— Washington: “negative trend in contamination control” halts work at Hanford project — 8th worker exposure this year

From the Tri-City Herald

by Annette Cary
November 20, 2019

Work has halted at Hanford to remove a highly radioactive spill just north of Richland after an eighth incident this year in which a worker’s clothing or skin was contaminated with radioactive waste.

The 324 Building sits over a leak of radioactive cesium and strontium into the soil beneath it at the site about one mile north of Richland and about 300 yards west of the Columbia River.

“Although individually the contamination levels (on workers) have been low and no dose has been assigned to workers, collectively the number of personnel contamination events indicate a negative trend in contamination control that corrective actions  taken to date have been inadequate to address,” the Department of Energy wrote in a Nov. 14 letter to its contractor on the project, CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co.

Dose is a calculation of the radioactive exposure to the worker.

Earlier the same day that DOE sent the letter, CH2M had stopped work at the Hanford nuclear reservation’s 324 Building — one of several temporary halts to at least some of the work there this year.

Joe Franco, the DOE deputy manager at the DOE Richland Operations Office, told CH2M in the letter that he would not allow work to resume in the highly contaminated areas of the 324 Building until the company had developed a plan of correction and DOE had agreed on the path forward.

“(The Richland Operations Office) expects that workers at Hanford are protected from personnel radiological contamination while accomplishing our important Hanford mission,” Franco said.

The building has been left standing over the contaminated spill and the contamination to workers had been contained within the building, so the public is not at risk.

The building prevents precipitation from reaching the spill beneath it to carry it closer to the groundwater and also can be used to shield workers from radiation.

324 BUILDING WORK COMPLICATED

After the Tri-City Herald asked DOE for information about the Nov. 14 letter, Brian Vance sent a message to all Hanford employees on Wednesday afternoon saying that work within the building continues to be challenging “due to the high levels of radioactivity in the soil beneath the building.”

CH2M is working on improving “radiological practices and controls in the building by taking a holistic look at the full spectrum of operations,” Vance said. “Cleanup work in radiologically controlled areas inside the building will not resume without proper DOE oversight and approval.”

Ty Blackford, president of CH2M at Hanford, also sent a message to his employees Wednesday afternoon saying that work at the 324 Building has become more complicated.

He said work was stopped late last week after low-level contamination was discovered on an employee’s skin as they were leaving an area known to be contaminated within the building and checks were being done.

“The employee was easily decontaminated using standard techniques,” Blackford said.

In an incident in the spring in which a speck of contamination was found on the pant leg of an employee who was checking workers as they left a radiologically contaminated area, a piece of tape was used to remove the contamination.

“Each time we’ve encountered challenges at the project this past year, the team did the right thing by stopping work, evaluating conditions and determining the safest path forward,” Blackford said.

For the latest review of work processes, a team of experts is being assembled both from CH2M at Hanford and also from Jacobs Engineering, the owner of the Hanford contractor.

CONTAMINATION CONCERNS RAISED

The staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board also has been concerned about worker contamination and contamination spread within the building.

In the staff’s weekly report dated June 28, it noted that there had been a fourth case of a worker’s personal clothing being contaminated and the first case of skin contamination since February.

That week contamination was found on both a worker’s clothing and his skin.

If the protective clothing that workers wear becomes damp, the contamination can wick through to their personal clothing underneath and their skin, the report said.

As work was temporarily stopped in June, CH2M focused on ways to improve contamination, including requiring workers to wear water-impermeable outer coveralls, using adhesive paper and wet rags for added dust control, and limiting water injection during drilling.

Much of the focus of the review was on preventing the spread of contamination as workers were taking of their protective clothing layer and leaving contaminated areas, according to the defense board staff report.

But worker contamination continued to be a problem, including when contamination was found on a worker’s personal clothing in September, according to the defense board staff.

The clothing may have been contaminated as he took off protective clothing, and CH2M again changed processes for taking off protection clothing.

Contamination issues are tied to two projects being done in the building.

The contamination spill was within a hot cell, where work was done with highly radioactive material by workers manipulating equipment outside the building. The highly acidic strontium and cesium that spilled within the hot cell in the 1980s ate through stainless steel to reach the soil beneath.

Plans call for sawing out the bottom of the hot cell using remotely operated equipment and then digging up the most highly contaminated soil with an excavator arm mounted on the 30-foot-high, 5-foot-thick walls of the hot cell.

DOE officials have said the contamination beneath the building is so radioactive that it would be fatal within a few minutes of human contact.

