— Oregon: Hanford worsens, 2nd emergency in 10 days; “High spikes” in radiation levels recorded — Expert: Plutonium could go airborne — Major concern over radioactive releases — Gov’t delays revealing data to public

[Site manager for the Department of Energy Richland Operations Doug] Shoop said all the monitoring data that the DOE, contractors and the Department of Health conducted on the site, following the collapse, will be available to the public within the next week.

There is nothing posted on the doh.wa.gov website under News.

From ENE News — 2 posts

May 22, 2017

KING, May 19, 2017 (emphasis added): Another Hanford emergency: signs of another leaking tank… The U.S. Department of Energy is scrambling to deal with the second emergency at the nuclear site in 10 days’ time. Signs have emerged that a massive underground double shell nuclear waste holding tank may be leaking… Now it has been holding hot, boiling radioactive and chemically contaminated waste for 41 years. KING 5 has learned that a… radiation specialist on the crew detected higher than expected readings… Detection equipment was then used to check for contamination that might have become airborne… They found radioactive material on one worker in three spots… “Everybody was freaked, shocked, surprised,” said a veteran worker and KING 5 Hanford source who is in direct contact with crew members… Thursday night’s incident means this could be the second double shell tank to fail. “We are of course concerned it might be a leak,” a Washington state Department of Ecology spokesperson said… The AZ 101 contamination event comes just 10 days after a tunnel collapse at Hanford that caused a site wide emergency… That event could have spewed radioactive particles across the site and beyond… “Today’s alarming incident at Hanford elevates the urgency of the federal government to prioritize and fund all critical cleanup at this aging nuclear reservation,” [Governor Jay] Inslee said in a statement…

KING Transcript: “For the second time in less than two weeks there’s been a major incident at the Hanford nuclear site. Tonight, new evidence of a possible new leak at a massive underground nuclear waste tank…. This is the second major event at Hanford in 10 days time… Yet another sign that the old weapons plant is falling apart.”

CNN, May 20, 2017: Maia Bellon, director of the Washington Department of Ecology [wrote] “We’re calling for an immediate investigation by US Department of Energy into contamination & potential leak”…

Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2017: U.S. Department of Energy officials said unusually high contamination was discovered when a robotic device used to measure the thickness of tanks containing radioactive waste was being maneuvered by a contractor.

Watch broadcasts here: KING | NBC

May 18, 2017

KING 5 transcript, May 14, 2017 (emphasis added): Hanford official: Tunnel could collapse again — Less than a week after a tunnel collapse at Hanford’s PUREX site, Senator Cantwell visited the nuclear site Saturday, concerned about the recent collapse and the possibility of more. “There is still a potential that we could have an additional collapse of that tunnel,” said Doug Shoop, manager at the Department of Energy Richland Operations Office… “What we will be doing, weather permitting, will be putting a very large cover over the top of that tunnel number one,” said Shoop. That cover meant to keep radioactive particles in the dirt from flying into the air in the event of another collapse.

KOMO, May 13, 2017: DOE spokesman Doug Shoop said they’re still at risk of another failure as the 360-foot long concrete and wood structure has not been shored up. To mitigate the risk of a radioactive release in the event of a second collapse, workers will place a heavy, industrial tarp over the entire length of the tunnel…

KEPR, May 13, 2017: IMMEDIATE CONCERNS… “Now there is still the potential that we could have an additional collapse,” said Doug Shoop, site manager for the Department of Energy Richland Operations… Nuclear Waste Program Manager Alex Smith said the Department of Ecology[ said the] most immediate concern, of course, is the potential the wooden tunnel could collapse again… If a larger part of the tunnel were to collapse, she said they worry about a radiological releaseWith high winds in the area, Smith said radioactive dust can travel easily, that’s why they used extra precaution when dealing with the emergency on Tuesday. Shoop [said] they want to avoid airborne release of radioactive dust because the materials are difficult to contain and can be harmful to humans… “But what we do know for sure is that the material is very radioactive,” he said… Shoop said all the monitoring data that the DOE, contractors and the Department of Health conducted on the site, following the collapse, will be available to the public within the next week

Alex Smith, Washington Dept. of Ecology: “The integrity of the structure is compromisedRadioactive dirt and dust could be released… it is a high concern.”

KNDO transcript, May 14, 2017: “There are still major concerns circling the tunnel collapse.”

KING 5 transcript, May 10, 2017: “A danger still exists after that tunnel collapsed yesterday. It was really a statewide emergency… If the wind were to pick-up and the hole is still not filled in, that’s when the wind could come down, stir things up, and spread radioactive particles into the air… The bad news is the wind is about to pick up. We’ve got this low pressure system out in the Pacific… Once it traverses east of the Cascades we’re going to see that wind… You’re going to see wind speeds surpassing the 30 mph mark.”

