The lab reported 107 violations of its state hazardous waste permit for fiscal year 2016, largely because of mislabeled or unlabeled waste drums.
Among these violations was a failure to inspect waste at the plutonium facility for eight days after a radiological release.
In 2015, the lab reported 421 permit violations. [SOURCE]
MAY 20, 2017
ANOTHER LAB FIRE AT LOS ALAMOS "On an otherwise uneventful morning in mid-April (this year, 2017), three workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) set about cleaning an area on the ground floor of the lab’s plutonium building, PF-4, as part of a “facility-wide housekeeping day.” As they emptied unlabeled containers of legacy waste into a plastic bag — including radioactive and chemically contaminated materials from Cold War-era weapons activities — a fire ignited.
The incident occurred at one of the lab’s most sensitive sites, where the work of producing the grapefruit-sized plutonium cores of nuclear weapons is done. And despite assurances from the lab and the New Mexico Environment Department that the fire was quickly extinguished with only minor injuries, the incident highlighted, once again, a pattern of consistent mismanagement in the maintenance and cleanup of some of the most dangerous materials on Earth.
This plutonium pit mission has proceeded even as the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and other federal oversight agencies have flagged violations at the lab and have raised concerns about its safety and management practices.
In 2015, more than a year after an improperly packaged drum from Los Alamos burst at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, the U.S. Energy Department said the lab’s current management contract, led by Bechtel and the University of California, would not be renewed.
Inspector general reports in 2015 also said safety lapses at the lab could lead to nuclear accidents.
And last year, Los Alamos was the only national lab in the U.S. to receive a failing grade for its nuclear program’s safety practices.
This pattern of problems also has prompted the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent panel that advises the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the president, to question whether the facility should continue to operate and handle increasing quantities of plutonium in coming years.
On Friday, the board said it will hold a June 7 hearing in Santa Fe to question a number of experts about the lab’s ability to safely carry out future nuclear missions at PF-4.
[MY NOTE: MORE ON THIS OPPORTUNITY FOR LOCALS TO SPEAK OUT TOWARD THE END OF THIS ENTRY. THAT IS HIGHLIGHTED AND IN RED PRINT. IF YOU ARE A LOCAL RESIDENT AND WANT THIS TICKING TIME BOMB CLOSED, GO TELL THEM SO!]
THE DOE ISN'T CONCERNED ABOUT ALL THE FAILURES AT LANL AND IS DETERMINED TO NOT ONLY KEEP LOS ALAMOS OPEN, BUT TO INCREASE PRODUCTION THERE AND SPEND MORE ON FUNDING!
The DOE (Department of Energy) has said it intends to increase manufacturing of plutonium pits at Los Alamos over the coming decades.
Two test pits were built last year, and as many as 50 to 80 pits could be built each year by 2030, a significant ramp up in the presence and handling of highly radioactive plutonium. Under President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, scheduled to be released Tuesday, funding for weapons work would increase by $1 billion in the next fiscal year.
On Friday, the nonprofit centrist policy group Third Way released what it said was a leaked version of Republican Trump’s detailed funding proposal for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which outlined the $1 billion increase for fiscal year 2018, bringing total spending to $10.2 billion. The news raised concerns among the leaders of local nuclear watchdog groups.
THAT'S TAXPAYER MONEY!
BUT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ALSO SUBSIDIZES NUCLEAR ENERGY TO THE TUNE OF OVER $100 BILLION.
IT'S TAXPAYER MONEY THAT CLEANS UP NUCLEAR SITES, THAT PAYS FOR THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY'S MISTAKES AND BAD INVESTMENTS, THAT MONITORS NUCLEAR WASTE DUMPING SITES AND PAYS FOR ALL THOSE 'ACCIDENTS'
SINCE IT IS TAXPAYER MONEY, WHY DON'T WE TAXPAYERS GET ANY SAY-SO ABOUT ANY OF THIS?
BECAUSE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT KNOWS THAT INFORMED CITIZENS WOULD DEMAND THAT THESE CRUMBLING DISASTERS-WAITING-TO-HAPPEN BE SHUT DOWN.
