[ RadSafe ] NRC Says Indian Point, Other Radioactive Leaks Led to Mistrust

Sandy Perle sandyfl at earthlink.net
Sun Oct 8 20:13:09 CDT 2006


NRC Says Indian Point, Other Radioactive Leaks Led to Mistrust
Seizures of radioactive materials fuel 'dirty bomb' fears
Hosting radioactive waste sites a chance to balance the books

NRC Says Indian Point, Other Radioactive Leaks Led to Mistrust

(White Plains, N.Y.) AP Oct 5 - A federal task force concludes that 
leaks of tritium and other radioactive isotopes at the Indian Point 
nuclear plant haven't endangered public health. 

But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission task force determined that 
public reaction to the leaks revealed "a level of mistrust" toward 
Indian Point and the commission. 

In a 78-page report, the task force said that assurances of safety 
were probably overshadowed by the public perception that the leaks 
were accidental, unmonitored, possibly long-standing and not 
immediately publicized. 

A leak from a spent-fuel pool at Indian Point in Buchanan, 35 miles 
north of Manhattan, was discovered in August 2005 but not made public 
until a month later. 

Plant owners conceded that some unmonitored contamination had reached 
the Hudson River.

Seizures of radioactive materials fuel 'dirty bomb' fears

Times On Line - SEIZURES of smuggled radioactive material capable of 
making a terrorist "dirty bomb" have doubled in the past four years, 
according to official figures seen by The Times. 
Smugglers have been caught trying to traffick dangerous radioactive 
material more than 300 times since 2002, statistics from the 
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) show. Most of the incidents 
are understood to have occurred in Europe. 

The disclosures come as al-Qaeda is known to be intensfiying its 
efforts to obtain a radoactive device. Last year, Western security 
services, including MI5 and MI6, thwarted 16 attempts to smuggle 
plutonium or uranium. On two occasions small quantities of highly 
enriched uranium were reported missing. All were feared to have been 
destined for terror groups. 

Scientists responsible for analysing the seizures have given warning 
that traffickers are turning to hospital X-ray equipment and 
laboratory supplies as an illicit source of radioactive material. 

Investigators believe that the smugglers, who come mainly from the 
former Eastern bloc, are interested only in making a swift fortune 
and believe that they may have no compunction in selling to jihadist 
groups. Most undercover operations and recent seizures have been kept 
secret to protect the activities of Western security services. 

Rigorous controls on nuclear processors, especially with Russia co-
operating to stop the trafficking of enriched plutonium and uranium, 
have limited smugglers´ access to weapons-grade nuclear materials. 
But medical and laboratory sources, including waste, remain 
vulnerable. Such radioactive waste can be used to make a dirty bomb. 

A dirty bomb combines a conventional explosive, such as dynamite, 
with radioactive material such as spent nuclear fuel like highly 
enriched uranium and plutonium. In most instances the conventional 
explosive would kill more bystanders but the dispersion of the 
radioactive material would have a hugely damaging "fear" factor. 

There were 103 cases of illicit trafficking last year, compared with 
fewer than 30 in 1996. Fifty-eight incidents were reported in 2002, 
rising to 90 in 2003 and 130 in 2004. Experts point out that seizures 
in the past three years equal the same amount of trafficking in the 
previous seven years. 

Olli Heinonen, deputy director-general of the IAEA, which monitors 
trafficking and inspects nuclear plants to audit their radioactive 
materials, said that while weapons-grade nuclear material smuggling 
was now rare there were serious concerns about other radioactive 

"A dirty bomb is something that needs to be taken seriously. We need 
to be prepared for anything because anything could happen," he said. 
"Terrorists look for the weakest link. We need to be alert and we 
need to be prepared." 

Al-Qaeda makes no secret of its desire to obtain a dirty bomb. Last 
month its leader in Iraq, Abu Hamza alMuhajer, called for scientists 
to join it and experiment with radioactive devices for use against 
coalition troops. Even before 9/11, Osama bin Laden invited two 
Pakistani atomic scientists to visit a training camp in Afghanistan 
to discuss how to assemble a bomb using stolen plutonium. Captured al-
Qaeda leaders have since confessed to the CIA of their attempts to 
smuggle a radioactive device into the US. 

Professor Klaus Lützenkir-chen, who helps to analyse the seized 
substances, said that even small quantities of radio-active material 
could be of use to terrorists. 

"If someone gets hold of it, it is possible it could be used in a 
dirty bomb," he said. He added that if such a dirty bomb were 
detonated in a town centre the physical effect would be comparatively 
small and unlikely to cause huge loss of life but would have an 
enormously damaging "fear factor". 

