Laser uranium enrichment technology may create new proliferation risks, Science Daily, June 27, 2016 Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
- A new laser-based uranium enrichment technology may provide a hard-to-detect pathway to nuclear weapons production, according to a forthcoming paper in the journalScience & Global Security by Ryan Snyder, a physicist with Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.
- One example of this new third-generation laser enrichment technique may be the separation of isotopes by laser excitation (SILEX) process which was originally developed in Australia and licensed in 2012 for commercial-scale deployment in the United States to the Global Laser Enrichment consortium led by General Electric-Hitachi. Research on the relevant laser systems is also currently ongoing in Russia, India and China.
The paper explains the basic physics of the new uranium separation concept, which relies on the selective laser excitation and condensation repression of uranium-235 in a gas. It also estimates the key laser performance requirements and possible operating parameters for a single enrichment unit and how a cascade of such units could be arranged into an enrichment plant able to produce weapon-grade highly enriched uranium.
Using plausible assumptions, the paper shows how a covert laser enrichment plant sized to make one bomb’s worth of weapon-grade material a year could use less space and energy than a similar scale plant based on almost all current centrifuge designs, the most efficient enrichment technology in use today. The results suggest a direct impact on detection methods that use size or energy use as plant footprints……..https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160627160941.htm
“Proposed International nuclear waste storage exposes Australia to risks of terrorism”
An International nuclear waste storage agenda exposes Australia to a range of potential profound adverse impacts through nuclear insecurity as a target for terrorism.
Claims by the Nuclear Commission Findings Report (Feb 2016, p.16-20) that SA “offers a safe long term capability” for the storage and disposal of high level nuclear waste are contradicted by the fact that Australia will be exposed to significant and developing threats in terrorism over decades of proposed Nuclear port and above-ground waste storage operations.
The UK Nuclear Free Local Authorities are concerned a determined terrorist group could be able to pierce nuclear waste transport and storage casks in use around the world and states that transport of nuclear materials should be limited as much as practical, with safe on-site storage facilities developed instead.
The Nuclear Commission’s nuclear waste transport and storage plans face fast emerging and unexpected nuclear security threats as lethal technology gets ever more destructive. Rocket propelled grenades, demolition charges and innovative available technology like the use of small drones by non-state actors are of increasing concern.
Attacks could seriously compromise operations of a nuclear port or an above-ground nuclear waste storage facility and the extent of impacts could conceivably require the site to be abandoned.
Proposed International nuclear waste storage exposes Australia to risks of terrorism “In the event of a major nuclear accident, adverse impacts on the tourism, agriculture and property sectors could potentially be profound.” Nuclear Royal Commission Finding 155 Feb 2016, Impacts on other Sectors p.28
An International nuclear waste storage agenda exposes Australia to a range of potential profound adverse impacts in major nuclear accidents and in nuclear insecurity as a target for terrorism.
The SA Nuclear Royal Commission Final Report (9 May 2016, 16 Mb) flagged risks in proposed high level nuclear waste transport and storage and concluded that terrorist attack scenarios are conceivable and rocket attack has the greatest potential to cause a release of radiation from impacted waste transport and storage casks (Appendix L – Transport risk analysis p.312).
In an age of terrorism following the devastating September 11th 2001 attacks there is no room for denial on the real security risks society faces in nuclear and radiological terrorism. Continue reading
Nuclear Waste Brief by David Noonan, Independent Environment Campaigner. 3 June 16 An un-declared Australia port is targeted to receive a globally unprecedented scale of high level nuclear waste transport and shipping, facing some 100 000 tonnes of SNF waste over a circa 33 year period of proposed peak Nuclear port operations from project Year 11 to Year 45 (Jacobs MCM, Executive Summary, Figure 3 Timeline of spent fuel transfers, p.5).
This is some 25 per cent higher than the global total of 80 000 tonnes of SNF waste shipped around the world in a 45 year period since 1971 according to the World Nuclear Association report “Transport of Radioactive Materials” (Sept 2015) and the Jacobs MCM consultancy (p.152).
