Scientists express concern over disposal of nuclear waste at New Mexico underground salt formation

January 14, 2016 by Bob Yirka report
radiation

(Phys.org)—A trio of Earth and Environmental scientists with hazardous waste backgrounds, from Stanford University, has published a Comment piece in the journal Nature, outlining their concern over a recent proposed plan to add more nuclear waste to the Department of Energy's, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) located in a deep underground salt formation in New Mexico. The trio, Cameron Tracy, Megan Dustin and Rodney Ewing suggest more thought be put into the idea before the government gives the go-ahead for the project.

The cold war led to the stockpiling of a huge amount of nuclear arms in the U.S. and Russia, as most everyone knows. But it also led to an ever increasing amount of hazardous materials associated with that stockpiling. Now that the arms race has cooled, and the U.S. and Russia have agreed to reduce their stockpiles, a means of dealing with many tons of must be found. To deal with such materials, the U.S. built the WIPP (which is essentially a platform built inside a cave that formed in a layer of salt), where such materials have been placed for storage over the past 15 years. But, now, a team of researchers hired by the government to address a whole new round of disposal requirements has recommended that 34 tons of be added to the WIPP, which the research trio suggests, may be pushing the limits of the facility. They also suggest that safety assessments have not taken into consideration all of the things that could go wrong with the storage faculty—such as how material inside of drums will react with salt over thousands of years after they are crushed, or what might happen if over many years, the WIPP becomes unknown to future generations who at some point begin drilling in the area.

The researchers acknowledge the good safety record of the WIPP, just one major problem has occurred, where cat litter was used to sop up material which led to a reaction inside a drum, forcing the lid to pop off, allowing gas to escape. Such accidents are inevitable, the team notes—what they are worried about is the lack of planning regarding what should be done in the event other types of accidents occur—over a 10,000 year timeline. Once the site is sealed in 2033, monitoring will end—there will be no way to know what is going on inside the faculty which means there will be no way to assess whether radioactive material has begun to leach into outside areas or whether carbon dioxide begins to build up due to decay, which can lead to pressure causing fractures to the surface. The group suggests the DOE take a harder look at the safety features that are in place now before adding tons more material to the site.

Explore further: Radiation leak detected at New Mexico nuclear plant

More information: Policy: Reassess New Mexico's nuclear-waste repository, nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/529149a

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gkam
2.3 / 5 (12) Jan 14, 2016
Oh, gosh, the "lid popped off".

No, the site was contaminated with deadly radionuclides, and some were found miles away. The site FAILED to even hold gloves and coveralls and wrenches. What about the REALLY deadly stuff?

Pro-nuke folk like to ignore that fact we cannot even contain the nasty deadly stuff we made in our juvenile ignorance of consequences.
gkam
2.3 / 5 (12) Jan 14, 2016
If you want to get an idea of how "safe" that stuff is in the salt deposit, go look on Google Earth and see how many oil and gas wells are around it, and look up how much water has been "lost" in the salt formation.

This is just a version of "out-of-sight, out-of-mind". I think it is criminal.
chemhaznet1
5 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2016
proof that cats ruin everything?
WillieWard
2.8 / 5 (9) Jan 14, 2016
gskam is an incorrigible aged pathological maniac fibber, always with his double standard conveniently ignoring the fact that wind/solar relies on radioactive rare-earth metals and is backed by coal that spread much more radioactivity everywhere than nuclear.
"Coal has even higher emissions of radioactive material compared to nuclear power."
"For every TWh there is an average of 0.074 deaths from nuclear power while there are 77 deaths from coal power plants."
http://anglesonen...om/?p=63
http://institutef...inerals/
Data and statistics prove that solar/wind kills directly and indirectly much more than nuclear per gigawatt produced.
gkam
2 / 5 (12) Jan 14, 2016
Willie and nukes are losing. Is it because of the terrible costs? The terrible waste problem? The international disasters? Or are we just waking up and seeing where Big Money put us?

