— Japan alert: May-June symposiums to reveal maps of proposed nuclear waste dumps

Many half-truths and untruths in this article.

“Robust containers” — really? Sounds like an advert. No mention of manufacturer. Also the thickness of the containers is conspicuously missing.  Also, are these single-walled or double-walled?

Selection will be based on “scientific grounds rather than waiting for municipalities to volunteer”. In other words, these waste storage sites will be forced on communities.

The most hilarious statement is that these facilities will be in stable bedrock. Where does that exist in Japan, a country on the Ring of Fire, with earthquakes and volcanoes?

On what basis is the claim that radioactivity will be reduced to 1/1000 in 1000 years? On which radioactive element is the government and the news media basing this claim, and what about all the other radioactive elements?

There’s enough scary information — 1,500 sieverts per hour from these containers — to make any sane person ask, “What are we doing creating and increasing this lethal nightmare every single day?” 

But then sanity was never part of nuclear energy’s scheme.

From Japan Times

Government to release map of potential final nuclear disposal sites this summer

May 2, 2017

The government has set the criteria for a map meant to identify potential final disposal sites for high-level radioactive nuclear waste, paving the way for its release as early as this summer.

The process of finding a host for nuclear waste could face challenges amid public concerns over safety.

Based on the map, the government will approach select municipalities to allow research to be conducted for suitable sites to store waste from nuclear power generation.

For permanent disposal, high-level nuclear waste needs to be stored at a final depository more than 300 meters underground for up to about 100,000 years until radiation levels fall and there is no longer potential harm to humans and the environment.

The government plans to create a permanent underground repository somewhere in stable bedrock so the canisters can be stored for tens of thousands of years.

The map is likely to classify which areas are geologically suitable for such a structure to be built deep enough underground. This would rule out areas near active faults and volcanoes as well as oil and coal fields.

Based on waste transport criteria, the map is likely to show that zones within 20 km of the coastline are favorable to host final disposal sites.

The government hopes other municipalities — not just the ones located near nuclear power plants — may also become interested in hosting the disposal facilities. It also wants to show that a variety of places nationwide are suitable for nuclear waste management.

The map was originally planned for a 2016 release but the publication date was later postponed, as some local governments were wary that disposal sites would be imposed on them.

About 18,000 tons of spent fuel currently exist in Japan. Including spent fuel that has already been reprocessed, the country’s total jumps to about 25,000 canisters of vitrified high-level waste, all of which needs to be managed.

The process to find local governments willing to host final storage started in 2002, but little progress was made due mainly to opposition from local residents.

In May 2015, the central government introduced a plan announcing that final depository site selection would be based on scientific grounds, rather than waiting for municipalities to volunteer.

Before presenting the map, the government will hold symposiums between mid-May and June at nine cities to explain the map criteria to the public. The cities include Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka.

Radioactive waste is classified into two categories: The high-level type is generated from reprocessing spent fuel by separating the plutonium and uranium for recycling, while the low level type refers to all other waste.

High-level waste is a byproduct of fission in the reactor core, which is very hot and dangerous. It is mixed with glass and solidified before being placed in robust heat-resistant stainless steel canisters that are 130 cm high, 40 cm in diameter and weigh 500 kg each.

A full canister emits about 1,500 sieverts per hour — an extremely lethal biological level — and has a surface temperature in excess of 200 degrees.

Its radioactivity starts at 20,000 trillion becquerels. It will take about 1,000 years to fall to one-thousandth of that level, and tens of thousands of years to weaken to the same intensity as natural uranium ore, the Natural Resources and Energy Agency says.

Worldwide, only Finland and Sweden have been able to successfully decide on a final depository site for nuclear waste, while many other countries with nuclear plants face difficulties in doing so.

The United States decided in 2009 to call off a plan to build a site to dispose spent fuel in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain due to local opposition, but President Donald Trump earmarked funds to revive the plan in the budget proposal for fiscal 2018 unveiled in March.

In Japan, the selection process is also a touchy issue and has triggered conflicts in the communities around which prospective depository sites have been considered.

