Information about source points of anthropogenic radioactivity
A Freedom of Nuclear Information Resource
FAX (207) 288-2725
or write to:
Center for Biological Monitoring
Hulls Cove, ME 04644
Number of hits on this site by graphical web browsers
since December 6, 1996
| Index | Introduction
| Guide | Accidents |
| Radionuclides | Protection
Guidelines | Plumes | Baseline
Data | Dietary Intake | Chernobyl
| Source Points | Maine Yankee
| Links | Bibliography
| Alerts | Sponsor |
Website users can greatly assist the Center for Biological Monitoring
by making a donation of 10 cents per page of information printed
from the RADNET website. Please mail your donations to our sponsor
The Davistown Museum, Box 144, Hulls Cove, ME 04664
Or see our fundraising information.
SECTION 15: ALERTS, NOTICES, REQUESTS FOR ASSISTANCE AND
Table of contents:
RADNET will be posting a number of alerts pertaining
to ongoing radioactive contamination controversies. RADNET welcomes any
comments, criticisms, clarifications or additional information pertaining
to the following notices, alerts or requests for assistance. Readers
please note, alerts are listed in the order they were posted. Some
alerts may no longer be of relevance, but are kept on site as posted as
a matter of historical documentation.
September 11 Notes
An ongoing sequence of alerts, observations, quotations and questions
pertaining to the events of September 11th and their relationship to a
possible attack on a United States nuclear facility. Three definitions
form the context of the notes, memos and observations that follow.
ALERT: April 12, 2002 MEMO ON THE 9-11 ATTACK ON THE WORLD
Nuclear catastrophe: volatilization
of an operating nuclear reactor and its reactor vessel and spent fuel pool
inventory of radioisotopes. Hemispheric in distribution and impact.
As noted below, most probable only in the event of a nuclear attack on
a nuclear facility. The amount of radioisotopes released in a nuclear
catastrophe would be +/- 100 times greater than that released at a nuclear
disaster such as Chernobyl.
Nuclear disaster: a quick full core
release at an operating nuclear power plant. Chernobyl and its continental,
if not hemispheric, impact is an example of a nuclear disaster. A
nuclear disaster does not necessarily involve the total volatilization
of all the isotopes at a nuclear power plant. A quick release accident
at an operating nuclear power plant would release approximately the same
amount of radioactivity as released at Chernobyl. Such a release
can be easily effected by cheap, easy to obtain, conventional warheads
Nuclear materials dispersal: a discharge
of lesser quantities of radioisotopes by accident or terrorist activity.
An attack on a dry cask storage transport, fuel assembly failures or terrorist
detonation of explosives contaminated with nuclear material are examples
of nuclear incidents with local and regional impact.
|The Center for Biological Monitoring and The Davistown
Museum have been reluctant to post the following information as a result
of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. After recent discussions
with a number of interested persons and organizations, and understanding
and acknowledging recent federal restrictions on nuclear information of
every kind and description, we believe it is in the public interest that
the following information at least be a topic of public debate.
Terrorist attack on an operating nuclear reactor?
The following observations are pertinent to evaluating a terrorist attack
on an operating nuclear reactor in any location, not just in the United
States. The recent unfortunate escalation of hostilities between
the Palestinians and Israelis provides added incentives to ponder the consequences
of a terrorist attack on an operating nuclear reactor. The January
23, 2002 alert below, made by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, fails
to consider a much more serious terrorist threat to nuclear reactors than
that posed by a hijacked aircraft. A terrorist attack on an operating
reactor with the use of a surface to ground missile armed with a small
nuclear warhead could have far more serious consequences. A number
of observations need to be stated about this scenario:
A. Inventories: How would the dispersal
of this inventory compare with Chernobyl?
The United States military led the world in developing a highly sophisticated
repertoire of surface to ground missiles, beginning in the 1960s.
During the height of the Cold War, US military planners targeted Soviet
nuclear reactors, both military and civilian; Soviet planners probably
did likewise. That such facilities might become the object of a nuclear
attack is a concept nearly as old as nuclear power itself.
During the 1970s, both US and Russian weapons designers developed sophisticated
miniature nuclear weapons, which could be carried in a briefcase.
These weapons had a fissile mass of two to six kilograms of 239Pu
and were similar in design to, or could easily be adapted for use on surface
to ground missiles. The sophisticated technology of miniature nuclear
weapons was soon elaborated in the form of multiple re-entry warheads whereby
one missile could launch twelve to twenty four warheads simultaneously.
During the last three decades of the 20th century, a selection of the sophisticated
surface to ground missiles developed in the 60s and 70s, has become available
to most every world government maintaining a standing army of any significance.
The breakup of the Soviet Union has provided the opportunity for the world-wide
dissemination of fissile material originally produced by the Russian weapons
The advent of the internet and the large number of students from every
nation at American and European universities has provided many opportunities
for the dissemination of technical information useful in the construction
of nuclear weapons.
The destruction of the World Trade Center by terrorists armed only with
box cutters has ushered in a new era of terrorism.
US nuclear facilities offer a broad range of targets for groups of terrorists
as small as one or two individuals.
With heightened airport and airspace security, the scenario outlined below
by the NRC of an attack on a nuclear facility by a hijacked airliner is
Much more likely is an attack on a US nuclear reactor by terrorists
surface to ground missile now available on the black market for +/-
one million dollars (less sophisticated missiles are available at a cheaper
price, but probably wouldn't be adequate to carry a small nuclear powered
warhead, total weight 10 to 30 pounds)
Two to six kilograms of fissile material obtained from _____ and fashioned
into a nuclear warhead by ____________ (sophisticated students of nuclear
physics with the appropriate ideological motivation).
The result of a terrorist attack on an operating nuclear
reactor with a small nuclear weapon:
Total vaporization of the reactor vessel, fuel assemblies
and spent fuel pool. The entire reactor vessel inventory of both
short and long-lived radioisotopes and the entire inventory of long-lived
radioisotopes in the spent fuel pool have the potential to be dispersed
regionally, continent-wide and hemispherically. The question then
arises, what is the source term of the resulting plume (A. inventories
B. pathways C. destinations)
The inventory released in such a scenario would be approximately:
It should be noted there is a wide variety of
estimates of isotopes released by the Chernobyl accident. For
the indicator nuclide 137Cs, release estimates in the various
reports on Chernobyl begin at 1.2 million Ci (Institut de Protection et
de Surete Nucleaire), continue with 2.7 million (Aarkrog, 1994) and also
include percentage estimates as high as 40%. A typical US nuclear
reactor contains at least 20 million Ci of 137Cs on site
within the reactor vessel and spent fuel pool. (See the DOE
integrated database.) The Chernobyl reactor may not have contained
as much radiocesium at the time of the accident in 1986 as do US reactors
Relatively harmless noble gasses: the same source term (1 x 108
Ci) as released at Chernobyl
Radioiodine: 5 to 10 times greater than the +/- 10 million Curies
(Ci) released at Chernobyl
Radiocesium: +/- 100 times greater than the 1 to 2 million Ci released
Other isotopes: +/- 50 times greater than released at Chernobyl
B. The pathway would be a tropospheric wide distribution
of the reactor vessel and spent fuel pool inventory by wet and dry deposition.