I invite all nuke lovers to buy their power from one.
gkam
2 / 5 (12) Jan 14, 2016
I want one of the nuclear apologists to tell us how they plan to guard this stuff with armed guards for a quarter million years. Do they have the money put away for a few hundred-thousand years of armed guards?

Do they have, finally, a way to keep it safe from Humans for those hundreds of thousands of years?

No?

Then, why do we let them make more?
dogbert
5 / 5 (2) Jan 14, 2016
You would think that creatures bright enough to construct nuclear energy plantsand nuclear bombs would be able to safely dispose of nuclear waste.

Barrels full of waste are not safe anywhere.

Why don't we bake the waste into ceramics. At least ceramics won't rust or leak.
gkam
2 / 5 (12) Jan 14, 2016
dogbert, we have tried all kinds of glass and other substances, but find the contaminants provide points of nucleation for crystallization, which then become fractures, releasing the contaminants. The thermal plumes from the radioactive decay then create convection currents, drawing water into the formations, where it gets to the surface, taking the contaminants with it.

Now I think they are trying to coat little pieces of waste in glass jackets. If they ever find a safe way to store this, you will hear it and hear it, and hear it.
dogbert
3 / 5 (4) Jan 14, 2016
Deep ocean subduction zones seem like a good place. Disperse it in the magma.
Solon
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 14, 2016
Willie and nukes are losing. Is it because of the terrible costs? The terrible waste problem? The international disasters? Or are we just waking up and seeing where Big Money put us?

I invite all nuke lovers to buy their power from one.


There is no such thing as nuclear waste, in fact it is worth much, much more than the original reactor fuel, which is why they want it buried.

I'd love a small reactor in my basement, no doubt I'd get in trouble from the 'authorities' . The "Nuclear Scare Scam" is real.
gkam
2 / 5 (12) Jan 14, 2016
Wait 'til we tell the folks at Fukushima it is all phony.
Eikka
4 / 5 (12) Jan 14, 2016
No, the site was contaminated with deadly radionuclides, and some were found miles away. The site FAILED to even hold gloves and coveralls and wrenches. What about the REALLY deadly stuff?


No it wasn't. The contamination never reached deadly levels even within the facility. You're making a mountain out of a sand grain!

Half a mile from the facility it was:
0.64 becquerels (Bq) per cubic meter of air of americium-241 and 0.014 Bq of plutonium-239 and plutonium-240 per cubic meter of air


Do you know how much one Bequerel of a radionuclide is? It's an amount of radioactive material where one nuclear decay occurs every one second. For example, the amount of Potassium-40 found naturally in a human body has an activity of 4,400 Bq

YOU are literally more radioactive than the air that was coming out of WIPP during the leak.

The gas from the popped barrels went up a ventilation shaft, and most of the radionuclides were caught in the filters.
Eikka
3.9 / 5 (11) Jan 14, 2016
After analysis by CMERC, the Station A filter was found on February 15, 2014 to be contaminated with 4,335.71 Bq of Am-241 per cubic meter, and 671.61 Bq of plutonium-239 and plutonium-240 per cubic meter.


We're actually talking of a radioactive contamination accident involving some milligrams of radioactive material here. It's more of a testament of how incredibly sensitive the air quality sensors are.

Am-241 for example has an activity of 117.29 Gigabequerels (GBq) per gram. That's 117,290,000,000 Bequerels per gram. To detect the material at 0.64 Bq per cubic meter of air involves detecting a trillionth of a gram of stuff in a cubic meter of air.

Would that be much more than a few hundred atoms?
Eikka
3.3 / 5 (12) Jan 14, 2016
dogbert, we have tried all kinds of glass and other substances, but find the contaminants provide points of nucleation for crystallization, which then become fractures, releasing the contaminants. The thermal plumes from the radioactive decay then create convection currents, drawing water into the formations, where it gets to the surface, taking the contaminants with it.


Gkam, you're an outrageous liar and a fraud in all matters, personal, professional and public. You would do best to just leave.

gkam
1.7 / 5 (12) Jan 14, 2016
Eikka, is it open yet? When was that? How long has it taken for essentially nothing?

