Radioactive Waste Dump Near Great Lakes?

A member of Congress is trying to get the US to investigate a Canadian plan to build a radioactive waste dump. Lester Graham reports the radioactive materials would be put in an underground site less than a mile from one of the Great Lakes:

Transcript

A member of Congress is trying to get the U.S. to investigate a Canadian plan to build a radioactive waste dump. Lester Graham reports the radioactive materials would be put in an underground site less than a mile from one of the Great Lakes:


Ontario Power Generation wants to construct a Deep Geologic Repository, basically an underground dump, for low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste from Ontario’s nuclear power plants. Bart Stupak is a member of Congress from Michigan. He says the proposed site would be built near Lake Huron at the Bruce Nuclear Site, where there have been reports of problems with radioactive contamination of water in the past.


“It’s gonna be within a mile of the Great Lakes. I think that’s not appropriate. You know, you’re lying within the watershed and we know no matter what great efforts we may make to keep pollution at a minimum, it does occur. And, unfortunately in this case we’ve seen at that site some radioactive contamination already.”


Stupak has called on the U.S. EPA and other agencies to look into what risks the Canadian radioactive waste dump might pose to the U.S. cities and the ecology of the Great Lakes.


For the Environment Report, this is Lester Graham.

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Cold War Clean Up Near Completion

Clean up at a former Cold War-era uranium processing plant is nearly complete. A train carrying the final load of radioactive waste is now making its way from southwest Ohio to a disposal site in Utah. Tana Weingartner reports:

Transcript

Clean up at a former Cold War-era uranium processing plant is nearly complete. A train carrying the final load of radioactive waste is now making its way from southwest Ohio to a disposal site in Utah. Tana Weingartner reports:


It took three engines to slowly haul away the last 60 railcars full of radioactive dirt, concrete and debris. The waste came from the former Fernald Uranium processing facility in southwest Ohio. During the Cold War, workers at the top-secret plant processed uranium for nuclear weapons. Johnny Reising is the Fernald Site Director for the Department of Energy.


“It’s one of the largest waste shipping operations that the department of energy has had to date. There will probably be larger ones in the future, but to date this is the largest that’s taken place.”


Reising says the overall clean up is ahead of schedule and expected to cost about $70 million less than the projected $1.9 billion price tag.


Following completion, the D.O.E.’s Office of Legacy Management will maintain Fernald as an undeveloped park.


For the Environment Report, I’m Tana Weingartner.

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Fight to Store Waste Under Mountain Persists

While the Department of Energy faces several lawsuits
to its proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site in Nevada,
tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste are stored at nuclear
plants. The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports:

Transcript

While the Department of Energy faces several lawsuits to its proposed Yucca Mountain
nuclear waste site in Nevada, tens of thousands of tons of nuclear waste are stored at
nuclear plants. The GLRC’s Lester Graham reports:


A U.S. Court of Appeals recently sidelined a lawsuit challenging the Energy Department’s plans to transport high-level radioactive waste to Yucca Mountain, but at least seven other lawsuits are waiting in the wings.


The plan to store radioactive waste such as spent nuclear fuel rods from power plants
under Yucca Mountain has been in the works for two decades. The government had
planned to open Yucca Mountain in 2012. That schedule has
been pushed back five years to 2017. The government needs the time to get approvals
from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and to prepare environmental impact reports
that are expected to face further court challenges.


Nuclear power plants, which are often situated near rivers or lakes, are storing the
radioactive waste on site and some plants are running out of room and are to store the waste
in containers outside.


For the GLRC, this is Lester Graham.

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Storing Nuke Waste Outside

Across the country, nuclear power plants are running out of room to store nuclear waste. The GLRC’s Brad Linder reports temporary storage at some plants is decades old:

Transcript

Across the country, nuclear power plants are running out of room to store
nuclear waste. The GLRC’s Brad Linder reports temporary storage at some
plants is decades old:


With no consensus on a plan to store the nation’s spent nuclear fuel in
one location, power plants are storing the waste onsite. For example, in
Limerick, Pennsylvania officials say they’re concerned about the plans to
build concrete casks to store nuclear waste outside a power plant. For
decades, they’ve been using storage pools inside the plant.


The proposed casks are described as temporary, but Assistant County
Planning Commissioner Mike Stokes says temporary storage at the plant
doesn’t mean much:


“They’ve been the permanent storage facility for every ounce of fuel used
at the power plant since it was first opened 20 years ago. So we can’t
always believe that things will be temporary.”


A spokesperson for Exelon Power, the owner of the Limerick plant and many others, says
the concrete casks are safe. Exelon says the casks are designed to withstand tornado-
force winds, or strikes from projectiles.


For the GLRC, I’m Brad Linder.