In one example, Minamiosumi Mayor Toshihiko Morita in Kagoshima Prefecture filed a criminal complaint against a 65-year-old resident for libel, claiming that his allegations that the rural town office had been actively inviting such a facility was not only groundless but also defamation.

The resident handed out flyers to about 500 households in the town in January which said Morita went to Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, and Horonobe in Hokkaido at the invitation of the private sector involved in the construction of nuclear waste disposal facilities. Both municipalities host nuclear-related facilities.

Morita flatly denied the allegations, telling Kyodo News in writing that he has heard “rumors” that there have been moves aimed at hosting a nuclear waste disposal facility but “I myself haven’t gone anywhere and been treated to anything.”

“I would reject any request from the central government” to host one, Morita said. The town approved an ordinance to reject a plan to host a nuclear waste disposal facility the year after the 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

A supporter of the mayor, however, did visit nuclear-related facilities in locations including Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, several years ago, according to the supporter’s admission, and a Tokyo company covered the expenses of the trip.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/02/national/government-release-map-potential-final-nuclear-disposal-sites-summer/#.WQ11pfnysnQ

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— Germany: “Nightmare” problems with nuclear waste causes public distrust in disposal plan

“There were people who said it wasn’t a good idea to put radioactive waste down here, but nobody listened to them.”
Annette Parlitz, spokeswoman, Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS).

From New Scientist

By Fred Pearce in Asse, Germany
January 29, 2016

Major problems at a salt mine where 126,000 drums of radioactive debris are stored are fuelling public distrust of long-term waste disposal plans, reports Fred Pearce from Asse, Germany

Half a kilometre beneath the forests of northern Germany, in an old salt mine, a nightmare is playing out.

A scheme to dig up previously buried nuclear waste is threatening to wreck public support for Germany’s efforts to make a safe transition to a non-nuclear future.

Enough plutonium-bearing radioactive waste is stored here to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools. When engineers backfilled the chambers containing 126,000 drums in the 1970s, they thought they had put it out of harm’s way forever.

But now, the walls of the Asse mine are collapsing and cracks forming, thanks to pressure from surrounding rocks. So the race is on to dig it all up before radioactive residues are flushed to the surface.

It could take decades to resolve. In the meantime, excavations needed to extract the drums could cause new collapses and make the problem worse.

“There were people who said it wasn’t a good idea to put radioactive waste down here, but nobody listened to them,” says Annette Parlitz, spokeswoman for the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), as we tour the mine.

This is just one part of Germany’s nuclear nightmare. The country is also wrestling a growing backlog of spent fuel.

And it has to worry about vast volumes of radioactive rubble that will be created as all the country’s 17 nuclear plants are decommissioned by 2022 – a decision taken five years ago, in the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima disaster. The final bill for decommissioning power plants and getting rid of the waste is estimated to be at least €36 billion.

Some 300,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate-level waste requiring long-term shielding, including what is dug from the Asse mine, is earmarked for final burial at the Konrad iron mine in Lower Saxony.

What will happen to the high-level waste, the spent fuel and other highly radioactive waste that must be kept safe for up to a million years is still debated.

Later this year, a Final Storage Commission of politicians and scientists will advise on criteria for choosing a site where deep burial or long-term storage should be under way by 2050.

But its own chairman, veteran parliamentarian Michael Muller, says that timetable is unlikely to be met. “We all believe deep geology is the best option, but I’m not sure if there is enough [public] trust to get the job done,” he says.

Lack of trust

Many anti-nuclear groups are boycotting the commission.

Although they agree Germany must deal with its own waste, they don’t trust the process of choosing a site. They fear that the authorities are secretly fixed on reviving plans for burial at Gorleben, another Lower Saxony salt dome.

Currently, 113 flasks containing high-level waste are housed in a temporary store there.

One flask of high-level waste contains as much radioactivity as 30 Hiroshima bombs,” says Wolfgang Ehmke, who has been a campaigner for 40 years. “We cannot bury this waste here in northern Germany [because] there could be 10 ice ages, with glaciers scraping away the rocks, before the waste is safe.”

The protesters have wide popular support. And the problems at the Asse salt mine have led to further distrust of engineers and their solutions.

