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|8. MARINE RADIOACTIVE
WASTE DUMP SITES
Baxter, M.S., Aston, S.R. (1983). Deep-ocean radioactive
waste disposal: An evaluation of the seaweed critical pathway. Health
Physics. 45. pg. 139-144.
Bowen, V.T. and Livingston, H.D. (1981). Radionuclide
distributions in sediment cores retrieved from marine radioactive waste
dumpsites. From Impacts of Radionuclide Releases into the Marine Environment.
(Report No. IAEA-SM-248/151).Vienna: International Atomic Energy Agency.
"...36 of the 80 principal waste nuclides have seaweed
eaters as their defined critical group." (p.139).
||Farallon Pacific Ocean
||Dumpsite sediment cone
||1,170 d.p.m./kg dry weight
||Dumpsite sediment cone
||4,360 d.p.m./kg dry weight
Kershaw, P.J. and Baxter, A.J. (1995). The transfer of
reprocessing wastes from north-west Europe to the Arctic. Deep-Sea Res.
II. 43(6). pg. 1413-1448.
"...Contamination is extremely localized with respect
to the sources from which the waste is believed to originate." (p.33)
"...Contaminated sediments from both dumpsites show evidence
of the introduction of waste radioactivity below the sediment surface before
subsequent redistribution by in-sediment processes." (p. 30)
Panel on Radioactivity in the Marine Environment. (1971).
of U.S. sea disposal operations, 1951-1967 (Atlantic Ocean). pg. 37.
||No. Containers, All Types
||Estimated Activity at Time of Packaging (Ci)
Panel on Radioactivity in the Marine Environment. (1971).
of U.S. sea disposal operations, 1946-1966 (Pacific Ocean). pg. 37.
Panel on Radioactivity in the Marine Environment. (1971).
Summary of sea disposal of packaged radioactive waste by the United
Kingdom, 1950-1967. pg. 38.
||No. Containers, All Types
||Estimated Activity at Time of Packaging (Ci)
||Estimated Activity (Ci)
More "official" data, but is it accurate?
|Russian Ocean Dumping
Little information is available about either Russian
or U.S. military ocean dumping sites; Aarkrog, et al. (1993) lists the
following inventories of liquid radioactive waste disposed of by the Russians:
These inventories do not include Russian nuclear submarine
accidents, and include only known discharges.
Berents Sea: 450 TBq
White Sea: 3.7 TBq
Kara Sea: 315 TBq + 570 TBq of median and low-level waste
Far Eastern Seas: 456 TBq
Facts and Problems Related to Dumping of Radioactive
Waste at Seas Washing the Territory of the Russian Federation. (October
24, 1992). Materials of the Report of the Governmental Commission for
Questions Related to Dumping of Radioactive Waste at Sea. which was
created by decree of the President of the Russian Federation. No. 613-RD.
English translation, by Greenpeace Moscow, 140 pages, including additional
supporting documents. $20.00.
|9. NUCLEAR SUBMARINE
ACCIDENTS AND DUMP SITES
Aarkrog, A. (1994). Radioactivity in polar regions - Main
sources. J. Environ. Radioactivity, 25, 21-35.
A whole series of nuclear submarine accidents and waste
disposal fiascoes have characterized Russian naval activities. In addition
to the accidents documented in the following citations, an October 31st
Jane's Information Group Limited foreign report documents 3 additional
Soviet submarine accident sites where rockets or fuel could be extracted
using underwater robots. The 3 previously unlisted locations are
Bermuda: submarine rocket launcher K219: October 1986:
50 nuclear warheads: 5,500 meters. A recent report from the San Francisco
Examiner (Nov. 24, 1996) indicates that the submarine contained 32 nuclear
warheads containing 90 kg. of 239Pu broke open spilling an unknown
quantity of plutonium. Subsequent news stories indicate that Charles Hollister
and Hugh Livingston from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute will be
joining with Russian researchers on an Oceanographic ship to survey the
sunken sub with deep sea cameras, and to gather sea floor samples. The
US Navy has refused the request for research funds and assistance for this
project, the status and completion date of which is unknown.
Bay of Biscay: nuclear power submarine K-8: c.1971: two
reactors and 10 nuclear warheads: 4,000 meters.
