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Groundwater Contamination

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Oz Monroy

on 28 April 2015

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Transcript of Groundwater Contamination

What you need to know about nuclear waste at INL
The Idaho National Laboratory

The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is located on the northeast edge of the Snake River Plain. The INL site is located directly on top of the Snake River Aquifer which is on its upstream end.
Groundwater Contamination
First let's understand what nuclear groundwater contamination is.

Groundwater contamination can result when hazardous materials such as Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) are buried in soils.

SNF is stored in metal cans under water or dry in vaults. In the past, SNF was sometimes stored bare!

When inspected, these cans show varying degrees of corrosion and degradation.

SNF holding pools are only a temporary solution
Dealing with contaminated nuclear materials creates more contamination
Nuclear waste containers break down with time
Who is the Snake River Alliance?
The Snake River Alliance serves as Idaho’s nuclear watchdog and advocate for renewable and nuclear-free energy. We raise community awareness about the dangers of nuclear waste, weapons and power while working to identify and promote sustainable alternatives.
Spent Nuclear Fuels
Nuclear reactors are driven by fission the enriched uranium in their fuel rods. After w while, though, the fuel rods are so radioactive they can no longer maintain the nuclear reaction. They are then called "spent" and are removed from the reactor.
INL already stored more than 250 types of spent fuel. The inventory includes fuel of different sizes, compositions, conditions, and levels of radioactivity. All of it presents risks that must be managed carefully.
Risks Associated With Nuclear Power

Health effects of radiation can be harmful to people and animals

Spent nuclear fuel removed from a reactor still emits enough radiation to be fatal

This radiation consists of subatomic particles traveling at near the velocity of light (186,000 miles per second) harming organic tissue

Nuclear power creates metric tons of waste, most of which is thermally hot and emits great amount of radiation

Relevant Facts
Nuclear contamination is radioactive, and can be harmful to people, and the environment.

Exposure to radioactive material has the ability to change the structure of cells on a molecular level. This affects the molecules in tissues of living organisms.

Animals and humans that are being exposed to continuous low levels of naturally-occurring and man-made radiation can suffer serious harm.

In the early 80s, INL routinely injected hazardous and radioactive waste into the Snake River Aquifer, the sole source of drinking water for a quarter of a million people.

In other words, the reason there is radioactive contamination in the Snake River Aquifer is because of these activities at INL.

Get Involved!
What Can You Do?
Take Action!
Volunteer, keep up to date on important topics,

help raise awareness of nuclear contamination of the Snake River Aquifer by telling your friends

Apply to any on the Snake River Alliance Internships
Clean Energy Internship
Communications and Events Internship
Nuclear Program Internship
Fund Development and Identification
There Are Only Two Legal Methods for Storage of Nuclear Waste
Casks are typically steel cylinders, surrounded by additional steel and concrete said to be leak tight
1) Spent Nuclear Fuel Holding Pools
2) Dry Cask Storage


Each pool is forty feet deep with water, intended to provide adequate shielding from radiation. Stainless steel containers which contain SNF must be held in a holding pool for at least five years. The containers are still highly radioactive after that amount of time.

For more analysis visit our website: http://snakeriveralliance.org/

Dry Cask Storage at the INL
The 40 year old facilities were only meant to operate for 20 years, and these facilities do not meet present legal standards.

The DOE and State of Idaho must move SNF to safe dry storage by 2023 and removed from the state by 2035. This time line is unacceptable, considering these facilities do not meet existing legal standards.
What is contaminated at the INL?

All INL complexes are contaminated to some extent with radioactive or hazardous materials

This contamination occurs to buildings soils, air, ground water and surface water at the site

High Level Waste

INL is mandated to treat liquid sodium, bearing the waste to a solid form-- No wasted treated as of 2013

There is approximately 900,000 gallons of waste that remain untreated waste at the INL

There Are Only Two Legal Methods for Storage of Nuclear Waste

1) Spent Nuclear Fuel Holding Pools
2) Dry Cask Storage


Dry casks are steel cylinders that are said
to provide a leak-tight confinement for spent
fuel. Each cylinder is surrounded by additional
steel, concrete, or other material to provide
radiation shielding
to workers and the public

Unfortunately these cylinders become radioactive themselves, creating even more waste for future generations to deal with.
Nuclear contamination takes two basic forms

Internal contamination
: Occurs when you swallow or breath in radioactive materials

How you might ask?

When radioactive materials are allowed into the environment, usually through soil and water /aquifers soils and plants become contaminated. This can expose people and animals to contamination.

External contamination
: Occurs when radioactive dust or liquid comes into direct contact with skin, hair or clothing .

Visit the Snake River Alliance website or CDC web page to find more information ; http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/contamination.asp

Why Can Nuclear Power Be Dangerous?
These massive tents - designed to contain contamination - become radioactive themselves, creating more waste to manage
Overview of national spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste policy


Agreements controlling importation of spent nuclear fuel to Idaho and overview of Snake River Aquifer


Spent fuel storage at INL


Environmental conditions at INL (particularly groundwater contamination) after evaluations but before cleanup really began


All documents produced during the INL Superfund cleanup effort so far



If you would like to read more information on INL
click on anyone of these links or visit our web page

The Short Term Objectives of "Safe" Interim Storage Are Problematic
The Idaho National Lab Clean Up
There is approximately 900,000 gallons of waste that remain untreated at the INL

Pursuant to the 1995 Settlement Agreement: The DOE & INL have significant clean up responsibilities and have made steps in the right directions

Five of six SNF storage pools taken out of service

About 9 million gallons of liquid waste reduced to 4,000 cubic meters of calcine "granular solid"

70 cubic meters of transuranic waste processed and shipped out of Idaho

INL & DOE have one of the better cleanup programs in the country. We at the Snake River Alliance acknowledge the progress the INL and the DOE have made and encourage robust cleanup.
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