The Chernobyl accident demonstrated the hemispheric impact of a tropospheric
accident. Unlike nuclear weapons tests, which forced large quantities
of radioactivity into the stratosphere, the primary pathway of Chernobyl-derived
radioactivity was within the troposphere where it was subject to relatively
rapid deposition by rainfall events. The data accumulated from the
Chernobyl accident demonstrates a world wide distribution of radioactivity
with some of the highest levels of contamination ranging from hundreds
to thousands of kilometers away. After deposition on foliar, ground
and man-made surfaces, Chernobyl-derived fallout followed the well
known pathways to human consumption, as would a terrorist-derived plume.
C. The destinations of most importance for radioisotopes
derived from a terrorist attack would include:
What locations are the likely targets of a terrorist
attack on a US reactor?
A passing airborne plume of extremely dangerous, highly radioactive gasses
and particulates. The short-lived isotopes in this plume would be
so intense during the first 24 hours of plume passage that it is unlikely
that there would be any human survivors in areas where the plume remained
at ground level due to adverse weather conditions.
After the first 24 hours following core and spent fuel pool vaporization,
the most intensive short-lived isotopes would have dissipated and the isotope
of most significance would be 131I. During the next two
weeks, this isotope would be among those providing the greatest danger
to the general public due to the ease and speed with which it is bioaccumulated
in the food chain.
After a period of two weeks, longer-lived isotopes such as 134-137Cs,
and 241Pu would provide the greatest hazard, most especially
from ground shine, tracking and later from bioaccumulation in the food
The long term contamination of the food chain, including forage and food
crops, would continue for years after plume passage.
Re-suspension and bioaccumulation of ground deposited long-lived spent
fuel isotopes would provide a significant hazard to attack survivors for
thousands of years.
The most likely targets for attacks on US reactors are:
What could be done to prevent a terrorist attack
on a nuclear reactor using a surface to ground missile armed with a nuclear
Those facilities located in the western United States where prevailing
winds would bring the contamination to the bread basket of the United States
in the midwest.
Facilities in or near urban areas, especially in the central and western
United States, where a U-haul truck carrying a surface to ground missile
wouldn't be noticeable.
Facilities in valleys where nearby roads provide access and easy targeting.
Operating nuclear reactors on the east coast such as Seabrook or Millstone
are much less likely terrorist targets due to the direction of prevailing
winds, which would tend to drive the desired fatal plume of vaporized radioisotopes
out over the open ocean, greatly reducing the impact of the attack on the
United States while exacerbating the impact on Europe.
Close all 103 US nuclear reactors.
Construct and elaborate surface to air missile defense system around each
Chapin, Douglas M., Cohen, Karl P., Davis, W. Kenneth,
Kintner, Edwin E., Koch, Leonard J., Landis, John W., Levenson, Milton,
Mandil, I. Harry, Pate, Zack T., Rockwell, Theodore, Schriesheim, Alan,
Simpson, John W., Squire, Alexander, Starr, Chauncey, Stone, Henry E.,
Taylor, John J., Todreas, Neil E., Wolfe, Bertram and Zebroski, Edwin L.
(September 20, 2002). Nuclear
Nuclear power plants and their fuel as terrorist targets.
Science. 297. pg. 1997-1999.
Wald, Matthew L. (September 20, 2002). Threats
and responses: Reactor vulnerability: Experts say nuclear plants can
survive jetliner crash. New York Times. Section A, pg. 17.
July 8, 2002: OBSERVATIONS AND QUESTIONS: SEPTEMBER
11TH AND LOSS-OF-REACTOR-COOLANT ACCIDENTS (LORCA) AT US COMMERCIAL NUCLEAR
Definitions and background information
A loss-of-reactor-coolant accident (LORCA) can occur at an operating nuclear
power plant when for any number of reasons sudden changes in the horizontal
flow of the reactor vessel water cycle create lateral pressures that make
reinsertion of the fuel control rods impossible due to a distortion in
the alignment of the fuel assemblies. The resulting loss-of-reactor-coolant
accident has the potential to severely contaminate large areas of the North
American continent. A LORCA can result in an uncontrolled nuclear
reaction of an unknown duration.
The Chernobyl accident ended after less than two weeks time. "Approximately
135 tonnes of the 190.3-tonne initial core fuel load (~71%) at Chernobyl
Unit 4 melted and flowed into the lower regions of the reactor building
to form various kinds of the now-solidified lava-like fuel-containing materials
(LFCMs) or corium." (Borovoi, A.A. and
Sich, A.R. (1995). The Chernobyl Accident Revisited, Part II: The State
of the Nuclear Fuel Located within the Chernobyl Sarcophagus. Nuclear
Safety. 36 (1). pg. 1). It is highly likely that a LORCA at a
US nuclear facility would end after just a few weeks time; fuel burnup
during a LORCA could take months or longer.
Prior to September 11th, the most likely cause of a LORCA at any of America's
103 aging operational nuclear reactors was their deteriorating infrastructure.
Any variety of water line small-break, large-break sequences or other equipment
related incidents could cause a LORCA.
After September 11th, the possibility of terrorist attacks on US nuclear
power plants became a matter of great public concern. The Wall Street
Journal article of Wednesday, July 3, 2002 (John J. Failka, US Nuclear
Plants Face Security Gaps Since Sept. 11 Raids, pg. 1, 4) provides a description
of typical cautions being taken against the possibility of a terrorist
attack at US nuclear power plants. "...the pre-Sept. 11 threat was
considered to be a few attackers equipped with grenades, explosives, automatic
weapons and an insider's knowledge of the plant's defenses. The threat
also included a truck bomb carried by a sport utility vehicle. A
new threat assessment, which the NRC has described to power-plant owners
in secret orders and advisories, hasn't been fully spelled out yet, but
it probably will involve a larger numbers of attackers, the possibility
of multiple attacks against one plant and a larger truck bomb, Mr. [Richard
A.] Meserve [NRC Chairman] says. ...In mock firefights four times
a year, opposing teams of guards test their skills using plastic rifles
that make squeaking noises and softball-sized plastic grenades accompanied
by simulated explosions. During such exercises, the plant brings
in an extra shift, called a 'shadow force,' that engages in the mock battle
while the regular shift guards the plant. Guards sometimes 'shoot'
from behind mobile barriers designed to stop bullets, and use wire-mesh
screens that can be pulled out from walls to stop grenades lobbed at them
by the attackers." (pg. 4).
The most likely cause of a nuclear disaster remains the aging physical
plant at 103 US nuclear reactors.
Nuclear catastrophe can occur if an operational nuclear plant or
complex is subject to a nuclear attack, which efficiently vaporizes its
full core and spent fuel pool inventories of radioisotopes. The source
term of a nuclear catastrophe is +/- 3 orders of magnitude greater than
that of Chernobyl. Rainfall associated dispersal of contamination
is hemispheric in extent.