A total of 30 000 tonnes of high level nuclear wastes were shipped to the UK Sellafield reprocessing facility and a total of 40 000 tonnes was shipped to the French La Hague reprocessing facility, by far the world’s largest nuclear ports, in the 45 year period since 1971 (WNA report).
An undeclared Australian port is targeted to take over three times the total tonnage of high level nuclear waste shipped to Sellafield and two and a half times the total tonnage shipped to La Hague.
Some 400 waste ships of high level nuclear waste, totalling 90 000 tonnes SNF waste and requiring 9 000 transport casks, are to be brought into Australia in a 30 year period of peak port operations.
In a comparable 30 year period, there were some 160 high level nuclear waste shipments from Japan to Europe from 1969 to late 1990’s, totalling 7 040 tonnes SNF waste and involving some 4 000 nuclear waste transport casks (WNA report).
Sweden has shipped over 4 500 tonnes SNF waste around the Swedish coast to their CLAB central interim storage facility by mid-2015 (WNA report). Australia is proposed to do so every 18 months.
Questions on the location of a Nuclear port and on the safety of waste shipments:
The SA State government must publicly explain the basis for the farcical claim made by Jacobs MCM (Introduction p.11) of “an abundance of locations” suitable for deep sea Nuclear port sites in SA.
Is a new deep sea Nuclear port and high level SNF waste storage site to be imposed in the coastal region south of Whyalla? Or as reported in The Australian “World’s nuke waste may pass through NT, SA” (12 May 2016): Is the Port of Darwin also in the Nuclear target range?
The Final Report Concludes: “…if a cask was lost at sea and was irrecoverable, there is a potential for some members of the public consuming locally sourced seafood to receive a very small dose of radiation”; and Concludes that terrorist attack scenarios are conceivable and rocket attack has the greatest potential to cause a release of radiation (Appendix L – Transport risk analysis p.312).
A further Jacobs MCM desk top Concludes that radioactivity that escapes from an unrecovered and degrading cask is expected “to be diluted in thousands of cubic kilometres of seawater” (“Safety and risks in the transportation of radioactive material to and from Australia”, April 2016, p.50). see http://www.nodumpalliance.org.au/
The Zaporizhia nuclear facility is Europe’s largest and is only 200 kilometres from the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine. Some commentators have described nuclear plants in the region as pre-deployed nuclear targets and there have already been armed incursions during the recent conflict period.
Australia shouldn’t sell its uranium to Ukraine http://www.smh.com.au/comment/australia-shouldnt-sell-its-uranium-to-ukraine-20160331-gnv0no.html, Dave Sweeney, 31 Mar 16 Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop’s announcement this week to sell Australian uranium to Ukraine is an ill-advised and dangerous retreat from responsibility.
With timing and placement that a satirist could only dream of emulating – April Fool’s Day, the month of the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl meltdown and while attending a nuclear security summit – Bishop is set to sign a uranium supply agreement this week with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
Australia, the country that directly fuelled Fukushima now plans to sell uranium to Ukraine, the country that gave the world Chernobyl – hardly a match made in heaven.
Thirty years ago the Chernobyl nuclear disaster spread fallout over large swathes of eastern and western Europe and five million people still live in contaminated areas in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.
Serious containment and waste management issues remain at Chernobyl with a massive concrete shield now under construction in an attempt to enclose the stricken reactor complex and reduce the chances of further radioactive releases.
Against this backdrop there are deep concerns over those parts of the Ukrainian nuclear sector that are not yet infamous names, including very real security concerns about nuclear facilities being targeted in the current conflict with Russia. Continue reading
Nuclear waste danger knows no state borders, Eureka Street Michele Madigan | 09 February 2016 “……..It would be a mistake for anyone living outside of South Australia to think that the premier’s plan is just a South Australian problem. Transport and containment risks are hugely significant. State boundaries are no guarantees of safety.
Professor John Veevers of Macquarie University notes the ‘tonnes of enormously dangerous radioactive waste in the northern hemisphere, 20,000km from its destined dump in Australia … must remain intact for at least 10,000 years.
‘These magnitudes — of tonnage, lethality, distance of transport and time — entail great inherent risk.’
In 1998 when the federal government identified the central northern area of South Australia to be site for a proposed national radioactive waste dump, it was not only South Australians who were concerned.