Hawaii: nuclear armed submarine K-109: 1968: "part of
it's nuclear arsenal was removed by the CIA in operation Jennifer": 1968
RADNET will post more information about these source points
if any publications or research papers provide additional information:
refer to RADNET Section 13, RADLINKS, Part 3-G, Jane's Resource Links.
Also see the Kola file in this Section of RADNET Part
6, and check the Bellona website in RADNET Section 13, RADLINKS Part 2-B.
|Komsomolet submarine, Barents Sea 1989
||2.9 PBq 90Sr, 3.1 PBq 137Cs
|Dumped submarines at Novaya Zemlya
||~85 PBq 90Sr and 137Cs
Aarkrog, A., Tsaturov, Y. and Polikarpov, G.G. (1993).
to environmental radioactive contamination in the former USSR. Roskilde,
Denmark: Riso National Laboratory.
|Kola Peninsula, 1989, Nuclear submarine accident
|Kara Sea; six nuclear reactors with spent fuel and ten
reactors without spent fuel
|Vladavostak, Aug. 1985, submarine explosion and fire
Hamilton, T.F., Ballestra, S., Bacter, M.S., Gastaud,
J., Osvath, I., Parsi, P., Povinec, P.P. and Scott, E.M. (1994). Radiometric
investigations of Kara Sea sediments and preliminary radiological assessment
related to dumping of radioactive wastes in the Arctic Sea. J. Environ.
Radioactivity, 25, 113-134.
Aarkrog also notes the loss of 24 PBq in six Atlantic
and Pacific submarine accidents, the last of which is the Komsomolet accident
Mount, M.E., Sheaffer, M.K. and Abbott, D.T. (1994). Kara
Sea radionuclide inventory from naval reactor disposal. J. Environ.
Radioactivity, 25, 11-19.
"IAEA is carrying out a 4 year International Arctic Seas
Assessment Project (IASAP) that will comprehensively cover all aspects
of radioactive dumping in the Arctic Seas and it will be reported to the
London Convention in 1996. The IAEA-MEL study described here represents
a preliminary contribution to IASAP." (p. 114)
"... 16 naval reactors, from seven submarines and the
icebreaker Lenin, were dumped at five sites in the Kara Sea, an arm of
the Arctic Ocean located east of Novaya Zemlya. Each vessel had suffered
a reactor accident." (p. 12)
The number of reactors containing spent nuclear fuel was
six plus 60% of the spent nuclear fuel from a seventh reactor.
"At the time of disposal the reactors contained 17 to
66 kCi of actinides, 1.7 to 4.8 MCi of fission products, and 0.9 to 1.1
MCi of activation products in reactor components and primary system corrosion
products." (p. 11)
The total fission product activity was 2,300 kCi. (p.
Sivintsev, Y. (1994). The seabed sources of radionuclides
in the dumped reactor compartment of the atomic icebreaker, "Lenin".
Environ. Radioactivity, 25, 3-10.
Special issue: Former Soviet dumping of nuclear reactors
in shallow Arctic Seas. (1994). J. Environ. Radioactivity,
"The radioactivity of all transuranium elements was estimated
at about 3 kCi." (p. 8)
"After 500 years, the largest source of radioactivity
will be from 239Pu, 240Pu and 241Am estimated
at about 1 kCi." (p. 8)
Strand, P., Nikitin, A., Rudjord, A.L., Salbu, B., Christenson,
G., Foyn, L., Kryshev, I.I., Chumichev, V.B., Dahlgaard, H. and Holm, E.
(1994). Survey of artificial radionuclides in the Barents Sea and the Kara
Sea. J. Environ. Radioactivity, 25, 99-112.
Three articles in this special issue are cited in this
part of Section 11, and two others are cited elsewhere in Section 11.