DRILLING SPREADS CONTAMINATION

Before the bottom of the hot cell can be chopped and sawed up and then the contamination beneath it dug up, radioactively contaminated debris left in the hot cell has to be removed.

Some of the contamination events have involved the employees doing that work.

Other contamination events have been related to drilling being done into the soil beneath the building as part of a project to keep the building stable once part of the flooring and foundation is removed to allow digging.

Plans call for installing pilings beneath the building to stabilize it.

But as drilling has been done from within the building, contamination has spread.

In one incident in June contamination was found on a worker’s boots as he took off the protective clothing and was checked as he left the room where drilling was being done.

The next week was when the first incident of skin contamination since February occurred on a worker who was decontaminating the room where the drilling was being done.

“The 324 Building presents complex challenges and the department is committed to safe and deliberate completion of this project,” Vance said.Workers with Hanford’s CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. have removed, packaged and shipped 15 bins of contaminated waste from the 324 Building since July.

Workers with Hanford’s CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. have removed, packaged and shipped 15 bins of contaminated waste from the 324 Building since July. COURTESY DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Shipped where?

https://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/hanford/article237601614.html?fbclid=IwAR1qL6R-ea8EVXjC9HS8Bs7EfjJbTF1NSGwz_7UcCcgS95LeaWDvUfD0kNM

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— Dangerous radioactive hot particles span the globe

From Beyond Nuclear International

Citizen scientists are uncovering risks that governments would rather cover up

November 20, 2019

By Cindy Folkers

When reactors exploded and melted down at the Fukushima nuclear power complex in March 2011, they launched radioactivity from their ruined cores into the unprotected environment.  Some of this toxic radioactivity was in the form of hot particles (radioactive microparticles) that congealed and became airborne by attaching to dusts and traveling great distances.

However, the Fukushima disaster is only the most recent example of atomic power and nuclear weapons sites creating and spreading these microparticles. Prior occurrences include various U.S. weapons sites and the ruined Chernobyl reactor. While government and industry cover up this hazard, community volunteer citizen science efforts – collaborations between scientists and community volunteers – are tracking the problem to raise awareness of its tremendous danger in Japan and across the globe.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster began, one highly radioactive specimen, a particle small enough to inhale or ingest, was found in a private home where it should not have been, hundreds of miles from its source, in a vacuum cleaner bag containing simple house dust.

Fukushima Nagoya map

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— Fukushima’s ongoing nuclear catastrophe with no end in sight – doctors’ prescription for the Tokyo Olympics

From Beyond Nuclear International

November 24, 2019

Statement of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War – Germany regarding participation in the Olympic Games in Japan

In July 2020, the Olympic Games will start in Japan. Young athletes from all over the world have been preparing for these games for years and millions of people are looking forward to this major event.

We at IPPNW Germany are often asked whether it is safe to travel to these Olympic Games in Japan either as a visitor or as an athlete or whether we would advise against such trips from a medical point of view. We would like to address these questions.

To begin with, there are many reasons to be critical of the Olympic Games in general: the increasing commercialization of sports, the lack of sustainability of sports venues, doping scandals, the waste of valuable resources for an event that only takes place for several weeks and corruption in the Olympic organizations to name just a few. However, every four years, the Olympic Games present a unique opportunity for many young people from all over the world to meet other athletes and to celebrate a fair sporting competition – which was the initial vision of the Olympic movement. Also, the idea of Olympic peace and mutual understanding between nations and people is an important aspect for us as a peace organization.

Fukushima…and no end in sight

Regarding the Olympic Games in Japan, another factor comes into play: the Japanese government is using the Olympic Games to deflect from the ongoing nuclear catastrophe in the Northeast of the country.

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— Fukushima persimmons to be presented to Pope

From NHK World – Japan

November 20, 2019

A Japanese Catholic from Fukushima Prefecture plans to present local specialty persimmons to Pope Francis during his visit to Japan from Saturday.

Chuichi Ozawa from Koriyama City has been granted an audience with the pontiff next week.

As a member of the Koriyama Catholic Church, Ozawa has worked to support people affected by the 2011 earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

Ozawa proposed presenting Aizu-mishirazu persimmons to the Pope to help dispel concerns about the safety of Fukushima produce due to the accident.

The Vatican Embassy in Tokyo accepted the offer.

The persimmons are known for their creamy texture and refreshing sweetness.

Ozawa visited a farmer in the Aizu region on Thursday and received more than 50 persimmons specially chosen for their colors and shapes.

He plans to bring the fruit to the embassy on Friday.

