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Organized Crime Cleaning Up With Nuclear Waste 138

mdsolar writes "The Mafia has been involved with waste disposal for forever but they seem to be getting very interested in nuclear waste disposal these days. In Europe they scuttle ships containing nuclear waste in the sea. Now in Japan, their Asian counterparts are angling for disposal contracts resulting from the Fukushima nuclear disaster."
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Organized Crime Cleaning Up With Nuclear Waste

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  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by enderjsv ( 1128541 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @06:29PM (#36456182)

    So, when this starts happening in the US, I'm guessing Yucca mountain will sound a lot more appealing to all those naysayers. Just a guess, though.

    • Nahh, Green Peace hates Yucca Mtn. They oppose everything except wind, solar, and 18th century farming techniques. We'll end up with slag heaps of un-recycled nuclear waste for the next 300 years, when we should have recycled the waste and turned it into lower level wastes with shorter half lives.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        "lower level wastes with shorter half lives."

        Wanna know how I know you're clueless?

        • I think he intended 'lower levels of waste' to mean less of it, not lower radiation levels. I understand what you're getting at, though.

      • when we should have recycled the waste and turned it into lower level wastes with shorter half lives.

        There is an inverse relationship between radioactivity and half-life. The idea of having something with both less emissions and a shorter half-life is nonsense.

        • If you assume energy content is constant, yes, but what if it isn't constant (such as if, say, "recycling" it meant using it as fuel some more)?

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

        Actually, in all fairness, they oppose humans in general. In an ideal environmentalist's world, every human would just commit suicide and return earth to the pristine paradise that it was before our evil presence--a world where no species ever goes extinct (because only mankind causes animals to go extinct), the weather is always mild (because all bad weather is caused by the global warming that we are solely responsible for), and peace and kindness rule the land.

        • Hmm, maybe someone should let them know about their impact on the Earth and suggest that they protect the environment by removing themselves from it.

    • If? In the last 15 years 84 incidents happened worldwide. [] []

  • by MoldySpore ( 1280634 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @06:33PM (#36456228)

    ...they keep pulling me back the emergency room for more blood transfusions.

    RAD +1!

  • So, again, the problem isn't the nuclear technology itself, but the lack of commitment and the problem with the model of management. And the question that I make to myself about nuclear reactors is: Is possible a good enough level of commitment and a almost perfect model of management (state managing have problems, corporations have other problems too. so...)?
    • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @06:39PM (#36456292)

      The biggest problem with nuclear power is exemplified by a headline I saw when the earthquake happened: "NUCLEAR REACTOR BLOWS UP! 10000 DEAD!". In very small letters underneath: "Earthquake was the biggest in Japan history".

      • by Elros ( 735454 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @06:42PM (#36456318) Homepage

        Never mind the fact that the 10000 dead was the earthquake, not the reactor. Sensationalist media is the biggest contributor to stupidity in this world.

        • Never mind the fact that the 10000 dead was the earthquake, not the reactor. Sensationalist media is the biggest contributor to stupidity in this world.

          The earthquake itself didn't kill that many people - the resultant tsunami did.

        • It might be the other way around: sensationalist media exists because of stupidity in this world... :)

          <sarcasm> Why do we assume people are stupid because of something? Many of them were just born that way ;) </sarcasm>

      • Citation needed. I'm a bit skeptical you ever saw that headline.

        Not saying I'm 100% sure it didn't happen; I'd just like to see the proof before I buy into your malarkey.

        • by mangu ( 126918 )

          I can't remember the exact words, but I read a headline in exactly that spirit.

          How many reports have you seen about the Fukushima reactors? How many reports have you seen about the oil refineries that blew up in the earthquake? How many reports about potential nuclear contamination? How many reports about the diseases that may be spread by the decomposing organic matter that has been spread around?

          • So, in other words, you made it up. Thanks for confirming.
            • It's a pretty common newspaper tactic, there's a reason the front of the newspaper often looks like it was designed by someone who just found out that you can change the font size.

        • by Vaphell ( 1489021 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @08:46PM (#36457626)

          I've seen such sensationalist headlines with my own eyes

          this is a slashdot comment about CNN headline from one of the earliest entries about fukushima

          It's disgusting;'s current main page headline is "Japan's reactor problems mount; death toll rises."

          which was a reply to another post saying that summary makes it look like the deaths are the direct result of fukushima (which it did).

          iamrmani was one of several people reporting updates on the Fukushima Nuclear plant that has been struggling following last Friday's disaster. A third explosion (Japanese) has been reported, along with other earlier information. MSNBC has a story about similiar reactors in the US. We also ran into a story which predicts that there won't be significant radiation. But already Japan is facing rolling blackouts, electricity rationing, evacuating the area around the plant, and thousands dead already.

          example of article

        • That may not be the headline, But that is how it seems. They cover the earthquake and the nuclear plant problems in the same story explaining the death counts all together.