A loss-of-reactor-coolant accident (LORCA) has the potential to gradually
discharge a significant portion of the inventories of radioisotopes in
an operational reactor vessel. The rainfall associated dispersal
of this discharge will likely be continental in extent.
Other types of nuclear accidents (e.g. a terrorist attack on a dry cask
transport; fuel assembly failures, etc.) can have limited regional or local
impact as small geological areas are contaminated by spilled or scattered
nuclear waste spent fuel fragments or other radioactive materials.
The most significant emerging threat to public safety is that of a terrorist
attack on a operating nuclear plant or natural gas terminal. The
Wall Street Journal article conjures up a scenarios for terrorist attack
that are extremely unlikely. More likely threats to operating nuclear
power plants were not referred to in this article.
The most likely future course of a LORCA other than aging infrastructure
and a culture of complacency at the NRC is an attack by one or more disaffiliated
American citizens in the mode of the anthrax terrorist or the midwest mail
box bomber. Such an attack by American terrorists would probably
utilize easy to obtain high-tech explosives and one variety of the 20 -
30 models of surface to ground missiles now available in the international
The prevalent view that the most likely terrorist attack would be by Bin
Laden type terrorists is a natural outcome of the September 11th attack
but, in fact, may be less likely than an attack by a domestic terrorist.
The types of terrorist attack described in the Wall Street Journal article
are highly unlikely given the ease with which an attack with a surface
to ground missile could be carried out.
A modest effort to construct wire mesh barrier +/- 200 feet outside and
above the reactor vessel and other vulnerable plant components could provide
a significant safety barrier for most varieties of small scale non-nuclear
missile attacks by domestic or foreign terrorists.
American nuclear power plants are highly vulnerable to attack by surface
to ground missiles fired from campers, rental trucks, boats and to a lesser
extent airplanes; these alternatives were not noted in the Wall Street
Journal article of July 3rd. This is not to disparage the intense
efforts to upgrade security at nuclear power plants and to prevent either
ground or truck bomb attacks. Without a missile barrier shield, American
nuclear power plants along with urban liquid natural gas terminals are
America's most vulnerable targets for terrorists of any affiliation.
In the event of a LORCA (for whatever reason) and the subsequent possible
radiological contamination of huge areas of the United States:
What facilities exist to track the plume pulse pathways?
Where are real time atmospheric contamination surveillance installations
located (to measure atmospheric contamination in microbecquerels / cm3.)
Who will collect and interpret the fallout data and how will this information
Where are the laboratories that would measure volumetric contamination
of food, soil and other media?
Weren't these facilities and laboratories nearly nonexistent before September
11th? What is the status of the FDA laboratory at Winchester, MA
for analyzing contaminated food and what is its daily capacity for functioning
during a nuclear disaster?
What guidelines will be used to evaluate food contamination
after a nuclear disaster (FDA? NRC?)
Will Archer Daniels Midland, General Mills and other food vendors as well
as the US Government facilitate accurate surveillance of domestic food
products under its supervision and control or will they obfuscate the impact
of a LORCA?
Will the weather channel acknowledge and track a LORCA derived plume and
discuss the relationship between rainfall (and snowfall) events and ground
deposition after a LORCA for the benefit of a viewer?
Will local volunteer and paid fire companies and departments be allowed
access to the database pertaining to the movement of a LORCA plume?
What role will they play in implementing protective action guidelines which
would inevitably be needed in impacted areas?
When a LORCA occurs for any reason, will it be accompanied by freedom of
information about the plume pulse pathway? What will be the source
term of a LORCA at an operating US nuclear power plant, i.e. the quantities
of radioisotopes released, their pathways and their destinations?
Who will inform the school children in school district _______ in the state
of ________ when the ground deposition of iodine-131 goes from near zero
becquerels per square meter to 890,000 Bq/m2 (Hardy,
et. al., 1986)? And who will document the extent and evaluate the
significance of contamination?
Previous Alerts and Notices
ALERT: NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION MEMO WARNING OF
(February 2, 2002)
Here is the text of a memo from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
warning of plans for a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant:
INFORMATION ASSESSMENT TEAM ADVISORY UPDATE FOR POWER
REACTORS, NON-POWER REACTORS, DECOMMISSIONING REACTORS, CATEGORY I AND
III FUEL FACILITIES, INDEPENDENT SPENT FUEL STORAGE INSTALLATIONS, AND
LARGE MATERIAL LICENSEES
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON THREAT ENVIRONMENT -- COMMERCIAL
FBI headquarters has provided the following information
to all field offices. During debriefings of an al Qaeda senior operative,
he stated there would (be) a second airline attack in the U.S. The attack
was already planned and three individuals were on the ground in the states
recruiting non-Arabs to take part in the attack. The plan is to fly a commercial
aircraft into a nuclear power plant to be chosen by the team on the ground.
The plan including diverting the mission to any tall building if a military
aircraft intercepts the plane. No specific timeline or location was given
for the attack. As of 1/23/02, one NRC licensee, Columbia Generating Station,
had been contacted by their local FBI representative. It is unknown whether
other NRC licensee(s) will be contacted as well. FBI headquarters cannot
at this time, provide a complete assessment of the credibility of the information.
No additional actions are requested in response to this advisory at this
In the light of the continuing high level of threat,
NRC reaffirms its request that any information regarding threats or suspicious
activities should be reported immediately to the NRC operations center,
301-816-6100. This advisory does not supersede any previous advisories
presently in effect. You will be advised of any pertinent changes as soon
ALERT: RADIOACTIVE PLUME ("SMOKE") IN UKRAINE
March 13, 2001, the Center for Biological Monitoring
received a call that a radioactive plume had been detected in the Ukraine
around mid-day eastern standard time in the U.S. This had been reported
on Swedish radio. Anyone with information about this report please
call or fax us (207) 288-5126 voice and (207) 288-2725 fax.
ALERT: DECOMMISSIONING-DERIVED PULSED RELEASE DISCHARGE
AT THE MAINE YANKEE ATOMIC POWER COMPANY.
Visitors to this site please take notice of the following
Due to the sloppy and hasty decommissioning techniques,
inadequate historic site assessment and deficiencies in radiological surveillance
techniques and databases at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company in Wiscasset,
ME, the Center for Biological Monitoring is issuing the following advisory
for the possible remobilization of hot particles, CRUD, activation products
and spent fuel-derived fission products. These include the long-lived
isotopes in spent fuel, in order of their preponderance:
137Cs (1/2 T = 30 years), 90Sr
(1/2 T = 29 years), 241Pu (1/2 T = 14 years), 242Cu
(1/2 T = 162 days), 238Pu (1/2 T = 89 years), 240Pu
(1/2 T = 6,260 years), 239Pu (1/2 T = 24,400 years) and 241Am
(1/2 T = 458 years)
For more information on this subject see:
Brack, H. G., ed. A Review
of Radiological Surveillance Reports of Waste Effluents in Marine Pathways
at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company at Wiscasset, Maine--- 1970-1984:
An Annotated Bibliography. Hulls Cove, ME: Pennywheel Press, 1986.
