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The US Department of Energy has declared an emergency at the Hanford, Washington nuclear waste storage site, after a cave-in of a tunnel used to store radioactive materials and equipment.
About 3,000 workers have taken cover at the 200 East Area of the sprawling complex, local media reported. By 10:30 am local time, the “take cover” orders have been expanded to the entire site, which is about half the size of Rhode Island.
A portion of a tunnel near the plutonium-uranium extraction plant (PUREX) collapsed early Tuesday morning local time, most likely from vibrations produced by nearby road work, KING-TV reported.
Initial reports spoke of a 4-foot (1.2 meter) hole, which was later expanded to 20 feet (6 meters) across, at the junction of two tunnels used in the 1960s to store highly radioactive materials and equipment, such as trains used to transport nuclear fuel rods.
The PURE facility was built in the 1950s and used until 1988 to extract plutonium from around 70,000 fuel rods in total. The building has been vacant for nearly twenty years and “remains highly contaminated,”according to the Hanford website. Rail cars used to transport the fuel rods from the nuclear reactors to the processing facility are buried inside the nearby tunnels.
No workers were injured in the collapse, and officials have detected no release of radiation, Washington state Department of Ecology spokesman Randy Bradbury told AP.
“In the ‘60s, spent fuel rods were put in railroad cars and, once filled, the railroad cars were wheeled into a tunnel dug into the side of a hill,” Bradbury said. “Twenty-eight rail cars in all fill this particular tunnel. A worker today noticed a collapse of dirt above the tunnel today, triggering the evacuation.”
Workers at the complex have been ordered to stay indoors and refrain from eating and drinking, according to text alerts seen by local media. Emergency crews are organizing the evacuation.
Emergency measures were put in place due to “concerns about subsidence in the soil covering railroad tunnels,” says a statement posted on the Hanford facility website.
Residents of the nearby Benton and Franklin counties do not need to take any action, the facility said.
Hanford is located on the Columbia River in eastern Washington, near the border with Oregon. Built during World War Two as part of the Manhattan Project to develop the nuclear bomb, it still contains roughly 53 million gallons – over 2,600 rail cars – worth of high-level nuclear waste, left from the production of plutonium for the US nuclear weapons program.
A number of current and former Hanford workers suffer from serious medical conditions as a result of exposure to toxic waste leaks and “burps” of radiation at the complex, RT America reported in April 2016.
Courtesy of rt.com
The radioactive particles were first detected during the second week of January 2017 in Norway.
The nuclear radiation appears to have come from Eastern Europe, but no official statements have been made as to the source.
Radioactive particles are generally associated with nuclear bombs or nuclear energy disasters such as as Chernobyl and Fukushima.
In Norway, Astrid Liland, Head of the Emergency Preparedness at the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority suggested there was no concerns for public health.
Particulate Iodine-131 (value +/- uncertainty) in the atmosphere(µBq/m3. Map by Institute de Radioprotection et de Süreté Nucléaire
She told the Barents Observer, “We do measure small amounts of radioactivity in air from time to time because we have very sensitive measuring equipment. The measurements at Svanhovd in January were very, very low. So were the measurements made in neighboring countries, like Finland. The levels raise no concern for humans or the environment. Therefore, we believe this had no news value.”
The Western mainstream media however, is in overdrive with accusations suggesting Vladimir Putin detonated a Nuclear Device.
The US Air Force has sent a special WC-135 Constant Phoenix, an aircraft specializing in detecting and identifying nuclear explosions to the UK.
Other online sources, suggest the radiation spike is due to “sloppy” tests carried out on natural gas pipeline leaks.
Courtesy of awaresy.com
Sensors at the Fukushima nuclear plant have detected a fresh leak of highly radioactive water to the sea, the plant’s operator announced today, highlighting difficulties in decommissioning the crippled plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said the sensors, which were rigged to a gutter that pours rain and ground water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to a nearby bay, detected contamination levels up to 70 times greater than the already-high radioactive status seen at the plant campus.
TEPCO said its emergency inspections of tanks storing nuclear waste water did not find any additional abnormalities, but the firm said it shut the gutter to prevent radioactive water from going into the Pacific Ocean.
The higher-than-normal levels of contamination were detected at around 10 am (local time), with sensors showing radiation levels 50 to 70 times greater than usual, TEPCO said.
Though contamination levels have steadily fallen throughout the day, the same sensors were still showing contamination levels about 10 to 20 times more than usual, a company spokesman said.
It was not immediately clear what caused the original spike of the contamination and its gradual fall, he added.
The latest incident, one of several that have plagued the plant in recent months, reflects the difficulty in controlling and decommissioning the plant, which went through meltdowns and explosions after being battered by a giant tsunami in March 2011, sparking the world’s worst nuclear disaster in a generation.
TEPCO has not been able to effectively deal with an increasing amount of contaminated water, used to cool the crippled reactors and molten fuels inside them and kept in large storage tanks on the plant’s vast campus.
Adding to TEPCO’s headaches has been the persistent flow of groundwater from nearby mountains travelling under the contaminated plant before washing to the Pacific Ocean.
The International Atomic Energy Agency recently said TEPCO has made “significant progress” in cleaning up the plant, but suggested that Japan should consider ways to discharge treated waste water into the sea as a relatively safer way to deal with the radioactive water crisis.
Members of the media and TEPCO employees in the H4 area at the tsunami-crippled TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture. File Photo
Courtesy of The Hindu BusinessLine
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Wednesday an accident had occurred at the Zaporizhye nuclear power plant (NPP) in south-east Ukraine and called on the energy minister to hold a news conference.
“I know that an accident has occurred at the Zaporizhye NPP,” Yatseniuk said, asking new energy minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn to make clear when the problem would be resolved and what steps would be taken to restore normal power supply across Ukraine.
News agency Interfax Ukraine said the problem had occurred at bloc No 3 – a 1,000-megawatt reactor – and the resulting lack of output had worsened the power crisis in the country. Interfax added that the bloc was expected to come back on stream on Dec. 5.
Gov’t notified of ‘stability issues’, plants begin evaluating potential flood impacts — Official: An ‘uncommon’ occurrence, we’re monitoring it continuously and working around clock — Structure same height as Niagra Falls
Inspection of [Tennessee’s Boone] dam revealed a sink hole… Six days later, an uncommon occurrence happened when seepage was found near the location of the sink hole at the base of the dam…
NCR; BOONE DAM STABILITY ISSUES… “TVA conducted a briefing for government officials… after discovery of a sink hole near the base… water and sediment [has been] found seeping from the river below the dam. TVA is continuously monitoring the dam… The dam is located upstream of all three TVA nuclear sites… The NRC Senior Resident Inspector was notified. The licensee is evaluating this event for potential impact on the design basis flooding level.”
Times Free Press; Tennessee Valley Authority engineers [will] search for the source of water seepage… Water and sediment were found Sunday seeping from the river bank below the dam.
TVA; A sink hole was discovered near the base… water and sediment was found seeping from the river bank below the dam…
John McCormick, VP at TVA; [We’re] exercising an abundance of caution… Unless it’s a huge storm, we can do what we need… we are continuously monitoring the dam… engineers want to be sure we understand what caused the sink hole and where the water and sediment is coming from.
WCYB; [A] sinkhole and seepage of clay particulates into the water at Boone dam… [is near] the bottom of structure on the river side of the dam… TVA employees are working around the clock to find the cause of the sinkhole and the source of the seepage. “The seepage into the waterway is not a common occurrence,” said McCormick… they do not have a definite timetable for finding the source of the seepage…
Boone Dam is just over the border from Virginia, where a powerful M5.9 quake struck in 2011 — Times Free Press: TVA inspects dams, nuclear plants after earthquake [and] is in the process of performing visual walk downs and inspections at… Boone
USGS; [Quakes] in the eastern U.S. can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought [and] damaging effects can extend over a much larger area… the farthest landslide from the 2011 Virginia earthquake was 245 km from the epicenter. This is by far the greatest landslide distance recorded from any other earthquake of similar magnitude… [This quake] occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected [and] landslide distances… are remarkable… [it’s] the largest distance limit ever recorded…