    • by jd ( 1658 )

      I still think we should be working harder on getting fusion working, as that solves a lot of the actual technical issues of fission (such as what to do with waste that will outlast humanity even if it stays contained).

      As for the scuttling of ships carrying nuke waste, those pose all kinds of threats. Not just the immediate ones of pollution, etc, but they also constitute a source of extremely deadly material that will kill either through radiation or toxicity, parked in fairly accessible locations right off

      • by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:38PM (#36457044)

        scuttling ships full of dangerous waste is pretty terrible even if it's not radioactive.
        There's no shortage of non nuclear mutagens which aren't radioactive and they'll fuck you up just as badly, there's no shortage of industrial wastes which don't have any half life at all.

        it's more disgusting that this appears to only really be getting attention when the word nuclear is attached.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        The waste from a modern 4th gen plant will last 200-500 years, depending on the material, and it will burn existing waste.

        So no, not longer then humanity..probably *looks up for comets.*

        AS for the ship, it depends on depth and containment type. We could put are waste in the trench at the bottom of the ocean, and there would be no change in the ocean. however bury material that we might find out how to use later in a permanent way isn't the best thing to do.

        • Should probably qualify that: the waste from *some* of the 4th gen designs would be no more radioactive than the natural ore the fuel came from within 200-500 years.

    • Seems it is also the company it attracts.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:38PM (#36457046)
      Considering the time scale required to construct a large nuclear power plant the problems of scope creep and short term fads are going to be a problem unless serious long term adult supervision is applied. TMI is a classic example - it started with the best containment vessels of the time (which saved the day) but by the time construction had finished standards had slipped and it had control systems and sensors that would not have passed inspection in a fertilizer works (not an exaggeration - those things blow up too). For a while after TMI nuclear power was taken seriously again in the running plants, but attempts at applying adult supervision from the direction of government devolved into departmental empire building. By 1986 things were not pretty in the USA nuclear industry either but some degree of professionalism had been preserved after the scare of TMI, and was revived by the example of a real disaster. Fast forward to today and there have been so many generations of management since then that the problems of the past are put down to stupid Russians or idiots in the 1970s - the disaster in Japan could have happened in any of a dozen places given such a trigger of a sudden loss of cooling - too many people think that problems will never happen so many corners were cut thus increasing exposure to potential problems.
      With the current situation of subsidised faux-commercial civilian nuclear power and very long construction times the odds of getting highly professional management for the entire time until commissioning instead of a well connected horse judge or two is very low. Running such a project is full of pork and prestige which tends to squeeze out the merely competant for those that are seen to deserve a reward. Because so much capital is at stake and expectations are high it generates a situation where the lies, evasions and shortcuts seen in Japan maintain the prestige of the position in the short term unless something goes wrong to expose how badly things are run, so such lies become the default. It's about the size of the project and the perceived commercial gains after careful cooking of the financial books - research reactors don't seem to suffer from it due to clear goals and not being as desirable as a nepotistic reward.
      We've had it very clearly demonstrated to us since the 1970s that big reactors that require active cooling are bad news for many reasons. Smaller reactors have the promise of greater safety and significantly shorter construction times - they have the potential to get built while the initial goal is still in sight and are not seen as such a big deal so may not attract the flies that will instead go to corrupt other pots of honey.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Yes, yeas it isd.

      We almost ahd it, but the people started lying about Yucca mtn and the politicians are to afraid to tell those people to STFU and let the scientists and engineers who are experts in this fields do their job.

      Hell. most people don't know what nuclear waste consists of, how it is moved, what it is stored in, or how much(little) there is.

      At this point, they should be run buy the government. Take away bonus and people using it to get rich, and you take away the incentive to cheat. Private indust

      • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

        Hell. most people don't know what nuclear waste consists of, how it is moved, what it is stored in, or how much(little) there is.

        1,188,273 Tons of depleted Uranium, Half life of 4.5 billions years and the storage only lasts decades and had already leaked! []

        Depleted Uranium is extremely toxic.

        So enough crap about there not being much or the half-life being short etc.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Oh god. Here we go.

