Monday, December 2, 2013

Uranium Mining: cycle of death

International Uranium Film Festival kicks off Monday in Window Rock, Ariz.

By Noel Lyn Smith The Daily Times

Farmington — Bringing the local and international communities together to learn and talk about uranium is the focus of the International Uranium Film Festival.
The free film festival starts Monday in Window Rock, Ariz., and will show more than 40 documentaries and movies from 15 countries, including Australia, Germany and India. The films explore not only uranium but also the nuclear industry and its repercussions in communities worldwide.
"The whole point is to educate through art awareness," said Leona Morgan, who is Navajo and helped organize the event.
Uranium mining is an issue familiar to communities across the Navajo Nation. From 1944 to 1986, uranium mining occurred on the reservation, with many Diné working in mines and often raising families in close proximity to the mines and mills.
By the time mining activities ceased, nearly 4 million tons of uranium ore were extracted.
Today, there are more than 500 abandoned uranium mines, homes and drinking water sources, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The tribe enacted the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act in 2005, which prohibits uranium mining and processing within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation.
There are at least 10 films focusing on the uranium legacy on the Navajo and the Southwest, including ones directed by Diné filmmakers.
One of the documentaries is "Dii'go Tó Baahane': Four Stories About Water," which focuses on the problems with contaminated drinking water on the reservation. The 33-minute film is in Navajo with English subtitles.
Another film is the 1983 documentary "The Four Corners: A National Sacrifice Area?" The film examines the cultural and environmental effects of uranium mining and milling, coal mining and oil shale extraction in the Four Corners.
In addition to the screenings, there will be presentations and panel discussions about uranium legacy issues still affecting the people and the land of the Navajo Nation.
If the museum's WiFi allows, Morgan said organizers will attempt to stream the presentations online at
The film festival started in 2011 in Rio de Janeiro with the goal of informing the public from a neutral position about nuclear power, uranium mining, nuclear weapons and the health effects of radioactivity.
The festival's first stop in the United States was last week in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
After visiting Window Rock, the festival will head to New York City and Washington D.C. in February.
IF YOU GO What: International Uranium Film Festival
When: On Monday, screenings are 1 to 5 p.m. On Tuesday, screenings run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Wednesday, screenings go from 11 a.m. to noon. There will be presentations each day before and between film screenings.
Where: Navajo Nation Museum, Highway 264 and Loop Road, Window Rock, Ariz.
Cost: Free
More info: Contact Leona Morgan at 505-879-8547 or
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and Follow him on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.
Violations at Nebraska mine:                     
Powertech under-reports Crow Butte ISR uranium mine violations
Posted: Saturday, November 30, 2013 6:00 am
EDGEMONT — Powertech’s Dewey Burdock in situ uranium mine Project Manager Mark Hollenbeck recently told the editorial board of the Black Hills Pioneer that one of the more frustrating aspects of his company’s hotly-contested state-level application hearings for the proposed mine in the Southern Black Hills is the presentation of incorrect assertions of fact by the project’s opponents.

He specifically noted the opposition’s repeated touting that the Crow Butte in situ uranium mine operating outside of Crawford, Neb. has been issued dozens of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) violations. Hollenbeck maintains that the actual number is two, while the others are monitor well excursions, which are not classified as violations. But several hours of research on the NRC’s publically accessible online databases yield a different number entirely: Eight.
These violations are noted in the NRC’s conjoined Inspection Reports and Notices of Violation, which are filed on the commission’s Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS) database. Powertech is not affiliated with the Crow Butte mine.
The first notice of violation the NRC has on file for the Crow Butte mine was issued in September of 1999, after the NRC discovered that Crow Butte ran its yellowcake uranium drying and packing operation out of NRC specifications for eight months.

The NRC’s standard operating procedures state that when a yellowcake dryer emission control system fails to operate in spec the “the drying and packing room shall be immediately closed-in as an airborne radiation area,” and “heating and operations shall be switched to cool down or operations shall be temporarily suspended.” This was amended to the NRC’s satisfaction at the end of that eight-month period, but still received a violation.