Center for Biological Monitoring.
of Noncompliance: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and The Maine Yankee
Atomic Power Company: Generic and Site-specific Deficiencies in Radiological
Surveillance Programs. Brack, H.G., Ed., Hulls Cove, ME: Pennywheel
Environmental Protection Agency. (1982). Draft environmental
impact statement: Environmental standards for management and disposal of
spent nuclear fuel, high-level and transuranic radioactive wastes.
Report No. 520/1-82-025. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (1992). Integrated
data base for 1992: U.S. spent fuel and radioactive waste inventories,
projections and characteristics. Technical Report DOE/RW-0006, Rev.
8. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN. http://www.em.doe.gov/idb95
Comments on this alert: please send email to: email@example.com
The strong tidal sweep of the Sheepscot back river combines with the
labyrinth of coves, islands and river systems to allow MYAPC liquid effluent
discharges and runoff to have the potential to impact a wide area of sensitive
marine ecosystems in the coastal area between the Kennebec and Penobscot
rivers. The quantities, pathways and current locations of fuel assembly-derived
fission products and other contaminants remain essentially unknown.
The first major decommissioning activity to impact the sensitive marine
ecosystems in this area were the 1998 reactor water systems flush which
released unknown quantities of radioactivity to the licensed radioactive
waste disposal area (sewer) of Montsweag Bay. Current decommissioning
activities that also have or will impact this environment include the breaching
of the reactor containment for large component removal (the breaching is
completed) and the reactor vessel segmentation, which will commence shortly.
These activities combine with recent heavy rainfall events of the last
few weeks to provide pathways for the spread of fission products such as
and other long-lived isotopes over a wide area.
Most residents living in the area around the Maine Yankee facility appear
to be satisfied with licensee, state, NRC and Friends of the Coast assertions
of the relative safety of these decommissioning activities. If you
are in the extreme minority of persons living in or visiting this area
who share our concerns about the undocumented releases of radioactivity
from this facility you may find it prudent to:
ALERT: TOKAI, JAPAN, JCO LTD. URANIUM
Limit consumption of seafoods harvested from the sensitive marine ecosystems
of this area, especially sea vegetables a sensitive bioindicator, shellfish
of any description and lobsters caught close in to the reactor site (+/-
Have children avoid contact with floc line debris (the seaweed and other
materials left at the high tide line in most all marine environs) anywhere
within 15 miles of the MYAPC reactor.
This advisory includes the following areas: the Sheepscot back river
from Wiscasset Harbor south to Robin Hood Cove including Westport Island,
northeast Arrowsic Island, the northern sections of Georgetown Island;
the Sheepscot River north of Wiscasset Harbor to the head of the tide at
Alna, and the Sheepscot River south of Wiscasset Harbor to Baker Island.
In view of the unknown amounts and locations of fission products lost
from MYAPC's 66 failed fuel assemblies, repeated official assertions
(MYAPC, NRC, state of Maine, Friends of the Coast) about the "safe" radiological
status of sensitive marine ecosystems cannot be verified by a nonexistent
In view of the breached reactor containment, recent heavy rainfall events
and the upcoming segmentation of reactor vessel internals, persons visiting
Maine during the summer season may wish to inquire about the point of origin
of Maine seafoods they are consuming.
Marine resources within 10 miles in any direction of the MYAPC reactor
site should have been closed at the time of the 1998 reactor water systems
flush and now should be closed while the reactor containment remains breached
and while reactor vessel segmentation and barge loading is taking place.
The licensee has recently closed a small area in the vicinity of the barge
berth; this closed zone should be greatly extended.
In the following weeks and months, the state of Maine, the licensee
and the seafood industry of Maine will be vehemently insistent that all
seafood consumed in the state of Maine is totally unimpacted by the dirty
decommissioning process now underway. If seafoods harvested within
10 miles of MYAPC are mixed with seafoods harvested from unimpacted areas,
the result could be a disaster for the Maine tourist industry.
Persons earning a living from the marine environment in the vicinity
of MYAPC should be compensated by the licensee and the state of Maine if
and when these areas are closed to the harvesting of marine resources.
September 30, 1999, 10:35 AM Japanese standard time:
Criticality accident at a Japanese Uranium Processing Plant.
The accident at the Tokaimura complex is actually a
relatively small nuclear accident involving 16 kg. of highly enriched uranium
poured into a settling basin designed for only 2.4 kg. This compares
with potential accidents at nuclear reactors which could theoretically
involve as much as 50 to 70 tons of uranium, or at nuclear weapons fabrication
or storage sites where the amount of fissile material could be an order
of magnitude higher than a worse case accident at a reactor site.
This accident was initially classified by the IAEA
as a level 4 accident (7 being the worst, e.g. Chernobyl.) The Citizens'
Nuclear Information Center (CNIC) has noted their skepticism of the
IAEA accident classification, suggesting it might be a 5. A level
4 accident is an event "without significant offsite risk." Since
almost no information is available about the source term (isotopic release
inventory) of this accident, CNIC feels it is premature to suggest that
it is only a level 4 accident.
Under any conditions, because only a small amount
of fissile material was involved in this accident, any significant impact
from the plume passage would be limited to an area around the facility
extending a few kilometers to, at most, a few hundred kilometers.
Most of the activity from the intense radiation field surrounding the accident
site was a result of shine from the enriched uranium in the settling basin.
The accident was controled by draining water from around the settling basin
by breaking the pipes leading to the basin (remote control remediation
efforts failed) at which time ambient radiation levels, which had been
10 to 15 thousand times above normal, returned to "near normal."
While no specific information is available about the isotopic footprint
of the resulting plume, because only a small amount of fissile material
was involved, extensive contamination by long-lived isotopes such as 137Cs
in the form of ground contamination is unlikely.
For more information on this small accident link to
3: Major Nuclear Accidents-in-Progress. Information on
the isotopic content of the accident plume will be posted as data becomes
available (this may take months to years.)
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE
The Center for Biological Monitoring
would appreciate any data (or information on where to obtain this data)
on the air deposition in microbecquerels / cubic meter and ground deposition
in bequerels / square meter.
ALERT: UKRAINE - NUCLEAR EXPERTS WARN THAT ECONOMIC
PROBLEMS ARE CREATING A NUCLEAR ENERGY CRISIS.
"Consumers' consistent failure to pay for electricity
supplies has left nuclear plants unable to pay their employees on time
and modernize aging equipment." (Associated Press Worldstream, Feb. 8,
1999). "The industry is deteriorating on all sides - economic, technological,
organizational and personnel." (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, Feb. 10,
1999). The existing facilities are unable to meet current electricity
demand, consumers are unable to pay and reactor safety is compromised.
ALERT: NRC WARNS THAT CONTROL
OVER RADIOACTIVE SOURCES IN ACTIVITIES OTHER THAN POWER GENERATION IS NOT
These warnings have been excerpted from the following
(December 22, 1998). International concern at radioactive
smuggling growing. Nuclear Engineering International. pg. 8.