          Read the MSDS on water sometime. Most things are extremely bad for you when inhaled as a dust. Supposing for a second that spent fuel was a useless health hazard, refining uranium for reactor use is much more efficient than using natural uranium. By removing the U-235 from the natural uranium extracted from soil or ocean water, you are taking a nasty substance OUT of the environment and putting it to good use. If the complaint is that we don't want uranium to be highly concentrated then w

        • by aXis100 ( 690904 ) on Thursday June 16, 2011 @02:04AM (#36459354)

          The fact that it has a half life as old as the universe demonstrates that it is very very very mildly radioactive - any less radioactive and it would be considered stable. The "depleted" term is a giveaway.

          The main risk is that it is a heavy metal, like lead, and can bioacumulate. We just need to bury it somewhere with no liquid water and it will be fine.

          • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )
            I quote

            The U.S. Army has commissioned ongoing research into potential risks of depleted uranium and other projectile weapon materials like tungsten, which the U.S. Navy has used in place of DU since 1993. Studies by the U.S. Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute conclude that moderate exposures to either depleted uranium or uranium present a significant toxicological threat.[100]

            Note how is says "depleted uranuim or uranium" - the toxicity is similar.

            • Toxicity =/= Radiation

              Yes, it is a heavy metal which will poison you, all uranium is.

              No, it is not highly radioactive, it is depleted, the radiation hazard is near nil.

          • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

            You people are un-fucking-believable, not matter how bad nuclear power gets you just don't get that humans can't yet be trusted to manage it safely. Nuclear accidents, oh well it won't happen again. Corruption? Mafia dumping the shit in the sea? I swear the only thing that would stop the nuclear zealots here would be all out nuclear war.

            Americas politicians are corrupt and can't be trusted to manage nuclear power.

            • You know, when you say things like this in response to a correct and logical statement, you are the one who looks like a zealot.

              DU is 60% less radioactive than U. A piece of paper stops the radiation coming off of it. This is FACT, not opinion.

              DU is a heavy metal, a little more dangerious than lead, it is not a radiation hazard unless it gets inside you.

              There are many well known ways to deal with Alpha emitters, this is a solved problem. The problem with dealing with the waste is a human issue, zealots d

              • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

                "DU is 60% less radioactive than U."

                So not much less radio-active then, like I said - would you drink 40% of a pint of cyanide - the point is that we are now going to have a million tons of radioactive crap lying round for the next 4.5 billion years, god only knows how many revolutions and govt's we'll have in that time, we don't need crap like du sitting about. Yucca mountain sounds good to me.

                Look at this:


                "About 95% of the depleted uranium

            • Maybe the pro-nuclear zealots just think higher of humanity's general potential than you do.
              • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )
                I realise that we have great potential, but having great potential didn't stop the Mafia from dumping nuclear waste did it?
        • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )
          Modding my posts as troll when they are full of links and facts because you don't like what I have to say is pathetic, grow up and reply with a solid argument or GTFO.
  • by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @06:41PM (#36456312)

    Now that we finally have a free market solution to this problem, I'm sure that there's nothing to worry about and everything will be fine.

    • If there were a free market, then the Mafia wouldn't have a monopolistic racket.
      • by blair1q ( 305137 )

        The Mafia is about as monolithic as Anonymous is. It's only a monopoly to those on the outside.

        • Mafia, meh. This goes farther back in history. Perhaps to Cosimo Landfilli, who became wealth on the waste disposal contracts for Firenze and then became a great patron of the arts.

          Or perhaps even earlier to Maximus Recyclimus, who engineered the waste management system in the 2nd century B.C.E. Roman Republic.

          • you kid, but the cloaca maxima [], rome's sewer system, was one of their earliest engineering triumphs, and was traditionally said to have been built by the last king of rome. (and we all know where governments come from....)
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        corrcet. anyone could dump the waste in the ocean..or next to a kids school, or what ever.

        Pssst.. the mafia isn't a single organization.

      • just to get this clear:

        a perfectly free market is impossible.

        no ifs, no buts.

        let's move on to something more realistic.

  • This in africa (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is one region Somali pirates were helping with. By scaring ships out of their coast, where a ton of the waste was being dumped, local fisheries had better catches and better business.

  • wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @06:44PM (#36456342) Homepage Journal

    i thought the free market fairy took care of all problems, and government regulation is for freedom-destroying control freaks

    • by khallow ( 566160 )

      i thought the free market fairy took care of all problems, and government regulation is for freedom-destroying control freaks

      Well, this story seems to confirm that impression. We have free enterprise in the form of organized crime expediters triumphing over the tyrannical forces of regulation.