Nuclear Hotseat, May 10, 2017: (at 11:15 in) Robert Alvarez, former senior policy adviser at US Dept. of Energy: “It’s possible that radiation might have escaped into the open environment because of this collapse… This stuff could re-suspend — it probably has plutonium in it.” — (at 16:30 in) Julie Wert, Radiation Watch: “I pulled the [EPA RadNet data] for Hanford and it’s showing high spikes… That indicates that there’s some releases going on.”

Tri-City Herald, May 13, 2017: Hanford radiological control technicians who questioned some unusual radiation readings are being credited with discovering the breach… When some readings were much higher than expected, they began checking for the cause…

Broadcasts: KING 5 | KNDO | Nuclear Hotseat

http://enenews.com/emergency-at-us-nuclear-site-unusually-high-radiation-levels-reported-worker-everybodys-freaked-shocked-surprised-governor-alarming-incident-tv-major-event-sign-the-p

http://enenews.com/alert-officials-warn-of-more-collapses-at-us-nuclear-site-high-spikes-in-radiation-levels-recorded-expert-plutonium-could-go-airborne-major-concern-over-radioactive-releases-govt-d

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— Los Angeles: DOE breaks agreement to clean up Santa Susana Field Lab contamination; may leave behind 94%

For action and upcoming meetings, go to http://www.ssflworkgroup.org

From the Ventura County Star

February 11, 2017

Our region has just been hit by two significant events that affect the health of our community.

While we have long awaited some relief for our drought, torrential rainstorms inundated the Santa Susana Field Lab, one of the most polluted places in the state. Runoff from far lesser storms in recent years resulted in more than 200 instances in which highly toxic and radioactive contaminants migrated off site at levels in excess of state pollution limits, and one can only imagine the effect these recent large storms have had.

Around the same time, the Department of Energy broke its solemn cleanup commitments and announced it would leave as much as 94 percent of the soil contaminated at the field lab site not cleaned up. Unless people rise up and our elected officials act strongly to enforce the promises, people in neighboring communities will be at perpetual risk from migrating radioactivity and toxic chemicals.

The field lab housed 10 nuclear reactors, of which at least four suffered accidents, including a partial nuclear meltdown in 1959. There was a factory for fabricating reactor fuel rods out of plutonium, perhaps the most dangerous substance on earth. In a “hot lab” there, highly irradiated nuclear fuel rods shipped in from around the nation were cut apart, with several radioactive fires.

It illegally burned radioactive and chemically hazardous wastes in open air pits, by shooting barrels of the waste with rifles to ignite them, with the toxic plumes blown over surrounding communities. It conducted tens of thousands of rocket tests, many using very dangerous fuels, and then flushed out the engines with a million gallons of toxic solvents that were allowed to simply percolate into the soil and groundwater.

The result of this shameful violation of basic environmental protections is widespread contamination of groundwater, surface water and soil with strontium-90, cesium-137, plutonium-239, perchlorate, PCBs, dioxins, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and much more. And because the site sits in the hills overlooking more than 500,000 people within 10 miles, the contamination wants to flow off site to the places and people below.

The site has been fined more than $1 million in recent years for allowing pollutants to migrate off the property at levels deemed unsafe for people or the environment. And as long as the site doesn’t get cleaned up, that will continue.

These awful materials cause cancers including leukemia, genetic defects, neurological and developmental disorders and other health problems. A federally funded study by Dr. Hal Morgenstern of the University of Michigan found a greater than 60 percent increase in key cancers in people living near the site compared with people living farther away. Another government-funded study by a team from UCLA led by Dr. Yoram Cohen concluded that numerous pollutants from the site had migrated off site at levels in excess of EPA levels of concern.

For these reasons, the community was joyous in 2010 when the Department of Energy and NASA signed legally binding agreements with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control requiring all contamination that could be detected in the soil to be cleaned up by 2017.

It is now 2017 and the cleanup hasn’t even begun. And the DOE just issued a draft environmental impact statement breaking the 2010 cleanup agreement and saying it will only consider three options, none of which comply with its past commitments.

One would leave 34 percent of the contamination in place. A second would leave 86 percent. And the third would walk away from a staggering 94 percent of the contaminated soil, just leaving it in place. The 2010 agreement barred any consideration of leave-in-place alternatives.

The DOE has essentially thumbed its nose at California. Even if the cleanup agreement didn’t exist, the decision on how much toxic pollution to clean up doesn’t rest with the polluter, but with the state regulator. The DOE can’t decide to just walk away from most of the contamination.

But the state has been remarkably silent so far in response to this assault on its authority. Indeed, it has in its own actions undercut the cleanup agreement it signed. Toxic Substances Control is years late on its own environmental impact report and has been busy undermining the cleanup in other ways as well.