"Greta Dicus, a commissioner at the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
has warned that control over radioactive sources in activities other than
power generation is not tight enough. ... Accidents have occurred in the
fields of irradiation, industrial radiography and teletherapy."
"One area particularly effected by this problem is the international
trade in waste scrap. There has been a significant increase in the
quantities of recycled metal which is radioactively contaminated entering
the international market. In recent months the Aceranex steel plant
in Spain unwittingly melted steel contaminated with caesium 137 and a scrap
metal dealer in northern England found part of a radioactive reactor vessel
in a shipment of recycled steel from Russia."
"'Since 1983, US steel mills accidentally melted radioactive sources
on 20 occasions and radioactive sources have accidentally been melted at
other metal mills on 11 other occasions,' said Dicus. 'While radiation
exposures of mill workers and the public have, thus far, been low, the
financial consequences have been large. US steel mills have incurred
costs averaging $8-10 million as a result of these events and, in one case,
the cost was $23 million.'"
"Theft of radioactive sources is becoming an increasing problem, particularly
in eastern Europe where a perception exists that the sources have a significant
monetary value. Often when thieves realize the material has little
value they discard them in scrap metal."
ALERT: MISSING -- FULL
REPORT ON THE THREE MILE ISLAND ACCIDENT.
Reprinted below is a notorized statement by Jane Rickover.
"In May, 1983, my father-in-law, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover,
told me that at the time of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor accident,
a full report was commissioned by President Jimmy Carter. He [my father-in-law]
said that the report, if published in its entirety, would have destroyed
the civilian nuclear power industry because the accident at Three Mile
Island was infinitely more dangerous than was ever made public. He told
me that he had used his enormous personal influence with President Carter
to persuade him to publish the report only in a highly "diluted" form.
The President himself had originally wished the full report to be made
public. In November, 1985, my father-in-law told me that he had come to
deeply regret his action in persuading President Carter to suppress the
most alarming aspects of that report."
[Signed] Jane Rickover
Notorized by William F. Lamson Q.C.
Notory Public for the Province of Ontario
Toronto, this 18th day of July A.D. 1986
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE
RADNET would appreciate notification from anyone of
where we can obtain the FULL copy of President Carter's 1979 report - not
the partial report that was released to the public. Also please advise
us of any information you might have about this report.
ALERT: REACTOR VESSEL GTCC WASTES TO BE RESCHEDULED
AS CLASS C LOW-LEVEL WASTES
In the summer of 1997, a proposal surfaced from the
owners of the Trojan Nuclear Plant in Washington state (closed in 1992)
to site their reactor vessel in an uncontained land burial at the Hanaford
Reservation with all the Greater Than Class C reactor vessel components
intact in one 1,200+ ton "package." A final decision on this proposal is
expected from the NRC in the spring of 1998. This proposed rescheduling
of reactor vessel GTCC wastes as class C wastes (by averaging all reactor
vessel class A, class C and GTCC components together) has set a precedent
which if implemented will be followed in most if not all future NRC licensee
decommissioning scenarios. Recently both the Maine Yankee Atomic Power
Company and the Connecticut Yankee Haddam Neck facility have proposed the
possibility of also siting their reactor vessels as one intact class C
"package" at the Barnwell, S.C. "low-level waste" landfill. This development
should be of interest to anyone with an interest in what constitutes "low-level
waste" and its consequential siting in existing low-level waste facilities
(e.g. Betty Nevada) or those proposed for future development (Ward Valley,
CA; Sierra Blanca, TX; etc.) For further information on this proposal,
please see our postings on the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company as a case
study in RAD 12: Twilight of the Nuclear Era: Part 5: Decommissioning
ALERT: WESTINGHOUSE FUEL ROD LEAKAGE
"Grid to rod fretting" has been identified as the cause
of leaky fuel assemblies at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station in Wiscasset,
Maine. (See the annotations of the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company:
Readiness Plan in RAD 12: 2-E: Public Safety Bibliography.)
MYAPC and NRC reports indicate the most damaged fuel
assemblies were manufactured by Westinghouse, Inc. The fretting (cutting
into) occurs when the reactor vessel grids holding the fuel assemblies
rub against the assemblies, gradually wearing down "frets" which allow
fuel leakage. Concerned citizens in the vicinity of nuclear stations using
Westinghouse fuel assemblies (or in the vicinity of any nuclear power station)
should be alerted to the vulnerability of Westinghouse assemblies to damage
by grid to rod fretting. Search NRC files
for more information (See RAD 13: RADLINKS: Part II D-5). Check licensee
inspection reports, licensee event reports, etc. (posted 4/3/97).
ALERT: NUCLEAR ACCIDENT-IN-PROGRESS: THE ROCKY FLATS
RADNET has chosen the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons
production site northwest of Denver, CO as the location of the largest
current nuclear accident-in-progress within the continental United States.
Other locations including Hanford (Washington), the Savannah River Plant,
the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory
in Tennessee have been the locations of much larger uncontained releases
of radioactive effluents to the environment then the Rocky Flats site.
No location, however possesses the unique combinations of large onsite
inventories of 239,240Pu, high winds in a dry environment, and
close proximity to highly populated areas. The chronic low-level release
of plutonium to the environment at this location began with the instigation
of weapons production in the late 1950's, and was exacerbated by three
major fires in the late 1960's as well as an additional 600 minor fires
which spread plutonium throughout the region (see New York Times 12/11/96,
p. A16). Significant quantities of plutonium have been accidentally spilled
or deliberately disposed of in soils within the facility boundaries; additional
significant quantities of plutonium now reside in the duct work and other
components of at least 5 large weapons production related buildings which
remain on site at this location. The total health physics impact of the
chronic release of low-levels of plutonium from this facility is particularly
dependent on future environmental remediation practices which have the
potential to terminate, or to exacerbate the source term release from this
accident-in-progress. Of particular interest will be the success or failure
of DOE sponsored environmental management activities to deconstruct the
buildings containing the greatest amount of plutonium contamination. The
prospect of additional fire events pose the threat of enhancing the existing
plutonium plume, which would spread additional quantities of plutonium
throughout the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountain region. Also of significant
interest will be the success or failure of future remediation activities
in preventing the resuspension and further spread of the plutonium now
contained in soil throughout the Rocky Flats complex. Successful remediation
activities in the next decade or two may allow the reclassification of
the Rocky Flats plutonium plume from its current status as the most dangerous
continental source point of anthropogenic radioactivity to one of less
significance. Such a reclassification is highly dependent upon the availability
and the rapid and efficient expenditure of large quantities of money (Federal
tax dollars) in a successful remediation effort. Given the economically
challenged status of the federal budget in general and DOE environmental
remediation programs in particular, as well as the questionable relationship
between funds expended versus remediation success achieved, it is unlikely
that sufficient federal funding will be available to provide the basis
for mitigation of this nuclear accident-in-progress. Even if funds are
available, will remediation efforts be successful? Due to the long radioactive
half life of 239Pu (1/2 T = 24,240 years), the Rocky Flats plutonium
plume has the potential to continue to spread contamination for several
millennium. Under any conditions it is unlikely, except during the few
hours of a serious fire, that the plutonium released during this accident
will exceed regulatory guidelines. This may be the only condolence in a
nuclear accident scenario the primary impact of which is beyond remediation.
