Archive for the ‘Radiation’ Category

A crucial ban on mining uranium around the Grand Canyon is about to expire, and corporations have already staked more than 1,100 claims to drill.

Ripping up radioactive material around a national landmark, with its fragile ecosystem and designation as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, will cause irreversible damage to its beauty and wildlife, put nearby communities at risk (especially the Havasupai, a Native American tribe who inhabit the canyon itself) and contaminate the water supply for millions who live nearby.

Thousands have already signed a petition started by Suzanne Sparling of Arizona calling on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to extend the ban on uranium mining around the Grand Canyon.

A nationwide outcry has forced the Interior Department to extend the time window for public comment about the decision.

To read more about the impacts of uranium mining on the Grand Canyon, click here to visit the Grand Canyon Trust’s website whose mission is to protect and restore the Colorado Plateau — its spectacular landscapes, flowing rivers, clean air, diversity of plants and animals, and areas of beauty and solitude.

You can click here to send an email to your representatives in Congress telling them you support U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s new Bureau of Land Management “Wild Lands” policy.

There is just a short time to protect one of America’s most important national parks, click here to sign Suzanne Sparling’s petition.

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Wanted: Short term, possibly long term position that pays thousands of dollars for up to an hour of work requiring little training working in perilously radioactive environments.

A Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) official said this week that the company has tasks fit for “jumpers” (ジャンパー) — workers so called because they “jump” into highly radioactive areas to accomplish a job in a minimum of time and race out as quickly as possible.  Sometimes jumpers can make multiple runs if the cumulative dosage is within acceptable limits — although “acceptable” can be open to interpretation.  In cases of extreme leaks however the radiation might be so intense that jumpers can only make one such foray in their entire lives, or risk serious radiation poisoning.

Asked how the contaminated water could be pumped out and how long it would take, a TEPCO official replied: “The pump could be powered from an independent generator, and all that someone would have to do is bring one end of the pump to the water and dump it in, and then run out.”

Translation: Jumpers wanted.

In its attempts to bring under control its radiation leaky nuclear power plant that was severely damaged by last month’s massive earthquake and tsunami,  TEPCO is trying to get workers ever closer to the sources of radiation at the plant.

Workers are reportedly being offered hazard pay to work in the damaged reactors of up to $5,000 per day.

So if you aren’t concerned about the quality of your life 10 to 15 years down the line and are not planning on having children, this may be the job for you.

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HB 2184 will probably be voted out of the Texas House State Affairs Committee later this afternoon and so far, legislation that impacts how much, from where and how safely radioactive waste will be stored at a West Texas site is moving forward in favor of the private operator, giving them the power to negotiate private deals to import waste, make a gigantic profit and do it without any oversight by Texas regulatory agencies or the Texas Low-level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission.

According to an article in Mother Jones:

The compact allows him (Simmons) to get paid for burying other states’ nuclear trash while outsourcing much of the risk to Texas taxpayers. Though the state will receive a cut of disposal fees and $36 million to cover “corrective action” and “post-closure” expenses, it will have to bear any other cleanup costs on its own. According to a report by the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission: “Potential future contamination [from the waste] could not only have a severe impact to the environment and human health, but to the State, which bears the ultimate financial responsibility for compact waste disposal facility site.

Click here to read the recent Mother Jones article on the history and issues with this site.

In light of the massive cleanup that faces Japan from the radiation that is flooding the area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in the wake of its ongoing recovery efforts – seemingly contributed to by Japan’s failure to adequately regulate and reign in the runaway plant operator, is it in Texas’ best interest to just let this company have their way with us?

This bill will go next to the floor of the House and if it continues to move, as we expect it will given the money and influence behind it, on to a Senate committee.  If we are to have any chance of making this bill more protective of the health, well-being and pocketbooks of regular Texans, regular Texans are going to have to let their lawmakers know they are concerned.

House State Affairs

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Radiation hotspots of Cesium-137 from Chernobyl

Radiation hotspots of Cesium-137 in 1996 resulting from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. -Wikipedia

Experts believe the radioactive core in reactor No. 2 at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to the concrete floor of the drywell below.  This new development has raised fears of a major release of radiation at the site, and some nuclear industry experts are saying that while they don’t believe there is a danger of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe, it’s not going to be good news for the environment.

The major concern when molten fuel breaches a containment vessel is that it will react with the concrete floor of the drywell, releasing radioactive gases into the surrounding area. At Fukushima, the drywell has been flooded with seawater, which was a last ditch effort to cool any molten fuel that escapes from the reactor and reduce the amount of radioactive gas released.

The drywell is surrounded by a secondary steel-and-concrete structure designed to keep radioactive material from escaping into the environment. But an earlier hydrogen explosion at the reactor may have damaged this, and the detection of water outside the containment area that is highly radioactive and can only have come from the reactor core, is a good indication that the containment area has been breached.

In the meantime, countries around the world are reassessing their nuclear power programs.  Britain has signaled that they could take a step back from nuclear power in the wake of the disaster.  Germany ordered a temporary halt to the country’s seven oldest reactors, and China is considering scaling back their program.