In 2003 the mayors of Sutherland, Bathurst, Blue Mountains, Broken Hill, Dubbo, Griffith, Lithgow, Orange, Wagga Wagga, Auburn, Bankstown, Blacktown, Fairfield, Holroyd, Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith — communities along potential transport routes — opposed ‘any increase in nuclear waste production until a satisfactory resolution occurs to the waste repository question’.
The NSW parliamentary inquiry into radioactive waste found ‘there is no doubt that the transportation of radioactive waste increases the risk of accident or incident — including some form of terrorist intervention’. Continue reading
Derailed train in Queensland spills 200,000l sulphuric acid and diesel, Logistics Business Review 28 December 2015 Approximately 200,000l of sulphuric acid and diesel was spilled when all 26 carriages of a freight train derailed in Quarrells, 20km east of Julia Creek in mid-northern Queensland, Australia.
Emergency crews have started clean-up operation in heavy rain and three train staff sustained minor injuries in the accident. Following the incident on Sunday, Queensland Police declared an emergency situation covering a 2km exclusion zone around the crash site.
Queensland Rail said: “Emergency services attended the scene, however, Queensland Rail crews have been unable to access the site as the Flinders highway is currently cut off due to flooding in the region…….
Inland passenger services and freight trains have been affected in the region…… http://www.logistics-business-review.com/news/derailed-train-in-queensland-spills-200000l-sulphuric-acid-and-diesel-4763524
A freight train transporting containers of copper concentrate was derailed yesterday after flash floods damaged the railway track north of Katherine yesterday.
The Environment Department is investigating reports that containers may have spilled and washed into the Edith River.
Environment Centre NT director Stuart Blanch says the incident is a worrying sign. “This spill highlights a lack of due diligence by the owners of the railway and the people transporting this product,” he said.
“What would have happened to the Edith if there was a spill of uranium oxide into the Edith River?
“That is a real concern, with a lot more uranium coming up from South Australia in the years ahead.”
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Paul Henderson says he is satisfied that copper concentrate was the only toxic substance being carried by the train.
Mr Henderson says it is not radioactive material from a uranium mine in South Australia. “What the environmental impacts may be, I have not been briefed as to what they may be,” he said.He says government officials are on site to carry out a monitoring program.
Calls for clarity over nuclear waste transportation plans http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-15/lithgow-councillor-concerned-about-nuclear-dump-proposal/7027780
The Federal Government is being urged to provide more details about the planned route for a proposed nuclear waste dump in the central west. The government is considering housing the waste at Sallys Flat near Bathurst and federal MP John Cobb has said regional roads would be upgraded to support heavy vehicle movements.
But Lithgow City Councillor Wayne McAndrew says it is highly likely the material will be transported through Lithgow to get to the site.
He said residents had raised concerns about the potential health impacts if a truck was involved in an accident.
“It’s not just a matter of the roads, it’s the icy conditions during winter coming down the Mount Victoria pass,” Councillor McAndrew said.
“That’s still a long way off from being resolved, the Victoria pass in relation to new roadworks, so it’s not just an issue of the roads it’s an issue of our long winter months and some of the dangers that poses for us.”
Sallys Flat near Hill End is one of the six sites shortlisted by the Federal Government.
Councillor McAndrew says there is little information about the planned route for transporting the waste.
At the weekend twenty five tonnes of nuclear waste arrived at Port Kembla from France on a ship blacklisted by US authorities. Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon says the delivery is worrying news, particularly for residents at Hill End, near Bathurst, an area shortlisted by the federal government as a dumping site for nuclear waste.
‘Yesterday twenty five tonnes of nuclear waste, classified as ‘high-level’ by French authorities, arrived on our shores at Port Kembla,’ Senator Rhiannon said.
‘To add insult to injury, the government has chosen a rust bucket flag of convenience ship blacklisted by US authorities to deliver the waste, adding a whole host of threats to our environment, economy and local jobs.
‘The BBC Shanghai has been blacklisted by US authorities after failing to pass inspections, so why was it judged good enough to transport nuclear waste from France to Australia?