And you are just some ignorant guy with an encyclopedia, but no experience in the real world, so stop throwing rocks.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (10) Jan 14, 2016
U.S. DOE Accident Investigation Report Phase 2, Radiological Release at WIPP, Apr 2015:
6.4.1 Analysis Summary
The radiological release… resulted from an exothermic reaction that led to a thermal runaway in drum 68660 [that] exhibited the following fire behaviors: Expanding flame front of material expelled from drum… Ignition of exposed combustibles… Propagation within the waste array by flame impingement… Melting and burning of exposed plastics.
The combustibles external to the waste containers were ignited… direct fire effects were limited to Rows 8 through 18… there were multiple small fires that caused direct flame impingement on several waste packages… the fire… caused the migration of contamination throughout Panel 7 [and] significant fire damage.
rrrander
5 / 5 (3) Jan 15, 2016
The stuff has to go somewhere. People who say, "not in my backyard" should immediately stop using all energy. Also, wind and solar produce far more CO2 (for those of you who believe it is a pollutant) which means nuclear is a cleaner choice. Lastly, a 1 gigawatt producing nuclear plant occupies a fraction of the land surface a similarly productive solar or wind installation would.
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2016
After analysis by CMERC, the Station A filter was found on February 15, 2014 to be contaminated with 4,335.71 Bq of Am-241 per cubic meter, and 671.61 Bq of plutonium-239 and plutonium-240 per cubic meter.


We're actually talking of a radioactive contamination accident involving some milligrams of radioactive material here. It's more of a testament of how incredibly sensitive the air quality sensors are.

Also a pretty solid testament as to how good the FILTERS are...:-)
Eikka
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 15, 2016
U.S. DOE Accident Investigation Report Phase 2, Radiological Release at WIPP, Apr 2015:


Gkam, you're making propaganda again by mixing the 2014 lid popping incident with this later 2015 incident that involved an ill-maintained 30-year-old truck that caught fire and burned inside the tunnels. That's the source of the "exothermic reaction" that blew up drum number 68660, and it has obviously nothing to do with the facility's ability to contain nuclear materials - because nobody will be driving trucks down there once it's sealed.

You are purposefully mixing and matching quotes from a different incident in the wrong context to make it seem like the nuclear waste barrels in containment in WIPP just explode and catch fire on their own, when nothing of the sort has actually happened.

This is just another showcase of what a wretched liar you are.
kochevnik
not rated yet Jan 15, 2016
Salt mines are basically fluid over centuries and the waste will migrate into aquaducts, according to another study at physorg
kochevnik
5 / 5 (3) Jan 15, 2016
Salt mines are basically fluid over centuries and the waste will migrate into aquaducts, according to another study at physorg
gkam
1.4 / 5 (10) Jan 15, 2016
" Lastly, a 1 gigawatt producing nuclear plant occupies a fraction of the land surface a similarly productive solar or wind installation would."
-----------------------------------------

Chernobyl was about a gigawatt. How much land is now unusable?
gkam
1.8 / 5 (10) Jan 15, 2016
" nuclear waste barrels in containment in WIPP just explode and catch fire on their own, when nothing of the sort has actually happened."
---------------------------------

That is exactly what happened. Did you read my post from the report?
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (8) Jan 15, 2016
Well, at least the article makes it abundantly clear that there is precious little in terms of long term planning (which should be a "Duh" for storage sites that are supposed to last 10k years or so).

Let's face it: we have no clue what to do with nuclear waste. The current approach seems to be: "Dump it somewhere and let future generations figure it out" (or more precisely: "I hope this stuff doesn't cause problems druing my legislative period")

Can anyone imagine a world where a significant amount of power from nuclear reactors? How those problems would multiply?

