probably the biggest event to ever happen in tank farm history. The double shell tanks were supposed to be the saviors of all saviors (to hold waste safely from people and the environment).”

After Geffre first discovered the leak, the government contractor managing the tanks, Washington River Protection Solutions, did not acknowledge the problem until 2012. The state has been pushing the federal government to remove the remaining waste since then, but work didn’t start on the project until last month.

According to the state Ecology Department, there are roughly 20,000 gallons of waste left inside the AY-102 tank.

Fortunately, there has been no indication that waste has made its way into a leak detection pit outside of the tank itself, the Seattle Times reported.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation was originally constructed in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project. After decades of producing plutonium for weapons, including the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, millions of gallons of radioactive waste was generated by the time production stopped at the end of the Cold War. It is expected to cost billions of dollars to clean up the site over the course of decades.



“Significant construction flaws” have been found in at least 6 of the 28 double shelled radioactive waste storage tanks at the Hanford nuclear waste complex in Washington State, which may lead to additional leaks, documents obtained by the AP say.

‘Construction flaws’ in six Hanford nuclear waste tanks, 13 more may be compromised – report (Video)
https://www.rt.com/usa/hanford-nuclear-tanks-flaw-401/

Back dated March 1, 2014 - After one of the 28 huge underground double shelled tanks was found to be leaking in 2012, subsequent surveys performed for the US Department of Energy by one of its Hanford contractors found that at least six of the other tanks shared the same defects, according to the documents. A further 13 tanks may also be compromised, the inspectors found.

“It is time for the Department (of Energy) to stop hiding the ball and pretending that the situation at Hanford is being effectively managed," Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore, who until recently was chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, wrote Friday in a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

According to him, the six double-walled tanks which have construction flaws similar to those at the leaking tank contain about 5 million gallons of radioactive wastes.

Wyden also criticized the Department of Energy for not mentioning the flaw in the double walled tanks in a September framework plan for a cleanup in Hanford.

Hanford is located on the Columbia River in Washington State near the border with Oregon and contains 53 million gallons of high-level nuclear waste from the production of plutonium for the US nuclear weapons program. It was built during World War Two as part of the Manhattan Project to build the nuclear bomb. There are some 177 underground storage tanks on the site, many of which date back to World War Two. These are single skinned and many have already leaked. The 28 double walled tanks were built as replacement between the 1960’s and 1980’s.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Turkey Point Nuclear Plant near Homestead, Florida

Mar 22, 2017: Officials looking into explosion at Turkey Point that hurt 1… an alert was issued following the “arc flash” explosion… A plant worker was hurt in the explosion and treated at a local hospital.

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Mar 20, 2017: Facility: TURKEY POINT… Emergency Class: ALERT… EMERGENCY DECLARED… ALERT DECLARED FOR INDICATIONS OF FIRE IN SAFETY RELATED SWITCHGEAR… “Alert declared at 1119 EDT 3/18/17 based on… Fire or Explosion affecting plant safety systems. Fire alarms in the Unit 3 4kV switchgear rooms resulting in a loss of the 3A 4kV bus and trip of all three Reactor Coolant Pumps… Decay heat is being removed using feedwater and steam generator atmospheric steam dumps. One person was injured with a minor burn and possible sprained ankle and was taken to a local hospital… Notified DHS SWO, DOE, FEMA, HHS, NICC, USDA, EPA, FDA (e-mail), NWC (e-mail), NNSA (e-mail), and NRCC SASC (e-mail)… [UPDATE] Emergency Plan personnel at the Technical Support Center and Emergency Operations Facility were no longer required for support, the Operations Support Center was staffed for recovery efforts, and plant personnel were sufficient and capable for continuing mitigation efforts.

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Mar 22, 2017: NRC To Conduct Special Inspection at Turkey Point Nuclear Plant… [A]n arc flash, or small explosion, also damaged a nearby fire door, which may have left other safety systems vulnerable had there been a fire. A plant worker who was in the room was injured and was treated at a local hospital. “This was an event that could have had serious safety consequences and we need to know more about what happened and why,” said NRC Region II Administrator Cathy Haney…

The Citizen (Florida Keys), Mar 22, 2017: Turkey Point fire shuts down reactor…

ABC 10 News, Mar 18, 2017: Firefighters respond to electrical fire at Turkey Point — Firefighters responded to reports of a fire inside the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station… according to the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department. Florida Power & Light reported there was an electrical fire… The incident didn’t… pose an immediate danger to the facility, according to FPL spokesman Peter Robbins…


Fire Shuts Downs 3 Coolant Systems at Turkey Point BPEarthWatch
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSWx3aNNFps (5:23 min.)
Published on Mar 23, 2017
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Japanese authorities are unsure about the medical prognosis for five staffers who inhaled toxic plutonium after mishandling it at the Oarai Research and Development Center outside Tokyo.

‘No one has inhaled this much plutonium’: 5 staff exposed to radiation in Japan lab accident
https://www.rt.com/news/391283-japan-nuclear-accident-plutonium/

7 Jun, 2017 - “As far as I can remember, no one has inhaled plutonium at this level,” said Ishikawa Keiji, a security official at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) which oversees the lab, cited by the Jiji Press news agency.

The accident occurred at 11:15am on Tuesday in the analysis room of the facility dedicated to researching improved nuclear fuel for its fast reactors.

One of the five men opened a metallic cylinder where the fuel, a mixture of uranium and plutonium, is stored before and after experiments. In the process, the double plastic wrapping inside which the radioactive material is kept ripped, and the toxic substance burst into the air.

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), which has frequently criticized the JAEA for the conditions at its facilities, said “workplace complacency” was possibly to blame.

The NRA said the workers had never experienced a similar plastic rip before, and as a result, did not feel the need to complete their research in a tightly sealed environment.

The researcher responsible for opening the box, described as a man in his 50s, had 22,000 becquerels of plutonium-239 detected in his lungs, and the other four between 2,200 and 14,000 becquerels.

Officials said the five staff have not yet complained of health problems with one assuring that “the amount is not enough to cause acute radiation damage,” according to the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun.

The longer-term predictions were less definitive, however.

“Detection of 22,000 becquerels is a situation that cannot be easily brushed aside. It is no small amount, although it may not be life-threatening,” said Nobuhiko Ban, an NRA radiological protection specialist, quoted by The Asahi Shimbun.

The five have been injected with a substance that speeds up the discharge of radioactive materials and remain under observation at the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology.

The NRA has previously said that JEAA was “unfit” to operate an accident-plagued prototype reactor at Monju and has also faced accusations of poor handling of radioactive materials at another site.

But a use for Japan’s large plutonium stockpile must be found, and there are currently plans for utilizing MOX fuel – a mixture of plutonium and uranium, such as that involved in the latest accident – to power conventional reactors instead of the low-enriched uranium that they were designed for.
 
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