— ‘We all live downstream”; marine conservation biologist warns of the danger of Japan dumping Fukushima wastewater into the ocean

Posted by The Hill

by Rick Steiner Opinion Contributor
(THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL)

April 17, 2021

The Biden administration must urge Japan to abandon this unnecessary and dangerous plan.

The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster was caused by the 9.1 magnitude Tohoku earthquake and a 14-meter-high tsunami. The tsunami flooded and disabled emergency generators needed to pump cooling water into the nuclear reactor cores, causing three reactor core meltdowns and hydrogen explosions. Radionuclides flowed eastward across the Pacific and were eventually found in waters off California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia  and Alaska. We all live downstream. 

The storage tanks now hold seawater that has been used to continue cooling the reactor cores, and this water is contaminated with such radionuclides as Cesium-137, Carbon-14, tritium (including the more dangerous “Organically Bound Tritium”), Strontium-90, Cobalt-60, Iodine-129, Plutonium-239 — and over 50 other radionuclides. Some of this has reportedly been removed, but some has not (e.g. radioactive tritium and C-14).  

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that owns Fukushima, and is now responsible for the cleanup (that is likely to last the remainder of this century), didn’t admit until recently that the wastewater contains significant amounts of radioactive Carbon-14. As C-14 has a half-life of 5,730 years, and is known to bio-accumulate in marine ecosystems and cause cellular and genetic impairment. This is a very serious concern.

Fukushima C-14 will be added to the already elevated radioactive C-14 load in the oceans from nuclear weapons tests — or  “bomb carbon” — last century. It’s now found in organisms even in the deepest part of the ocean, the Marianas Trench. It is easy to imagine the impact this new, intentional Fukushima release could have, rightly or not, on the public image of clean marine seafood and tourism along the Pacific coast.

TEPCO claims the water has been sufficiently treated and is OK to release, but the treatment system they are using is reported to be substandard and not up to the job. Communities across the Pacific deserve an independent scientific assessment of TEPCO’s claims, by an Independent Scientific and Technical Commission. Remember, TEPCO and the Japanese government approved locating the nuclear power plant’s emergency generators in a tsunami flood zone. Their assurances now that there is no risk in releasing this radioactive water are neither credible nor scientifically defensible.

China and South Korea have registered objections to the release plan with Japan, but other downstream nations — the U.S., Russia and Canada — have stayed quietIt isn’t often that China expresses more concern for the environment than the U.S., but this is one such time.

And even if the ecological and public health risk from the planned release is indeed low, as claimed (this is highly doubtful), the risk is entirely unnecessary and avoidable. 

Beyond marine discharge, several other disposal options have been considered, including evaporating the water, or injecting it into deep geologic formations.

But by far the best solution is for TEPCO to build more storage tanks and continue holding all contaminated water for another 15 years or so, during which time the radioactive tritium level will decay by half, and simultaneously treat it with best available technology (such as ion exchange systems and modular “detritiation” systems in the U.S.) to remove all radionuclides possible. Japan and TEPCO considered this long-term storage option, but opted instead for the cheapest choice — simply dumping the wastewater into the Pacific. 

The era of intentionally dumping toxic waste in our one global ocean is, or should be, over.

Fukushima was, and continues to be, a nuclear nightmare, and all nations should join together in a collaborative effort to resolve this mess. This effort will take hundreds of billions of dollars, over many decades, and the U.S. and other G20 nations must step up and help both financially and technically.

Unless and until this wastewater is independently certified as effectively free of radionuclides and safe, not one drop should be released into the beautiful deep blue Pacific.

Finally, Fukushima should be the last nail in the coffin for the notion that nuclear fission power could be a realistic solution to our climate crisis.

Rick Steiner is a marine conservation biologist in Anchorage and former professor of marine conservation with the University of Alaska from 1980-2010. He now consults for the U.N., governments and NGOs on marine environmental issues. He is author of “Oasis Earth: Planet in Peril.”

https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/548726-the-danger-of-japan-dumping-fukushima-wastewater-into-the-ocean#:~:text=The%20Japanese%20government%20just%20announced,and%20the%20U.S.%20West%20Coast.

Posted under Fair Use Rules.

— Drigg: quaint coastal village and the UK’s “low level” nuclear dump

Up until the late 1980s radioactive wastes including plutonium wastes were tumble tipped into trenches. Now the site has gone all hi tech and compacts radioactive waste into rusting shipping containers…

From Radiation Free Lakeland
April 30. 2016

Drigg the quaint coastal village is also home to the UKs ‘Low Level Waste Repository’ (the word ‘Nuclear’ has been dropped from the official title) Although locals know this as the  Nuclear Dump.  Drigg is located near the Sellafield nuclear site on the shifting sands of the Cumbrian coast. Up until the late 1980s radioactive wastes including plutonium wastes were tumble tipped into trenches. Now the site has gone all hi tech and compacts radioactive waste into rusting shipping containers, any void in the container is filled with concrete.

The site sits above West Cumbria Aquifer from which is drawn the borehole water supply for much of West Cumbria while Sellafield gets most of its water from Wastwater.

The plan is to keep on dumping the high end of “low level” radioactive waste here despite the threat of inundation not just from the Irish Sea but also from the rivers and becks running through and alongside the site.