"The concentrations in sediments (0-10 cm) were in the
range 120-910 Bq m-2 for 137Cs and 2.5-135 Bq m-2
The influence of radioactivity from dumped nuclear waste
has not had a significant impact on the general levels of anthropogenic
radioactivity." (p. 99)
POWERED SATELLITE ACCIDENTS
The use of SNAP isotopic devices, also known as Radioisotope
Thermal Generators (RTG), to power various satellite units as well as ocean
based coast guard buoys and lighthouses has resulted in a number of accidents
involving the dispersion of 238Pu (U.S. satellites), as well
as uranium (Russian satellites) due to satellite orbital failure for one
reason or another. The first and only well documented SNAP satellite (9A)
failure occurred in 1964, when 16,000 Ci of 238Pu were dispersed
in both the northern and southern hemispheres by a navy satellite that
burned up upon reentry over the Indian Ocean. This accident has been well-documented
in radiological surveillance literature, unlike other U.S. satellite failures,
also, possibly containing 238Pu power sources, which have occurred
since this date. Only limited information is available about Russian satellite
failures. Three or more other functioning naval satellites are allegedly
still orbiting with 238Pu power sources; a number of others
have been aborted with the isotopic power source allegedly intact. The
following data are reproduced from Panel on Radioactivity in the Marine
Environment, (1971), pg. 33. Also see part
8 of this section for comments on radioisotopic power generators in
||Fuel quantity (kCi)
||Design mode of re-entry
||800 km orbit; burn-up on re-entry
||2 launched 1961
||960-km, 900-yr orbit; burn-up on re-entry
||2 launched 1963 1 aborted 1964
The Cassini space probe has generated some Websites
containing more information. Check out the Stop
Cassini Earth Flyby Action Site and some Titan IV rocket explosion
photos at the Space Online site.
SATELLITE RE-ENTRY, NOVEMBER 17, 1996
The Reuters News Service reports that a stricken Russian
space probe containing four thermoelectric generators fueled by radioactive
plutonium crashed into the Pacific Ocean between Easter Island and the
Chilean capital of Santiago. Initial reports are that these generators
contained only 200 gm of plutonium (238). Press reports that the canisters
holding this plutonium are designed to withstand the heat and shock of
re-entry may be unreliable. Additional information about this accident
will be posted by RADNET as it becomes available.
A 12/17/96 story in the Christian Science Monitor indicates
this satellite made re-entry over the Atacama Desert in northern Chile,
rather than over the Pacific Ocean. An intensive search by Chilean authorities,
Bolivian troops and presumably US intelligence authorities is under way
in the hopes of recovering the encased cargo of 200 grams of plutonium
intact. No news stories have appeared that RADNET is aware of since this
date. Presumably, if the plutonium had been recovered intact, some type
of public relations effort would result to emphasize the safety of the
upcoming Cassini mission. In lieu of a public relations news byte on this
topic, one may assume the plutonium vaporized upon re-entry. More information
on this event would be greatly appreciated.
Bridges, Andrew. (December 21, 1998). NASA energy source
blasted. The Daily News of Los Angeles, Valley Edition. pg. N4.
Furlong, Richard and Wahlquist, Earl. (April 1999). U.S.
space missions using radioisotope power systems. Nuclear News. pg.
"Anywhere from six to eight missions the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is
planning for launch by 2015 will make use of plutonium 238 as an energy
source, including one to the radioactive element's namesake, Pluto."
Since 1961, NASA has launched 25 spacecraft carrying radioisotope thermoelectric
generators, devices that convert heat produced by decaying plutonium into
electricity. The latest, the 1997 launch of Cassini, used a record
72 pounds of plutonium."
"The plutonium used on space missions is pressed into ceramic pellets
encased in a heat- and impact-resistant shield designed to survive intact
in any re-entry through the Earth's atmosphere, Wahlquist said."
"Of the 25 missions that used radioactive material, however, three did
fail, sending the plutonium aboard back to Earth."
Grossman, Karl. (Summer 1996). Risking the World, Nuclear
Proliferation in Space. Covert Action Quarterly. 1500 Massachusetts,
Ave. N.W., #732, Washington, D.C. 20006. pg. 56.
A comprehensive review of the history of 26 unclassified RTG (radioisotope
thermoelectric generators) for space missions from the point of view of
national security RTG enthusiasts.
It contains basic information about how RTGs work and includes some
description of RTG safety improvements since the 1964 disaster that is
Despite being pro-RTG, this is an important article on the history and
development of this technology.
Grossman, Karl. (Spring 1997). Space probe explodes, plutonium
missing. CovertAction Quarterly. 60. pg. 6-10.
