IAEA

NW Conference: Awards! (part II)

<<December 2011: The Ottawa Citizen (Canadian newspaper based in our capital city) is doing a series on nuclear waste.>>

<Oct. 12/11.>

  • NW = Nuclear/nuke waste
  • AECL = Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
  • CNSC = Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
  • OPG = Ontario Power Generation

 

Other posts about this conference are:

 

 

Awards for the Nuclear Industry (continued)

(Part I, A – K, is here)

  • Obfuscation Above & Beyond the Call of Duty award to CSA (Canadian Standards Association) staff person M. Rhodes for a completely & utterly incomprehensible presentation on CSA Guideline N292.5 – a “Guideline for the exemption or clearance from regulatory control of materials that contain, or potentially contain, nuclear substances.” (check it out here! If you've got $200, they'll let you buy a copy!!) More from the conference program: [The guideline] “was recently developed to address a need for guidance on approaches for clearance [italics mine] and of materials from facilities licensed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) consistent with Canadian and international recommendations. This guideline is also applicable to determining if an activity associated with materials that contain nuclear substances is exempt from requiring a CNSC licence. The guideline summarizes [are you snoring yet?] the regulatory requirements associated with the exemption and clearance [italics mine] of materials and provides a graded approach to designing a survey based on the risk of residual contamination being present.” In layman’s terms, this appears to be about an industry committee having loosened regulations for radioactive materials to be “re-characterized,” & thus released with less (or no) scrutiny or oversight. I think. (Note that this man has won the opposite of a plain speaking award, & that I was completely unable to cut through his incredibly dense jargon-speak.) When asked how the so-called “public consultation” on this took place, Mr. Rhodes replied that it was posted on the CSA Web site. What?? That’s what the nuclear industry/CNSC calls public consultation??? Yikes. (Surely there are rules about public consultation?? As in, um, you have to actually consult the public???)
  • Overused Phrase of the Week award goes to almost every single speaker at this 3-day conference, not one of whom, if I am not mistaken, failed to use the phrase “going forward” – quite as though they were entitled to some kind of prize for … for going forward (instead of backward? Or sideways?? Or, hmm. Maybe down a rabbit hole?? I dunno. I am just sooooooo tired of this hackneyed, overused phrase).
  • Plain Speaking award – 4-way tie here. François Bilodeau from Hydro Québec, who admitted the refurbishment of the Gentilly-2 reactor will create a huge amount of new waste. Adrian Simper from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in the UK, who was upfront about the fact that there is a VERY BIG mess of nuke waste there. (Program reads: “The UK’s nuclear legacy is a major public liability, and arguably represents the largest, most important environmental restoration programme in Europe.” (See article here) Tom Mitchell, OPG Prez & CEO, who admitted, “Nuclear waste is growing” & alluded to the “increased waste from refurbishments.” Finally, CNSC Prez/CEO Michael Binder allowed as how “We have tended to be secretive” & that “most of our conferences are us talking to ourselves” & have not included the public or the press. True story!
  • Pollyanna award – to M. Laraia of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for his skimming-very-much-along-the-surface talk about decommissioning work at Yankee Rowe Nuclear Power Plant & various other locations, & his cheerful exhortation to “Be creative!” (Hmmm. Possibly his award should be for “Providing Practically No Details.”)
  • Preposterous Suggestion of the Week award to the man in the audience who suggested that nuclear waste shouldn’t be called waste – as though calling it something else would render it less dangerous. Of course it would also then be less of a concern to all those foolishly misguided members of the public (that’s us, btw) who are scared out of our wits about waste that will require careful handling for, count ‘em, one million years.
  • Refreshing Frankness award to the speaker – Ian Barnes, I believe his name was – who in discussing the decommissioning of a “redundant UK Research Facility” (AWE Aldermaston; he didn’t mention what had gone on there; not sure I want to know!) stated that an aspect of the work was “on program, which is quite unusual with decommissioning” (this right after having stated that building rubble was being released with 95% certainty of the “waste classification.” Only 95% certainty, with radioactive materials?? Yikes).
  • Rocket Science (not) / Doh!! award to many of the speakers at the conference, who seem to think they should get a prize for acknowledging the brilliant insight that, when you are dealing with nuclear projects, you need to “think about waste all the way through, not just at the end.” (Geez, & I thought I’m not a rocket scientist!?)
  • Screw the Taxpayers!! award to the nuclear industry (& our government) for, is it … $16 billion in federal tax $$ to the Nuclear Waste Management Office (NWMO)?? How much to the Nuclear Legacy Liabilities Program?? $7 billion? How much for Port Hope & Port Granby? Chalk River Labs clean-up & decommissioning costs? Taxpayers’ money, folks!! They make the waste & the profits, we get to own the wastes, & pay the clean-up costs. Quite the deal, eh? Remember that old phrase ‘corporate welfare bums’??
  • Surreal Moments award goes to – the nuclear industry!! For their “Investigation of Tritium in Groundwater” workshop at this conference. I was there! Both at the workshop & at a # of CNSC hearings that have been held regarding this preposterous situation – in the flesh, as it were. I am also intimately aware of the long, sick history of the SRB company in Pembroke, Ontario that makes glow-in-the-dark products from tritium & whose goings-on led to this ever-so-dry workshop at a nuclear industry conference where the hired gun consultant, hired to do a study & later report to this conference, utterly failed to mention how the excessive tritium emissions were discovered at great personal effort & no doubt considerable psychic cost by citizen activists who persistently went to the CNSC over years & years & years & gave about a zillion pounds of their flesh & their time to force this company to at least greatly reduce its tritium-emission-spewing (we wish they’d shut the sucker down, but at least their efforts have resulted in a massive reduction of emissions). Near the end of the workshop, someone asked how the company had managed to reduce its emissions so substantially. Guess who had to answer the question? One of those same citizen activists who has given thousands (or 10’s of thousands) of hours of his personal time over the past 20+ years to protect not only his own children’s health, but that of all the citizens of Pembroke, Ontario. Phew. Yes, I’m a little passionate about this issue, the very one that brought me to awareness of how the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission operates, how very down-the-rabbit-hole/Mad Hatter’s Tea Party the whole nuclear business is. It was surreal to hear this sanitized little workshop – this dry little consultant’s spiel – about a very, very serious situation – & hear no background whatsoever (not one single word) about the citizen activism that led to such big changes at SRB in Pembroke, & also led to the CNSC carrying out the Tritium Studies Project ...which cost Canadian taxpayers who knows how many millions of dollars, & at the public launch event of which I recall CNSC staffer Dr. Patsy Thompson sheepishly admitting that the groundwater plume had not been predicted accurately, based on CNSC's "computer modelling." I call it all the Grand Tritium Experiment. The GTE. Citizens of Pembroke, guinea pigs for the Grand Tritium Experiment. Unconscionable.
  • Team Player award to … gosh, let’s just give it to everyone in the nuke industry, shall we? The industry’s many foot soldiers are outstanding in their efforts to prop one another up, even in the face of preposterous lies & secrets, & are experts at not asking one another inconvenient questions that might lead to…actually telling the truth.
  • 3 R’s Waste Reduction Hierarchy Highjacking / We can spin that one! award for disingenuous talk about how the nuclear industry is “doing the right thing” by beginning to talk about “recycling” nuclear waste. The posting ‘Recycling: The Good, The Bad & the Ugly’ delves into this & provides links for further information.
  • Understatement of the Year award – 3-way tie here. Frank Doyle, President of the Canadian Nuclear Society (the organization that put on the conference), who said in his opening address that there is a wide variety of wastes & “significant nuclear legacy liabilities” to deal with (a huge admission from the nuclear industry, actually) & CNSC Prez/CEO Binder for two of his remarks: “Public confidence [about the nuclear industry] is waning” & “The March 11th event in Japan was a wake-up call” & finally, Tom Mitchell, Prez & CEO of OPG, who acknowledged that the accident at Fukushima is “humbling” to the nuclear industry, with its intimation that “the unthinkable might happen.”
  • Utter Obliviousness to Reality award – self-explanatory…no??
  • What a MESS!? award – self-explanatory, yes?
  • Wizard of Oz award – the nuclear genie, the nuclear expert, the nuclear booster – the politicians, the industry people who have shoved & continue to shove nukes down our throats – they are all like the Wizard of Oz. Smoke & mirrors. Sound & fury, signifying nothing. Nothing but destruction, that is. Yours, mine – even their own. They get the prize. (We get the ruined environment, incredibly long-lived waste, & the cancers – & all the heartbreak & pain associated with all those illnesses & deaths & losses).
  • You Want it in YOUR basement?? – self-explanatory, I’d say…

