ALPS, Baltic pollution, Baltic Radiation, Canada, cooling of nuclear reactors, Energy Solutions, England, Fessenheim, France, Fukushima, GDF-Suez, Irish Sea, Lake District National Park, meltdown, nuclear decommissioning, nuclear pollution, nuclear power, nuclear power plants, nuclear waste, Sellafield, Sweden, Toshiba, tritiated water, tritium, UK, Waste Water, Wastwater Lake, water
Nuclear power is extremely inefficent, for every 3 units of thermal energy produced, it produces 2 units of waste heat! This requires lots of water for cooling! And, is incompatible with hot and/or dry weather! For this reason, France (EDF), which gets about 2/3rds of its electricity from nuclear power, had to import electricity during the 2003 and 2006 heat waves. http://archives.sortirdunucleaire.org/actualites/dossiers/energie/flop-economique.pdf During this cooling process, Nuclear Power Plants are also legally allowed to emit radioactive elements into the air and water, along with heat.
The misfortunately named “Wastwater” Lake is in the scenic English Lake District National Park. “The name comes from ‘Wasdale’ plus English ‘water’… Water from the lake is pumped to the nearby Sellafield nuclear waste processing facility as a fresh water supply. The NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) has taken over the licence once held by BNFL (British Nuclear Fuels plc) which allows them to extract a maximum of 18,184.4 m³ a day (over 4 million gallons) and 6,637,306 m³ a year from Wast Water to use on site for various processes including the cooling ponds and reprocessing (electricity production has ceased).” (Emphasis added) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wast_Water
The Sellafield Waste Water actually goes into the Irish Sea (and into the air).
Orange highlight added by us, the original is here: http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/nuclear_power/fact-sheet-water-use.pdf
Uranium (and Thorium) Mining Uses and Pollutes Water
Note that mining for uranium uses large amounts of water and pollutes aquifers-groundwater, which is pretty much impossible to restore (not that they have tried in most places).
Nuclear is Incompatible with Heat Waves
Just as mentioned in the article above, in France, during the 2003 heat wave, the authorities actually had to water hose (spray) down some reactors (Fessenheim) to keep them from overheating! Others functioned at reduced output. Still others were turned off (however, they still produce some heat and require cooling). At least one nuclear power plant received numerous fines for emitting water which was hotter than allowed. Additionally, dry weather meant that a greater concentration of pollution was emitted by several nuclear reactors. http://archives.sortirdunucleaire.org/index.php?menu=sinformer&sousmenu=themas&soussousmenu=canicule&page=index
Even with shut-down Nuclear Reactors require cooling to prevent Meltdown
Even after shut-down the nuclear reactors must be cooled. Failure of the cooling water leads to meltdown and explosions. For a discussion of failure of the cooling system and repercussions at Fukushima see: http://allthingsnuclear.org/reactor-core-cooling/
So much water is required at Sellafield, that, especially with the proposed new nuclear power plant (Toshiba, GDF-Suez), they are proposing a desalination plant! (Salt water is corrosive).
Used Nuclear Fuel Must be Cooled in Cooling Ponds
“After the uranium, or nuclear fuel, has been used in the reactor, it is removed and stored securely in a pool for a period of 6 to 10 years.
The water in the pool continues to cool the fuel and provides shielding against radiation.
All of Canada’s fuel pools are built in ground, in separate buildings at the nuclear power plant, and are designed to withstand earthquakes“. http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/reactors/power-plants/nuclear-power-plant-safety-systems/index.cfm Sellafield and some other cooling pools don’t look so nice, as the one in the picture!
Radionuclides Legally Discharged into Air and Water
Little known fact is that nuclear power plants are legally allowed to discharge radionuclides into air and water. Below shows the radionuclide discharges into the Baltic, excluding tritium. Note that the largest emitter is Studsvik of Sweden. Sweden’s rules for radiation exposure are supposed to be 10 times more protective (0.1 mSv yr) than the current international ICRP standard (1 mSv yr)
HELCOM, 2013 Thematic assessment of long-term changes in radioactivity in the Baltic Sea, 2007-2010 Balt. Sea Environ. Proc. No. 135 Number of pages: 40 http://helcom.fi/Lists/Publications/BSEP135.pdf
Tritium is a problem for all reactors, but especially important for heavy water reactors like the Canadian CANDU reactors. It is a big problem for the proposed molten salt reactors, which emit tritium into the environment. Tritium combines with water to form radioactive tritiated water. As it is part of the water, it is difficult and costly to separate from water. Tritiated water is supposed to be the biggest challenge at Fukushima, though the Energy Solutions, ALPS, filtration device reportedly hasn’t been able to filter what is supposed to be easy to filter. As such, Japan just dumps the waste water from cooling Fukushima, into the ocean.
[Clarification: Some radioactive water is held back in tanks; some radioactive water is discharged into the ocean, both intentionally and unintentionally. The filters have not worked as well as has been claimed. For recent updates to the situation, see: https://www.greenpeace.org/international/press-release/20351/technical-failures-increase-risk-of-contaminated-fukushima-water-discharge-into-pacific-greenpeace ]