Fire Earth

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Posts Tagged ‘Plutonium-239’

Elevated Radioactivity Prompts Partial Shutdown of UK’s Sellafield NPP

Posted by feww on January 31, 2014

Sellafield nuclear processing plant detects “elevated levels of radioactivity”

Operators of the 68-year-old Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant said on Friday they had detected elevated levels of radioactivity at the site and ordered all non-essential workers to stay at home.

Sellafield, located in Cumbria, about 450km NW of London,  is the largest nuclear site in Europe and employs more than 10,000 people.

The plant is currently being decommissioned at an estimated cost of about $115 billion (£70bn). The cost will be born by the British taxpayers.

A level III (out of seven) incident on the International Nuclear Event Scale occurred at Sellafield’s Thorp plant in April 2005, when radioactive material escaped from a toxic waste storage area.

sellafield
Sellafield Nuclear Processing Plant.  Elevated levels of radioactivity triggered an alarm prompting partial shutdown. Source: Sellafield Ltd. Image may be subject to copyright.

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How Nuclear Reactors Double as Nuclear Weapons!

Posted by feww on March 29, 2011

Japan Govt on “Maximum Alert”

The nuclear situation “continues to be unpredictable. [The government ] will tackle the problem while in a state of maximum alert,” Japan PM Naoto Kan said.

Plutonium Detected Outside Fukushima NPP

Traces of highly radiative plutonium have been detected in soil outside Fukushima NPP in half dozen locations, NHK quoted Japanese officials as saying.

The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), said  the radioactive traces may have come from the plutonium fuel in the damaged reactors. But they said the levels present were too small to pose a health risk.

Plutonium-239, the primary fissile isotope used as reactor fuel and for the production of nuclear weapons, is a reactor bred, highly radioactive heavy metal with a half-life of about 24,200 years.


Photo shows part of the wreckage caused by several explosions at Reactor No. 4, Fukushima Daiichi NPP, March 27, 2011. Source: Japan Ground Self-Defence Force/ via Kyodo/ via Reuters.

TEPCO said Monday that water found in a utility tunnel outside  Reactor 2 was highly contaminated, emitting more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour.

Radioactive Iodine in Massachusetts

Trace amounts of radioactive iodine-131 believed  to have originated from the quake-and-tsunami stricken Fukushima NPP have been detected in rainwater samples in Massachusetts, Reuters quoted state officials as saying.

The findings are consistent with similar occurrences in California, Ohio, Washington state and Pennsylvania, but do not pose  any threat to drinking supplies, according to public health officials.

“The drinking water supply in Massachusetts is unaffected by this short-term, slight elevation in radiation,” said Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner.

“We will carefully monitor the drinking water as we exercise an abundance of caution,” he added.

Radio-active iodine has a short life of only 8 days and should not pose any risk to human health at the current levels detected in the U.S.

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