Shot at nuclear fuel truck troubles watchdog group
By TOM FOWLER
Houston Chronicle Aug. 28, 2009
Shotgun damage to a truck carrying uranium fuel rods to a Texas nuclear power plant last year posed little, if any, immediate radiation danger, but it highlights potential problems the industry could face, a nuclear power industry watchdog says.
The shotgun damage was discovered on the driver’s side of the truck on the morning of Sept. 20, as it delivered eight uranium fuel rods to the South Texas Project nuclear power plant near Bay City, according to a safety report filed at the plant last year.
The driver of the truck, operated by the Utah firm EnergySolutions, said he heard what sounded like a tire blowout several hours earlier while driving through another state. He stopped the truck to check but didn’t see the door damage…………………
………..a fuel rod that has been in a reactor and undergone fission is highly radioactive and can deliver lethal doses within minutes. That’s why trucks carrying spent fuel have much higher security specifications than vehicles that carry new fuel rods, said Scott Burnell, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Archive for August, 2009
India’s generation of children crippled by uranium waste
Observer investigation uncovers link between dramatic rise in birth defects in Punjab and pollution from coal-fired power stations
Guardian.co.uk The Observer by Gethin Chamberlain 30 August 2009
Their heads are too large or too small, their limbs too short or too bent. For some, their brains never grew, speech never came and their lives are likely to be cut short: these are the children it appears that India would rather the world did not see, the victims of a scandal with potential implications far beyond the country’s borders………………………
Health workers in the Punjabi cities of Bathinda and Faridkot knew something was terribly wrong when they saw a sharp increase in the number of birth defects, physical and mental abnormalities, and cancers. They suspected that children were being slowly poisoned.
But it was only when a visiting scientist arranged for tests to be carried out at a German laboratory that the true nature of their plight became clear. The results were unequivocal. The children had massive levels of uranium in their bodies, in one case more than 60 times the maximum safe limit.
The results were both momentous and mysterious………………..if a few hundred children – spread over a large area – were contaminated, how many thousands more might also be affected? Those are questions the Indian authorities appear determined not to answer. Staff at the clinics say they were visited and threatened with closure if they spoke out. The South African scientist whose curiosity exposed the scandal says she has been warned by the authorities that she may not be allowed back into the country.But an Observer investigation has now uncovered disturbing evidence to suggest a link between the contamination and the region’s coal-fired power stations………………………
India’s reluctance to acknowledge the problem is hardly unexpected: the country is heavily committed to an expansion of thermal plants in Punjab and other states. Neither was it any surprise when a team of scientists from the Department of Atomic Energy visited the area and concluded that while the concentration of uranium in drinking water was “slightly high”, there was “nothing to worry” about. Yet some tests recorded levels of uranium in the ground water as high as 224mcg/l (micrograms per litre) – 15 times higher than the safe level of 15mcg/l recommended by the WHO. (The US Environmental Protection Agency sets a maximum safe level of 20mcg/l.)…………………………
There have also been claims that the contamination may have been exacerbated by depleted uranium carried on the wind from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At a seminar in Amritsar in April, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, a former chief of the naval staff, suggested that areas within a 1,000-mile radius of Kabul – including Punjab – may be affected by depleted uranium. Although the prevailing monsoon winds blow either from the north-east or the south-west, there are times when a depression originating in the Mediterranean can result in rainfall in Punjab.
Faragher urged to review uranium mine
ABC News Aug 28, 2009
Several appeals have been lodged against the planned environmental review of the Yeelirrie uranium mine in Western Australia’s Goldfields…………..
The Greens joined the Conservation Council and seven others in seeking to change the way the environmental impact of the mine is assessed.Greens MP Robin Chapple says the Environment Minister, Donna Faragher, should conduct a ministerial review of the project.”………………
Mr Chapple says the Government needs to consider the overall environmental impact of uranium mining in WA.
“Given that there’s a large number of uranium mines potentially going to be in that area that we actually need to be looking at a cumulative assessment as opposed to this one uranium mine in isolation,” he said.
BHP Billiton, the world’s richest mining company, plunders Australia’s precious — and FINITE — artesian water resource without cost, oversight or regulation.Australia is a desert land and the nation is presently suffering from extreme water shortages. The largest river system in the nation, the Murray-Darling, is in a critical condition — outflows to the sea have all but ceased and vital lake systems are now dust bowls; YET the plundering Transnational, BHP continues to steal high quality water for its uranium, pollution producing mine, Olympic Dam.