Crow Butte Resources received two license violations in October 2007. The first was for the company’s failure to collect groundwater samples from several of its wastewater evaporation ponds in the third and fourth quarters of 2006. The company chose to report this issue itself after it discovered an employee marked these wells off the sampling list before they’d been sampled. Crow Butte Resources compared samples of those wells from the first quarter of 2007 to the last samples collected in 2006 and found “no adverse trends.” Even so, the company was issued a non-cited violation.
The second violation reported in the NRC’s October 2007 Crow Butte Resources Inspection Report was also self-identified: the shipment of “byproduct material” without performing the required container survey indicating radiation and contamination levels and notification to the environmental health and safety department in September of that year. This violated not only NRC requirements, but those of the Department of Transportation as well. Crow Butte maintained that the “actual safety significance was low because the survey results of all other containers met DOT requirements.” Regardless, the company received another non-cited NRC violation.

An NRC document from August 2008 shows that Crow Butte Resources received a non-cited violation for missing several required 5-year mechanical integrity tests on its injection and production wells due to corruption of the company’s mechanical integrity test database. Additionally, the NRC’s on-site inspection of the Crow Butte Facility that subsequently produced the report in question included a review of spill records for the prior year — 21 spills occurred in total in that time period, resulting in a total of 10,574 gallons of “unrecovered fluids,” 1,463 gallons of which was “production fluid.” That’s an admittedly small amount of total liquids spilled in comparison to some of the other spills that occurred over the years at the Crow Butte in situ uranium mine.
In early January 1993, for example, the Ferret Exploration Company of Crawford, Neb. spilled approximately 23,000 gallons of injection fluid containing radium 226 on the ground, out of a failed injection trunkline in a future Crow Butte ISR uranium production well field. The spill moved out of the well ring, down a small drainage, and into a floodplain adjacent to nearby Squaw Creek. According to a January 1993 Ferret Exploration letter to the NRC, an “undetermined amount of spill water entered the Squaw Creek drainage.” The letter says the spill came into contact with then-frozen Squaw Creek and moved downstream atop the ice for about a quarter mile. Analysis of the injection water in use that day revealed radium 226 levels of 1,550 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), more than 300 times the EPA’s established combined radium 226/radium 228 drinking water maximum contaminate limit (MCL) of 5 pCi/L. Analysis of a spill water sample taken at what Ferret Exploration officials considered the “northernmost extent of the spill” showed radium 226 levels of 0.2 pCi/L. The letter states: “The action of the warm injection water melting and co-mingling with existing snow and ice apparently caused significant dilution of the spill water.”
On June 29, 1999 Crow Butte Resources discovered a 140,941-gallon spill of injection fluid. An employee determined that the spill began five days earlier when an injection well was put into operation before its construction was verified complete. According to a September 1999 NRC inspection report, Crow Butte estimated that the spill released 605 million pCi of radium 226 and 1.09 million pCi of natural uranium into the soil, adding up to an average soil contamination concentration of 214 pCi per gram, spread over 138-square-feet of the well field area. The report says Crow Butte Resources recovered less than 100 gallons of the spilled injection fluid, as most of it had absorbed into the ground. Once the spill was discovered Crow Butte Resources informed the NRC via telephone and pursued recovery and cleanup by the book.
The very same NRC inspection report shows that Crow Butte officials spilled 7-cubic-feet of “contaminated stripped ion exchange resin” on May 9, 1999. The contaminated resin spilled in the main plant building’s restricted area, but migrated to the unrestricted area and the ground outside the building. This contaminated resin was estimated to contain 1.48 million pCi of uranium per cubic foot. The report asserts Crow Butte staff utilized appropriate NRC cleanup criteria and completed cleanup on May 19, gathering some 12-cubic-feet of contaminated dirt, which they placed in 55-gallon drums. Crow Butte’s post-spill soil sample results indicated the maximum residual radioactivity in the soil at 4.5 pCi per gram above the previously measured background of 1.6 pCi per gram.
None of the document’s related to the January 1993 spill, May 1999 spill, or the June 1999 spill on the ADAMS database say anything about whether NRC violations were issued.
But we’re still four violations short. Three of those appear in an August 2010 NRC Inspection Report. One of these violations pertained to the failure of the company to meet requirements that state at least one health physics technician with a total of 12 weeks of specialized radiation health protection training under their belt be on staff. At the time, Crow Butte Resources staff included two health physics technicians with 6.6 weeks and 9.4 weeks of training completed, respectively.
Another violation noted in this report was attributed to the company’s self-identified failure to perform NRC-required mechanical integrity tests on two injection wells that were taken out of service for a little more than a month and then put back into operation. When Crow Butte officials discovered this they immediately performed the required tests on those wells, both of which passed the tests. But the damage was already done and the company received one more non-cited NRC violation. The report also illustrates that Crow Butte Resources utilized “erroneous time factors” in the calculation of occupational doses of the radioactive decay products of radon (or “radon progeny”) to mine employees due to an accidental deletion of several of these factors from a spreadsheet, “which resulted in incorrect radon progeny exposure results for hundreds of samples.” This error was not corrected for several months. Crow Butte estimated that the corrected radon progeny exposure calculation would be “less than an additional 10 percent of the currently reported total dose.” The document does not appear to divulge whether the recalculated exposures were over limit. The NRC issued Crow Butte another non-cited violation for the calculation flub.
Crow Butte’s most contemporary license violation is reported in a July 2013 Inspection Report. The company was cited for failing to maintain doses of radiation in an unrestricted area to the required “less than 0.02 miliSievert (2 millirem) in any one hour.” The report states that an NRC inspector observed a does of 0.04 milliSievert (4 millirem) per hour in an unrestricted area next to the company’s restoration building. This is Crow Butte Resources’ eighth and latest NRC violation listed on the government agency’s ADAMS database.
While some of these violations may seem harmless, they could produce serious health, safety, and environmental issues if left unchecked and un-remediated. And the potential effects of some of the others require no further explanation.
The Crow Butte in situ uranium mine is owned and operated by the Canadian uranium mining company Cameco Resources and has been in production since 1991.
Look for further in-depth examinations into currently-operating in situ uranium mines in the U.S. in the Black Hills Pioneer in weeks to come.
To read all of today's stories, Click here or call 642-2761 to subscribe to our e-edition or home delivery.