The planning application to extend the wastes, stacking ever more shipping containers higher, has already been approved by our toothless regulators, the Environment Agency.

Please write to the Development Control and Regulation Committee of Cumbria County Council who will be looking at this application on the 11th May ( if it isn’t postponed again) and ask them to refuse permission for the continued use of Drigg as a nuclear waste dump. Ask them to lobby government to hold a moratorium on “decommissioning” and dumping (breaking up and ‘disposing’ of old nuclear plants) which we now know means dispersal of radioactive wastes to Drigg rather than containment on original sites. Many more Driggs and radioactive landfills will be needed if new nuclear build goes ahead.

The site owners the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority pass day to day running of the site to multinational corporations involved in “decommissioning’ and those corporations largely monitor themselves. SO the same people responsible for producing the waste are also responsible for dumping it. The Environment Agency has told us it sees no conflict of interest in this…but we do!   Studsvik, a Swedish company who operate the only radioactive scrap metal plant in Europe here in Cumbria is one of the partners of the Drigg site.  On 20th April Studsvik’s waste operations were taken over by EDF.  Presumably this means that EDF  now have a large hand in running the Drigg site? Will EDF be tempted to ship tonnes of radioactive metals from their 9 nuclear plants being decommissioned now in France, to the Studsvik plant in Workington now that they own it?  And will the ever increasing tonnage of radioactive shot metal from that radioactive metal “recycling” end up in Drigg which they will also be operating?

more info here:http://www.theecologist.org/campaigning/2986745/cumbria_flooding_environment_agency_issues_alert_on_drigg_nuclear_waste_site.html

https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/drigg-quaint-coastal-village-and-the-uks-low-level-nuclear-dump/

Stop Fukushima Freeways; Telebriefing October 15

From the Nuclear Information & Resource Service
October 9, 2015

STOP FUKUSHIMA FREEWAYS   NIRS Telebriefing  Thursday October 15, 2015
8 pm (eastern) to 9:30 pm (eastern)

Speakers:

Diane D’Arrigo, Radioactive Waste Project Director, Nuclear Information & Resource Service
Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Watch Dog, Beyond Nuclear
David Kraft, Executive Director, Nuclear Energy Information Service
Judy Treichel, Executive Director, Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force

Congress will order the transport of highly radioactive waste through our major cities, communities, farms and forests, and even our waterways, unless we say STOP!

If highly radioactive “spent” nuclear fuel went to a central site, how would it get there? This month our network of activists and allied organizations will show that picture.

Transporting the highly radioactive waste that has piled up at the nation’s nuclear power reactors is a far greater hazard than Congress or the federal government has admitted. These bodies also play down the risk that anything bad will happen. It is only rational to prevent extra and unnecessary shipments.

NIRS will host a telebriefing next Thursday, October 15, 2015, to share more information on transport. Register for this telebriefing by clicking here.

And join the Stop Fukushima Freeways campaign this month by helping NIRS and grassroots groups across the country raise awareness of the issue with a nationally-coordinated release of new maps of the projected routes that this lethal radioactive waste would travel. Many groups acting together as one community on the same day underscores that we are working together to stop bad ideas. NIRS will help you do it, but we ask that each group/activist step up and contact the media in your region in your own name. To join this campaign now, sign up by clicking here.

Congress wants to revive the failed Yucca Mountain repository site, and is also considering creating a new option for the creation of consolidated storage sites that would be identical to the storage already at reactors. We call on you to stand together and reject these bad ideas. We can’t allow any more lost time, money and other resources on the failed Yucca plan, or there will be no resources for a better plan. The first step remains an end to making more of this waste.

Fukushima stands as proof that this same waste can be catastrophic when stationary in pool storage. Dry storage is a step forward in reducing radioactive risks; many environmental and safe energy groups have endorsed the concept of hardened on site dry storage (HOSS).

The risks go way up, however, when these containers containing waste that will give a lethal dose of radiation in seconds if unshielded are put on a truck or a rail car. Learn more—see the links below, and register for NIRS’ telebriefing: STOP FUKUSHIMA FREEWAYS.

You will receive call-in information after you register. There is also a web-phone option.

The telebriefing will be recorded and posted online. If you register, we will send you that link in the days after the event.

Resources:
Hot Cargo Factsheet
Talking Points on Yucca
Science vs Fiction at Yucca Mountain

Bills in Congress that, if passed, would trigger transport of highly radioactive waste:
HOUSE: H.R.3643 — Interim Consolidated Storage Act of 2015
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c114:H.R.3643
SENATE: Nuclear Waste Administration Act SB 854
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-114s854is/pdf/BILLS-114s854is.pdf
Click here for a webcast of an October 1 hearing in the US House Commerce Committee: Transporting Nuclear Materials: Design, Logistics, and Shipment. Written testimony is posted here.

Thank you for your activism!

And thank you for your support for NIRS. That support is especially needed now. We are just four thousand dollars short of meeting a critical $50,000 matching grant for our campaigns on nuclear power and climate and to close dangerous, obsolete and uneconomic nuclear reactors. Your donation now, of whatever size you can afford, will help enable us to meet that essential match.  Please donate now by clicking here

Michael Mariotte
President
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
nirsnet@nirs.org

Stay Informed:

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