Nuke Notes for December

Written by Vic Macks; posted by Art Myatt
The Downside to Nuclear Medicine: 6,000 gallons of high level radionuclides in nitric acid liquid solution——“waste” left from the production of radionuclides for nuclear medicine——could be on the road soon from Chalk River Ontario to Savanna River Site (SRS), SC. 
Never been done before. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has, in the past, considered it unsafe. DOE has not done an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), an assessment, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). An EIS opens this up to other governmental departments and to the public for comment and input that becomes public record and must be considered.

This “waste” material is highly radioactive and lethal in one minute at one meter, if not shielded. But shielding will not produce a 100% block to gamma rays. “Waste” material, at Chalk River, has been, in the past, vitrified into solid form, rendering it not weapons usable.
So, what’s different now? The contractor operating the U.S. nuclear site at SRS would generate $60,000,000. paid by Canada. Transporting this highly radioactive liquid would involve serious risk to air, land, water and people along the route. Nuclear accidents have a beginning but no end. Can it be stopped? Opposition in the U.S. and Canada has been dismissed or ignored. A law suit is underway. 
Vic Macks 586-779-1782
On Nov. 22nd, Diane Curran of Washington, D.C. and Terry Lodge of Toledo, OH — legal counsel for an environmental coalition that includes Beyond Nuclear — filed a motion in the Washington, D.C. federal district court, entitled MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS’ OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND PLAINTIFFS’ CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (see corrected version, dated Nov. 29, 2016).
Dr. Gordon Edwards (Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility) and Dr. Marvin Resnikoff (Radioactive Waste Management Associates) provided expert declarations in support of the coalition’s case (click on links at their respective names, above, to see the declarations).
In short, Dr. Edwards testified that a mere couple of ounces of the highly radioactive liquid waste, out of just one of the 150 shipments, could radioactively contaminate the massive Georgetown Reservoir, the drinking water supply for the District of Columbia, at very unsafe levels, rendering it unsafe to drink. Dr. Resnikoff testified that the woefully inadequate standards for seals, valves, and O-rings on the jury-rigged shipping containers risks failure and leakage, even in the event of a below-design basis fire temperature and duration.
This is the latest filing in the environmental coalition’s challenge against the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) unprecedented scheme to truck highly radioactive liquid wastes. 100 to 150 high-risk truck shipments — from Chalk River Nuclear Lab, Ontario, Canada to Savannah River Site, South Carolina, U.S.A., a distance of more than a thousand miles — could begin as soon as mid-February, 2017 if the DOE gets its way, and the legal appeal dismissed. The most likely border crossing points include Buffalo and Thousand Island, NY, although DOE is keeping routes and timing secret under a cloak of security.
         UN Votes to Outlaw Nuclear Weapons in 2017
The  UN General Assembly negotiations for a binding, enforceable and verifiable treaty to abolish nuclear weapons  will commence in March, 2017.
For an understanding of the imperative of this development, see : “Can You Feel it Now? That’s the Urgency…” Ralph Hutchison, co-ordinator, Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance
 Michigan Stop the Nuclear Bombs Campaign members Barbara Smith, Kim Bergier, Carolyn Doherty and myself met with the Michigan offices staff of Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow (9-20-16) and Gary Peters(10-4-16). 
Our request for consideration and response from the Senators was our summary (emailed to you on request) of the recommendations elaborated in The Trillion Dollar Trainwreck and the document itself which was produced by Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, 2016 at
These hour long appointments appear to indicate the Senators are supportive of not expanding nuclear weapons production. However the Senators positions on reactors, management of nuclear waste, and toxic sites remain unclear. We were assured that the document and summary we presented would be forwarded to the designated staff person for nuclear issues in each of the Senators Washington offices.  I had a later opportunity to present the document The Trillion Dollar Trainwreck to Senator Stabenow in person. 
In  November, I sent the following to Michigan U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters  and to the Detroit Free Press:
Our concern about nuclear weapons extends to all nuclear weapons countries, the whole of the nuclear legacy from uranium mining through reactors and weapons. All parts of the nuclear legacy are joined at the hip, spawning each other. Not only is there the threat of the U.S. again using nuclear weapons, but also the reality that the whole of the nuclear legacy has continued to expand the very large release of radionuclides into the environment and all living things. While other nuclear countries are a concern, it is the United States that is leading a new nuclear weapons race as well as expanding  nuclear power. We are the immediate impediment to abolition of uranium mining, nuclear power and weapons. We are poised to spend a Trillion dollars on new nuclear weapons production over the next 30 years. That is profoundly immoral. The most important thing to say about nuclear weapons is that they combine homicide and suicide in a single act. To know that and not abolish the whole of the deadly nuclear legacy is absolutely unacceptable.  The UN General Assembly’s  decision to commence negotiations in 2017 to achieve a binding and enforceable treaty to abolish nuclear weapons  should have the urgent and solid endorsement of the United States. It does not. 