Several suspected of environmental crimes at Talvivaara mine

The case is to be referred for consideration of charges in mid-November at the earliest. WOES keep on piling up for cash-strapped Talvivaara, with the police revealing in mid-October that several of ...
Created on 31 October 2013
Several hazardous leaks
• Operations at the nickel and zinc mine begin in October 2008.
• Nearby residents complain about foul odour and dust in 2009.
• Sludge containing uranium is released into the environment due to a leak in a gypsum sediment pond in 2010.
• Abnormal emission levels are detected in waterways near the mine in 2011.
• A worker dies outside the mine’s metals recovery plant after being exposed to gasified hydrogen sulphide in early 2012. In the spring, water with increased metals concentrations is released into the environment. In November, metals, sulphates and other hazardous substances are released into the environment due to a massive leak in the gypsum sediment pond.
• Heightened uranium levels are measured near the mine after another leak in the pond in early 2013.
• Production issues and plunging nickel prices hit Talvivaara’s performance.

Imagining post-nuclear Japan

by Jeff Kingston
Special To The Japan Times

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has sent shock waves through the political establishment by calling for the end of nuclear power generation in Japan. “There is nothing more costly than nuclear power,” Koizumi was quoted as saying during an interview with Tokyo Shimbun — something Japanese taxpayers are coming to understand very well.
Koizumi may be a late convert to the anti-nuclear movement, but he remains popular, persuasive and, on this issue, absolutely right. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might get some reactors back online in 2014, but he risks a powerful popular backlash because people are not ignoring the lessons of Fukushima. Koizumi is correct in saying that most politicians would go along with Abe if he stood up to the nuclear village and declared “Abenomics” meant tapping the green growth potential of smart, renewable energy. This is a sustainable and affordable low-carbon model that is far more suitable for Japan and developing nations than pricy nuclear reactors.
The old motto of the nuclear village — “safe, cheap and reliable” — now seems like a bad joke. It is hard to put a price tag on the overall consequences of the meltdowns at Fukushima and the ballooning costs of bailing out Tokyo Electric Power Co., but by some estimates it’s $100 billion and rising. There are still more than 100,000 nuclear refugees driven from their homes by the catastrophe. In early November, the government finally acknowledged that many can never return to their ancestral homes. Local farmers and fishermen have a deep hole to climb out of to regain consumer trust, while tourism has been hammered and faces tough prospects. Lingering stigma and health concerns are also exacting a stiff psychological toll on residents.
In the global lexicon, Fukushima is shorthand for nuclear disaster in much the same way as Chernobyl before it. It is indelibly tarnishing the Japan brand and will linger ominously despite Abe’s reassurances that the situation is under control. It doesn’t help that polls show that only 11 percent of Japanese believe Abe, and even Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose has suggested that Abe mislead the International Olympic Committee. The lesson of Fukushima, Mr. Abe, is not the need for better public relations.
Problematically, Abenomics relies heavily on nuclear energy. Abe wants to restart domestic reactors in order to lower fuel imports and, at the same time, reassure potential overseas customers of Japan’s nuclear plant and technology exports. It gets back to the unpersuasive argument that nuclear energy is cheap. It is relatively cheap but only if all the associated costs are excluded from calculations. But associated costs related to rigorous safety inspections, repair and maintenance (most utilities saved money on this by falsifying reports ), temporary and permanent radioactive-waste disposal, safety upgrades, more comprehensive and continuous training of workers, evacuation drills and the decommissioning of reactors are backend costs that boost the sticker price substantially.
The Economist magazine, like Koizumi, recanted and in a special report on nuclear energy argues that it is not commercially viable. Politically, however, the nuclear village is well entrenched in Japan, as it controls the commanding heights of national energy policy. This explains why Tepco is on government-funded life-support at the taxpayers’ expense.
Abe knows that Japan’s 50 viable reactors represent a huge investment and the vested interests in the nuclear village need reactor restarts to recoup their investments and pay off loans. Influential investors and lenders are fighting bankruptcy for Tepco so they don’t have to take a haircut. These vested interests are members of Keidanren, Japan’s most influential business lobby group, and have much to lose if the plug is pulled on nuclear energy and are counting on Abe to fast-track restarts and save their bacon.
But Koizumi’s awkward questions about Japan’s lack of a plan for permanently storing vast stockpiles of highly radioactive nuclear waste can’t be shrugged off; temporary sites are more than 70 percent full. Pro-nuclear advocates have a faith-based policy that something will eventually work out, but in the meantime we have a house without a toilet.
Are renewable energy sources the answer to Japan’s costly nuclear nightmare? Nuclear proponents argue that renewables can’t serve as a baseload source of continuous power like nuclear reactors (when not idled, as they often are for periodic safety checks). They also argue that solar and wind power are expensive and require vast amounts of space that make them unviable alternatives. Thermal plant advocates made similar arguments against nuclear reactors decades ago just as landline phone companies pooh-poohed the potential of mobile phones and skeptics were slow to wake up to the computer revolution.
It is time to move beyond nuclear energy, a flawed “miracle” technology of the 20th century, to 21st-century technology in renewables and radical efficiency improvements made possible by information and communications technology. And Japan is already doing so at breathtaking speed.
Since the introduction of a feed-in tariff system in July 2012 that provides incentives for investment in a range of renewable energies, Japan has brought online about three reactors’ worth of renewable electricity generating capacity, mostly solar. Anyone driving around depopulating rural Japan understands space is not a major constraint, and indeed renewable energy initiatives offer declining communities a lifeline. Decentralizing Japan’s power generation away from centralized nuclear plants prone to cascading disasters also enhances disaster resilience and explains why so many local communities are funding renewable initiatives. Innovations mean that Japan’s largest solar farm is now floating off the coast of Kagoshima and floating platforms now enable Japan to tap its vast wind power potential.
But the grid has to be modernized to tap the potential of renewables, and legislation now under consideration in the Diet might hasten the process by breaking up the utilities’ current monopoly and decoupling electricity generation from distribution. The key is spreading smart-grid technologies essential to managing intermittent sources of energy and reducing energy consumption, an area where Japan is a world leader.
Andrew DeWit, a Rikkyo University energy policy specialist, notes that ongoing smart-city projects in Kitakyushu and Yokohama demonstrate the vast potential of information and communications technology. Major Japanese companies such as Panasonic, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Mitsui and Hitachi are betting big on smart-city projects at home and targeting megacity projects around the globe. It’s a huge potential market and Japan is well positioned to lead this green revolution. Japan is on the cusp of a breakthrough and, instead of squandering more money on nuclear power in an archipelago prone to major seismic events, it should incentivize investments in green technologies that offer enormous potential and greater disaster resilience. Koizumi reminds us what bold leadership looks like.