‘The transport of this dangerous waste increases the likelihood of an accident. Hundreds of police were involved in in transporting the waste to Lucas Heights, a southern Sydney suburb, in the dead of the night.
‘This delivery will elevate concerns of the Hill End community that any nuclear dump in Australia will not just be for ‘low level’ waste.
‘The Greens accept that storing this waste at Lucas Heights is the ‘least worst’ option.
‘Nuclear waste is a threat to surrounding communities and the environment for thousands of years.
‘This is further reminder that the Lucas Heights reactor should be closed.
“The pharmaceuticals developed from medical isotopes can be produced with particle accelerators. When total costs are considered it is not as expensive as a nuclear reactor and much, much safer,’ Senator Rhiannon said.
Nuclear convoy: 25 tonnes of deadly waste closes Sydney roads December 7, 2015
Ian Walker The Daily Telegraph POLICE outnumbered Greenpeace activists 100 to one as tonnes of nuclear waste returned from France was driven in a kilometre-long convoy to the Lucas Heights Reactor early yesterday morning.
A forged steel container strong enough to withstand the impact of a jet strike carried the 25 tonnes of radioactive waste on the back of a semi-trailer to the reactor in south Sydney about 2am.
The waste was sent to France in the 1990s for reprocessing to be made safe for long-term storage in Australia, something that is not able to be done here……..Every conceivable threat to the precious cargo’s slow journey from Port Kembla to Sydney was covered in an elaborate operation throughout the night. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/nuclear-convoy-25-tonnes-of-deadly-waste-closes-sydney-roads/story-fni0cx12-1227635720100
Independent Senator John Madigan said on Sunday he found it unacceptable that a ship carrying radioactive waste could sail into an Australian harbour when little was known about its ownership or crew, and its previous voyages had been to ports in Angola, Egypt, Russia and China, where he said the level of security could not be guaranteed.
‘National security for sale’: senators’ outrage over ship’s cargo of nuclear waste, SMH, December 6, 2015 Tony Wright A cargo of nuclear waste that arrived in Australia at the weekend was aboard a ship owned and operated by a web of German companies, registered in the tiny Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda and crewed by a mix of Russian and Ukrainian seafarers.
It brought accusations from an independent Australian Senator that Australia was “tendering out its national security to the lowest common denominator”, and followed expressions of disbelief from major party parliamentarians that the bureaucracy did not check the ownership of foreign vessels operating in Australian waters…... Continue reading
“WE will block the ship because nuclear waste is very dangerous,” sea security coordinating agenda head Vice Admiral Desi Albert Mamahit told The Jakarta Post newspaper.
“Our ships are on standby, although the ship is still far from Indonesia. We have information about the ship.”On October 16, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) confirmed a project to repatriate radioactive waste from France, where it was sent for reprocessing in the 1990s and early 2000s, and which will now be retained at ANSTO’s Lucas Heights, Sydney, facility.”Consistent with security requirements and practice established during nine previous export operations, ANSTO will not confirm the destination port, land route, or timing,” it said on its website.The Indonesians are concerned about a ship called the MV Trader, which was close to the African coast and expected to pass through the Malacca Strait, according to reports.
Ipswich at risk from nuclear waste, Queensland Times Joel Gould | 20th Nov 2015 THE FIGHT is well and truly on to stop hundreds of trucks a year loaded with radioactive nuclear waste from moving through Ipswich towards a national repository near Inglewood.
A site at Oman Ama is one of six slated by the Federal Government to store nuclear waste which has been slammed as “an environmental disaster waiting to happen” by Cr Paul Tully, who is also the national secretary of the Australian Nuclear Free Zones Secretariat.
Cr Tully said the federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg was “putting major cities across southeast Queensland under threat with hundreds of trucks a year carrying dangerous radioactive waste across the region”.
Cr Tully, who called the plan “total lunacy”, said Ipswich did not want such dangerous material transiting through the city.
“It will be a national repository which means that radioactive waste from North Queensland as well as southern states of Australia will come into south Queensland,” he said.
“Anything coming up the Pacific Highway will go through Brisbane, Ipswich and Toowoomba and anything coming from North Queensland would as well.