The abandoned mine was bought by the German government in 1965, ostensibly to research the suitability of salt domes for disposing of radioactive waste. Yet after two years, without waiting for scientific reports, the authorities secretly turned it into a cheap and supposedly permanent nuclear dump.

By then, 90 per cent of the mine’s 5 million cubic metres of salt had been excavated, and the mine was already buckling under the weight of the rocks above, says Ingo Bautz of the BfS, who oversees activities at the site.

As the walls bent, cracks formed. And because the miners had dug to within 10 metres of the impervious rock, in 1988, underground water started to trickle in.

The true state of affairs only became public knowledge in 2008. Despite hurried backfilling of much of the mine, the degradation continues. Brine seeps in at a rate of around 12,000 litres a day, threatening to flush radioactive material to the surface. “It is a disastrous situation,” says Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Environment.

Painfully slow

In 2011, the BfS ruled that the waste had to be removed. But the task is hard and likely to take decades. Just checking the state of the 13 chambers holding the waste drums is painfully slow. Engineers drilling to reach them through 20 metres of rock don’t know whether the drums have leaked, and of course they cannot risk a release of radioactivity.

Since work started in 2012, just one borehole has been completed into one of the chambers. Engineers say they will need to sink a second shaft and open up big new galleries where the drums can be made safe before they are retrieved.

But exploratory drilling has revealed that the salt dome is not as big as thought, says Bautz.

And unless care is taken to keep clear of the geological barrier, the excavations risk allowing more water in. “We can’t rule out that the mine could flood,” he says. “If that happened, retrieval would be impossible. We would backfill it all.”

Nothing will be moved until at least 2033, says Bautz. Meanwhile the bills keep rising. It costs €140 million a year just to keep the mine safe for work to continue. The final bill will run into many billions.

Is it worth it? Many experts fear that digging up the drums, with consequent risks of radioactive leaks, could create a much greater hazard than leaving them where they are.

A former top official on the project, geochemist Michael Siemann, told the media in 2012 that safe retrieval was unrealistic. “Many people know this, but no one wants to say it.”

“There could be a conflict between protecting future generations and creating risks for today,” Bautz concedes.

Germany may ultimately perform a service to the world if it can pioneer solutions that other nuclear countries may look to in the future, including the UK, which is struggling with its own waste legacy.

But if Germans ever thought that abandoning nuclear power would end their nuclear problems, they couldn’t have been more wrong.

Read more: Waste away: Nuclear power’s eternal problem

Fred Pearce’s costs during the field trip to the mine were paid for by Clean Energy Wire, an independent non-profit media service.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2075615-radioactive-waste-dogs-germany-despite-abandoning-nuclear-power/

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— Would You CONSENT to Nuclear Waste? Tell DOE “NO” to Fukushima Freeways — deadline July 31

The DOE proposal is about the “future” of nuclear energy. DOE wants to continue promoting nuclear power plants, continue creating nuclear weapons, continue churning out nuclear waste. Without disposal, there is no future. We can collectively refuse.

Sane people want to  know: how can there be “disposal” for something that lasts millions or billions of years?

From Nuclear Information and Resource Service

July 27, 2016

Dear Friends,

What would it take for you to consent to accept nuclear waste in your region? The Department of Energy (DOE) wants to know.

DOE has held 9 public meetings across the country this year, and is now taking written comments, on the concept of public “consent” to accept high-level radioactive waste.

Send DOE  your comment today: No more nuclear waste – No Fukushima Freeways!

After decades of trying to force-feed the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear dump down the throats of Nevadans and the Western Shoshone Nation, the DOE and nuclear proponents now want to know what it will take to get people to “consent,” or at least appear to consent, to take nuclear waste in their communities.

DOE acknowledges this is also “consent” to future nuclear waste production as part of setting up an “integrated waste management system.” The federal agency says that the future of nuclear energy in this country depends on this.

Tell DOE what you think of nuclear waste by clicking here.

DOE seeks public input on how to be FAIR, WHO to include in the consent process, and what RESOURCES it will take to induce community participation in the nation’s radioactive waste program.

  • DOE wants to identify who adequately represents a community and will consent to take nuclear waste on its behalf.
  • DOE is not defining exactly what or how much nuclear waste we would be “consenting” or not consenting to accept.
  • And DOE is not asking how a community can refuse or express permanent “non-consent,” although you can let them know that if you choose to.

