New air testing in the nation’s only underground nuclear repository showed no detectable radioactive contamination from a leak last month, the U.S. Department of Energy says.
Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad said in a statement that the results came in as four more employees tested positive for low levels of radiation. The Energy Department earlier reported that 13 other workers were exposed, but they say all 17 aren’t likely to face any serious health effects and that there appears to be no danger aboveground.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/tests-clear-nuclear-dumps-air
Cleaning Technology Needs to Catch up to Fracking
If fracking is to be a viable option for energy production, the industry must find a way to deal with the naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) that are released as a byproduct of the process. These radioactive materials and their environmental consequences must be accounted for.
Radioactive substances occur naturally within the shale rocks that contain gas resources. These include uranium and thorium, and their decay products such as radium and radon. While the uranium and thorium are immobile, over millennia the radium has dissolved into the water trapped in the pores of the rocks when they were formed, along with high concentrations of dissolved minerals.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/cleaning-technology-needs-catch-fracking
Nuclear Waste Tanks May Be Flawed
While one of the newer double-walled nuclear waste storage tanks at a Washington state complex has leaked, six others have “significant construction flaws” that could lead to additional leaks, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The 28 double-walled tanks at Hanford nuclear waste complex hold some of the worst radioactive waste at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear weapons site.
One of those giant tanks was found to be leaking in 2012. But subsequent surveys of the other double-walled tanks performed for the U.S. Department of Energy by one of its Hanford contractors found at least six shared defects with the leaking tank that could lead to future leaks, the documents says. Thirteen additional tanks also might be compromised, according to the documents.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/03/nuclear-waste-tanks-may-be-flawed
Nuclear Dump Problems Raise Concerns
For 15 years the trucks have barreled past southeastern New Mexico’s potash mines and seemingly endless fields of oil rigs, hauling decades worth of plutonium-contaminated waste to what is supposed to be a safe and final resting place a half mile underground in the salt beds of the Permian Basin.
But back-to-back accidents and a never-supposed-to-happen above-ground radiation release have shuttered the federal government’s only deep underground nuclear waste dump indefinitely, raising questions about a cornerstone of the Department of Energy’s $5-billion-a-year program for cleaning up legacy waste scattered across the country from decades of nuclear bomb making.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/02/nuclear-dump-problems-raise-concerns
Scientists Keep Doomsday Clock at Five to Midnight
The Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has called on the U.S. and Russia to restart negotiations on reducing their nuclear arsenals, to lower alert levels for their nuclear weapons and to scrap their missile defense programs.
The Board also implored world leaders to take immediate action to combat climate change as it announced that the minute hand of the Bulletin’s iconic Doomsday Clock will remain at five minutes to midnight because “the risk of civilization-threatening technological catastrophe remains high.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/01/scientists-keep-doomsday-clock-five-midnight
Unexpected Effect Reduces Fusion Instabilities
A surprising effect created by a 19th century device called a Helmholz coil offers clues about how to achieve controlled nuclear fusion at Sandia National Laboratories’ powerful Z machine.
A Helmholz coil produces a magnetic field when electrified. In recent experiments, two Helmholz coils, installed to provide a secondary magnetic field to Z’s huge one, unexpectedly altered and slowed the growth of the magneto-Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities, an unavoidable, game-ending plasma distortion that usually spins quickly out of control and has sunk past efforts to achieve controlled fusion. “Our experiments dramatically altered the nature of the instability,” says Sandia physicist Tom Awe. “We don’t yet understand all the implications, but it’s become a different beast, which is an exciting physics result.”
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/01/unexpected-effect-reduces-fusion-instabilities
Coal Smudges Germany’s Clean Image
The share of electricity generated from coal rose in Germany last year as the country seeks to achieve its ambitious aim of switching off all nuclear power plants by 2022.
Industry figures published Tuesday, Jan. 7, show that bituminous coal and lignite together contributed 45.5 percent of Germany’s gross energy output in 2013, up from 44 percent the previous year.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/01/coal-smudges-germany%E2%80%99s-clean-image
Responding to a court order, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has directed its staff to complete work on a key safety report related to a never-completed nuclear waste dump in Nevada.
The commission order follows an August ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which said the nuclear agency violated federal law by abruptly abandoning review of the proposed storage site at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/11/nrc-resume-nevada-nuke-site-study
Workers Remove Fuel Rods from Fukushima Plant
Workers started removing radioactive fuel rods Monday from a reactor building at the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. says. The painstaking and risky task is a crucial first step toward a full cleanup of the earthquake and tsunami-damaged plant in northeastern Japan.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/11/workers-remove-fuel-rods-fukushima-plant
Lithium Vapors Shield Reactor Components
Recent experiments provide the first assessment of the toughness of a novel lithium coating in the face of intense bombardment by very hot plasma in the divertor region of fusion devices. The results show that this coating can shield the divertor region, which vents plasma exhaust, for 10 times longer than previously expected.
If confirmed by further research, this type of lithium treatment could alleviate widespread concerns that liquid-lithium plasma-facing components will rapidly overwhelm the core of the plasma with impurities and abort fusion reactions.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/11/lithium-vapors-shield-reactor-components
Nuclear Power Necessary to Slow Warming
Some of the world’s top climate scientists say wind and solar energy won’t be enough to head off extreme global warming, and they’re asking environmentalists to support the development of safer nuclear power as one way to cut fossil fuel pollution.
Four scientists who have played a key role in alerting the public to the dangers of climate change sent letters to leading environmental groups and politicians around the world. The letter, an advance copy of which was given to The Associated Press, urges a crucial discussion on the role of nuclear power in fighting climate change.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/11/nuclear-power-necessary-slow-warming
Uneven Enforcement Suspected at U.S. Nuclear Plants
A congressional study expected to be released later this month shows that the number of safety violations at nuclear power plants across the U.S. varies dramatically from region to region.
The Government Accountability Office report obtained by The Associated Press suggests inconsistent enforcement of regulations could be responsible.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/10/uneven-enforcement-suspected-us-nuclear-plants
Iran Nuclear Talks May Yield Results
Don’t expect a breakthrough — but the chances for progress have seldom been better. This is the message coming from Iran and six world powers ahead of renewed talks this week meant to end a decade of deadlock on Tehran’s nuclear program.
The two sides come to the negotiating table in Geneva on Tuesday and Wednesday amid a feel-good atmosphere that began with the June election of centrist Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Subsequent conciliatory comments by Iranian officials were capped last month by a phone call between Rouhani and President Barack Obama — the first conversation between U.S. and Iranian leaders in more than three decades.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/10/iran-nuclear-talks-may-yield-results
Researchers Find Evidence for a Nuclear ‘Magic Number’
Researchers have come one step closer to understanding unstable atomic nuclei. A team of researchers from RIKEN, the Univ. of Tokyo and other institutions in Japan and Italy has provided evidence for a new nuclear magic number in the unstable, radioactive calcium isotope 54Ca. In a study published in the journal Nature, they show that 54Ca is the first known nucleus with 34 neutrons (N) where N = 34 is a magic number.
The protons and neutrons inside the atomic nucleus exhibit shell structures similar to electrons in an atom. For naturally stable nuclei, these nuclear shells fill completely when the number of protons or the number of neutrons is equal to the “magic numbers” two, eight, 20, 28, 50, 82 or 126.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/10/researchers-find-evidence-nuclear-magic-number