Australian news, and some related international items

Nuclear waste from small modular reactors – Simon Daigle comments on recent article.

Simon J DaigleB.Sc., M.Sc., M.Sc.(A) Concerned Canadian Citizen. Occupational / Industrial Hygienist, Epidemiologist. Climatologist / Air quality expert (Topospheric Ozone). 27 Apr 23

A recent article on SMRs in 2022 on potential nuclear waste risks and other proximate information on industrial and hazardous waste streams globally [References 2 to 5] below.

Nuclear waste from small modular reactors. PNAS Publication. Lindsay M. Kralla, Allison M. Macfarlaneb, and Rodney C. Ewinga. Edited by Eric J. Schelter, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; received June 26, 2021; accepted March 17, 2022 by Editorial Board Member Peter J. Rossky.

Simon Daigle comments:

  • Development of SMRs have security issues and threats globally according to many experts including Dr Gordon Edwards (CCNR).
  • SMR will produce more toxic radionuclides and waste stream analysis for potential SMR wastes streams are unknown in Canada and currently the Canadian government have no plans to complete this analysis yet or confirmed by an environmental impact assessment.
  • SMR development and potential nuclear wastes generated will be extremely dangerous and toxic comparatively with current NPP SNF and other LILW [Ref. 1].
  • SMR nuclear waste challenges of DGR disposal risks are unknown and are technically difficult to achieve even with safety assurances by governments globally, even more so for current nuclear wastes from NPP and other nuclear waste streams such as medical radiological waste streams.
  • On a global scale, industrial and hazardous wastes are mismanaged to a point where poor countries are the favored territories to dump industry’s hazardous and industrial wastes because of poor regulatory or no regulatory legal framework to be followed by industries and corporations [Ref. 5].
  • Global governments want to take on industrial and hazardous wastes for a financial benefit with no real ROI (Return on Investment) for any government or taxpayer when industrial waste companies know they can make a profit and unfortunately, the environment and population health in that country are impacted considerably without their own government helping out [Ref. 5]. This is also the case for nuclear wastes independent of point of origin and all coming from the nuclear industry’s operators, and similar industrial and hazardous waste operators on global scale.
  • SMR development (and use) will have the same problems in disadvantaged poor or rich country that will accept SMR as a technology, and the result of  a “free for all” dumping ground for nuclear waste that the nuclear industry chooses to dump on will inevitably happen in time. Poor countries are not equipped to deal with hazardous and industrial wastes generally to begin with and especially true for nuclear waste or any potential SMR waste streams.
  • Hazardous wastes are already a problem in the province of Alberta. Alberta’s Oil Patch lands are contaminated and polluted to a point where taxpayers are on the hook for 260 billion dollars for the clean-up estimated in 2018 by one Alberta accountability office (Alberta Energy Regulator) [Ref. 2]. This figure is likely even higher in 2023. You could put a “financial” and hazardous caution tape all around Alberta for all the taxpayers in that province.
  • If Alberta cannot clean the oil sands and patches, with its hazardous waste legacy coming from the oil industry because of failed financial securities, including the federal government oversight, we will also have a difficult time resolving any SMR nuclear waste issues and existing NPP nuclear waste streams and/or contaminated oil patch lands over decades or millennia as we are already having a difficult time resolving nuclear waste issues in Canada. The short-term benefit has always been profits for corporations and the Alberta taxpayer inherits the legacy waste [Ref. 2]
  • International law is clearly inadequate for oil tanker spill accidents, oil platforms, oil exploration, under water gas pipelines, etc. Governments rely on corporate “citizenship” and due-diligence but we have already learned these failures over time with so much damages to the environment and to the population including maritime nuclear waste transport in international waters by nuclear merchants and inadequate insurance and financial securities. [Ref. 4].
  • The impact of any nuclear waste accident or incident in open international waters by a nuclear waste operator independent of origin will be the same in the biosphere, financially and ecologically. It is highly likely to occur in time because there is no adequate emergency and contingency plan that exists with international agencies, corporations or governments including adequate financial insurance and securities [Ref. 4] to cover the damages.  Very few international ocean cargo shippers accept to transport nuclear waste to any destinations because of the risks (including threats to security) with inadequate insurance and financial liabilities from any point of origin during an accident in international waters. So, who will pay the damages? No one.