Joseph Rohm, PhD, Fellow of the Center for American Progress, mentioned that and stated the following in his June 2, 2008 article "Nuclear Bomb," published in Salon magazine:
"[W]ind power and solar power are pretty much free - nobody charges for the breeze and the sun. Operation is also cheap, compared with nukes, which run on expensive uranium and must be monitored minute by minute so they don't melt down...the price of new nuclear power has risen faster than any other form of power, as a detailed study of coal, gas, wind and nuclear power capital costs by Cambridge Energy Research Associates concluded.
In fact, from 2000 through October 2007, nuclear power plant construction costs - mainly materials, labor and engineering - have gone up 185 percent! That means a nuclear power plant that would have cost $4 billion to build in 2000 would have cost more than $11 billion to build last October...
So much for being a near-term, cost-effective solution."
AND THEN THERE'S THAT FIRE HAZARD ANYWHERE THERE IS A NUCLEAR REACTOR OR NUCLEAR MATERIAL...
THE NRC AND THE U.S. POLITICIANS LEARNED NOTHING FROM CHERNOBYL, FUKUSHIMA, OR ANY OTHER FIRE AT ANY OTHER NUKE FACILITY.
LOS ALAMOS MARCHES ON.
IT WAS SIX YEARS AGO THIS MONTH THAT A WILDFIRE VERY NEAR THE SAME FACILITY WAS SAID TO HAVE "SPARKED A SMALL FIRE INSIDE THE LOS ALAMOS LABORATORY FACILITY".
"The fire briefly crossed over onto lab property on June 27, but it burned only about an acre and was put out within an hour, LANL Director Charles McMillan said at a press conference."
TEN YEARS PRIOR TO THAT, IN 2001, ANOTHER FIRE DAMAGED EVEN MORE FACILITY PROPERTY.
"Los Alamos was devastated a decade ago by the Cerro Grande fire, which burned nearly 50,000 acres, including several hundred homes and 7,400 acres of LANL property."
BUT THE EPA SAYS, 'DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY!'
" However, people who live near old weapons production or testing sites may have a higher risk of exposure."
EUROPEAN AND CANADIAN STUDIES HAVE PROVEN THIS TO BE FACT, NOT A "MAYBE" BUT A FACT.
THAT'S WHY SO MANY NATIONS ARE PHASING OUT 'ATOMIC ENERGY' AND MOVING TO THE SAFER, SANER SOLAR, WIND AND GEOTHERMAL ENERGIES, SOME BECOMING INDEPENDENT FROM EVEN OIL, GAS AND COAL.
FROM PEER-REVIEWED ARTICLES:
Although small increases in the chance of developing cancer is the main health effect of LOW LEVELS of radiation, such effects in individuals are probabilistic and known as stochastic effects. In other words, there appears to be NO threshold below which effects do NOT occur, but the greater the exposure, the higher the probability that they will occur.
Severity of the effects does NOT depend on dose.
This is in contrast to the “deterministic” or “nonstochastic” radiation effects of high doses of radiation, that is, doses of several sieverts that can kill enough cells to cause injury such as skin reddening, burns, organ damage, radiation sickness, and even death. Patients receiving radiation treatment for cancer often experience controlled acute radiation sickness because they receive relatively high levels of radiation.
Infertility and cataract are two other examples of nonstochastic effects of radiation; cataract may not occur until several years AFTER exposure.
A recent study from France demonstrated that children living in very close proximity to nuclear power plants are twice as likely to develop leukemia compared to those living farther away from the plants.
From the reports published the past 4 years alone from Germany (Kaatsch et al., 2008), Finland (Heinavaara et al., 2010), Great Britain (COMARE, 2011), Switzerland (Spycher et al., 2011), and France (Sermage-Faure et al., 2012), it is obvious that additional scientific resolution to the question of whether living near a nuclear facility increases one’s risk of developing cancer remains. Authors have called for collaborative analysis of multisite studies conducted in various countries (Sermage-Faure et al., 2012). Similarly, the need for a well-conducted meta-analysis that would provide a more precise estimate of the risk remains.
Baker and Hoel combined and statistically analyzed studies of childhood leukemia around nuclear facilities published until 1999, but only included studies that calculated standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) or standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) for individual facilities. Studies that calculated rates for multiple sites or those that did not distinguish leukemia from lymphoma were excluded.
[MY NOTE: WHY? CANCER IS CANCER IS CANCER...LEUKEMIA AND LYMPHOMA ARE BOTH CANCERS!]