Not a viable solution. Until we figure something out: not at all.
WillieWard
3 / 5 (4) Jan 15, 2016
Let's face it: we have no clue what to do with nuclear waste.
An interesting point is that coal and renewable produce much more radioactive waste; but who cares? just apply two sets of standards.
"Coal has even higher emissions of radioactive material compared to nuclear power."
"For every TWh there is an average of 0.074 deaths from nuclear power while there are 77 deaths from coal power plants."
http://anglesonen...om/?p=63
http://institutef...inerals/
..solar/wind kills directly and indirectly much more than nuclear per gigawatt produced.
kochevnik
3.4 / 5 (5) Jan 15, 2016
Yes Willie my panels are dripping with radioactive waste. Whereas uranium mines are botanical Edens. Can we all share your cave to save the species?
WillieWard
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 15, 2016
my panels are dripping with radioactive waste.
solar panels are full of carcinogenics: gallium arsenide, hexavalent chromium, selenium, brominated diphenylethers, polybrominated biphenyls; aside radioactive rare-earth metals. Also they are backed by coal to compensate intermittency.
http://www.txses....end-life
https://toryardva...inogens/
http://www.frontp...eenfield
http://finance.to...age/full
gkam
1.9 / 5 (9) Jan 15, 2016
What killed Marie Curie?

PV?

Wind?
WillieWard
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 15, 2016
What killed Marie Curie?
Curie died in 1934, aged 66, "old age" or natural causes as she worked with naturally radioactive elements, polonium and radium, which are present everywhere in Earth's crust, in traces of naturally-occurring uranium and thorium, inclusive in wind and solar farms.
https://en.wikipe...ie_Curie
gkam
2 / 5 (8) Jan 15, 2016
She died of radiation-induced cancer.
Vietvet
4 / 5 (8) Jan 15, 2016
"Curie died in 1934, aged 66, at a sanatorium in Sancellemoz (Haute-Savoie), France, due to aplastic anemia brought on by exposure to radiation while carrying test tubes of radium in her pockets during research, and in the course of her service in World War I mobile X-ray units that she had set up."
https://en.wikipe...ie_Curie

That's from Willie's link. It says a lot about him and not in a flattering way.
WillieWard
3 / 5 (2) Jan 15, 2016
She died of radiation-induced cancer.
Hence be careful, natural radiation is in everywhere, go to a safer planet.
"Radionuclides are found naturally in air, water and soil...There is nowhere on Earth that you can not find Natural Radioactivity."
http://www.physic...ural.htm
Whoops! including your body.
"All of us have a number of naturally occurring radionuclides within our bodies. The major one that produces penetrating gamma radiation that can escape from the body is a radioactive isotope of potassium, called potassium-40. This radionuclide has been around since the birth of the earth and is present as a tiny fraction of all the potassium in nature."
http://hps.org/pu...ods.html
https://en.wikipe...adiation
Solon
not rated yet Jan 16, 2016
"There is nowhere on Earth that you can not find Natural Radioactivity."

The lowest levels of radiation on record are from a submerged nuclear powered submarine.

How deadly is radiation? Look up Albert Stevens, known as patient CAL-1.

Does everyone here believe Galen Winsor was a liar? If not, then maybe your government is the liar?


Eikka
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 16, 2016
That is exactly what happened. Did you read my post from the report?


I repeat myself: your post was conflating two different incidents to make one big lie.

The earlier incident with the kitty litter and popped lids did not involve a fire. The later incident involved a faulty truck which started a fire which cooked a waste barrel to the point of explosion.

You, gkam, deliberately mixed these two incidents to create a false report in order to support a lie that nuclear waste barrels in WIPP undergo violent fiery explosions on their own, for the purpose of propaganda. That is simply inexcusable disingenuity and should warrant you a ban on this site entirely if the moderators were in the least bit interested in doing their jobs.

gkam
2.3 / 5 (9) Jan 16, 2016
Sorry, Eikka, but you lose again. I did not even mention the truck fire which preceded the fire from the exploding drum by several days at least. In your zeal to find error, you err.

I follow this fairly closely, and watch the meetings on Red Rocket. I suggest you look them up.
yep
5 / 5 (3) Jan 18, 2016
http://www.rsc.or...-reactor
If Nixon would have chosen people over the petrochemical, prison, and military industrial complex we would have a safer world.

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