Tag Archive: United States Department of Energy

April 25th, 2014, 20:57 GMT · By

Report: Radioactive Leak at Nuclear Waste Site in the US Was Avoidable


Report says leak at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico could have been avoided Enlarge pictureReport says leak at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico could have been avoided


Earlier this year, on February 16, the Department of Energy in the United States announced that excessive levels of radiation had been documented at a nuclear waste site in New Mexico. The site in question is known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, and it presently accommodates for transuranic waste.

Recent news on the topic says that, according to a report shared with the public by the Department of Energy this past Thursday, this incident at said nuclear waste site in New Mexico could have been avoided.

As previously reported, traces of radiation were picked up by underground sensors at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant on Friday, February 14. This increase in radiation levels most likely occurred as a result of a leak inside one of the facility’s waste-storage vaults.

Despite the fact that these waste-storage vaults sit at a depth of about 2,000 feet (nearly 610 meters), some radioactive contamination somehow worked its way above ground. There is evidence to indicate that this happened due to the fact that the emergency filtration system failed to contain it.

informs that, in its report, the Department of Energy argues that the waste storage vault leaked partly due to improper maintenance, poor management, and unsuitable training and oversight.


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Management, Safety Cited for Radiation Release



A radiation release from the federal government’s underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico was the result of a slow erosion of the safety culture at the 15-year-old site, which was evident in the bungled response to the emergency, federal investigators said in a report released Thursday.

The report from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Accident Investigation Board cited poor management, ineffective maintenance and a lack of proper training and oversight at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. The report also found that much of the operation failed to meet standards for a nuclear facility.

The series of shortcomings are similar to those found in a probe of the truck fire in the half-mile-deep mine just nine days before the Feb. 14 radiation release that shuttered the plant indefinitely.

Given the latest findings, watchdog Don Hancock said the leak that contaminated 21 workers with low doses of radiation in mid-February was a “best-case scenario.”

“Everything conspired for the least bad event to occur, based on what we know — and there is a still a lot we don’t know,” he said.

Last month, the head of the Defense Nuclear Safety Board, which has staff monitoring the Waste Isolation Pilot Project, called the accidents “near misses.”

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board Chairman Peter Winokur said that for six days after the fire, no underground air monitors were operational, meaning that if that system had failed when the leak occurred Feb. 14, “or if the release event had occurred three days earlier, the release of radioactive material from the aboveground mine exhaust would have been orders of magnitude larger.”

DOE Accident Investigation Board Chairman Ted Wyka previewed the findings of the latest report at a community meeting Wednesday night, identifying the root cause as a “degradation of key safety management and safety culture.”


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Crews locate area of radiation leak at New Mexico nuclear waste site

Published time: April 18, 2014 19:25

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), New Mexico. (Image from wikipedia.org user@Leaflet)

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), New Mexico. (Image from wikipedia.org user@Leaflet)

While the cause of a radiation leak at the United States’ first nuclear waste repository remains unknown, officials have reportedly pinpointed the facility’s contaminated area.

According to the Associated Press, the Department of Energy’s Tammy Reynolds told residents in Carlsbad, New Mexico, that no definitive conclusions can be made regarding the latest discovery, but that further investigation into the area should produce some information next week.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) has been shut down since February 14, when increased radiation levels were detected inside and outside the plant.

On Wednesday, crews investigating the leak made their way into the WIPP and inspected the facility’s various panels, or the large underground salt beds where nuclear waste is stored. These panels are located about a half-mile below the Earth’s surface, and after five hours of inspection they found that Panel 7 was the source of the leaked contamination.


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Search crew finds location but not source of leak at New Mexico nuclear waste storage site

By D. Lencho
21 April 2014

On April 16, more than two months after an underground air monitor detected airborne radiation underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) nuclear waste burial site in Carlsbad, New Mexico (see “Thirteen workers exposed to radiation in New Mexico nuclear waste site” ), a search team clad in heavy protective gear discovered the location of the contamination.

Since moving in the heavy-duty suits is slow and laborious, and the team’s respiratory equipment was running low, the team turned back before pinpointing the exact source of the leak, determining only that it is in a storage unit known as panel seven. This means that more trips to the 2,150-feet-deep panel will be required to find the source and to deal with it.

On the night of February 14, the monitor set off an alert, causing evacuation of the area and a halt to deliveries. Since then, the number of WIPP workers found to be contaminated with radiation has risen from 13 to 21. In addition, increased radiation has been detected in surrounding areas above ground.

The leak followed on the heels of an incident on February 5 in which a salt-hauling truck caught fire underground. 86 workers had to be evacuated. Six were hospitalized for smoke inhalation and seven others were treated on site.

A March 14 DOE (Department of Energy) Office of Environment Management report on the fire “identifies shortcomings in the preventive maintenance program, emergency management, and emergency response training and drills by the Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC managing and operating DOE Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M., and it also faults the oversight provided by DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office,” according to an ohsonline.com article.

The article adds that the report “finds the NWP/Carlsbad Field Office emergency management program is not fully compliant with DOE’s requirements for a comprehensive emergency management system. While the report identified the direct cause of the incident…the investigative board identified 21 error precursors on the date of the fire. The truck operator’s training and qualification were inadequate to ensure proper response to a vehicle fire, and he did not initially notify the Central Monitoring Room that there was a fire or describe the fire’s location.”

Joe Franco, DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office manager, claimed, “We take these findings seriously and, in fact, we are already implementing many of the corrective actions in the report.”

However, criticism of WIPP from outside the DOE—from scientific, community and environmental organizations—has been constant since planning for the project began decades ago.

WIPP’s history traces its roots to the emergence of the US as a nuclear power during and after World War II. As the development of nuclear weapons picked up its pace, the problem of the accumulation of so-called transuranic waste, or TRU, developed along with it. TRU contains the elements americium and plutonium—which has a half-life in the tens of thousands of years—and contact with or ingestion of it, although it is categorized as “low-level,” is carcinogenic in minute amounts.

The Department of Energy began a search for a location to dispose of TRU, and after other proposed sites were rejected, decided in the early 1970s to begin testing on an area known as the Delaware Basin in southeastern New Mexico, about 26 miles east of the town of Carlsbad. A salt basin formed about 250 million years ago, and below some 300 meters (1,000 feet) of soil and rock, it was promoted by government officials and some scientists as an ideal waste disposal spot.


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Published on Mar 8, 2014

What’s Leaking From the Nuclear Waste Isolation Pilot Program
Located near Carlsbad, New Mexico this Department of Energy (DOE) experimental nuclear waste dump is attempting to store leftover radioactive plutonium and americium from the US weapons program. On February 14, 2014 there was a nuclear safety failure at the site and the Department of Energy is not being honest about it. In this film Fairewinds Energy Education’s Arnie Gundersen pieces together what happened and points out Fairewinds’ major concerns about the facility, the accident, and the lack of transparency at the DOE.

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)

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)

Robot to probe underground at 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



The radiation leak site that wants more nuclear waste

The BBC’s Jane O’Brien takes an underground tour of the nuclear waste site before the radiation leak

A recent radiation leak at America’s only nuclear waste repository threatens the future of waste storage in the country. But leaders in the city of Carlsbad, New Mexico, still want their area to be a destination for America’s radioactive history.

Carlsbad works underground.

On the road into the city, derricks pump oil from deep in the Earth.

Residents go to work mining potash, a raw material used in fertiliser. Others give tours at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

And some of Carlsbad’s underground workers make a half-mile (0.8km) journey into the earth not to take from the ground, but to bury the wastes of human invention.

This is WIPP, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the only long-term geologic repository for nuclear waste in the United States.

WIPP from afar 3 October 2013 WIPP opened in south-eastern New Mexico in 1999

While other locales across the US have fought mightily to prevent the establishment of similar operations, almost all of Carlsbad is sanguine about the storage of nuclear materials just a 40-minute drive from the centre of town.

That confidence has been tested this month after a radiation leak and the initial report 13 workers had tested positive for radioactive contamination.

And as the only permanent storage facility for nuclear waste, problems at WIPP create problems for the larger US nuclear defence complex, including delays of already scheduled shipments from around the country.

But it is the first serious incident in WIPP’s history, and Carlsbad still appears to have confidence, albeit slightly shaken, in the site.

In fact, town officials are hoping their corner of New Mexico can be the home of even more nuclear waste.


Nuclear waste from WIPP


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New Mexico sets deadlines for handling WIPP nuke waste

By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN / Associated Press

Posted:   03/04/2014 07:25:28 AM MST

ALBUQUERQUE – The federal government’s only underground nuclear waste dump remained shuttered Monday and state environment officials said they have set deadlines for the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractor to deal with radioactive waste left above ground at the repository.Dozens of drums and other special containers that have been shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant from federal facilities around the country are being stored in a parking area at the plant and inside the facility’s waste handling building.

From there, the waste is usually taken to its final resting place deep in underground salt beds. However, the repository has been closed since early February due to back-to-back accidents, including a radiation release that exposed at least 13 workers and set off air monitoring devices around the plant.

Under its permit with the state, the dump can keep waste stored in the parking area for only 30 days and up to 60 days in the handling building. Due to the closure, the state is extending those deadlines to 60 days and 105 days, respectively. The federal government would have to develop an alternative storage plan if the underground dump remains off-limits for more than three months.

The Environment Department outlined the deadlines, along with requirements for weekly reports and a mandatory inspection before operations resume, in an administrative order made public Monday.

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 Huffpost Green

Posted: 02/27/2014 10:29 am EST Updated: 02/27/2014 10:59 am EST


Main Entry Image

Machinery sits in one of the underground tunnels that will used to transport nuclear waste to be stored in underground chambers at WIPP, the controversial nuclear waste dump site in New Mexico. | Joe Raedle via Getty Images



ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Employees who were working at the nation’s underground nuclear waste dump when it started leaking didn’t show signs of external contamination, but officials say biological samples show 13 workers suffered some exposure to radiation.

The U.S. Department of Energy and the contractor that runs the Waste Isolation Pilot Project declined to comment further on the preliminary test results announced Wednesday, saying they’ll discuss the issue at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

“It is important to note that these are initial sample results,” the DOE and Nuclear Waste Partnership, the plant operator, 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.”

All employees who were working at the southeastern New Mexico plant when the leak occurred late Feb. 14 were checked for contamination before being allowed to leave, the news release said. But biological samples were also taken to check for possible exposure from inhaling radioactive particles.

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New Mexico radiation leak raises concerns





FILE - This undated file aerial photo shows the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M. Back-to-back accidents and a never-supposed-to-happen above-ground radiation release have shuttered the federal government’s only deep underground nuclear waste dump indefinitely, raising questions about a cornerstone of the Department of Energy’s $5 billion-a year-program for cleaning up legacy waste scattered across the country from decades of nuclear bomb making. Thirteen workers have tested positive for radiation exposure after a recent leak. (AP Photo/Carlsbad Current Argus, File)

FILE – This undated file aerial photo shows the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M. Back-to-back accidents and a never-supposed-to-happen above-ground radiation release have shuttered the federal government’s only deep underground nuclear waste dump indefinitely, raising questions about a cornerstone of the Department of Energy’s $5 billion-a year-program for cleaning up legacy waste scattered across the country from decades of nuclear bomb making. Thirteen workers have tested positive for radiation exposure after a recent leak. (AP Photo/Carlsbad Current Argus, File)



ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The radiation exposure of at least 13 workers at a nuclear dump in a New Mexico salt bed more than 2,000 feet below the ground has brought new attention to the nation’s long struggle to find places to dispose of tons of Cold War-era waste.


The above-ground radiation release that exposed the workers during a night shift two weeks ago shut down the facility as authorities investigate the cause and attempt to determine the health effects on the employees. The mishap has also raised questions about a cornerstone of the Department of Energy’s $5-billion-a-year program for cleaning up waste scattered across the country from decades of nuclear-bomb making.


With operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant on hold, so are all shipments, including the last of nearly 4,000 barrels of toxic waste that Los Alamos National Laboratory has been ordered to remove from its campus by the end of June. Other waste from labs in Idaho, Illinois and South Carolina is also without a home while operations are halted.



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Published on Feb 17, 2014

Published on Sep 28, 2012 by MrJmccammon
Primer for upcoming episodes of Fukushima and Beyond – Nuclear Waste by High Country Cow Punk.
Alternative Views Episode 427
1989 “The WIPP Trail” Originally Produced by Alternative Information Network
Produced by Frank Morrow
Hosts Frank Morrow and Doug Kellner
Transfer from glorious magnetic tape, Enjoy (IF you listen closely one can hear the hum of mechanical tracking, ah the good old days)
A documentary showing the ravages of nuclear power and nuclear bomb testing
on the people and environment, particularly in the New Mexico area. “The
WIPP Trail” provides statements from both sides, which reveal governmental
collusion with the nuclear industry. Funny there is a Roswell connection!
Creative Commons License: Attribution-Non-Commercial- Share Alike 3.0 USA
Redistribute This! Clips taken from video O.K. but must remain non-commercial and attribution necessary.

“The WIPP Trail” Copyright 1989
Copyright October, 1990

source video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Onj5EH…

New Mexico nuclear waste site has ‘radiological event’
Published time: February 16, 2014 09:36




Radiation leak forces closure at New Mexico waste burial site

Published: Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 – 12:00 am

The Energy Department suspended normal operations for a fourth day at its New Mexico burial site for defense nuclear waste after a radiation leak inside salt tunnels where the material is buried.

Officials at the site, known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, activated air filters as a precaution and barred personnel from entering the 2,150-foot-deep repository as they investigate what caused the leak. Radiation sensors sounded alarms late Friday, when no workers were in the underground portions of the plant.

Officials at the site discounted any effect on human health, saying no radiation escaped to the surface. But they said little about the extent of the problem or how it could be cleaned up.

“Officials at WIPP continue to monitor the situation,” spokeswoman Deb Gill said. “We are emphasizing there is no threat to human health and the environment.”

How long the repository will be closed and the impact on the defense nuclear cleanup program was unclear.

The Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project, a federal operation in eastern Idaho that is the biggest user of WIPP, said Monday that it had suspended waste shipments.

Gill said the repository shutdown occurred earlier this month after another incident in which a truck caught fire in an underground tunnel. That matter is still under investigation.

Any prolonged shutdown could cause a backup of waste at a dozen nuclear-weapons-related sites across the nation. In 2012, those dozen sites made 846 shipments to the dump, more than two per day. A spokesman at the Idaho operation said it was continuing normal business and storing the waste onsite.

WIPP officials have said little about what could have triggered the radiation leak.

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‘This is highly toxic poisoning that can be eliminated by stopping the desire to be a nuclear power over the world’

– Sarah Lazare, staff writer

(Photo: Flickr / Creative Commons / ihearttheroad)A New Mexico deep-earth repository for the U.S. military’s nuclear waste has likely sprung an underground radiation leak, sparking concern among Native American communities and other residents who “carry the burden” of this state’s nuclear legacy.

“Since the detonation and creation of first atomic bomb in New Mexico, we the people who live in close proximity of storage and creation of these weapons have been in a state of fear,” said Kathy Wanpovi Sanchez, Environmental Health and Justice Program Manager for Tewa Women United, an indigenous organization based in Northen Mexico.

Over the weekend, abnormally high levels of radioactive particles were found underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad in southeastern New Mexico, where radioactive waste, including from nuclear weapons production, is dumped deep beneath the earth’s surface and stored in salt formations.

“I believe it’s safe to say we’ve never seen a level like we are seeing. We just don’t know if it’s a real event, but it looks like one,” said Department of Energy spokesman Roger Nelson.

WIPP stores waste that releases alpha and beta radiation, which are highly cancerous when ingested, explained Arnie Gundersen, former nuclear industry executive turned whistleblower, in an interview with Common Dreams. DOE officials say radiation has not been detected in surface samples, and no workers have been exposed. They say they do not yet know the source of the suspected underground leak.

Gundersen says the technology behind WIPP is untested — hence the word “pilot” in the facility’s title. “As a society, we believe that if you stick things in the earth, they are safe,” he said. “But with radioactivity, it’s not dead. It can come back to haunt you if there is a leak afterwards. This is alive.”

Don Hancock, Director of the Nuclear Waste Program at the Southwest Research and Information Center, says the concerns about the site extend beyond the method of nuclear waste storage. “We have always thought the site is a bad site primarily because it is centrally located in one of the largest and most active oil and gas production areas in the United States. This does not seem to be an appropriate place to put waste.”

The incident comes just over a week after an underground truck fire forced an evacuation of the facility.

Nuclear experts are not convinced that the situation is safe. “This kind of incident is not supposed to happen,” said Hancock. “Just like the fire on the underground, there were these two incidents within a 12-day period. That is worrisome and that is a significant situation.”

Storage is not the only issue facing local residents. Nuclear waste transported from across the country, and across the state from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the north, where nuclear weapons are developed, passes through “Native American reservations, major highways, and near school systems,” as it makes its way to WIPP, says Sanchez.

“Our pain and death due to cancer have been ignored. We are sick and tired of all this madness. And all this transportation and waste storage is for the benefit of a nuclear war weapons arsenal. Why?” asked Sanchez. “The U.S. government disregards and takes advantage of indigenous people. This is an unequal share of the burden we are carrying.”

She added, “This is highly toxic poisoning that can be eliminated by stopping the desire to be a nuclear power over the world.”




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The first ever double-shell tank to have leaked at Hanford may be in far worse condition than anyone imagined. Hanford workers conducting routine maintenance on the tank, known as AY-102, Thursday were shocked to find readings of radioactivity from material outside the tank. Until now leaked nuclear sludge had only been detected in what’s known as the tank’s annulus — the hollow safety space between the tank’s two walls.

The tank has been at the center of a KING 5 investigation for months. The underground carbon steel vessel holds 865,000 gallons of the most chemically contaminated, thermally hot, corrosive and radioactive material at the site.

The U.S. Department of Energy, in a unique move, issued an email late Thursday night about the turn of events.

“On Thursday, June 20, 2013, workers detected an increased level of contamination during a routine removal of water and survey of (AY-102’s) leak detection pit…The source of contamination is not yet verified, but may be an indication of a leak from the AY-102 tank’s secondary containment,” wrote Lori Gamache, spokesperson for the DOE’s Office of River Protection (ORP) in Richland.

The leak detection pit is located underneath the massive tank and has contact with the soil.


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Related  Articles



Hanford Nuclear Reservation Tanks Leaking Radioactive Waste Underground, Governor Inslee Says


Sealed ‘black cells’ stall radioactive waste cleanup at Hanford nuclear reservation : The black cells will be so radioactive that human beings won’t be allowed in, and remote access is limited.


The companies in charge of nuclear waste clean up at the Hanford Site hold contracts with the fed that offer no incentive for reporting problems, a dangerous climate in light of radioactive leaks, according to one of the nation’s top nuclear policy experts.


Leak in Hanford double-shell tank getting worse


Leak in Hanford double-shell tank getting worse

Credit: KING 5 News

Access to the Hanford Site is restricted. The 586-square-mile reserve is one of the most contaminated places in the Western Hemisphere, thanks to decades of plutonium production for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.


Posted on June 13, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Updated Thursday, Jun 13 at 5:06 PM

The leak in a massive underground double-shell nuclear waste tank at the Hanford Site has grown significantly since the leak was first announced to the public last fall, according to sources who have seen new inspection video and photographs.

The tank — known as AY-102 — holds 860,000 gallons of radioactive waste generated during decades of plutonium production at the southeastern Washington reservation.


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The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Kentucky, is the only U.S.-owned uranium enrichment
facility in the United States.

Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant | usec.com  Home Page

USEC Home Page


EcoWatch: Uniting the voice of the grassroots environmental movement

Countdown to Nuclear Ruin at Paducah

May 22, 2013

By Geoffrey Sea

Disaster is about to strike in western Kentucky, a full-blown nuclear catastrophe involving hundreds of tons of enriched uranium tainted with plutonium, technetium, arsenic, beryllium and a toxic chemical brew. But this nuke calamity will be no fluke. It’s been foreseen, planned, even programmed, the result of an atomic extortion game played out between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the most failed American experiment in privatization, the company that has run the Paducah plant into the poisoned ground, USEC Inc.

As now scheduled, main power to the gargantuan gaseous diffusion uranium plant at Paducah, Kentucky, will be cut at midnight on May 31, just nine days from now—cut because USEC has terminated its power contract with TVA as of that time [“USEC Ceases Buying Power,” Paducah Sun, April 19, page 1] and because DOE can’t pick up the bill.

DOE is five months away from the start of 2014 spending authority, needed to fund clean power-down at Paducah. Meanwhile, USEC’s total market capitalization has declined to about $45 million, not enough to meet minimum listing requirements for the New York Stock Exchange, pay off the company’s staggering debts or retain its operating licenses under financial capacity requirements of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Paducah plant cannot legally stay open, and it can’t safely be shut down—a lovely metaphor for the end of the Atomic Age and a perfect nightmare for the people of Kentucky.

Dirty Power-Down

If the main power to the diffusion cascade is cut as now may be unavoidable, the uranium hexafluoride gas inside thousands of miles of piping and process equipment will crystallize, creating a very costly gigantic hunk of junk as a bequest to future generations, delaying site cleanup for many decades and risking nuclear criticality problems that remain unstudied. Unlike gaseous uranium that can be flushed from pipes with relative ease, crystallized uranium may need to be chiseled out manually, adding greatly to occupational hazards.

The gaseous diffusion plant at Oak Ridge, TN, was powered-down dirty in 1985, in a safer situation because the Oak Ridge plant did not have near the level of transuranic contaminants found at Paducah. The Oak Ridge catastrophe left a poisonous site that still awaits cleanup a quarter-century later, and an echo chamber of political promises that such a stupid move would never be made again. But that was before the privatization of USEC.

Could a dirty power-down at Paducah—where recycled and reprocessed uranium contaminated with plutonium and other transuranic elements was added in massive quantities—result in “slow-cooker” critical mass formations inside the process equipment?

No one really knows.

Everybody does know that the Paducah plant is about to close. Its technology is Jurassic, requiring about ten times the energy of competing uranium enrichment methods around the world. The Paducah plant has been the largest single-meter consumer of electric power on the planet, requiring two TVA coal plants just to keep it operating, and it’s the largest single-source emitter of the very worst atmospheric gasses—chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

The plant narrowly escaped the selection process that shuttered its sister plants in Tennessee and Ohio long ago. A 2012 apocalypse for Paducah workers was averted only by a last-second, five-party raid on the U.S. Treasury involving four federal entities pitching together to bail out USEC financially, a deal so arcane that knowledge of Mayan astrological codices would be required to grasp its basic principles. The plot would make for a great super-crime Hollywood movie in which Kentucky’s own George Clooney and Ashley Judd could star, if only the crafting lawyers and bureaucrats had made the Code of Federal Regulations as easy to decipher as bible code, or half as interesting.

“The deal” that saved Paducah operations for a year, past one crucial election non-coincidentally, probably consumed more net energy than it produced by stupidly paying USEC to run depleted uranium waste back through the inefficient Paducah plant—like a massive government program paying citizens to drink their own pee as a way to cut sewerage costs and keep medics employed prior to a Presidential contest. The deal never would have passed muster if it had been subjected to environmental or economic reviews of any kind, but it wasn’t. The “jobs” mantra was chanted, and all applicable laws from local noise-control ordinances to the Geneva Conventions were waived.

But the deal expires on May 31, in nine days. USEC and DOE have both said that discussions for a new extension deal continue, but rumors of a new deal were dashed on May 7, sending USEC stock into a flip-flop, when in an investor conference call, the company announced that no extension had been agreed, with very pessimistic notes about even a “short-term” postponement. That accompanied news that USEC had suffered a $2 million loss in the first quarter of 2013, largely attributable to the power bill at Paducah, which USEC says it’s under no obligation to keep paying.

Showing no enthusiasm whatsoever, USEC CEO John Welch said on May 7:

“While we continue to pursue options for a short-term extension of enrichment at Paducah beyond May 31, we also continue to prepare to cease enrichment in early June.”

Meanwhile, the Kentucky DOE field office in charge, managed by William A. Murphie, has advertised a host of companies “expressing interest” in future use of the Paducah site, with no explanation of how the existing edifice of egregiousness will be made to disappear. “Off the record,” the Kentucky field office has floated dates like 2060 for the completion of Paducah cleanup.

That’s two generations from now and kind of a long time for the skilled workforce and other interested parties to hang around. Even the 2060 date assumes that costs can be minimized by evacuating the diffusion cells before power-down—the scenario that seems certain not to happen because no one has the funding for it. Flushing the cells of uranium hexafluoride gas is the only sensible way to power-down, but it’s costly and time-consuming. At the Piketon, Ohio, plant a semi-clean power-down has cost billions of dollars and has taken twelve years and counting to accomplish. (Murphie will have to explain why he paid USEC so much money for the extended power-down at Piketon, while simultaneously asserting that a Paducah power-down can be accomplished swiftly and cheaply). Clean power-down also requires that workers and supplies be available on demand, and in the Paducah case, there simply isn’t time.

According to reliable sources, contracts are being prepared for the work of placing the plant into what Murphie calls “cold storage”—a term of his invention. But those contracts won’t take effect until October when fiscal 2014 funds are available. “Cold storage” at that point means closing the doors, posting guards outside, and otherwise walking away.

Can there yet be an extension deal to hold over the plant until 2014 funds are available? Probably not, because USEC may not last that long, the equipment in the plant has been run to decrepitude with no attention to maintenance, there isn’t sufficient time to make the arrangements, and a second end-run around environmental compliance would likely generate lawsuits.

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USEC to Cease Enrichment at Paducah Plant

– Operations for inventory management and site transition to continue –

BETHESDA, Md.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– USEC Inc. (NYSE: USU) announced today that it had not been able to conclude a deal for the short-term extension of uranium enrichment at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky, and the company will begin ceasing uranium enrichment at the end of May. The Paducah plant is the only U.S.-owned and operated uranium enrichment facility in the United States. USEC leases the plant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

“While we have pursued possible opportunities for continuing enrichment, DOE has concluded that there were not sufficient benefits to the taxpayers to extend enrichment. I am extremely disappointed to say we must now begin to take steps to cease enrichment,” said Robert Van Namen, USEC senior vice president and chief operating officer.

“We will continue to meet our customers’ orders from our existing inventory, purchases from Russia under the historic Megatons to Megawatts program and our transitional supply contract with Russia that runs through 2022,” Van Namen said. “In addition, our work to commercialize the American Centrifuge technology continues through our research, development and demonstration program with DOE, which remains on schedule and within budget, as we remain on a path to deploy this critical technology.”

USEC will take steps to cease enrichment at the Paducah plant over the next month and to prepare the plant site for return to DOE. USEC expects to continue operations at the site into 2014 in order to manage inventory, continue to meet customer orders and to meet the turnover requirements of its lease with DOE.

“We will be working with DOE during the coming months and expect to reach agreement on how to best transition the site. The company and our workforce have unparalleled expertise that should be drawn on. We can provide significant value to the government in making that transition in the most cost-effective and timely manner,” Van Namen said.

USEC expects to begin reducing its workforce at the plant in the coming months. The Company will begin notifying workers as the specifics of the transition activities are defined. USEC anticipates maintaining a workforce at the site into next year to support ongoing operations, perform transition activities and meet regulatory requirements.

“We want to thank our employees and the entire Paducah community for their efforts to support continued enrichment at the plant. Although the community has known about this possibility for a number of years, we recognize that the Paducah area will soon feel the real impact of this decision and its effects on many individuals and families,” said Steve Penrod, vice president of enrichment operations.

“For 60 years, Paducah employees and the community have supported our national security and energy security. For now, at least, that mission is ending, but we are committed to working with the community and DOE for the smoothest possible transition that positions the plant site for its future role in the area’s economy.

“We want to thank members of the Kentucky delegation and our unions, the United Steel Workers and the Security, Police & Fire Protection Professionals, all of whom have worked tirelessly on behalf of the employees at this plant. We fully expect they will now recommit to helping the community create the next economic chapter for this site.”

USEC Inc., a global energy company, is a leading supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.

Read Full Article  Here



Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)




The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) is located in western Kentucky, 10 miles west of the City of Paducah, near the Ohio River in McCracken County. The plant sits on a 3,425-acre tract of property, 750 acres of which are enclosed inside the PGDP security fence and 74 of those contain process buildings. The site is owned by DOE and leased and operated by the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC), a subsidiary of USEC, Inc.

It is the only operating uranium enrichment facility in the U.S. The site contains uranium enrichment process equipment and support facilities. The mission of the Plant is to “enrich” uranium for use in domestic and foreign commercial power reactors. Enrichment involves increasing the percentage of uranium-235 in the material used for creating reactor fuel (UF6). Uranium-235 is highly fissionable, unlike the more common isotope uranium-238. The PGDP enriches the UF6 from roughly 0.7 percent uranium-235 to about 2.75 percent uranium-235…….


Read  In Full Here



USEC preparing for close down

May 24, 2013
The United States Enrichment Corp. sits 15 miles west of Paducah on land the Department of Energy owns.

The United States Enrichment Corp. sits 15 miles west of Paducah on land the Department of Energy owns.

USEC will start taking steps to close down its operations at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant over the next month and to prepare the plant site for return to DOE, said Robert Van Namen, USEC senior vice president and chief operating officer.

USEC expects to begin reducing its work force at the plant in the coming months and anticipates maintaining a work force at the site into next year, Van Namen said.

Read Full Article Here




Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant


The former Kentucky Ordnance Works site was chosen from a candidate list of eight sites in 1950. The construction contractor was F.H. McGraw of Hartford, Connecticut, and the operating company was Union Carbide. The plant was opened in 1952 as a government-owned, contractor-operated facility, producing enriched uranium to fuel military reactors and for use in nuclear weapons. The mode of enrichment was the gaseous diffusion of uranium hexaflouride to separate the lighter fissile isotope, U-235, from the heavier non-fissile isotope, U-238. The Paducah plant originally produced low-enriched uranium, which was further refined at Portsmouth and the K-25 plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. From the 1960s the Portsmouth and Paducah plants were dedicated to uranium enrichment for nuclear power plants. In 1984 the operating contract was assumed by Martin Marietta Energy Systems. Lockheed Martin has operated the plant since the merger of Martin Marietta with Lockheed in 1995. From 2001, all USEC production has been consolidated at Paducah.[2][3]

The Paducah plant had a capacity of 11.3 million separative work units per year (SWU/year) in 1984. 1812 stages were located in five buildings: C-310 with 60 stages, C-331 with 400 stages, C-333 with 480 stages, C-335 with 400 stages and C-337 with 472 stages.[4]

Employment and Economic Impact

USEC employs around 1100 to operate the plant. The Department of Energy employs around 600 through contractors to maintain the grounds, portions of the infrastructure, and to remediate environmental contamination at the site. The facility has had a positive economic impact on the local economy and continues to be an economic driver for the community. Elected officials are working to ensure that the plant continues to operate though other methods of enriching uranium, such as centrifuge, are more efficient.[1]


Plant operations have contaminated the site over time. The primary contamination of concern is trichloroethylene (TCE), which was a commonly used degreaser at the site. TCE leaked and contaminated groundwater on and off the site. The groundwater is also contaminated with trace amounts of technetium-99, a radioactive fission product; other contaminates include polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs). Through normal operations, portions of the plant are contaminated with uranium.

In 1988, TCE and trace amounts of technetium-99 was found in the drinking water wells of residences located near the plant site in McCracken County, Kentucky. To protect human health the Department of Energy provided city water, at no cost, to the affected residents and continues to do so.

Cleanup status

The Department of Energy is using electrical resistance heating, ET-DSP(trademarked) to vaporize the TCE from the groundwater. This clean up action began in mid-2010. Much of the contamination of the actual plant will not be cleaned up until the plant ceases operations.





Bonus money trumps safety at Hanford, experts say


Posted on May 2, 2013 at 9:37 PM

Updated today at 10:42 AM

The private companies working to clean up nuclear waste at the Hanford Site operate under contracts with the federal government that don’t reward them for reporting problems, creating a dangerous financial incentive that could delay responses to leaks of highly radioactive waste, according to one of the nation’s top nuclear policy experts.

“Reporting leaks in high-level waste tanks has been frowned upon at this site for decades,” said Bob Alvarez, a former presidential adviser on nuclear policy. “There’s this whole dynamic that is built up where people are totally discouraged from raising concerns, especially those that I call have a show-stopping nature to them, such as leaking high-level radioactive waste tanks.”

KING 5 reported last month that one private company working at the Hanford Site discounted for nearly a year mounting evidence of a leak in 241-AY-102, a double-shell tank holding hundreds of thousands of gallons of some of the most radioactive and chemically contaminated waste in the world.

“I think the Department of Energy and the contractors who work for them are riddled with honest, decent, hardworking, competent people, and I don’t mean to paint everyone with this brush,” said Alvarez. “The problem is that a lot of these competent, conscientious people are stuck in a corrupt system that needs to be fundamentally changed.”

On August 1, 2012, ten months after the first indicator that Tank AY-102 was leaking, the company — Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) — initiated a regularly scheduled video inspection during which workers spotted suspicious material on the floor of the tank’s annulus, the hollow space between the two walls of the tank.

Two-and-a-half months later — 12 months after the first leak indication — WRPS and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) confirmed and made public the leak in 241-AY-102. During that delay, deadly waste continued to leak into the space separating the tank’s inner and outer shells.

Contracting policies used by the government could explain that delay, said Alvarez, now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.

“Why are these contractors doing what they’re doing? It’s all purely economically motivated, of course.”

Contractors like WRPS are eligible for performance-based incentive money and award fees for finishing certain projects on time and on budget as outlined in their agreements with the government. During the months that red flags warned that Tank AY-102 was leaking, WRPS specifically stood to earn the most bonus money for completing work transferring nuclear waste from underground single-shell tanks at Hanford’s C Farm.

Alvarez and other experts who spoke with KING 5 said investigating and reporting the leak in AY-102 earlier on could have jeopardized the C Farm work, as WRPS may have had to shift resources — personnel and equipment — to deal with it.

“Where reward is given for only presenting good news, not bad news, then you have these problems. It’s just that simple,” Alvarez said. “It boils down to making money in a way where there’s the least amount of hassle to it.”

A leaking tank would certainly be one of those hassles, Alvarez added. “It’s a big time hassle because then it requires you to change priorities. It requires a rethinking of what you’re doing. It requires real soul searching about the competence of your work and maybe losing (bonus) money and maybe losing your contract.”

WRPS secured a $23 million bonus from the DOE for work performed in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2012 — nearly the same time period that numerous red flags pointing to a leak in AY-102 were discounted by the company. The $23 million was 98 percent of the available award money for the year and one of the biggest bonuses ever paid to WRPS. (In the previous year the company was awarded a $33 million bonus, or 99 percent of the potential amount the federal government could have awarded it.)

“We have a very serious problem with Hanford and we always have with the Energy Department and its contractors where the incentive to get a contract performance award, your cash award, for doing something at the end of the year outweighs the safety and environmental considerations,” said state Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle), who also serves as executive director of the citizen watchdog group, Heart of America Northwest.

He added, “Very clearly they were aimed at getting their award money, their bonus, which would have been jeopardized by saying ‘Hey! We have a leak over here.’”

Dept. of Energy not answering

KING 5 asked the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of River Protection, if the payment structure discourages contractors from coming forward with problems. The reporters also asked if the federal government has methods in place to encourage the companies they hire to investigate and report set backs. Media professionals from the DOE didn’t answer.

WRPS response

The company denied that it ignored evidence of the AY-102 leak. WRPS declined KING 5 requests to interview President Mike Johnson or any other official on camera, and insisted that all its decision-making about AY-102 was based on sound science and concern for worker safety.

“Experience gained over decades of tank farm operations led us to believe that a small amount of rainwater, not waste, was collecting in the AY-102 annulus.  This was based on recent heavy rainfall, the discovery of water intrusion pathways, known low levels of radioactive cross-contamination between the primary tank and the annulus, and readings from the leak detection system,” wrote a WRPS representative in a statement to KING 5 last month.

Sealed ‘black cells’ stall radioactive waste cleanup at Hanford nuclear reservation

By Scott Learn, The Oregonian
on March 16, 2013 at 9:00 AM, updated March 17, 2013 at 5:19 PM

BReactor.jpg View full size Hanford’s B Reactor, the world’s first at full-scale, was built during World War II to produce plutonium for nuclear bombs. Jamie Francis, The Oregonian

RICHLAND, Wash. — In the late-1990s, the Hanford nuclear reservation‘s British contractor designed the world’s largest nuclear waste treatment plant around a fateful feature: “black cells.”

Fifteen years, a new set of contractors and $8 billion of construction later, the U.S. Department of Energy is still trying to figure out whether they’ll work.

The cells, enormous concrete boxes lined with stainless steel, will hold mixing silos to process waste from 44 years of making plutonium for nuclear bombs.

They’ll be highly radioactive and inaccessible to humans for the treatment plant’s life. They’re also central to Hanford’s plans to treat 56 million gallons of nuclear waste stored in 177 underground tanks.

Recent disclosures of fresh leaks in six of those tanks, a half-dozen miles from the Columbia River, has brought renewed urgency to finishing the treatment plant, already delayed by two decades.

Yet concerns about black cell performance — raised by oversight groups and high-profile Hanford whistle-blowers — have stalled the most urgent construction.

The plant’s latest startup deadline, 2019, is once again at risk. Its projected $13.4 billion cost, tripled since 2001, could go up by billions more.

DOE has assembled five teams of nuclear experts to solve black cell threats.

But trust is low. Critics, the U.S. Government Accountability Office and an impatient Congress among them, note that DOE and its contractors have declared many of the same issues fixed in the past.

In January, the GAO questioned whether the plant, already more than half-built, could succeed. Significant black cell failures could render it “unusable and unrepairable,” GAO said, “wasting the billions of dollars invested.”

A witches brew

Hanford covers 586-square-miles of southeast Washington desert, bordered by bone-dry Rattlesnake Mountain and a U-shaped stretch of the Columbia.

The remote spot fit the bill for the World War II Manhattan Project.

Clean river water could cool nuclear reactors. And there was space for the enormous processing plants — called Queen Marys by workers — that extracted plutonium-239 from the reactors’ uranium rods.

Hanford plutonium fueled the Fat Man bomb that flattened Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, helping compel Japanese surrender but killing an estimated 80,000 people. Nine reactors produced Cold War plutonium through 1987.

It all left a monumental mess.

Workers dumped 450 billion gallons of waste on land, contaminating groundwater that connects to the Columbia; extensive cleanup is proceeding. Another 56 million gallons, the worst of the worst, went into underground tanks expected to last just a few decades.

That tank waste is a witches brew, heavy with uranium, plutonium, strontium, cesium, heavy metals and acids. It ranges from liquid to a peanut-butter sludge. The waste inventory, based on haphazard records, is often sketchy.

Those complications make the treatment plant “the riskiest, most complex project in the nation,” with worst-case projections comparable to nuclear plant accidents, said Robert Alvarez, a former investigator for a committee headed by U.S. Sen. John Glenn and adviser to Clinton-era secretaries of energy.

“This project can’t be treated as some sort of sideshow,” Alvarez said. “We’re talking about protecting one of the largest freshwater streams in America.”

Black cells

The treatment plant may be rocket science, but the overall concept isn’t.

Tank waste gets piped to a “pre-treatment” building, where it’s sorted into high-level waste (really awful) and low-activity waste (just awful).

Sorting allows the much smaller volume of high-level waste, destined for the highest-cost storage, to go through separate processing.

The two streams feed to two “vitrification” plants. Gigantic, 2,100-degree melters will convert the waste to molten glass. Then it’ll be poured into steel canisters for long-term storage.

Spinning nuclear waste into glass is fairly well tested around the globe.

PTplant.jpg View full size Major construction has stalled on the pre-treatment building, home to 15 black cells. Jamie Francis, The Oregonian

Hanford’s trouble mainly comes in the pre-treatment building, 12 stories high, lined with 15 black cells, full of pipes and mixing vessels with capacities up to 473,000 gallons.

The black cells will be so radioactive that human beings won’t be allowed in, and remote access is limited. They’ll have to operate with “perfect reliability” for 40 years for the plant to work as designed, GAO says.

“One of the huge design failures is black cells,” said Tom Carpenter, executive director of the watchdog group Hanford Challenge. “Everything bad that’s flowed out of the waste treatment plant really started with that decision.”

Instead of the black cells, designers could have chosen the “canyon” approach used in the past at Hanford and at other U.S. nuclear waste sites. Picture a huge, high-walled warehouse with some worker access and ceiling-mounted cranes to lift removable tank tops and fix problems.

But Hanford’s late-1990’s contractor, British Nuclear Fuels Limited, opted for black cells used in Britain’s Sellafield nuclear waste reprocessing plant, with sealed vessels and no access.

Off-limit cells would keep workers safer by containing leaks and reducing radiation exposure, the thinking went. The cells also took less room and were expected to cost less.

In retrospect, the decision opened a Pandora’s box of stubborn safety challenges, all closely related.

Read Full Article Here



Hanford Nuclear Reservation: DOE Outlines Potential Impact Of Budget Cuts To Radioactive Waste Cleanup


FILE – In this July 14, 2010 photo, workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation work around a a tank farm where highly radioactive waste is stored underground near Richland, Wash. Several workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation are raising concerns about the safety of the plant’s design and complaining they’ve been retaliated against for raising those concerns , even as the U.S. Department of Energy announces another round of cost hikes and potential delays.  (AP Photo/Shannon Dininny)

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Federal officials say budget cuts may disrupt efforts to close the radioactive waste tanks currently leaking at Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

In a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday, the Department of Energy said it will have to eliminate $92 million in funding for the Office of River Protection at Hanford, which will result in furloughs or layoffs impacting about 2,800 contract workers.

The Energy Department recently found that six tanks at Hanford are leaking radioactive waste, perhaps as much as 1,000 gallons a year. Those tanks have long surpassed their intended lifespan and officials are now searching for a solution to stop the leaking.

Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman wrote in his letter that the layoffs and furloughs may curtail progress related to closing the tanks.


See  Additional Photos and Watch Video Here


Radioactive Waste

By Dr. Mercola

If you had a choice to purchase eyeglasses or a stainless steel water bottle that was either radioactive, albeit only slightly, or not, which would you choose? You would almost certainly choose the non-radioactive product, as it is well- known that no amount of radiation exposure is “safe.”

Yet the U.S. government – specifically the Department of Energy (DOE) – has released a proposal1 that would allow nearly 14,000 tons of radioactive metals to be recycled for use in consumer goods…

Department of Energy Wants to Recycle Their Radioactive Waste Metal Into Common Products

There is currently a suspension in place that restricts the release of scrap metal originating from radiological areas at U.S. DOE facilities (such as research laboratories or nuclear weapons facilities) for the purpose of recycling.

This suspension, which has been in place since 2000, is there for obvious reasons – it was imposed because of public concerns about the potential health and environmental effects of radioactive metals coming from these sites.