France, which gets about 80 percent of its energy from atomic power and has been the poster child for nuclear power during the recent nuclear renaissance, wants threats from airplane crashes and terrorists excluded from safety checks planned on European reactors following the Fukushima nuclear accident.  An interesting stance to take considering as recently as October of 2010, the French defense minister, Herve Morin told the French people that a terrorist threat exists, and could hit them at any moment.

At a minimum, governments should insist on two conditions for the future of the next generation of nuclear power plants: they have to be safe and they can not let the taxpayer be ripped off.  This is a opportunity for investment into renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and energy storage that don’t have the potential to be really, really bad news for the environment and the people who live in that environment.

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Today is the 32nd anniversary of the worst U.S. nuclear accident, a partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island power plant outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Although no deaths or injuries resulted, many of the concerns the public is expressing about the ultimate fate of the doomed Fukushima Dai-ichi plant were played out over five days in 1979 in the North East.  Then, as now, it is difficult for the public to discern what the real status of the situation is.

Today a spokesperson for the Japanese government announced that the containment structure surrounding the No. 2 reactor at the nuclear power plant is damaged and may be leaking radioactive material.  Tepco, the plant’s owner, then disclosed that small amounts of plutonium had been found among contaminants around the facility later today as Japanese authorities explained that how radioactive water was leaking into maintenance tunnels and possibly, into the Pacific Ocean.

The radiation level near the No 2 reactor is four times the top dose Japan’s Health Ministry has set for emergency workers struggling to control the further emission of radioactive material from the damaged plant and it is unclear what the status of ongoing efforts are, given the increased radiation levels. 

Greenpeace is organizing vigils around the country to show support for the victims of the Japan disaster and ask for a nuclear-free world.  Click here to find out about an event in your area tonight.

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NRC LogoReprint of NRC notice No. 11-027
February 16, 2011


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting Feb. 24 in Rockville, Md., to discuss potential revisions to a key document used by agency staff in classifying low-level radioactive waste for disposal.

The agency is also seeking written public comment on revisions to the document, known as the Branch Technical Position on Concentration Averaging and Encapsulation (CABTP).  (Yeah, I have no idea what that means either, but I do know that there are plans afoot to bring a whole lot of low-level radioactive waste to Texas so we should probably pay attention to what is classified as low-level radioactive waste)

The public meeting will be held at the Legacy Hotel Meeting Rooms, 1775 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 24. Public comments will be accepted through April 15.


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The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant.

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant -by Wikipedia

In an article by the New York Times that focuses on Vermont‘s concerns about losing space to waste from generators in other states, Matthew Wald writes:

Waste disposal is so difficult, says the company, Waste Control Services, that power plants and other generating sources have reduced their volumes sharply. And Vermont and Texas together produce so little that, the company adds, it would have to charge huge amounts per cubic foot and per unit of radioactivity to get its investment back.

Yet, the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition’s research shows the Waste Control Specialists site is currently licensed for 2.3 million cubic feet of water and 3.89 million curies. Texas’ existing four reactors and Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor would require 6 million cubic feet of capacity.

Tom “Smitty” Smith, the director of the Texas office of Public Citizen tells the New York Times that he believes, “They’re trying to get it done before the new governor takes office.”

To read the New York Times article, click here.

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Texas is at risk of becoming the nation’s radioactive dumping ground. 

The new proposed rules were posted in the Texas Register on Friday, November 24th and the public comment period is through December 26th.  In the meantime, the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission (TLLRWCC) has scheduled a public hearing on the import/export Rule on December 9th (Thursday) at 10 am.  The meeting will be on the TCEQ campus at 12100 Park 35 Circle, Building E, Room 201 in Austin. (more…)

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People will have through Dec. 26 to provide feedback to a rule published by the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission (the Commission) this weekend that could allow radioactive waste to be shipped from around the country to Andrews County for storage.

As proposed, the rule would give up to 36 states the ability to apply for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste at the Waste Control Specialists site in Andrews County. Presently the guidelines allow only Texas and Vermont — both states part of the compact that was initially established in 1998 — to ship waste there.

On Nov. 13 the Commission voted to allow for the publishing of the rule.  The rule was published in the Texas Register for public review on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Comments being submitted on the document must be e-mailed or postmarked by midnight on Dec. 26, said Margaret Henderson, interim executive director of the commission.

Public Citizen believes the rule puts Texans in danger. The comment period should be longer than 30 days and the adoption of the rules should be put on hold at least until the Legislature convenes in January.

The comment period taking place now is the last step before the rule is accepted.

We will post additional information on how to comment with some suggested topics later this week.


By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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In a three part story, KHOU-TV reports on a four-month investigation into radioactive contaminants in the Houston area drinking water. Revelations that came to light shows hundreds of water providers around the Gulf Coast region are providing their customers with drinking water that contains radioactive contaminants that raise health risks, according to state lab results and public health scientists. The data, from thousands of state laboratory tests from water providers across Texas, provided by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), ranged from 2004 to the present.

Watch part one of this investigative report.
Radiation in Houston’s Tap Water

The radiation was first discovered as a part of required testing, under federal regulations, of all drinking water provided by community water systems in America. (more…)

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