Hundreds of protesters gathered in Tahir Square in Baghdad, Friday, supporting demands from Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to overhaul the government committee overseeing upcoming provincial elections after claims of institutional corruption. The demonstration also expressed opposition to recent death threats made against Sadr supporters.
CBS2 Exclusive: When Indian Point Closes, What Happens To Its Nuclear Waste?
March 30, 2017 7:58 PM
CBS2’s Brian Conybeare took an exclusive look at the 40-foot deep spent fuel pool inside the Westchester County facility.
“You’re looking at about 30 years of used nuclear fuel,” Entergy Nuclear’s Jerry Nappi explained.
The million dollar fuel assemblies that power the plant include samples of small uranium pellets that become highly radioactive after being used in the nuclear reactors.
“When it comes out of that reactor, it’s hot. The water cools it down thermally, so the water protects us from the effects of the radiation,” Nappi said.
After cooling in the spent fuel pool for a minimum of five years, the radioactive waste is transferred to huge steel reinforced concrete tombs. It’s a system called dry cask storage.
There are already 36 dry casks sitting on a concrete pad along the Hudson River on the site, and it could take 10 years to move all the spent fuel rods to casks after both reactors are shut down in 2021.
“The spent fuel rods in the pools at Indian Point will remain a danger as long as they’re in the pools,” said professor Frank Von Hipple, of Princeton University.
He said dry casks are much safer than pools, but he urges the casks be moved to a permanent off-site repository, because some radioactive isotopes can last 10,000 years or more.
“It would be safer to put the spent fuel deep underground,” Von Hipple said.
The original plan was to take all the spent fuel at reactors nationwide to Yucca Mountain in Nevada. But after investing $11 billion, the federal government gave up in the face of lawsuits and political pressure.
Conybeare: “Radioactive waste lasts for thousands of years. Do these casks last thousands of years?”
Nappi: “Well they’re designed and licensed for a very long time.”
One hundred years to be exact. But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the fuel assemblies could be transferred to new casks and stay on site indefinitely.
For neighbors, it will be an issue even after the plant is torn down.
“That sounds like a huge problem,” one resident said.
The decommissioning of Indian Point could take up to 60 years after the plant is closed.
President Donald Trump has put $120 million to restart the Yucca Mountain project or find other interim storage facilities for the radioactive waste.
Chidanand Rajghatta | TNN |
WASHINGTON: Nuclear doctrines have come a long way from the time Ronald Reagan declared in 1984 that ”a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Forced to counter Pakistan’s persistent use of terrorism under a nuclear cover and the slippery slope that introduced to the region, India may be re-interpreting its no-first-use of nuclear weapons policy to allow pre-emptive strikes against its neighbor, the nuclear pundits community is deducing, based among other things on cryptic statements from the Indian establishment.
The purported evolution of India’s nuclear doctrine towards pre-emptive first use is primarily based on throwaway remarks made by former defense minister Manohar Parrikar last November wondering why New Delhi should bind itself to a no-first use policy, instead of saying more cryptically that it is a responsible nuclear power and will not use nuclear weapons irresponsibly. Those remarks (which Parrikar immediately clarified were his personal views), taken together with a more deliberative narration in former Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon’s memoir that ”There is a potential gray area as to when India would use nuclear weapons first’‘ against a nuclear-armed adversary, has led some nuclear scholars to infer that New Delhi is moving its nuclear doctrine in a new direction.
Some of the conjecture was articulated by Vipin Narang, an MIT nuclear proliferation scholar, at a Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington DC, attracting attention of domain experts across the world. Outlining developments in the subcontinent that had led India to conceive of its Cold Start doctrine (a punitive conventional strike) only to have it countered by Pakistan’s development of tactical battlefield nuclear weapons, Narang said it looked increasingly likely that India may abandon its no-first use police and launch a preemptive strike if it believed Pakistan was going to use any kind of nuclear weapons first.