Awards for the Activist Crowd:

  • Can’t believe we stayed through the whole darn thing! award or, alternatively,
  • Didn’t run screaming from the room! award
  • Digging through jargon & bullshit & fancy language award
  • I TOLD YOU SO award for all the truths the environmental community has been telling for years that the nuke industry is finally having to admit to publicly (not that these mild admissions are much comfort, you understand; the waste is still there & it still has to be safely contained for a million years…), or alternatively,
  • It’s the WASTE, Stupid!!just as the environmental community has been saying all along!
  • Telling the Truth award – for telling the simple unvarnished truth, a truth any 6-year old could tell you: no nuclear power is safe.

Awards for the General Public

  • Deer in the headlights / Deeply snowed award for falling prey to nuclear bullshit / bafflegab / snow jobs / jargon. (It’s pretty easy to do!)
  • Deeply puzzled award (Why is it we taxpayers are footing the bill for all this nuke waste clean-up again??)
  • Enemy of the People award (what any person living in a nuclear community would receive for speaking up / truth-telling. See Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People).
  • Innocence & naivete award for finding the secrets, lies, deceptions & nastiness of the nuclear industry simply too much to attempt to fathom or swallow.
  • Quotation of the Year award to Frank Zappa for this gem: “Government is the Entertainment Division of the military-industrial complex.” Hooey!!!

 

The final post about this conference is here.