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Nuclear Waste Shipped Secretly

Activists want the National Academy of Sciences to investigate secret shipments of spent nuclear fuel that roll across the Great Lakes states. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:

Transcript

Activists want the National Academy of Sciences to investigate secret shipments of
spent nuclear
fuel that roll across the Great Lakes states. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Lester Graham
reports:


The Department of Energy secretly shipped by rail several cars of high-level nuclear
waste from
western New York to an Idaho lab this summer. Reportedly, it was one of the largest
such
shipments ever. The group Public Citizen says if these shipments are going to be
made,
Department of Energy officials should at least notify members of Congress and
emergency
officials along the rail route.


Brendan Hoffman is with Public Citizen.


“You know, we feel like if they’re going to keep all this stuff secret, it really
interferes with the
whole concept of having an open government and accountability and transparency.
But, at the
same time we don’t feel this is safe.”


Public Citizen has asked the National Academy of Sciences to confirm the shipment
and wants
the shipping casks carrying the radioactive material to be better tested in accident
and terrorist
attack scenarios.


For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.

Honoring a Fallen Activist

The Great Lakes Basin hosts 44 nuclear reactors, plus a variety of uranium mining and refining facilities and nuclear waste dumps. Their presence has been contentious and divisive, and critics of nuclear power have often been seen as extremists who have polarized the issue. But one remarkable Canadian activist managed to bring both sides of the debate together. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Suzanne Elston says her recent death is a tragedy for all Great Lakes residents:

Nuclear Waste Site Harming Lake Ontario?

A Canadian environmental group is claiming that nuclear waste is leaking from a dump on the shores of Lake Ontario. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports:

Transcript

A Canadian environmental group is claiming that nuclear waste is leaking from a dump on the shores of Lake Ontario. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports.


The Port Granby nuclear waste site sits on a bluff overlooking Lake Ontario just east of Toronto. The environmental group Lake Ontario Keeper collected samples of treated wastewater from the site as well as untreated runoff. They say an independent lab found illegal levels of uranium, arsenic and other chemicals in both samples.


Norm Rubin, the group’s director of nuclear research, says it’s time the government stepped in.


“This stuff is leaking today, it’s toxic today, it’s violating the law today and we’ve waited enough decades already to see something done.”


The Cameco Corporation, which owns the dump, denies the group’s findings.
Officials at Environment Canada say they will review the report. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Karen Kelly.

Commentary – A Neighborly Dispute

Earlier this month, the Department of Energy announced that
spent nuclear fuel from American research reactors will be melted down
and stored, rather than reprocessed and reused. The announcement comes
at the same time that Canadian researchers are planning to recycle
nuclear
waste into reactor fuel. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator
Suzanne Elston says that this is one time when recycling shouldn’t be an
option.

Commentary – Floating Nukes

Russia has recently begun construction on a floating nuclear power
plant, designed to bring electricity to remote northern regions of that
country. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Suzanne Elston
wonders
what could happen if we brought these floating plants to the Great
Lakes:

Transcript

Okay, so on the surface it sounds like a really bad idea. Build
floating nuclear power plants, with dependable Russian nuclear
technology, and dot them along the shore of the Arctic Ocean. Sort of
like a little fleet of mini-Chernobyls-to-go. Critics are saying that
these barges will be sitting ducks, waiting for terrorists to tow
them away. And then there’s that ever-present threat to the
environment.


But I say, let’s not be hasty here. I think there’s a potential for
using these barges in the Great Lakes. First of all, they could help
us get rid of our nuclear waste problem. What Russia plans to do
with the spent fuel is tow the barges into shore every dozen years
and unload it. But I say flip it around. Take all the waste from our
land-locked plants and stick it on the barge.


This would solve no end of problems. No more worrying about burying
it in a mountain somewhere. Problem solved at a fraction of the cost.
We actually could float the stuff in the water around the barge,
which would solve another major environmental problem. There’s been
so much concern about invading species in the Great Lakes. A good
dose of radiation should render even the hardiest invader sterile.
Another problem solved.


And that’s just the beginning. The glow from all this spent fuel
would light up the water around the reactor. This would make it a lot
easier for sports fishermen to see what they’re doing. After all,
nobody’s supposed to eat the fish they catch from the Great Lakes,
anyway. If we keep the barges nice and close to the shoreline, they’d
light up those dark and dangerous beaches. We’d save on energy and we
wouldn’t have to worry about lighting bonfires. That would put an end
to all those rowdy beach parties. The glow would also help boaters
find their docks at night. No more search and rescue. Another bonus.


The more I think about it, the more I have to admit, this is one hot
idea. You gotta hand it to those Russians. I wonder what they’ll
think of next.


Suzanne Elston is a syndicated columnist living in Courtice, Ontario. She comes to us by way of the

Great Lakes Radio Consortium.