One of the most serious seizures since 9/11 was that of several 
kilograms of a radioactive substance known as yellow cake that was 
found in a consignment of scrap metal at the port of Rotterdam in 
December 2003. 

Professor Lützenkirchen said that seizures have been made across 
Europe, usually at borders and sea ports. Most of the trafficked 
material originated from the Caucasus region where he said that there 
was "considerable activity" among smugglers. 

Seizures have continued this year, though overall figures for 2006 
are not yet available. They include the discovery in Germany of a 
small quantity of highly enriched uranium. 

High-level representatives from the US, Britain, France, Germany, 
China and Russia will meet today in London, where they are expected 
to refer the Iranian nuclear case to the UN Security Council after a 
defiant Tehran refused to suspend uranium enrichment. 

Hosting radioactive waste sites a chance to balance the books

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN Oct 7  - Most towns would cringe at the idea of 
hosting high-level radioactive waste storage facilities. 

But due to dwindling, aging populations, at least three towns in 
Kochi and Shiga prefectures are so strapped for cash that officials 
are beginning to feel they have no other choice. 

Thus, the towns are actively considering being host to a radioactive 
waste facility, which would open in the 2030s. 

In other municipalities, similar plans have fizzled--either from 
residents' concern over having potentially deadly substances in their 
backyard, or due to prefectural government opposition. 

But for the towns of Tsuno and Toyo in Kochi Prefecture and Yogo, 
Shiga Prefecture, the money that would come their way was too 

Simply by getting accepted as a candidate site, a town receives 
between 200 million and 2 billion yen in annual subsidies as long as 
the feasibility studies last. 

"If no subsidies were extended, we would never invite" the waste 
disposal facility, said a Tsuno assembly member. "It's no charity 

The government-affiliated Nuclear Waste Management Organization of 
Japan (NUMO) began soliciting applications in late 2002 under the 
2000 law on final disposal. 

The final repository will store highly radioactive liquid waste 
generated as a byproduct of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. 
Solidified in a stable glass matrix, the waste will be buried in a 
stable layer of earth more than 300 meters in depth. 

Municipalities are allowed to apply without the permission of the 
prefecture. Once chosen as a potential site, the subsidies kick in, 
as do geological studies. 

Only during a three-stage selection process that follows is NUMO 
required to seek the prefectural governor's opinion. 

The governors of both prefectures have expressed their opposition. 
Some residents have, too--but not all. 

Tsuno is situated in the basin of the Shimantogawa river, which is 
known for particularly clear water. On Sept. 4, a group of residents 
handed a petition to the town assembly urging it to go ahead with the 
application. The assembly has discussed the proposal but delayed a 
decision by carrying it over to its next session. 

Some Tsuno residents opposed to the plan presented their own 
petition, outlining their safety concerns. 

In Toyo, on the border with Tokushima Prefecture, all 10 town 
assembly members and town hall executives formed a study group in 
August. They invited NUMO officials to brief them on what exactly 
would be involved in taking on a radioactive waste disposal facility. 

And in Yogo, Shiga Prefecture, Mayor Sakuro Hatano told a town 
assembly meeting on Sept. 20 that he intends to apply. 

Similar moves in municipalities in Kagoshima, Nagasaki and other 
prefectures all eventually failed. 

The Kochi Prefecture town of Saga, now Kuroshio, considered the idea 
in 2004, but dropped it because of Governor Daijiro Hashimoto's 

This is actually the second time that Yogo has toyed with the idea. A 
similar attempt last year was killed by opposition from the Shiga 
prefectural government. But Yogo is trying again. With a dwindling 
and aging population of 4,200, the town anticipates a deficit in the 
fiscal 2007 budget. 

Tsuno, population 7,150, has similar trouble. Except for forestry it 
has practically no industry. 

And the 3,400 residents of Toyo suffered a blow with the termination 
of the Kochi-Osaka ferry route in June last year. 

"We will be able to get significant fiscal support by cooperating 
with a state project," said Mayor Yasuoki Tashima. 

Whether the bids will go ahead remains to be seen. Many residents, as 
well as both governors, remain opposed. Hashimoto, governor of Kochi 
Prefecture, dismisses the central government program as baiting local 
entities with money. 

"State policies of this kind, pushed (by dangling money in front of 
people's faces), have produced deep regional rifts," said Hashimoto. 
"Isn't it time to end a nuclear-power policy that urges local 
entities that are suffering as a result of structural reforms to 
accept (a state program) with huge subsidies?"

Sandy Perle 
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations 
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc. 
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714 Extension 2306 
Fax:(949) 296-1144

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

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