Vic and Gail Macks, members: Peace Action of Michigan, Michigan Stop the Nuclear Bombs Campaign, and Alliance to Halt Fermi 3
GOT  KI  ?
The potassium iodine pill (KI) can block absorption of radioactive iodine 131 (I-131) released in a nuclear reactor accident, if you have the pill in your possession, are immediately informed of the accident and release of radionuclides, and take the pill. KI protects only against I-131 and not against the long list of other radionuclides produced in the reactor.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recommends that everyone within the 10 mile emergency planning zone around a nuclear reactor have the pill in their possession (at home, work, in your car, etc.) Taking the pill before exposure can prevent thyroid cancer and endocrine disorders. Women are 45% more susceptible to any radionuclide exposure than men, children more than adults, girls more than boys, and the younger the child the more serious the impact.
The NRC recommends KI be made available but does not mandate or provide it, leaving that to health departments. In Michigan, according to Michigan Community Health Services, less than 6% of people living within the 10 mile emergency planning zone around Fermi 2 have the pill.  Sending a voucher to people in the 10 mile zone and leaving it to them to go to a designated pharmacy hasn’t worked. 
Furthermore, The American Thyroid Association recommends that everyone within 50 miles of a nuclear reactor have the pill and that it be stockpiled out to 200 miles at schools, fire stations, police stations and other public sites. There are more than 5 million people living within 50 miles of Fermi 2. That should include most people reading this. On request,  I will email you a map with the circumscribed circle indicating the 50 mile zone. 
Members of the Alliance to Halt Fermi 3 (ATHF3) and supporting organizations have been going door to  door within the 10 mile zone around Fermi 2 to talk with residents about the KI and obtaining signatures asking for direct delivery of KI.  The people we have talked to are interested, appreciative and want direct delivery of the pill. Cost is not the issue here as I’m told it is 10 or 11cents per pill.
Door to door canvasing is suspended for the winter and will recommence in the spring. If you would like to participate in this effort, go to  We go in pairs, covering two sides of the street. We provide orientation for new volunteers. Information from the County Department of Health Emergency Planning Pamphlet, the Centers for Disease Control, the American Thyroid Association and the American Medical Association is utilized. And again, people we talk to in the canvasing, typically are interested and say “Thank you”.  They see it for what it is, activity that benefits the community.
An offshoot of our KI campaign to have direct delivery of KI is that Citizens  Resistance at Fermi 2, a source of long standing public interest activity, filed a Contention——legal meaning here, having to do with NRC rules created subsequent to the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 and subsequent legislation—— that resulted in  suspension of re-licensing of Fermi 2 pending review of the Contention.
Further to that, ATHF3 is preparing a further intervention on the issue that the 10 mile emergency planning zone around Fermi 2 was decided on the basis of evacuation of population and had nothing to do with KI distribution which must be determined based on wind directions, where the plume is going, etc. In short, a larger zone for KI direct distribution is required, which takes us to 50 miles. 
And, by the way, when 3 of Daiichi, Fukushima’s GE Mark 1 reactors exploded and completely melted down their fuel assemblies, the U.S. State Department advised any Americans within 50 miles to leave. As reported in the New York Times article “We Almost Lost Tokyo” on 2-28-12, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan contemplated evacuating Tokyo as Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) was threatening to abandon the Daiichi  complex. Mr. Kan “marched into the TEPCO office” and insisted Dailichi not be abandoned. Those who stayed and worked to ameliorate the crisis pay a price. The plant supervisor died of cancer. 
When the U.S. aircraft carrier, Ronald Reagan steamed toward Daiichi to provide humanitarian assistance, it went into a cloud of radioactive  fallout causing radiation sickness to at least 72 sailors who are suing TEPCO. The point is that an emergency planning zone should take into account real life events and plan for them. That would mean real plans for evacuation of millions of people, permanent housing, food, financial assistance for people who lose their homes, jobs, assets, and competent medical care for radiation sicknesses. We have none of that in place. Only false assurances that we will never need it. I am aware of 28 nuclear accidents. Delay in informing the public, suppression of information, and absence of advance planning with resources and infrastructure in place are common. 
The KI campaign has also had a community forum with speakers and will have another soon. 
This pilot effort, If productive,  could be replicated at any of the 99 operating and 16 not operating U.S. nuclear reactors. Our focus is solely on direct delivery of KI in this effort. It does become obvious, however, that opening daylight to the reality of KI direct delivery begins to shine a light more broadly.