  • We have yet not cleared the lost nuclear bombs from WWII from the ocean floor so this makes you wonder who will take care of these nuclear wastes and other hazardous materials in time?  Will it be IAEA or other international agency such as the IMO (International Maritime Organization). These hazardous and nuclear wastes, including lost nuclear warheads from WWII, in international waters are left to live on the ocean floor for archeologist to discover the “why they were lost” or “left there” to begin with in time [Ref. 3]. They are all plainly left out of sight for anyone to see. These lost nuclear warheads and similar weapons lost at sea remain a serious explosion hazard and ocean contamination is happening to this very day.
  • If we can’t resolve current nuclear waste issues in Canada, and globally, we won’t be able to resolve (ever) new development of SMR technology accompanied with even more toxic nuclear wastes, as history showed us, we simply can’t.
  • Similarly, we can’t even resolve our current issues for any hazardous and industrial wastes in Canada or globally, because somehow, somewhere, someone will inherit these wastes indefinitely in their backyard including all of its impacts on the biosphere and the general population. One example is clearly worrisome for Alberta with a 260 billion CDN clean up cost in 2018 in which will remain indefinitely [Ref. 2].
  • Industries and governments are spreading hazardous wastes and pollution through a thin layer across the globe (air, water and soil), some thicker in concentration and toxicity in different geographic zones and all for a profit by corporations and industries. The population is always disadvantaged.
  • In Feb 2023, one article proposed nuclear energy for maritime shipping and we are now looking at it to decarbonize international maritime transport, such as nuclear merchant ships, while further complicating nuclear risks and harm in international waters with nuclear pollution, risks and harm where insurance and financial securities are inadequate to this very day. [Ref. 4]. This is ridiculous to even consider given the risks and legacy waste generated but this article’s authors are from China where the government is planning to expand the nuclear industry.
  • While NPP plants are decommissioning in some countries, we will se more advanced countries looking to take on nuclear waste processing and waste management and all will require land and ocean transportation.
  • Air transport of nuclear materials or wastes are possible with air transport according to IATA (International Air Transport Association in Montreal) but are limited to Low Specific Activity (LSA) and Shipping Low-Level Radioactive Waste but we won’t see that happening on a large scale because of the obvious threats. IATA also provides information to irradiated individuals (from a source other than medical diagnosis or treatment) that needs to travel in order to reach a suitable treatment facility and new guidance was provided in 2011 by IATA.
  • Usually, airlines do not know about radiation from within the body resulting from diagnostic procedures or may not know about contamination of an individual by radioactive material on the skin or clothes and the aviation industry monitoring these activities are inadequate. Just to add my personal experience, in 2006, I had a flight to New Baltimore (US) (within the US) to conduct an EHS audit for a company, and by curiosity, I noticed one traveller was equipped with medical equipment and I asked the flight attendant if there are any radionuclides in the equipment (with a radioactive symbol) or if the passenger had received oncology radiation treatment recently, and the answer was “I don’t know”! So I picked another seat in a different row but the other passengers were oblivious so I kept to myself the question that I even asked until the plane touchdown.  Yes, people undergoing radiation treatment can be hazardous to family members at home and on flights. I won’t explain today, I will let an oncologist explain if one is brave and keen to explain.
  • Self-governance by corporations is not acceptable for nuclear, hazardous and industrial wastes, and that includes the nuclear industry.
  • The Canadian Government must adopt and practice better foresight, insight, hindsight, and oversight with SMRs and nuclear wastes with clear Authority, Accountability and Responsibility for Canadians and indigenous peoples, by Canadians and by indigenous peoples.
  • Governments are not playing by their own rules as well for preventing the production of nuclear waste, nuclear risks or reducing harm and not even following IAEA’s ALARA principle “As Low as Reasonably Achievable”. It’s ironic and all for profit in which is a clear negative financially from the get go, even decades, for any taxpayer or any government.

April 29, 2023 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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