DNA labs to tackle mystery growth on SRS nuclear waste

Thursday, March 1, 2012 4:00 PM
Last updated 10:46 PM
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Savannah River Site will seek outside help in its quest to define a mysterious, cobweblike growth that thrives on spent nuclear fuel.

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A mysterious cobweb-like material found growing on nuclear waste stored at Savannah River Site has the ability to expand rapidly, as these images show. The material is believed to be "biological in nature" and tests remain under way to determine its identity and origin.  Special/U.S. Department of Energy
Special/U.S. Department of Energy
A mysterious cobweb-like material found growing on nuclear waste stored at Savannah River Site has the ability to expand rapidly, as these images show. The material is believed to be "biological in nature" and tests remain under way to determine its identity and origin.

“Analysis so far shows that bacteria are present in this material,” SRS spokesman Jim Giusti said. “We presently know nothing of its origin, how this material was formed or if this is the result of biological activity.”

The “white, stringlike” substance was discovered in October growing among spent fuel assemblies submerged in pools in the U.S. Department of Energy site’s L Area, where nuclear materials from foreign and domestic research reactors are stored and guarded.

Savannah River National Labora­tory gathered samples of the growth, which will be analyzed at two DNA labs – the Georgia Genomics Facility at the University of Georgia and EnGenCore at the University of South Carolina.

Although scientists aren’t sure exactly what the material is, the mysterious lint appears to be spreading.

Moderate cobweb growth has been observed on about 7 percent of the stored nuclear material, with at least some level of growth found on 40 percent of the spent fuel.

“It seems to like the fuel,” Giusti said. “And it doesn’t seem to care which kind of fuel – or how long it’s been in the basin.”

Results from DNA sampling are expected in late March or April.

The existence of the growth, first reported in December by The Augusta Chronicle, was disclosed in a declassified report filed by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, which speculated the material was “biological in nature.”

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SCEagle Eye
914
Points
SCEagle Eye 03/01/12 - 05:21 pm
2
2
We almost lost Detroit to the

We almost lost Detroit to the Fermi breeder reactor accident. Now, are we set to lose SRS to radiation-loving nuclear "spiders"? Where did they come from, have they issued demands and how long will they be here? We are willing to trade some yummy plutonium we need to get rid of if you return to your home planet. Nuclear lint, please give us a call at your earliest convenience!

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 03/01/12 - 09:32 pm
1
1
Didn't they find something

Didn't they find something growing out there a couple years back? Did they ever find anything out about it? This crap is scary to me, no telling what something like this could do to the environment if it could live outside the current environment it is in.

albertoli
179
Points
albertoli 03/02/12 - 12:42 am
1
0
life imitates art. this is a

life imitates art. this is a "B" movie coming to life. radiation increases the evolutionary development of cells exponentially. if this has bred, or will breed itself into an airborne contagion, we will be eradicated before the asteroid hits in 2026.

scorehouse
196
Points
scorehouse 03/02/12 - 10:07 am
0
0
this could be great news.
Unpublished

this could be great news. what is these"bugs" eat up radiation the same way the oil and chemical industry uses "bugs" in micro-remediation to cleanup oil spills. i think they have similar "bugs" that restaurant/bars use to try and keep their restrooms clean.

Riverman1
83896
Points
Riverman1 03/02/12 - 10:18 am
0
0
Yeah, I compared the growing

Yeah, I compared the growing stuff to "The Blob" the last time this thing came up.

Lieutenant Dave: "I think you should send us the biggest transport plane you have, and take this thing to the Arctic or somewhere and drop it where it will never thaw."

Riverman1
83896
Points
Riverman1 03/02/12 - 10:21 am
0
0
If I had to run DNA tests on

If I had to run DNA tests on half the stuff growing in my fridge I'd go broke. Just cut the mold off the cheese and eat the rest.

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