Cesium 137, environment, environmental contamination, Houston, illegal dumping, nuclear energy, nuclear risks, nuclear waste, nuclear waste problem, nuclear weapons, radiation in ditch, radiation in public landfill, radiation risks, remediation, Texas, USA
Would anyone be expecting Cesium 137 in a drainage ditch here? How did it get there? Where did they put it after it was “remediated”? There will be more and more of these cases, because no one wants nuclear waste; no one wants to pay for its disposal, but the utilities still want to make more nuclear waste, and the US government supports them (as do some other governments). Almost everyone wants nuclear waste to be someone else’s problem. Even the crazed idea of the US NRC to raise the public radiation exposure astronomically to 100 mSv, and give everyone cancer, won’t totally “solve” this sort of problem. The case was just closed without any clear explanation. Did they check for other radionuclides? It appears not.
From the USNRC “Events”. Our commentary in brackets:
“Rep Org: TEXAS DEPT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES
City: HOUSTON State: TX
NRC Notified By: ART TUCKER
HQ OPS Officer: MARK ABRAMOVITZ Notification Date: 05/29/2015
Notification Time: 17:11 [ET]
Event Date: 04/14/2015
Event Time: [CDT]
Last Update Date: 10/23/2015
Emergency Class: NON EMERGENCY
10 CFR Section:
WAYNE WALKER (R4DO)
AGREEMENT STATE REPORT – CS-137 FOUND IN WASTE ENTERING A LANDFILL
The following report was received via e-mail:
“On April 13, 2015, the Agency [Texas Department of State Health Services] was notified by a landfill operator that material in a waste container set off their radiation alarms.” [MATERIAL IN A WASTE CONTAINER. WHAT KIND OF WASTE CONTAINER? DRUM? DUMPSTER? HOW RADIOACTIVE WAS THIS WASTE?]
“The landfill provided a spectrum which showed the isotope as Cesium-137. An on-site investigation by this Agency confirmed the material to be dirt/mud contaminated with Cesium-137.” [“Caesium-137 (137
55Cs, Cs-137), cesium-137, or radiocaesium, is a radioactive isotope of caesium which is formed as one of the more common fission products by the nuclear fission of uranium-235 and other fissionable isotopes in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. It is among the most problematic of the short-to-medium-lifetime fission products because it easily moves and spreads in nature due to the high water solubility of caesium’s most common chemical compounds, which are salts.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesium-137 ]
“The waste material at the landfill was isolated. The waste collection route sheet used to collect the waste was requested by the Agency. The Agency drove the route traveled by the collection vehicle using an RSI identifier in an attempt to locate the source of the contamination.” [WHY DO THEY ASSUME THE SOURCE WAS NOT THE CONTAINER? DO THEY MEAN WHERE THE PICKUP WAS MADE? Obviously the ditch is not the original source!]
“The detector indicated the presence of radiation in a bar ditch along the intersection of two streets northeast of the City of Houston. Surveys conducted by the Agency identified a reading of 16 millirem on contact with the ground in one spot. “[This is 0.16 mSv per hour. Two hours on site and you would have exceeded the yearly USEPA non-medical radiation exposure limit of 25 mrem (0.25 mSv), and reached 1/3rd of the annual USNRC-ICRP non-medical radiation exposure limit (above background). So, how radioactive was the mud found in the landfill?]
“Additional surveys indicated additional” [RADIOACTIVITY] “activity as far as 70 feet from the spot previously mentioned.
“The Agency received cost estimates from contractors to collect the material from both areas for proper disposal. The city of Houston had been contacted about the contamination and the steps that had been taken by the Agency. The City of Houston decided since the area of contamination was in their jurisdiction, they would be responsible for the remediation of the area. The Agency returned to the area on the evening of May 26, 2015, to inspect the area. The Agency discovered the road the bar ditch was running along had been closed by the city at both ends. There are no homes or businesses that require access to this section of road. The contractor was contacted on May 29, 2015. He stated they had begun work on remediating the area on May 21, 2015. He stated the road was blocked by the Houston City Works Department on that day. He stated they had dug down about 3 feet from the original surface of the ditch. He stated readings on contact at that location are 1 rem/hr.” [This is 1000 mrem, or 10 mSv, PER HOUR. 10 hours would be 100 mSv, which, according to BEIR VII estimates, would lead to an estimated 1 in 100 excess cancers. A recent study increases cancer rates to roughly 10 times more than this, so that 100 mSv is about 10% cancer risk and thus the 1 rem PER HOUR could be a roughly 1% cancer risk. SO HOW RADIOACTIVE WAS THE MUD-DIRT IN THE LANDFILL?] “He stated they had come across a water line while they were digging and that it has restricted their use of tools. He stated that due to the dose rates they are seeing now (1 rem/hr) they are now using a low pressure water blaster to excavate the area. He stated they are sucking the water into barrels and monitoring the suction line for dose rates.” [So did they just dilute it with water and release it? Where did it go? Will it end up in someone else’s ditch?]
“He stated they would contact the state once the source has been located.” [So, are they admitting that the source is unknown?]
“On May 29, 2015, the Agency decided that due to the city closing the road to any access, the event should be reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Headquarters Operations Officer (HOO.)”
Event location: Near the intersection of Sunbury and Bacher Streets.
Texas Event: I-9303
* * * UPDATE ON 10/23/2015 AT 1153 EDT FROM ARTHUR TUCKER TO DONG PARK * * *
The following report was received via e-mail:
“On April 13, 2015, the Agency was notified by a landfill operator that a load of waste had caused its radiation monitor to alarm. The operator provided a spectrum and the radioisotope was identified as cesium-137. An on-site investigation confirmed the material to be dirt/mud contaminated with cesium.” [This makes it sound like the mud was loose in the vehicle.] “Further investigation was initiated to find the source of the material. Using the waste collection vehicle‘s route sheets and the Agency’s radiation detection equipment, the Agency identified the area where the mud had originated in a drainage ditch along the side of a street, which was within the city’s easement.” [SO THEY JUST PICK MUD OFF THE ROAD? WAS IT IN A GARBAGE BAG? A BIN? “The waste material was isolated and a cost estimate was obtained for a contractor to remediate the area. The initial surface readings obtained in the ditch ranged from 430 microR/hr to 16 mR/hr. During remediation, the readings ranged up to 1Rem/hr and the depth of the material to be removed was within a few inches beneath the soil to a max depth of 14 feet in the most concentrated area. Site remediation was completed by the end of July 2015. The property was released for unrestricted use on September 1, 2015 after final soil samples were analyzed. The highest concentration of contamination, point of origin, was identified at a depth of approximately 14 feet below the ground surface.” [But that’s not its original point of origin! This is from a nuclear reactor or weapons.]
“Ownership of the source of the radioactive material could not be determined. No violations were cited. File closed.”
Notified R4DO (Werner) and NMSS EVENTS NOTIFICATION via email.
FICTIONAL REENACTMENT: WHERE’D IT COME FROM? DUNNA. CASE CLOSED.
Sorry we’ve no time for comments. We can only raise the questions and must move on to the next thing. Today was really supposed to be on the topic of NRC “value of life”, but we decided to do this instead. However, it raises many questions.