The latest in a long series of exposés by an investigative
reporter who also teaches journalism at the State University of New York/
College of Old Westbury, this article is a summary of US government and
NASA (National Aeronautics Space Administration) plans for the proliferation
of nuclear technology in space.
The most controversial future use of nuclear power in
space is an October 1997 planed launch of the Cassini probe to Saturn carrying
72.3 lb. of Pu 238 fuel; this will be the largest amount of plutonium ever
used in space.
"There have been 3 accidents out of the 24 known space
missions involving nuclear power. The Soviet failure rate is even higher;
6 of their 39 missions failed." (pg. 61). Other than the 1978 Russian Cosmos
accident and the 1964 US satellite accident, Grossman does not list the
In 1989 the Gallileo launch carried 49.25 lb. of plutonium
on a mission to Jupiter; the 1990 Ulysses took 25 lb. on its orbit around
the sun. (pg. 61). In the list of magazine articles which follow, Grossman
provides a comprehensive summary of the known uses of nuclear power in
Other uses of nuclear technology in space discussed in
this article include the development of nuclear powered satellites to transmit
high definition multichanneled television signals (Sandia National Laboratories);
two plutonium fueled space probes for a mission to Pluto in 1999 (NASA);
a plutonium powered heating system for the Mars Pathfinder scheduled for
launch in December 1996 (NASA); and US Air Force plans to use nuclear reactors
in space to provide power and propulsion for military satellites. (pg.
Also discussed in this article is the Air Force current
ground testing of 6 Russian Topaz 2 nuclear reactors - originally purchased
for use in the Strategic Defense Initiative or Starwars - for other space
activities. (pg. 58).
The following is a partial list of Grossman's many articles
on nuclear power in space, mostly in alternative press sources:
(July/August 1986). Red Tape And Radioactivity: How one
simple question eventually revealed the government's secret agenda for
the space program. Common Cause Magazine. pg. 24-27.
(January 23, 1988). Plutonium Shuttle: The Space Probe's
Lethal Cargo. The Nation.
(October 1988). The Fire Next Time. Long Island Monthly.
(October 2, 1989). Nuclear Slingshot. The Nation.
(October 6-13, 1989). Space Bomb. Philadelphia City
Paper. No. 269. pg. 1, 10-11.
(October 17. 1989). Kiss Florida Good-bye? The New
(October 11, 1989). Death threat from space. The Globe
and Mail, Canada's National Newspaper. No. 43,635.
(December 8, 1989). Nuking the Final Frontier. Pasadena
(August 15, 1990). Plutonium Skies. The San Francisco
Bay Guardian pg. 23,25.
(September 12, 1990). Jupiter probe poses deadly plutonium
threat. Guardian. p. 8.
(September 11, 1995). Apollo Outtakes. The Nation.
Hoffman, R.D. (April 12, 1997). Laugh, cry, be angry,
do something... Draft supplemental environmental impact statement for the
Cassini Mission: Analysis of NASA procedures (draft). published on-line
at URL: http://www.animatedsoftware.com/cassini/dsei9704.htm.
Animated Software Company, P.O. Box 188006, Carlsbad, CA.
A disturbing commentary on the gross incompetence of the U.S. Space
Command and the U.S. intelligence community in estimating the location
of the re-entry of the Russian Mars 96 space probe and the 299 gram payload
of 238Pu used as a thermo-electric power source.
The space probe crashed on the Bolivia-Chile border, not in the Pacific
or in Australia as first estimated.
The 200 grams of 238Pu have yet to be located. U.S. authorities
misjudged the re-entry time by a full day, accidentally tracking space
probe debris rather than the probe itself.
The article contains additional commentary on the 1997 Cassini Mission
containing 72.3 pounds of 238Pu.
Krey, P.W. (1967). Atmospheric burnup of a plutonium-238
generator. Science. 158. pg. 769-771.
"On Monday, April 6th, 1997, NASA sent me, via Certified Mail, Return
Receipt Requested, a copy of the DRAFT SUPPLEMENTAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
STATEMENT FOR THE CASSINI MISSION (DSEIS) and an accompanying document
called NUCLEAR SAFETY ANALYSES FOR CASSINI MISSION ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
STATEMENT PROCESS." (pg. 1).