BHP Billiton have helped themselves to
of FREE water from the Great Artesian Basin since 1982
Sydney households pay
for the same volume of water
The massive theft of water is causing environmental damage through:
- land and water salinisation
- encouragement of the spread of pest plants and animals
- reduced pressure in some naturally occurring artesian springs
Since 1999 the Australian Government has spent
of tax payer money in an attempt to repair the damage
addthis_pub = ‘watertheft’;
Australian Mining 26 August 2009 | by Michael Mills
Equity research company Resource Capital Research (RCR) said it is not expecting any significant changes to uranium spot prices in the near term.
The uranium spot price is currently trading at US$47.50 per pound, down 8% from the US$52 three months ago.
At the end of December 2008, the prices were US$52.50 per pound.
…………. The long term contract uranium price is US$65.00 per pound, which is down from US$70 per pound price at December 2008.
Carbon + Environment
25 August 2009
The South Australian Government has called on BHP Billiton to fix inadequacies in its draft EIS for the proposed expansion of its Olympic Dam mine.
……………The submission calls on BHP Billiton to further examine the risks posed to local wildlife by the proposed tailing storage facility and to more thoroughly investigate the effects of long-term groundwater and leachate flows on underground aquifers.
Additional modelling is also required on air pollution and radiation risks to the nearby community of Roxby Downs, the submission says.
Premier Mike Rann underlined the Government’s commitment to the mine expansion, saying that he believed all of the issues raised in its submission “could and would” be addressed by BHP Billiton.
But Greens MLC Mark Parnell, who has also made a submission on the project, said the fact that the Government is locked into the project going ahead, “makes it very difficult” for them to attach stronger environmental conditions that might impose additional costs.
“Environmental protection and rehabilitation costs money. BHP Billiton will only do the right thing if the Rann Government is prepared to insist on strict and enforceable environmental standards,” he said.
Bay Arrea Indymedia Brenda Norrell | August 26, 2009
Indigenous Havasupai people held a gathering to stop uranium mining in the Grand Canyon and protect ancestral Havasupai Territory, at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, in July of 2009. Indigenous peoples and activists came from the four directions, from Arizona Hopi land and from as far away as Hawaii, to participate with sacred songs and ceremonies.
For four days, Havasupai elders gathered on sacred Red Butte and listened to the legacy of uranium mining on Indian lands. They heard directly from the victims of the trail of death and cancer left behind by uranium mining corporations that were never held responsible on Pueblo and Navajo lands in the Southwest United States. They also listened to the promise of solidarity from the hundreds who gathered here to stand with them: Navajos from Big Mountain, Hualapai, Hopi, Kaibab Paiute, Paiute, Aztecs, and other American Indians from throughout the Americas.
The Havasupai Nation, with the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and Grand Canyon Trust, sponsored the gathering to halt uranium mining on Red Butte, July 23-26, 2009. Supai elders gave testimony for official U.S. records in their Havasupai (Pai) language and in English. Supai traditional singers sang as a camp was established on this mesa where Toronto-based Denison Mines is threatening to reopen a uranium mine.
Recent congressional legislation protects the Grand Canyon from new mining claims, but does not deter mining under existing claims held by Denison and others………………
………. “In Numbers, There is Strength”
During the panel, Larry King, Navajo from Church Rock, NM, told the gathering how he worked for the United Nuclear Corporation from 1975 to 1983 as an underground mine surveyor. King said he has lived all his life in Church Rock and still raises his cattle on the land where he grew up. Now, a community activist, he said Navajos in the communities of Church Rock, Pinedale, Coyote Canyon, and Iyanbito, NM, have suffered greatly from uranium mining.
…………… Speaking of the corporations who have contaminated this region for decades, Pino said, “Why would they want to mine uranium in one of the natural wonders of the world like the Grand Canyon? If they will mine uranium here, they will mine uranium anywhere. They have no heart, they have no soul.”
Give more radiation risk info, BHP told
The Age August 24, 2009 – 10:24AMBHP Billiton has been told by governments to provide more information on radiation risks of the proposed expansion of the company’s Olympic Dam mine.The South Australian and Northern Territory governments have both called for the BHP Billiton to address radiation concerns associated with the company’s planned expansion of the uranium, copper and gold mine in the north of SA.The SA government has described as inadequate several aspects of the company’s draft environmental impact statement (EIS) regarding the proposed expansion.