Seventeen published studies (out of 37 individual studies published at the time) addressing 136 nuclear sites in 7 countries (Great Britain, Canada, France, United States, Germany, Japan, and Spain) met the criteria.
[T]he meta-analysis showed an increase in childhood leukemia near nuclear facilities.
The Myth of Nuclear Necessity – NYTimes.com
IF, AS THE TIMES SUGGESTS, WE DO NOT NEED NUCLEAR WEAPONS, GIVEN THAT NUCLEAR 'ENERGY' SUPPLIES LESS THAN 15% OF AMERICA'S ENERGY NEEDS (SOME STATS SAY LESS THAN 20%, BUT SOME PLANTS HAVE BEEN CLOSED AND OTHERS HAVE DECREASED PRODUCTION, SO GO WITH LESS THAN 15%) AND COSTS MORE THAN CONVENTIONAL ELECTRIC POWER (MAINLY DUE TO THE ENORMOUS COST OF STORING WASTE FROM THOSE POWER PLANTS) WHY WOULD AMERICA NEED NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS?
Michael McCally, MD, PhD, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, wrote in an Oct. 5, 2007,
"Dozens of facilities were never completed or have sat idled because of cost overruns or insufficient safety provisions.
Wall Street (Inhofe's term) will not finance these facilities because future plants are likely to cost more than $5 billion...a recent Congressional Budget Office report predicts that more than 50 percent of proposed plants would default on loan guarantees...
Director of the Southeast Office of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, stated the following in a May 3, 2006
"Life cycle costs for nuclear power generation (in the USA) have been estimated at 12 cents a kilowatt hour, whereas life cycle costs for wind power in the same analysis is estimated at 4 cents a kilowatt hour."
"Nuclear power is the most expensive way ever devised to generate electricity. The method is not anywhere near cost effective; nuclear plants in the states of Oregon, New York, Maine, Illinois, and Connecticut have been shut down before the end of their planned lives because the owners found it was too expensive to keep them going. Even the Bush administration's own U.S. Energy Information Administration stated that 'new [nuclear] plants are not expected to be economical.'"
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THESE RECENT 'ACCIDENTS'?
WERE THEY FRONT PAGE HEADLINES?
OF COURSE NOT.
--"Possible leak found at Washington nuclear site, NewsFix, MAY 21, 2017, BY CNN WIRE, WASHINGTON — Authorities at Washington state’s Hanford nuclear waste site are investigating a possible leak after discovering radioactive material on a worker’s clothing. The discovery follows an incident two weeks earlier in which a site tunnel collapsed, sparking fears of radiation exposure.
Washington River Protection Solutions, a contractor working at the site, on Thursday detected high readings of radiation on a robotic device known as a crawler that workers were pulling out of a nuclear waste tank. Contamination was also discovered on the clothing of one of the workers.
The Double-Shell Tank AZ-101 contains 800,000 gallons of nuclear waste, according to the Washington Department of Ecology, which oversees the Hanford site. The nuclear plant is located in the south-central part of Washington state, about 45 miles from Yakima."
--Officials are trying to determine what caused the side of a pit at a nuclear waste landfill in Idaho to collapse. May 18, 2017
--Nuclear worker made error – tried to cover it up
"Nuclear plant worker ‘deliberately’ tried to hide error, officials say, NJ.com 3 May 17
LOWER ALLOWAYS CREEK TWP. — A worker “deliberately” attempted to fix an error he had made while conducting tests at a New Jersey nuclear reactor causing the plant to shut down 2 years ago, federal officials say.
The now-former employee’s action prompted the Hope Creek generating station to automatically shut down on Sept. 28, 2015. The worker later lied about what he did, officials said
US: Nuclear waste mislabeled at Washington state site"
--Skagit Valley Herald, Apr 13, 2017 RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — A shipment of nuclear waste from a commercial power plant located on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state was improperly labeled when it was trucked to a commercial disposal site, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.
As a result, Energy Northwest, the consortium that operates the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant, has been temporarily barred by state regulators from sending waste to the US Ecology disposal site located on leased Hanford land, the Tri-City Herald (http://bit.ly/2pyWwWi ) reported.
--Careless workers cause flood at Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/04/operator_error_leads_to_flood.html By Mary Serreze | Special to The Republican on April 04, 2017 Operators at the 45-year-old Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station failed to follow standard procedures last week, causing water to flood into a reservoir at the base of the reactor, reports the Cape Cod Times.