"These two NASA documents are not good science. They are not even science.
They are nothing more than a biased review of selected data, and very little
real data is actually presented." (pg. 1).
"I found my name on the back pages of the DSEIS, along with about 80
other individuals, 30 environmental, peace, and other groups, and about
30 Federal, state, and local government organizations. A quick look where
my name appears might lead you to think (as it did some of my friends)
that I endorse this DSEIS, or that I have at least been consulted. I have
not been consulted and I do not endorse these documents!" (pg. 1).
This 40 page critique may be downloaded in its entirety from the link
given above -- a comprehensive set of comments on the stupidity of the
NASA environmental impact statement.
Martin, J.M. and Thomas, A.J. (1988). Anomalous concentrations
of atmospheric plutonium-238 over Paris. J. Environ. Radioactivity.
This accident occurred on April 21, 1964, over the Indian
Ocean; 0.6 PBq 238Pu (16,000 Ci) was dispersed from this accident.
2/3 of the activity was deposited in the Southern Hemisphere.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (June,
1995). Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission.
"238Pu/239,240Pu activity ratios,
usually about 0.04, rose suddenly to 25 in October 1982" The authors were
unable to identify the origin of the abnormally high ratio.
The source of this sudden increase in plutonium may be
a satellite accident, or a leak in a secret French fuel reprocessing facility
located north of Paris: Any information on this incident would be welcomed.
Nesmith, S.A. (June 15, 1997). Plutonium space probe stirs
fears; NASA is ignoring risks that could jeopardize many lives, critics
say. The Palm Beach Post. A section, pg. 1A.
"For an inadvertent reentry from a VVEJGA or VEEGA Earth
swingby(s), the potential health effects could occur in two distinct populations,
the population within and near the reentry footprint and most of the world
population within broad north to south latitude bands. Since the reentry
footprints, and hence the potentially affected populations, could vary
considerably with reentry angle and latitude, the predictions of radiological
exposures and health effects have large uncertainties." (pg. 4-76).
"The total or overall mission risk (i.e., the expected
number of health effects due to the risk of radiological accidents associated
with the overall mission) is dominated by Earth swingby reentry accidents
for both the primary launch opportunity (VVEJGA) and the backup launch
opportunity (VEEGA). The overall mission risk (without de minimis) is 1.7
x 10-3 for the primary launch opportunity, and for the backup
is 1.8 x 10-3." (pg. 4-76).
"In the unlikely event that a VVEJGA or VEEGA inadvertent
reentry occurred, approximately 5 billion of the estimated 7 or 8 billion
world population at the time of the swingbys could receive 99 percent or
more of the radiation exposure." (pg. 4-76).
In Karl Grossman's article in CovertAction Quarterly (Summer,
1996), Risking the World: Nuclear Proliferation in Space, Ernest
Sternglass is quoted from an interview in Nukes in Space, a video
produced by Grossman: "NASA underestimates the cancer alone by about 2,000
to 4,000 times. Which means that not counting all the other causes of death
-- infant mortality, heart disease, immune deficiency diseases and all
that -- we're talking in the order of ten to twenty million extra deaths."
(pg. 57). The wide discrepancies between the more liberal NASA health effect
estimates (low) and the more conservative Sternglass estimates (high) typify
the wide variations in the health physics impact estimations for all anthropogenic
radioactivity source points. For the Cassini mission the threat is from
only 72.3 lb. of 238Pu, but this plutonium will be dispersed
as stratospheric fallout much more efficiently than uncontained releases
at, below, or in the earth's surfaces and seawater.
Tracy, B.L., Prantl, F.A. and Quinn, J.M. (1984). Health
impact of radioactive debris from the satellite Cosmos 954. Health Physics.
47. pg. 225-233.
"NASA has used plutonium on 23 other spacecraft."
The date of this accident was Jan. 1978, with reentry
over the Northwest Territories of Canada.
Reentry inventories: 3T Bq strontium-90; 131I:
0.2 Bq; 137Cs: 3T Bq (81 curies).
"75% of the original material is estimated to have remained
in the upper atmosphere, and thus available for global distribution." (Aarkrog,
A., Source terms and inventories of anthropogenic radionuclides,
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