“So it does hold concerns that hundreds of trucks a year could be coming through our area.”A lot of it would come up through central NSW of course if they do select this site, which is one of six in Australia that has been nominated for further investigation.
“But if a truck, semi-trailer or B-double laden with this material had an accident and caught fire or rolled into a creek or river bed, then that is an issue. Brisbane, Ipswich and Toowoomba residents will be concerned at this act of madness by the federal government.” Continue reading
Goondiwindi mayor raises issues over transport of nuclear waste to Queensland, ABC News 13 Nov 15 The Mayor of a southern Queensland region shortlisted to store nuclear waste is concerned about how it will be transported, but is keeping an open mind to the proposal.
Oman Ama, 250 kilometres southwest of Brisbane,is one of six sites earmarked by the Federal Government, including three in South Australia, one in New South Wales and one in the Northern Territory. Goondiwindi Mayor Graeme Scheu said he did not want to jump to conclusions.
“The main question around it would be transportation, where it goes, so, so many questions that we don’t even have an answer for and the facts,” he said……..
The Federal Government is offering sweeteners to the community that agrees to house nuclear waste…..
Transporting waste to Queensland ‘total lunacy’
National secretary of the Australian local government nuclear free zones secretariat, Ipswich councillor Paul Tully, said “total lunacy” had overtaken the Federal Government.
Mr Tully said the federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will put major cities across southeast Queensland under threat with hundreds of trucks a year carrying nuclear waste across the region.”They will be transporting nuclear waste from the Lucas Heights reactor west of Sydney and other parts of Australia to Queensland,” he said.
“We don’t want Queensland to become the dumping ground for dangerous waste from NSW.”
He said similar plans in 1989 for a radioactive waste dump at Redbank in Ipswich had been thwarted after major environmental concerns were raised.
Kirsten Macey from the Queensland Conservation Council said regional communities should not be used as the scapegoat for a “dirty” nuclear industry. She wants the waste left in Sydney.
“We believe that where the regulator is – where they have the capacity to store it and monitor it, that’s where the nuclear waste should be stored,” she said. “That’s at Lucas Heights where the nuclear waste is being generated.”http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-13/mayor-goondiwindi-transport-nuclear-waste-queensland/6937570
Nuclear waste likely to be transported through the Illawarra, ABC News, 23 Oct 15 Ainslie Drewitt-Smith, Nuclear waste shipped from France to Australia is likely to land at Port Kembla.The ABC understands the 25 tonnes of treated waste is being returned to the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in November, and is already on a cargo ship bound for the port.
It’s expected the intermediate-level waste will be transferred to trucks, before being transported to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).
Greens MLC John Kaye said transporting the waste through the Illawarra is risky. “It’s a very low probability event that there would be an accident, but if there is, it’s a very high consequence accident,” Dr Kaye said.
“Our concern with the nuclear cycle has always been nine times out of ten it’s fine, but then there’s one episode, and when that one episode happens, the results are totally catastrophic.”
The waste was sent to France in the 1990s to be processed, but its return to Australia was inevitable.While there were no issues with the original movement of the waste more than a decade ago, Dr Kaye said it’s not worth trying it again.
“The nuclear waste is set in a kind of glass, it’s then encased in a stainless steel vessel, but you can never keep anything 100 per cent safe,” he said. “The problem is, if there is an accident and one of those caskets is breached, the consequences for the local population are huge.”
Dr Kaye said ANSTO should be shut.
“This is a legacy of some very bad decision making that’s been happening in relation to Lucas Heights. It should have been shut ages ago,” he said.
“There should have been serious money invested into the alternative for isotopes used in medicine. Instead, we’ve continued with the same out of date process for creating these isotopes. It’s created this legacy of waste……..
ANSTO has confirmed in a statement on its website, the waste is on its way to Australia, but hasn’t said whether the material will land at Port Kembla, or be trucked through the Illawarra.
“Spent nuclear fuel was sent to France for reprocessing over four shipments in the 1990s and early 2000s, and the waste arising from that reprocessing operation is required under French law to have left that country by the end of 2015……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-23/nuclear-waste-likely-to-be-transported-through-the-illawarra/6878860