Workers incorrectly opened and shut certain valves, causing water to flood from a massive storage tank to an area of the reactor known as the torus. The torus plays a role in depressurizing and cooling down the reactor in case of a serious accident.
“This was a breakdown in the process that shows lack of adherence to procedure,” according to a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He said there were no immediate safety concerns.
Federal regulators in 2015 labeled Pilgrim as one of the three worst performers in the country and placed under increased oversight for safety violations and unplanned shutdowns.
Soon thereafter, Entergy announced it would close Pilgrim permanently in mid-2019 due to poor market conditions and increased operational costs. The closure will remove 680 megawatts of capacity from the New England power grid.
There have been a number of problems and violations at the aging nuclear power plant in recent years. Pilgrim has reportedly logged $40 million in annual losses.
'BIG NUKE' IS TERRIFIED OF WHAT A STUDY OF CANCER INCREASE NEAR NUKE FACILITIES WOULD PROVE.
ANOTHER "don’t worry, be happy report "...
Federal regulators killed a rigorous examination of cancer in millions of Americans living near nuclear plants because they were convinced the study couldn’t link reactors to disease and would be too costly, newly released records show.
The previously unreported rift is captured in more than 1,000 pages of NRC documents obtained by Southern California News Group under the Freedom of Information Act. Some officials worried that killing the study would be “a PR fiasco,” reigniting questions about the demise of what some saw as the most significant federal examination of nuclear plant safety in a generation.
The push for this new probe was driven by dissatisfaction with the U.S. government’s reliance on an unsophisticated 27-year-old study – employing even older data – to assure Americans there are no health risks associated with living near nuclear power plants.
Several recent European studies found disturbing links between childhood cancers and kids living close to nuclear plants, and NRC staffers traded emails citing them. A senior agency advisor dismissed the methodology used in those studies. “Publish or perish,” she wrote to her colleagues.
NRC staffers began pressing for an update of the old U.S. study a decade ago. The NRC contracted with the National Academies of Sciences, a separate agency, to design a modern scientific assessment in 2010.
The NRC spent five years and $1.5 million on the effort before abandoning it two years ago.
WHY would living near a nuclear power plant in Europe have an effect on the number of cancers, especially cancers in children, , but living near one in America would not?
THE NRC SIMPLY CAVED IN TO THE WHIMS AND DESIRES OF THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY, SAVED THEM FROM FACING THE DREADED TRUTH...RADIATION KILLS.
NO STUDY, NO PUBLIC OUTCRY TO END NUCLEAR POWER.
THE NRC HAD NO PROBLEM AT ALL KISSING THE GLOW-IN-THE-DARK BEHINDS OF THE 'BIG NUKE BOYS'.
Many $millions later, Los Alamos Weapons Engineering Tritium Facility still not safe
July 22, 2015
Los Alamos managers have been unable – after seven years of effort – even to prepare a sound analysis of the site’s safety hazards and the steps being taken to ensure that the radioactive gas at issue does not leak or explode and harm either workers or those living nearby, according to the DOE report.
DOE Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman said in the report that poor hazard analysis has been a recurrent problem at the lab, and said weaknesses in other projects have remained unfixed from one annual evaluation to the next. The lab, he wrote, “lacked sufficient qualified staff to resolve certain safety issues.”
Although the lab fixed the oxygen monitoring system last year, and so far has spent $17 million to prepare a comprehensive safety plan, it hasn’t completed the task. “There had been higher safety-related priorities” at the lab, Energy Department staff told auditors…
A CHANCE FOR PUBLIC INPUT:
June 7, Santa Fe, NM:
Understanding the Safety Posture of the Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos National Lab.
Defense Nuclear Safety Board public hearing. In the wake of the plutonium building fire last month, questions of risk and safety as LANL prepares to accelerate plutonium pit fabrication. 5:00pm to 9:45pm, 201 West Marcy Street.
(Santa Fe Community Convention Center)
'The public is invited to attend and participate in the public comment portion of the meeting. Individuals interested in speaking during the public comment period are encouraged to pre-register by submitting a request in writing to email@example.com or by telephone to the Office of the General Counsel at (202) 694-7062 or (800) 788-4016. Individuals may also submit written comments both prior to and at the hearing.' (more info)
Nuclear Weapons: Who Pays, Who Profits?
