Le Devoir gaz de schiste INSPQ Article in French (See attached) basically stating that the Public Health Institute of Quebec has ruled (reported January 31 in Le Devoir, daily paper from Montreal) that fracking for natural gas, during its exploration and development pose real risks for the health of citizens and its environment. ONe more confirmation that fracking is a dangerous practice, for people and the environment!

This easy to read 3 page article looks at the Public Health Institute article written in September 2013, but only posted on their website in January 2014. The report addresses the risks to water contamination and air pollution as they affect the health of the local population. There is a moratorium on fracking in Quebec.

NUKES
Long term underground storage on nuclear waste - facility closed indefinitely.

Background March 5, 2014.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico, is the only operational Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) in North America. It is intended to permanently store "transuranic radioactive waste" (TRU) left over from the research and production of nuclear weapons, for a period of 10,000 years. Many of the transuranic nuclides stored at WIPP have half-lives much longer than 10,000 years.

"Transuranic" nuclides are those having an atomic number greater than 92, the atomic number of uranium. They include isotopes of neptunium, plutonium, americium, curium, and einsteinium, but by far the most plentiful are the isotopes of plutonium – especially plutonium-238, -239, -240, -241, and -242.

Most of the transuranic nuclides are alpha-emitters that give off little or no penetrating gamma radiation. Alpha radiation is a non-penetrating form of atomic radiation that cannot penetrate through a piece of paper. Inside the body, however, alpha radiation is much more biologically damaging than beta or gamma radiation. Per unit of energy deposited in living tissue, it is acknowledged by authorities that alpha radiation is about 20 times more damaging than most beta or gamma radiation. Per becquerel, the disparity is even greater -- each alpha disintegration is 100 to 200 times more damaging than most beta or gamma disintegrations.

The most dangerous pathway for alpha-emitters is generally the inhalation pathway. In particular, insoluble but respirable particles of plutonium oxide are extraordinarily effective in causing lung damage. Afew milligrams of such material inhaled into the lungs can cause death by massive fibrosis of the lungs in a relatively short time, while a few micrograms inhaled can cause a fatal lung cancer many years later with near certainty.

There was a fire reported at WIPP a few weeks ago, and then some time later airborne alpha-emitting radioactive contamination was found at the site, and thirteen workers were found to have been contaminated. Because these respirable particles can remain airborne for weeks, and can be resuspended very easily, the site has temporarily been closed down.

This leakage tarnishes the reputation of the WIPP as a safe and secure waste repository. It has only been in operation since 1999, having cost over one billion dollars and more than 20 years of effort to construct, and it is supposed to remain leakproof for 10,000 years. The fact that it could leak after only 15 years is embarrassing.
There are only two other operational underground nuclear waste dumps in the world, and one of them -- the Asse II Salt Mine in Germany -- has proven to be a dismal failure.

From 1967 to 1978 radioactive waste was emplaced in the Asse II facility, and from 1994 to 2004 the passages were filled with salt.

But in 2008 the media reported leaks of brine contaminated with radioactive cesium, strontium and plutonium, and it soon became apparent that the operators had withheld information about such leaks for several years. It has now been acknowledged that the Asse facility is completely unsuitable for permanent storage of radioactive waste, and efforts are underway to retrieve the radiotoxic materials that were abandoned there so many years ago.

Gordon Edwards.

WIPP stays closed to waste, by Journal and wire reports
http://www.abqjournal.com/author/journalstaff, Albuquerque Journal,
March 4, 2014
http://www.abqjournal.com/362377/news/wipp-stays-closed-to-waste.html

The federal government’s only underground nuclear waste site remained shuttered Monday and state environment officials said they have set deadlines for the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractor to deal with radioactive waste left above ground at the repository.

Dozens of drums and other special containers that have been shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant from federal facilities around the country are being stored in a parking area at the plant and inside the facility’s waste handling building.
From there, the waste is usually taken to its final resting place deep in underground salt beds. However, WIPP has been closed since early February because of back-to-back accidents, including a radiation release that exposed at least 13 workers and set off air monitoring devices around the plant.

Under its permit with the state, the site can keep waste stored in the parking area for only 30 days and up to 60 days in the handling building. Due to the closure, the state is extending those limits to 60 days and 105 days, respectively. The federal government would have to develop an alternative storage plan if the underground caverns remain off-limits for more than three months. The Environment Department outlined the deadlines in an administrative order made public Monday.


Decontamination Efforts 3 Years after the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster
March 12, 2014 Japan, Nuclear

Gordon Edwards

March 11, 2014, was the third anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi triple meltdown disaster.

Here is a graphic showing the original 211 evacuation zone, within 20 km of the plant, and the band between 20 km and 30 km where people were ordered to be “evacuation ready.”

The town of Iitate — a bit more than 30 km northwest of the plant — also had to be evacuated and remains evacuated to this day due to heavy fallout.

The most heavily contaminated areas include the original 20 km evacuation zone and some irregular areas northwest and a bit south of that. The yellow area in the next graphic shows that radiation levels there were higher than the maximum exposure allowed for atomic workers in the European Union (that is, 20 millisieverts per year).



There are about 100 communities contained in the yellow areas, designated as “Intensive Contamination Survey Areas.” In all these towns and villages, huge volumes of contaminated soil are dug up and bagged as radioactive waste, including parts of the forest floor within 20 meters of a residence.

Decontaminating a single home takes several days to a few weeks. Contaminated garden soil must be dug up and bagged, and replaced with uncontaminated topsoil.
 
House walls and even garden rocks are scrubbed to try to decontaminate them, with only partial success. Radioactivity is very difficult to dislodge from surfaces to which it has “bonded,” even after a long, painstaking effort. Two years after the disaster, in March 2013, only about a quarter of the homes in Fukushima City had been even partially decontaminated.

Tokyo has also been contaminated by the fallout from Fukushima — but the Japanese government does not want to admit this.

Post-Script:

An informative 40 minute video was released by the Ministry of the Environment in Japan in September 2013, about 6 months ago.
Link to Video: http://josen-plaza.env.go.jp/materials_links/index.html#movie131007en

It documents radioactive decontamination efforts in places such as Fukushima CIty and the town of Koori, some 65 kilometers away from the reactors in a northwest direction. As you can see in the video, extensive decontamination efforts are deemed necessary on a house-by-house basis.

All of this is reasonable and helpful, but only partially effective. I know of several examples where people were told (e.g., by US government officials or Canadian nuclear authorities) that they could safely return to live in or work in areas that had been successfully decontaminated, without any need for protective clothing or equipment — only to find out later on that the authorities had been wrong, and the areas were in fact not safe for the people to re-inhabit or to work without protection.

The Japanese Government web site where this video was posted is entitled “Measures for Decontamination of Radioactive Materials Discharged by TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi NPS Accident.” Here is the link:  http://josen.env.go.jp/en/

Gordon Edwards
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