 

International Atomic Energy Agency Admits Radioactive Problem in Consumer Goods

Ottawa, Ontario: Today marks the first of two special hearings by Canadian Members of Parliament on the proposed shipment by Bruce Power of 16 radioactively-contaminated steam generators through the Great Lakes (source of drinking water for 40 million Canadian & U.S citizens), St. Lawrence River and Atlantic Ocean to Studsvik, Sweden for so-called “recycling.”

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Canada’s nuclear “regulator” has been aggressively promoting the plan by Bruce Power, an advocacy role well outside the agency’s actual mandate. (From their Web site: “The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) protects the health, safety and security of Canadians as well as the environment, and respects Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”) The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (a title referred to by some nuclear skeptics as an oxymoron) has even gone so far recently as to come up with a new policy on nuclear “3 Rs,” and is now advocating openly for the recycling of nuclear wastes.

One activist who wishes to remain anonymous has suggested that those who choose to believe the “expert” testimony of Bruce Power and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission spokespersons had better be sure to have their hip waders on. “Buying what these nuclear industry hacks are paid to say would be a pretty tough slog,” said the anonymous activist. “What this plan really is, is a game of Radioactive Russian Roulette.”

“Garbage is garbage, and nuclear wastes are just too horrendously toxic to be shipping them through precious, irreplaceable waters.

Have we already forgotten BP and the oil spill?

Have we forgotten the Titanic?

This so-called nuclear regulator operates in a moral and ethical vacuum. This plan must be squashed!”

The anonymous activist refers readers to a news item in which the international nuclear “watchdog” has admitted, “There may be more than 1 million missing radioactive sources worldwide.” (See link & article below.)

-30-

Nuclear waste gets recycled into goods

Improper disposal of equipment is allowing radioactive materials to contaminate metals for consumer items.

November 12, 2008|Bloomberg News

French authorities made headlines last month when they said as many as 500 sets of radioactive buttons had been installed in elevators throughout France. It wasn't an isolated case.

Improper disposal of industrial equipment and medical scanners containing radioactive materials is allowing nuclear waste to trickle into scrap smelters, contaminating consumer goods, threatening the $140-billion trade in recycled metal and spurring the United Nations to call for increased screening.

Last year, U.S. Customs rejected 64 shipments of radioactive goods at the nation's ports, including purses, cutlery, sinks and hand tools, according to data released by the Department of Homeland Security in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. India was the largest source, followed by China.

"The world is waking up very late to this," said Paul de Bruin, radiation safety chief for Jewometaal Stainless Processing in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the world's biggest stainless-steel scrap yard.

On Oct. 21, the French nuclear regulator said elevator buttons assembled by Mafelec, a Chimilin, France-based firm, contained radioactive metal shipped from India. Employees who handled the buttons got three times the safe dose of radiation for noon-nuclear workers, according to the agency.

Operations at the factory are now back to normal and the firm has cut ties with the "source" of the radiation, Mafelec said. "In the worst-case scenario the exposure would have been under that of a medical scan," Chief Executive Gilles Heinrich said.

Abandoned medical scanners, food processing devices and mining equipment containing radioactive metals such as cesium-137 and cobalt-60 are often picked up by collectors and sold to recyclers, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear arm. De Bruin said he sometimes found such items hidden in beer kegs and lead pipes to prevent detection.

There may be more than 1 million missing radioactive sources worldwide, the Vienna-based atomic agency estimates.

"We're passing by the first era of nuclear applications, so disused material is increasing," said Vilmos Friedrich, an agency inspector. "Until recently, there hasn't been licensing" for industrial devices.

Smelting such items contaminates recycled metal used to make new products and the furnaces that process the material.

Nucor Corp., the biggest U.S.-based steel producer, has spent more than $1 million installing and upgrading radiation detection equipment at its plants, said Steve Roland, environmental director for the Charlotte, N.C., company.

"Orphaned sources are a significant problem worldwide for the recycling industry," Roland said. "Anything governments can do to remove sources from commerce and hold people accountable for the loss is to our benefit."

The atomic agency may recommend that governments increase monitoring of scrap shipments at international borders and recyclers screen all material entering their plants, according to draft guidelines circulated by the agency.

Overall, 123 shipments of contaminated goods have been denied entry to U.S. ports since screening began in 2003, according to Homeland Security data. Of those, 67 originated in India, 23 came from China and 20 were from Canada. This year, 32 cases had been reported through early July.

Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Energy are funding a $60-million program, the Secure Freight Initiative, to install radiation monitors at ports around the world.

At Jewometaal, De Bruin switched on a dosimeter, the modern equivalent of a Geiger counter. The device squealed as he entered the corner of a warehouse where radioactive metals are stored until they are sent to Covra, the Netherlands' state-run nuclear waste dump.

In his office, De Bruin donned gloves before selecting a pair of long tweezers and pulling a piece of cesium-137 the size of a match head out of a bottle.

"If you get a dose of this on your hands it's no problem," said De Bruin, a former customs agent who has worked in nuclear research reactors. "If you get it in your lungs, you die."

 

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** More media stories about radioactive materials here

Note: Plenty more information about the (radioactive) steam generator plan here & here