Ozawa says if the Pope eats the persimmons, it will lift the spirits of Fukushima farmers.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191121_41/

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— “Completely safe”? No independent food inspection for domestic consumption as Japan grapples with serving Fukushima food at Olympics

“Generally, Japanese citizens have faith in the government, and we haven’t felt the need to have checks carried out by independent parties,” said [Kenji] Kusano, [director of the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre, in Koriyama, the government’s main screening site]….

The Tokyo 2020 organisers said promoting areas affected by the 2011 disaster remains a key goal.

“Supporting the area’s reconstruction efforts through the sourcing of its food and beverage products is one of our basic strategies; we are therefore seriously considering doing this..” 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya told AFP.

From Agence France-Presse

20 November 2019

For years, Japan’s government has sought to convince consumers that food from Fukushima is safe despite the nuclear disaster. But will it serve the region’s produce at the Tokyo Olympics?

It’s a thorny subject for the authorities. They pitched the Games in part as a chance to showcase the recovery of areas affected by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.

Government officials tout strict checks on food from the region as evidence that the produce is completely safe, but it remains unclear whether athletes and sports teams from around the world will be convinced.

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— During Typhoon Hagibis, at least 14 levees broke in Fukushima Prefecture

Posted on Fukushima 311 Watchdogs:

safe_image.php.jpg

Photo Credit.
October 16, 2019
From Fairewinds:
News outlets worldwide are reporting that at least 66 residents of Japan have died as a result of Typhoon Hagibis. Our hearts reach out to the people of Japan and the families of the deceased.
The news coverage from Reuters caught our attention due to its research that Fukushima Prefecture was apparently the region hardest hit by the typhoon. According to the Reuters story entitled: Rescuers slog through mud as Japan typhoon death toll rises to 66:
“The highest toll was in Fukushima prefecture north of Tokyo, where levees burst in at least 14 places along the Abukuma River, which meanders through a number of cities in the largely agricultural prefecture. At least 25 people died in Fukushima, including a mother and child who were caught in flood waters, NHK said…. Residents in Koriyama, one of Fukushima’s larger cities, said they were taken by surprise by the flooding. Police were searching house-to-house to make sure nobody had been left behind or was in need of help.
“The river has never flooded like this before, and some houses have been completely swept away. I think it might be time to redraw hazard maps or reconsider evacuation plans,” said Masaharu Ishizawa, a 26-year-old high school teacher …”
Fukushima prefecture is very mountainous and largely remote. The radioactive fallout, which spread throughout Japan after the three Fukushima nuclear meltdowns in 2011, is impossible to clean up in these inaccessible mountainous areas that lie throughout Fukushima Prefecture. Even in populous Tokyo, more than one-year after the meltdowns, Fairewinds’ research identified randomly selected Soil Samples Would Be Considered Nuclear Waste in the US, which we discussed in the video on Fairewinds’ website.
It is our belief from our ongoing research that the ensuing flooding induced by Typhoon Hagibis is moving significant amounts of radiation from high in the mountains down to cities, towns, and farmland in Japan. Our analysis on several radiation sampling trips to the prefecture proves that there are huge amounts of residual radiation that were previously trapped in the soil.
Now, due to the heavy rain, subsequent river flooding, and burst levees (dams) this radioactive soil is moving and being pushed from the mountains down into more populous areas where people live and crops are grown. Once again it appears that government authorities and rescue organizations are ignoring this new, long-term threat, or have not been apprised by the JAEA (Japan Atomic Energy Agency) and nuclear power industry of the monumental health risks involved.
See also:

https://dunrenard.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/at-least-14-levees-broke-in-fukushima-prefecture/comment-page-1/#comment-18405

— Tokyo 2020: The radioactive Olympics

From Nuclear-Free Olympic Games 2020

In 2020, Japan is inviting athletes from around the world to take part in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. We are hoping for the games to be fair and peaceful. At the same time, we are worried about plans to host baseball and softball competitions in Fukushima City, just 50 km away from the ruins of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. It was here, in 2011, that multiple nuclear meltdowns took place, spreading radioactivity across Japan and the Pacific Ocean – a catastrophe comparable only to the nuclear meltdown of Chernobyl.

The ecological and social consequences of this catastrophe can be seen everywhere in the country: whole families uprooted from their ancestral homes, deserted evacuation zones, hundreds of thousands of bags of irradiated soil dumped all over the country, contaminated forests, rivers and lakes. Normality has not returned to Japan. The reactors continue to be a radiation hazard as further catastrophes could occur at any time. Every day adds more radioactive contamination to the ocean, air and soil. Enormous amounts of radioactive waste are stored on the premises of the power plant in the open air. Should there be another earthquake, these would pose a grave danger to the population and the environment. The nuclear catastrophe continues today. On the occasion of the Olympic Games 2020, we are planning an international campaign. We are concerned about the health effects of the ongoing radioactive contamination in the region, especially for people more vulnerable to radiation, such as children and pregnant women.