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE
RADNET reviewers are solicited for any additional information
and reports which are not already cited in RAD 11: Major Plume Source Points,
Section 4: US Military Source Points: Rocky
ALERT: MOX FUEL/GALLIUM CONTROVERSY
Persons concerned with a recent Dept. of Energy decision
to dispose of excess weapons production derived plutonium through a dual
track process please note the following information. The Dept. of Energy
has suggested disposing of excess plutonium not only via vitrification
and burial of weapons grade plutonium, but also incorporated into a mixed
oxide fuel (MOX) to be burned in commercial reactors. The objective of
both of these disposal plans has been to keep this plutonium out of the
hands of terrorists. While the plan to use vitrification to dispose of
excess plutonium goes back several decades, the more recent DOE decision
to mix the plutonium with uranium and burn the resulting fuel in commercial
reactors (about 3% of the MOX fuel is plutonium) has a number of controversial
consequences. Only a few (12) reactor owners have expressed interest in
using the MOX alternative, which requires expensive facility adaptations
which would have to be funded by an act of Congress. More importantly,
burning the MOX fuel only eliminates a small percentage of the plutonium,
creating huge additional inventories of high-level wastes. A third complication
has recently been revealed by 2 Los Alamos scientists: plutonium from warheads
contains approximately 1% gallium, which was added during warhead production
to facilitate the manufacturing process. If this gallium remains in the
plutonium incorporated into the MOX fuel, resulting gallium laced products
of the fission process will attack the zirconium fuel cladding in commercial
reactors causing cladding deterioration and additional significant safety
and waste production problems. As a result of this potentially adverse
chemical reaction, plutonium destined for use as MOX fuel has to be reprocessed
for gallium extraction prior to incorporation in MOX fuel. This recent
development further complicates an already difficult situation. Russia
owns huge quantities of surplus plutonium left over from the end of the
cold war; the objective of the DOE program was to mollify the Russians
who disapprove of the vitrification and burial of such a valuable substance
as weapons grade plutonium, which they also intend to burn in a MOX fuel
scenario. A full copy of the Los Alamos Report by Dr. James Toevs and Carl
Beard has been printed in the newsletter of the IEER
(Institute for Energy and Environmental Research) and is available
at URL: http://www.ieer.org/ieer/latest/gallium.htmlor
see RAD 13: RADLINKS II-A: IEER. Arjun Makhijani
also has two reports summarizing the plutonium-MOX issue. These are presently
available electronically at the same site and are also cited in RAD
11: part 2: General Bibliography; see Makhijani: Heading off the
plutonium peril, as well as Makhijani:
Technical aspects of the
use of weapons plutonium as a reactor fuel. It should be pointed out
that while the MOX fuel alternative is extremely unsatisfactory, expensive
and risky, the vitrification plan, while technologically feasible, requires
huge quantities of scarce public funds which are unlikely to be available
in quantities sufficient to vitrify the tons of plutonium which are one
of the many legacies of the nuclear arms race. Needless to say, a final
geological depository of vitrified plutonium is as elusive as the funding
necessary for its construction. (posted 2/3/97, updated 4/17/97).
ALERT: CHEMICAL FALLOUT WARNING.
The Savannah River Technology Center (SRTC)
is the leader in the development of environmental remediation technologies.
One of the key remediation technologies discussed in the SRTC home page
is "air stripping" whereby plumes of contaminated groundwater are partially
cleansed by pumping the contaminated water to the surface and using the
air stripping technology to remove by evaporation most of the volatile
organic compounds (VOC's). The editor of RADNET would like to make reference
to Chemical Fallout: Current Research on Persistent Pesticides edited
by Miller and Berg, 1969, in which R. W. Riesbrough and others documented
VOC's including polychlorinated biphenyl's in Antarctic sea birds and marine
fish in the San Francisco Bay and other Pacific locations. The VOC's were
presumed to have entered the atmosphere as vapors during the manufacturing
process or by gradual volatilization or incineration. (pg. 11). Since the
publication of this classic in the field of chemical fallout studies, there
has been a growing awareness of the important role weapons production has
played in the proliferation of chemical fallout source points. A review
of Nuclear Wastelands (Makhijani, 1995, see RAD
11: Part 5, Major Plume Source Points) as well as many of the publications
of the Department of Energy including the BEMR, and of information provided
in the SRTC home page indicates that in retrospect
U.S. and Russian military weapons production facilities which utilized
evaporating pits, ponds, lagoons and massive uncontained releases of mixed
wastes containing large quantities of VOC's have been a major source of
chemical fallout. As of 1997, residents of Maine as well as many other
locations in the northern hemisphere have been or are being warned to limit
consumption of almost all varieties of fresh water fish and some marine
species which migrate to and spawn in fresh water sources due to their
bioaccumulation of these volatile chemicals.
WARNING: the SRTC and other DOE environmental management
departments are beginning an intensive program of groundwater remediation
using air stripping technologies to remove a lengthy list of VOC's. The
DOE, the DOD and the EPA as well as private vendors also make extensive
use of clay lined pits for evaporating VOC's. Evaporation of volatile organic
compounds including PCB's, benzenes, trichloroethylene and other dangerous
chemicals ensures a hemispheric wide distribution of these contaminants.
These environmental remediation programs, many of which are in their infancy,
will result in the efficient distribution of these contaminants throughout
the biosphere. In retrospect, pollution from agricultural and non-military
industrial source points of VOC's may play a less significant role in the
world-wide spread of chemical fallout than the huge weapons production-derived
inventories of VOC's which are now becoming available for hemispheric wide
ALERT: MISSING WEAPONS PRODUCTION HIGH-LEVEL WASTE.
As noted in RAD 11, Parts 4 and 11, there is an anomaly
in data pertaining to commercial nuclear power production of spent fuel
wastes versus military weapons production of spent fuel and high-level
wastes. The DOE Integrated Database report for 1994 indicates US
commercial nuclear power plants have accumulated 30,200,000,000 curies
of spent fuel high-level waste as of Jan. 1, 1996 compared to an incomplete
inventory of weapons production high-level wastes (at only four DOE/DOD
locations) of 957,900,000 curies. In view of the commercial production
of plutonium 239 in power plant spent fuel (141 metric tons) versus DOE/DOD
production of plutonium 239 for weapons (111 metric tons), additional information
about the quantities and locations of UNCONTAINED military spent fuel and
high-level waste is urgently needed. RADNET suggests the following categorization
of contained and uncontained military spent fuel and high-level waste production:
CONTAINED SPENT FUEL HIGH-LEVEL WASTE:
957,900,000 curies as noted in the DOE Integrated
Other probable locations for contained and uncontained
military spent fuel and high-level waste: (?)