”India’s opening salvo may not be conventional strikes trying to pick off just Nasr batteries in the theatre, but a full ‘comprehensive counterforce strike’ that attempts to completely disarm Pakistan of its nuclear weapons so that India does not have to engage in iterative tit-for-tat exchanges and expose its own cities to nuclear destruction,” Narang said. ”There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first.”
Narang’s presentation caught the attention of nuclear pundits and geo-political scholars both in the subcontinent and the U.S, and on Friday, the New York Times highlighted it with the additional speculation that India could be emboldened to evolve its posture by President Trump’s softer stance on nuclear proliferation.
”This (allowing a pre-emptive strike against Pakistan) would not formally change India’s nuclear doctrine, which bars it from launching a first strike, but would loosen its interpretation to deem pre-emptive strikes as defensive,” the paper said. ”It would also change India’s likely targets, in the event of a war, to make a nuclear exchange more winnable and, therefore, more thinkable.”
Narang’s inference about a possible change in India’s nuclear posture vis-a-vis Pakistan brought a more visceral reaction from Islamabad.
”For Pakistan, these disclosures do not come as a surprise since Indian NFU is really a sham and political rhetoric. Besides, no responsible defence planners any where would accept political assertions from the opponent, especially since these are non-verifiable. By spilling the beans, Narang has only validated Pakistan’s deterrence policy,” former Pakistani diplomat and nuclear negotiator Zamir Akram wrote, outlining and rationalizing Pakistan full-spectrum deterrence, including a second-strike capability, while warning that ”for every move there is a counter move.”
Study: Large Earthquake Could Strike New York City
Robert Roy Britt | August 21, 2008 02:20pm ET
Damage could range from minor to major, with a rare but potentially powerful event killing people and costing billions of dollars in damage.
A pattern of subtle but active faults is known to exist in the region, and now new faults have been found. The scientists say that among other things, the Indian Point nuclear power plants, 24 miles north of the city, sit astride the previously unidentified intersection of two active seismic zones.
The findings are detailed in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
While earthquakes are typically thought of as a West Coast phenomenon in the nation, strong quakes do occur in the Eastern United States, just much less frequently. Importantly, the geology of the East — lots of hard rock leftover from glacial times — makes any rumbling travel a lot farther and with greater intensity from the epicenter.
A 5.0 temblor in 1737, for example, knocked down chimneys in New York City and was felt from Boston to Philadelphia. A magnitude-5.5 quake in 1884 did similar damage in a wider region around New York. Another quake in this range struck in 1783.
The new study involved an analysis of past quakes, plus 34 years of new data on temblors, most of them perceptible only by modern seismic instruments. The scientists looked at 383 earthquakes from 1677 to 2007 in a 15,000-square-mile area around New York City, using newspaper records in some cases to estimate temblor magnitudes.
“The evidence charts unseen but potentially powerful structures whose layout and dynamics are only now coming clearer,” the scientists said. And even though eastern quakes are infrequent, the risk is high, because of the overwhelming concentration of people and infrastructure, said lead researcher Lynn R. Sykes of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
“The research raises the perception both of how common these events are, and, specifically, where they may occur,” he said. “It’s an extremely populated area with very large assets.”
“Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” said John Armbruster, also from the observatory. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling. People would probably be killed.”
Even more serious quakes are possible. The scientists said that the fault lengths and stresses suggest magnitude-6 quakes, or even 7 — which would be 10 and 100 times bigger than magnitude 5 — are “quite possible.” They calculate that magnitude-6 quakes take place in the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 temblors every 3,400 years.
Previous studies have hinted at the potential.
The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation put the cost of theoretically possible large earthquakes in the metro New York area at $39 billion to $197 billion. A separate 2001 analysis for northern New Jersey’s Bergen County estimated that a magnitude-7 event could destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone.
The new study revealed a significant previously unknown active seismic zone running at least 25 miles from Stamford, Conn., to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, N.Y., where it passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. Several small quakes are clustered along its length. It is “probably capable of producing at least a magnitude-6 quake,” the researchers said in a statement.