In 2010, we were promised that, with a couple of narrow exceptions, all of the soil contamination that could be detected would be cleaned up. Now it appears likely than close to none will be, and the people in the area will continue to be at perpetual risk from migrating radioactive and toxic contamination — unless they speak out now, loud and clear, and their elected representatives do the same.

Robert Dodge, a family physician in Ventura, serves on the boards of Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions. Daniel Hirsch is director of the Program on Environmental and Nuclear Policy at UC Santa Cruz and president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap.

 

http://www.vcstar.com/story/opinion/columnists/2017/02/11/dodge-hirsch-santa-susana-field-lab-broken-promises/97766134/

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US govt won’t compensate Santa Susanna Field Laboratory workers exposed to radiation

Some experts say SSFL was the worst nuclear disaster in U.S. history.

April 18,2016

Highlights:

Department of Energy says only Santa Susana workers in Area IV could be exposed to radiation

But former nuclear workers say the system wasn’t so tidy and that they deserve medical compensation

Tales of sodium reactor waste dump, radioactive mist

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Nevada’s atomic test legacy: underground aquifers are radioactive

…polluted 1.6 trillion gallons of water…About a third of the [underground atomic] tests were conducted directly in aquifers…

Federal drinking water standards in 2009 when this article was written

..For alpha particles, the standard is 15 picocuries per liter; for long-term radionuclides, it’s 50 picocuries per liter

radioactivity in the water reaches millions of picocuries per liter.

From Los Angeles Times

Nevada’s hidden ocean of radiation

by Ralph Vartabedian
November 13, 2009

YUCCA FLAT, NEV. — A sea of ancient water tainted by the Cold War is creeping deep under the volcanic peaks, dry lake beds and pinyon pine forests covering a vast tract of Nevada.

Over 41 years, the federal government detonated 921 nuclear warheads underground at the Nevada Test Site, 75 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Each explosion deposited a toxic load of radioactivity into the ground and, in some cases, directly into aquifers.

When testing ended in 1992, the Energy Department estimated that more than 300 million curies of radiation had been left behind, making the site one of the most radioactively contaminated places in the nation.

During the era of weapons testing, Nevada embraced its role almost like a patriotic duty. There seemed to be no better use for an empty desert. But today, as Nevada faces a water crisis and a population boom, state officials are taking a new measure of the damage.

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For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, November 18, 2009 Correction
Nevada radiation: An article in Friday’s Section A about contaminated water at the Nevada Test Site said the federal drinking water standard for radiation is 20 picocuries per liter. There are actually three standards, depending on the type of radiation: For alpha particles, the standard is 15 picocuries per liter; for long-term radionuclides, it’s 50 picocuries per liter; and for short-lived tritium, it’s 20,000 picocuries per liter. The article also said the test site is northeast of Las Vegas; it is northwest.

—————————-

They have successfully pressured federal officials for a fresh environmental assessment of the 1,375-square-mile test site, a step toward a potential demand for monetary compensation, replacement of the lost water or a massive cleanup.

“It is one of the largest resource losses in the country,” said Thomas S. Buqo, a Nevada hydrogeologist. “Nobody thought to say, ‘You are destroying a natural resource.’ “

In a study for Nye County, where the nuclear test site lies, Buqo estimated that the underground tests polluted 1.6 trillion gallons of water. That is as much water as Nevada is allowed to withdraw from the Colorado River in 16 years — enough to fill a lake 300 miles long, a mile wide and 25 feet deep.

At today’s prices, that water would be worth as much as $48 billion if it had not been fouled, Buqo said.

Although the contaminated water is migrating southwest from the high ground of the test site, the Energy Department has no cleanup plans, saying it would be impossible to remove the radioactivity. Instead, its emphasis is on monitoring.

Federal scientists say the tainted water is moving so slowly — 3 inches to 18 feet a year — that it will not reach the nearest community, Beatty, about 22 miles away, for at least 6,000 years.

Still, Nevada officials reject the idea that a massive part of their state will be a permanent environmental sacrifice zone.

Access to more water could stoke an economic boom in the area, local officials say. More than a dozen companies want to build solar electric generation plants, but the county cannot allow the projects to go forward without more water, said Gary Hollis, a Nye County commissioner.

The problem extends beyond the contamination zone. If too much clean water is pumped out of the ground from adjacent areas, it could accelerate the movement of tainted water. When Nye County applied for permits in recent years to pump clean water near the western boundary of the test site, the state engineer denied the application based on protests by the Energy Department.

(The department did not cite environmental concerns, perhaps to avoid acknowledging the extent of the Cold War contamination. Instead, federal officials said the pumping could compromise security at the test site, which is still in use.)

“Those waters have been degraded,” said Republican state Assemblyman Edwin Goedhart of Nye County, who runs a dairy with 18,000 head of livestock. “That water belongs to the people of Nevada. Even before any contamination comes off the test site, I look at this as a matter of social economic justice.”

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