From a presentation made by William D. Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, at a conference on "Reducing the Threat of Nuclear War" held at MIT in May.
"Not only is it unnecessary to embark on a three decade, $1 trillion effort to build a new generation of nuclear weapons, but it's dangerous. A tiny fraction of the existing U.S. stockpile is enough to dissuade any nation from attacking the United States with a nuclear weapon. Anything beyond that just encourages other countries to modernize and expand their own arsenals.
"And the more nuclear weapons there are the more likely one will be used. In fact, the only guaranteed protection against nuclear weapons is to get rid of them all.
Hartung goes on to describe "the huge opportunity costs" associated with spending vast sums on nuclear weapons we don't need. He used an an online interactive infographic created by the Future of Life Institute that lets one choose alternative ways to spend that trillion dollars. "I tried it, and I found out we could buy the following things instead of wasting a trillion dollars on a new generation of nuclear weapons:"
-100 Million School Lunches: $235 million
-10,000 High School Science Teachers for one year: $553 million
-Salvage and Protect All Superfund Toxic Waste Sites for one year: $681 million
-Provide Federal Funding for Planned Parenthood for one year: $528 million
-Health Insurance for 1 Million Families for one year: $16.8 billion
-End Homelessness for one year: $20 billion
-Fix All Deficient Bridges in the U.S.: $71 billion
Altogether, the above investments represent only about 10 percent of the $1 trillion the Pentagon wants to spend on nuclear weapons over the next three decades.
(Try the tool yourself here)
Hartung notes: "There is one option offered by the Future of Life Institute tool that would put a serious dent in the $1 trillion spending total:
- Burn a $1 Million Pile of Cash Every Hour for Thirty Years: $262 Billion.
Still only a quarter of the total.
"Burning piles of cash would be a waste of money, to be sure, but it would be a far better, and far safer, use of the funds than spending them on extending a nuclear arms race that puts us all at risk." - William Hartung: "Nuclear Weapons- Who Pays, Who Profits?"
All it will take for America to become a Fukushima or a Chernobyl is one unstoppable nuclear "accident", one uncontained fire, one terrorist infiltration of one nuclear power plant.
Los Alamos looks to be a prime candidate to really put America on the map as the biggest nuclear disaster in recent history.
When a facility isn't even fined for all these breaches of security, these lapses, these WILLFUL failures to comply with regulations, these preventable human errors, we are in big trouble, my friends.
And we have only ourselves to look to for hope.
NO MATTER WHO GETS ELECTED IN AMERICA, WE, THE PEOPLE, GET NOTHING BUT SCREWED-OVER AND PLACED FAR DOWN THE LIST OF THINGS THAT MATTER.
PROFIT MATTERS, APPEASING BIG BUSINESS MATTERS, KEEPING NUCLEAR FACILITIES RUNNING SO THEY DON'T HAVE TO SPEND TRILLIONS TO BURY THE DAMNABLE ABOMINATIONS MATTERS
HUMAN LIVES JUST DON'T MATTER TO THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY, OUR "REGULATORY COMMISSIONS" AND OUR IGNOBLE CONGRESS.
FURTHER READING, AND SOME SOURCES NOT SPECIFICALLY CITED ABOVE:
~ Childhood Leukemias Near Nuclear Power Stations
~Baron J. A. Br J Cancer. 6. Vol. 50. 1984. Cancer mortality in small areas around nuclear facilities in England and Wales; pp. 815–824. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
~Boutou O., Guizard A. V. Br J Cancer. 7. Vol. 87. 2002. Population mixing and leukaemia in young people around the La Hague nuclear waste reprocessing plant; pp. 740–745. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
~Busby C., Cato M. S. BMJ. (7103) Vol. 315. 1997. Death rates from leukaemia are higher than expected in areas around nuclear sites in Berkshire and Oxfordshire; p. 309. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
~Cheng G. H., Wu N. Biomed Environ Sci. 6. Vol. 23. 2010. Increased levels of p53 and PARP-1 in EL-4 cells probably related with the immune adaptive response induced by low dose ionizing radiation in vitro; pp. 487–495.
"Every single hour Fukushima’s stricken reactors discharge 960,000Bq Cs-134/137 to the air"