Idaho site marks 30 years of cleanup

December 9, 2021, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The underlying Snake River Plain Aquifer is considerably safer today following three decades of cleanup activities at the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory Site. (Graphic: DOE)

When the Department of Energy, the state of Idaho, and the Environmental Protection Agency signed a federal facility agreement and consent order in December 1991, the agencies outlined a plan to investigate and clean up, if necessary, more than 500 individual waste areas within the 890-square-mile Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site, which was established in 1949 to design, build, and test nuclear reactors.

DOE and EPA agree on further cleanup work at Hanford’s 100-BC Area

October 22, 2021, 7:14AMRadwaste Solutions
The 100-BC Area (in green) within the Hanford Site. (Image: DOE)

Soil and groundwater contamination at the Hanford Site’s 100-BC Area will be treated under a record of decision (ROD) signed by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, with the concurrence of the Washington State Department of Ecology.

U.S. power sector emissions drop in 2020

July 26, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. power sector fell 10 percent between 2019 and 2020, according to the 17th and latest edition of Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers in the United States, which was released last week. The drop is the largest year-over-year decrease in greenhouse gas emissions since the initial report was issued in 1997. Further, CO2 emissions are shown to be down 20 percent from 1990 levels and 40 percent from their 2007 peak.

The 48-page analysis—which combines generation and fuel consumption data from the Energy Information Administration with emissions data on CO2, sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury from the Environmental Protection Agency—was authored by M.J. Bradley & Associates, a consulting firm focused on energy and environmental issues. Listed as “contributors” to the report are Bank of America, the nonprofit organization Ceres, energy producers Entergy and Exelon, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

EPA awards $220 million in uranium mine cleanup contracts

February 22, 2021, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded three contracts for cleanup efforts at more than 50 abandoned uranium mine sites in and around the Navajo Nation in the southwestern United States. The Navaho Area Abandoned Mine Remedial Construction and Services Contracts, worth up to $220 million over the next five years, were awarded to the Red Rock Remediation Joint Venture, Environmental Quality Management, and Arrowhead Contracting, the agency announced on February 11.

According to the EPA, the cleanup work is slated to begin later this year, following the completion of assessments in coordination with the Navajo Nation EPA, the tribe’s environmental agency. The sites are in New Mexico’s Grants Mining District and 10 Navajo Nation chapters. The companies selected have experience working on hazardous waste sites across the country, including cleaning up other abandoned mine sites in the Southwest, the EPA said.

Renewable technologies can’t escape the issue of waste management

February 3, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A recent article from Deseret News looks at the stark reality of hazardous waste piling up from the green energy revolution. The lengthy article, "The dark side of ‘green energy’ and its threat to the nation’s environment," was written by News reporter Amy Joi O’Donoghue and is based on an Environmental Protection Agency briefing from the Trump administration. The briefing, issued in January, outlines the difficulties the United States will face in recycling and safely disposing of the materials used for green energy technologies.

Green energy’s looming waste problem: While the current fervor around the globe is to decarbonize as quickly as possible using wind and solar, the energy industry has yet to fully tackle the long-term waste stream for these systems. Many supporters think that renewable energy equals no waste, when in reality all energy-producing technologies produce waste that should be managed responsibly. That includes solar panels and wind turbines, which have their own environmental hazards such as toxic metals, oil, fiberglass, and other materials. Andrew Wheeler, EPA administrator at the time, said, “Without a strategy for their end-of-life management, so-called green technologies like solar panels, electric vehicle batteries, and windmills will ultimately place [an] unintended burden on our planet and economy.”

Biden taps Janet McCabe to serve as deputy at EPA

January 15, 2021, 12:17PMANS Nuclear Cafe

McCabe

The incoming Biden administration plans to appoint Janet McCabe to serve as deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, The Hill reported early Friday.

McCabe previously served as the acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the EPA for much of the Obama administration.

EPA issues permits for Dewey Burdock project

December 1, 2020, 9:33AMNuclear News

The Dewey Burdock project area, near Edgemont, S.D., in 2014. Photo: Azarga Uranium

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued its final permits for Canada-based Azarga Uranium’s underground injection control (UIC) activities at the Dewey Burdock in situ recovery (ISR) uranium project in South Dakota, the company announced recently.

The EPA’s action includes two permits: a UIC Class III Area Permit for the ISR of uranium and a UIC Class V Area Permit for deep injection wells that will be used to dispose of ISR-process waste fluids after they have been treated to meet radioactive waste and hazardous waste standards.

The EPA is also finalizing an aquifer exemption approval in connection with the Class III permit to allow for resource recovery in the uranium-bearing portions of the Inyan Kara group of aquifers.

Uranium mining settlement could fund new cleanup industry

October 29, 2020, 7:24AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Santa Fe New Mexican, in its October 24 edition, reported on a study by the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research that found that the state could use money from a nearly $1- billion federal mining settlement to create a new industry around the cleanup of abandoned uranium mines in the Southwest.

Agencies sign MOU to strengthen U.S. uranium mining industry

July 29, 2020, 7:02AMNuclear News

Kristine Svinicki, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, have signed a memorandum of understanding to improve coordination and cooperation in the regulation of the in situ recovery (ISR) process of uranium extraction and to support the goal of establishing a stronger U.S. uranium mining industry.

Unintended Anti-Nuclear Consequences Lurking in the EPA Clean Power Plan

August 20, 2014, 3:57PMANS Nuclear CafeRemy Devoe

The Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Clean Power Plan has gained favor with some nuclear energy advocates. An extensive analysis of the proposal, however, reveals that current nuclear generating capacity would largely suffer under the new carbon rules. In fact, the results of an evaluation performed by my fellow graduate student Justin Knowles and myself show that 15 states are actually incentivized to shut down all of their nuclear units and replace them with natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) generation. In effect, this plan allows for increasing carbon emissions; a far cry from the stated goals of the Clean Power Plan.

New EPA Guidelines for Response to Radioactivity Releases

April 23, 2013, 7:00AMANS Nuclear CafeJim Hopf

DC Perspective

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just released a draft Protective Action Guideline (PAG) that sets standards and makes recommendations for the response to a large release of radioactive material into the environment (e.g., from a nuclear plant accident or a dirty bomb attack, etc.). The draft report is now out for public comments (which are due by July 15).