Ontario Power Generation’s plan to build a deep underground nuclear dump near the shore of Lake Huron near Kincardine, Ontario has been on hold since the election of Justin Trudeau and his environmental minister’s decision to request more information. One request was, what other sites were considered? I can answer that. None.  
Approximately 75,000 tons of withdrawn nuclear reactor fuel rods—-lethal in minutes and dangerous for up to a million years—- are still looking for a home other than utility sites to satisfy the utility owners. There is no basis in human experience for predicting behavior of this material abandoned in a deep underground dump over such length of time. The only commenced deep underground dump in the U.S. is at WIPP near Carlsbad, NM. It was for mid and low level “waste” from nuclear weapons production. It had an explosion and fire and was shut down in February 2014.  22 workers above ground were exposed to the release of nuclear radiation that traveled at least a half mile or more.
The current NRC approach is “Consent Based Siting” for a deep underground dump and/or privatized  interim parking lots (Texas and New Mexico have private companies wanting the interim storage option). Who consents to what and on behalf of what other neighbors who were not consulted? How many millions of dollars are offered as a bribe (the Ontario approach)? It would mean mobile Chernobyls over many years with danger to communities along the routes. The most enduring result of reactor operation is withdrawn fuel rods for which there is no solution. Man made radionuclides cannot be turned off.
Hardened onsite storage (HOSS), monitored forever in rolling stewardship through every generation is the least risk choice until future generations can come up with an improvement. HOSS is endorsed by a long list of organizations concerned with the nuclear legacy and safety. See 
The NRC has said that all reactors are designed to and do release radionuclides into the environment. In the required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for every reactor license, a statement of computer generated release dose is stated. In addition to these designed basis releases, there are releases from operator error, failed equipment, degraded equipment and accidents. Unsafe design and unlicensed replacement parts have also put the public at risk. There are no real time release measurements available to the public.  The NRC has refused to study effects on people living within a 50 mile radius around  nuclear reactors. Measure nothing and  study nothing preserves the capacity to say nothing happened. 
For some of what has happened:  and and: A statistical analysis of data from the Center for Disease Control done by Radiation and Public Health Project (an NGO), shows that there is a significantly higher incidence of cancer deaths for Monroe, MI residents compared with incidences for the U.S. as a whole. This increase in Monroe cancer deaths correlates with the Fermi 2 going to full power. I will send the full study on request.
We do have from the National Academies of Sciences, Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation, the clear statement that there is no safe level of nuclear radiation. What total inventory and volume of radionuclides  have been and are currently released into the Great Lakes by——-from a map of Great Lakes Nuclear Sites——-48 nuclear reactors (10 shut down), 6 uranium waste sites, 12 uranium mines, 4 uranium tailing sites, 7 uranium processing sites, 2 Canadian incinerators dispersing radioactive material, 2 research sites, and 1 isotope processing site? We don’t know the tally. 
The NRC and the Canadian equivalent are silent on this as is the International Joint Commission on the Great Lakes, formed by a 1909 Treaty charged with addressing issues of joint concern by the U.S. and Canada. The Canadian Environmental Law organization has petitioned the Joint Commission on the Great Lakes to list radionuclides as chemicals of concern (that’s right; they don’t do that) in the Great Lakes, and measure and track them. We are waiting to see if that effort has legs.
The EPA does specify a allowable limit for Tritium, a radionuclide produced in the reactor and released into  the water circulating into and out of the reactor. In tritiated water, the hydrogen atom is radioactive. Tritium is also a component in the thermonuclear explosion. And, by the way, the NRC stated that the water coming out of reactors contributes to the toxic plume on Lake Erie which they state is dangerous to the public. I took that statement and its documented reference to the Joint International Commission on the Great Lakes but got no response.
You will recall that, not long ago, Toledo and south east Michigan had to suspend water intake due to the toxic plume that looked like split pea soup. The highest water draw from Lake Erie is by nuclear reactors. I haven’t seen the water draw  assessment from Lake Huron to Ontario’s 8 operating reactors at the Bruce but expect it would be similarly high. The Great Lakes are the drinking water for 40 million people.
I am a sailor with boundless enthusiasm for being on the water on a sail boat, sharing that with a very large number of other such enthusiastic sailors  over 40 years. I’ve noticed also that we all like to be able to drink water. As the Standing Rock Souix say “Water is Sacred; Water is life”.
Know Nukes
Vic Macks   586-779-1782

Author: Art Myatt

Retired engineer and environmentally aware activist with Green Party of Michigan, Sierra Club and Alliance to Halt Fermi 3.

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