Radioactive Waste

Japan's former premier takes anti-nuclear campaign to Davos

TOKYO—Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan returns to the world stage this week, part of a campaign to reinvent himself as a global antinuclear activist nearly a year after he oversaw his government's widely criticized handling of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

"I would like to tell the world that we should aim for a society that can function without nuclear energy," he said in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, previewing his speech scheduled for Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.... Read more »

Fukushima fallout hit Canada

After the Fukushima nuclear accident, Canadian health officials assured a nervous public that virtually no radioactive fallout had drifted to Canada.

But last March, a Health Canada monitoring station in Calgary detected an average of 8.18 becquerels per litre of radioactive iodine (an isotope released by the nuclear accident) in rainwater, the data shows.

The level easily exceeded the Canadian guideline of six becquerels of iodine per litre for drinking water, acknowledged Eric Pellerin, chief of Health Canada's radiation-surveillance division.

"It's above the recommended level (for drinking water)," he said in an interview. "At any time you sample it, it should not exceed the guideline."

Canadian authorities didn't disclose the high radiation reading at the time.
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Weapons-grade uranium shipments quietly heading south

Weapons-grade uranium that for years has been transported north into Canada from the United States is now being quietly returned over the same roads in a more radioactive and potentially dangerous form.

The two biggest threats posed by the transport of the material are the catastrophe that could result from an accident or spill, and the interest that terrorist organizations may have in stealing it for use in weapons of mass destruction.

A confidential federal memo obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act says at least one payload of spent, U.S.-origin, highly enriched uranium fuel has already been moved stateside under an agreement signed last year by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama.

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Closing Pandora's Box

When an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan's Fukushima nuclear complex on March 11, as many as 13,000 highly radioactive spent uranium fuel rods, far exceeding the original design, were crammed into a pool of cooling water at the No. 4 Reactor Building.

Without a circulating system to keep the water at about 30 C, heat from the nuclear waste would cause the water to boil, exposing the fuel rods — and their drop-dead radiation — to the atmosphere and anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby.

About an hour into the catastrophe, the power went out and the water's temperature began rising. In a desperate bid to keep things cool, lead-shielded miliary helicopters scrambled to dump sea water onto the reactors and the complex's storage pools.... Read more »

Controversial nuclear shipping plan remains on hold

TORONTO — A controversial plan to ship 16 decommissioned nuclear steam generators across Ontario's Great Lakes and eventually to Sweden for recycling continues to remain on hold, nearly two years after it was first proposed.

This week, Bruce Power, Canada's only private nuclear power operator, said there was no update on what it will do with the school bus-sized generators left over from a refurbishment of its Bruce A nuclear reactor.

"From our perspective, there's really nothing to say on this as the status has not changed," company spokesman John Peevers wrote in an email.

The company has not ruled out the idea of a shipment but would not elaborate on what other alternatives it was also considering.... Read more »


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