Although they have reports, diagrams of storage containers and systems, ideas and plans for the tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste in this country, they claim to want to negotiate with communities who would “consent” to take it forever or supposedly temporarily.

Tell DOE what you think of nuclear waste by clicking here.

No consideration of the rights or consent of communities along transport routes is being made or requested. Although one of the greatest dangers to the most people, environments and ecosystems is the movement of tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste on roads, rails and waterways, DOE has stated that there is complete federal preemption over transport of nuclear waste, so states and communities along the transport routes would have no voice, no matter how much waste DOE plans to move through them.

DOE is giving no consideration of the rights of future generations who will inevitably be affected.

DOE and the nuclear industry are eager for volunteering or consenting communities to take the waste and for the DOE to take title to it–absolving the industry of responsibility for managing the waste it creates before there is even a proven solution for its long-term management.

Thanks for all you do!

Mary Olson – Southeast Office Director
Diane D’Arrigo – Radioactive Waste Project Director

For More Information

NIRS Info Materials on Fukushima Freeways and Consolidated Storage
Talking Points on Consent-Based Siting from Beyond Nuclear

Click here to read a Federal Register notice that explains more about DOE’s request for public comment on these issues. There is also information on this DOE website.

You can contact Diane D’Arrigo or Mary Olson at NIRS for more information about the other meetings and the issue generally.

Submit a Public Comment! We encourage everyone to submit your own thoughts on these issues to DOE. Comment deadline is July 31, 2016. Please send an email to consentbasedsiting@hq.doe.gov. Please include “Response to IPC” in the subject line.

Stay Informed:

NIRS on the web: http://www.nirs.org

GreenWorld: (NIRS’ blog chronicling nuclear issues and the transition to a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system) http://www.safeenergy.org

NIRS on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nuclear-Information-and-Resource-Service/26490791479?sk=wall&filter=12

http://www.facebook.com/nonukesnirs

http://www.facebook.com/groups/nukefreeclimatefreemarch/

NIRS on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/nirsnet

NIRS on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/nirsnet
http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5502/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1369374

— Japan’s new rule designates radioactive waste as ordinary waste when radioactivity is below 8000Bq/kg

From Japan Atomic Industrial Forum:

May 2, 2016

On April 28, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment (MOE) officially decided on a new rule regarding so-called “specified waste” from the March 2011 accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants, to the effect that when the concentration of radioactive cesium in such waste falls below 8,000Bq/kg, the waste will no longer be deemed specified and may be disposed of in the same manner as ordinary waste.

By Ms. Tamayo Marukawa

The actual lifting of a specified waste designation, however, will be determined in talks between the national government and the local municipality concerned. Costs for disposal of the waste after the lifting will be borne by the national government, as is the case with specified waste.

MOE revised its ministerial ordinance under the Act on Special Measures Concerning the Handling of Pollution by Radioactive Materials, and those revisions took effect the same day. At a press conference, MOE Minister Tamayo Marukawa said, “The national government will deal with the matter, after lifting the designation, together with local municipalities.”

Specified waste is generated primarily in five prefectures—Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba—and has been temporarily stored at such places as waste treatment facilities, sewage plants and on farmers’ private property. Radioactive concentrations have fallen naturally in the five years since the nuclear accident, and there are increasing volumes of waste with concentrations lower than the criteria. There had, however, been no clear rule on lifting the designation, and municipalities had asked the government to issue such a rule as swiftly as possible.

Under the new rule, either the MOE or the municipality will check the level of radioactive cesium concentration, and lifting the specified waste designation will be determined in talks between the two parties. After the lifting, municipalities will be able to dispose of the waste as ordinary waste.

In the case of specified waste stored in Miyagi Prefecture, re-measuring by the MOE showed that the radioactive concentrations in 2,300 tons of it—two-thirds of the total—were lower than the criteria.

http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/moe-revises-ordinance-changing-waste-designation-to-ordinary-when-radioactive-concentration-falls

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Question: Along with this being completely absurd, when these piles are “remeasured”, are the metrics and gauges even calibrated correctly?