Nuclear

US laboratory admits violating nuke-waste permit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Los Alamos National Laboratory says it made mistakes in packing waste that has been linked to a radiation leak at the government's underground nuclear waste dump, but it remains unclear if the violations or its use of organic cat litter to absorb moisture played a role in the accident.

In a letter released by state regulators Thursday, lab officials told the New Mexico Environment Department that their internal probe of the handling of the toxic waste from decades of nuclear bomb building has uncovered several violations of its Hazardous Waste Facility Permit. The lab says it failed to follow proper procedures in making the switch from inorganic to organic litter and in its lack of follow up on waste that tests showed to be highly acidic.

The shortcomings were described as "unacceptable" by Principal Associate Lab Director Terry Wallace, according to an internal memo.

Senator questions Hanford legal fees

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Private contractors for the U.S. Department of Energy have spent at least $3.5 million in legal expenses to battle two critics of a massive construction project at the nation's most polluted nuclear site, according to a letter obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

The letter is from the chairwoman of a U.S. Senate subcommittee that is investigating whether there was retaliation against two Hanford Nuclear Reservation workers who raised safety concerns and then lost their jobs at the former nuclear weapons production site.

"The Department of Energy may be providing an incentive to contractors to engage in protracted litigation with whistleblowers by reimbursing the contractors' legal expenses," said the letter from Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Feds to clean site of 1976 'Atomic Man' accident

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Workers are preparing to enter one of the most dangerous rooms on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation — the site of a 1976 blast that exposed a technician to a massive dose of radiation, leading to him being nicknamed the "Atomic Man."

Harold McCluskey was working in the room when a chemical reaction caused a glass glove box to explode. He was exposed to the highest dose of radiation from the chemical element americium ever recorded — 500 times the occupational standard.

Hanford, located in central Washington state, made plutonium for nuclear weapons for decades. The room was used to recover radioactive americium, a byproduct of plutonium.

Progress, but 'gaps' remain in Iran’s nuclear position: Kerry

Source: 
The Washington Post

It’s still possible to reach a full nuclear agreement with Iran but the July 20 deadline for it is approaching fast and Tehran still has major choices to make, Secretary of State John Kerry said, writing in The Washington Post.

GAO sees problems with nuke security

Source: 
Knoxville News Sentinel

Actions taken by the National Nuclear Security Administration to improve security after a breach two years ago at Oak Ridge weren’t part of any larger vision, the Government Accountability Office said in a document released Monday, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.

Biggest fast breeder reactor sees chain reaction launch

Source: 
Platts

Fuel loading was completed and a chain reaction launched Friday at the biggest fast breeder reactor in the world, in Beloyarsk, Russia, according to state-run nuclear corporation Rosatom, which aims to start commercial operations at the site next year, Platts reports.

Nuke leak probe focuses on Los Alamos National Lab

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials investigating a mysterious radiation leak from the government's underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico have turned their focus to Los Alamos National Laboratory, a state regulator said Thursday.

New Mexico Environment Department General Counsel Jeff Kendall said the U.S. Department of Energy's accident investigation team has been at the lab in northeastern New Mexico for about three weeks.

Few Hanford workers question bosses: DOE report

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Few of the U.S. Department of Energy workers who are helping build a plant to treat the most dangerous radioactive wastes at a nuclear site in Washington state feel they can openly challenge management decisions, according to a report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

The survey conducted by the Energy Department shows only 30 percent of the agency's employees at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation feel they can question their bosses.

The results were somewhat better for the plant's managers who responded, with 65 percent saying they could openly challenge decisions by higher-level managers.

Iran nuclear talks: ‘More clarity’ but ‘important differences’ remain, say diplomats

Source: 
The Wall Street Journal

Diplomats from Iran and six major powers are working hard to reach an agreement on a nuclear deal by the July 20 deadline, but they remain substantially far apart on key issues with a month to go and the current round of negotiations due to end Friday, diplomats told The Wall Street Journal.

Fukushima farmers appeal to Tokyo with live bull

TOKYO (AP) — Two Japanese farmers whose livelihoods were wrecked by the 2011 nuclear disaster staged a protest Friday at Tokyo's agriculture ministry, scuffling briefly with police as they unsuccessfully tried to unload a bull from a truck.

Masami Yoshizawa and fellow farmer Naoto Matsumura have remained at their farms to care for their own and others' abandoned livestock in areas where access has been restricted due to radiation fears since the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant.

The two drove down from Fukushima, bringing the black bull in the back of a truck, to appeal for help with the livestock, some of which have developed unexplained white spots on their hides.

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