      You can't make a highly radioactive omelet without dropping a few dozen fuel rods over the side, amirite?

    • by Xeth ( 614132 )
      I'm not fan of a regulation-free environment, but what the hell does that have to do with this situation? The linked article talks about how the Yakuza are tightly linked and will likely be brought in on a contract. How is that at all a conflict between regulation and the market? I suppose one can say, in the general sense, that the concentration of wealth in the hands of crooked individuals allows them to use dirty tricks to expand that power, but the only kind of government regulation that could address t
  • Namely, I would like to see B&W move from doing small nuke generators, to doing a small IFR. If they can build a small reactor to handle to the waste AND a small container room that goes with this, it could be put on sites that have been shutdown and then burn the remaining fuel. Many of those plants are close to cities, have cooling, transmission, generators, etc. Basically, they are ready to rock and roll and be used for another 50-100 years. Safely. And then once the current on-site waste is spent, t
  • by Xeth ( 614132 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:05PM (#36456610) Journal

    From the first article linked, there is a single informant that claims nuclear material was aboard a scuttled ship. The article as linked provides no further information, but mere allegation is sufficient for mdsolar to blame nuclear power.

    In the actual article, one will note that there is no actual speculation about the Yakuza having any ill-intent. Indeed, it seems to be a general article about how the Yakuza win contracts in construction and cleanup. And after a massive earthquake and tsunami, there's lots of cleanup to be done.

    As an interesting aside, he article claims that the Yakuza get 3% of the total construction in Japan. I see no reason to suspect that wouldn't include projects related to all forms of energy. I trust mdsolar would agree with my "Japanese solar power in bed with organized crime" headline.

    There are legitimate gripes about nuclear power. Indeed, the numbers I've seen suggest operating costs that aren't substantially below any other forms of energy. But the sort of fear campaign spread by mdsolar (someone who himself stands to profit from such fears, see his profile for links) is unacceptable.

  • Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

    by maspatra ( 1031940 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @07:14PM (#36456748)
    This is actually par for the course when it comes to Japanese organized crime syndicates. The Yakuza have always been quick responders to natural disasters and their cleanup efforts. Japanese criminal syndicates aren't entirely illicit operations and run a lot of legitimate businesses as well, and are heavily involved in the construction industry in particular. Being generally faster and more efficient than the bureaucracy-laden government, (and not restricted by those silly "laws") whenever there's a major natural disaster, the Yakuza have always been some of the first on the scene to distribute food and medical supplies, and do cleanup and reconstruction for really low rates. They gain goodwill in the community and an opportunity to expand their power base, and the government saves money and hassle in the cleanup effort. Heck, half of Kobe was rebuilt by Yakuza after the great Hanshin quake. The whole thing is an open secret really.

    That they're doing this now is really to be expected, and not as alarming or terrible as the article would seem to suggest. This has been going on with criminal groups in Japan for generations, and isn't likely to stop any time soon.
    • every now now and then, organized crime starts spontaneously turning into government again. i read somewhere that during the rodney king riots, the chinese gangs (tong/triads/whatever) that all the chinese-owned businesses in the area had been paying "protection" money to for so many years actually showed up and protected them from the rioters.

  • or you'll find yourself six feet under in depleted uranium boots sleeping with the mutant fishes in the nuclear waste dump.

  • Sales, to prospective account: "Yeah, we can get rid of that for you, but it's gonna cost. That shit's dangerous, and there's a stack of regulations as tall as your beautiful daughter (whom it would be a shame for anything to happen to, by the way) that we have to follow to the T. Price per pound is gonna be three, four figures at least."

    Engineering, to Capo: "Yeah, we can dump that for you. You want the barge back? Effectively cheaper to just sink the whole thing. Nickel a ton, if we don't have to bu

  • ..their service will be the lowest cost bidder, which is all you need to win a bid. Expect glowing reviews :-(.

  • If all the nuclear waste was sent to an island like hawaii that had a volcano, then all the materials were sent down inside the volcano, would that not sort of take care of all the crap we deal with such as contamination and all....I know it sounds stupid in sorts, but if someone gave me 10000 tons of nuclear waste to dispose of, and 10 millions dollars to do it, i would transport it there, and drop it in, no worries of barrels leaking, water being contaminated, etc....all would be disintegrated.

    I know the

  • The waste disposal business is a staple activity for the mob, ain't it?

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb