Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Floods at Kimba: serious doubts that the Australian government has a plan for nuclear waste dump vulnerable to flooding

NUCLEAR WASTE AND FLOODS

Nuclear waste and floods

1. Preventing problems at a nuclear waste dump/store from flooding should be manageable, if and only if project management oversight and regulation is up to the task.

There are serious questions about whether management and regulation of the Australian government’s proposed national nuclear waste dump/store at Kimba in SA would be adequate. The most relevant case study in Australia is the flawed ‘clean up’ of the Maralinga nuclear test site in the late 1990s, overseen by the federal government. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. There has been no honesty or transparency about the failures at Maralinga, no attempt to learn from mistakes. Successive governments have simply lied about the problems and tried to cover them up. Expect the same at Kimba. https://nuclear.foe.org.au/flawed-clean-up-of-maralinga/


2. The proposed Kimba dump will be designed to leak.
 Either barriers prevent leakage, in which case there is a risk of accumulation of infiltrated water resulting in corrosion of waste drums and other such problems. Or, as is the case with the Kimba proposal, there will be water outlets, i.e. it is designed to leak.

3. Even with the expertise and resources available to ANSTO, and the importance of safely managing irradiated/spent nuclear fuel, water infiltration has been a problem at Lucas Heights. In early 1998, it was revealed that “airtight” spent fuel storage canisters had been infiltrated by water – 90 litres in one case – and corrosion had resulted. When canisters were retrieved for closer inspection, three accidents took place (2/3/98, 13/8/98, 1/2/99), all of them involving the dropping of canisters containing spent fuel while trying to transport them from the ‘dry storage’ site to another part of the Lucas Heights site. The public may never have learnt about those accidents if not for the fact that an ANSTO whistleblower told the local press. One of those accidents (1/2/99) subjected four ANSTO staff members to small radiation doses (up to 0.5 mSv).

4. One example of flooding compromising nuclear waste: Flooding at Nine Mile Point. In July 1981, water flooded the Radwaste Processing Building containing highly radioactive waste for Unit 1 at the Nine Mile Point nuclear plant in upstate New York. The flood tipped over 55-gallon metal drums filled with highly radioactive material. The spilled contents contaminated the building’s basement such that workers would receive a lethal radiation dose in about an hour. The Unit 1 reactor had been shut down for over two years and was receiving heightened oversight attention when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) investigated the matter. But the NRC was reacting to a television news report about the hazardous condition rather than acting upon its own oversight efforts. The media spotlight resulted in this long over-looked hazard finally being remedied. https://allthingsnuclear.org/dlochbaum/flooding-at-nine-mile-point

5. Another example: Federal health officials agree radioactive waste in St. Louis area may be linked to cancer. The US government confirms some people in the St. Louis area may have a higher risk of getting cancer. A recent health report found some residents who grew up in areas contaminated by radioactive waste decades ago may have increased risk for bone and lung cancers, among other types of the disease. The assessment was conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tens of thousands of radioactive waste barrels, many stacked and left open to the elements, contaminated the soil and nearby Coldwater Creek which sometimes flooded the park next to people’s homes. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/radioactive-waste-cancer-federal-health-officials-acknowledge-possible-link/

January 31, 2022 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, Federal nuclear waste dump

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