POTENTIAL FUTURE SOURCES OF UNCONTAINED AND/OR RECYCLED
SNAP POWER SOURCES:
(238 Pu etc. in satellites, buoys, and
other applications and locations)
FOOD IRRADIATION EQUIPMENT:
MEDICAL TECHNOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS:
OTHER INDUSTRIAL USES:
UNCONTAINED RELEASES: DEEPWELL INJECTION
INEL and etc. (?)
UNCONTAINED RELEASES: TERRESTRIAL ENVIRONMENT:
canyons and other desiccated environments. LANL, etc.
UNCONTAINED RELEASES: TERRESTRIAL ENVIRONMENT:
uncontained and/or undocumented land burial. ORNL,
UNCONTAINED RELEASES: TERRESTRIAL ENVIRONMENT:
ponds, lagoons, and streams, SRR, etc. (?)
UNCONTAINED RELEASES: MARINE ENVIRONMENT:
ocean dumping (?)
LOST AND UNACCOUNTED FOR:
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE
RADNET reviewers are solicited for any additional information,
documentation or opinions which would assist in reconciling the discrepancy
in commercial spent fuel inventories versus military high-level waste and
spent fuel inventories.
ALERT: MAINE RADIOLOGICAL EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLAN (MRERP):
DISCREPANCIES AND DEFICIENCIES
The MRERP is the emergency response plan mandated and
supervised by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for implementation
by the licensee and local and state authorities during a serious nuclear
accident at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station (MYAPS).
Extensive on site radiological monitoring equipment at
MYAPS is not matched by radiological monitoring equipment or capacity located
outside of the plant perimeter in areas which would certainly be impacted
during a major nuclear accident.
The MYAPC and the NRC maintain a total of 78 TLD's (Thermoluminescent
dosimeters) around the MYAPS. These dosimeters, which accumulate data about
ambient radiation levels, must be removed and sent to a laboratory for
analysis. Under emergency conditions these primitive dosimeters (circa
1950) provide almost no information about the time and intensity of accident
plume passages. The information these dosimeters contain are cumulative
composites of ambient radiation levels and provide no real time data about
air concentrations, media-specific, nuclide-specific contamination levels,
or information about ground level contamination.
These 78 dosimeters are located in two perimeters around
the MYAPS. Fifty eight NRC and MYAPC dosimeters are located within a 2
mile radius of the plant; the remaining 20 dosimeters are located in an
outer perimeter averaging 10 miles from the plant.
The State of Maine maintains 17 electronic real time Eberline
dosimeters located within the first (2 mile) perimeter. These monitors
provide more accurate data about the time and intensity of ground level
plumes, but otherwise tend to duplicate the function of the more primitive
These ground level monitors will provide little or no
information about an actual plume release which will in most cases travel
well above the ground level TLD's and State of Maine monitors in most emergency
Weather conditions which will allow plume passage at ground
level will tend to greatly increase local casualties in a major nuclear
accident as the risk for residents evacuating an accident situation under
these meteorological conditions is greatly enhanced. In contrast with a
scenario with a ground level plume passage, the Chernobyl accident was
characterized by ejection of most radiological emissions into the troposphere
due to a combination of plant design and favorable weather conditions.
MRERP provisions for mobile ground level radiological
surveillance are dependent on primitive equipment, a near total lack of
trained personnel, untested assumptions about human behavior in an actual
accident situation, and a reliance on outdated laboratory equipment in
Augusta, Maine which can only provide detailed radiological analysis of
a few samples per day. Laboratory capacity for media-specific nuclide specific
analysis outside of Maine, at Winchester, MA and Brookhaven, NY are equally
outdated and inadequate, as are the single mobile laboratories available
from the EPA and NRC.
There is essentially a complete lack of emergency radiological
monitoring capacity in areas in excess of 10 miles in distance from the
MYAPS. This deficiency is the result of ancient pre-Chernobyl FEMA and
NRC paradigms which assume that the impact of a major nuclear accident
will be primarily limited to a 10 mile radius around the MYAPS, with some
additional impact possible within a 50 mile radius. The Chernobyl accident
and it's hemispheric wide impact illustrated the obsolete nature of assumptions
upon which MRERP is based.
Federal accident response capacities for aerial assessment
are unknown. The status of the Aerial Measuring System (AMS) sponsored
by the DOE is not available for accurate evaluation, and the computer based
Atmospheric Release Advisory Capability (ARAC) based at Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory has apparently been undercut by limitations on federal
funding. Under normal conditions the data generated by these aerial radiological
monitoring systems is not accessible to the general public; in emergency
conditions the timely availability of this normally classified data to
authorized persons in emergency operation centers (EOC's) is extremely
The result of the lack of radiological monitoring data
in emergency situations for areas outside a 10-20 mile radius of the MYAPS
is that what little information is available is completely controlled by
a licensee which has a distinct conflict of interest between the economic
impact of an accident on plant viability and the obligation to provide
accurate radiological data during an emergency. Authorized emergency personnel
and first responders living in communities outside of the immediate vicinity
of the MYAPS should be alerted to the discrepancies and deficiencies in
the MRERP and the fact that the licensee, the MYAPC, will control almost
all the radiological monitoring data which will emanate from the EOC's
maintained by the NRC, the licensee and communities adjacent to the plant.
This radiological monitoring information, of questionable veracity or accuracy,
will pass down a chain of command which includes a very small but complacent
and unquestioning State of Maine Department of Human Services radiation
monitoring bureaucracy. In an emergency situation, the radiological monitoring
data pertaining to the severity and intensity of a radioactive plume passage
available to fire departments and other emergency personnel will range
from unreliable to inaccurate to unavailable. Emergency personnel in areas
away from MYAPS should be reminded that in the event of an accident at
Maine Yankee Atomic Power Station there is essentially no radiological
monitoring equipment to provide real-time air concentrations, or media-specific,
nuclide-specific (including ground deposition) data for the evaluation
of the impact of a nuclear accident in your community.
MRERP is further characterized by extraordinary discrepancies
in the radiation protection guidelines for authorized persons in the EOC's
versus the guidelines for ordinary citizens. For more details about this
rather complicated issue see RADNET Section 6, Radiation protection guidelines
as well as the comments in RADNET Section 12 on the State of Maine Radiological
Emergency Response Plan. These discrepancies are a symbol of the many anomalies
and deficiencies of NRC, FEMA, and other radiological emergency plans,
paradigms, and assumptions.
"This radiological emergency response plan therefore involves
the mobilization of hundreds of persons to staff emergency operations centers
in preparation for evacuating tens of thousands of persons during a nuclear
accident in which almost no accurate and reliable real-time data is available
about radioactive plume size, movement or characteristics. This RERP could
easily serve to increase exposure of local residents to an accident plume,
rather than to mitigate exposure." (RADNET Section 12, pg. 15.) Extensive
additional comments on the MRERP are contained in RADNET Section 12, in
the annotation of this citation.