Now the DOE has issued a proposal to modify the suspension to allow scrap metals to be released to private industry to be used for any purpose, including recycling.

The draft proposal notes that only metal with the potential for surface, not volume, radioactivity, would be included in this plan, and they are touting it as benefit to the environment “from a decrease in the need for the mining and refining of metals due to the recycling of these materials.” The draft noted:

“Mining and smelting activities are large users of water and power, both of which would be reduced by the recycling of these materials.

In addition, there would be benefits to the environment resulting from reduced land use, reduced disturbance of geology and soils, reduced GHG [greenhouse gas] and other emissions, and reduced occupational injuries associated with the reduced need for mining and refining of metal ores attributable to the recycling of these materials.”

It is unclear just how significant these purported environmental “benefits” could truly be, considering the draft also notes that the radioactive metal in question represents only an “extremely small fraction (of the order of 0.004 percent) of the total metal recycled” in the United States. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that sales of the metals could bring in up to $40 million a year for the DOE …2

Radioactive Metals Could Increase Cancer Risks and be Used by Pregnant Women and Children

According to the DOE, only a “negligible individual dose” of radiation would be gleaned from exposure to their contaminated metals. They likened the annual exposure amount to half the amount of radiation you’d get from flying across country.

This is an inappropriate comparison, as the internalization of low-dose radioisotopes can have decades-long, severe toxicological consequences due to their bioaccumulation and persistence within the body, whereas external natural radiation exposure only lasts as long as the body is exposed, e.g. the several hour duration of a flight.

Also, the DOE’s minimization of the risks involved do not take into account mistakes that have already happened in the past when the government recycled metal from nuclear sites in the 1990s to 2000s. During that time inadequate testing of the materials was noted, and one test in particular showed metals with radioactivity levels several times higher than were supposed to be allowed.3

Other unanswered questions include the risks that could be posed to workers who must handle the radioactive metals on a daily basis, or to those who end up with a “slightly” radioactive surgical implant or set of braces. The Wall Street Journal reported on just a peppering of the backlash that has already surfaced:4

Some critics argue the DOE’s proposed exposure standards are too high and that information provided in its 50-page document explaining the proposal is even more worrisome.

Higher exposures could occur if contaminated metal is made into items such as belt buckles or hip-replacement joints, said Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer on nuclear policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and critic of the government’s proposal. Such exposures would further increase a person’s cancer risk, he said.

…Rep. Ed Markey wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, calling the recycling proposal ‘unwise’ and stating the proposal ‘should be immediately abandoned.’ The Massachusetts Democrat added that contaminated products could ‘ultimately be utilized by pregnant women, children and other vulnerable populations.’”

Radioactive Scrap Metal is Already a Problem

The DOE’s proposal would only add to the growing amount of radioactive scrap metal circulating globally. You may remember headlines from last year when radioactive metal tissue boxes were found at Bed, Bath and Beyond stores in the United States. In this case the products were tainted with cobalt-60, a radioactive compound used in the medical industry to diagnose and treat cancer.5 The radiation-safety chief for one of the world’s biggest stainless-steel scrap yards actually told the Seattle Times last year that:6

“The major risk we face in our industry is radiation… You can talk about security all you want, but I’ve found weapons-grade uranium in scrap. Where was the security?”

That company alone found 145 nuclear items in their scrap metal in 2011 and another 200 in 2010. It’s unclear how much of this radioactive metal slips through the cracks and ends up getting processed into metal goods that are then sold to unassuming consumers…

And this isn’t only a matter of cancer. Radiation exposure of the developing embryo or fetus during pregnancy can also contribute to the development of diseases other than cancer in children. There is evidence of radiation exposure leading to increased incidence of cataracts, and there is also a phenomenon known as the “bystander effect,” which multiplies the dose and harm from radiation exposures. According to Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, cells that have not been exposed to radiation can be harmed by nearby cells that have. Writing for ISIS, Dr. Ho explains:7

“…low dose radiation is all the more dangerous because it does not kill the targeted cell, but allows its influence to spread widely to adjacent cells, thus multiplying the radiation effect (about 100 fold) …a wide range of bystander effects in cells not directly exposed to ionizing radiation have been found, which are the same as or similar to those in the cells that were exposed, including cell death and chromosomal instability.”

Share Your Concerns About the Release of Radioactive Scrap Metal

Although the 30-day comment period for the DOE draft proposal to release radioactive scrap metal for recycling has ended, late comments may still be considered. You can share your comments with the Department of Energy by emailing:


Written comments can be mailed to:

Dr. Jane Summerson, DOE NNSA
P.O. Box 5400
Bldg 401
Albuquerque, NM 87185

Protecting Yourself in Our “Radioactive World”

“The general public basically isn’t aware that they’re living in a radioactive world,” said Ross Bartley, technical director for the Bureau of International Recycling.8 Indeed, today’s “background” levels of radiation have been greatly increased by discharges from nuclear activities including tests of nuclear weapons, use of depleted uranium, and uranium mining, not to mention environmental catastrophes like the Fukushima nuclear plant. If you’re looking for strategies to help prevent damage caused by radiation exposure, there are several I recommend, including:

  • Vitamin D3 (also known as calcitriol) may offer protection against a variety of radiation-induced damages, including even those caused by background radiation or a low-level nuclear incident.
  • Spirulina – a blue-green algae – might be another useful alternative to protect against the effects of radiation. Spirulina was actually used to treat children exposed to chronic low levels of radiation after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
  • Turmeric contains a broad spectrum of water, fat and alcohol-soluble components, all of which may contribute to reducing damage associated with both external radiation and internalized radioisotope exposures.
  • Whey: the use of a high-quality whey protein concentrate may help protect against absorbing radioactive minerals.

The following foods, herbs and supplements may also help support your overall health in the event of radiation exposure:

Ginseng Kelp and other seaweeds (high in natural iodine) Zeolites (to neutralize radiation) or bentonite clays
Ashwaganda (an adaptogenic herb) Fulvic Acid Reishi mushrooms (strong immune support)
High-dose vitamin C Magnesium Selenium
Coconut oil, which supports optimal thyroid health Astaxanthin (has some protective function against ionizing radiation) Chlorella (contains chlorophyll, which will increase your resistance to radiation)


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