Feasibility of glass logs for storing rad waste questioned -- May 4th, 2001

To: jtrumbo@tri-cityherald.com
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com
Subject: Feasibility of glass logs for storing rad waste questioned

Date: May 4th, 2001

Re: Feasibility of glass logs for storing rad waste questioned

Dear Sir,

I noticed in your report (shown below) on 4/29/2001 in the Tri-City Herald regarding converting deadly radioactive slurry into "glass logs", nowhere is it questioned (by you, or anyone you quote) whether or not "glass logs" will work at all. Your article focuses entirely on the potential problems that may result from additional temporary residents -- but it entirely ignores the more serious problems associated with this project.

I'm not sure what exactly "glass logs" are that the old "glassification" idea isn't, but that idea, pursued for decades by the nuclear industry and touted by them as the answer to the rad waste problem, didn't work for a rather plain reason: The glass cracked.

The glass cracked because the radioactive waste releases what are, in effect, gasses. Alpha particles, for example, are nothing more than atoms of helium without their electrons (which they pick up almost immediately from the environment, anyway. There are lots of free or almost-free electrons around.).

So how is glass, a well-known substance for holding gas in, going to let the gasses out? Do you have any idea? And as you may know glass is actually a liquid. Things denser than it which are imbedded in it will sink to the bottom; things less dense will rise to the top. The glass itself will slowly flow and take the shape of its surroundings, over thousands of years. That hardly sounds like the right material to contain something that is deadly for 40+ human generations. Unless you plan to rotate the glass logs every 100 years or so, or something like that.

This sure sounds like just another one of the government's tall tales. Glassification failed. Some people who looked into it knew it would fail right from the start and said so, but DOE never listened.

Dilution as a solution to nuclear pollution fails every day (but is still used).

Transmutation isn't going anywhere.

Rocketing it to space is way too dangerous (although some people who work at NASA no doubt still think it might work, being unable to recognize their traditional failure rates as indicative of future trends).

Yucca Mountain has moisture and they can't figure out where it's coming from -- lots of it. And insects no doubt roam there, as everywhere else, and THEY alone will move mountains of rad waste over the centuries.

The pools of waste at Hanford are leaking. The pumps in them that are supposed to keep the waste mixed so it won't blow up are broken and no one can go in and fix them or put new ones in. These things have all been reported over the years and who would doubt it?

Fire burned nearly half the Hanford complex not long ago, scattering God-only-knows how much rad waste into the local environment. Only God would know, because Hanford does NOT have adequate monitoring around its perimeter.

Trucks, planes and ships carrying rad waste from one location to something someone calls a final destination have accidents, spilling their contents.

These are the real problems local residents of Hanford are facing, and their effects are far more insidious and long-lasting than traffic, localized crime, overcrowded schools, or housing shortages. Yes, those would be concerns for the community, but on a vastly different scale. You might as well be writing about the garden club whilst World War Three is raging around you. People around Hanford are certainly the victims of that war.

Please do another report, gathering all the evidence you can find that glass logs have any chance of success. Be sure to interview opposition scientists (If you can find any: They will be unpaid and will probably have to file FOIA requests to get the information they would need to decide for sure).

Be sure, most of all, to apply some plain old American common sense to the facts these pro-nuclear people present you and the local community with. And some professional cynicism as well.

Thank you.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, California USA
(full contact information appears below)

(Note: As an example of how the outgassing problem is commonly handled, look at NASA's so-called containment system for plutonium when used in space. Each layer of the containment system has a hole in it (seldom mentioned in NASA's literature and never in their press releases)! Why are the holes there? So the helium atoms can escape. But the holes are huge compared to the size of atomic particles, and so if the substances inside vaporize (as during a reentry) the radioactive material will probably either escape out the hole as well, or, if pressure builds up too fast, simply blow the containment system apart.)


Officials look to weigh effects of new Hanford jobs

Tri-City Herald Online exclusive:

This story was published 4/29/2001

By John Trumbo

Herald staff writer

Building a nuclear-age kitchen capable of converting nuclear
waste slurry into glass logs will bring as many as 3,500
employees to the Tri-Cities, which is good for the local economy.

But there's a likely downside.

The influx of thousands of temporary construction workers during the next five years will strain roads, schools and other public facilities and services. How much? That's what city and county officials want to find out.

Hanford Communities, a coalition of Mid-Columbia governments, is asking members to contribute to a $65,000 study that would identify how an influx of construction and trades workers could affect the region when construction peaks in 2003 and 2004.

Benton County Commissioners agreed to spend about $3,400, and the Richland City Council is expected to toss in about $39,000 when it meets Tuesday. The Kennewick City Council may commit $12,500 to the cause at its Tuesday meeting, and the West Richland Council will consider adding $3,400 at its May 7 meeting.

Other public entities that may share in the cost of the study are the city of Pasco and the Port of Benton.

Jill Monley, deputy city manager in Richland, said the study will help build a case that municipalities are affected when temporary workers associated with federal projects come to town.

"We have to undertake (the study) because of these unknowns," Monley said.

Perteet Engineering of Everett will analyze how a temporary work force will place demands on schools, police, fire, emergency services, hospitals, criminal justice, water, sewer and land.

Following completion of the two-month study, the partners will use the report to ask the Department of Energy for money to offset the impacts.

"We want to be sure there is no degradation of existing services," Monley said.

Two of the largest concerns are transportation and criminal justice.

Monley said Richland's roads will have to carry virtually all the additional workers, goods, parts and pieces. Additionally, a temporary work force of several thousand people will create more cases for police and courts, she predicted.

"Historically, this has resulted in more police activity," Monley said, suggesting that temporary workers whose families don't live in the community are prone to getting into trouble.

Abe Greenberg, Kennewick's representative to the Hanford Advisory Board, said now is the time to prepare for the influx of workers.

Even if half of the workers assigned to the Umatilla Chemical Depot commute to the vitrification plant project at Hanford, that still leaves about 1,800 workers who will have to relocate. Perhaps 1,000 of those will be away from their families long-term, he said.

Kennewick City Manager Robert Kelly told his council two weeks ago the $12,500 would be money well spent. "This is a federal project on federal property that doesn't pay a dime in taxes. DOE thinks we should be fat, dumb and happy, but what is needed is impact assistance," Kelly said.

Results of the $65,000 study could provide leverage for the federal Office of River Protection to pry assistance dollars out of Washington, D.C., Kelly said.

Reporter John Trumbo can be reached at 582-1529 or via e-mail at jtrumbo@tri-cityherald.com.

Copyright 2000 Tri-City Herald. All rights reserved.

To: "John Trumbo" jtrumbo@tri-cityherald.com
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com
Subject: RE: Feasibility of glass logs for storing rad waste questioned


Thank you for your rapid and professional response (shown below). I look forward to reading future articles (hopefully including yours) on these and other important aspects of the nuclear waste issue.

So many people just can't see the elephant in the livingroom.

Thanks again,

Russell Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

At 11:10 AM 5/4/01 -0700, you wrote:
Mr. Hoffman,
This is John Trumbo at the Tri-City Herald. Thanks for you interesting
comments. I will review and pass along to my bosses.



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First posted May, 2001.

Last modified May, 2001.

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