Moveon has made a video of our petition for you to enjoy:  
Meanwhile, the pro-nuke Abe Administration is pushing a very dangerous state secrets act, which would black out the information flow from Fukushima.
We are told there may be a chance to stop it.  So we may have a new petition to you in a couple of days.   

Meantime, thank you for all your great work!

No Nukes, Harveyw 

Radioactive debris spread through Fukushima after typhoons

text-radiationTyphoons spreading Fukushima fallout  ABC News  29 Nov 2013, Typhoons that hit Japan each year are contributing to the spread of radioactive material from the Fukushima nuclear disaster into the country’s waterways, researchers say.
A joint study by France’s Climate and Environmental Science laboratory (LSCE) and Tsukuba University in Japan shows contaminated soil gets washed away by the high winds and rain and deposited in streams and rivers. ”There is a definite dispersal towards the ocean,” LSCE researcher Olivier Evrard said flag-japanWednesday.
The typhoons “strongly contribute” to soil dispersal, he said, though it can be months later, after the winter snow melts, that contamination actually passes into rivers……….
Studies have shown that soil erosion can move the radioactive varieties of cesium-134 and 137 from the northern mountains near Fukushima into rivers, and then out into the Pacific Ocean.


Yes Virginia, UNSCEAR DOES say that radiation causes child cancers

It is not recommended to use the same generalizations used for adults when considering the risks and effects of radiation exposure during childhood,”
infants and children have smaller body diameters, and their organs are less shielded by overlying tissues, with the same exposure the doses to their internal organs is higher than that to an adult. 
text ionisingEffects of radiation exposure of children, relief web 25 Nov 13 Report from UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation Published on 25 Oct 2013 — View Original Publication of Volume II of the UNSCEAR 2013 Report Risk following exposure to radiation differs for adults and children, says UNSCEAR report Vienna 24 October 2013 (UN Information Service) – “Doses received by children and adults from the same source of ionizing radiation can have differing impacts, and therefore, should be considered separately in order to predict risk following exposure more accurately for children,” was the main thrust of the report “Effects of radiation exposure of children” presented today at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
The report, which has been prepared by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), has been in preparation over the last two years (since 2011) and was presented today to the UN General Assembly as part of the Report of the 60th session of UNSCEAR to the General Assembly. “Because of their anatomical and physiological differences, radiation exposure has a different impact on children compared with adults,” said Dr. Fred Mettler, Chair of the Expert Group on the UNSCEAR Report on Effects of Radiation Exposure of Children.
He presented the report as a valuable resource for the international medical and scientific community, because as such, children are generally assessed along with adults in epidemiological studies and comprehensive overviews of the effect of radiation on children are generally unavailable. The report highlights some important issues. For instance, for a given radiation dose, infants and children are more at risk than adults of developing a variety of tumours. This risk is, generally, not always immediate but extends later into life. Read more »