The SA, Northern Territory and federal governments are expected to decide in the middle of next year whether to approve the expansion of the Olympic Dam mine.
Submissions to the company’s draft EIS were made public on Monday, with the SA government listing 368 areas of concern.
Among them, the SA government’s submission demanded further detailed investigation of the radiation risk to mine workers and the community of Roxby Downs, near the Olympic Dam site.
The NT government submission called for further information regarding radiation risks to workers at the Port of Darwin.
The SA government also said BHP Billiton’s EIS contained inadequate marine surveys regarding potential risks to discharge in the upper Spencer Gulf………………..The SA government called on the company to further investigate the mine expansion impact on underground aquifers and marine and road transport in the region………………..
The NT government submission said the draft EIS did not sufficiently address emergency procedures for a transport accident along the Olympic Dam to Darwin rail line, particularly in remote areas.
A uranium hole in the heart
Green Left Daniel Clarke, Alice Springs 23 August 2009
Canadian company Cameco and Australian-owned Paladin, the two businesses involved in the joint venture, hope to build Australia’s fifth uranium mine — well inside the Alice Springs water catchment boundary.
In July, environment minister Peter Garrett approved the nation’s fourth uranium mine at the Four Mile site in South Australia. The Angela Pamela exploratory licence is part of the NT’s push to expand its mining industry in response to a global surge in demand for uranium.
But a growing chorus of Alice Springs residents and tourism operators say the health risks of a uranium mine outweigh any economic benefits.
Family and medical groups have expressed grave concerns about Cameco’s recent history of radioactive leaks and flooding accidents in its uranium mines.
If built, the Angela Pamela uranium mine will be less than 15 kilometres away from existing and proposed bore fields for the Alice Springs’ drinking water.
Cameco, the world’s largest producer of uranium, flooded its Cigar Lake mine in Canada in 2006, leaving the world’s single largest uranium deposit underwater. Efforts to remove the water have so far failed.
In 2007, the company detected a radioactive leak at its Port Hope conversion plant. A similar leak was uncovered in 2001. Last year it paid US$1.4 million to the US state of Wyoming for failing to comply with a host of environmental standards at its Smith Ranch-Highland facility.
…………. Arid Lands Environment Centre coordinator Jimmy Cocking ..”“Both the nuclear industry and the government are relying on the fact that because we’re so far away from the big cities this issue will be out of sight, out of mind.
“If this is allowed to happen a lot of families will leave the town and we need to stop this now before exploration is finished and a full mining application is submitted.
“Who really wants to go to a place where if the wind blows up from the south — like it does here almost every day — there’s a possibility that you’re breathing in radioactive dust?”…………………..
Beyond Nuclear Initiative campaigner Nat Wasley said it was “ludicrous” for the federal and territory governments to use the Ranger uranium mine as an example of good practice.
“The Commonwealth’s own scientist revealed in March that 100,000 litres of contaminated water is leaking from the [Ranger] mine into the ground beneath Kakadu every day”, she told GLW.
“If those are the problems they’re having at the most heavily regulated uranium mine in Australia, if not the world, one can only imagine what might happen down the track at Alice Springs.”
Uranium mine called ‘World’s worst practice’
The Flinders News 21/08/2009
“There’s no independent monitoring up there, Mrs Marsh said and “the mine only has a life expectancy of eight to ten years but would leave a legacy of damage for generations to come”
……….. Jillian Marsh, has been doing a case study research of the Beverley Uranium Mine to explore the ‘impact assessment’ and ‘decision-making’ processes used when the mine was first approved by government.The literature she has looked at about the method of mining shows that in-situ leach mining pollutes the underground water tables and sloppy environmental regulations by government these mining companies are able to operate at a very low standard
Other modern nations have banned what they are allowed to get away with here” she said. Ms Marsh’s research suggests the Environmental Impact Assessment does not adequately cover Indigenous issues.
“It’s too focused on Western science” she said.
Water (called ‘awi’ by Adnyamathanha) is a sacred yet everyday part of Adnyamathanha cultural knowledge and practices.
The study shows people are hurt and angry that Adnyamathanha spirituality is being destroyed…………………………
Elder Enice Marsh claims the proponent Heathgate Resources has not conducted a valid heritage survey and she insists this must be done as soon as possible.
“Until a proper survey has been conducted, the proponent should be forced to cease operation on the Four Mile site.
The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Jay Weatherill must act responsibly and use his powers under the Aboriginal Heritage Act to make sure due process is being followed,” Mrs Marsh said.