In the first half of the first decade of United States
commercial nuclear power production, defective fuel assemblies were ubiquitous
in many nuclear power plants in this country as well as abroad. Comments
about these defective fuel assemblies appear in many NRC and NRC licensee
publications and annual environmental reports. Due to inadequate and in
fact nearly non-existent NRC environmental monitoring standards, the environmental
impact of these defective fuel assemblies is virtually unknown. Many of
these defective fuel assemblies are stored in the spent fuel pools of US
nuclear power plants (e.g. MYAPC) and will pose an additional costly problem
at the time of decommissioning.
ALERT: DEFECTIVE FUEL ROD DATABASE (DFRD)
The NRC is currently planning a research program to
evaluate the exposure of high burnup fuel cladding to a simulated Loss-Of
Coolant Accident (LOCA). Recently concerns have been raised as to whether
fuel cladding subjected to high burnup conditions could fail at lower levels
of energy deposition than earlier assumed by NRC regulators. NRC licensees
are currently attempting to extend the burnup time of the uranium fuel
for the purpose of extracting more power output. The proposed NRC testing
is an attempt to determine if it is safe to extend fuel burnup; this research
program may shed some light on not only extended fuel burnup, but whether
unrecognized dangers for fuel cladding failure previously existed, especially
during a reactivity insertion accident scenario (See NRC regulations in
10 CFR Part 50 Section 46: Fuel cladding temperatures should not exceed
2,200 degrees Fahrenheit; total oxidation of fuel cladding must not exceed
17% of the cladding thickness). Fuel cladding properties change at higher
burnup temperatures: what dangers does this pose? What pre-existing dangers
are posed by fuel cladding which will fail at lower levels of energy deposition
than previously assumed? What dangers are currently posed by the pin holes
in Maine Yankee fuel cladding which are apparently the source of 129I
leakage in the reactor vessel (1/3/97)? The NRC research program on fuel
cladding will be executed by the Argonne National Laboratory.
Also see the previous RADNET alert on grid to rod fretting
in Westinghouse fuel assemblies. RADNET has insufficient information to
determine whether the recent leakage in MYAPC Westinghouse-produced
fuel assemblies is due entirely to grid to rod fretting, or whether MYAPC
fuel from other vendors is subject to pin-hole leaks for reasons other
than grid to rod fretting.
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE
RADNET reviewers are solicited for any additional information
and reports which document the environmental impact of these defective
ALERT: AMERICIUM - 241
Americium 241 (1/2 t = 432y) is a decay product of
plutonium 241 (1/2 t = 14.5y). Plutonium 241 is a ubiquitous contaminant
of the fission process. The DOE Integrated Database for 1994 lists
spent fuel inventory of 241Pu as of Jan. 1, 1996 at 2,490,000,000
curies. RADNET uses a factor of 5 (times DOE Integrated Database commercial
spent fuel nuclide inventories) to estimate worldwide anthropogenic inventories
of radioactive contamination of any spent fuel nuclide. (RADNET adds a
factor of 2 for foreign nuclear power facilities and a factor of 2 for
all military weapons production contaminants). World wide inventories of
plutonium 241 are now in excess of 12 billion curies. The DOE Integrated
Database lists the current commercial spent fuel inventory of americium
241 at 36,900,000 curies (world wide inventories in excess of 180,000,000
curies). Numerous reports annotated in RADNET warn that americium 241 will
become an important source of exposure as plutonium 241 decays. RADNET
reviewers are alerted that marine concentration ratios for americium in
plankton, benthic algae, benthic macrophytes, benthic invertebrates, and
fish are ten times higher than for plutonium. See RADNET Section
14, Hanson W. G. (1980) pg. 620. Americium 241 is thus a highly mobile,
hemispherically dispersed, biologically significant radionuclide which
will constitute a significant source of exposure in the next millennium.
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE
RADNET reviewers are solicited for any additional information
and reports which document the environmental impact of increasing levels
of americium 241 contamination of the environment and which are not already
listed in RADNET.
ALERT - TECHNETIUM - 99
Monitoring by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Food (MAFF) of lobsters, seaweed, mussels, winkles, and limpets in
the North Sea near Sellafield, England has identified a rapid increase
in technetium 99 levels since 1993. A December 14, 1996 report in the Daily
Telegraph indicates the source of the technetium is British Nuclear Fuel's
EARP Plant, recently opened at approximately opened at the same time as
the Thorp fuel reprocessing plant. The Daily Telegraph report, quoting
MAFF data printed in the environmental journal The Ends, indicates
99Tc has increased 40 fold in lobsters since 1993, and contamination
is now 13 times higher in seafood than allowed by European Union (EU) standards.
Technetium is a radionuclide with relatively low abundance in commercial
spent fuel: the DOE Integrated Database indicates a cumulative total
of 345,000 curies in US commercial spent fuel inventories. Questions RADNET
would like to pose are: why are such large amounts of this long lived (1/2
T = 210,000 years), low Mev radionuclide being produced by this Sellafield
facility? What characteristics make this obscure contaminant so biologically
available? More information about the technetium pulse originating from
Sellafield will be posted as soon as RADNET can obtain more information
from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE
RADNET reviewers are solicited for any additional information
and reports which document the release of technetium 99 from Sellafield
and/or any other plume source point.
Most notices posted in this section by RADNET will pertain to the
Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company in Wiscasset. RADNET readers please refer
to the Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS)
for notices pertaining to developments with respect to nuclear issues on
the national level (RADNET Section 13: RADLINKS Part II-A).
RADNET is waiting for the release of the NRC Office of
Investigation (OI) report on the MYAPC power uprate scam. This report has
been referred to the Department of Justice, Office of the US Attorney in
Maine for review and possible prosecution. As soon as the Office of US
Attorney decides upon what course of action to take, the report will be
released for public scrutiny and will be reviewed and annotated by RADNET.
The editor of RADNET would like to make the observation that, based upon
conversations with this office, the Office of the US Attorney in Maine
was and is among the most uninformed public bureaucracies with respect
to nuclear issues including evasions of waste disposal and decommissioning
funding, nuclear safety issues, and in general the ongoing technical and
procedural problems now confronting the nuclear industry. Successful prosecution
by the Department of Justice of the MYAPC and the YAEC for the alleged
charges of wrongdoing now pending is extremely unlikely. Diversion of attention
away from the criminal activities involved in the illegal power uprate
at the Maine Yankee Atomic Power Company is a likely result of the lengthy
review process now underway at the Office of the US Attorney in Maine.
This section is provided for the public to add their
comments, observations, insults, jokes, etc. of a favorable or unfavorable
nature. Please identify yourself to the RADNET editors and provide an email
address which will be published with your text. Indicate if your name can
also be published. No obscene information will be accepted.
| Top of This Section | Next
| Index | Introduction
| Guide | Accidents |
| Radionuclides | Protection
Guidelines | Plumes | Baseline
Data | Dietary Intake | Chernobyl
| Source Points | Maine Yankee
| Links | Bibliography
| Alerts | Sponsor |