by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
RAD WATCH: Emergency Response Zone from Nuclear Plants May be Expanded to 50 Miles; Buried Tank Vapor Reports Impact Hanford Nuclear Site… and others?
Photo courtesy of Nuke Workers

The theft of a  small bean sized pellets has Chinese officials inquiring about the late reporting of the loss of radioactive iridium-192 materials use to find flaws in metal components. The toxic materials disappeared last Wednesday but officials delayed reporting their loss for 36 hours. They were found a kilometer from the plant. Four employees face charges.

However, Washington lawmakers on May 13  introduced bills that if passed will improve safety and security of nuclear power plant waste. The new regulations would tighten loopholes in the event of natural disasters or terrorism.  One bill accelerates transfer of spent fuel pools into dry casket storage units. Currently, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regulations allow the spent reactor pools to remain on site until the full decommissioning process has been achieved. Sometimes , the process can encumber sixty years.

A second bill , if passed, could impact Huntington, W.Va.

The legislation would expand from ten to fifty miles, the emergency planning zone around reactors not incompliance with the accelerated waste transfer plan. The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio, is under decommissioning currently.

This legislation originates from the Fukushima disaster. NRC officials warned U.S. citizens in Japan who were within 50 miles of the 2011 disaster to evacuate, but current regulations on emergency response in the United States cover only a ten mile area.

Senators Barbara Boxer (D-California), Edward Markey (D- Massachusetts), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) introduced the bills and  the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (chaired by Boxer) held a hearing on decommissioning issues Wednesday, May 14.

(Full story: )

HANFORD  Tank Vapor Study Found

During the clean up process at the Hanford nuclear site where plutonium reactors were in use, a just discovered 1997 study could help workers suffering from vapor inhalation at tank farms. According to a KING-TV investigation, during March and April 28 workers  received medical attention for respiratory issues ranging from difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, burning lungs and nose bleeds.

Vapors at the tanks come from chemical reactions inside the tanks which hold millions of gallons of radioactive waste. Venting of vapors prevent “potentially explosive buildups,” the KING report stated.

But in 1997  Pacific Northwest  National Laboratory concluded that underground nuclear waste tanks had the potential to cause cancer and other serious diseases, unless protective gear is worn. In  Historically, workers had not worn chemical protective gear as the releases were at that time presumed safe.

Reliable sources have told HNN that similar vapor issues contaminate the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant site, where the debris of the former Huntington Pilot Plant were buried.

Above ground tank issues led to the January 2014 Elk River spill which contaminated drinking water for 300,000 people surrounding Charleston. The plume resulted in some water intake systems further down the Ohio River using alternate supplies until passage. The WV legislature passed and the governor signed new preventive measures this year.




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