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— More “unusual mortality events”; seabirds and marine life are starving; “the exact cause eludes scientists”

From Audubon
by Kristine Liao
October 11, 2019

The first reports came in May. They were sparse, but enough to put seabird-monitoring coordinator Hillary Burgess on edge. “Here we go again,” she thought. By late June, almost every time she checked her inbox, yet more news of washed-up seabirds on the Alaskan coast greeted her.

Volunteers had collected nearly 9,200 seabird carcasses by early September—and those are just the bodies found washed ashore. Kathy Kuletz, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist, estimates the total number of deaths may reach in the hundreds of thousands.

Historically, mass seabird die-offs have been occasional events in Alaska, but for the past five years, they have occurred annually. This year, as the carcasses continued to pile up, a few new trends became clear: The die-offs were more geographically widespread and lasted for a longer period compared to previous years, and they largely targeted Short-tailed Shearwaters, although dead puffins, murres, and auklets—the main victims in recent years— have also been found.

There’s a lot of concern out there,” says Burgess, who works for the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST), a community-science project that tracks populations and deaths. “People aren’t used to encountering hundreds of dead birds on a beach that they walk on regularly.” 

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— Greenpeace reports on government’s “failing program in Fukushima”– On the Frontline of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident

From Greenpeace

PDF

On the Frontline of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident:
Workers and Children
Radiation risks and human rights violations

March 2019 

“…so long as the Japanese government remains committed to its failing program in Fukushima, it will continue to come under domestic and international criticism. Eight years after the start of the nuclear disaster, thousands of evacuees are continuing their legal challenges against both TEPCO and the government.  These include the judgement of the Tokyo District Court on the criminal prosecution of three TEPCO executives due in 2019 and the newly initiated lawsuit by residents of Namie.

The Japanese government is defying United Nations human rights specialists who have challenged the policy of lifting evacuation orders and exposing citizens, particularly women and children, to unsafe radiation levels. At the same time, nuclear workers in Fukushima are continuing to suffer from varied forms of exploitation, including low pay, lack of comprehensive access to medical services, and the abuse of their right to not be exposed to hazardous radiation.

The Greenpeace survey results highlight the scale of the ongoing nuclear crisis in the most contaminated areas of Fukushima, and why the United Nations human rights experts are fully justified in expressing their urgent concerns.”

This reports contains 9 recommendations to the Japanese government and concludes:

The results of our investigations add further to the
urgency for the Abe government to halt its current
program of lifting evacuation orders, to comply
with its domestic and international human rights
obligations and to initiate a comprehensive and
publicly accountable review of current policy.

— South Korea nuclear regulator wants information on radioactive Fukushima water release

From Reuters

By Jane Chang

20 November 2019

SEOUL (Reuters) – Japan’s reluctance to disclose information about the release of radioactive water from its damaged Fukushima nuclear plant is hampering neighboring countries’ efforts to minimize the impact, the head of South Korea’s nuclear safety agency said on Wednesday.

Since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown at some of the reactors the Fukushima plant, owner Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has been storing radioactive water in tanks at the site from the cooling pipes used to keep the fuel cores from melting. The utility will run out of space for the water in 2022.

Japan has not yet decided how to deal with the contaminated water, but its environment minister said in September that radioactive water would have to be released from the site into the Pacific Ocean.

“We have been raising Japan’s radioactive water issue to the international community to minimize the impact … but as Japan hasn’t disclosed any specific plan and process we would need more details to run simulations and study,” Uhm Jae-sik, chairman of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, told Reuters.

In addition to the Fukushima crisis, safety concerns about nuclear energy have increased in South Korea following a 2012 scandal over the supply of faulty reactors parts with forged documents, prompting a series of shutdowns of nuclear reactors.

South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest user of nuclear power, targets a long-term phase out of atomic power to allay public concerns.

“Regardless of the government’s energy policy change, our primary goal is ensuring the safety of nuclear power,” Uhm said.

South Korea operates 25 nuclear reactors, which generate about a third of the country’s total electricity. Of the 25 reactors, 10 are offline for maintenance, according to the website of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-nuclear/south-korea-nuclear-regulator-wants-information-on-radioactive-fukushima-water-release-idUSKBN1XU0N8

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